Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Guess I'm Not Sufficiently Paranoid

Does this look like a bomb to you? If I'm driving around town and see a few of these things plastered on billboards or hanging from traffic lights, BOMB!!! is not going to be my first reaction. Not second, or third, or eighty-eighth choice either. Anarchist Muslim fundamentalists just don't have that whole, whimsy, thing going for them.

Which Is Worse?

  • In Saudi Arabia, a woman victim of gang rape was sentenced to 90 lashes because just before the gang attack she had been alone in a car with a man. The rapists received sentences as low as 1 year in prison and 80 lashes.
  • In Tampa, Florida, a woman rape victim was thrown in jail after she reported the rape to police. There was an outstanding warrent against her for failure to pay restitution in a 2003 theft. The police took the opportunity of her being in the police station reporting the rape to arrest her. While behind bars, her jailer refused to allow the rape victim to take her morning-after contraceptive pill because it was against the jailer's religion. The rapist is still free as a bird.

In both cases the victim was punished because she had reported her rape to authorities. In both cases there was a religious element that considers women to be sub-human property.

The Phrase 'Crazy-ass Psychopath' Comes to Mind

What kind of person, while sitting in the cab of ten-ton bulldozer for a photo-op, thinks it would be fun to fire that monster up and chase the people in front of him? Could it be the same person who started a recreational war in the Middle East, had people "renditioned" to countries for the singular purpose of having them tortured, and has stood in the center of the Oval Office and pissed on the Constitution? Why, yes, it is.

"Bush looked out the tractor's window and laughed" while reporters, White House staffers, and Secret Service agents scrambled for their lives. The man is deranged.

PoliShifter has more observations on our Lunatic-in-chief.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Once Again, Bush Emulates the Soviet Union

Some day when I am feeling bored or depressed I will list all of the ways that Bush has designed his administration as an eerie copy of Communist Russia. From domestic spying to secret prison camps, Bush has remodeled the United States government into a replica of the Soviet Union, all the while being cheered on by allegedly anti-communist conservatives.

The latest example is the placement of political agents inside government regulatory agencies. As in the Soviet Union, these political agents will have no expertise in the fields they are controlling, actual knowledge is considered a burden to the purity of political thought, and will be outside of the regular hierarchy of the departments. Their purpose is to force the civil service to adhere to political orthodoxy.

Can't Think, Can't Write

I'm having some landscaping done this week. Which means a horrible, big noisy mess until they finish. Kinda like the Iraq War except I have an exit strategy. Maybe I can do some writing sometime after midnight, after I calm down.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Right Wing Cult of Personality

Have you ever noticed how many of the Republican candidates for political office are just warmed over celebrities.
  • In Pennsylvania, the lone qualification of their '06 candidate for governor, Lynn Swann, was having been a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers;
  • They are ga-ga in Massachusetts over the chances that Curt Schilling will run for Senate, even though he has said he will support Barack Obama (or John McCain) for President. In addition to his outstanding fastball, Shilling's main aptitude is his skill at the board wargame Advanced Squad Leader;
  • Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning was a better pitcher than Schilling although he is apparently not smart enough to play games or apprear in a debate without his teleprompter;
  • Mary Bono is repeatedly elected to Congress solely because she had once been married to Sonny Bono, who had been elected to Congress solely because he had once been married to Cher;
  • Conservative icon, more like saint, Ronald Reagan was just a talented b-movie actor before being elected governor of California;
  • California's current governor, Arnold I-can't-spell-his-name, was a more successful and less talented actor before his election.
Republicans love to ridicule liberal celebrities. From the Dixie Chicks (Shut Up and Sing) to Barbra Streisand, they are fixated on our celebrities - far more than liberals are. The only reason I know what the Dixie Chicks said is because right wingers kept repeating it to denounce them. I don't know what Alec Baldwin or Matt Damon think politically, although I'll wager there is not a single conservative blogger in the country who could not regale me with them in detail and how they have absolutely no right to say any such thing in public.

It is the nature of the rightwing beast. The same inclination towards an Imperial President drives their obsession with celebrities. Republicans have a serf/master view of the world. To Republicans, all that matters is status. A famous ballplayer has earned the right to political power while a brilliant professor is a petty proletariat. To Republicans, liberal celebrities have betrayed their class; that people of stature can hold liberal beliefs defies the basic order of their universe. It is the reason conservatives so often use the word treason to describe liberal celebrities.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Following White House Logic

This administration has turned down numerous diplomatic overtures from Iran, and now rushes to escalate tension while refusing to negotiate. ~ Georgetown Voice

The United States is in fact a formidable adversary, there's not much advantage for us in engaging with them, ~ Secretary of Defense Robert Gates saying that the United States does not need to negotiate with Iran.

The Saudis were worried by the Baker-Hamilton report that the Americans would negotiate with Iran. ~ Iraqi analyst Mustafa Alani

Rice Rejects Overture To Iran And Syria ~ Washington Post

Bush authorizes the use of force against Iranians in Iraq. ~ The Guardian
And now ...
We believe that we can solve our problems with Iran diplomatically. ~ George Bush
It appears that Bush is confusing the concept of killing people without talking to them with the word "diplomacy" again. This book is only $17.95 from Bank Street Bookstore. Say the word, Georgie-Porgie, and I'll buy it for your birthday.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Starving Our Soldiers in Afghanistan

As I write this the temperature in Kabul, Afghanistan is -2o Celsius, a pleasant winter's evening. The weather can get brutal, falling below -20oC and temperatures approaching -50oC have been recorded. The reason I am sharing these meteorological tidbits is that American soldiers are starving in Afghanistan. Soldiers and Marines are losing 20 to 40 pounds of body weight during their Afghan deployments. One soldier had to be evacuated because of malnutrition and a 60 pound weight loss.

The reason is pathetically simple. The standard MRE (meal ready to eat) has 1200 calories. Eating two a day is sufficient nutrition for a normally active adult male, plenty of food for riding around New Jersey in a Hummer. In Afghanistan, the soldiers are hiking more than riding, often in bitter cold. Under winter combat conditions they can easily burn 6000 to 8000 calories a day. They simply can't eat enough of standard cheese-and-crackers MREs to replace the energy they are losing.

Anyone with wilderness experience knows compact calories, proteins and fats, are a necessary food under these conditions. Unfortunately, the wine-and-caviar Pentagon generals are ignorant twits. So, for five years American soldiers have been struggling with malnutrition as well as Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

The Pentagon is finally reacting to the need by sending high calorie First Strike Rations - in late April long after the winter cold, and greatest need, has passed. Skippy rightly asks, "this is supporting the"

But, starving soldiers is a Bush Administration traditon.

The 401(k)-zation of Health Care

It was hard to get interested in Bush's SOTU address, partly because the only thing remotely new was his health care proposal. I figured my initial antipathy was a kneejerk reaction to anything Bushian. This morning I recognized that the goal of the plan is to end the system of employer provided health benefits.

By taxing health benefits provided by employers while giving a (wholly inadequate) tax deduction to individually purchased health plans the effect will be to discourage employer health benefits. If this is implemented as described it will, over time, cause employers to provide the barest minimum benefits and shift the burden of finding and paying for health plans to the employees. With the experience of the 401(k) pension system as a predictor, I expect scores of millions of Americans will find their health care greatly diminished by the Bush shift.

As for the working poor, what good is a big new tax deduction if it only applies to income taxes and not payroll taxes.

Art taken from article on the Bush health plan. George W. - the Jolly Proctologist.

Update: American Prospect points out that the Bush plan will let the working poor deduct their health expenses from the payroll taxes at the cost of reducing their later Social Security benefits. They also point to the effect of reducing health care.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

You Know You're a Lame Duck When...

  • You give a major speech about a war that has killed thousands and nobody gives a crap.
  • Expectations for your SOTU address are so low; but, still, the only way you can exceed expectations is by not showing up.
  • Even your Best Friends Forever, like Rush Limbaugh, won't bother listening to you talk.
  • The only major new initiative you can think of is a tax on health insurance.
  • Laura thinks it was funny to give you a feather covered crutch for Christmas.
  • Jenna makes "quacking" sounds when she visits.
  • The only school that wants your presidential library is a Pakistani madrassa with a major in suicide bombing.
  • You go outside at Camp David and you see vultures circling overhead.
  • You think you see webbing between your toes while taking a bath.
  • Barney keeps peeing on your shoes.
  • Dick Cheney's trigger finger starts twitching whenever he looks at you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

That Whole Rats, Sinking Ship Metaphor

The Captain of the garbage scow SS Iraq War has steered his ship over so many rocks he has left big chunks of the keel far behind. The rats are leaving.

The first to go were the ugly neo-con rats. They gnawed holes in the navigation equipment, damn well ate the bloody compass. They are paddling off to find another ship, maybe headed to Iran, that they can sink.

Now it the time for the fat rats to leave. They ate cheese while the neo-con rats were screwing things up, never said a word. They were too busy scarfing down seabisquits to be bothered pointing out that the boat was scrapping over a reef. Now, even they have begun waddling over to the rail to jump.

But, not to worry. The loyal seamen are shoveling coal into the boiler as fast as they can. Well, those who haven't already drowned. And the Captain is topside, feet dry, whistling a jaunty chantey. He has faith. He has a plan. He is going to strap what's left of his crew to the hull amidship and use their bodies to keep his ship afloat. Then he can steer to those bright, shiny rocks on the horizon.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Reading the Number of the Beast

Averse as I am to promote anyone who makes money being assholes, Lord knows I've never been able to profit from it, the mag The Beast has a couple of articles worth reading.

The 50 most loathsome people in America
is gloriously nasty as it drags everybody from John McCain to Ryan Seacrest through the shit they have so richly earned.

Gonzo journalist Matt Taibbi's article about The Surge and his visit to Iraq is a reality-based study of the absurdity of the Bush Plan.

There is nothing like a lazy, Sunday posting.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Few Commonly Expressed Un-Patriotic Statements

A commenter at offers a challenge to liberals to draft an un-patriotic statement. The comment strings are boring, mostly just conservatives setting up strawmen to knock down. Even the people who seem to believe that women athletics is un-patriotic lack any wit. Redstate is a poor place for such a challenge given that anyone who deviates from accepted orthodoxy is quickly banned. The challenge itself is probably just an attempt to flush out liberals for banishment. Still, it is an interesting question.

Un-Patriotic Statements
"The Constitution is not a suicide pact."
~ Certainly the most pervasive of un-patriotic statements. It is used whenever a conservative wishes to justify abrogating some constitutional provision such as habaes corpus, the prohibition against warrantless searches, the right to trial by jury, or the right to free speech. The original source of the phrase comes from a dissenting opinion in a 1949 Supreme Court decision upholding the right of free speech. The Constitution is not a rag that can be tossed aside whenever it is convenient.

"Do not criticize the President at a time of war." ~ Some iteration of this phase is used to demand the President get a free pass whenever he takes an outrageous or stupid position. And, since when? Lincoln was vilified during the Civil War, Republicans attacked Truman during the Korean War, Johnson and Nixon got bi-partisan derision during the Vietnam War. Criticizing a President is the right of every American.

"The President is Command-in-Chief of the country." ~ wrongedy...wrong... wrong...wrong. Often coupled with the concept of the Unitary Executive to contend that the President has the right to ignore any law or Constitutional provision he does not agree with. "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States." (Art. 2, Sec. 2, Clause 1 ~ United States Constitution.) That's it. He is Commander-in-Chief of the military. Top general, if you will. Nothing more. Period.

Anyone who disagrees with my politics is guilty of treason. ~ Never stated so succinctly, except by Ann Coulter, but the gist of many statements by rightwingers. Without active disagreement democracy is impossible.
John Boehner ~ "I listen to my Democrat friends, and I wonder if they're more interested in protecting terrorists than in protecting the American people."
Pat Robertson ~ "attempts to undermine the commander in chief during time of war amounts to treason."
Alan Caruba ~ what (Democrats) are saying of late treads extraordinarily close to being treasonous.
The United States is a Christian Nation. ~ Sometimes when the bigots want to sound inclusive they will say Judeo-Christian. The United States is a free nation in which every religion has equal status and no religion has primacy. Yet, there are some among us who insist the government must force non-Christians to swear on the Christian Bible and who demand the government erect Christian icons (crosses and creches) for them to worship.

"I don't think the judiciary is equipped at all to make decisions about what is in the national interest of our country" ~ Source Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. One of the three co-equal branches of the United States government is of no importance. The Administration has a similar opinion of Congress.

The president has the right to launch military action in Iran without first seeking congressional authorization. ~ This is the current rightwing meme, expressed as well here as anywhere. Of course, the Constitution invests in Congress alone the right to declare war (art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 11). However, if we have been paying attention we know that rightwingers believe that the Constitution is an outdated document that can be tossed aside whenever it suits their whim.
An Aside: I still read, on the belief one should "Know Thine Enemy," even though I was banned there months ago for the crime of using the adjective "illconceived" to modify the noun phrase "Iraq War." For conservatives, they have a very liberal definition of the concept of obscenity.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

'Are We Better Off Than Four Years Ago?'

With the four year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War approaching, it is a good time to resurrect Ronald Reagan's famous query. "Are you, World, better off than you were four years ago?"

Four Years Ago
In 2003, Iraq was ruled by a corrupt and brutal dictator. The Kurds had independent control of their own region under the protection of the American No-Fly Zone. The majority Shi'ites were oppressed but managed to live peaceful lives as long as they did not desire political power. Sunnis were the ruling elite and mostly benefitted from the regime. Economically, the country was tormented by decade-long sanctions. It was a struggle, but if one worked hard it was still possible to have a decent lifestyle. Men and women were free as to work and attend schools and universities.

Regionally, Iraq served as a block against any expansionist desires by Iranian mullahs. All of the regions more headstrong groups had a healthy fear of American power following the swift defeat of Iraq in 1991 and the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002. Terrorist recruitment in Saudi Arabia was a problem in large part due to American presence in the country. Hamas, in Palestine, was a troublesome underground organization. Hezbollah was a problem for Israel but was becoming part of the government of a peaceful Lebanon.

Internationally, the United States was still benefiting from the worldwide compassion that followed the 911 attacks. The US military had defeated the Taliban with less effort than it takes to kill a mosquito. The United States was feared, respected, and even loved as much as an arrogant superpower can be loved.

Four Years Later

Iraqis would consider anarchy an improvement to what they now have. The Kurds continue to have control of their own region and they are attempting to expand their control to oil rich Kirkuk. The Shi'ites are freed of Saddam's repression but live now in fear of the religious militias. While a sectarian civil war of militias rages where Shi'ites and Sunnis mix, the heavily Shi'ite south is only marginally less dangerous. Thugs dressed in all-black set up roadblocks and patrol the neighborhoods seeking to punish anyone who is not sufficiently pure in faith. Sunnis struggle with possible genocide. Outnumbered and facing attack by the government (such as it is), the Shi'ite militias, and the American army, the Sunnis fear they may be wiped out. Economically, there is none. Over half the available workers are unemployed and those few with shops or jobs fear going to work. Women, especially, are fearful. Kidnappings for ransom and rape is rampant. Women who work or attend school risk the attention of the religious militias.

Regionally, removing Iraq as a regional power has greatly increased the influence of Iran. The Arabian Peninsula is terrified of the prospect of a unified Iraq and Iran turning the Persian Gulf into an Iranian lake. Terrorists thrive. Hamas is no longer underground, they run Palestine. Hezbollah remains a force in a now no longer peaceful Lebanon. No terrorist, anywhere, fears the United States any longer.

Internationally, the world sees the United States of Abu Ghraib tortures and the Gitmo prison, of preemptive war and extraordinary renditions, as a force for evil. The Great Might of the United States has been revealed as a paper tiger as our armed forces are humbled daily by ragtag Iraqi militias. The compassion following 911 is long forgotten. Respect is a joke. The only fear of the US any longer is fear of our insanity. Where grudging love once existed is now only pity.

Are we better off than we were four years ago? Are we?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pity Poor Hester Prynne, If She Lived in Mackinac

The legislators and judges in Michigan today have nothing on New England Puritans three and a half centuries ago. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne only had to suffer having the letter 'A' embroidered on the bosom of her dress. Michigan makes Puritans look like free-love hippies.

In Michigan, the punishment for having adulterous sex (adultery is a felony in Michigan) that included coital penetration is life in prison. Manslaughter, kidnapping, selling crack to minors, these are all petty offenses compared to a married woman having a fling with the pool boy. State authorities are adament they will not use this newly discovered interpretation of the law to turn Michigan into the most sexually repressive state in the Union. But, the law is there to defend the Wolverine State against any rash of Desperate Housewives. By the by, the state Attorney General who pushed the Court of Appeals for the decision that led to this legal conclusion is himself an admitted adulterer.

Full credit to the crack research department of Blognonymous for this discovery.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

War Profiteering Is the American Way

A commenter to my posting about Pat Leahy's War Profiteering Prevention Act noted that I just don't get the whole "capitalism" concept. He is partially right, war profiteering has long been a part of American capitalism.

During the war of the Greatest Generation, World War II, General Motors was manufacturing tanks for the American war effort. At the same time, GM's Opel subsidiary was building JU-88 bombers for Nazi Germany. GM was making profit from both sides as GM's German bombers destroyed GM's American tanks. Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon) also played both ends. Standard Oil profited from developing and implimenting the synthnic gasoline program that fueled the Nazi war machine. As late as 1944, Standard Oil maintained close ties to SS chief Heinrich Himmler. Senator Harry Truman called Standard Oil's conduct "treason." During World War II, war profiteering was rampant.
In effect, corporations engaged in a sit-down strike until they had obtained outrageously beneficial terms. America faced corporations that openly violated the law, corporations that blackmailed the government with threats of an interruption of the supply of gasoline and corporations that conspired to price fixing. Finally, America faced the armies of the Third Reich supplied by products built by American corporations. No corporation ever faced charges of price fixing, war profiteering and treason with supplying the enemy with munitions. Yet more than three hundred corporations did business with the Third Reich during the war. ~ Corporate Law: a History
During the Civil War, Lincoln's first Secretary of War saw a path to quick profits. Simon Cameron paid high prices for tainted food, knapsacks and uniforms that fell apart, thin blankets, and weapons that blew the thumbs off of the soldiers who fired them. Cameron pocketed hefty kickbacks for these no-bid contracts. Any similarity between Simon Cameron and Dick Cheney of Halliburton is a sick accident of history. Even though Lincoln fired him for his corruption, Cameron continued a successful political career.
"An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought." ~ Simon Cameron
War continues to be a major profit source for American corporations. With a corrupt administration, the only cure is Congressional intervention. While the administration is saber-rattling a possible war with Iran, the Pentagon is shipping surplus military gear to middlemen who are selling it to Iran. Bush is arming a country he wants to wage war against. Profits on both ends; profits all around.

The 10 most brazen war profiteers

The Nation, 2003 editorial
Center for Corporate Policy
Iraq for Sale: a Robert Greenwald film

The final word for how destructive war profiteering can be for our country comes from Vladimir Lenin - "The last capitalist will sell us the rope that hangs him."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Power of CIA Corruption

Less than a week after the CIA blocked a Federal prosecutor from investigation the corrupt practices of former CIA Executive Director Dusty Foggo (hate the guy, love that name), that prosecutor is being sacked.

Carol Lam, the US Attorney who prosecuted Duke Cunningham and revealed the morass of corruption that surrounded the congressman, is being "asked to step down" by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. The alleged reason is that her pursuit of Cunningham, Brent Wilkes, and Foggo - her unraveling and revealing a web of bribery that spread deep into the heart of the United States Government - has distracted her from the more important mission of catching and fining people smuggling marijuana across the Mexican border.

It may be unreasonable to blaim the CIA. After all, rolling over the rocks under which Republicans had hidden their bribes all these years upset a lot of very powerful criminals. But, the move against Foggo and the prospects of uncovering criminal enterprises infesting the CIA, seems to have been the last straw. Given the history of the CIA, Carol Lam is lucky to still be alive.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Maybe an amendment to ban any Presidents from Texas for the next 100 years?

This was the first comment to a Will Bunch posting on Attytood examining the parallels between Bush's speech last night and Lyndon Johnson's State of the Union address exactly 40 years earlier. When Johnson spoke, the American death toll in Vietnam had reached 7,917. By the end of the war, 50,285 additional Americans would die. When Bush spoke, the American death toll in Iraq had reached 3,018. Does that mean with this escalation we can expect an additional 19,000 American deaths before the Iraq War ends?

Given our history, a constitutional amendment banning anyone born or residing in the state of Texas from serving as President seems a prudent act. We have had three Texas presidents, LBJ, Bush I, and Bush II. Each, in his own way, has been an unspeakable disaster.

Stay the Course - Part Deux

Bush's1 "New Way Forward" reads2 like a repackaging of the same old ideas with enhanced death features.
"The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi army and national police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts." Translation: As they stand up.
"These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations; conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents." Translation: They will be friendly, neighborhood beat cops.
The plan, as being implimented, is using Kurdish Peshmerga forces for Baghdad security, because Shi'ite forces are not trusted to fight against Shi'ite militia. But, Kurdish troops will hardly be seen as beat cops. Kurds are not Arabs. They are as much a foreign, occupation army as the American soldiers.
"These (American) troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis...." Translation: They will be babysitters, or is that observers, or maybe commanders?
In the latter days of the Roman Empire, Roman commanders would place their barbarian mercenaries in the front of the battle. Crack Roman legions would be behind them, ready to kill the mercs if they ran instead of fought. There is nothing "well defined" in this. A major unanswered question is what will be the role of the embeds? Are they leaders, followers, or disengaged watchers? Will the Iraqis expect the Americans to do all the dangerous missions or will the Americans angle their weapons at their Iraqi allies and tell them to go in first? What will happen the first time an Iraqi captain issues an order to an American private embedded in his unit?
"This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter these neighborhoods (home to those fueling the sectarian violence)." Translation: Expect bloody, street-to-street fighting that will make Fallujah look like a Sunday picnic.
There are two million people living in Sadr City, the home of Muqtada al-Sadr's Madhi Army. That is twice the population of the city of San Diego. This is going to get ugly.
"To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs." Translation: We are going to make them spend money they don't have.
The Pretty Pink Pony moment of the Bush speech. In theory, Iraq gets $35 billion in oil revenue. The reality is significantly less. Billions are lost to official corruption. Billions more to organized criminal gangs. Even more will be lost when the United States forces the Iraqi government to give foreign oil companies up to 70% of Iraq's oil revenue.
"We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped army..." Translation: God knows they need it.
Iraqi forces complain they have no vehicles, no body armor, not even enough bullets. But, they have been kept in that state for a reason. The US military does not trust Iraqis with guns.
"We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq." Translation: Be prepared to expand the war into Iran and Syria.
This is the "My God, He's Crazy" moment of his speech. Bush followed up these words with an attack on Iranian sovereign territory, the Iranian diplomatic consulate in Irbil, Kurdish Iraq. The US-Iraq War is leading inexorably to a US-Iran War.
"We must expect more Iraqi and American casualties." Translation: There is no hope.
"The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will." Translation: When there is no hope, there is always prayer.
No further comment is need, God save us all.
"We carefully considered these proposals (for withdrawal). And we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale." Translation: After me, all hell will break loose.
Note the use of the Royal We. Apres mous le deluge. The words of Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV of France, and George III of the United States.

There were many words that translate to the same thing: "Stay the course" and "As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down," only much more of the same. There was a promise of more blood and more death. I didn't watch the speech (see footnotes) but I have seen a couple of short clips and read several reviews. The delivery was stiff and awkward. It was as if he had been hectored to "be serious" and "don't smirk so much." Even his true believers in the rightwing blogs gave him low marks for presentation. If the goal was to inspire the nation, Bush failed miserably. A delivery that looked like a classroom presentation by a nervous 12 year-old will probably fail to reassure the country that Bush knows what he is doing.

Bush labored mightily, and brought forth a mouse. At least two nations, maybe more, will continue to suffer for his lack of imagination and lack of common sense.

Footnotes: 1) From this moment forth, I refuse to grant George Bush the title of President.
2) I no longer watch Bush's speeches. Watching and listening to him literally dissolves my brain cells, I can feel intelligence leaking away. And, when he gives that half-smile smirk of his when talking about dead American servicemembers, I want to commit a federal crime punishable by death - and do it with my bare hands. I used Eason Jordan annotated transcript as my reference for the speech.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Rudy GiulianiTM Would Be a Sucky President

I figure I just risked a multi-million dollar trademark infringement lawsuit. But, what the hell.

Rudolph GiulianiTM is a registered trademark of Rudolph Giuliani. Any use of the phrase Rudolph Giuliani that "tarnishes, degrades, disparages or reflects adversely" on the marketed product known as Rudolph Giuliani will find the violator hanging by his toenails in a cell at Gitmo if the bastard is ever elected President.

Where Is the TSA When You Need 'Em?

Once, that can be an accident. Twice is a trend. There is a new trend of terrorist scorpions sneaking aboard airliners and attacking the passengers. Yesterday, two airplanes were attacked in what is obviously a coordinated effort by an international cartel of scorpions.

On a flight from Miami to Toronto, a Canadian man was stung by an allegedly illegal alien scorpion from Costa Rica. The man suspects the scorpion smuggled itself aboard in his carry-on luggage when he left Costa Rica, where he had been on vacation. The scorpion then snuck aboard the American Airlines flight in Miami right under the noses of the Transportation Safety Authority. Even more frightening is this case of domestic scorpion terrorism. A scorpion boarded a plane in Houston and stung a Vermont man twice during the flight.

Both attacks happened yesterday yet there has been no change in the terror alert. The TSA has no program in place for preventing scorpions, or other arachnids, from boarding planes without proper identification papers. Since scorpions are known to be able to survive the radiation from nuclear explosions they would make perfect recruits to al-Qaeda in advance of dirty bomb attacks.

Where is the TSA? Where is Homeland Security? What are they doing about this looming (okay, creepy) threat?

P.S. Welcome back, Blogger. You're outage yesterday kept me from posting this earlier when I could have prevented needless suffering.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Even Franz Kafka Couldn't Have Thought of This

"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first - verdict aferwards" ~ Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

My hypocrisy knows no bounds. ~ Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone
I really didn't care much, one way or the other, when Saddam Hussein was executed last month. I can't very well advocate trying Dick Cheney, George Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld for war crimes while shedding crocodile tears for the first Butcher of Baghdad. But, I can't allow to pass without notice this news...
BAGHDAD: Saddam Hussein's trial for the killing of 180,000 Kurds in the 1980s resumed Monday with the late dictator’s seat empty, nine days after he went to the gallows. ~ The News, International
The trial judge did go through the formality of dismissing the charges against Hussein, being that he had already been executed. Although, given how things have been going, I am surprised they didn't prop the corpse up in the chair and continue the trial through to a second execution. For the record, Saddam is Not Guilty of killing those Kurds.

Iraq would be funny if it were not so tragic. It is too insane for Franz Kafka; too silly for Lewis Carroll. Laughing is the wrong reaction and crying doesn't make sense. The only thing that seems appropriate is to take a shit.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Armageddonites Wet Dreams

The Christian Right loves Israel for one reason. They believe that a Middle Eastern war involving Israel will result in Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ. The don't give a rat's ass for Jews or Israel. The last thing they want to see in the region is peace because peace can only delay the event that they pray for daily. My friends at Cristo Lumen explained the Armageddonites and their War Cult quite well last year.

So, the Christian Right will be praying in their churches this Sunday that the news in the London Times is correct. The Times is reporting that Israel has decided on using nuclear weapons to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. The attack will use laser guided bombs to dig some tunnels followed by small mini-nukes to destroy the underground bases.

Letting the Genie out of the bottle with the first use of nuclear weapons since WWII will change not just the Middle East, but the world. Peace of any kind between Muslims worldwide and Israel will be impossible. The growth rate of radical Islam will increase ten-fold. Iraq will erupt in a way that will make today's war look like a stroll through a meadow. The United States will certainly veto any attempt at sanctions against Israel for using WMDs against another country. President Bush will probably declare that the United States will defend Israel against any retaliation for an Israeli sneak attack. There will be immense pressure on Pakistan, as the only Muslim nation with nukes, to provide the means of retaliation.

And, all the while, the Armageddonites in their mega-churches will be praying for things to get worse and worse still beyond all imagining. The grand World War that kills billions and culminates in the destruction of Israel in a battle at Megiddo where "a massive river of blood is flowing throughout the Holy Land" will be approaching.

Somewhere after Israel attacks Iran, some rightwing wag will opine that "nuclear winter" is the perfect antidote for global warming. This is what underground nuclear explosions look like.

Other resources: We Planet,

A Law Whose Time Has Come

Sen. Pat Leahy has introduced the War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2007. It makes is a crime to materially overvaluing any good or service for war, relief, or reconstruction. It provides for 20 years in prison and $1 million or twice the amount of illegal gross profit. It will remove the safe harbor that profiteers have used in Iraq that their illegal conduct is a crime against Iraq, not the United States.

A few examples:
from Truthout
Center for Media and Democracy
Center for Corporate Policy
In These Times

Seeing the Forest predicted this is a certain Bush veto. His Kleptocracy will expect nothing less.

Addition: Trying to write this between football games I forgot to give art credit to the Propaganda Remix Project, Micah Wright's brilliant rethinking of old propaganda posters for modern times.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Call for a Simple Act of Courage

Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience. ~ James Freeman Clarke
In a matter of days, President Bush is going to decide to do something stupid and there are six men with the power to stop him if they have the courage.

Pouring more troops into the Iraq War, the infamous Surge, will likely have little impact on the civil war in that country. The civil war is organic now. Adding 20,000 or even 200,000 more troops will have little effect. The President can station a platoon on every street corner in Baghdad; they would present ready targets but would not reduce the fevered cycle of vengence gripping that country. It is far more likely that the added strain of the escalation on an already overstressed military will lead to the total collapse of the Army and Marine Corps as effective forces. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are not fools; they know this is true.

The question is, what will they do? Will the six members of the Joint Chiefs meekly acquiesce to this madness because it is the easy thing to do? Or will they display what they hope every Lieutenant and Corporal under their commands possess? Will the Joint Chiefs have the courage to oppose a deployment they know will have no effect other than the needless deaths of American servicemembers?
Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men. ~ Gen. George S. Patton
A simple act of courage can save countless lives. The Joint Chiefs have a moral duty to resign en masse if ordered by the Commander-in-Chief to commit folly. It is not the easy path. It takes courage to say "no." It is far easier to wash their hands of the matter and declare it "not my responsibility." Easy and cowardly.

We will know soon whether the generals and admirals who sit as the Joint Chiefs have the moral courage befitting their ranks and uniforms. Or, whether they are just political hacks.

Further Consideration: Kvatch's comments set me thinking, there is a historical precedent for what I am asking. On October 20, 1973, President Richard Nixon ordered his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire the Watergate investigator Archibald Cox. Richardson refused and resigned. Nixon then ordered Richardson's deputy, William
Ruckelshaus, to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus also refused and was fired by Nixon. Nixon had to go down to Solicitor General Robert Bork to find a Justice Department official who would follow his orders. That evening entered history as the Saturday Night Massacre. That night led more directly to Nixon's fall than the Watergate break-in. Difficult times separate the men of courage from the sniveling sycophants.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Stuff of Heroes - (AKA Surgitis)

I know I'm fixating on the Surge (aka Escalation), President Bush's Only Remaining Idea to do even more to Iraq of what has so far failed so spectacularly. I've pointed out that the Surge (aka Senseless Destruction of Human Life) is exactly what the Soviets did in Afghanistan in the 1980's that led to the rise of the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden and led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. But, where did the idea come from?

We know the Joint Chiefs of Staff, most of the soldiers in the field, and an overwhelming number of the American people hate the idea. We know that St. John (of the Endless Sacrifice) McCain preaches the Surge (aka Ritual Human Sacrifice). We also know that Sen. Joe Lieberman (?-Conn) believes that the Surge (aka Narishkeit) is an excellent way to have more Protestants killing more Muslims for Israel.

But, I think the source is Jeff Gannon. I've come across an obscure film from 2004, when Gannon was hanging around the White House a lot, that featured a gay superhero called the Surge. I figure Jeff and George were lounging around watching the film while Laura was doing the laundry. Jeff was carressing George's cheek and saying that what we need in Iraq is a macho surge. Poor conflicted George has resisted the Urge for the Surge as long as he could. Now it is all he can think about. That scenario makes a hell of a lot more sense than anything that has come out of White House briefings the past few weeks.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Iraq War: Quarterly Update

American Military Deaths
4th quarter 2006 ..... 288
Total for 2006 .........822
War Total ........... 3,002

This is the highest quarterly death toll since the beginning of the war. Second highest was 272 in the 4th quarter of 2004 which included Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah.

American Military Wounded
4th quarter 2006 ....1,963
Total ................24,565

Iraqi Security Forces Killed
4th quarter 2006 ..... 496
Total for 2006.......2,117

This is down from 600 in the third quarter. American deaths have increased by 60% while Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) deaths have decreased by 17%. This indicates that Iraqi forces are standing down as much as they can.

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