Friday, December 01, 2006

Dry Rot
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Glenn Greenwald documents Tom Friedman-hoist-by-his-own-petard. Greenwald himself writes:

To support a war that you know is going to be executed in a destructive manner is as morally monstrous as it gets. The fact that there is some idealized, Platonic way to fight the war doesn't make that any better if you know that that isn't what is going to happen. We learn in adolescence that wanting things that we can't have -- pining for things that aren't real or possible -- is futile and irrational. To apply that adolescent fantasy world to war advocacy is the hallmark of a deeply frivolous and amoral person.

And it is exactly that sickness that is still -- almost four years later -- the most pervasive syndrome when it comes to our war debates. Greg Sargent and Atrios, among others, have been documenting one instance after the next of serious, sober political "leaders" who (a) recognize that our current course is a failure, (b) acknowledge that no real alternative exists, but nonetheless (c) lack the courage and integrity to advocate withdrawal.


And then for our benefit he cites Tom's own words, which are worth looking at. One, two, F.U.
Mr. George W. Bush...Paging Mr. George W. Bush...
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Please claim your historical legacy, now available as a matter of public record...thank you:

More than half a million deaths, an army trapped in the largest military debacle since Vietnam, a Middle East policy already buried in the sands of Mesopotamia - and still George W Bush is in denial. How does he do it? How does he persuade himself - as he apparently did in Amman yesterday - that the United States will stay in Iraq "until the job is complete"? The "job" - Washington's project to reshape the Middle East in its own and Israel's image - is long dead, its very neoconservative originators disavowing their hopeless political aims and blaming Bush, along with the Iraqis of course, for their disaster.

History's "deniers" are many - and all subject to the same folly: faced with overwhelming evidence of catastrophe, they take refuge in fantasy, dismissing evidence of collapse as a symptom of some short-term setback, clinging to the idea that as long as their generals promise victory - or because they have themselves so often promised victory - that fate will be kind. George W Bush - or Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara for that matter - need not feel alone. The Middle East has produced these fantasists by the bucketful over past decades.

In 1967, Egyptian president Gamel Abdul Nasser insisted his country was winning the Six Day War hours after the Israelis had destroyed the entire Egyptian air force on the ground. President Carter was extolling the Shah's Iran as "an island of stability in the region" only days before Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution brought down his regime. President Leonid Brezhnev declared a Soviet victory in Afghanistan when Russian troops were being driven from their fire bases in Nangahar and Kandahar provinces by Osama bin Laden and his fighters.

And was it not Saddam Hussein who promised the "mother of all battles" for Kuwait before the great Iraqi retreat in 1991? And was it not Saddam again who predicted a US defeat in the sands of Iraq in 2003? Saddam's loyal acolyte, Mohamed el-Sahaf, would fantasise about the number of American soldiers who would die in the desert; George W Bush let it be known that he sometimes slipped out of White House staff meetings to watch Sahaf's preposterous performance and laugh at the fantasies of Iraq's minister of information...

About the only truthful statement uttered in Amman yesterday was Bush's remark that "there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq [but] this business about a graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all." Indeed, it has not. There can be no graceful exit from Iraq, only a terrifying, bloody collapse of military power. The withdrawal of Shia ministers from Maliki's cabinet mirror the withdrawal of Shia ministers from another American-supported administration in Beirut - where the Lebanese fear an equally appalling conflict over which Washington has, in reality, no military or political control.

Bush even appeared oblivious of the current sectarian map of Iraq. "The Prime Minister made clear that splitting his country into parts, as some have suggested, is not what the Iraqi people want, and that any partition of Iraq would only lead to an increase in sectarian violence," he said. "I agree." But Iraq is already "split into parts". The fracture of Iraq is virtually complete, its chasms sucking in corpses at the rate of up to a thousand a day.

Even Hitler must chuckle at this bloodbath, he who claimed in April 1945 that Germany would still win the Second World War, boasting that his enemy, Roosevelt, had died - much as Bush boasted of Zarqawi's killing - while demanding to know when General Wenck's mythical army would rescue the people of Berlin. How many "Wencks" are going to be summoned from the 82nd Airborne or the Marine Corps to save Bush from Iraq in the coming weeks? No, Bush is not Hitler. Like Blair, he once thought he was Winston Churchill, a man who never - ever - lied to his people about Britain's defeats in war. But fantasy knows no bounds.
I Don't Miss This...

It's chilly in the Gret Stet today, but Scout Prime posts a reminder of what winter's REALLY like...ouch. Sometimes I still feel like I haven't quite thawed out from my time up there...



And...it's more than a little ironic that one of THE best ways to warm up on a cold day is...a Gret Stet classic: Gumbo. Jeffrey's got a hell of a recipe, with a step-by-step pictorial. Mmmmmmm.

When the roux is ready, turn the heat way way down low.. or even completely off.. and add your vegetables. The introduction of onion celery and bell pepper to a hot roux produces one of the greatest smells known to mankind.

I think Jeffrey might be understating it just a bit.
D.I.Y.
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Yes, I shamelessly took the picture above from the General, but hear my case for claiming fair use/educational purposes.

First, definitely check General Christian's post and links (here, here, and here).

Next, copy the above image--here's the direct link--to your hard disk.

Then, open it up, preferably in a decent editing program like photoshop (although with a bit of difficulty I was able to use Microsoft Paint...more on that in a second).

Copy/paste, add your text, and presto! Instant blame.

For instance, you can blame the victims:
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The "Liberal" Media

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Ah, what the hell? Why not blame the "Me" Generation?

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I even did this one with Microsoft Paint, although formatting the text was a pain.

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Hey, maybe even...

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Oh, wait a second...that's only for a reality-based assessment...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Close Enough


I see USA Today's now using more or less the same metaphor as I've been for the past few years in describing Operation Enduring Clusterfuck:

The sad reality is that “civil war” is too simple a term to describe what's happening inside Iraq, where the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 had the same effect as smacking a beehive with a baseball bat.

And while yeah, it's actually a hornet's nest above (and a cane, not a baseball bat), I think you get the picture, no pun intended.

By the way, here's one of the original pictures I used...appropriate, I think, given Shrub's own "senile agitation":
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If You're Making Empty Promises...


...why not just go whole hog? Take over "security" in one F.U. plus one month? Shit, might as well promise a mild summer in Baghdad by then, too:

"I can say that Iraqi forces will be ready, fully ready to receive this command and to command its own forces, and I can tell you that by next June our forces will be ready," al-Maliki said in an interview with ABC News.

Bush and al-Maliki agreed that the United States would speed efforts to turn security over the Iraqi forces, although they mentioned no timetable during a post-summit news conference.


It's true! It's true! The crown has made it clear.
The climate must be perfect all the year.
No Miracle Cure

Graphic courtesy Project for the Old American Century

William S. Lind:

The fact that Washington is seriously considering sending more American troops to Iraq illustrates a common phenomenon in war. As the certainty of defeat looms ever more clearly, the scrabbling about for a miracle cure, a deus ex machina, becomes ever more desperate - and more silly. Cavalry charges, Zeppelins, V-2 missiles, kamikazes, the list is endless. In the end, someone finally has to face facts and admit defeat. The sooner someone in Washington is willing to do that, the sooner the troops we already have in Iraq will come home--alive.
Fall From Grace


You know, for this guy to discuss, dismiss, or otherwise comment on graceful anything is...well, like expecting a dog to "get" a card trick.

And that's why this business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all.

Funny enough, Shrub's probably being more truthful there than he could possibly realize, considering how awful things are in Mesopotamia right now. No, there will be no graceful exit, not after what's already been done.

Besides, events in Iraq make it pretty clear that any Shrubian statements are merely more evidence of his inner nitwit bubbling to the surface. The reality on the ground makes him as irrelevant as Saddam Hussein...perhaps providing a certain poetic justic/irony. Shrub's unhealthy obsession with Saddam was no doubt influenced, among other things, by the same Oedipal dysfunction that propelled him to seek the presidency in the first place. He would finish the job his father failed to do before Bush the elder's rejection by the people.

Well, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hey, Stuff Happens!


Maybe you render an innocent Canadian citizen for a years worth of torture in Syria...or perhaps it's just a couple of weeks detention (with death penalty threats) for a United States citizen who happens to be Muslim...and which also turns out to be a mistake:

The U.S. government has agreed to pay $2 million to an Oregon lawyer who was wrongfully arrested as a terrorism suspect because of a bungled fingerprint match and has issued an apology for the "suffering" inflicted on the attorney and his family...

On March 11, 2004, terrorists later linked to al-Qaeda detonated bombs on several commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people. The FBI assisted Spanish police by comparing latent prints found on a bag of detonators nearby against its massive fingerprint database, which includes prints from former U.S. soldiers.

On March 19, the FBI lab identified 20 possible matches for one of the prints; two FBI examiners and a unit chief narrowed the match down to Mayfield. Spanish police conducted their own fingerprint analysis and informed the FBI on April 13, 2004, that its result was negative for Mayfield. The FBI disputed that finding, even dispatching an examiner to Madrid to press its case.

[Justice Department Inspector General Glenn] Fine's report concluded that FBI examiners made a number of errors, including using "circular reasoning" to firm up their conclusion and ignoring rules that an identification must be ruled out if there is an unexplained discrepancy between the prints.

FBI examiners had no way of knowing Mayfield's religion or occupation when they first identified him as a suspect, Fine's report said, but those factors likely influenced their conclusions in the weeks that followed.


Interesting that the WaPo puts the word "suffering" in quotes, perhaps trying to imply that Mayfield's detention was, oh, I don't know, just sort of like a vacation, or maybe a reality TV show...well, except for the being in jail part, the being threatened with the death penalty part, and except for lord-knows-what might have been going on his his or his family's minds part. And while a $2 million dollar settlement might seem like a nice windfall, I sure as hell wouldn't trade places with the guy, particularly when you think of how he was presumably pressured to "confess" in the interests of getting some "break" like a life-sentence...and I'd be willing to bet if Mayfield HAD broken down, the government would use this as justification for continued detention, regardless of what Spain had by way of evidence.

Welcome to the future. It's like the past, but with fewer rights.
Retro


Juan Cole points to a WaPo article blaming the chaos of Operation Enduring Clusterfuck...on those on the receiving end:

From troops on the ground to members of Congress, Americans increasingly blame the continuing violence and destruction in Iraq on the people most affected by it: the Iraqis.

Funny enough, I remember seeing in March of 2003 that very prediction:

Eventually the misery of the Iraqi people will be blamed on the Iraqis themselves.

O'Connell didn't get everything right, but, then again, I doubt he--or anyone else--realized the extent of Team Bush's "all we touch turns to shit" incompetence at the time. Still, he got that one right on the money.

I expect blaming the victims of first "shock and awe," then an occupation led by loons will become a fairly standard wingnut talking point, not unlike the way New Orleanians have been blamed for...living in New Orleans. After all, their hero--Dubya hisself--has a known history of shirking blame. The issue, then, becomes whether or not the story can be sold, say, in the same manner that defeat in Vietnam was repackaged into "spitting on the troops," or "the media lost it," etc. etc.

And they might actually get away with this sort of myth manufacture, IF the reality based community shirks ITS responsibility.

Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be happening.
When the (Blast) Walls Come Crumbling Down


If I was Nuri al-Maliki I'd be contemplating a nice place to exile myself:

Details of a leaked memo which raises doubts about PM Nouri Maliki's ability to control sectarian violence in Iraq have been published in the US...

...the reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into actions."

White House spokesman Tony Snow, who is travelling with Mr Bush, said the chief aim of the memo was "to support Maliki and enhance his capabilities".

Among the suggestions in the memo is that Mr Maliki distance himself from the anti-US Shia leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, and that Washington should help him put together a new, more moderate, less sectarian political alliance.

But given Mr Maliki's political background as a Shia Islamist, he looks unlikely to do either of these things, says the BBC's Middle East analyst Roger Hardy.


Maybe al-Sadr got a copy of the memo, and decided to proactively add a bit of distance himself, with the added bonus of making it clear who's puppet...and who's puppeteer:

Lawmakers and Cabinet ministers loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have suspended participation in parliament and the government to protest Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's meeting today with President Bush.

And...speaking of puppets:

President Bush's high-stakes summit with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was put off Wednesday amid political unrest in Baghdad and public disclosure of U.S. doubts about the Iraqi leader's capacity to control sectarian warfare.

All the elections--and purple ink-stained fingers--in the world won't keep the Shrub policy stinkbomb that is Iraq from, well, stinking to high heaven.
What's in a Name?


I guess the Dead Pelican must be hard at work coming up with a post strongly condemning national "issue" that coincidentally has some similarities to one right here in the Gret Stet.

Hmm...that's strange...so far, nothing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Iraq Nears 'The Saigon Moment'"


Or so asserts Patrick Cockburn, in this longish but well worth reading article that focuses on the rising level of violence/chaos, and the continued British and US ignorance of what's actually happening. All in all, Cockburn's piece is a damning indictment of those who churlishly laid claim to grandiosity back in 2003.

Oh--the picture above is an awful enough reminder of exactly what happened in Vietnam--as Cockburn puts it, "the time when it becomes evident to all that the government is expiring." But, believe it or not, it could actually be worse:
Puppeteer as Puppet


Big Time might have Shrub's ear, but when the REAL bosses demand someone jump, Dick's only question is "how high?"

Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats.

Sounds to me like Team Bush is taking somewhat of a nuanced approach towards the kingdom (and, hell, to be fair, every US administration since Roosevelt's has). Funny how wingnut bluster is revealed as just so much hot air when the chips are genuinely down: we ignore Saudi Arabia's known ties to terrorists and terrorism, we excuse their embrace of an extreme form of fundamentalist Islam, and mostly just look the other way when it comes to the kingdom's hostility towards women's rights, democratic principles, rule of law, and so on. Interesting, no?

Now they're yanking Big Time's choke chain.

Something tells me China isn't ignoring this Saudi Arabian power play.
No Adjustment Necessary


I saw the picture above, which ran with this article about how Shrub won't, in his words, "pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete," and it spoke volumes, at least to me. That's the face of a petulant, spoiled little brat. A little brat who, without any measure of guilt, is willing to accept untold death and destruction...so he can save his smarmy, creepy face.

Oh, and Mister "No troop withdrawals until the mission is complete" sure has a different attitude when it comes to the United States Gulf Coast. He can't cut-and-run fast enough when it's AMERICA that needs help. That also speaks volumes. It tells me we've got a president who quite simply has no clue. And we're stuck with him for another two years.

What an asshole.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Chickenhawk's Flight of Fancy
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Newt's got a mancrush on the father of our country:

Just what exactly is Newt Gingrich's game plan as he tests the waters for a White House campaign? His latest column in Human Events suggests he may be trying to out-hawk John McCain, who's called for additional troops to be sent to Iraq, for the designation of ├╝ber-hawk in preparation for a possible GOP primary. Gingrich pre-emptively criticizes the Baker-Hamilton Commission, then goes on to bring up the fact that things looked grim for George Washington during the American Revolution, too. He then asks:
Imagine there had been a Baker-Hamilton Commission — the group charged with assessing our options in Iraq — advising Washington that cold Christmas Eve. What "practical, realistic" advice would they have given him?

Gingrich also invokes the password famously used by Washington and his men as a prescription for success in Iraq: "Victory or death." And just in case you were wondering whether he's serious, Gingrich ends the piece by promoting an upcoming book-tour appearance: "I will be in the 'Live Free or Die' state of New Hampshire today and tomorrow talking about, among other things, my new book, Rediscovering God in America."


Um, Gingrich might want to rethink his imagery, particularly in regards to Hessians.
I Couldn't Help But Think...
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...that today's Huffington Post frontpage needed just a small modification...
Trained Monkey
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Apologies--to genuine, honest-to-God trained monkeys, for having to put up with regular comparisons to Chimperor. Anyway, the hot story on the internets today is the debate between those who recognize that things have long since gone of the cliff re: Iraq, and those who insist that it's not...well, not quite as bad...well, it depends on how you define "war," or something like that.

And the best one I've heard from the latter group is something from Gordon Johndroe, who's surname sounds like something bestowed by the Witness Protection Program...and, who knows, maybe he'll need their help one day:

"The White House is objecting this morning to descriptions of the Iraq conflict as a civil war. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, 'The violence is primarily centered around Baghdad and Baghdad security and the increased training of Iraqi Security Forces is at the top of the agenda when [Bush and Maliki] meet later this week.'"

More training...yeah, that oughta work, as Bill Lind points out:

All the training in the world is worthless if the people being trained have no reason to fight for those who are training them...

That was in 2004. In the ensuing two years, things have only gotten worse...and if we don't realize that, well, the Iraqis themselves certainly do...
Shop...
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...till you while they drop
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Bob Herbert:

Americans are shopping while Iraq burns.

The competing television news images on the morning after Thanksgiving were of the unspeakable carnage in Sadr City — where more than 200 Iraqi civilians were killed by a series of coordinated car bombs — and the long lines of cars filled with holiday shopping zealots that jammed the highway approaches to American malls that had opened for business at midnight.

A Wal-Mart in Union, N.J., was besieged by customers even before it opened its doors at 5 a.m. on Friday. “All I can tell you,” said a Wal-Mart employee, “is that they were fired up and ready to spend money.”

There is something terribly wrong with this juxtaposition of gleeful Americans with fistfuls of dollars storming the department store barricades and the slaughter by the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including old people, children and babies. The war was started by the U.S., but most Americans feel absolutely no sense of personal responsibility for it...

This indifference is widespread. It enables most Americans to go about their daily lives completely unconcerned about the atrocities resulting from a war being waged in their name. While shoppers here are scrambling to put the perfect touch to their holidays with the purchase of a giant flat-screen TV or a PlayStation 3, the news out of Baghdad is of a society in the midst of a meltdown...

Iraq burns. We shop. The Americans dying in Iraq are barely mentioned in the press anymore. They warrant maybe one sentence in a long roundup article out of Baghdad, or a passing reference — no longer than a few seconds — in a television news account of the latest political ditherings.

Since the vast majority of Americans do not want anything to do with the military or the war, the burden of fighting has fallen on a small cadre of volunteers who are being sent into the war zone again and again. Nearly 3,000 have been killed, and many thousands more have been maimed.

The war has now lasted as long as the American involvement in World War II. But there is no sense of collective sacrifice in this war, no shared burden of responsibility. The soldiers in Iraq are fighting, suffering and dying in a war in which there are no clear objectives and no end in sight, and which a majority of Americans do not support.

They are dying anonymously and pointlessly, while the rest of us are free to buckle ourselves into the family vehicle and head off to the malls and shop.


To paraphrase a line from Casablanca, the real "sale" must be in Baghdad, where human life is (obviously very) cheap.
Sign of Satan Worship


Well, it apparently is to some residents southwest Colorado:

A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

Sounds to me like they've got waaaayyyy too much time on their hands....
Liberry Book


I get the feeling there won't be a section devoted to "Mission Accomplished:"

He may be a certified lame duck now, but President Bush and his truest believers are about to launch their final campaign - an eye-popping, half-billion-dollar drive for the Bush presidential library.

Eager to begin refurbishing his tattered legacy, the President hopes to raise $500 million to build his library and a think tank at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Bush lived in Dallas until he was elected governor of Texas in 1995.


Think tank? More like drunk tank, if you ask me.

Or maybe dunk tank, at least for Rummy, considering this:

Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.

Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods.

"The handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: "Make sure this is accomplished"," she told Saturday's El Pais.