Friday, June 01, 2007

Heir to Shrub

Matt Taibbi says Giuliani makes the, um, strongest case:

In the media age, we can't have a hero humble enough to actually be one; what is needed is a tireless scoundrel, a cad willing to pose all day long for photos, who'll accept $100,000 to talk about heroism for an hour, who has the balls to take a $2.7 million advance to write a book about himself called Leadership. That's Rudy Giuliani. Our hero. And a perfect choice to uphold the legacy of George W. Bush.

Yes, Rudy is smarter than Bush. But his political strength -- and he knows it -- comes from America's unrelenting passion for never bothering to take that extra step to figure shit out. If you think you know it all already, Rudy agrees with you. And if anyone tries to tell you differently, they're probably traitors, and Rudy, well, he'll keep an eye on 'em for you. Just like Bush, Rudy appeals to the couch-bound bully in all of us, and part of the allure of his campaign is the promise to put the Pentagon and the power of the White House at that bully's disposal.
...Who Are We Fighting For?...

Nonsense about the rabbit we'll somehow pull out of our hat in the self-made Mesopotamian shithole aside (also known at the Liebershade effect--see below), William S. Lind notes that Muqtada Al-Sadr is..."the last, best hope:"

At this point, for those who want to continue the Iraq war, only one objective makes any sense: restoring a state in Iraq before we leave, or more likely as we leave. A state, any kind of state, under any government; to try to specify anything more is, in the face of our military failure, maximalism and unreality.

The likelihood, unfortunately, is that no one can restore a state in Iraq. If anyone can, it is probably Muqtada al-Sadr...

The influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr publicly emerged Friday for the first time in months, calling for U.S. forces to leave Iraq and vowing to defend Sunnis and Christians. His appearance, and remarks, seemed part of an ongoing tactical shift by al-Sadr to recast himself as a nationalist who can unify and lead a post-occupation Iraq.

This is less of a shift than it might seem. Al-Sadr has maintained communications, and perhaps more, with some Sunni resistance groups all along. I suspect he has had his eye on the brass ring, namely all of Iraq, from the beginning. He knows what the idiots in Washington seem not to know, namely that only a leader who has opposed the occupation and America can hope to have sufficient legitimacy to restore an Iraqi state.

What all this means, in concrete terms, is that America should facilitate al-Sadr's rise to national power. That does not mean embracing him; to do so would be to destroy his legitimacy. Nor is he fool enough to accept any such embrace. Rather, it means staying out of his way, avoiding fights with his Mahdi Army, selectively picking off challengers to him within his own movement (which in fact we may be doing, wittingly or not), and letting our hopeless, worthless puppet government in Baghdad's Green Zone fall into history's wastebasket when the time is right.

None of this will ensure al-Sadr can restore a state in Iraq. Again, the odds are that no one can. But he seems to be the last, best hope.

And the military seems to at least tacitly acknowledge this.

The alternative, which, believe it or not, is effectively the Bush position, is to continue the occupation for its own sake (i.e., blood as an ego salve)...which, as Lind notes in conclusion, is "a gift beyond price to old Osama."
Just a Thought

You know, I'll let the wingnuts salivate and drool over themselves as they gush on about their Fred Thompson man-crush (even as Greenwald pulls back the curtain and shows the real Fred in all his chickenhawk glory)...but I can't help noticing that regardless of whether his Montecristo is Cuban or Dominican or sure does display pretty poor judgement for a lymphoma patient to suck on a stogie.

Sure, on one level, it's his personal business...and, full disclosure: I'm a cigarette addict, although for the last six months I've managed to limit consumption to no more than four a day...and no, that hasn't been easy...

Now, if it was JUST a matter of old Fred, in his twilight years, saying "to hell with it," that'd be one thing. But old Fred's considering a run for the highest office in the office that, if nothing else, demands anything BUT poor judgement. If Thompson can't make wise choices when it comes to himself, you've gotta wonder how casual an approach he'd take with the lives of our soldiers, or people we claim to be "liberating."

Enjoy your cigar, Fred. But don't expect me or anyone else to think it makes you more of a man. Just the opposite, in fact.
Fuzzy Math

I thought I'd do some quick calculations based Shrub's, er, delusion-he-calls-vision, that is, Iraq on the 50 year occupation/installment plan...Assuming some consistency, here's how things break down, no pun intended--

Numbers are approximate:

US Soldier Deaths: 36,000-40,000...or more, given that the "Coalition" will be us...and private contractors.
US Soldiers Wounded: 350,000
Cost in Dollars: $5,110,000,000,000 (a little over $5 trillion dollars).

And that doesn't even factor the cost to Iraqis.

Actually, "how things break down" is pretty appropriate.

Sources: here and here.

At those prices, you could literally build titanium levees.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Comrade Premier Shrub

Who says the Soviet Union collapsed? It just changed locations.
Me Decider

The Ignoble Savage:

Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated "I am the president!" He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country's destiny."
On the Clock

I've been "volunteered" for a off-site project...hopefully I'll find some time to post a little later.

Forget UV protection--Liebershades® literally block out reality.

Update: Flackjacket sold separately.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Justice at Long Last

A Civil Rights demonstration in Baton Rouge, sometime during the early 1960's.

Jury selection is beginning in the trial of James Ford Seale:

James Seale, 71, denies killing Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee.

The former sheriff's deputy was first arrested in 1964. The authorities later freed him, citing lack of evidence.

The case was reopened after a campaign by Mr Moore's brother, who had discovered that Mr Seale was still alive. He was rearrested in January...

Prosecutors said that in May 1964 Mr Seale aimed a shotgun at the two black men while fellow Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members beat them with tree branches.

According to the indictment, Mr Seale and the others attached weights to the two men, took them out on the water in a boat and threw them into the river.

Good--to the extent it can, let justice prevail. It's been a long time, but hopefully the evidence will be sufficient to convict or acquit, depending on...the evidence itself. There's no need to convict Mr. Seale before the fact are weighed.

That said, I think it's important to remember that the Civil Rights movement--which is ongoing--was and remains quite a bit more complicated than is generally acknowledged. It seems as if things have been compressed into just a few, discrete events: Rosa Parks, Little Rock, Selma, the March on Washington/I Have a Dream Oration (I deliberately put the latter two out of sequence because I bet a lot of people think Selma occurred before, not after, the March on Washington)...the Civil Rights Struggle speaks volumes about our country, in all its good, bad, and ugly. We could learn a LOT from studying the movement, and maybe a more than a few things we don't really want to know, but should.

"The Right Thing to Do"

Why it's generally NOT a good idea to use the military as an instrument to win hearts and minds:

An officer who saw the corpses of Iraqi women and children sprawled across a bed in a home said Wednesday in recorded testimony that he believed that "my Marines were doing the right thing" when they killed them.

Meanwhile, to Shrub, I guess all Asians must look alike.

Wingnut Noise Machine

Glenn Greenwald has the details.
Big Time Milestone

AmericaBlog points out that today is the second anniversary of Dick's "last throes" assertion (emphasis on "ass"). Here's a summary of how everyone's "celebrating"...

Well, not everyone, exactly.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Ron Burgundy of 9/11

Good--someone's gonna call Rudolph Giuliani on his utterly shameless exploitation of 9/11 for personal political gain (and in the process proving that Team Bush doesn't have a corner on the vile actions market).:

“If somebody can tell me what he did on 9/11 that was so good, I’d love to hear it,” says Jim Riches, a deputy chief with the fire department whose son was killed in the World Trade Center attacks. “All he did was give information on the TV. He did nothing. He stood there with a TV reporter and told everyone what was going on. And he got it from everybody else down at the site.”

Meanwhile, here's your "liberal media" at work. Ugh.
When An Exhibit's Entitled 'Judges, Clowns, and Whores'... can be forgiven for thinking it's about today's GOP.

"Young Democracy"

I've always considered Shrub's description of Iraq more than a little creepy--almost like a pimp talking about the latest addition to his stable.

Unfortunately, for a number of Iraqi women who now find themselves refugees in Syria, the world's oldest profession isn't a metaphor, but the only way to survive thanks to our meddling:

Back home in Iraq, Umm Hiba’s daughter was a devout schoolgirl, modest in her dress and serious about her studies. Hiba, who is now 16, wore the hijab, or Islamic head scarf, and rose early each day to say the dawn prayer before classes.

But that was before militias began threatening their Baghdad neighborhood and Umm Hiba and her daughter fled to Syria last spring. There were no jobs, and Umm Hiba’s elderly father developed complications related to his diabetes.

Desperate, Umm Hiba followed the advice of an Iraqi acquaintance and took her daughter to work at a nightclub along a highway known for prostitution. “We Iraqis used to be a proud people,” she said over the frantic blare of the club’s speakers. She pointed out her daughter, dancing among about two dozen other girls on the stage, wearing a pink silk dress with spaghetti straps, her frail shoulders bathed in colored light...

And though some women of other nationalities, including Russians and Moroccans, still work as prostitutes in Damascus, Abeer, a 23-year-old from Baghdad working at the same club as Hiba, explained that the arriving Iraqis had pushed many of them out of business.

“From what I’ve seen, 70 percent to 80 percent of the girls working this business in Damascus today are Iraqis,” she said. “The rents here in Syria are too expensive for their families. If they go back to Iraq they’ll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available.”

And...if you can believe it, Tony "White Man's Burden Redux" Blair thinks...Iraqis should be grateful for all we've given them.
Missing More Than a Few Cards

Shrub's confusing "the voices" in his head...with public opinion. Geez:

Confronted with strong opposition to his Iraq policies, President Bush decides to interpret public opinion his own way. Actually, he says, people agree with him...

Increasingly isolated on a war that is going badly, Bush has presented his alternative reality in other ways, too. He expresses understanding for the public's dismay over the unrelenting sectarian violence and American losses that have passed 3,400, but then asserts that the public's solution matches his.

"A lot of Americans want to know, you know, when?" he said at a Rose Garden news conference Thursday. "When are you going to win?"

If that's a true measure of what constitutes his, for lack of a better term, "thinking," then...Houston, we've got a problem. Or maybe it should be 'we've got Houston's problem.'

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Thanks to the political cowardice of the Bush administration and 110th Congress, there will be more soldiers to memorialize. Political courage for Bush, not that he'd ever display it, would have been to not invade Iraq in the first place...for Congress, it would be to stand up to the literally insane rantings from the executive branch.

But I guess neither will happen.

Anyway. To change the subject, I'm taking advantage of the holiday to do some chores, and will resume regular posting tomorrow. And, changing the subject again, just as an FYI, I noticed over the weekend that has posted and opened for free searching a large number of military records through June 6th.

Seeing this story about a World War I veteran at First Draft reminded me: on Friday I did a quick search for any records of my grandfather, who also was a veteran of the Great War. I found his draft card:

If it's accurate, it means he was a year older than we thought, and 101 years old when he died in 1990.

For someone who grew up in a genuine backwater, and who was forced out of school at a very early age (language issues: he didn't speak English, and teachers would not instruct in French), he was actually pretty smart: in recounting his war years, he told me he'd volunteer for kitchen duty, which not only meant more to eat, but also assignment to a back trench. He also drove a truck and functioned as an interpreter (he'd become proficient in English, but always spoke with an accent).

I'd say getting assigned to a back trench wasn't a bad idea.

Well, anyway...back tomorrow.