Friday, November 11, 2005

Dueling Transcripts

Cue up the Deliverance soundtrack and make your choice--the official White House warmed over bullshit transcript, or my own, enhanced version:

Blah blah blah veteran's benefits sacrifice, won't rest until we've finished the job, 9/11, 9/11, amend the Constitution to ban flag burning, 9/11, 9/11, blah blah blah, Islamic radicalism, militant Jihadism, blah blah blah, bin Laden, al Qaeda, a guy named Zawahiri, the terrorist Zarqawi, stay the course, Syria is bad, central front, blah blah blah, we'll stand down as they stand up, blah blah blah, 9/11, evil, freedom, central front, DEMOCRATS DID TOO whine whine whine, blah blah blah, thank you and God Bless America.
11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month

Attaturk captures it perfectly with this post entitled Flanders Fields (featuring the John McCrae poem). Please take a look.
Defining Success

The best satire writes itself. Successive headlines in the paper of record right now:

Rice, in Iraq, Says Strategy Against Rebels Is Working

Suicide Bombing Leaves 29 Dead in Baghdad Cafe

Note: Condi is in Mesopotamia on a "surprise" visit--as if any administration official would be foolish enough to announce their plans in advance...hmmm...if they send Karl, Scooter, or Big Dick on an ANNOUNCED visit, you can bet it's been decided they've become a "liability."
No Plan...No Clothes

Another link from some guy who calls himself Atrios (I hear he's kind of popular on the internets), although I also saw a reference over at The Poor Man. Campus Progress sat down for a chat with Paul Krugman:

CP: I get the feeling that we’re living in a really good political satire.

PK: Yeah, or a really tawdry political novel. If you tried to make this stuff up, nobody would dare – they’d say that it’s ridiculous.

CP: You’ve written economics textbooks before. If you had to imagine writing another textbook thirty years from now characterizing economic policy under various presidents, how would you talk about the Bush administration?

PK: Well, the answer is that there is no policy. What’s interesting about it is that there’s no sign that anybody’s actually thinking about “well, how do we run this economy?” Everything becomes an excuse to do pre-set things instead of an actual response to an event or a real problem. So, the idea was “we’re going to cut taxes on capital income, as opposed to earned income” and whatever happened became a reason to do that...

CP: One of the most troubling provisions in the budget reconciliation is HB609, which could cut billions in federal aid for higher education. Seems like this is adding yet another blow by some politicians who do not properly value equal accessibility to education and opportunity.

PK: We have disturbing trends in our society, and instead of doing things to counter them, the current political majority seems to be out to accentuate them, inequality in general. Now, what’s happening to the democratization of education that we achieved half a century ago? We seem to be losing it and going back towards some kind of a hereditary, aristocratic model where only the people from the right families get to go to the right schools. Instead of doing something about it, the government is cutting financial aid, which is one of the things that allows kids who don’t come from the right families to go to the best schools.

CP: You’ve spoken before about post-Katrina reconstruction. Many were horrified by certain conservatives pushing towards a permanent Estate Tax repeal in its immediate wake. Do you see any bright spots of opportunity in the reconstruction?

PK: Disaster sometimes gives you an opportunity to rethink your premises and really go out and do something that becomes a model for future policy. What strikes me is that nothing is happening post-Katrina. There’s no sign of planning, there’s no sign of urgency, there aren’t even any discussions over how we should handle reconstruction. I just think that, faced with a genuine policy challenge that wasn’t part of their pre-existing agenda, the Bushies just lost interest. Where is the plan for reconstruction? We’re in the process of forgetting all about the Gulf Coast.

CP: Though a number of folks are jumping on the opportunity to change all of the New Orleans schools into charter schools.

PK: I don’t know how we’re going to handle this. I know that the problem has created an opportunity for privatization, but basic public schooling is one of America’s great institutions.

And, as a bonus, there's a link to P.K.'s November 4th column--Hans Christian Andersen updated for the 21st Century:

Hans Christian Andersen understood bad rulers. "The Emperor's New Suit" doesn't end with everyone acclaiming the little boy for telling the truth. It ends with the emperor and his officials refusing to admit their mistake.

I've laid my hands on additional material, which Andersen failed to publish, describing what happened after the imperial procession was over.

The talk-show host Bill O'Reilly yelled, "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" at the little boy. Calling the boy a nut, he threatened to go to the boy's house and "surprise" him.

Fox News repeatedly played up possible finds of imperial clothing, then buried reports discrediting these stories. Months after the naked procession, a poll found that many of those getting most of their news from Fox believed that the emperor had in fact been clothed.

Imperial officials eventually admitted that they couldn't find any evidence that the suit ever existed, or that there had even been an effort to produce a suit. They insisted, however, that they had found evidence of wardrobe-manufacturing-and-distribution-related program activities.

Bill Frist owned stock in the company that "produced" the new suit: but he directed his blind trust to sell just before the unveiling, based on disappointing returns from the previous quarter. And Tom DeLay got them to donate $25,000 to TRMPAC.
DeLaw & Order

Tom latest tack: I knew what I did was criminal before I decided I didn't--and I didn't want to give up the Majority Leader perks either.

Sounds like Tom's spinning so madly he's gotten more than a little dizzy.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

It's 'Justice is Blind, not Justice Lies', Judge Alito

AmericaBlog has several posts up demonstrating a distinct similarity between Judge Alito and Scooter Libby.

Getting caught lying is a real bitch, eh?
Flip Side of the Coin

Brownie is STILL collecting a paycheck for his heckuva job following Hurricane Katrina. David Gunn, who somehow managed to end the fiscal year with a $120 million dollar surplus for Amtrak, was fired as company president Wednesday:

Mr. Gunn, who is credited with turning around New York City's subway system in the 1980's and came out of retirement three years ago to steer Amtrak successfully during a financial crisis, described the reason for his dismissal as "ideological."

"Obviously, what their goal is - and it's been their goal from the beginning - is to liquidate the company," Mr. Gunn said in the interview...

Mr. Gunn said he did not oppose injecting some competition into the system if it was done carefully. He pointed out that the administration had discussed bankrupting the railroad, which would mean breaking it up, as a way to reorganize.

"They want at least one transportation mode that is totally free market," Mr. Gunn said.

But highways, airports and ports are all federally subsidized, he said, decrying "all this angst over an operating deficit of 500 million bucks for the whole country, and the bulk of money going into capital or infrastructure."

Amtrak's supporters in Congress reacted swiftly and bitterly to Mr. Gunn's removal. Democrats sought to contrast what they said were his successes, including cutting expenses, increasing ridership and improving the railroad's physical condition, with the recent failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Katrina.

"We have learned recently that there is room for cronies in this administration," said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, "and we've learned the cost of cronyism. And now we've learned today there is not room for straight shooters."

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, questioned the board's legal ability to fire Mr. Gunn. Only one board member, Mr. Laney, has been appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Schumer pointed out. The secretary of transportation is, by statute, a member, and two other members are recess appointments, whose terms will expire when Congress goes home in a few weeks. There are three vacancies.

"Gunn is more legitimate than the board is," Mr. Schumer said.

He asserted that Mr. Gunn was fired over policy, saying: "The policy difference is that the board wants to kill Amtrak and Gunn wants it to prosper. It's that simple."

The railroad announced Wednesday morning that Mr. Gunn had been "released" from his job, then notified Mr. Gunn. He replied with a memorandum to the board: "For your information, I did not resign. I was removed. It's been fun. Good luck."

Shrubworld: do NOTHING AT ALL and get paid handsomely. Do you job superbly, and get shown the door.

Geez--how much more evidence do we need to demonstrate the guy's a total, miserable failure?
Let's Not Argue and Bicker About Who Bombed Who...

I suspect the wingnut crowd will find a way to blame the hostages themselves: (from Cursor)

HUSAYBA, Iraq, Nov. 9-The American military command said today that some residents had been killed and wounded during heavy fighting here, the first such acknowledgement of civilian casualties since the Marines moved into this town last Saturday to try to choke off the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq.

A Marine statement said that according to a witness, rebels broke into a family's home, killed two of its occupants and locked the survivors in a room. The insurgents then used the house to launch attacks on advancing American and Iraqi troops, the Marines said. Unaware that civilians were in the house, the statement continued, Marine aircraft bombed it on Monday, reducing it to rubble.

The American military command has repeatedly asserted that it goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties by weighing intelligence and following strict protocols, and says its bombs are capable of near-pinpoint precision.

But civilian casualties, particularly if the numbers grow as residents continue to sift through the debris of leveled buildings, could dilute American efforts to win the people's trust and to undercut the insurgency's influence.

A spokesman for the Second Marine Division, Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool, said in a statement that the Marines and the Iraqi forces working with them here were unclear "why insurgents used this particular house, which was occupied, when there were so many homes in the area that were abandoned."

My guess, Capt. Pool, is they did so because holding hostages generally gives the other side pause, as they consider the moral implications of possibly killing innocent people. In Iraq, there are further strategic considerations--winning hearts and minds, overcoming natural tendencies to not trust outsiders, etc., etc. At best, it's a constant uphill climb--and I'll bet the forces involved in this case understand both the broad and narrow implications of an instance like this.

With the wingnut crowd, however, it's doubtful they have the first clue. My own guess is that they're as likely as not to think the insurgents merely speak heavily accented English, and, deep down, are lily-livered, swarthy types--angry that they'll never own an expensive condo in South Beach. They're also likely to believe that any dead Iraqi was guilty of they'll blame the hostages themselves, perhaps for the crime of having been born in the wrong place at the wrong time or WHAETEVER.

That is, if the 'nuts think about Iraqi civilians--the ones they were so keen on liberating--at all anymore.
When the Going Gets Tough

Team Bush gets the bucket of mud and starts flinging:

Top White House officials say they're developing a "campaign-style" strategy in response to increasing Democratic allegations that the Bush administration twisted intelligence to make its case for war.

White House aides, who agreed to speak to CNN only on the condition of anonymity, said they hoped to increase what they called their "hit back" in coming days.

Think Progress sees a pattern. Smells like Swift Boating, if you ask me.

Oh, and off topic, but Think Progress also linked to this Reuters story: Pat Robertson, who wants Hugo Chavez "dead, dead...muerte," is now telling Dover, Pennsylvania residents to forget about any saving grace from the Almighty in the wake of any disasters:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.

Dover residents voted Tuesday to teach science in science classes throughout their school district.

Somebody needs to put Robertson back on his meds.

Reddhead directs her comments to Howard Fineman, but could just as well be speaking about the entire sorry group of courtiers/courtesans fobbing off their responsibilities as citizens and/or journalists in exchange for them the remoras of high society:

Hey, Howard, I have a word for you: accountability.

I know. I know. It hasn't actually been in vogue the last five years of Republican control of Congress and the White House but, bear with me here -- both Democrats and Republicans are unhappy at being lied to by the Administration. As a card carrying member of the actual American public, I'd sure like to know who has been a lying sack of crap -- and my neighbors would as well.

And that includes talking heads who don't properly do their jobs, but instead hope that people will feed them useful quotes so they can continue to hang out at Beltway cocktail parties.

Has it ever occurred to you, Howard, that perhaps both Democrats and Republicans are angry with Cheney because he manipulated intelligence information, created his own intelligence fiefdom in a Vice Presidential power grab unlike any other we have seen in our history, and lied the nation into a war of his own making?

That perhaps, in all of Washington, there might be some public officials who still think their job is to do the public's business, and that lying to the public is a shameful exercise in power, one with tragic human consequences, and ought to be investigated and punished to the fullest extent of the law? That such conduct deserves to be exposed to the largest amount of public sunshine that can be mustered, as a cleansing measure and warning?

I'm not going to quote from more of your article because, frankly, it's just utter crap. Of course politicians are going to work the political angle of things where they can. They are politicians, after all. That's what they and their staffs do for a living.

But in this matter, where the death toll and the permanent injury toll are so high for American servicepeople, where the reputation of this nation has sunk so low because we have abandoned all of our long-held principles on the alter of revenge and expediency, and where the long-term consequences to our foreign policy, our military, and our nation, seem to have been completely ignored -- well, we all have a right to be angry.

If you think the politicians are mad, you should spend a little time in America's heartland, where we send our young men and women off to war every single day because their economic opportunities are so limited that the military is the only way to pay the bills and feed their families. This is not a Machiavellian game to those of us who live in the world of reality.

Whatever you might think, Howard, the American public deserves no less than the truth about all of this. That includes well-earned criticisms of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, David Addington, the whole of the WHIG and neocons and all of their cronies, and, yes, the Preznit -- because each and every person involved in making decisions to lie to the American public -- or even to just look the other way while someone else did it -- ought to be called to account.

Every last one of them.

Democrats -- and Republicans -- who are asking for this accounting are doing their jobs. It's been a while, so perhaps you can be forgiven for forgetting what that looks like. Maybe you ought to consider what your job is as well.

Thanks, Reddhead.
A Day Late--and Seven Feet Short

The online Pic calls it "Short Sheeted:"

Sheet piling supporting the failed floodwall on the 17th Street Canal extends just 10 feet below sea level, 7 feet shorter than the Corps of Engineers has maintained, a team of investigators said Wednesday, strengthening earlier findings that faulty design and construction played a role in the canal breaches that flooded much of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina...

Independent engineers have questioned whether the pilings, even at the corps' stated depth, went down far enough to support the floodwalls and prevent storm surge from penetrating beneath the earthen levees and causing structural failure.

Corps officials declined specific comment on the LSU team's initial sonar readings Wednesday...

A copy of the final review set of design drawings for the project obtained by The Times-Picayune showed the pilings on the New Orleans side of the canal were to be driven 10 feet below sea level, while those on the Jefferson Parish side were 6 feet below sea level. But the corps has said the piles were actually driven to 17 feet below sea level before the concrete caps were added.

Fred Young, a structural engineer with the corps, told a meeting of the Orleans Parish Levee Board on Wednesday that pilings at the breach had been 17 feet below sea level. Young said the corps is replacing that section of the floodwall with pilings that will be driven 51 feet below sea level.

Who is responsible?

Because the corps has refused to release final design drawings and other documents, researchers have been trying to solve what they call "the mystery of the sheet piles." But even with the sonar measurements, it still is unclear which government entity is responsible for the pilings.

Newspaper reports from the period show the Orleans Levee Board first used sheet piles on the canal after the 1947 flood. After Hurricane Betsy slammed the city in 1965, the board drove 18-foot pilings to raise the canal floodwalls to 9.4 feet above sea level.

But according to the engineering section of the Orleans board, in 1988 those pilings were pulled as part of work done by the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, and new pilings were driven. The length of those piles is not a part of the public record, and the Sewerage & Water Board did not answer requests for details on that work.

"The corps keeps saying the piles were 17 feet, but their own drawings show them to be 10," van Heerden said. "This is the first time anyone has been able to get a firm fix on what's really down there.

"And, so far, it's just 10 feet. Not nearly deep enough."
"Ready to Snap"

Bob Herbert (sorry, no link yet, but here's most of the column):

Most people have heard that more than 2,000 American G.I.'s have been killed in the nonstop meat grinder of Iraq. There was a flurry of stories about that grim milestone in the last week of October. (Since then the official number of American deaths has jumped to at least 2,055, and it continues to climb steadily.)

More than 15,000 have been wounded in action.

But the problems of the military go far beyond the casualty figures coming out of the war zone. The Army, for example, has been stretched so taut since the Sept. 11 attacks, especially by the fiasco in Iraq, that it's become like a rubber band that may snap at any moment.

President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld convinced themselves that they could win the war in Iraq on the cheap. They never sent enough troops to do the job. Now the burden of trying to fight a long and bitter war with too few troops is taking a terrible toll on the men and women in uniform.

Last December, the top general in the Army Reserve warned that his organization was "rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force" because of the Pentagon's "dysfunctional" policies and demands placed on the Reserve by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

As one of my colleagues at The Times, David Unger of the editorial board, wrote, "The Army's commitments have dangerously and rapidly expanded, while recruitment has plunged."

Soldiers are being sent into the crucible of Iraq for three and even four tours, a form of Russian roulette that is unconscionable.

"They feel like they're the only ones sacrificing," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former Army lieutenant who served in Iraq and is now the executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for service members and veterans.

"They're starting to look around and say, 'You know, it's me and my buddies over and over again, and everybody else is living life uninterrupted.' "

When I asked Mr. Rieckhoff what he thought was happening with the Army, he replied, "The wheels are coming off."

The Washington Post, in a lengthy article last week, noted:

"As sustained combat in Iraq makes it harder than ever to fill the ranks of the all-volunteer force, newly released Pentagon demographic data show that the military is leaning heavily for recruits on economically depressed, rural areas where youths' need for jobs may outweigh the risks of going to war."

For those already in the Army, the price being paid - apart from the physical toll of the killed and wounded - is high indeed.

Divorce rates have gone way up, nearly doubling over the past four years. Long deployments - and, especially, repeated deployments - can take a vicious toll on personal relationships.

Chaplains, psychologists and others have long been aware of the many dangerous factors that accompany wartime deployment: loneliness, financial problems, drug or alcohol abuse, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, the problems faced by the parent left at home to care for children, the enormous problem of adjusting to the devastation of wartime injuries, and so on.

The Army is not just fighting a ruthless insurgency in Iraq. It's fighting a rear-guard action against these noncombat, guerrilla-like conditions that threaten its own viability.

There are reasons why parents all across America are telling their children to run the other way when military recruiters come to call. There are reasons why so many lieutenants and captains, fine young men and women, are heading toward the exit doors at the first opportunity.

A captain who is on active duty, and therefore asked not to be identified by name, told me yesterday:

"The only reason I stayed in the Army was because one colonel convinced me to do it. Other than that, I would have walked. Basically, these guys who are leaving have their high-powered educations. Some are from West Point. They've done their five years. Why should they stay and go back to Iraq and die in a war that's just going to keep on going?"

Beyond that, he said, "Guys are not going to stay in the Army when their wives are leaving them."

From the perspective of the troops, he said, the situation in Iraq is perverse.

He could find no upside. "You go to war," he said, "and you could lose your heart, your mind, your arms, your legs - but you cannot win. The soldiers don't win."

And, as I've mentioned before, you can expect this administration to add insult to injury, either cutting veteran's services/benefits, or piling on odious registration requirements/regulations. Worse still would be if one or more veterans of this campaign decided to pull a Tim McVeigh or John Allan Mohammed--and remember, THEIR war went rather well in comparison.

But don't expect Team Bush to look out for the nation's interests...remember, this gang is in it ONLY for themselves.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Hmmm...AmericaBlog links to Steven D. at DailyKos: the US Army confirms it used White Phosphorus in Fallujah a year ago:

WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.

Here's a .pdf of Field Artillery Magazine, March-April 2005. The paragraph cited above is on page 5 for those who want to view the .pdf.

Now, if I remember right, wingnuts were all up in arms about the sadistic tendencies of Saddam, Uday, Qasay, and the Iraqi high command. I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't merely a case of envy, that is, they wanted to kill Iraqis too, and were upset that Hussein, his vicious cronies, and his evil kids were having all the "fun." Of course, most 'nuts won't actually do their killing themselves--instead, they send poor kids off to do it for them...which also spares them from occupational hazards like IED's (see below).

I also doubt the 'nut crowd is all that concerned about the quantity and variety of ordnance being used, be it willy pete, DU, whatever. Doubtless, plenty would advocate using nukes...without regard to moral, much less political considerations. Which for me merely underscores the problems in relying solely on the military for solving essentially political problems. You don't win hearts and minds by violently separating them from bodies.

Too bad the 'nut crowd didn't learn THAT lesson thirty years or so ago. But clear thinking has never been their strong suit.
Won't Have Miller to Kick Around

At least not at The New York Pravda...don't know about Faux News, Regency Publishing, or any other wingnut organ that might make "The New Judith" part of the stable.

And no, I won't be reading her book either.
More Insurgent Evolution

Yet another story about changing methods used by insurgents to kill US soldiers--unfortunately, there aren't any known countermeasures at this point:

U.S. and British troops are being killed in Iraq by increasingly sophisticated insurgent bombs, including a new type triggered when a vehicle crosses an infrared beam and is blasted by armor-piercing projectiles.

The technology, which emerged during guerrilla wars in Lebanon and Northern Ireland, has been used in recent roadside bombings that have killed dozens of Americans and at least eight British soldiers...

The deadly munitions mark a steady improvement in the roadside bombs that debuted in 2003 in Iraq, often as simple as a single artillery shell wrapped with detonator cord linked to a battery.

The new bombs are a deadly marriage of stealthy camouflage, shaped explosives that propel metal projectiles through four inches of armor and infrared motion-detector triggers that can't be blocked by electronic jammers.

"It works like a burglar alarm, a beam that goes across a doorway. Once the beam is broken it triggers the bomb," said Amyas Godfrey, a former British army intelligence officer who left Iraq in October 2004 after serving two tours.

The ballistics technology behind the bombs' shaped charges dates to World War II anti-tank munitions.

The insurgent variety uses a cone-shaped plastic explosive charge that concentrates its force on a steel or copper projectile. The projectile is fired at high velocity and stretched into a molten slug that can burn through four inches of armor, Cordesman said.

Infrared triggers are easily obtained, said Godfrey, the former British intelligence officer. He said they are identical to motion sensors used to open elevator doors or set off burglar alarms.

The new bombs also contain simple radio-controlled receivers that allow insurgents to arm them by radio or cell phone ahead of an approaching military convoy.

"Usually they'll place an array of explosives locked to a single infrared sensor," Cordesman said. "What you get is an array of shaped charges, so you're not going to get hit with just one."

He said the clustered projectiles are accurate — and effective — against armored Humvees and light armored vehicles at up to 50 feet. Heavily armored Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles are better able to withstand the blasts, although some have been destroyed.

Even if a blast doesn't penetrate a vehicle's armor, "the impact will blow off shards of armor inside the vehicle that are red hot and cut people to ribbons," said Bruce Jones, a London-based intelligence expert who advises NATO.

Perhaps most worrisome for the Pentagon is that infrared triggers cannot be blocked by electronic countermeasures, such as devices that emit a radio beam to jam signals from cell phones, garage-door openers and other remote-control devices used to detonate bombs.

"I don't know if you can disrupt an infrared beam without triggering the explosion," said Godfrey, now an analyst for the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies.

Researchers are studying whether expensive vision equipment might let soldiers see the beams. Others suggest developing explosive detectors to scan roadsides for bombs or an electromagnetic pulse weapon that could fry unshielded electronics within reach of a convoy.

As the Pentagon searches for a solution, Godfrey said U.S. and British forces are adjusting patrol routes and scanning maps for likely ambush points. Troops keep watch for bombs hidden in hollowed-out trees, the dirt or plastic foam painted to resemble concrete.

"We can get very excited about covering ourselves with technology. But at the end of the day, you have to think like an insurgent," Godfrey said.
Spinning into a Death Spiral

The bell isn't tolling for Team Bush--yet--but the elections yesterday can't be seen as good news for the 'nuts...well, except for Kansas' insisting on a 19th century educuation policy for teaching biology (maybe they'll abandon mechanized agriculture too)...and, as you might expect, Texans refuted Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's assertion that only steers and queers reside in the Lone Star State--at least when it comes to gettin' hitched.

Shrub and Company can take small solace with the elections stealing the spotlight, however fleetingly, from the REAL problems the administration faces as it lurches towards next year's midterm judgement. And if things continue along the same path, "the failed Bush presidency" might be putting it a little too politely.

As I noted yesterday, the GOP is of late on a tail chasing mission, with DeLay in the docket, Frist soon to follow, Trent Lott admitting it was probably a fellow party member who opened his trap and revealed the administration's secret love of Soviet style "jurisprudence"...and there's still the matter of the Fitzgerald investigation, which already has Scooter worried about who might be his cellmate ("please, nobody nicknamed 'Tiny'"). It's a real pressure cooker.

When the heat's on, and the steam's rising, character reveals itself--people revert to their natural comfort zone. With Team Bush, we're seeing a two-fold strategery: the usual slash and slime...but also a sort of frat-boy defense--a combination of "everybody does it..." (i.e., snorted coke, whored around, thought Saddam was a threat--even Clenis--and "the intel fooled the Democrats too"), along with an equally lame "assumption of innocence/can't prove beyond all doubt" mantra I've been seeing on cable TV here and there.

Well, bullshit is bullshit, and this spin is bullshit too. GOP'ers might think they can, by sheer volume, pass this off as a reasonable defense, but the elections demonstrate the public is growing weary of their snake-oil...and the Democrats might want to turn up the heat even more.

The issue ISN'T whether or not Scooter, Ari, Rover, Big Dick, or Little Lord Shrubleroy, etc. can beat the rap--though 'nut spinmeisters now act as if that's the only thing that matters. The issue is the moral bankruptcy: taking what everyone now KNOWS were VERY IFFY intel reports coming from Langley and acting as if they were carved in stone by the almighty--then playing a combination of "gee, we were ALL fooled" and slash/slime when everything fell apart...which is virtually GUARANTEED to happen when you're dealing with such a degree of unknowns.

My own thoughts are that the agency most likely produced any number of best and worse case assessments of the Hussein regime--Big Dick, being dissatisfied, pressed for even more worst case reports--but all of them probably made at least some mention, if not heavy emphasis, on the uncertainty of the data. However, being classified, Team Bush was able to cherry-pick here and there, and push their own case based on selective reading and some cases, going over the edge (i.e., seeking uranium from Africa--of course, that could be pawned off to "the British government"). When called on their bullshit by one Joe Wilson, Team Bush engaged in their usual sliming...unfortunately forgetting that national security assets are protected.

And that's both the nub of the case, and the essence of this administration itself...supposedly concerned with the security of the nation, they flat out LIE when it comes to intelligence matters, and have ZERO COMPUNCTION about outing a damned NOC dealing with...anti-proliferation issues, for chrissakes!

If I was a Democrat (I'm registered independent--small "i")--and if I was on TV with one or another GOP spinster, I'd hammer this point home over and over again: it doesn't matter one goddamned bit whether or not Scooter or ANYONE walks. Hell, O.J. was found "not guilty" but it's not like he's announcing football games on NBC. The point is that Team Bush flat-out LIED to get their war, and flat-out undercut the national security of this country by revealing state secrets.

We don't need a trial to know that. Case closed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Palestinian Hanging"

No, that's not exactly an uplifting term, no pun intended. Unfortunately, another description is even more disturbing:

"He also had injuries to his ribs. You don’t die from broken ribs. But if he had been hung up in this way and had broken ribs, that’s different." In his judgment, "asphyxia is what he died from—as in a crucifixion."

That's Dr. Michael Baden, describing the death of Manadel al-Jamadi--you've probably seen his picture:

No, al-Jamadi wasn't an "innocent civilian." All reports indicate he was actively involved in the insurgency--in other words, regardless of my personal stand on the war, had he been KIA, well...presumably he knew the risks.

However, his death occurred while in custody--so, unless you're ready to toss out the Geneva Conventions (which means no whining should Americans suffer a similar fate), it's valid to ask what the hell happened and why. As Baden and Cyril Wecht (also known to Kennedy assassination conspiracy believers) both do:

Wecht believes that Jamadi "died of compromised respiration," and that "the position the body was in would have been the cause of death." He added, "Mind you, I’m not a critic of the Iraq war. But I don’t think we should reduce ourselves to the insurgents' barbaric levels."

Looks like I disagree with Wecht on both JFK and the war--but I'm in firm agreement with him on the issue of torturing people to death, whether or not you call it "Palestinian Hanging," crucifixion, or whatever.

Apologists for torture are forever devising Rube Goldberg justifications or reprising 24 plots to back their claims...which is sort of like trying to strategize Gulf War I with a US Civil War documentary. In other words, it's both stupid AND dangerously inept.

Torturing people, in the REAL world, will accomplish VERY limited things: for the sadistically demented, it provides some element of pleasure. It certainly is painful for the torture-ee. And finally, in a war like Iraq, it probably generates tons of antipathy from the local populace while providing either bogus information--or no information, as was apparently the case with al-Jamadi. It's both penny foolish AND dollar dumb.

Which is probably why it's been embraced so heartily by this administration--well, that and probably because some of them truly ARE sick in the head.
Orwellian Slips

King of Zembla--who earned a Team Spirit Award from Avedon Carol recently--points to Harper's A History of the Iraq War, Told Entirely in Lies:

All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers. In places, tenses have been changed for clarity. Originally from Harper's Magazine, October 2003. By Sam Smith.

Once again, we were defending both ourselves and the safety and survival of civilization itself. September 11 signaled the arrival of an entirely different era. We faced perils we had never thought about, perils we had never seen before. For decades, terrorists had waged war against this country. Now, under the leadership of President Bush, America would wage war against them. It was a struggle between good and it was a struggle between evil.

It was absolutely clear that the number-one threat facing America was from Saddam Hussein. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda had high-level contacts that went back a decade. We learned that Iraq had trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and deadly gases. The regime had long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations. Iraq and Al Qaeda had discussed safe-haven opportunities in Iraq. Iraqi officials denied accusations of ties with Al Qaeda. These denials simply were not credible. You couldn't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talked about the war on terror.
Weapons of Mass Destruction

Well, we finally found some in Iraq--the only problem is that we brought them there ourselves:

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon...

In December the US government formally denied the reports, describing them as "widespread myths". "Some news accounts have claimed that US forces have used 'outlawed' phosphorus shells in Fallujah," the USinfo website said. "Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes.

"They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters."

But now new information has surfaced, including hideous photographs and videos and interviews with American soldiers who took part in the Fallujah attack, which provides graphic proof that phosphorus shells were widely deployed in the city as a weapon.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete.

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for."

A biologist in Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq, interviewed for the film, says: "A rain of fire fell on the city, the people struck by this multi-coloured substance started to burn, we found people dead with strange wounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact."

The documentary, entitled Fallujah: the Hidden Massacre, also provides what it claims is clinching evidence that incendiary bombs known as Mark 77, a new, improved form of napalm, was used in the attack on Fallujah, in breach of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of 1980, which only allows its use against military targets.

The Christian Science Monitor has more, as does Information Clearing House. For those who either read Italian, or have broadband access, RAI's site has articles and even streaming video (including an English version), along with a series of photographs that look pretty the Cheney administration, that is.

Talk about a downward spiral--Team Bush asleep at the wheel prior to 9/11; today we've got a vice president who openly endorses torture regardless of whether or not it produces actionable intelligence...Afghanistan is crumbling, Chalabi is actually allowed to visit DC without being immediately put in handcuffs (if not immediately locked up in a maximum security prison--general population), the GOP is literally chasing its tail when they're not setting themselves up on charges of, overseas, we've got the specter of gulags, chemical weapons, abuse of prisoners, more or less indiscriminate killing of civilians...and no decline in the number of terrorist nutjobs. In fact, on the last point, we've given terrorist nutjobs a place to hone their skills while simultaneous making a mockery of the 'flypaper' strategery and alienating Iraqi civilians we ostensibly were liberating.

And it's all based on flat out lies. Lies perpetrated by an administration not so much elected as selected back in 2000. An administration that looks after fat-cat cronies, but can't be bothered with looking after its own citizens. On that subject, YRHT and PGR both have posts up noting grandiose plans from Team Bush for wetlands IRAQ (fat chance of it happening), while the Gulf Coast is told to talk to the hand...if not the finger. Unbelievable.

I wish I could say "wake me up when it's over." But it isn't a bad dream.
Evolution on the Hudson?

Maybe...or perhaps it's just another example of how, if I remember right, Gore Vidal once described the paper of record--paraphrasing here, it was something like never standing on the front lines, but, once the battle ends, always willing to go out and shoot the wounded.

The wounded, in this case, being it's not like I have any sympathy. I just wish American Pravda would've taken their stand BEFORE Operation Head-Meet-Wall...Rinse, Repeat--Over and Over commenced. Then, it might actually have meant something. Instead, it was all Miss Run Amok, all the time.

After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long.

I suppose hindsight is better than no sight (i.e., Faux News), and their startling ("I'm shocked, shocked, to find gambling going on here") discovery that the corpse is rotting from the top (Big Time AND Little Shrubleroy) might well be of some significance...the journalistic equivalent of a primitive lungfish flopping about on dry land, and inhaling atmospheric oxygen (instead of consuming the mounds of garbage tossed overboard by the Bushistas)...hell, one can hope. But I've also learned to be realistic and not expect TOO much. After all, lungfish didn't evolve in a day.

Besides, it could be instead that we're merely seeing, to use another cliche, yet another dinosaur trying to play catch up--in this case, with a public already sick and tired of a government hijacked by a pack of hyenas--hyenas lacking even basic competence:

THE INDICTMENT of the vice president's chief of staff for perjury and obstruction of justice is an occasion to consider just how damaging the long public career of Richard Cheney has been to the United States. He began as a political scientist devoted to caring for the elbow of Donald Rumsfeld. As a congressman, Rumsfeld had reliably voted against programs to help the nation's poor, so (as I recalled in reading James Mann's ''Rise of the Vulcans") it was with more than usual cynicism that Richard Nixon appointed him head of the Office of Economic Opportunity, the antipoverty agency. Rumsfeld named Cheney as his deputy, and the two set out to gut the program-- the beginning of the Republican rollback of the Great Society, what we saw in New Orleans this fall...

Dismissing detente as moral relativism, Cheney so believed in Cold War bipolarity that when it began to melt in the late 1980s, he tried to refreeze it. As George H.W. Bush's secretary of defense, Cheney was key to America's refusal to accommodate the hopeful new spirit of the age. Violence was in retreat, with peace breaking out across the globe, from the Philippines to South Africa, Ireland, the Middle East, and Central America. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Cheney forged America's response -- which was, little over a month later, to wage an illegal war against Panama...

The first Gulf War, remembered by Americans as justified, was in fact an unnecessary affirmation of military might as the ground of international order, just as an historic alternative was opening up. US responses in that period, mainly shaped by Cheney, stand in stark contrast to Gorbachev's, who, refusing to call on military might even to save the Soviet Union, was ordering his soldiers back to their barracks. The unsentimental Cheney, eschewing human rights rhetoric, was explicit in defining America's Gulf War interest as all about oil. (The oil industry having made Cheney rich.) Cheney's initiatives, more than any other's, defined the insult to the Arab world that spawned Al Qaeda.

With all of this as prelude, it seems as tragic as it was inevitable that Cheney was behind the wheel again when the next fork in the road appeared before the nation. When the World Trade Center towers were hit in New York, it was Cheney who told a shaken President Bush to flee. The true nature of their relationship (Cheney, not Bush, having shaped the national security team; Cheney, not Bush, having appointed himself as vice president) showed itself for a moment.

The 9/11 Commission found that, from the White House situation room, Cheney warned the president that a ''specific threat" had targeted Air Force One, prompting Bush to spend the day hiding in the bunker at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska. There was no specific threat. In Bush's absence, Cheney, implying an authorizing telephone call from the president, took command of the nation's response to the crisis. There was no authorizing telephone call. The 9/11 Commission declined to make an issue of Cheney's usurpation of powers, but the record shows it.

At world-shaping moments across a generation, Cheney reacted with an instinctive, This is war! He helped turn the War on Poverty into a war on the poor. He helped keep the Cold War going longer than it had to, and when it ended (because of initiatives taken by the other side), Cheney refused to believe it. To keep the US war machine up and running, he found a new justification just in time. With Gulf War I, Cheney ignited Osama bin Laden's burning purpose. Responding to 9/11, Cheney fulfilled bin Laden's purpose by joining him in the war-of-civilizations. Iraq, therefore (including the prewar deceit for which Scooter Libby takes the fall), is simply the last link in the chain of disaster which is the public career of Richard Cheney.

Moving back to evolution (no pun intended), Congressional Democrats as well are attempting to reclaim their collective spines and perhaps might one day recognize the benefits both of STANDING for something AND proffering a good, swift kick to the GOP hindquarters now and again--as they say, politics ain't beanbag. It's just a goddamned shame that it takes thousands getting killed on the basis of flat out lies before someone notices a small problem: unaccountable government might as well be government minus consent of the governed. We supposedly took care of THAT problem a while back.

But forgetting the past, as they say, is tantamount to repeating it--or something like that. Or maybe it's another lesson in evolution: linear progress isn't a takes work...hard work.

Monday, November 07, 2005

"Coalition of the Clueless"

I'll begin with Bob Herbert (sent by a friend--maybe TruthOut will post it as well in a few days):

Dick Cheney is simultaneously running from questions about his role in the Valerie Wilson affair and fighting like mad to block any measure that would outlaw torture by the C.I.A. His former top aide, Scooter Libby, one of the original Iraq war zealots, is now an accused felon who is seldom seen in public unaccompanied by defense counsel.

Donald Rumsfeld, the high-strutting, high-profile defense secretary who was supposed to win this war in a walk, is suddenly on the down-low. There are people in the witness protection program who are easier to find than Rummy.

As for the president, he went all the way to South America to get away from the Washington heat. But even within the luxurious confines of Air Force One, Mr. Bush found that he couldn't escape the increasingly corrosive effect of the fiascos plaguing his administration...

The fact that Mr. Bush is struggling in his own political purgatory (for the sin of incompetence) is bad news for the soldiers in Iraq, where the suffering and dying continues unabated. The administration that was so anxious to throw scores of thousands of healthy young Americans into the flames of war now has no idea how to get them out.

Troops are being sent into Iraq for two, three, even four combat tours by an administration in which clowns like Scooter Libby and Karl Rove were playing games with the identity of a C.I.A. agent, and the vice president has been obsessed with his twisted protect-the-torturers campaign.

Now the Bush crew, which should be focused like a laser on what to do about the war, is consumed with damage control - pumping up the poll numbers, defending its handling of prewar intelligence, fending off further indictments and staying out of prison.

The war? There's no plan for the war. The architects of this war had no idea what they were getting into, and they are just as clueless now. The war just goes on and on, which is not just tragic - it's criminal.

So we can add yet another sin--incompetence--to the seven deadly ones Juan Cole pointed out, and the administration's just plain sick obsession with torture (noted around blogistan today).

As for the, um, war plan, or lack thereof, the Brits noticed too, and let Tony Blair know being Bush's bitch was a legacy-defining moment, but not a legacy-enhancing one:

Tony Blair repeatedly passed up opportunities to put a brake on the rush to war in Iraq, a failure that may have contributed to the country's present anarchy, according to Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain's ambassador to Washington at the time, in his book DC Confidential, serialised in the Guardian from today...

Sir Christopher, highly critical of Mr Blair's performance in the run-up to the war, argues the prime minister and his team were "seduced" by the proximity and glamour of US power and reluctant to negotiate conditions with George Bush for Britain's support for the war.

He says Mr Blair failed to exploit his enormous leverage with Mr Bush not only to secure a precious delay but to plan for postwar Iraq. "We may have been the junior partner in the enterprise but the ace up our sleeve was that America did not want to go it alone. Had Britain so insisted, Iraq after Saddam might have avoided the violence that may yet prove fatal to the entire enterprise."

But Mr Blair did not have any appetite for bargaining with Mr Bush, according to Sir Christopher: "Tony Blair chose to take his stand against Saddam and alongside President Bush from the highest of high moral ground. It is the definitive riposte to Blair the Poodle, seduced though he and his team always appeared to be by the proximity and glamour of American power...

The former diplomat accuses Mr Blair of weakness in failing to engage Mr Bush in the "plain-speaking conversation" that needed to take place. "Had Blair told Bush in clear and explicit terms that he would be unable to support a war unless British wishes were met? I doubted it."

The Washington embassy repeatedly advised Downing Street to use its leverage, but was ignored.

Delaying the invasion from March to the autumn would have allowed the United Nations weapons inspectors extra months to establish whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, enabled the US and Britain to reach an understanding with France and Russia, two of the biggest sceptics about war, and increased international support, instead of going to war "in the company of a motley ad hoc coalition of allies".

The former diplomat, who enjoyed unparalleled access to all the key members of Mr Bush's administration and supported the war, provides the most detailed account yet of the thinking inside the White House and Downing Street in the 18 months running up to the invasion in March 2003. He says of the war now: "History's verdict looks likely to be that it was terminally flawed both in conception and execution."

Publication comes at a time when Mr Blair is vulnerable domestically, and the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the chief of staff of Vice-President Dick Cheney, has reopened the debate in the US about why the country went to war.

Sir Christopher records a conversation with Mr Libby who told him "we were the only ally that mattered. That was a powerful lever". But the former ambassador says London "was not fertile ground for the notion of leverage or the tough negotiating position that must sometimes be taken even with the closest allies - as Churchill did with Roosevelt and Thatcher did with Reagan"...

The former ambassador says a delay from March to autumn 2003 could have made a significant difference: "Even if the most optimistic predictions are finally realised for Iraq, the question will still be asked: why did the Americans and British make it so hard for themselves and even harder for Iraqis? The US and the UK would have stood a better chance of going to war in good order, and of doing the aftermath right, had they planned on an autumn, not a spring, campaign."

But the coalition of the clueless couldn't stand to be delayed. Hell, I don't know about y'all, but watching the foot stamping by Team Bush, the various neocons, and their fellow travelers aching for a war (to be fought by the reeks and wrecks, of course)...was enlightening for me, and also not in a good way--war sold as the ultimate temper tantrum of a child.

Finally, for some perspective in the country itself, Riverbend cuts through all the bullshit and tells us, in so many words, what Bush accomplished:

Congratulations Americans- not only are the hardliner Iranian clerics running the show in Iran- they are also running the show in Iraq. This shift of power should have been obvious to the world when My-Loyalty-to-the-Highest-Bidder-Chalabi sold his allegiance to Iran last year. American and British sons and daughters and husbands and wives are dying so that this coming December, Iraqis can go out and vote for Iran influenced clerics to knock us back a good four hundred years.

I guess the neocons call that "making progress."
Connecting Dots

I almost called this "Connecting THE Dots," but TalkingPointsMemo is doing a different, but just as significant version of dot connecting in regards to the Niger forgeries.

You could say Marshall's pieces are even more significant, since there's the possibility of clear evidence emerging to implicate Team Bush in deliberate fabrication of intelligence for the purpose of pursuing long-term clusterfuck war...but Frank Rich's op-ed--thanks TruthOut, for the reprint--uses the death of Pat Tillman to demonstrate an ONGOING pattern of deceptions, half-truths, outright lies, and contempt for open government characteristic of this administration. To get all cliche-ey, Marshall is looking for the fire; Rich notes there's an awful lot of smoke:

The medium is the message. This administration just loves to beguile us with a rollicking good story, truth be damned. The propagandistic fable exposed by the leak case - the apocalyptic imminence of Saddam's mushroom clouds - was only the first of its genre. Given that potboiler's huge success at selling the war, its authors couldn't resist providing sequels once we were in Iraq. As the American casualty toll surges past 2,000 and Veterans Day approaches, we need to remember and unmask those scenarios as well. Our troops and their families have too often made the ultimate sacrifice for the official fictions that have corrupted every stage of this war.

If there's a tragic example that can serve as representative of the rest, it is surely that of Pat Tillman, the Arizona Cardinals defensive back who famously volunteered for the Army in the spring after 9/11, giving up a $3.6 million N.F.L. contract extension. Tillman wanted to pay something back to his country by pursuing the enemy that actually attacked it, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Instead he was sent to fight a war in Iraq that he didn't see coming when he enlisted because the administration was still hatching it in secret. Only on a second tour of duty was he finally sent into Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan, where, on April 22, 2004, he was killed. On April 30, an official Army press release announcing his Silver Star citation filled in vivid details of his last battle. Tillman, it said, was storming a hill to take out the enemy, even as he "personally provided suppressive fire with an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon machine gun."

It would be a compelling story, if only it were true. Five weeks after Tillman's death, the Army acknowledged abruptly, without providing details, that he had "probably" died from friendly fire. Many months after that, investigative journalists at The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times reported that the Army's initial portrayal of his death had been not only bogus but also possibly a cover-up of something darker. "The records show that Tillman fought bravely and honorably until his last breath," Steve Coll wrote in The Post in December 2004. "They also show that his superiors exaggerated his actions and invented details as they burnished his legend in public, at the same time suppressing details that might tarnish Tillman's commanders."

This fall The San Francisco Chronicle uncovered still more details with the help of Tillman's divorced parents, who have each reluctantly gone public after receiving conflicting and heavily censored official reports on three Army investigations that only added to the mysteries surrounding their son's death. (Yet another inquiry is under way.) "The administration clearly was using this case for its own political reasons," said Patrick Tillman, Pat Tillman's father, who discovered that crucial evidence in the case, including his son's uniform and gear, had been destroyed almost immediately. "This cover-up started within minutes of Pat's death, and it started at high levels."

His accusations are far from wild. The Chronicle found that Gen. John Abizaid, the top American officer in Iraq, and others in his command had learned by April 29, 2004, that friendly fire had killed their star recruit. That was the day before the Army released its fictitious press release of Tillman's hillside firefight and four days before a nationally televised memorial service back home enshrined the fake account of his death. Yet Tillman's parents, his widow, his brother (who served in the same platoon) and politicians like John McCain (who spoke at Tillman's memorial) were not told the truth for another month.

Why? It's here where we find a repeat of the same pattern that drove the Valerie Wilson leak a year earlier. Faced with unwelcome news - from the front, from whistle-blowers, from scandal - this administration will always push back with change-the-subject stunts (like specious terror alerts), fake news or, as with Joseph Wilson, smear campaigns. Much as the White House was out to bring down Mr. Wilson because he threatened to expose its prewar hype of Saddam's supposed nuclear prowess, so the Pentagon might have been out to delay or rewrite a story that could be trouble when public opinion on the war itself was just starting to plummet...

Pat Tillman's case is itself a replay of the fake "Rambo" escapades ascribed to Pfc. Jessica Lynch a year earlier, just when Operation Iraqi Freedom showed the first tentative signs of trouble and the Pentagon needed a feel-good distraction. As if to echo Mary Tillman, Ms. Lynch told Time magazine this year, "I was used as a symbol." But the troops aren't just used as symbols for the commander in chief's political purposes. They are also drafted to serve as photo-op props and extras, whether in an extravaganza like "Mission Accomplished" or a throwaway dog-and-pony show like the recent teleconference in which the president held a "conversation" with soldiers who sounded as spontaneous as the brainwashed G.I.'s in "The Manchurian Candidate."

As Mr. Bush's approval rating crashes into the 30's, he and the vice president are so desperate to wrap themselves in khaki that on the day of the Libby indictment, they took separate day trips to mouth the usual stay-the-course platitudes before military audiences. If this was a ploy to split the focus of cable news networks and the public, it failed. Perhaps Scooter Libby is hoping that a so-called faulty-memory defense will save him from jail, but too many other Americans are now refreshing their memories of what went down in the plotting and execution of the war in Iraq. What they find are harsh truths and buried secrets that even the most compelling administration scenarios can no longer disguise.

Thanks to a good friend for pointing out the Rich column to me. As for Team Bush, I'm running out of ways to call them a gang of sick fucks/incompetent fools/clowns in search of a circus, etc. Shit, eternal damnation might be too lenient for the lot of em.
All Seven

Juan Cole makes a convincing case that the man who referred to "Jesus Christ" as his biggest political influence has some 'splainin to do:


On May 2, 2003, Bush landed on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit to declare the end of major combat in Iraq. From the staged character of the event (the aircraft carrier was just offshore and there was no need to fly out to it), to the famous codpiece flight suit (which was intended to exude machismo), to the banner "Mission Accomplished," the entire event was suffused with overweening pride.

Major combat was, of course, not then over, and is not over in fall of 2005. Bush compounded his pridefulness with a speech on July 2, 2003, when he addressed the growing guerrilla movement in Iraq and said, "Bring'em on!"...


The Bush administration envied the old imperial powers such as the British Empire, and wanted to recreate that age. They could not, and the whole idea that they could was far-fetched to begin with.


Bush and his team were angry at those who criticized their propaganda about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction...


Bush vacations relentlessly, and especially in August. It was while on vacation that Bush declined to act early and forcefully in both the tsunami and in the Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans. If laziness or sloth is the absence of appropriate zeal, that absence has deeply marked his presidency.

Bush has still not brought Usamah Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who killed nearly 3,000 Americans and attacked both New York and the Pentagon, to justice.

The Bush administration is guilty of imperial overstretch with regard to Iraq...


Over-consumption of petroleum drives some significant part of the Bush administration''s Middle East policies.

Lust can be for sex but also for power. A person who lusts have power wants more of it than is good for anyone.

Lust for power caused Bush to make many of his most important mistakes.

And that doesn't even count the ugly savagery of torture that Big Time is so keen on. Christians should maybe think twice before bestowing their blessings on the boy and his master.
Bush: We Do Not Torture--But Don't Make Us Stop

At this point, the dauphin might hope that he DOES fade into insignificance. The alternative is being forever remembered as criminal--the literal counterweight to Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.

President Bush vigorously defended U.S. interrogation practices in the war on terror Monday and lobbied against a congressional drive to outlaw torture...

He declared, "We do not torture."

Over White House opposition, the Senate has passed legislation banning torture. With Vice President Dick Cheney as the point man, the administration is seeking an exemption for the CIA. It was recently disclosed that the spy agency maintains a network of prisons in eastern Europe and Asia, where it holds terrorist suspects.

The European Union is investigating the reports, which have not been confirmed by the White House.

Why am I not surprised to see Big Time's grubby fingers in the middle of this?

Over the past year, Vice President Cheney has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects, according to defense, state, intelligence and congressional officials.

Last winter, when Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, began pushing to have the full committee briefed on the CIA's interrogation practices, Cheney called him to the White House to urge that he drop the matter, said three U.S. officials.

In recent months, Cheney has been the force against adding safeguards to the Defense Department's rules on treatment of military prisoners, putting him at odds with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England. On a trip to Canada last month, Rice interrupted a packed itinerary to hold a secure video-teleconference with Cheney on detainee policy to make sure no decisions were made without her input.

Just last week, Cheney showed up at a Republican senatorial luncheon to lobby lawmakers for a CIA exemption to an amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The exemption would cover the CIA's covert "black sites" in several Eastern European democracies and other countries where key al Qaeda captives are being kept.

And you know you're out on a limb when ELLIOT ABRAMS, for fuck's sake, opposes your tactics.

But in a reflection of how many within the administration now favor changing the rules, Elliot Abrams, traditionally one of the most hawkish voices in internal debates, is among the most persistent advocates of changing detainee policy in his role as the deputy national security adviser for democracy, according to officials familiar with his role.

Cheney's "defense," if one can dignify it with such a term, is a mix and match of hubris, divine right of kings, and a fanatical devotion to the pope...which probably explains why another clown noted for sufficient hot air to supply the Albuquerque balloon rally (and an ego the size of Rigel)--Ted Stevens--nodded in assent.

Satan is preparing adjoining cells.

Torquemada for the 21st Century--Big Time