Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wingnuttia in Words

Media Matters collects the, um, I was going to say "best," but maybe a better term is "most fitting" 'nut comments from the past year.
Bearing a Thirty Year Grudge

Maureen Dowd (sorry, no link) figured it out: with Dummy and Dick, it's all about payback:

Guys argue that women tend to stew and hold grudges more, sometimes popping up to blow the whistle on a man's bad behavior years later, like a missile out of the night, as Alan Simpson said of Anita Hill.

Yet look at Cheney and Rummy. Their steroid-infused power grabs stem from their years stewing in the Ford White House, a time when they felt emasculated because they were stripped of prerogatives.

Rummy, a Ford chief of staff who became defense secretary, and his protégé, Cheney, who succeeded him as chief of staff, felt diminished by the post-Watergate laws and reforms that reduced the executive branch's ability to be secretive and unilateral, tilting power back toward Congress.

The 70's were also a heady period for the press, which reached the zenith of its power when it swayed public opinion on Vietnam and exposed Watergate. Reporters got greater access to government secrets with a stronger Freedom of Information Act.
Chenrummy thought the press was running amok, that leaks should be plugged and that Congress was snatching power that rightfully belonged to the White House.

So these two crusty pals spent 30 years dreaming of inflating the deflated presidential muscularity. Cheney christened himself vice president and brought in Rummy for the most ridiculously pumped-up presidency ever. All this was fine with W., whose family motto is: "We know best. Trust us."

The two regents turned back the clock to the Nixon era, bringing back presidential excesses like wiretapping along with presidential power. As attorney general, John Ashcroft clamped down on the Freedom of Information Act. For two years, the Pentagon has been sitting on a request from The Times's Jeff Gerth to cough up a secret 500-page document prepared by Halliburton on what to do with Iraq's oil industry - a plan it wrote several months before the invasion of Iraq, and before it got a no-bid contract to implement the plan (and overbill the U.S.). Very convenient.

Defending warrantless wiretapping last week, the vice president spoke of his distaste for the erosion of presidential authority in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam.

"I do believe that, especially in the day and age we live in, the nature of the threats we face, it was true during the cold war, as well as I think what is true now, the president of the United States needs to have his constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will, in terms of the conduct of national security policy," he intoned. Translation: Back off, Congress and the press.

Checks, balances, warrants, civil liberties - they're all so 20th century. Historians must now regard the light transitional tenure of Gerald Ford as the petri dish of this darkly transformational presidency.

Consider this: when Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, supported by President Ford, pushed a plan to have the government help develop alternative sources of energy and reduce our dependence on oil and Saudi Arabia, guess who helped scotch it?

Dick Cheney. Then and now, the man is a menace
Extraordinary Rendition for the Holidays

Yeah, it's a couple days late (or maybe not--aren't there 12 days of Christmas?). But here are a couple of heartwarming--ok, bloodcurdling--tales of Yule, courtesy of Attaturk and John, maybe you don't want to read them to the kids.

Within in a few hours, the beating sound of a black helicopter approached Santa and Prancer. The elf, from his hiding place in a snowdrift, could only make out intermittent sounds across the howling coldness, but it seems armed men emerged from the helicopter, shot Prancer and shackled Santa, shoving him into the dark, beating machine. The elf heard a word that sounded like Guantanamo and Santa has not been heard from since. Reports of his fate reached the International Red Cross and organizations like Amnesty International, leading to inquiries, but these have been met only with silence from American authorities.


Frosty the Snowman melting into a puddle of water is so pre 9/11...
Your Tax Dollars at Work

Think about these stories the next time some GOP asshole throws a hissy fit over financing storm recovery here in the Gret Stet (hat tips to Hullabaloo, Susie Madrak, and AmericaBlog:

IT WAS astounding enough for Washington’s political elite: last month they discovered that the man at the heart of a scandal over the planting of US propaganda in Iraqi newspapers was a dapper but unknown 30-year-old Oxford graduate who had somehow managed to land a $100 million Pentagon contract.

What is even more remarkable however, after an investigation by The Times, is that just ten years ago Christian Bailey, whose US company is under investigation for planting fake news stories in Iraqi newspapers, was a nerdy, socially awkward English school-leaver called Jozefowicz.


In a program to help businesses after Sept. 11, a high percentage of government-backed loans went to recipients who appeared to be unqualified — some of them unaware they were receiving terrorism-recovery money, investigators report.

The Small Business Administration's inspector general said Wednesday that agency officials were at fault for telling lenders in the program that their determinations would not be questioned.

The inspector general concluded that only nine loan recipients in the 59 cases sampled appeared to be qualified for disaster loans.

Lenders who handed out billions of dollars in loans failed — 85 percent of the time — to document that recipients were actually hurt by the terrorism attacks and therefore eligible for the aid under the law, the report found.

The investigative report substantiates key findings of an Associated Press story in September that found similar problems with the SBA's Supplementary Terrorist Activity Relief (STAR) program.

The AP found that terrorism recovery loans went to a South Dakota radio station, a Virgin Islands perfume shop, a Utah dog boutique and more than 100 Dunkin' Donuts and Subway sandwich shops in various locations.

Meanwhile, small businesses near Ground Zero in New York couldn't get the assistance they desperately sought.

Let's see--we've got corruption, cronyism, and incompetence--a REAL trifecta.

The only real question is why anyone would be surprised--it's not like Shrub doesn't have a history of fuck-ups. The difference this time is that instead of rich friends bailing him out, it'll be us taxpayers--and we're also gonna be left holding the bag.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Uncertainty Principle

From today's WaPo:

A Shared Uncertainty
Hurricane Unites Evacuees on Both Sides Of New Orleans's Divide of Race and Class

NEW ORLEANS Joseph and Kesa Williams have come home once since Hurricane Katrina chased them off to Atlanta. Once was all they could bear.

Inside their ruined house on Delery Street in the Lower Ninth Ward, they found ceilings collapsed, possessions rotted and mold triumphant. They had expected as much from watching TV news. Much more disturbing was the abandoned-graveyard feel of the entire neighborhood, where working-class black families have owned houses for generations.

"From what I could see, nothing was happening," said Joseph Williams, 32, who has a new job as a probation officer in suburban Atlanta. "The only thing I found in my house that was worth taking was my high school class ring. I threw it back on the floor and we left."

Across town, Gary and Bea Quaintance, together with their son, Steven, 16, have moved back into their house on Memphis Street in Lakeview, a white middle-class neighborhood that was also wrecked by Katrina. Theirs, though, is an isolated, post-apocalyptic style of housekeeping. Lakeview is a neighborhood in name only, especially at night. The Quaintances are the only family on their block...

Politicians have yet to agree on a master plan for redeveloping the city or for deciding which neighborhoods should not be rebuilt.

What is clear is that New Orleans, which was two-thirds black and one-third poor before the storm, will shrink dramatically. Consulting groups have guessed that the city, once it is rebuilt, will lose about half its pre-Katrina population of 470,000. Right now, less than a quarter of that number live in the city, most in areas that sustained little damage from the hurricane.

As for the rest of the city, the first attempt at a recovery plan was released last month. It said that since the population was certain to shrivel, so should the city's footprint. The plan said safer, higher-elevation and less damaged neighborhoods deserve first crack at limited resources, while terribly damaged neighborhoods are sent to the end of the queue. It roped together the Lower Ninth Ward, which was 98 percent black, and parts of Lakeview, which was 94 percent white, into a kind of no man's land, where reconstruction should be delayed pending "significant study."

"Neighborhoods should be redeveloped as whole units and not piecemealed back together lot by lot," according to the plan. It warned against the "jack-o'-lantern syndrome," with homeowners rebuilding on abandoned blocks.

The plan -- which city leaders requested and which was put together by the Urban Land Institute, a research group in Washington -- kicked up an enormous fuss.

Black leaders, in particular, said it would disproportionately zero out their neighborhoods. The City Council unanimously rejected the plan. Mayor C. Ray Nagin, facing reelection next year along with the council, also backed away from it.

A revision of the plan, expected to be made public next month, cushions the sharp elbows of the Urban Land Institute, said Reed Kroloff, dean of Tulane University's architecture school and a member of the panel working on the revised blueprint.

If approved by the mayor's Bring New Orleans Back Commission, it would give residents a year to prove which neighborhoods are viable. They would do so by voting with their feet, moving back home and spending money to rebuild. After a year, the city or a yet-to-be-created redevelopment authority would decide if a neighborhood is on the road to recovery or should be bought out.

Here's the whole article.

And it bears repeating that if the levees (a federal project) had held, we wouldn't be reading pieces like this.
Flat Earth Types

Maybe you've already seen this--Atrios had a link--but if you haven't:

The television commercials are attention-grabbing: Newly found Iraqi documents show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and mustard gas, and had "extensive ties" to al Qaeda. The discoveries are being covered up by those "willing to undermine support for the war on terrorism to selfishly advance their shameless political ambitions."

The hard-hitting spots are part of a recent public-relations barrage aimed at reversing a decline in public support for President Bush's handling of Iraq. But these advertisements aren't paid for by the Republican National Committee or other established White House allies. Instead, they are sponsored by Move America Forward, a media-savvy outside advocacy group that has become one of the loudest -- and most controversial -- voices in the Iraq debate.

While even Mr. Bush now publicly acknowledges the mistakes his administration made in judging the threat posed by Mr. Hussein, the organization is taking to the airwaves to insist that the White House was right all along.

Similar to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- the advocacy group that helped derail John Kerry's presidential campaign -- Move America Forward has magnified its reach by making small television and radio ad buys and then relying on cable- and local-television news outlets to give the commercials heavy coverage. Move America Forward has no discernible formal ties to the White House or the Republican National Committee, and the group says it operates independently from the Republican Party establishment. Still, the organization provides a clear benefit to the administration by spreading a pro-war message that goes beyond what administration officials can say publicly.

Well, ignorance is both bliss and boundless, I guess. On the one hand, perhaps these people are just vocal versions of the minions mentioned in The Grand Inquisitor: too afraid of freedom to actually embrace it, so they allow the Church to hold it in trust. But maybe that's giving them too much credit. Perhaps they're more like the "Man in Crowd III" (John Cleese) from Life of Brian: "I say you are [the messiah], Lord, and I should know; I've followed a few!"

Regardless, they're pathetic.

Take a look.

Learning Curve(ball)

From King of Zembla, here's a link to Eliot Weinberger's VERY comprehensive compendium entitled What I Learned Abut Iraq in 2005, as published in the London Review of Books. Although I highly recommend it, it's a long read. Maybe print out a copy for reference--one nice thing is that you can read a few paragraphs, take a break and/or pick up either at the same place or elsewhere. Here's a series of excerpts:

In 2005 I heard that Coalition forces were camped in the ruins of Babylon. I heard that bulldozers had dug trenches through the site and cleared areas for helicopter landing pads and parking lots, that thousands of sandbags had been filled with dirt and archaeological fragments, that a 2600-year-old brick pavement had been crushed by tanks, and that the moulded bricks of dragons had been gouged out from the Ishtar Gate by soldiers collecting souvenirs. I heard that the ruins of the Sumerian cities of Umma, Umm al-Akareb, Larsa and Tello were completely destroyed and were now landscapes of craters.

I saw a headline in the Los Angeles Times that read: ‘After Levelling City, US Tries to Build Trust.’

I heard that Iraq was now ranked with Haiti and Senegal as one of the poorest nations on earth. I heard the United Nations Human Rights Commission report that acute malnutrition among Iraqi children had doubled since the war began. I heard that only 5 per cent of the money Congress had allocated for reconstruction had actually been spent. I heard that in Fallujah people were living in tents pitched on the ruins of their houses.

I heard that this year’s budget included $105 billion for the War on Terror, which would bring the total to $300 billion. I heard that Halliburton was estimating that its bill for providing services to US troops in Iraq would exceed $10 billion. I heard that the family of an American soldier killed in Iraq receives $12,000.

I heard that 50,000 US soldiers in Iraq did not have body armour, because the army’s equipment manager had placed it at the same priority level as socks. I heard that soldiers were buying their own flak jackets with steel ‘trauma’ plates, Camelbak water pouches, ballistic goggles, knee and elbow pads, drop pouches to hold ammunition magazines, and load-bearing vests. I heard they were rigging their vehicles with pieces of scrap metal as protection against roadside bombs, since the production of armoured Humvees had fallen more than a year behind schedule and the few available armoured vehicles were mainly reserved for officers and visiting dignitaries.

I heard that the private security firm Custer Battles had been paid $15 million to provide security for civilian flights at Baghdad airport at a time when no planes were flying. I heard that US forces were still unable to secure the two-mile highway from the airport to the Green Zone.

I heard the President, at North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego, compare the War on Terror to World War Two. I heard him quote the words of Captain Randy Stone, a marine in Iraq: ‘I know we will win because I see it in the eyes of the marines every morning. In their eyes is the sparkle of victory.’ In a long speech, I heard him briefly mention Hurricane Katrina, which had struck a few days before and which, at the time, was believed to have killed tens of thousands. I heard him say: ‘I urge everyone in the affected areas to continue to follow instructions from state and local authorities.’

I heard that the emergency response to the hurricane had been hampered because 35 per cent of the Louisiana National Guard and 40 per cent of the Mississippi National Guard, as well as much of their equipment and vehicles, were in Iraq. Approximately 5000 Guards and troops were eventually deployed; in 1992, following Hurricane Andrew in Florida, George Bush Sr had sent in 36,000 troops. I heard that the Guardsmen in Iraq were denied emergency two-week leave to help or find their families. I heard they were told by their commanders that there were too few US troops in Iraq to spare them.

A few weeks after the hurricane, I heard the President say: ‘You know, something we – I’ve been thinking a lot about how America has responded, and it’s clear to me that Americans value human life, and value every person as important. And that stands in stark contrast, by the way, to the terrorists we have to deal with. You see, we look at the destruction caused by Katrina, and our hearts break. They’re the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it. We’re in a war against these people. It’s a War on Terror.’

I heard a White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, say: ‘The President knows one of his most important responsibilities is to comfort the families of the fallen.’ I heard Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey had been killed in Iraq, describe her meeting with the President.

I heard her say: ‘He first got there, he walked in and said: “So who are we honouring here?” He didn’t even know Casey’s name, he didn’t, nobody could have whispered to him: “Mr President, this is the Sheehan family, their son Casey was killed in Iraq.” We thought that was pretty disrespectful to not even know Casey’s name, and to walk in and say: “So who are we honourin’ here?” Like: “Let’s get on with it, let’s get somebody honoured here.” So anyway, he went up to my oldest daughter, I keep calling her my oldest daughter but she’s actually my oldest child now, and he said: “So who are you to the loved one?” And Carly goes: “Casey was my brother.” And George Bush says: “I wish I could bring your loved one back, to fill the hole in your heart.” And Carly said: “Yeah, so do we.” And Bush said: “I’m sure you do.” And he gave her a dirty look and turned away from her.’

As the President moved to his ranch for a six-week summer vacation, Cindy Sheehan camped out at the entrance, demanding another meeting, which the President refused. I heard him say: ‘I think it’s important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say. But I think it’s also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life. I think the people want the President to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy. And part of my being is to be outside exercising.’

I heard that privately he had said: ‘I’m not meeting again with that goddamned bitch. She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.’

I heard that 1100 bodies were brought to the Baghdad morgue in one month, many with hands bound and a bullet in the head. I heard that between 10 and 20 per cent were too disfigured to be identified. I heard that in the Saddam era the number was normally around 200. I heard that doctors were ordered not to perform post-mortems on bodies brought in by US troops.

I heard the President, still on vacation at his ranch, say: ‘A time of war is a time of sacrifice.’ I heard a reporter ask him if he planned to do any fishing, and I heard the President reply: ‘I don’t know yet. I haven’t made up my mind yet. I’m kind of hanging loose, as they say.’

In 2003, Dick Cheney had said: ‘Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush’s vice-president, I’ve severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven’t had, now, for over three years.’ I heard that he was still receiving deferred compensation and owned more than 433,000 stock options. Those options were worth $241,498 in 2004. In 2005 they were worth more than $8 million. Along with its $10 billion no-bid contracts in Iraq, Halliburton was hired to expand the prison at Guantanamo and was among the first to receive a no-bid contract for Hurricane Katrina relief.

I heard that the average monthly war coverage on the ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts, combined, had gone from 388 minutes in 2003, to 274 in 2004, to 166 in 2005.

I heard that 2110 US troops had died in Iraq and more than 15,881 had been wounded. Ninety-four per cent of those deaths had come after the ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech, the first two sentences of which were: ‘Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.’ I heard there were now an average of a hundred insurgent attacks a day and an average of three American soldiers dying, the highest violence and casualty rates since the war began.

I heard that the President, in response to the increasing criticism, was going to reveal a new strategy for Iraq. On 30 November 2005, the administration issued a 35-page report: ‘National Strategy for Victory in Iraq’. On a page headed ‘Our Strategy Is Working’, I read that, on the ‘Economic Track’, ‘Our Restore, Reform, Build strategy is achieving results’; on the ‘Political Track’, ‘Our Isolate, Engage and Build strategy is working’; and on the ‘Security Track’, ‘Our Clear, Hold and Build strategy is working.’ General goals would be achieved in the ‘short’, ‘medium’ or ‘long’ term. The report ended with ‘The Eight Strategic Pillars’ (‘Strategic Pillar One: Defeat the Terrorists and Neutralise the Insurgency; Strategic Pillar Two: Transition Iraq to Security Self-Reliance’), like the Five Pillars of Islam or Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I heard that the ‘Strategy’ contained few specific details because it was the ‘public version of a classified document’. Then I heard that there was no classified document.

That same day, I heard the President address the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. I heard him say: ‘We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory.’ I heard him say: ‘To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander in chief.’ In a front of a huge sign that read plan for victory, he stood at a podium bearing a huge sign that read plan for victory. I wondered whether ‘plan’ was a verb.

The only thing I might add to Robert Steinback's op-ed (link from America Blog) is that we've also seen an entire region needlessly devastated, and subsequently ignored--the flip side of a strategy designed to instill constant fear.

If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.
Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.

If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.

If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marie Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy.

That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path...

Bush would have us excuse his administration's excesses in deference to the ''war on terror'' -- a war, it should be pointed out, that can never end. Terrorism is a tactic, an eventuality, not an opposition army or rogue nation. If we caught every person guilty of a terrorist act, we still wouldn't know where tomorrow's first-time terrorist will strike. Fighting terrorism is a bit like fighting infection -- even when it's beaten, you must continue the fight or it will strike again.

Are we agreeing, then, to give the king unfettered privilege to defy the law forever? It's time for every member of Congress to weigh in: Do they believe the president is above the law, or bound by it?

Bush stokes our fears, implying that the only alternative to doing things his extralegal way is to sit by fitfully waiting for terrorists to harm us. We are neither weak nor helpless. A proud, confident republic can hunt down its enemies without trampling legitimate human and constitutional rights.

Ultimately, our best defense against attack -- any attack, of any sort -- is holding fast and fearlessly to the ideals upon which this nation was built. Bush clearly doesn't understand or respect that. Do we?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

That's It?

Maybe it's just me, but I keep noticing how the media continues to adopt the Bushian method of dealing with war's peace--the notices keep getting smaller and smaller. For example, here's one from today:

MARAVILLOSA, Myla L., 24, Sgt., Army Reserve; Wahiawa, Hawaii; 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion

And that's it. Meanwhile, recruiters up in Duluth are throwing a hissy fit because the office next to theirs--which hosts a campaign headquarters for State Senator and candidate for governor Steve Kelley--also carries a message in the window listing the numbers of soliders killed and wounded since the onset of hostilities. The board is the work of campaign volunteer and wounded Vietnam veteran Scott Cameron, who says his message is both of remberance and tribute...although, he notes, it certainly offers potential recruits an idea of what they could be getting into.

For more on that, take a look at this story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer...and when you've finished reading that, maybe check out this photo essay showing the blessings of Shrubian freedom.

War is never as simple as it's proponents claim--and given the distinct lack of military experience at the top of government, one can easily make the case that they don't know what the hell they're talking about when they do make their claims.
Help...and Pity

From the Science Section of New Pravda, we not only get a link to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but also to Zygote Games, which now offers residents of Kansas a 20 percent discount. Why Kansas?

They explain:

Simple: the Kansas Board of Education has attempted to give equal space in the state public school biology curriculum to the doctrine of "Intelligent Design," claiming that it is a "scientific theory" about the origin and development of life. It isn't, of course, and when real scientists complained that "Intelligent Design" fits none of the criteria for an actual scientific theory, the Board responded by redefining "science" so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations for phenomena.

Sure, they can call it 'intelligent design.' But it doesn't make believers in it any less stupid.
The Second Storm

From Cursor, I see Hurricane Rita topped CJR's list of forgotten stories from 2005...although New Pravda managed to find space for coverage today:

No one died in Hurricane Rita, which struck early on Sept. 24, thanks to a vigorous evacuation plan, but the storm destroyed or rendered structurally unsound about half of the 5,400 parish homes and commercial buildings examined by the Army Corps of Engineers, parish officials said. They caution that many more structures may also have to be condemned. In the lower part of the parish, as few as 20 of 1,000 residences may be inhabitable, according to the most dire estimates. Residents remain scattered.

There is a great fear here, residents say, that the hurricane destroyed not only property but a way of life. Many of the parish's 10,000 residents say they feel both neglected by the federal response and suspicious that outsiders will dictate their future with prohibitive building codes and flood insurance requirements. They worry that even if they want to return to lower portions of the parish, they may not be able to afford it.

Louisiana was hammered on both east and west sides by storms this year--and the blows struck extra hard thanks to the rapidly eroding coast.

And, as a friend just reminded me, Bush found time to adjust his schedule to sign Terry Schiavo legislation--but evidently he can no longer be bothered by Louisiana--home of the nation's largest port, and supplier of upwards of 20 percent of the nation's oil.

Think about it.

I forget if it was Hullabaloo or Washington Monthly (then CalPundit) who cited Machiavelli's advice re: exiles with regard to Ahmad Chalabi.

(short version: Machiavelli's advice: don't trust 'em).

Chalabi's performance in the election lends additional credence to this warning:

Unexpectedly low support from overseas voters has left Ahmed Chalabi -- the returned Iraqi exile once backed by the United States to lead Iraq -- facing a shutout from power in this month's vote for the country's first full-term parliament since the 2003 invasion...

With 95 percent of a preliminary tally from the Dec. 15 vote now completed, Chalabi remained almost 8,000 votes short of the 40,000 minimum needed for him or his bloc to win a single seat in the 275-seat National Assembly, according to election officials. Without a seat in the assembly, Chalabi would presumably be unable to obtain a post in the resulting government.

So much for all that money we threw in his direction.
American-Style Democracy

First, apologies for taking an extra day off...just taking care of some home chores and stuff...

Now, onto other things:

The title of this post refers to Al Cockburn's observation that, in light of Shrubusto's insistance that "the mission" in Iraq won't be over until it rivals the greatest of train wrecks the Iraqis enjoy "American-style democracy." Well, um:

They do! Bought news stories, secret surveillance of phone calls, emails and faxes, arrest without warrant, disappearances, torture. You've brought our democracies into sync. Call it a day, bring the troops home, and then we can start impeaching you.

Cockburn also smacks the Democrats, who continue to shun John Murtha--which has to be one of the dumbest political strategems I've EVER seen. Geez. Murtha, as I noted a couple of weeks or so ago, is merely articulating the position of the Pentagon careerists--and how goddamned difficult could it POSSIBLY be to counter the rabid posturings of Team Bush with the kind of sober analysis careerists tend to produce? Murtha gets it:

I watched Murtha put Bush away last Sunday. It was effortless.
BLITZER: Here's what the president said this past week addressing you specifically.

BUSH: Setting an artificial deadline would send the wrong message to our most important audience, our troops on the front line. It would tell them that America is abandoning the mission they are
risking their lives to achieve and that the sacrifice of their comrades killed in this struggle has been in vain.

MURTHA: This is a real war; this is not a war of rhetoric. What the troops get disappointed [about] is they don't have the equipment they need. That's the thing that demoralizes them I found a shortage of 40,000 battle jackets that they didn't have. That's the thing that demoralizes them. And they know they're targets. I was out at the hospital the other day and I talked to a young woman whose husband had been to Iraq twice, wounded very badly, lying there in a hospital bed. She says, you know, he enlisted to fight for America, not for Iraq. The Iraqis have to do this themselves. That's the answer to this whole situation.

I've been waiting for someone to point out the Shrubian nonsense about "artificial deadlines" demoralizing the troops but shitty equipment--or worse, NO equipment, somehow DOESN'T. In fact, it barely merits discussion at all, despite a military budget beyond the dreams of King Midas (which apparently doesn't actually fund, um, war--no, war funding is handled in a series of "supplementals." Unfuckingbelievable).

Meanwhile, speaking of rabid, James Wolcott--and a few others--are beginning to notice a disturbing tendency among the wingnuts: I guess you could call it a form of terrorist envy, or at the very least, a revelation of their inner motivations (although, like most wingnuts, their propensity for bloviation is matched only by their resolute laziness when it comes to acting on their fantasies):

Civilized people were appalled, disgusted, and sobered by the vicious execution of Daniel Pearl, and the beheadings that followed. But many of the warbloggers are not civilized people. It is clear that despite their sincere protestations of horror, rage, and pity, the execution of Daniel Pearl aroused them on some primitive, subconscious level. They got off on it. It functioned as death porn to their seething, frustrated psyches. (Frustrated, because the war in Iraq simply hasn't gone the way they thought it would or should. They have been denied the glorious clearcut victory they craved.) The beheading ritual tapped into their sadistic impulses, and excited their own fantasies of torturing their foes. When rightwing bloggers and posters conjure that under Islam, Democrats--which they've come to call dhimmicrats--will get what's coming to them (i.e., the business end of a butcher's blade), it's as if it's a horrible fate that couldn't possibly happen to them*--because it's a death wish directed outward. The Islamic terrorists serve as proxies and stand-ins in this imaginary theater of cruelty, enacting what they (the warbloggers) would like to mete out to us (their domestic adversaries)...

It's no accident that it is the rightwing bloggers and pundits who have been avid about defending the use of torture against suspected terrorists. Nor is it an accident that many of them pooh-poohed Abu Ghraib, sluffing it off as no more harmless than fraternity hazing. But what their decapitation odes reveal is that what they'd really like to do is permit torture closer to home. Domesticate it. Trivialize it. Completely destigmatize it as a tool of the state.

Of course, they'd delegate the actual rough stuff to underlings...

Finally, while on the subject of wingnuttery, bought media, and the like, Jane Hamsher compares and contrasts the 'nut version with those of us on the reality based side of life. As you might expect, the feather-light wingnut side of the scale doesn't exactly provide any balance. It's more like the intellectual equivalent of an all marshmallow diet...