Friday, March 09, 2007

Just Sayin'...

I realize this might fly--if not orbit--a few hundred miles above the cranium of Chimperor-in-Chief, but the latest manifestation of what must be wingnutese for "being greeted with flowers and kisses," while certainly not a ringing endorsement from a reality based point of view (e.g., "a group of about 15 youngsters cursed Bush, calling him "assassin" and saying "go home."), would actually qualify these days as a "smashing success" in Iraq...that is, if it were even remotely possible to organize a "State Visit" to Mesopotamia, as opposed to the now commonplace "Secret Visit."

And the only thing keeping Shrub's tour from being Nixon Redux is a level of security that Tricky Dick could only have dreamt of.
Legacy?!? You're Kidding, Right?

Rove is "working behind the scenes"...which is why he leaked it to the WaPo...on Shrub's "legacy."

He said that the biggest Bush legacy will be what he terms the "Bush doctrine." It "says if you train a terrorist, harbor a terrorist, feed a terrorist, you will be treated like a terrorist yourself. And then the corollary of that, which is that we will not wait until dangers fully materialize before taking action."

OK, I've finished gut-laughing has Pervez Musharraf...and Vlad Putin, for that matter. Meanwhile, both Karl and Evil Dick have latched on to the last refuge of a failed presidency, that is, they've invoked the ghost of Harry Truman as a last ditch attempt to salvage some shred of dignitude. Fat chance.

Truman shines ONLY in comparison to what followed--a downward spiral that would more than mirror some VH-1 special, except for the pulling out of it/turning one's life around other words, at this point, it's "Puppet Show and Shrub".

Puppet Show...Warren Harding...Frankin Pierce...James Buchanan...and Shrub.
Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Winner!

Congratulations, Newt! Wear it proudly.
Deadly Sin Number Six

Krugman concludes his latest op-ed with this:

In the months ahead, we’ll hear a lot about what’s really been going on these past six years. And I predict that we’ll learn about abuses of power that would have made Richard Nixon green with envy.

And, unrelated, but: if you feel like it, you can vote on an entry I've got in the Glenn Reynolds/Instadimwit Photoshop Contest at Sadly, No (direct link here, but it looks like its getting hammered right now). Mine's #19: Roboputz with Wingnut Accessory...he's clutching a George W. Bush action figure as well.

I forget why they requested Reynolds as Robot...anyway, vote for the one you like best, be it mine or another. And Reynolds IS a putz.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Uniter, Not a Divider

Shrub's uniting an entire continent...against him:

Thousands of students, environmentalists and other protesters, some waving communist flags, gathered in the business district of South America's largest city ahead of Bush's arrival. And in the southern city of Porto Alegre, more than 500 people yelled "Get Out, Imperialist!" as they burned an effigy of Bush outside a Citigroup Inc. bank branch.

And I think this country too is growing tired of Shrub's stale song and dance...
The Decline and Fall

Bill Lind outlines a way for the Democrats to rid themselves and this country of the pestilence:

The only way to support the troops when a war is lost is to end the war and bring them home. Nor is it a challenge to design legislative language that both ends the war and supports the troops. All the Democratic majorities in Congress have to do is condition the funding for the Iraq war with the words, "No funds may be obligated or expended except for the withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq, and for such force protection actions as may be necessary during that withdrawal." If Bush vetoes the bill, he vetoes continued funding for the war. If he signs the bill, ignores the legislative language and keeps fighting the war in the same old way, he sets himself up for impeachment.
What's not to like?

But Lind goes on to answer his own question...and, lest anyone confuse me of being partisan, I'll go on record as saying my general support for Democratic candidates is strictly a lesser-of-evils thing. And Lind convincingly suggests just what "evil" means in this context:

For the Democrats, what's not to like is anything that might actually end the war before the 2008 elections. The Republicans have 21 Senate seats up in 2008, and if the Iraq war is still going on, they can count on losing most of them, along with the Presidency and maybe 100 more seats in the House. 2008 could be the new 1932, leaving the Republican Party a permanent minority for twenty years. From the standpoint of the Democratic Party's leadership, a few thousand more dead American troops is a small price to pay for so glowing a political victory.

Ironically, the people who should be most desperate to end the war are Congressional Republicans. Their heads are on the chopping block. But they remain so paralyzed by the White House that they cannot act even to save themselves.

Then he concludes:

The likely result of all this Washington dodging is that events on the ground in Iraq and elsewhere will outrun the political process. That in turn means a systemic crisis, the abandonment of both parties by their bases and a possible left-right grass roots alliance against the corrupt and incompetent center. In that possibility may lie the nation's best hope.

Corrupt and incompetent center...that's as good a description of the present state as any.
Barack the Scofflaw

Oh, I can see Rush Lamebone now, insisting that this is the "black" side of Barack Obama...and, oh, good heavens, is this what we can exepct from the ever more rotten press corpse?

Two weeks before the US senator from Illinois launched his presidential campaign, he paid parking tickets he received while attending Harvard Law School, officials said yesterday.

Obama received 17 parking tickets in Cambridge between 1988 and 1991, according to the city's Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department.


I hope the Globe puts at least one more reporter full time on this parking ticket story. Who knows where it might lead? He might have been late with his rent more than a time or two. Or perhaps, he had a history of under-tipping in Cambridge coffee shops. (Who can believe he didn't after this parking ticket scandal?)

All these stories shine the light in the dark corners of the life of a privileged ivy leaguer who couldn't even be bothered to move his car so the hard working men who clean his streets could properly do his job. It shows the typical liberal contempt for the average American who doesn't get to go to Harvard. How many bus drivers and meter maids are in Iraq today, defending this country so "taxachusetts liberals" like Obama can spit in their faces?

Thank goodness the NY Times company is back on track. We haven't seen the likes of this kind of in-depth investigative journalism for oh, 15 years or so. They're back in the saddle.

And, lord knows what else they might find...maybe a DWI? Multiple DWIs? Or a senseless war based on the most cynical of that we're losing?

Um...nope, move on...there's nothing to see there...I said "scram!"

Actually, full disclosure here--if THAT'S what they're gonna get Obama on, then I don't stand a fucking chance to get elected dogcatcher, as they say down here. Hell, up in Madison, I managed to rack up a prodigious number of tickets, given the situation: not a whole lot of parking ANYWAY on the isthmus, plus the available spots are sized for your average 1960's V-8 land yacht.

Back in the day, I once "liberated" my car from the then-impound over at Law Park (now the site of the convention center). Later, I actually got to WATCH the parking-fascists tow my car away...funny enough, the meter was literally I helpfully pointed out. Then the guy asked, "what about the other tickets?"

All I could think to say was, "well...what about them?"

That said, I did pay them...this time they dropped my car off at Schmidt's, which I vaguely remember being somewhere around Park/Regent. Their lot was behind a locked gate...with large, angry looking great dane guard dogs as an added bonus.

And we don't even have to look at whether or not I inhaled...oh, what the hell: I did. So much for that run for president in '12 or '16.
Lynch Mob Mentality Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

I can't say I'm surprised, but it speaks volumes that not a single Bush administration official, nor Bob Novak (warning: rancid link), nor your typical mouth breathers (additional rancid link warning) have issued so much as a statement of regret about the Plame matter. Not even an abstract statement, although Plame herself has been abstracted to such an extent that I doubt Bob Novak even considers her a living, breathing human being (unlike Bob himself, who died fifteen years ago and is still waiting for someone to give him a decent funeral).

Jonah Goldberg, on the other hand, does manage to fill his vile little screed with a mix of juvenile sarcasm and envy...I guess he's jealous. Unlike Plame, Jonah still needs his mommy to open doors.

Indeed, you've not even seen any statement of regret--or an inquiry from the media--as to the assets basically destroyed by Team Bush in their zeal to put a rope around Joe Wilson's neck (interestingly, yet another parallel with Saddam's regime). Not that any information is likely to be forthcoming, but I know of no one who will suggest that Plame did anything other than an exemplary work, and that Brewster Jennings was anything other than an exemplary front organization charged with a significant task, that is, limiting the spread of unconventional weapons. Hell, I don't even like the CIA all that much--at least the "cowboy" elements--but I'm realistic enough to recognize the necessity of obtaining and analyzing information on a global level, which is a major function of the agency.

Instead, the media's focus is all on poor, brave little Scooter, who, if he's not pardoned, might have to go live with the big, bad, scary men in the clink for a few years...and he'll forever be a felon. Poor, poor Scooter.

You know, Joe Wilson, regardless of what the mouth breathers think of him, struck the proper tone Tuesday evening--he noted that while sastisfied with the verdict, it was not a cause for celebration. And while Ms. Plame/Wilson was inconvenienced, it's not even in the same league as those who've been killed or wounded in a war based on lies (nor is it in the same league as the family members and survivors).

But it's still something. Something that was flat out wrong, and something that Team Bush KNOWS is flat out wrong. I can't speak for the mouthbreathers--hell, they can barely speak, period--but a simple admission of regret, if only for the loss of what looks like a significant operation to limit the spread of unconventional weapons, would seem appropriate. But, with an administration where the "brains" are Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, you won't see that...because there's no tangible political benefit.

I guess that's what they meant when they said they were going to "change the tone" in Washington.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dr. Shrub Will See You Now

There was something about this picture that...well...

A few minutes with Photoshop later...yes

Link to original image here. Shrub says he'll take "any report of medical neglect...seriously." Hmmm...

Didn't he say the same thing about the Baker-Hamilton report? Laff...I doubt he'd even remember the name if asked about it.
Playing Dumb

NOT Mossad

Christopher Ketcham risks being being branded a tinfoil haberdasher with this story (very long), but it's worth reading...short version: what did Mossad know about the 9/11 attacks BEFORE 9/11, and when did they know it?

My hunch is...a lot. C'mon. One thing Mossad and the other flavors of Israeli intelligence AREN'T is stupid. And, also a hunch, but I don't think Mohammed Atta and his demented cohorts were particularly smart...just lucky. And their biggest stroke of luck was having Dim Son and Big Time in charge when they decided the iron was hot enough.

Remarkably, the Urban Moving Systems Israelis, when interrogated by the FBI, explained their motives for "celebration" on the New Jersey waterfront a celebration that consisted of cheering, smiling, shooting film with still and video cameras and, according to the FBI, "high-fiving" ­- in the Machiavellian light of geopolitics. "Their explanation of why they were happy", FBI spokesman Margolin told me, "was that the United States would now have to commit itself to fighting [Middle East] terrorism, that Americans would have an understanding and empathy for Israel's circumstances, and that the attacks were ultimately a good thing for Israel". When reporters on the morning of 9/11 asked former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the effect the attacks would have on Israeli- American relations, he responded with a similar gut analysis: "It's very good", he remarked. Then he amended the statement: "Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy [for Israel from Americans]".

What is perhaps most damning is that the Israelis' celebration on the New Jersey waterfront occurred in the first sixteen minutes after the initial crash, when no one was aware this was a terrorist attack. In other words, from the time the first plane hit the north tower, at 8:46 a.m., to the time the second plane hit the south tower, at 9:02 a.m., the overwhelming assumption of news outlets and government officials was that the plane's impact was simply a terrible accident. It was only after the second plane hit that suspicions were aroused. Yet if the men were cheering for political reasons, as they reportedly told the FBI, they obviously believed they were witnessing a terrorist act, and not an accident.

After returning safely to Israel in the late autumn of 2001, three of the five New Jersey Israelis spoke on a national talk show that winter. Oded Ellner, who on the afternoon of September 11 had, like his compatriots, protested to arresting officer Sgt. Dennis Rivelli that "we're Israeli", admitted to the interviewer: "We are coming from a country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event". By his own admission, then, Ellner stood on the New Jersey waterfront documenting with film and video a terrorist act before anyone knew it was a terrorist act.

One obvious question among many comes to mind: If these men were trained as professional spies, why did they exhibit such outright oafishness at the moment of truth on the waterfront? The ABC network source close to the 20/20 report noted one of the more disturbing explanations proffered by counterintelligence investigators at the FBI: "The Israelis felt that in some way their intelligence had worked out ­- i.e., they were celebrating their own acumen and ability as intelligence agents".

The questions abound: Did the Urban Moving Systems Israelis, ready to "document the event", arrive at the waterfront before the first plane came in from the north? And if they arrived right after, why did they believe it was a terrorist attack? What about the strange tale of the "art students"? Could they have been mere hustlers, as they claimed, who ended up repeatedly crossing paths with federal agents and living next door to most of the 9/11 hijackers by coincidence? Did the Israeli authorities find out more about the impending attacks than they shared with their U.S. counterparts? Or did the Israeli spies on the ground only intercept vague chatter that, in their view, did not warrant breaking cover to share the information? On the other hand, did the U.S. government receive more advance information about the attacks from Israeli authorities than it is willing to admit? What about the 9/11 Commission's eliding of reported Israeli warnings that may have led to the watch- listing of Mihdhar and Hazmi? Were the Israeli warnings purposely washed from the historical record? Did the CIA know more about pre-9/11 Israeli spying than it has admitted?

The unfortunate fact is that the truth may never be uncovered, not by officialdom, and certainly not by a passive press. James Bamford, who in a coup of reporting during the 1980s revealed the inner workings of the NSA in The Puzzle Palace, points to the "key problem": "The Israelis were all sent out of the country", he says. "There's no nexus left. The FBI just can't go knocking on doors in Israel. They need to work with the State Department. They need letters rogatory, where you ask a government of a foreign country to get answers from citizens in that country". The Israeli government will not likely comply. So any investigation "is now that much more complicated", says Bamford. He recalls a story he produced for ABC News concerning two murder suspects -- U.S. citizens ­- who fled to Israel and fought extradition for ten years. "The Israelis did nothing about it until I went to Israel, knocking on doors, and finally found the two suspects. I think it'd be a great idea to go over and knock on their doors", says Bamford.

The suspects are gone. The trail is cold. Yet many of the key facts and promising leads sit freely on the web, in the archives, safe in the news-morgues at 20/20 and The Forward and Die Zeit. An investigator close to the matter says it reminds him of the Antonioni film "Blow-Up", a movie about a photographer who discovers the evidence of a covered-up murder hidden before his very eyes in the frame of an enlarged photograph. It's a mystery that no one appears eager to solve.
Playing the Martyrdom Card

Spin, thy name is elite Washington, DC press corpse.

Before you know it, we'll be hearing about how Scooter saved a puppy that Joe Wilson cruelly kicked.
"Al Qaeda's Biggest Recruiter"

Patrick Cockburn describes "the Iraq effect" and its global implications. Just another fine mess brought to you by Dick 'n Shrub...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Not on the Same Page: Reality and the President

"We're making progress"

Um, you'd think on a day when 9 more soldiers--and over a hundred more Iraqis--were killed in Iraq that Shrub would show a little more tact, if not genuine remorse...but no, he's so utterly crass that the proverbial bull in a china shop is a goddamned Talleyrand in comparison:

Bush claims fresh progress in Iraq
President Bush said Tuesday his decision to send more troops to Baghdad is yielding "gradual but important" progress in Iraq. He portrayed himself as steadfast while Democrats squabble over strategy...

"Other members of Congress seem to believe that we can have it all: that we can fight al-Qaida, pursue national reconciliation, initiate aggressive diplomacy and deter Iran's ambitions in Iraq — all while withdrawing from Baghdad and reducing our force levels," Bush said in a speech to the American Legion.

"That sounds good in theory, but doing so at this moment would undermine everything our troops have worked for. There are no shortcuts in Iraq," the president said.

Geez...where to begin? Well, the 9 dead soldiers and hundred or more dead Iraqis sure as hell aren't theoretical. Yesterday they were all living, breathing, thinking humans. Now they're more bloodshed, or, to them, mere statistics. I can picture the boy chimperor acknowledging the dead...then yawning idly, and asking the First Xanax, um, I mean Lady, "So, is there a ball game on tonight?"

Also, Shrub's little laundry list there IS what he or any administration should be doing...but I'm guessing that they've drifted so far from reality's realm that they're completely incapable of engaging in ANY activity that isn't explicity partisan politics. The national interest? You've gotta be kidding. Understanding war as an instrument of foreign policy, as opposed to juvenile game playing with cap guns, out in the back yard? Not a chance in hell.

Which is where the whole damned administration would be going, if there was a hell.
From the White House to the Big House

Well Scooter, "congratulations." You're the first from the White House itself, even though the Duke-Stir, Ney, Abramoff, and others are already booked for extended stays at the Graybar Hotel.

Still, you perhaps you could do your best to make the clink as nice as possible for those colleagues who might join you yet.

More, of course, at FDL and elsewhere. Let's hope this is the beginning of a trend.

Oh, and if I were you, Scooter, I'd call myself Lewis...or Lou...around my new neighbors.
National Priorities

Here's part III of the Pic's series on Louisiana's coastal erosion crisis. Limiting the damage at present--and maybe reversing the damage in the future--seems to me to be as much of a national priority as anything...

Tell that to Don Young (R-Asshole), pictured above. Self described "oinker," his bridge to nowhere project continues to suck up millions of dollars in federal funds.

Young, by the way, is on record telling Louisiana to stick it.

You know, I think we oughta invite Young down here...for a boucherie. He could be the main attraction, if you know what I mean.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Gold Watch and Pension...

Robert Fisk reflects on bin Laden becoming eligible to join AARP and what might've times past and more recently.

Osama has Shrub to thank in no small part for his longevity...and vice versa.
Probing the Depths

Being as how I'm in one of the truly regressive parts of Red State Loosiana (where people still proudly disply their "W" memorabilia, although it was almost a healing experience in itself on a somewhat recent doctor's appointment to hear the physician contemptuously refer to "King George...oh, and said physician showed some surprise when I agreed with him re: evolution, which explains a LOT about Red Stick).

Anyway, seeing this You Tube takedown of the Liar in Chief is refreshing...and all the more so because it was shot in Louisville, Kentucky, not exactly a Hollywood-ized, brie-eating librul enclave.

Funny how the regular TV and newspapers won't bother to cover things like this, even as they fill airtime with tired old retreads like Ann Coulter, the Richard Speck of the GOP...
Support the Troops

"Support the Troops" must be like accepting Christ as your personal savior for the wingnuts--say the magic words, then it doesn't matter what you actually, you know, do...if anything.

From Fort Campbell in Kentucky: "There were yellow signs on the door stating our barracks had asbestos."

They really do view soldiers as disposable.
Lowest Common Denominator

Call it the anti-Cingular ad campaign: lowering the bar to, well, some as yet unknown and unexplored subterranean depth...

Valor and Squalor

When Salon, the online magazine, reported on mistreatment of veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center two years ago, officials simply denied that there were any problems. And they initially tried to brush off last month’s exposé in The Washington Post.

But this time, with President Bush’s approval at 29 percent, Democrats in control of Congress, and Donald Rumsfeld no longer defense secretary — Robert Gates, his successor, appears genuinely distressed at the situation — the whitewash didn’t stick.

Yet even now it’s not clear whether the public will be told the full story, which is that the horrors of Walter Reed’s outpatient unit are no aberration. For all its cries of “support the troops,” the Bush administration has treated veterans’ medical care the same way it treats everything else: nickel-and-diming the needy, protecting the incompetent and privatizing everything it can.

What makes this a particular shame is that in the Clinton years, veterans’ health care — like the Federal Emergency Management Agency — became a shining example of how good leadership can revitalize a troubled government program. By the early years of this decade the Veterans Health Administration was, by many measures, providing the highest-quality health care in America. (It probably still is: Walter Reed is a military facility, not run by the V.H.A.)

But as with FEMA, the Bush administration has done all it can to undermine that achievement. And the Walter Reed scandal is another Hurricane Katrina: the moment when the administration’s misgovernment became obvious to everyone.

The problem starts with money. The administration uses carefully cooked numbers to pretend that it has been generous to veterans, but the historical data contained in its own budget for fiscal 2008 tell the true story. The quagmire in Iraq has vastly increased the demands on the Veterans Administration, yet since 2001 federal outlays for veterans’ medical care have actually lagged behind overall national health spending.

To save money, the administration has been charging veterans for many formerly free services. For example, in 2005 Salon reported that some Walter Reed patients were forced to pay hundreds of dollars each month for their meals.

More important, the administration has broken longstanding promises of lifetime health care to those who defend our nation. Two months before the invasion of Iraq the V.H.A., which previously offered care to all veterans, introduced severe new restrictions on who is entitled to enroll in its health care system. As the agency’s Web site helpfully explains, veterans whose income exceeds as little as $27,790 a year, and who lack “special eligibilities such as a compensable service connected condition or recent combat service,” will be turned away.

So when you hear stories of veterans who spend months or years fighting to get the care they deserve, trying to prove that their injuries are service-related, remember this: all this red tape was created not by the inherent inefficiency of government bureaucracy, but by the Bush administration’s penny-pinching.

But money is only part of the problem.

We know from Hurricane Katrina postmortems that one of the factors degrading FEMA’s effectiveness was the Bush administration’s relentless push to outsource and privatize disaster management, which demoralized government employees and drove away many of the agency’s most experienced professionals. It appears that the same thing has been happening to veterans’ care.

The redoubtable Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, points out that IAP Worldwide Services, a company run by two former Halliburton executives, received a large contract to run Walter Reed under suspicious circumstances: the Army reversed the results of an audit concluding that government employees could do the job more cheaply.

And Mr. Waxman, who will be holding a hearing on the issue today, appears to have solid evidence, including an internal Walter Reed memo from last year, that the prospect of privatization led to a FEMA-type exodus of skilled personnel.

What comes next? Francis J. Harvey, who as far as I can tell was the first defense contractor appointed secretary of the Army, has been forced out. But the parallels between what happened at Walter Reed and what happened to New Orleans — not to mention parallels with the mother of all scandals, the failed reconstruction of Iraq — tell us that the roots of the scandal run far deeper than the actions of a few bad men.

More here, here, and here...and that's just today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring...