Wednesday, August 31, 2005

While the Rest of the Industrialized World....

Modernizes and cleans up,

WaPo
The Bush administration has drafted regulations that would ease pollution controls on older, dirtier power plants and could allow those that modernize to emit more pollution, rather than less.

The language could undercut dozens of pending state and federal lawsuits aimed at forcing coal-fired plants to cut back emissions of harmful pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, said lawyers who worked on the cases.
Way to stay competitive. Never mind that eventual cleaning up emissions is inevitable.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bush Cancels 5th Week of Vacation,...

to do a PR tour of the devastation.

What a joke.

Americans Think Bush Should Meet with Sheehan

I find this really interesting.

Americans seem to always hate protestors, even when they agree with them.

WaPo
The survey found that 52 percent of the public says Bush should talk to Sheehan, who has repeatedly asked for a meeting with the president, while 46 percent said he should not. Fifty-three percent support what she is doing while 42 percent oppose her actions, according to the poll.
---
Like the war and Bush's overall handling of the situation in Iraq, attitudes toward Sheehan divide along sharply partisan lines. Seven in 10 Democrats say they support Sheehan's position on Iraq while an equal proportion of Republicans oppose her.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

1 Million Homeless

As predicted, Katrina has made the turn and is now heading directly for NOLA.

Perhaps the largest storm to ever hit the US, it could not have chosen a more deadly area to make landfall.

This looks like a disaster beyond words.

My Way News
When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans on Monday, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city's legendary cemeteries.
....

"All indications are that this is absolutely worst-case scenario," Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, said Sunday afternoon.

The center's latest computer simulations indicate that by Tuesday, vast swaths of New Orleans could be under water up to 30 feet deep. In the French Quarter, the water could reach 20 feet, easily submerging the district's iconic cast-iron balconies and bars.

Estimates predict that 60 percent to 80 percent of the city's houses will be destroyed by wind. With the flood damage, most of the people who live in and around New Orleans could be homeless.

"We're talking about in essence having - in the continental United States - having a refugee camp of a million people," van Heerden said. There's more
And in case human tragedy of Biblical proportions isn't enough to get your attention, the damage this storm does to domestic oil production will likely be felt by everyone who owns a car.

Killer storm

In case you haven't been paying attention, a killer storm is heading for NOLA.

Katrina has been upgraded to a category 5 hurricane and is bearing down on New Orleans where it is expected to make landfall in the morning. This really is a worse case scenario. NOLA sits below sea level, and as many as 100,000 people don't have the cars to evacuate. This is not only an historic storm like Camille or Andrew, but if it hits NOLA, it could be horribly deadly.

Islamic Republic of Iraq is Born

It's now official. The Sunnis have been dumped and the draft constitution will go to the voters on October 15.

Several articles out today discuss the constitution but they all seem short on details.

One interesting development was the decision to bypass a vote by the interim parliament. Although not required by law, the vote had been planned as a big PR move for both the Iraqis and the Bushies, but since the Sunnis have been dumped it was feared such a vote would allow them to show the world the lack of unity.

None of the coverage so far seems to details the Sunni grievances, with the exception of one that I think is very legitimate. The Sunnis fear that the Shia will form a federal district independent of the government and use that district to essentially deprive the Sunnis of the oil wealth.

In fact, many Shia leaders have called for such a district, including the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution. The compromise pushed by Bush would simply not deal with this issue in the constitution, but leave it for the permanent parliament. The Shia agreed to this but will allow the formation of such a district by simple majority vote in the new parliament and since they represent 60% of the population, you can see why the Sunnis are concerned.

The AP story points out that it is likely the Sunnis will be able to cause this constitution to fail at the ballot box. The interim constitution contains a provision insisted upon by the Kurds that prevents adoption of the constitution if 2/3 of the voters in 3 provinces vote to reject. The Sunnis control 4 provinces and intend to work to defeat the constitution.

The AP also claims that the Sunni were concerned about the rights of women and religion in the government. Although I would question the sincerity of the Sunnis on the women's rights issue, it is ironic that after US "liberation" women's rights will be severely restricted, like the rest of the middle east and in stark contrast to the rights they enjoyed under Saddam.

The concern about religious rights is probably real. They fear their Sunni beliefs will be outlawed by the dominate Shia clerics who will, in the Iranian model (another real irony) sit on the Supreme court and be able to nullify laws that don't comply, in their opinion with Islamic laws.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

What Do You Think?

The Shia have now decided to give-up on the Sunnis and officially cut them out of the drafting of the new Constitution and just submit the Shia / Kurd draft to the voters. Of course Bush has intervened to try and prevent this, but it seems inevitable.

Years from now historians will debate exactly when the Bushies attempt to bring Western-style democracy failed in Iraq, and some will site this moment.

Although I'm not clear on the procedures for voting on the constitution in terms of any procedures that might protect minority rights, it seems clear that with the Shia dominating the population, the draft will become the constitution, and the Sunnis as outcast will be institutionalized in the fabric of the country -- with predictable results.

On the other hand, there may be nothing else to do. It's likely the Sunnis will never be satisfied, not in 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years. The folly is not in trying to write a constitution in months, but trying to write one at all that would bring 3 disparate groups together in a democracy.

This is of course, why the Iraqi adventure was a fools errand from the start, and why we opposed the war.

Friday, August 26, 2005

This is a Scandal

Shameful politics. The Bushies and DoD insisted that politics would not play a role in the base closing process, and of course, they lied.

The Pentigon wanted to close Ellsworth AF base in South Dakota as the base is really pointless, not unlike a lot of military bases.

John Thune, as the posterboy for the GOP in the last election, defeated Tom Daschle in November assuring voters that as a R and friend of the WH he had the ear of the President and would be in the best position to save Ellsworth.

When the DoD put Ellsworth on the hit-list, Thune began a temper tantrum that culminated in his recent threat to leave the Republican party if they didn't spare the base.

So the panel rolls over and votes to spare Ellsworth.
The nine-member Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted 8-1 to keep Ellsworth open, citing a lack of meaningful cost savings if its 24 bombers were moved to Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, coupled with a larger than estimated economic impact on the community.
Every base closure has a severe economic impact on its local community. That is why no community wants their base closed and why such great lengths are supposed to be taken to make the process non-political.

It is obvious that keeping more bombers at fewer bases would save a great deal of money. It cannot be cost effective to maintain 24 bombers at an isolated base, which is precisely why the DoD put Ellsworth on the block.

This is nothing more than sparing the GOP a major embarrassment.

Every community losing a base need to be crying foul to their Congressional delegation and demanding results -- and probably filing lawsuits.

Meanwhile Iraq Desends into Civil War

So which MSM outlet will be the first to declare Iraq has fallen into a civil war?

WaPo
BAGHDAD, Aug. 26 -- Political violence surged Thursday along many of Iraq's ethnic and sectarian fault lines, while Shiite and Sunni Arab political leaders haggled past a third deadline without reaching accord on a draft constitution.

As the two-day death toll around Iraq reached 100, fighting between two powerful Shiite militias in the southern city of Najaf subsided, with 19 reported dead overall. The clashes Wednesday night and Thursday between the Mahdi Army, loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, and fighters allegedly linked to the government-allied Badr Organization were the deadliest between Iraqi militia forces since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. Continue

Fallujah

Remember Fallujah? We "cleaned it out" last November in the bloodest urban fighting since Vietnam.

KR Washington Bureau
After repeated major combat offensives in Fallujah and Ramadi, and after losing hundreds of soldiers and Marines in Anbar during the past two years - including 75 since June 1 - many American officers and enlisted men assigned to Anbar have stopped talking about winning a military victory in Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland. Instead, they're trying to hold on to a handful of population centers and hit smaller towns in a series of quick-strike operations designed to disrupt insurgent activities temporarily.

"I don't think of this in terms of winning," said Col. Stephen Davis, who commands a task force of about 5,000 Marines in an area of some 24,000 square miles in the western portion of Anbar. Instead, he said, his Marines are fighting a war of attrition. "The frustrating part for the (American) audience, if you will, is they want finality. They want a fight for the town and in the end the guy with the white hat wins."

That's unlikely in Anbar, Davis said. He expects the insurgency to last for years, hitting American and Iraqi forces with quick ambushes, bombs and mines. Roadside bombs have hit vehicles Davis was riding in three times this year already.

"We understand counter-insurgency ... we paid for these lessons in blood in Vietnam," Davis said. "You'll get killed on a nice day when everything is quiet."
So exactly how do you ask a soldier to be the last soldier to die in Iraq. How do you ask a soldier to be the last one to die for a mistake?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

American Legion Gives Aid and Comfort to Enemy

Yesterday the American Legion at their annual convention passed a resolution that defined for all of us what public acts constitute aid and comfort to the enemy.
The American Legion ...has declared war on antiwar protestors, and the media could be next. ....the group's national commander called for an end to all "“public protests" and "“media events" against the war, even though they are protected by the Bill of Rights.

"The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu.

.... "We had hoped that the lessons learned from the Vietnam War would be clear to our fellow citizens. Public protests against the war here at home while our young men and women are in harm's way on the other side of the globe only provide aid and comfort to our enemies."

...."The American Legion fully supports the president of the United States, the United States Congress and the men, women and leadership of our armed forces as they are engaged in the global war on terrorism and the troops who are engaged in protecting our values and way of life."
Make no mistake my friends, in order to honor those veterans who fought and died for liberty, you must follow your leaders blindly, and any public disagreement makes you a traitor. Those brave men and women most assuredly did not die for your rights so that you could exercise those rights. Sit down and shut up!

And with the clear definitions provided by the Legion, we are compelled as patriots to demand the immediate arrest of all Legionnaires for sedition.

The American Legion News Release
President William J. Clinton
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The American Legion, a wartime veterans organization of nearly three-million members, urges the immediate withdrawal of American troops participating in "“Operation Allied Force."

The National Executive Committee of The American Legion, meeting in Indianapolis today, adopted Resolution 44, titled "“The American Legion'’s Statement on Yugoslavia."” This resolution was debated and adopted unanimously.

Mr. President, the United States Armed Forces should never be committed to wartime operations unless the following conditions are fulfilled:

* That there be a clear statement by the President of why it is in our vital national interests to be engaged in hostilities;
* Guidelines be established for the mission, including a clear exit strategy;
* That there be support of the mission by the U.S. Congress and the American people; and
* That it be made clear that U.S. Forces will be commanded only by U.S. officers which we acknowledge are superior military leaders.

It is the position of The American Legion, which I am sure is shared by the majority of Americans, that three of the above listed conditions have not been met in the current joint operation with NATO (“Operation Allied Force”).

In no case should America commit its Armed Forces in the absence of clearly defined objectives agreed upon by the U.S. Congress in accordance with Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution of the United States.

Sincerely,

HAROLD L. "“BUTCH"” MILLER
National Commander

Att: Resolution #44

cc: Secretary of Defense
Secretary of State
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Leadership, House and Senate
Chairman and Ranking Democratic Member, House and Senate Armed Services Committee
At the very least, we shoud slap a Legionnaire for liberty!

Thanks to Billmon for doing the heavy lifting on this.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Islamic Republic of Iraq

Fred Kaplan has a good piece in Slate on the draft Iraqi Constitution.

One of the many ironies of our 'liberation' is that women will have fewer rights than they had before. But it just begins there. Go read Fred.

And as you're thinking about the new Iraqi constitution based upon Islamic law think about what kind of Constitution we would have if it were drafted today. Substitute "Christian" for "Islam" and I think you've got it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Via Atrios: Bill Moyer, 73, wears a "Bullshit Protector" flap over his ear while President George W. Bush addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

Monday, August 22, 2005

US Backed Theocracy in Iraq

It seems very clear at this point that the goal of the Bush administration is to declare victory in Iraq and bug-out as soon as possible.

And the only way to get out with any dignity is to leave Iraq with a constitution, any constitution, in place. They've given up on building any real form of liberal democracy.

From the Sunday WaPo.
Kurdish politicians negotiating a draft constitution criticized the U.S. ambassador to Iraq on Saturday for allegedly pushing them to accept too great a role for Islamic law in his drive to complete the charter on time.

Although a Sunni delegate made similar charges, U.S. officials declined to comment publicly while they worked with politicians as a Monday deadline loomed.
....

The working draft of the constitution stipulates that no law can contradict Islamic principles. In talks with Shiite religious parties, Kurdish negotiators said they have pressed unsuccessfully to limit the definition of Islamic law to principles agreed upon by all groups. The Kurds said current language in the draft would subject Iraqis to extreme interpretations of Islamic law.

Kurds also contend that provisions in the draft would allow Islamic clerics to serve on the high court, which would interpret the constitution. That would potentially subject marriage, divorce, inheritance and other civil matters to religious law and could harm women's rights, according to the Kurdish negotiators and some women's groups.

Khalilzad supported those provisions and urged other groups to accept them, according to Kurds involved in the talks.

"Really, we are disappointed with that. It seems like the Americans want to have a constitution at any cost," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the constitutional committee. "These things are not good -- giving the constitution an Islamic face.

"It is not good to have a constitution that would limit the liberties of people, the human rights, the freedoms," Othman said.

Other delegates also complained about pressure from Khalilzad.

"His main interest is to push the constitution on time, no matter what the constitution has in it,'' said Salih Mutlak, a Sunni delegate who has been outspoken against some compromise proposals.

This must be very dissappointing to those of you who believed that the administration was being honest about the desire to build Western-style democracy in the ME.

More Bad News for Gdub

Am Research Group
George W. Bush's overall job approval ratings have dropped from a month ago even as Americans who approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president are turning more optimistic about their personal financial situations according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. Among all Americans, 36% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 58% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 33% approve and 62% disapprove.

Among Americans registered to vote, 38% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 56% disapprove, and 36% approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 60% disapprove.

This is the second month in a row when improving economic ratings have not been matched by higher job approval ratings for Bush. A total of 24% of Americans now say their personal financial situations are getting better, up from 17% in July, and 27% say they believe that their personal financial situations will be better off a year from now, which is up from 21% in July.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Civil War

I'll try and find time later to write more about this, but I think it sadly significant to note that all the targets in today's bombings in Iraq were Iraqi civilians. No US military targets.

Meanwhile, the question arises as to what is our plan if no constitution gets approved by the interim parliament or the constitution that does get approved, is voted down?

Daalber from the Brookings Institute discussing this at TPM Cafe. What's Plan B?

The Sin of Omission

Atrios points to this post with the very appropriate reminder, that at the time, it was called 'wagging the dog.'

Even after Sept 11, many conservatives have continued to us that tired line.

New CBO Estimates

The latest CBO estimates on Federal Revenues is out and the right will be doing a lot of crowing about the numbers. Of course, these are the same folks who looked at the numbers in 2000 and saw trillion dollar surpluses for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, Kevin Drum directs us to this excellent post by Brendan Nyhan who points out that the WSJ editorial on this new report is a fiction and goes on to explain why.

I struggle to understand it myself and couldn't begin to explain it to others. Go read Brendan.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Today's Message from Homeland Security

The Propaganda Remix Project

Iraqis Fail to Meet Constitution Deadline

As predicted, the interim government has failed to meet constitution deadline .

....an apparent deal late Monday on all but two key issues fell apart, according to several Shiite politicians.

The Shiites said the unresolved issues were women's rights, which is inextricably tied to Islam's role, and the right of Kurds to eventually secede from the country. But al-Jaafari said the key stumbling blocks were distribution of oil wealth and federalism, another, broader way of stating the Kurdish autonomy issue.

The confusion over outstanding issues as well as negotiators' seeming inability to agree even on what they disagreed on — left unclear whether they will now reopen talks on all issues or just focus on a few.

Not exactly minor issues. It seems clear that the Shia majority want an Islamic State....

Just before midnight, the parliament voted to give the drafters 7 more days.

There is just one problem. They don't have the authority to give them more time. In fact, the deadline having not been met, the parliament should be dissolved and new elections held.

Juan Cole will tell you all about it.

UPDATE: Turns out, the one week postponement was legal since it was by a 3/4th vote of the parliament. More from Juan Cole. Juan is not very gracious in admitting he's wrong but he makes a good point, that occurred to me yesterday.

The sticking points are the biggest issues that faced the drafting committee going into the process -- role of Islam in government, Kurd status, etc. If they couldn't resolve these issues in the last several months, what difference is a week going to make?

Republicans in the Trough

Ezra points to this editorial in today's WaPo,
Back in 1987, when Mr. Reagan applied his veto to what was generally known at the time as the highway and mass transit bill, he was offended by the 152 earmarks for pet projects favored by members of Congress. But on Wednesday Mr. Bush signed a transportation bill containing no fewer than 6,371 earmarks. Each one of these, as Mr. Reagan understood but Mr. Bush apparently doesn't, amounts to a conscious decision to waste taxpayers' dollars. One point of an earmark is to direct money to a project that would not receive money as a result of rational judgments based on cost-benefit analyses.

Mr. Bush, who had threatened to veto wasteful spending bills, chose instead to cave in. He did so despite the fact that in addition to a record number of earmarks the transportation bill came with a price tag that he had once called unacceptable. The bill has a declared cost of $286 billion over five years plus a concealed cost of a further $9 billion; Mr. Bush had earlier drawn a line in the sand at $256 billion, then drawn another line at $284 billion. Asked to explain the president's capitulation, a White House spokesman pleaded that at least this law would be less costly than the 2003 Medicare reform. This is a classic case of defining deviancy down.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

TSA Screening Changes

I've traveled by air a fare amount the last several years. I supported the formation of the TSA to bring some much needed professionalism to airport screening. And I think for the most part the TSA has done just that.

But after 9-11, we went to extremes. I once watched an American Airlines pilot in Jacksonville FL singled out for a random bag search and have his fingernail clippers removed from his shaving kit. I assume they were concerned that he would hold those clippers to his own throat informing everyone that if they moved he would kill himself...

And of course, when Richard Reid attempted to light his shoe on fire, the rest of us have had to remove our shoes at airport screenings ever since in an irrational response to the actions of one nut.

The most effective thing we have done to prevent another 9-11 attack was to re-enforce the cockpit doors. If terrorist can't get to the pilot, they can't hijack a plane.

When I learned that the new head of the TSA was calling for a review of screening procedures I thought it would be great. At last, enough time had passed that we could now talk about rational screening procedures. No more shoe removals (and belts at some airports) or confiscated nail clippers, etc.

Remember that the 9-11 hijackers took over the plans with box cutters containing razor blades.

Here is a list of items that may now be allowed:
  • Scissors
  • razor blades
  • knife blades less than 5 inches
  • ice picks
  • throwing stars (WTF?)
  • bows and arrows
Stop making people take off their shows or taking laptops out of bags. Let people keep clippers and small scissors. But throwing stars? Bows and arrows? Who keeps an ice pick in their carry-on?

What the hell are they thinking? I'm comfortable with everyone who shows up at an airport with throwing stars being placed permanently on a no-fly list.

It has been nearly 4 years since 9-11. Can't we all be reasonable adults.

Withdrawl From Iraq Army's Only Option?

Lawrence Korb writing in the New York Daily News says that to maintain current troop levels in Iraq through next year would break the all-volunteer Army.

Here's his lede,
In March 2003, when the Army chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, argued that the Bush administration's position on the number of ground troops necessary to occupy Iraq was grossly inadequate, he was publicly disparaged by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who mistakenly believed we would be greeted as liberators.

But last month, when Army Gens. John Abizaid and George Casey, the top commanders in Iraq, argued that a substantial number of troops could be withdrawn next spring or summer, Rumsfeld was silent. Why? After all, the generals had essentially contradicted statements by President Bush and Rumsfeld that we will remain in Iraq as long as necessary and that there is no timetable for withdrawal. True, the generals conditioned their plan on containing the insurgency and increasing the capability of the Iraqi forces, but as recent events indicate, neither of these conditions are likely to be met anytime soon. Cont

Today's Message from Homeland Security

The Propaganda Remix Project


Click on Image to Enlarge

Reality -- What a Concept

Remember when the 'Senior Bush aide' advised that reality didn't apply to them?

NYTs Magazine, Oct 17, 2004
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Well, it turns out they do live in the same world as we, and 2000 dead soldiers later (and God only knows how many tens of thousands of civilians), are starting to realize it. At some point, someone is going to have to tell Bush.

Today's WaPo
The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
Reality, what a concept!

I recommend the WaPo article. I think it marks an important change in view by the administration.

What do you think?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

General McCaffrey: 'The Wheels Are Coming Off'

In yesterday's WaPo there was an important story about Iraq.

Two things about the story that struck me. First, the desire of the Bush administration to have it both ways. Be tough and staying the course while planning to withdraw.
The Bush administration has sent seemingly conflicting signals in recent days over the duration of the U.S. deployment to Iraq, openly discussing contingency plans to withdraw as many as 30,000 of 138,000 troops by spring, then cautioning against expectations of any early pullout. Finally yesterday, President Bush dismissed talk of a drawdown as just "speculation and rumors" and warned against "withdrawing before the mission is complete."
Speculation and rumors? How big an idiot is this guy? The 'speculation and rumors' are from 'on the record' statements by Donald Rumsfeld, and Generals Casey and Abizaid.

There seems to be two conclusions you can draw from this. One, Bush is no more in charge of this government than I am, and he is less informed. Or, two, his comments are an intentional lie designed to have it both ways. To let the 70% of the American people who have walked away from this war know that we are leaving, all the while allowing the war supporters to believe we are not. In other words, it's not Bush who is the idiot, it's those who believe him.

The other striking part of this story, is yet another grim assessment of our current situation, this time by retired Gen McCaffrey.
"It's a race against time because by the end of this coming summer we can no longer sustain the presence we have now," said retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who visited Iraq most recently in June and briefed Cheney, Rice and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "This thing, the wheels are coming off it."

We've been hearing for a long time that we can't maintain our level of troops in Iraq, and somehow, miraculously, we've done it this long, but it seems clear from all the recent reports in the press, time is running out.

Have We Brought Freedom to Iraq?

An Excellent post by Digby.
George Bush said that Casey Sheehan died in a noble cause. We know that this noble cause was not to "disarm Sadam Hussein" because Saddam Hussein had already been disarmed. Perhaps some thought that he hadn't and so pushed for war, but that is not noble. That's a terrible mistake.

We know that this noble cause was not to fight terrorism. There was no terrorism in Iraq, it had no association with 9/11 and they knew it...

So, we are left with the final reason. We are there for the noble purpose of bringing freedom to the middle east.

The question then becomes: Have we brought freedom to Iraq?
And after an excellent post, Digby concludes,
If we invaded Iraq to liberate it only to watch it decend into chaos, sectarian violence or fundamentalist theocratic rule (which we will, of course, eventually escape because as Don Rumsfeld says, "our patience is not infinite") then invading Iraq will finally, definitively not be a noble cause. Freedom may be untidy --- this is a bloody misbegotten mess. It is possible that this will not happen. But each day that goes by the odds are getting worse. And in every measurable way so far, the Iraqis in their everyday lives are less free than they were before. They are in constant danger of being killed in random and not so random violence over which they have no control. Violent anarchy is not freedom.
And this will be our "gift" to the Iraqi people. A gift they never asked for, but which we insisted they have.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Follow-up on the Boulis Hit

Citing an article in Forbes, Josh has a great follow-up on the Boulis hit.

This is really starting to get interesting. Here is a taste,
A reporter had mentioned to me that Abramoff had quickly volunteered that he'd been out of the country when Boulis got whacked, so quickly in fact that at different times he mentioned different countries as the country he'd been out of the country in.

Abramoff Indicted

By now you've no doubt heard that Tom Delay's best friend in the world has been indicted for fraud in the puchase of a gambling boat company with business partner (and partner in crime) Adam Kidan.

These indictments have nothing to do with the grand jury investigation going on in Washington DC over his defrauding of several indian tribes. No doubt, he will be indicted there as well, but who knows when.

But here is my favorite part of the AP story today,
The partners bought SunCruz, which runs a fleet of gambling boats, from entrepreneur Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis for $147 million in 2000, but the deal soon fell apart. Amid bitter legal fighting over the sale, Boulis was shot to death five months later in 2001 what police called a hit. The Fort Lauderdale killing has never been solved.
Why aren't we hearing more about this? What ever happened to, "if it bleeds, it leads"?

'Sopranos' News

My Way News
LOS ANGELES (AP) - When "The Sopranos" finally arrives next year for its sixth season, fans of the HBO mob drama will get more than they expected.

Eight "bonus" episodes are planned in addition to the 12 previously announced for the series, set to return in March 2006 after nearly two years without a first-run episode, HBO said Thursday.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Rat F*cking Alive and Well

I don't know if it is in the movie, but in the book, All the President's Men, we learn that the Nixon folks had an expression for their dirty campaign tricks: Rat f*cking (I know we are all adults here but if I actually used the "F" word some folks couldn't read this at work). From their college days through the 1972 campaign, this is the term they used for their dirty tricks.

Regular readers of Josh Marshall's TPM, are familiar with this story. In the 2002 mid-term elections the New Hampshire Republican Party hired a company to jam the phones of Democratic and union phone banks doing get out the vote work on election day in what was expected to be a tight race between (now Senator) John Sununu and then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. They got busted and the executive director of the NH GOP and a "consultant" are in jail as I type for their roles in this election tampering. Here is a list of TPM's reporting on this story.

But that doesn't end the story, because the investigation is on-going as to who else was involved, where the money came from, etc. Well apparently, the investigation is getting somewhere, and people are getting nervous.

Kathleen Sullivan, Chair of the NH Democratic Party, has a great post up at the TPM Cafe. Go read it, and let me know if you agree with me. It's deja'vu, all over again. Rat F*ucking, and cover-ups.

The NH Democrats need to set up a web-based donation page so we can all help pay for full page newspapers ads calling out Mehlman, Frist and the entire party on this cover-up.

In a bad German accent,

"Do you have your papers?"

The Carpetbagger Report brings our attention to the upcoming "Freedom Walk" down public streets past public monuments to hear a Clint Black conert in a public park. No one may participate who hasn't given the Dept of Defense their name, address, phone number and email address.
Perhaps, you're thinking, there are security concerns. Maybe, but that's not a good reason to "screen" people who want to participate in this walk. DC hosts elaborate 4th of July festivities, with thousands of people going to the exact same places this walk will go, but no one is screened or forced to register. For that matter, people can watch a presidential inauguration and/or inaugural parade in DC just by showing up.

But before commemorating 9/11 and walking to a Clint Black concert, the Pentagon has a few questions for you.

I don't live in DC anymore, but it'd be fascinating to be on hand to see who gets "screened out" before the event. What if, by chance, someone shows up with a "No Blood for Oil" bumper sticker? Or worse, t-shirt?

Exactly how "free" will our "freedom walk" be?
I think we all know the answer to this question.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

'The New Iraq'

This story serves as a reminder that we don't even control Baghdad.

From today's New York Times,
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 9 - Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia.

The deposed mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi, who was not in his offices at the time, ...called the move a municipal coup d'Ã'etat. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life.

"This is the new Iraq," said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal."

The group that ousted him insisted that it had the authority to assume control of Iraq's capital city and that Mr. Tamimi was in no danger. The man the group installed, Hussein al-Tahaan, is a member of the Badr Organization, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, known as Sciri.
It would be funny if it wasn't so deadly serious.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

OBL at Tora Bora

Kevin at The Washington Monthly points to an important story out today in Newsweek claiming that the DoD knew OBL was at Tora Bora and didn't care to provide adequate troops to catch him.

This became a hot issue during the campaign with the Bushies expressly denying any knowledge that OBL was at Tora Bora. They event put Tommy Franks up to cover for them.

Well, they lied.
....in a forthcoming book, the CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, says he and other U.S. commanders did know that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing Qaeda and Taliban members. Berntsen says he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was holed up at Tora Bora—intelligence operatives had tracked him—and could have been caught. "He was there," Berntsen tells NEWSWEEK.

In his book—titled "Jawbreaker"—the decorated career CIA officer criticizes Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department for not providing enough support to the CIA and the Pentagon's own Special Forces teams in the final hours of Tora Bora, says Berntsen's lawyer, Roy Krieger. (Berntsen would not divulge the book's specifics, saying he's awaiting CIA clearance.) That backs up other recent accounts, including that of military author Sean Naylor, who calls Tora Bora a "strategic disaster" because the Pentagon refused to deploy a cordon of conventional forces to cut off escaping Qaeda and Taliban members. Maj. Todd Vician, a Defense Department spokesman, says the problem at Tora Bora "was not necessarily just the number of troops."

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Springsteen

Going to see Springsteen tonight at the Fox.

I'll report tomorrow.

Why'd You Do it, Bob?

If you're interested in the endless speculation as to why traitor Bob Novak stormed off the set of CNN the other day, Here is the best explaination I've read.

It's also a nice recap of Novak's roll in the Plame matter. Check it out.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Carville's Take

Josh spoke to Carville about Novak's abrupt departure and wrote about it here.

The explainations thus far offered, make no since to me.

G-dub Gets More Bad News

Nobody likes him. Maybe he'll eat some worms.

From the AP
Bush's overall job approval was at 42 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. That's about where Bush's approval has been all summer but slightly lower than at the beginning of the year.

The portion of people who consider Bush honest has dropped slightly from January, when 53 percent described him that way while 45 percent did not. Now, people are just about evenly split on that issue - with 48 percent saying he's honest and 50 percent saying he's not.

The drop in the number of people who see Bush as honest was strongest among middle-aged Americans as well as suburban women, a key voting group in the 2004 election. A further erosion of trust could make it tougher for Bush to win support for his policies in Congress and internationally.
____

...the portion of people who view his confidence as arrogance has increased from 49 percent in January to 56 percent now.

"This country is a monarchy," said Charles Nuutinen, a 62-year-old independent from Greenville, Wis. "He's turning this country into Saudi Arabia. He does what he wants. He doesn't care what the people want."

Six in 10 said they think the country is headed down the wrong track, despite some encouraging economic news in recent weeks.
The right track/wrong track is always a key bellwether and is why the Rs are starting to worry.

Novak Says Novak is Poisioning America!

Okay, I shamelessly stole that headline from Atrios.

But it was too funny and too on point not to share.

We're both talking about this find from Think Progress from a 2002 broadcast of Crossfire.

NOVAK: Mr. Walczak, you…probably don’t have much experience with foul mouths. But I can understand what the cops go through, because I have to deal with Begala and Carville. And I’d like you to listen to a little — just a little small selection of what I have to put up with. Would you listen?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: We’re going to kick a little right-wing ass.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST, CROSSFIRE: When these sons of bitches just knocked down two of our buildings.

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) fired my ass at MSNBC.

CARVILLE: If there is a completely neutral person, I don’t want to know the son of a bitch.

BEGALA: Bush is going to sign a strong Democratic bill, and that makes you look like a schmuck, doesn’t it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Isn’t that the decline of values in language that is… that is poisoning America?

Josh Has a Point

Josh points to this piece in today's WaPo detailing plans to shut down our extra-legal detention camps.

An agreement has been reached to return most of the Afgan nationals (about 460 folks) to the exclusive control of the Government in Kabul. To which, Josh observes,
But isn't this a tacit admission that we don't consider the vast majority of the folks at Gitmo much of a threat after all? Either that or this is an amazingly reckless thing to do.

Face it. We can't have any real confidence that the new Afghan government will even exist in a few years. And we're turning these hardened terrorists over to them? Please.

We don't think there might be some anmesty? Someone might lose the keys and a few might slip away?

Someone tell me with a straight face that an Afghan terrorist we turn over to the Afghan government isn't one we aren't particularly worried about.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Beat Retreat

As I've recently mentioned, the Bushies are ready to declare victory and get the hell out of Iraq before it completely collapses, and before they do in next years mid-term elections.

Spencer Ackerman in The New Republic weighs in,
Given that the right spent 2004 arguing that a Kerry administration would pull off precisely such a surrender, National Review editor Rich Lowry turned to a "well-informed source" to find out what was happening. The source replied that down was, in fact, up: "It's exactly what we have been saying within the administration for the last year and half ... Gens. [John] Abizaid and Casey are more and more confident that the necessary conditions for a drawn down [sic] will be met." That's a lie, but whatever. As someone who's argued that the only hope of salvaging any decent outcome of the war depends on a speedy U.S. departure, I'll take what I can get. We went into Iraq deceitfully. Does anyone expect us to exit honestly?
Not a subscriber to TNR on line? Check out BugMeNot.com

Novak Has A Meltdown

live on TV.

Media Matters has the video.

Think Progress has more.
Novak Was About to Be Asked About Leak The Inside Politics host ended the Carville/Novak segment saying, “Thanks, James Carville. And I’m sorry as well that Bob Novak left the set a little early. I had told him in advance that we were going to ask about the CIA leak case, he was not here for me to be able to ask him about that. Hopefully, we’ll be able to ask him about that in the future.”
(via Atrios)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Give it Back!

What a hoot.

The board of The American Society of Journalists and Authors has voted unanimously to reverse an earlier decision to give its annual Conscience in Media award to Judy Miller

E & P has the story.

Traitors

As Americans and patriots how can we not be outraged by this conduct?

A nation is either governed by the rule of law or it is a tyranny. This conduct is a betrayal of eveything I was taught that this nation stood for, and a betrayal of all those brave men and woman who fought and sacrificed for all that we now enjoy.

As far as I'm concerned these "interrogators" are traitors and they, their commanders and all those who defend them should be treated as such.

WaPo
Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush was being stubborn with his American captors, and a series of intense beatings and creative interrogation tactics were not enough to break his will. On the morning of Nov. 26, 2003, a U.S. Army interrogator and a military guard grabbed a green sleeping bag, stuffed Mowhoush inside, wrapped him in an electrical cord, laid him on the floor and began to go to work. Again.

It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents. Continue
No wonder the rest of the worlds laughs at the U.S. as we speak loftily of democracy and the rule of law.

21 Marines in 3 Days

I was just talking with some friends about how we are becoming numb to the carnage in Iraq.

In the first 8 days of August, we've lost 21 soldiers. 383 since the elections (Jan 31, 2005).

CNN.com - Fourteen Marines killed in bombing - Aug 3, 2005

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

'A Miserable Failure'

Atrios points to this light and breezy piece by James Moore who hits the Judy Miller nail squarely on the head.

Here is a taste,
Okay. I couldn't stand it any longer. When I saw the quote today from a New York Times spokesperson about Judy Miller, I blew coffee through my nose. "Judy is an intrepid, principled, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has provided our readers with thorough and comprehensive reporting throughout her career." I am submitting the lengthy piece below to prove precisely otherwise. I don't care how many awards Judy Miller has, she is a miserable failure who has irreparably harmed her country with bad journalism and by allowing her own personal beliefs to infect her reportage. Continue

Yet Another Exaggerated Threat

This is an administration that understands the power of fear, and they use it ruthlessly to hold power.

For instance, the last increase in the Homeland threat level came two days after the DNC convention and was based upon documents dating to before Sept 11, that were obviously a part of that planning process. In other words, the threat increase was simply a political ploy. A week after the election the threat level was reduced never to be raised again.

And these exaggerations have real impact on the lives of every American. They damage our reputation abroad and our ability to gain much needed allied support. Although Americans don't get it, to our key allies we are literally the boy who cried wolf. Although this admin loves to demonize France, they were right about Iraq, and have fought by our side from day one in Afghanistan, where they remain by our side today.

We are governed by buffoons.

From today's WaPo
A major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand knowledge of the new analysis.

The carefully hedged assessments, which represent consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, contrast with forceful public statements by the White House. Administration officials have asserted, but have not offered proof, that Tehran is moving determinedly toward a nuclear arsenal. The new estimate could provide more time for diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. President Bush has said that he wants the crisis resolved diplomatically but that "all options are on the table." Continue