Friday, June 22, 2007



Haroon al-Afghani, an Afghan who has "admitted to serving as a courier for al-Qaeda Senior Leadership (AQSL)," will be Guantanamo's newest addition.

Try the lemon chicken, Haroon.

You know, I think Guantanamo would make a perfect place for the George W. Bush presidential library: in its own, perverted way, it captures the essence of his legacy...and if there was any real justice, he and his administration could take up residence in Camp X-ray come January of 2009, if not sooner.
Skeletons in Langley's Closet

Well, the ones we know about from the past, that is. I guess they have to make room for lord knows what courtesy of Team Bush's lawlessness.
Vice-Executive Privilege

So, Dick's asserting his own version of the divine right of kings. Creep.
Mitt's Girl Joe Friday

In keeping with the longstanding wingnut tradition of macho fantasy and real life hopeless wimpitude, Romney campaign aide Jay Garrity is being investigated for allegedly impersonating a police officer.

If you take a look at the second link, you'll see this isn't the first time Jay took his play acting a little too seriously.

And the rest of Mitt's team seems to be following Jay's lead (scroll down to the second story).

That's both creepy AND stupid.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dueling Heraldry

When one-upmanship becomes farce:

A group of hardline Pakistani Muslim clerics said on Thursday they had bestowed a religious title on Osama bin Laden in response to a British knighthood for author Salman Rushdie.

The Pakistan Ulema Council gave bin Laden the title "Saifullah", or sword of Allah, in response to the knighthood awarded to Rushdie last week for services to literature. know, as ridiculous as that makes the Ulema Council look, it's also a very sobering and stark message/realization: we're not exactly winning the battle for hearts and minds over there...and losing Pakistan is, well, critical.

This isn't the first time I've recycled an image, but considering this story, it's an appropriate visual aid:

State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. engaged in a "pattern of racketeering" by manipulating engineering reports on Hurricane Katrina damage so the company could deny policyholder claims, lawyers for a group of Mississippi homeowners allege in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The federal suit against State Farm represents a new legal strategy for attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, who has played a prominent role in challenging the insurance industry for its handling of Katrina claims.

Hundreds of homeowners in Mississippi and Louisiana have sued their insurers for denying their claims after the Aug. 29, 2005, storm. The suits typically accuse insurers of bad faith and breach of contract for refusing to pay for damage from Katrina's storm surge.

Well, I guess we'll have to see how this plays out as a legal matter...but beyond the legal definition, anyone who's dealt with or witnessed people dealing with insurance companies as a result of Katrina now knows that the industry is a barely disguised racket that will take your money, but will look for any excuse to deny a claim.

To your modern GOP, that's just the "efficiency of the free market" in action.
The Zone, Formerly Known as Green

It weird to see attacks on the Green Zone being written off with more or less the same tone that defined this same administration's reaction to the insurgency in the first place...although Shrub's managed to keep his "Mission Accomplished/Bring 'em on" nitwittery to himself, at least for now.

And, as I'm sure everyone's seen, the Green Zone is still relatively safe compared to the alternative, although you could say it's a sliding scale that makes remedial instruction look like post-doctoral research.

Oh--and following up from yesterday, Greenwald compares and contrasts the "mean-spirited" liberal/left blogosphere with the, um, sober realism of Norman "kill them all and let Yahweh sort them, I really mean that" Podhoretz. So much for wondering where wingnuts like the infection known as LGF get their ideological underpinnings.
The Friendly Skies

Osama wants to charter some planes? No problem! Have a nice flight! know, I wouldn't mind finding out what institutional investors' trading strategeries had them purchasing put options on United and American Airlines in the week prior to September 11th. The 9/11 Commission Report dismisses this as mere coincidence, but color me skeptical...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mr. Sincerity


Is he really that stupid, or is it that he just doesn't give a shit?

"Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical"...

This from someone who once said of himself:

"I'm a war president."

No--you're a sadistic creep.
"This is Your Brain on News"

...or not to have a brain at all, as Dan Quayle might say.

Still kind of busy over here, but I've got a few minutes to note this observant post by Harry Shearer--he concludes with the quote above. Shearer confines his analysis to coverage of the presidential debates...and the Paris Hilton nonsense, but you certainly can see the same attitude...or similar attitudes...towards other issues, to a greater or lesser extent.

Anyway--the net result, no pun intended, is that "news" becomes as vapid as...well, the Paris Hilton saga. Which, if it was mere entertainment, would be one thing...when people's lives and the country's reputation is at stake, it becomes something far more serious.

And that might explain why people are turning to things like blogs: if the news industry is as broken as the political system, alternatives might well be the only sane response...although I guess that depends on your definition of sanity and/or reality, e.g. idiots Mort Kondrake, Mara Liasson, and Chuck Krauthammer, who ignore the bugfuck rantings of their wingnut faction while bashing those of us in the reality-based community. Then again, reality itself is a bit of a challenge to them, considering how badly they've fucked things up.

Back later...
Busy Day

Will try to post later...but a lot of things are on my plate today, workwise...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pope Rage

The Vatican published a car safety manual, complete with a "Ten Commandments" of the road.

No word on whether or not Roy Moore will insist on posting them outside of Talladega.
Like President, Like Policy

What else would be appropriate for a failure's legacy...than a legacy of failure? And, not to be too flippant, but in a can't-even-win-for-losing scenario, Shrub doesn't even take "top" prize, as Iraq is nestled in 2nd place after Sudan, though Afghanistan--the other dead meat ahem, Team Bush policy initiative--holds on to 7th place ahem, my bad: 8th place.

And Sudan itself is being subjected to Shrubian/Chenian backdoor policy manueverings.

At least on one level there's a consistency: everything they touch turns to shit.
Free Fee Rudy

Rudy Giuliani's secret to profiting off of the dead:

Rudolph Giuliani's membership on an elite Iraq study panel came to an abrupt end last spring after he failed to show up for a single official meeting of the group, causing the panel's top Republican to give him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit, several sources said.

Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group last May after just two months, walking away from a chance to make up for his lack of foreign policy credentials on the top issue in the 2008 race, the Iraq war.

He cited "previous time commitments" in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why -- the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani's lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months.

Well, after all, "everyone knows" that the business of terrorism is...well, business. Why bother with the difficult matters of history, diplomacy, and policy considerations when there's gold in that there rubble known as Ground Zero? much knowledge and understanding does it take to play the fear/racism card?
He Likes to Watch

Talk about your basic, primitive clinging to myth here (short version: Justice Scalia derives at least part of his deranged mindset--ok, lizard-brain set--from teevee, specifically 24. Well, I suppose it could be worse (Elimidate?), but...

I just wonder if Antonin or any of his fellow 24 affecionados could cite one genuine, historical case of the so-called "ticking time bomb scenario" where torture either worked or could have worked. I don't think they can.

Monday, June 18, 2007

You Can Pay Now...or Pay Later

I guess it shows my age when I reference an old Fram auto parts ad--the part itself would change, but the theme was always the same: a mechanic who'd seen it all would hold up an oil filter or something similar, tell you it costs about $5 or $10 dollars or whatever...then point to the car in the garage--"a new motor, on the other hand, costs $1500. But the choice is yours--you can pay me now...or pay me later."

Sadly, with Iraq, we're perpetually opting to wait until the bill REALLY comes due, not the least case being the throwaway mentality wingnuttia has when it comes to the soldiers who are actually doing the fighting (as opposed to their sorry chickenhawk asses):

Army Spec. Jeans Cruz helped capture Saddam Hussein. When he came home to the Bronx, important people called him a war hero and promised to help him start a new life. The mayor of New York, officials of his parents' home town in Puerto Rico, the borough president and other local dignitaries honored him with plaques and silk parade sashes. They handed him their business cards and urged him to phone.

But a "black shadow" had followed Cruz home from Iraq, he confided to an Army counselor. He was hounded by recurring images of how war really was for him: not the triumphant scene of Hussein in handcuffs, but visions of dead Iraqi children.

In public, the former Army scout stood tall for the cameras and marched in the parades. In private, he slashed his forearms to provoke the pain and adrenaline of combat. He heard voices and smelled stale blood. Soon the offers of help evaporated and he found himself estranged and alone, struggling with financial collapse and a darkening depression.

At a low point, he went to the local Department of Veterans Affairs medical center for help. One VA psychologist diagnosed Cruz with post-traumatic stress disorder. His condition was labeled "severe and chronic." In a letter supporting his request for PTSD-related disability pay, the psychologist wrote that Cruz was "in need of major help" and that he had provided "more than enough evidence" to back up his PTSD claim. His combat experiences, the letter said, "have been well documented."

None of that seemed to matter when his case reached VA disability evaluators. They turned him down flat, ruling that he deserved no compensation because his psychological problems existed before he joined the Army. They also said that Cruz had not proved he was ever in combat. "The available evidence is insufficient to confirm that you actually engaged in combat," his rejection letter stated.

Yet abundant evidence of his year in combat with the 4th Infantry Division covers his family's living-room wall. The Army Commendation Medal With Valor for "meritorious actions . . . during strategic combat operations" to capture Hussein hangs not far from the combat spurs awarded for his work with the 10th Cavalry "Eye Deep" scouts, attached to an elite unit that caught the Iraqi leader on Dec. 13, 2003, at Ad Dawr...

Once celebrated by his government, Cruz feels defeated by its bureaucracy. He no longer has the stamina to appeal the VA decision, or to make the Army correct the sloppy errors in his medical records or amend his personnel file so it actually lists his combat awards.

"I'm pushing the mental limits as it is," Cruz said, standing outside the bullet-pocked steel door of the New York City housing project on Webster Avenue where he grew up and still lives with his family. "My experience so far is, you ask for something and they deny, deny, deny. After a while you just give up."

I wish Spec. Cruz the best of luck--and it sounds like, despite the raw deal he got, he's coping. But what's going to happen to the one-in-a-thousand or so who decide they've got nothing left to lose and go postal?

You know, just as war itself implies a measure of force that ultimately is indiscriminate (i.e., you WILL kill innocent people), there is also no such thing as a free ride when it comes to combat. Even the "easy" Gulf War I managed to influence a couple of people in an extraordinary-and-not-in-a-good-kind of way: Tim McVeigh and John Allen Mohammed. And anyone thinking Son of Gulf War will somehow produce a kinder, gentler veteran is dumb serve in the Executive Branch.

The consequences, however, will be deadly tragic.
Putting in Extra Hours at Work

Karl's evidently been hosting the nightly shredding parties (guess he didn't know that email is forever). And Abu knew what he was up to, but didn't do a thing about it. Go figure.
"Hard to Say"

I wonder if Tony Snow would say the same thing about a shit sandwich?

"I don't's hard to say what a shit sandwich tastes like, Ed."

Not that anyone paying attention will be surprised, but it turns out the "few bad apples" instigating ritual humiliation and torture as an expression/representation of American policy and expenditure of American taxpayer dollars included...SecDef Rummy himself:

Taguba also reveals that he believed high-level military officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, knew about the abuses but feigned ignorance, putting all the blame on low-level soldiers.

Not exactly something to take pride in...