Friday, October 13, 2006

Taking The "Cure"
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Who knew your party of moral values had so many"alcoholics/boozehounds/lushes/sots/blottos in the ranks...they might fuel a whole new surge of rehab centers...once Hollywood's had its run, of course:

Congressman Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) pleaded guilty today to corruption charges arising from the influence-peddling investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, becoming the first elected official caught up in a scandal that may damage his party's chances in next month's midterm elections.

Ney emerged from a month in alcohol rehabilitation to appear in federal court in Washington, where he admitted he performed official acts in Congress for lobbyists in exchange for campaign contributions, expensive meals, luxury travel and skybox sports tickets.

I wonder if he ran into Mark Foley over there...

Let's see...Hastert could head to the fat farm, Big Time might need anger management (and firearms safety training), word: Thorazine...and Shrub? Judging from his recent public remarks, I think the guy needs to start all kindergarten.
Curbside Pickup
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White House Trash

Biohazard, in Iraq, the model country for Team Bush-style governance, has a whole different meaning:

Sabah al-Atia sometimes calls home every 10 minutes when he is working to let his wife know he is still alive. After all, his job is one of the most dangerous in the city.

Mr. Atia is a trash collector.

In a city where a bomb could be lurking beneath any heap of refuse, and where insurgents are willing to kill to prevent them from being discovered, an occupation that pays only a few dollars a day has become one of the deadliest. Most of the 500 municipal workers who have been killed here since 2005 have been trash collectors, said Naeem al-Kaabi, the city’s deputy mayor.

“When we are working, we are working nervously,” said Mr. Atia, 29, who started collecting trash during Saddam Hussein’s rule. “We are carrying our souls in our hands.”

The danger to trash collectors is at the root of one of the most visible symptoms of collapse in Baghdad. Garbage is ubiquitous, especially in dangerous neighborhoods, blanketing street medians, alleys and vacant lots in stinking, fly-infested quilts. Trash collection has joined a long list of basic services, including electricity, water and sewerage, that have slipped badly in many places since the American-led invasion.

Trash collectors have frequently refused to venture into especially problem-plagued Baghdad neighborhoods, including Dora, Adhamiya, Jamiya and Ghazaliya, where spasms of violence have often been the norm. Or they have dashed in and out when the danger ebbed, hauling away what they could.

Hey, I think I've got a solution: take the entire executive branch, along with their apologists, enablers, supporters, or anyone else of the wingnut persuasion, and put THEM to work as trash collectors in Iraq...if they somehow manage to make it through unscathed, then they can get to work doing the same along the Gulf Coast. Call their Mesopotamian experience sort of an internship/educational experience...and the fruit of their "hard work."

Update: Oh, I meant to include this wonderful sentence from the enablers of record, aka Pravda on the Hudson:

Trash collection has joined a long list of basic services, including electricity, water and sewerage, that have slipped badly in many places since the American-led invasion.

Ya think?
Ta Ta

Or should it be "bon soir?" If England opts out, Coalition of the Billing, um, I mean Willing, already lighter than Shrub's puny intellect, might just float off into the aether:

Chief of the General Staff Richard Dannatt told the Daily Mail newspaper that post-war planning for the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was "poor" and the presence of troops there was hurting British security globally.

The remarks, extraordinary from such a senior serving officer, could have political fallout on both sides of the Atlantic. The war has damaged the standing of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and is a major issue for U.S. President George W. Bush's allies in congressional elections next month.

Interestingly, Reuters can't resist demonstrating some upper crust British "hrrrumph" bias, framing the story as "being seized upon by opponents" of the war...

Well, duh--although it's less a seizure (we'll leave that to Big Time) and more acknowledgement that Operation Enduring Clusterfuck is just that...and that ANY pathetic excuse to the contrary is merely enabling the large, gassy, lighter-than-air, parade-float-like ego of Shrub--and his parade float poodle, Tony Blair--to expand even the expense of more blood and more treasure.

Besides, once the WMD canard was shown for the lie it was, the supposed "reason" for invasion included bringing "democracy to the Iraqis," which is yet another argument in favor of getting the hell out:

In Basra, where most of Britain's 7,200 troops are based, locals told Reuters they agreed it was time for them to go.

"In the last three years, people started to look at these troops in a different way. They simply hate these troops," said school teacher Fatima Ahmed, 35.

Finally, haven't we quite simply had enough of this?

A coroner ruled Friday that U.S. forces unlawfully killed a British television journalist in the opening days of the Iraq war.

Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker said he would ask the attorney general to take steps to bring to justice those responsible for the death of Terry Lloyd, 50, a veteran reporter for the British television network ITN.

Yeah, I know the war's proponents value Iraqi lives at barely a penny on the dollar--if that much--but Lloyd's fate has now been matched by tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, who most certainly did NOT have any say in the matter. And, if nothing else, the toll on our own military is becoming intolerable.

That's a hell of a price to pay for Shrub's ego gratification...or his poodle's.
"This Morbid Math"
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Billmon crunches some very tragic numbers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Violence on the Teevee Screens"
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I guess some of the insurgents took Shrub at his word and decided to put a stop to it:

Gunmen, some dressed in police uniforms, stormed the offices of a new satellite television station today and killed 11 employees, some of whom were asleep in the building at the time of the raid after working late in preparation for the station’s planned launch on Saturday, employees and witnesses said.

It was the second attack on an Iraqi television station this month and the single most deadly attack against the Iraqi media since the 2003 invasion.

The story concludes with a sad, grim, single sentence:

An American soldier assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, was killed “as a result of enemy action” today in Kirkuk Province, the military reported. Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Which reminds me (and I see Wolcott posted a link too). William Lind dares to suggest what "the free press" is too timid to. While they cringe and quiver, he writes:

At least 32 American troops have been killed in Iraq this month. Approximately 300 have been wounded. The "battle for Baghdad" is going nowhere. A Marine friend just back from Ramadi said to me, "It didn't get any better while I was there, and it's not going to get better." Virtually everyone in Washington, except the people in the White House, knows that is true for all of Iraq.

Actually, I think the White House knows it too. Why then does it insist on "staying the course" at a casualty rate of more than one thousand Americans per month? The answer is breathtaking in its cynicism: so the retreat from Iraq happens on the next President's watch. That is why we still fight.

Yep, it's now all about George. Anyone who thinks that is too low, too mean, too despicable even for this bunch does not understand the meaning of the adjective "Rovian." Would they let thousands more young Americans get killed or wounded just so George W. does not have to face the consequences of his own folly? In a heartbeat.

Without trying to be flippant, that lends a whole new meaning to the phrase "how do you ask someone to be the last to die for a mistake?"
In Bushworld, Blood is but a Rose Colored Tinge
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Maybe when Shrub finally calls it quits from the Oval Office, he can work on concepts and copy for pharmaceutical know, outrageously technicolored montages of happy, smiling people...laughing, running through bucolic fields, playing on banana yellow slides in local parks, while he smirks through lines like, "side effects might include runny noses, watery eyes, massive trauma from mortar shells, cluster bombs, IEDs, sectarian violence, anarchy...other side effects include a complete breakdown of civil society, lack of basic services like electricity, plumbing, garbage collection, which can further weaken the immune system and bring about disease, while the chances of malnutrition and starvation will also be present:

In George W. Bush’s world, Saddam Hussein defied United Nations demands that he get rid of his weapons of mass destruction and barred U.N. inspectors; al-Qaeda’s public statements must be believed even when contradicted by its private comments; and U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is unthinkable because it would let al-Qaeda “extend the caliphate,” a mythical state that doesn’t really exist.

There’s always been the frightening question of what would happen if a President of United States went completely bonkers. But there is an equally disturbing issue of what happens if a President loses touch with reality, especially if he is surrounded by enough sycophants and enablers so no one can or will stop him.

At his Oct. 11 news conference, Bush gave the country a peek into his imaginary world, a bizarre place impenetrable by facts and logic, where falsehoods, once stated, become landmarks and where Bush’s “gut” instinct, no matter how misguided, is the compass for finding one’s way.

Read the rest here.

I guess the Iraqis don't have to bother about "contacting their doctor." This quack of an administration was going to give them the treatment whether they wanted it or not.

Mmmm...(sarcasm alert):

The discovery of radioactive snails at a site in southeastern Spain where three U.S. hydrogen bombs fell by accident 40 years ago may trigger a new joint U.S.-Spanish clean-up operation, officials said Wednesday.

The hydrogen bombs fell near the fishing village of Palomares in 1966 after a mid-air collision between a bomber and a refueling craft, in which seven of 11 crewmen died.

Hundreds of tons of soil were removed from the Palomares area and shipped to the United States after high explosive igniters on two bombs detonated on impact, spreading plutonium dust-bearing clouds across nearby fields.

Spanish authorities say the appearance of higher than normal levels of radiation in snails and other creatures shows there may be dangerous levels of plutonium and uranium below ground, and a further clean up could be necessary.
"Mouton Rothschild IS a claret. And, I've smelled that aftershave before, and both times - I've smelled a rat."
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Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, GOP Style

Diamonds might be forever...but the smell of shit lingers for a long time, too. Link from TPM:

It seems increasingly clear that the GOP congressional leadership, eager for every safe incumbent in the House to run for re-election, looked the other way as evidence accumulated that Mark Foley had a thing for pages. Holding onto his seat became more important than confronting him over his extracurricular activities.

But there's more to the story of why Foley stood for re-election this year. Yesterday, a source close to Foley explained to THE NEW REPUBLIC that in early 2006 the congressman had all but decided to retire from the House and set up shop on K Street. "Mark's a friend of mine," says this source. "He told me, 'I'm thinking about getting out of it and becoming a lobbyist.'"

But when Foley's friend saw the Congressman again this spring, something had changed. To the source's surprise, Foley told him he would indeed be standing for re-election. What happened? Karl Rove intervened.

According to the source, Foley said he was being pressured by "the White House and Rove gang," who insisted that Foley run. If he didn't, Foley was told, it might impact his lobbying career.

"He said, 'The White House made it very clear I have to run,'" explains Foley's friend, adding that Foley told him that the White House promised that if Foley served for two more years it would "enhance his success" as a lobbyist. "I said, 'I thought you wanted out of this?' And he said, 'I do, but they're scared of losing the House and the thought of two years of Congressional hearings, so I have two more years of duty.'"

The White House declined a request for comment on the matter, but obviously the plan hasn't worked out quite as Rove hoped it would.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Congratulations, but...
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Shouldn't Big Time get a membership, too? Terry Jones:

Dear President Bush,
I write to you in my capacity as secretary of the World League of Despots.

It is with great pleasure that I am finally able to extend an official invitation to you to join our ranks. For many years, we have watched your efforts to fulfil the requirements necessary to join our number. From the start, we were greatly impressed by your disdain for democratic principles - the way you wrested power from the democratically elected candidate in the 2000 election, and again in 2005 when you managed to swing what was clearly going to be a victory for your opponent.

Contempt for human life has always been a priority requirement for membership of the league, and I and my fellow adjudicators were well aware of your record as governor of Texas when you quadrupled the number of state executions. But your record since seizing power has surpassed even our expectations. The thousands of innocent people in Iraq, who have died so that you could fulfil your declared political objective of establishing "an American force presence in the Middle East", attest to your eligibility to join our ranks.
I cannot, however, disguise the fact that we adjudicators were extremely anxious when you announced your intention to remove from office one of our most stalwart members, Mr Saddam Hussein. However, we need not have worried. According to a recent UN report, you have ensured that there are now even more human rights abuses in Iraq than there were under Saddam. No less than 10% of those in custody are being physically or psychologically abused. Well done!

Of course, your unstinting efforts to make torture an internationally accepted aspect of human life have surpassed everything we could have ever hoped for. I don't think there is a single member of the league who could have imagined, six short years ago, that our activities in tormenting our fellow creatures would once again be recognised as acceptable, civilised behaviour, as it once was in the middle ages.

Despite these achievements, we had, until now, felt unable to extend our invitation to you because you had been unable to fulfil one of our basic requirements: the ability to carry out arbitrary arrests, imprisonment without trial, secret torture and executions at will.

We approved of your attempts to establish the principles of arbitrary arrest under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but unfortunately it was still restricted to terror suspects. We appreciate that you were hampered by the US constitution, but the restrictions this imposed on your arbitrary powers kept you below the threshold requirements for qualification as a despot.

Now, however, all that has changed. At the end of last month you persuaded the Senate to pass a bill regarding the treatment of detainees. Illegally obtained evidence can now be used against suspects, even if it has been gathered abroad under torture. Anyone you care to accuse can be thrown into prison without the right to a trial or the right to represent themselves.

Officially the legislation is restricted to "enemy combatants", but you have skilfully adapted this definition to include anyone who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the US". This presumably means that anyone who publicly criticises your conduct can be defined as supporting hostilities to the US. You are now free to arrest and imprison anyone you don't like. You've got it in the bag!

It is with great pleasure that we in the World League of Despots note that you have now appropriated to yourself all the powers of arbitrary arrest and torture that Saddam once enjoyed. You are now one of us. Congratulations!
Enough is Enough
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Good god, but I hope the public will finally see through the facade and recognize the small, miniscule, utterly unqualified and unprepared simpleton we've got nominally leading the executive branch.

Alas--or thank goodness--I missed the presser, but WIIIAI linked to the transcript, and offered helpful interpretation of lines including the whopper about Iraqis supposedly "tolerating" a certain level of "violence.", unfeeling, uncaring, uncomprehending...asshole.

And, the administration that can't bark "9/11!" often enough was once again asleep at the wheel when a plane crashed into...a Manhattan building. Well, to use a term even they can understand, that's just par for the course, I guess. Think about it: losses in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to be too flippant, but that'd be like a championship basketball team getting beat by a group of high schoolers in a local park)...they lost New Orleans thanks to their ignoring steady, constant requests on the part of local and state officials to do something about the aging (and, it turns out, improperly designed and maintained) levee system, they lost the rest of the west central Gulf Coast thanks to their incompetence in responding to a natural disaster...and, for that matter, their preening about and crowing about 9/11 is in appallingly bad taste considering that they were, at the very least, caught flat-footed (take note of how 9/11, in their twisted worldview, has become virtually organic, or natural, as opposed to being an example of just how unprepared Team Bush was upon assuming leadership).

Again, to use a term they might be familiar with: they are the embodiment of "the soft bigotry of low expectations." Alas, all of us are worse for it.
Just Another Day
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After work, then chores, I was idly flipping through stations on the teevee last night. I came across a pretty disturbing, but recognizable image on the History Channel: unmistakable footage from the late 1990's of what is apparently now known as the North Hollywood Shootout. In a nutshell--no pun intended--two, well, nuts figured that between the volume and variety of their weaponry and body armor they could rob a bank, and, if necessary, outgun the cops. They almost succeeded.

I remember seeing the news footage back then, and filed it away in my head as yet another example of how tenuous civil society is, and how quickly things can go to the proverpial hell-in-a-handbag.

Watching the same footage last night, I thought to myself: if they'd been in Baghdad in 2006--and if this was the ONLY thing that happened that day--the news media would probably comment on how "quiet" things were.

Last night over there saw yet another mother of all (deadly) fireworks display, as an 82 mm mortar round landed in a US weapons depot. Fifty more corpses--most tortured, like the sixty found on Monday--turned up around the city, and another seventeen were killed in a bomb explosion. New estimates of civilian casualties range from 450 to 600 thousand...numbers every bit the equal of those put up by the Butcher of Baghdad himself, Saddam Hussein (and now we're seeing another example of history turning full circle: mass graves).

This is the sort of stuff that the administration dismisses as "violence on the teevee screens." And I suppose that's pretty easy to do when it's "over there." But I wonder how we'd react to an ongoing toll like what we're now seeing in Iraq--or Afghanistan. 9/11 was bad enough.

Over there, it's 9/11 pretty much every day.
Knockout Blow
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Wolcott lets loose on idiot Dinesh D'Souza, who's new book...blames the "Cultural Left" for 9/11. To mix sports metaphors, game, set, match.

I wish Wolcott had the time or inclination to take a look at what C. Ray's up to.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Worth Studying

The article notes there's not a definite causal relationship, but nonetheless it's an interesting coincidence if nothing else...and is well worth further research:

Dust storms swirling out of Africa's Sahara Desert may help reduce hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean, a new study suggests.

The findings aren't conclusive, but researchers led by Amato T. Evan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that years with more African dust had fewer tropical storms and years with less dust had more storms.

The study is reported in Tuesday's issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

Evan and his colleagues used satellite images to study the amount of African dust blown out over the Atlantic for the years 1982-2005 and compared that with tropical storm activity.

And speaking just for myself, I further research in this field are a hell of a lot better of an investment than the entire lot of "faith-based" nonsense that's been showered with money and various tax breaks courtesy of this administration.
Follow the Money

From Talking Points Memo, a link to, a site I'll certainly be bookmarking and visiting regularly. As they put it:

This website, created by OMB Watch, is a free, searchable database of federal government spending...With over $12 trillion in federal spending, this more open and accessible tool for citizens to find out where federal money goes and who gets it is long overdue. We believe this website is a good first step toward providing that access.

My one minor gripe: flood insurance payments are, by the website's definition, listed as "grants." Um--NO. Flood insurance payments are restitution--premiums were paid for years prior to claims being made. That's NOT a grant.

Oh, and changing the subject, but not the referring website, Rajiv Chandrasekaran posted over at TPM cafe about Operation Enduring Clusterfuck.
Music for Sex Scandals

From Counterpunch, a Brian Eno & David Byrne tune for the times.
More Freshly Painted Schools

Linking to this story from Atrios got me wondering--even IF the stories are true about freshly painted schools and whatnot, don't you think that stuff could, well, wait until the very REAL problem of torture and murder are taken care of? Aside from the fact that an occupying (or liberating) army is OBLIGATED to establish and maintain social order, the first priority should be to protect people. After all, once you're killed, it doesn't really matter whether the school is freshly painted, or whether you've got plumbing or electricity (not that Iraq is improving in either of those at this time).

And yes, I realize that's now a rhetorical question: the military's ability to establish or maintain any semblence of order in Iraq is about as close to zero as it could get. At best, we're along for a ride that hopefully won't end in complete, utter this point, plain old "catastrophe" would probably be spun by Team Bush as "victory," or, considering Herr Henry's pull within the administration, maybe "peace with honor, the sequel" ("SON of Peace With Honor"?)

Oh--and if you go into comments, you'll see pointed questions from several Gret Stet'ers, who might have a better idea than most about the difference between this administration's rosy public relations picture and the tragic reality. And if they're willing to lie about the Gulf Coast, you can bet they're willing to pull out all the stops when it comes to Mesopotamia.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Just a Poor, Corrupt Official
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Sara Robinson rounds up the usual suspects.
A Couple of Duds
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Miserable Failure, DPRK style.
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Miserable Failure.
"It's a Sort of Noah's Ark in Reverse..."
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"with every animal leaving the ship."

Or so says the WaPo re: the cast of characters interviewed by Woodward. I'll forego the temptation to use a different analogy--you know--the one about rats deserting a sinking ship...

Later, the same piece unfairly refers to Team Bush as "the new Amtrak." Amtrak might run behind schedule, but it'll get you where you're going...eventually. And the seats are pretty comfortable, particularly compared to the sardine-in-a-can experience of modern airline travel.

Team Bush just takes you for a ride.
Novacula Weighs In
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The undead one gets a tip re: Mark Foley:

Disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley had two excellent job offers in the private sector this year when Rep. Tom Reynolds, National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, talked him into seeking a seventh term.

Although Reynolds says Foley was merely deciding whether to run again, the talk in Republican circles on Capitol Hill was that he was ready to leave Congress. His inappropriate e-mails to a former page were known to the Republican leadership late last year. The 16th Congressional District was considered so safely Republican that any GOP candidate could carry it but now likely will be lost with Foley still on the ballot.

And then the undead one--perhaps speaking from experience--suggests that the GOP is likewise undead:

A footnote: Pollster John Zogby last week found no landslide effects of the Foley scandal. Democrats did lead the Reuters/Zogby polls in 11 out of 15 key House districts held by endangered Republicans. Democrats may have to win all 15 of those districts to be assured of ousting Republicans from House control. Democratic leads shown by Zogby were generally not of landslide proportions, and there was no immediate upsurge in Democratic strength as news coverage of the scandal intensified.

I guess we'll find out next month, eh?
Big Time--Master of Tact
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Woodward gets the Leahy treatment:

MR. RUSSERT: Have you spoken to the president or the vice president since this book came out?

MR. WOODWARD: The vice president called me I guess as it was coming out 10 days ago.


MR. WOODWARD: Well, he called to complain that I was quoting him about the meetings with Henry Kissinger that he and the president had. I had interviewed Vice President Cheney last year a couple of times at length about material I’m gathering on the Ford administration, on-the-record interviews, but he volunteered, he said, “Oh, by the way, Henry Kissinger comes in” and he, Dick Cheney, sits down with him once a month and the president every two or three months. And Cheney was upset I was quoting him. And I said, “Look, this–on-the-record doesn’t have anything to do with Ford, you volunteered that.” He then used a word which I can’t repeat on the air. And I said, “Look, on the record is on the record,” and he hung up on me.

MR. RUSSERT: What, what do you mean, he swore at you?

MR. WOODWARD: He, he said what I was saying was bull-something. No, but he, but he hung up. Now, look, I can, I can see, I went back and looked at the transcript that he can–ever had a disagreement about ground rules with someone. Have you?

MR. RUSSERT: Well, he thought he was talking, he thought he was talking to you for one project and you used it in another project.

MR. WOODWARD: Well, exactly. But it had nothing to do with it, and it’s clearly spelled out that it’s an on-the-record interview. And so–now, what does he do instead of saying, “Well, OK, I look at it this way, you look at it that way.” It’s a metaphor for what’s going on. Hang up when somebody has a different point of view or information you don’t want to deal with.