Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Rest In Peace
In a column in mid-January, Ivins urged readers to stand up against Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq.
"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war," Ivins wrote in the Jan. 11 column. "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'"
She was smart, funny, and a defender of the powerless - a pretty good epitaph to have if you gotta have one.
When Does The Declaration Of War Come?
The officials said the sophistication of the attack astonished investigators, who doubt that Iraqis could have carried it out on their own — one reason a connection to Iran is being closely examined.
Right - because the Sunni insurgents and the Shiite militias haven't grown increasingly sophisticated and innovative in their attacks over the last four years. So Iran must be behind this attack, right?
Jesus, Bush, Cheney, Rice et al. must think Americans are fucking stupid to buy flimsy evidence such as the Karbala attack and the alleged Iranian connection to it as a reason for war with Iran.
And yet, when the preznut does launch an attack, it will no doubt be used as one of the reasons for it.
On Monday, the preznut says any Iranian provocation against U.S. soldiers in Iraq will be seen as provocation and a declaration of war. Then on the Wednesday, the administration says Iranians were behind the killing of five U.S. soldiers.
Nahh. These guys ain't that subtle. The war declaration and/or simple old overnight attack on Iran can't be too far off now. They've moved from the propaganda phase of the selling of this new war to the "Here's the smoking gun" phase.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 – A former New York Times reporter testified today that I. Lewis Libby Jr. disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. agent to her more than two weeks before Mr. Libby has said he learned of the agent’s identity.
The reporter, Judith Miller, said that Mr. Libby, who was then the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, made the disclosure to her in a June 23, 2003, meeting in the Old Executive Office Building, near the White House.
The C.I.A. was waging “a perverted war of leaks,” Ms. Miller said Mr. Libby told her. Ms. Miller’s account is potentially devastating to Mr. Libby, who is on trial for obstruction and perjury and has sworn that he first learned the C.I.A. agent’s identity on July 10, 2003.
While Libby's defense team took a whack at Miller's memory later on, Miller's testimony, coupled with former WH press secretary Ari Fleischer's testimony yesterday, seems really damaging to Libby's case. Here's Spikey Mikey Isikoff from Newsweek on Fleischer:
Jan. 29, 2007 - Ari Fleischer may turn out to be a stronger—and more credible—witness than he was a White House press secretary.
During several hours on the witness stand in the I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby Jr. perjury and obstruction trial Monday, President Bush’s former chief spokesman was cool, unruffled, chatty and at times combative—especially when he underwent hostile cross-examination from one of Libby’s lawyers. But he stuck to his story and, in the process, delivered what may have been the most damaging testimony yet against Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.
Fleischer described with damning new details a lunch he had with Libby in the White House mess on July 7, 2003, just as the controversy over the president’s State of the Union claim that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Africa was spreading into a major Washington firestorm.
During that lunch, Fleischer said, Libby was anxious to rebut criticism by former ambassador Joseph Wilson. In a New York Times op-ed piece, Wilson had written that he had been dispatched on a CIA mission to Niger to check out the uranium claim in 2002 at the instigation of Cheney’s office and reported back there was nothing to the story.
As Fleischer related the story to the jury, Libby told him: “The vice president did not send Mr. Wilson. Ambassador Wilson was sent by his wife. She works for the CIA.” Libby then told him which part of the CIA employed her. “He said his wife works at the Counter-Proliferation Division. I think he told me her name,” Fleischer testified. Libby added: “This is hush-hush, this is on the Q.T. Not very many people know about this.”
The Fleischer testimony, if believed by the jury, significantly bolsters prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s case. Libby is charged with lying in a federal grand jury probe triggered by the disclosure in the media the following week that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA—information that some White House officials, including Fleischer, had used to try to discredit Wilson. Libby, according to the indictment against him, falsely told the FBI and a federal grand jury not only that he had nothing to do with disclosing Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity to the press. He also testified that NBC “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert told him about Wilson’s wife working at the CIA in a conversation three days after his lunch with Fleischer and that he was surprised and “taken aback” to learn the information.
Add to the Miller and Fleischer testimony what Cathie Martin testified to earlier in the trial:
In the most dramatic testimony yet in the Libby trial, MSNBC’s David Shuster reports that Cathie Martin -- Vice President Cheney’s former press aide -- yesterday told Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald she informed Cheney and Libby that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA. This revelation about Plame Wilson’s identity apparently came before Libby said he learned it from reporters.
Three other witnesses - two from the CIA and one from the State Department - have also testified that Libby knew Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was a CIA employee before the July 10, 2003 conversation Libby had with NBC's Tim Russert (Libby claimed Russert gave him Plame's name during that conversation.)
Notice the pattern that's starting to emerge?
Libby's full of shit when he says he learned Plame's name and identity from a reporter on July 10, 2003 and the White House and the VP's office are full of shit when they say they weren't obsessed with discrediting critic Joe Wilson and his allegations that the Niger/uranium claim made by the admin was bullshit.
I dunno if the jury's going to buy Fitz's case or if the defense can create reasonable doubt when they get their turn, but so far, things look really bad for Libby. And the White House and the VP's office (along w/ the VP himself) aren't looking so great either.
UPDATE: David Shuster just reported on Hardball that Fitz introduced a note into evidence today in court while former Cheney aide and current Cheney chief of staff David Addington was testifying. The note, dated June 12, 2003 while Libby met with the VP and written in Libby's own handwriting, has the phrase "CP - Wife Works For It" on it. "CP" stands for counter-proliferation and the wife Libby is writing about is Joe Wilson's - Valerie Plame.
Shuster says the note seems to show that Libby learned about Joe Wilson's wife and her work at the CIA from the VP himself long before Libby claims to have heard it from Tim Russert on July 10.
Potentially devastating indeed.
Monday, January 29, 2007
New Allegations About Obama's Past
Isn't that the truth - rock lobster!!!!!!
Anatomy of a Right-Wing Bullshit Story
In an interview, John Moody, a senior vice president at Fox News, said its commentators had erred by citing the Clinton-Obama report. “The hosts violated one of our general rules, which is know what you are talking about,” Mr. Moody said. “They reported information from a publication whose accuracy we didn’t know.”
Interestingly enough, most of the time these bullshit wingnut stories from Insight magazine and other wingnutty publications get peddled by Drudge (ABC News wanker Mark Halperin's favorite website), but this time around Drudge wouldn't pick up the story. So here's what Insight editor Jeffrey Kuhner did:
“I said, ‘That is a sexy story, if you can confirm it,’ ” Mr. Kuhner recalled. After Insight posted the article on Jan. 17, Mr. Kuhner said, he was disappointed to see that the Drudge Report did not link to it on its Web site as it has done with other Insight articles. So, as usual, he e-mailed the article to producers at Fox News and MSNBC.
There you go -even Drudge wouldn't link to it, but John Gibson and Steve Doocey - clown princes of faux news and FOX news channel - had no problems peddling it. Gibson went so far as to say that the CNN reporter who exposed the Insight story as bullshit “probably went to the very madrassa” that Obama did, then suggested that CNN covered up the religious extremism at the school in their report:
GIBSON [W]hat did they see when they went to the madrassa where Barack Obama went to school?
HOST: Kids playing volleyball.
GIBSON: Playing volleyball, right. They didn’t see them in any terrorist training camps?
GIBSON: No. Um, but they probably didn’t show them in their little lessons where they’re bobbing their heads and memorizing the Koran.
HOST: I didn’t see any tape of that, no.
That's FOX News and the rest of the wingnut news pipeline for you - facts and reality be damned!
POSTSCIPT: The left has its own news pipeline of wishlist fantasy stories. Jason Leopold and Truthout come to mind as one example. But the difference between wingnut fantasy news sites and lefty fantasy news sites is this: Leopold's stories on Karl Rove's involvement in the CIA leak case, first published on Truthout, spread by some lefty blogs (including this one) and since exposed as bullshit, have rendered both Leopold and Truthout as suspect sources of "news." (You'll notice, for instance, that I have not linked to a Truthout article or a Leopold piece since I got played by both back during the "Rove's been indicted in the leak case" frenzy.)
But over on the right, no matter how much bullshit a "reporter" like Gibson or a "news organization" like Insight or FOX News runs with, they're never, ever discredited. The NY Times article notes that Insight magazine has published many bullshit stories in the past long since debunked - including stories about Bill Clinton selling plots at Arlington National Cemetery to campaign donors and the U.S. finding Saddam's weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. David Brock, former writer for Insight magazine, has said he literally made up stories about Anita Hill and Hillary Clinton when he wrote for Insight magazine back in the 90's (Brock now works for Media Matters, a liberal website that "monitors, analyzes and corrects conservative misinformation in the U.S. news media.") And yet, no matter how much bullshit "news" Insight magazine or John Gibson and Steve Doocey at FOX News peddle, they're never ever discredited as deliberate liars or misinformed fools.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
BAGHDAD, Jan. 28 - A U.S. helicopter was shot down early Sunday afternoon near the provincial capital Najaf during a pitched battle with fighters described as religious fanatics.
A McClatchy Newspapers correspondent from Najaf, Qasim Zen, observed the helicopter lose control and crash to the ground in flames after it appeared to have been struck by rocket fired from the ground. The correspondent had been observing the battle from a safe position about half a mile away from the fight in the village of al Zarga. Al Zarga is about 5 miles from Najaf and about 80 miles south of Baghdad.
Mike at Crest says that at least 6 American aircraft have been taken down in the last seven weeks in Sunni-held territory in Iraq and notes that according to Iraqi government officials Saudi private citizens are reportedly sending money and arms (including Strela AA missiles) to Sunni insurgents.The administration says Iraq is behind all the illegal arms and money coming into the country. And yet, you'll note its the Sunni insurgency, not the Shiite militias, who are taking out the American helicopters. Mike says this could be a potentially devastating development for U.S. military forces if the Sunni insurgency can actually mount this kind of ground to air war. Mike says the Soviets were treading ground in Afghanistan until U.S. missiles starting showing up in the hands of Afghan militants. Then all hell broke loose for the Soviets as Afghan forces would corner Soviets forces on the ground, wait for Russian air power to show up and take one or two aircraft out each time.
Scary stuff if that's what's happening here.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Falling Even More
Jan. 27, 2007 - President George W. Bush concluded his annual State of the Union address this week with the words “the State of our Union is strong … our cause in the world is right … and tonight that cause goes on.” Maybe so, but the state of the Bush administration is at its worst yet, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. The president’s approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll’s history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who’d prefer the GOP to remain in the White House.
With Bush widely viewed as an ineffectual “lame duck” (by 71 percent of all Americans), over half (53 percent) of the poll's respondents now say they believe history will see him as a below-average president, up three points from last May. The first time this question was asked, in October 2003, as many people thought Bush would go down in history as an above average president as thought we would be regarded as below average (29 to 26 percent). Only 22 percent of those polled think Bush's decisions about Iraq and other major policy are influenced mainly by the facts; 67 percent say the president's decisions are influenced more by his personal beliefs. This perhaps explains why only about half (49 percent) of adult Americans even bothered to watch or listen to any of the State of the Union speech as it happened. Of those, less than half (42 percent) think his energy, health care and other domestic policy proposals are likely to be seriously considered by the new Democratic-controlled Congress. Overall, 61 percent are unsatisfied with the way things are going in America; just 30 percent are satisfied.
The American people get it now - George Bush is an ignorant, stupid little man who makes "gut decisions" with little regard for facts or reality. They do not believe him when he says he wants to work with the other party (and why should they? "Bipartisanship" and working with the other party to Bush means the other party does EXACTLY what he wants them to do.) They do not trust him in a crisis, they do not trust him to make the decisions for the direction of the country (although he constantly reiterates like a little boy how he's "the Decider" and "the Decision-Maker.") They do not trust his sincerity, his honesty, or his policies. They do not listen to what he has to say anymore because they don't think it's worth listening to. And they consider him a lame-duck who they wish would just go away.
My faith in America is partially restored. Many of us saw this in the man and his administration years ago. Now an overwhelming majority of Americans see it. Even many (though not yet a majority) of Republicans see this stupid little man for who he is. Only the Hugh Hewitts and a few other Bush suck-ups remain on board with the preznut and his policies. And even they are starting to sound less and less enthused about the preznut. I was watching a National Review discussion on C-Span last night with Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, Kathryn Lopez, and Kate O'Beirne about the "state of conservatism" and very rarely did Bush's name come up, not even from the audience members who were asking questions of the panel. Reagan's name came up frequently and the praise the ladies had for the former president was effusive. But Bush? Not a word.
That says a lot when even Malkin, O'Beirne, Ingraham, and K-Lo - women who have spent six years slobbering all over this preznut's knob like the cheap political whores they are - couldn't muster anything nice to say about Bushie and his merry men and women in the administration.
Friday, January 26, 2007
More Fun In The Libby Trial
It really does undercut the administration's attempts to ratchet up a bullshit war with Iran when the American public simultaneously learns from the Libby trial the ways the Bushies trumped up reasons for the bullshit war they started with Iraq four years ago.
The Decision-Maker Knocks Down The Straw Men
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush, on a collision course with Congress over Iraq, said Friday ''I'm the decision-maker'' about sending more troops to the war. He challenged skeptical lawmakers not to prematurely condemn his buildup.
''I've picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed,'' Bush said in an Oval Office meeting with senior military advisers.
The president had strong words for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are lining up to support resolutions opposing his decision to send 21,500 troops to Iraq. He challenged them to put up their own ideas.
''I know there is skepticism and pessimism and that some are condemning a plan before it's even had a chance to work,'' the president said. ''They have an obligation and a serious responsibility therefore to put up their own plan as to what would work.''
Hmm - let's see. There was this plan and this plan and this plan. But Bushie doesn't want to hear about the Murtha plan or the Biden plan or the Iraq Study Group plan. He wants his plan. Because he's the decision-maker and he gets to make the decisions. Therefore he points fingers at critics and makes believe they don't have any alternative to his 21,500 troop surge plan.
I wouldn't mind so much about Bush's lie that only he has plan for Iraq that will work if I thought the surge plan was actually designed to solve the problems in Iraq. But it's not. It's designed to waste time just long enough for Bushie and Cheney to crawl off into the sunset and leave the mess in Iraq for the next administration to clean up.
That's the part that bothers me.
Luckily, 65%-70% of the country now see through these straw man arguments that the preznut and his merry men and women habitually engage in and few people (other than the true, true believers) are buying them anymore.
With stakes so high, the weeks leading up to the test are quite frenetic with test preparation, afterschool and weekend tutoring sessions, and desperate pleading and bargains with students to make sure ALL the kids show up for BOTH days of the exam (the ELA Regents exam is the only Regents that is a two day exam) and/or attend the much-needed tutoring sessions. For instance, I will now be singing a Black Sabbath song in front of a class (I believe it will be "War Pigs") as part of a deal I made with a self-described "metalhead" student with a poor attendance record who I knew needed some serious ELA Regents tutoring and would only attend if I pulled some "gimmick" to bribe her to go. She suggested the singing of the Sabbath song and I said "Sure - but you have to attend tutoring." She did and she passed the test - barely. But she passed and so I will happily be singing "old school heavy metal" next week as part of the deal. "...while the war machines keeps turning..."
Anyway, the process is now over, the grading is done. My brain and my body hurt. I haven't been reading the papers or the blogs as much the last few days. But now, regular blogging and commenting should return as soon as I wake up from the post-Regents daze I get every year around this time.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
They Thought Iraq Was Only Going To Be The First
Wolffe replied that he knew from interviews he had done at the time that members of the administration wanted the right to use force anywhere in the Mideast region because they thought Iraq was only going to be the first country they invaded and transformed into a democratic state. They believed that Iraq would be a "cakewalk," and once other countries in the region saw the transformative process in Iraq, they thought other strongmen and authoritarian governments in the region would just "topple" and flower into democracies. Or they would invade, as they had done in Iraq, and make them into democracies.
It was like one big, fantastic game of Risk to these stupid idiots. Can you imagine the amount of ignorance, naivete, stupidity and arrogance a preznut and his merry men and women would have to have to think they could transform the Middle East into a cradle of democracy with a few simple invasions with about 140,000 troops?
And as Atrios always notes, these were the people who were considered "serious" before the Iraq war and any critic who pointed out the "cakewalk" in Iraq might turn into something much was worse was considered "not serious" or just a dirty, patchouli-smelling, dope-smoking, tree-hugging hippe.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The "Manly Ideal"
WASHINGTON — A year ago, President Bush bragged in his State of the Union address that the United States was "writing a new chapter in the story of self-government" across the Middle East and pledged to "seek the end of tyranny in our world."
On Tuesday night, the president's tone was less confident and his promises considerably more constrained. He pleaded for patience from lawmakers who are moving toward resolutions that urge a new course in Iraq and oppose his decision to commit an additional 21,500 U.S. troops to the fight.
Here's how USA Today characterized the Democratic response to the SOTU, given by newly- elected Senator James Webb:
WASHINGTON — After a tense evening of mostly restrained applause during President Bush's State of the Union speech, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia accused the commander in chief of presiding over a "mismanaged war" and an imbalanced economy in a bluntly worded speech that reflected the willingness of Congress' new Democratic majority to flex its muscle.
Webb, who won last November in an upset after a campaign centered largely on his opposition to the war in Iraq, focused on the war in a nationally televised speech Tuesday night that served as his party's official response to the president.
A decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, Webb invoked his family's tradition of military service. His father, an Air Force colonel, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and his son, Jimmy, is a Marine in Iraq.
"We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it," he said. "They owed us sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare — a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay for defending it."
Bush and his advisers, he added, repaid the loyalty of the troops in Iraq by going to war "recklessly."
What a change in political iconography and characterization - Bush is weak, Dems are strong; Bush is constrained, Dems are blunt.
Washington pundits will have to rewrite all their political cliches if this kind of thing continues.
Remember, the cliche says that Dick Cheney (5 deferments, other "priorities" during Vietnam war) and George W. Bush (AWOL from Texas Air National Guard) are manly men and strong "heroes" while John Kerry (volunteer in the Vietnam war, wounded in action) and Max Cleland (triple amputee from wounds suffered during Vietnam war) are effete girly men and French-loving pussies.
The cliches are bullshit, of course. But as Atrios notes here
if what it takes is for the Democratic party to find a Manly Ideal like Webb to articulate simple common sense for the Punditry to get on board with coming out against a hideously stupid meatgrinder foreign policy, then, so be it. It kind of reinforces something Digby has often said about how subtle issues about "masculinity" and "femininity" play into our politics. But hey, if this dynamic is now ours, well, OK.
I wish our elections would be decided rationally, on issues, but they aren't. But if the Dem candidates have learned at long last to be feisty, hell, it's about goddamn time.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Iraq War Hurting Overall War On Terror
WASHINGTON - Despite President Bush's repeated warnings that al-Qaida wants to turn Iraq into a base from which to attack the United States, administration terrorism experts believe there's a graver and more immediate threat from Pakistan's tribal areas. But the war in Iraq is constraining the president's ability to respond.
An intelligence assessment given to Congress, together with a new policy review calling for more troops and funding for civilian programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan, point to the Bush administration's growing dilemma: how to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time.
At a closed Senate committee hearing last week, administration officials devoted more time to the sanctuary that al-Qaida and its Taliban allies have secured in the lawless Pakistani region than they did to the terrorist network's threat to Iraq, according to U.S. officials familiar with the session.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the Senate Intelligence Committee's hearing on terrorist havens was held behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration recently concluded a strategic internal review on U.S. policy in Afghanistan. It called for stanching the flow of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters from Pakistan, boosting foreign troops and increasing aid for reconstruction and Afghan security forces before an expected Taliban offensive this spring.
It's a shame that they didn't think about this problem BEFORE they trumped up the bullshit reasons to invade Iraq.
Wouldn't it Be Nice?
This may be the moment in the Bush administration when the huge liner splits in two, points upward and goes under for good.
Get The Popcorn
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 — In his opening statement today, the chief defense lawyer for I. Lewis Libby Jr. set the stage for a nasty bout of finger-pointing in the Bush administration, asserting that Mr. Libby, the vice president’s former chief of staff, had been made a scapegoat to protect the president’s longtime political strategist, Karl Rove.
The unexpected statement by Theodore V. Wells Jr. was the first sign that Mr. Libby, who is facing five felony counts, would seek to deflect some of the blame on to his former White House colleagues. Until today, Mr. Libby’s defense to perjury and obstruction of justice charges was that he might simply have remembered incorrectly what he testified to in a grand jury and to F.B.I. agents.
Mr. Wells told the jury that the unnamed White House officials wanted to protect Mr. Rove because they believed his survival as President Bush’s political adviser was crucial to the health of the Republican Party.
Mr. Wells Jr. said his client, known by his nickname, “Scooter” was innocent and that a decision was made that “Scooter Libby was to be sacrificed.”
It was important to keep Mr. Rove out of trouble, Mr. Wells said, because he was the Mr. Bush’s right-hand man and “was most responsible for seeing the Republican Party stayed in office. He had to be protected.”
Between Cheney's coming testimony and now Libby turning on Rove, this trial is starting to get real good.
This brings up another question: will Dick Cheney still be a friendly witness to the defense (i.e., Libby and the VP's office vs. Rove and the White House) or will Scooter turn on the boss too?
Or will Cheney turn on Libby in order to save his own fat neck (especially considering Patrick Fitzgerald said today that Cheney was directly involved in the leak)?
Boy oh boy, this is gonna be a fun six weeks.
Monday, January 22, 2007
More Bad Poll Numbers For Bushie
In the Journal/NBC poll, only 22% of Americans want the preznut taking the lead for setting policy for the nation. 57% want the Dempcratic Congress to do it.
In the CBS poll, only 28% believe the preznut shares their priorities. 69% say he does not.
Peter D. Hart, one of the WSJ/NBC News pollsters summed up the preznut's problems this way:
“The public really says, ‘I just think it’s over,’” Hart says of Bush’s presidency. “If we had a British parliamentary system, there would be a call for a vote of no confidence. Essentially what the poll is, is a vote of no confidence.”
With Republicans jumping ship left and right on the preznut's Iraq war policy and with Dems and independents solidly against just about anything the preznut stands for, Preznut Bush is becoming more and more isolated. Bush said once that he would follow his own course in the Iraq war if Laura and his dog Barney were the only people in the country supporting him.
He's getting pretty close to the juncture.
Mimicking the hijackers who executed the Sept. 11 attacks, insurgents reportedly tied to al Qaeda in Iraq considered using student visas to slip terrorists into the United States to orchestrate a new attack on American soil.
Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, recently testified that documents captured by coalition forces during a raid of a safe house believed to house Iraqi members of al Qaeda six months ago "revealed [AQI] was planning terrorist operations in the U.S."At the time, Maples offered little additional insight into the possible terror plot. ABC News, however, has learned new details of what remains a classified incident that has been dealt with at the highest levels of government.
Sources tell ABC News that the plot may have involved moving between 10 and 20 suspects believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq into the United States with student visas — the same method used by the 19 al Qaeda terrorists who struck American targets on Sept. 11.
The plot was discovered six months ago, roughly the same time that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed by coalition forces. Sources tell ABC News that the suspects involved in the effort to launch the U.S. attack were closely associated with Zarqawi.
The plan also came only months after Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2, had requested that Zarqawi attempt an attack inside the United States.
"This appears to be the first hard evidence al Qaeda in Iraq was trying to attack us here at home," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, former chief counterterrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council.
The plan was uncovered in its early stages, and sources say there is no indication that the suspects made it into the United States. Officials also emphasize that there is no evidence of an imminent attack.
Gee, it's odd this story got leaked right before the State of the Union address when the preznut is going to argue that if we don't "complete the mission" in Iraq, the terrorists will follow us home. It's even odder that the administration didn't crow about this "terrorist threat" six months back when they killed Zarqawi and first found out about it. I guess they wanted to hold onto it like an ace in the hole and use it when they really need it - like now, when only 26% of the country approve of the preznut's handling of the Iraq war and 59% are prepared for a pull-out of troops this year.
The funny thing is, BEFORE George W. Bush and Dick Cheney trumped up reasons to invade Iraq and take out Saddam, Iraq was NOT threatening to export terrorism to the United States. And now, four years into the war, they are.
Heckuva job, Bushie.
ABC News/Washington Post Poll:Confidence In Bush's Leadership Continues To Decline
With a major confrontation between Congress and the president brewing over Iraq, Americans overwhelmingly oppose Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to the conflict. By wide margins, they prefer that congressional Democrats, who now hold majorities in both chambers, take the lead in setting the direction for the country rather than the president.
Iraq dominates the national agenda, with 48 percent of Americans calling the war the single most important issue they want Bush and the Congress to deal with this year. No other issue rises out of single digits.
The poll also finds that the public trusts congressional Democrats over Bush to deal with the conflict by a margin of 60 percent to 33 percent.
Additional findings in the poll:
Support for Bush's troop surge plan in Iraq actually declined after Bush's January 10th TV address to the nation unveiling the plan. Before the speech, 61% opposed the surge plan; after the speech, 65% opposed the plan.
Heckuva job, Bushie!
59% of Americans wants Congress to try to block the preznut's surge plan.
Just 26% of Americans believe the country is headed in the right direction, 71% believe the country is headed off track - the worst numbers for these ratings in more than a decade.
Heckuva job, Bushie!
33% of Americans approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as preznut, 65% disapprove. The approval number matches his all-time low for the ABC/Post poll.
51% strongly disapprove of the job he is doing as preznut while just 17% strongly approve of it.
Heckuva job, Bushie!
29% approve of his handling of the Iraq war, 70% disapprove.
Just 46% of Americans approve of his handling of the war on terror, 52% disapprove. The terrorism number used to be money in the bank for this preznut, but now his negatives outweigh his positives even on this issue.
Heckuva job, Bushie!
Just 40% think Bush is honest and trustworthy - matching the all-time low for his presidency. A little more than a third of those surveyed said they think Bush understands problems of people like themselves.
Heckuva job, Bushie!
42% of Americans think Bush can be trusted to handle a crisis, 56% say he cannot. The Post says this is the first time he has fallen into negative territory on this question.
45% call Bush a strong leader - this is also the lowest number of his presidency for the strong leader category. The previous low - 47% - came after Katrina.
Heckuva job, Bushie!
Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq.
55% say the preznut has not made the country safer.
Heckuva job, Bushie!
By better than 2-1 margin (57%-25%), Americans wants Democrats to set the agenda for the direction of the country.
Americans prefer Dems in Congress over the preznut to handle the following issues: Iraq, the economy, the federal budget, and terrorism.
Heckuva job, Bushie! Americans even prefer Dems to you on the terrorism issue!
But don't you get the feeling that even with these abysmal approval numbers and a large majority of the country opposed to him and his policies, Preznut Bush is still going to go ahead with the troop surge plan AND expand the war to Iran?
Every morning, the first thing I do is check to see if he bombed Iran the night before. I figure the bombing attack is probably a couple of months away yet (notice that the propaganda/ad campaign for the Iran attack hasn't gone into overdrive yet), but with this crazy guy in the White House (and the even crazier Dick Cheney in the bunker), you just never know.
And I still maintain that there's a good chance George and Dick aren't leaving in '09. I dunno what "crisis" they'll trump up to cross the Rubicon, but you know these two guys think only they can handle the WoT and if a Hillary or Obama are elected next time around, Americans are probably going to have to force them out of power.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces had one of their costliest days in Iraq on Saturday when 21 troops were killed, including 13 in a helicopter and five in a clash in a Shi'ite holy city the U.S. military said was triggered by militiamen.
The battle at a government building in Kerbala was the bloodiest for U.S. troops in the Shi'ite south in two years and occurred as President George W. Bush presses leaders of the Shi'ite majority to crack down on militias from their community.
Hours after reporting three deaths in separate incidents and the loss of all 13 passengers and crew aboard a Blackhawk transport helicopter, the U.S. military said five soldiers were killed and three wounded in the Kerbala clash.
Very, very sad.
The Republican Brand Is Beaten Up
Jan. 20, 2007 - When President George W. Bush declared earlier this month that the only way to quell sectarian violence in Iraq was to send more than 20,000 additional American troops, he probably knew the move would be unpopular. Indeed, the latest NEWSWEEK poll finds that Bush’s call for a “surge” in troops is opposed by two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans and supported by only a quarter (26 percent). Almost half of all respondents (46 percent) want to see American troops pulled out “as soon as possible.”
Bush’s Iraq plan isn’t doing anything for his personal approval rating either; it’s again stuck at its lowest point in the history of the poll (31 percent). Meanwhile, the new Democratic-controlled Congress is getting relatively high marks. And 55 percent actually trust Congressional Dems on U.S. policy in Iraq, far more than the 32 percent who trust their commander in chief.
As Bush’s public image continues to tarnish, the new Democratic congress appears to have made a good first impression. Respondents give House Speaker Nancy Pelosi largely favorable (36 percent to 23 percent) ratings and also agree by a nearly two-to-one margin (43 percent to 24 percent) that the Democrats are keeping promises they made during their campaigns.
Looking forward to 2008, a generic Democratic presidential candidate has a 21-point lead over an unnamed GOP challenger. The race becomes much closer, however, when voters are asked to choose among actual names. The new poll finds statistical dead heats in different scenarios involving John McCain or Rudy Giuliani vs. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama or John Edwards. In a hypothetical match-up, Clinton gets 48 percent while McCain gets 47. A Giuliani-Clinton race finds the same numbers but with the former New York City mayor as the hypothetical victor.
Notice just how unpopular the preznut and his war is and then notice how large a lead a generic Dem presidential candidate has over a generic Repub presidential candidate for '08.
George W. Bush's unpopularity and the toxic residue left over from the 109th Delay/Hastert/Frist Congress has bled over into how people view the parties - especially into which party they want to control the White House.
That's something new. Two years back, the generic GOP candidate for the WH would have held a fairly substantial lead. But not anymore.
Even when names are added to the poll, Dems still look good in the generic ballot. Think back two years ago (or even one year ago) and ask yourself if a Hillary Clinton vs. either John McCain or Rudy Giuliani contest would have been a statistical deadheat.
No, McCain and Rudy would have had double digit leads. But not anymore.
The Republican brand is REALLY beat up right now and I don't see how the GOP can build it back up while George Bush remains in the White House and continues to pursue his war policy in Iraq (and perhaps Iran.) Novak put it best the other day - as long as Americans remain on the ground in Iraq being wounded and killed, the Grand Old Party has its electoral work cut out for it. This war is seen as GOP war and people are STILL pissed off about it months after they took it out on the GOP at the ballot box in the midterm elections. If anything, people seem even angrier because the preznut is escalating the war after they sent him a message to get out. And don't kid yourself, GOP strategists and Republican bigwigs know this very well. That's why nobody but McCain, Rudy, Romney and Duncan Hunter have embraced Bush's surge plan. Most GOPers see just how much damage Bush's has already been done to the party as a result of the war and worry that things are going to get much worse for the GOP.
And even the little domestic issues Bush is trying to grab at to assert his relevance - like the health care proposal he's supposed to unveil during the State of the Union speech on Tuesday - look like bigger losers for the Republican Party than just doing nothing at all on the issue (kinda like the Social Security plan was.)
I dunno what GOPers do to rebuild their brand. I dunno if they know what to do. But I do know that right now, they're fucked.
And it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.
Remember how Rove/Frist/Hastert/Delay and the administration used the war as a political bludgeon against Dems?
Now it's the other way around.
Preznut Proposes Tax Increase On Middle and Working Classes
The basic concept is that employer-provided health insurance, now treated as a fringe benefit exempt from taxation, would no longer be entirely tax-free. Workers could be taxed if their coverage exceeded limits set by the government. But the government would also offer a new tax deduction for people buying health insurance on their own.
There you have it - the preznut who cut capital gains and dividend taxes, cut taxes for corporations, provided tax relief to oil, energy, and drug companies and still wants to cut the estate tax for multi-billionaires and multi-zillionaires wants to raise taxes on middle and working class people who are lucky enough to have employer-provided health insurance (or who have sought jobs that provide employer-provided health insurance.)
Let's see how far this proposal goes.
Do you think the Republicans in Congress who got hammered in 2006 over the Iraq war and the inequity of the economy are going to embrace a tax increase on middle and working class Americans who have employer-provided health insurance plans?
I'm going to bet not.
I'm going to bet Dems will be opposed to this proposal as well.
Labor unions obviously will oppose it.
Business groups are likely to oppose it too:
“This is a classic case of robbing Peter to help Paul pay for coverage,” said E. Neil Trautwein, a vice president of the National Retail Federation, which represents retailers of all sizes. “I do not think the president will find many backers in the employer community for this proposal.”
In trying to address the problems of the uninsured, Mr. Trautwein said, “we should not start by endangering coverage for people who already have it.”
I'm going to bet the plan will be dead on arrival Tuesday night.
Like with Bush's Social Security plan (and with just everything else these assholes in the White House touch), the Bush-proposed "solution" to the health insurance problem makes things worse, not better.
Heckuva job, Bushie. Heckuva job.
Ginsberg replied "Absolutely. Because we are in a generational war without end (i.e., the War on Terror), the preznut has expanded constitutional powers to make war without the need for Congressional approval."
Matthews then asked "Is there any check on this preznut's power at all in this matter?"
Ginsberg said "No. We're at war. The preznut has the power and the responsibility to protect the nation. He can do what he feels he must to protect us."
Matthews said, "I thought you guys were the party of limited power and limited government. Now you're telling me the president has the power to do anything he wants to do because we're at constant war. We have a president in this country, not a dictator. The president doesn't have unlimited powers."
Ginsberg said nothing. He just smiled.
Matthews said to him "You're smiling, but you're not saying anything. Aren't you guys the party of limited power and limited government?"
Again, Ginsberg said nothing.
And there was a reason for that.
The Republican Party as currently constituted is the party of expanded executive power, big government, and Big Brother.
Take a look at the Bush policies of the last six years that were rubberstamped by the Republican Congress and tell me this is not so:
Trumped up, unnecessary preemptive war. Torture. Rendition. Domestic spying. Illegal wiretapping. Ignoring Habeas Corpus. Government paying journalists to print Bush administration propaganda. Increased government secrecy. Deficit spending (guns and tax-cuts.)
Is this the track record of a party pursuing policies of limited power and limited government?
Or is this the track record of an executive dangerously close to giving himself Mussolini-like powers?
Matthews used the name Mussolini last night when talking about the expanded powers Preznut Bush has taken for himself after 9/11.
Harsh words, but looking at the Bush track record and listening to the silence of Republicans and conservatives who would be screaming bloody murder had Bill Clinton attempted such an expansion of power, I think they are appropriate words.
Now the preznut and his merry men and women are trumping up reasons to attack Iran. They believe that the only way they can win the war in Iraq is to expand it to a regional conflict and attack Iran.
Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the administration's attempts to portray Iran as a growing threat to the United States is "uncomfortably reminiscent of rhetoric about Iraq before the American invasion of 2003." He says key aspects of the case the Bushies are leveling against Iran are NOT supported by solid intelligence - just the way their charges that Saddam had WMD's, had reconstituted his nuclear program and was allied with Al Qaeda were not supported by solid intelligence back in 2003 either.
And yet, the war plans against Iran are becoming ever more clear. The administration is planning not just an air attack on Iran, they are planning what Reuters calls a broad attack:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. contingency planning for military action against Iran's nuclear program goes beyond limited strikes and would effectively unleash a war against the country, a former U.S. intelligence analyst said on Friday.
"I've seen some of the planning ... You're not talking about a surgical strike," said Wayne White, who was a top Middle East analyst for the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005.
"You're talking about a war against Iran" that likely would destabilize the Middle East for years, White told the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank.
"We're not talking about just surgical strikes against an array of targets inside Iran. We're talking about clearing a path to the targets" by taking out much of the Iranian Air Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles that could target commerce or U.S. warships in the Gulf, and maybe even Iran's ballistic missile capability, White said."I'm much more worried about the consequences of a U.S. or Israeli attack against Iran's nuclear infrastructure," which would prompt vigorous Iranian retaliation, he said, than civil war in Iraq, which could be confined to that country.
War is coming- this preznut with his expanded powers and messianic vision is going to double-down on the Iraq war and expand the conflict to Iran.
Just listen to their rhetoric over the last few months - it's the same as it was in 2002 and 2003 before the Iraq war.
The Republican Party has laid the groundwork for this by allowing him to take these expanded powers over the last 6 years and by tarring any critics as "weak on terrorism."
The Republican Party has helped to create - Big Brother.
And now someone is going to have clip Big Brother's wings before he REALLY becomes Mussolini.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Guess they didn't want a repeat of last year when Stephen Colbert spoke truth to power - to both the preznut and all the self-aggrandizing, egotistical suck-up assholes who cover him.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Retired Generals: Bush Surge Plan Is A "Fool's Errand"
A panel of retired generals told a United States Senate committee today that sending 21,500 additional troops to Iraq will do little to solve the underlying political problems in the country.
“Too little and too late,” is the way Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, a former chief of the Central Command, described the effort to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The additional troops are intended to help pacify Baghdad and a restive province, but General Hoar said American leaders had failed to understand the political forces at work in the country. “The solution is political, not military,” he said.
“A fool’s errand,” was the judgment of Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who commanded troops in the first Gulf War. He said other countries had concluded that the effort in Iraq was not succeeding, noting that “our allies are leaving us and will be gone by summer.”...
The American effort in Iraq has gone badly because the United States did not understand the consequences of deposing Saddam Hussein, said Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, a former director of the National Security Agency. He said the principal beneficiary of the war was Iran and Al Qaeda, not the United States.
“There is no way to win a war that is not in your interests,” he said.
A fool's errand pursued by the biggest fool to ever inhabit the White House - and yet it is going to proceed despite the opposition of the Joint Chiefs, the contingent of retired generals, Colin Powell, at least 12 Senate Republicans, the entire Democratic Party and 60%-70% of the American public.
Bush better hope he gets even a small bit of stability in Baghdad out of this surge plan. Because if he doesn't, Republicans in Washington, the ones who are now worried that the 2006 election debacle is going to make 2008 look like 1994, are going to eat him alive.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
The Black Hole
"President George W. Bush's attempt to revitalize his Iraq War policy has been a political failure. His 'surge' in troops won no converts, and all efforts now are based on attempting to prevent a negative resolution from being passed in the Senate."
"The gloom pervading the Republican Party cannot be exaggerated. The long-range GOP outlook for 2008 is grim. The consensus is that U.S. troops must be off the ground of Iraq by next year to prevent an electoral catastrophe in the next election."
"Iraq, one of Bush's top political advisers now notes, is a black hole for the Republican Party. A nationally prominent Republican pollster reported confidentially on Capitol Hill after the President's speech that if U.S. boots are still on the ground in Iraq and U.S. blood is still being spilled there at the end of the year, the GOP disaster in 2008 will eclipse 2006."
Robert Novak tends to say in public what other Repubs and conservatives say behind closed doors.
You can bet right now, Republicans are looking for a way out of the Iraqi Black Hole.
Unfortunately for them (and for U.S. troops, for that matter), as long as "The Decider" is preznut, there ain't no way out of the Iraqi Black Hole short of impeaching the preznut AND the vice preznut.
I am firmly convinced that George Bush has decided that as long as he is preznut, he will not be pulling troops out of Iraqi and having the pundits declare defeat on him. And you can be damned sure the same goes for Cheney.
They want the next president to have deal with the troop pull-out/fall-out.
So if Republicans really want out of the Iraqi Black Hole, they're going to have to do something to take care of both Bush and Cheney.
The NY Times picked up the story today.
When the administration can skirt the rule of law, fire federal prosecutors, and make indefinite interim appointments as replacements without ever going to the Senate for confirmation, we are well on our way toward a fascist state. Couple that Bush's expanded powers to listen to people's phone calls, read their mail and email, track their finances, hold them indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay without having to file charges or give them legal counsel, paying journalists to print government propaganda as "news," and God knows what else and you can see that Preznut Bush and VP Cheney have laid the groundwork for a pretty efficient Stalinist state.
Ironically, given the way they've run the war, the Katrina rebuilding, and the government, laying the groundwork for a Stalinist state is about the only thing they're efficient at.
POSTSCRIPT: Can you imagine the wingnuttia outrage if Clinton and Janet Reno were firing federal prosecutors who had prosecuted Clinton friends and cronies???
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Another Prominent Conservative Opposes Bush's Troop Surge Plan
America could help the Maliki government in Iraq fight the insurgents. But the evidence, in the last two years especially, is that the strength of the insurgents lies not in their military organization but in their techniques. Our losses are mostly from IEDs — improvised explosive devices. An elevation in American fighting forces in Iraq doesn't diminish, pro tanto, the number of IEDs that will be set off.
The threat in Iraq is from the apparently inexhaustible flow of insurgents who plant the IEDs and who engage in wanton killings of Iraqi defenders. What no strategist, American or Iraqi, has successfully addressed is the question of how to diminish that noxious flow. One American general petitioned the Iraqi government to be more forceful with captured insurgents, many of whom are simply released. But nothing like a galvanized rout of apprehended insurgents is in prospect, which problem touches on -
The sectarian character of the Iraqi population, which is the source of divisiveness extending beyond any dislike or resentment of America.
A geographical division of Iraq is inevitable. The major players are obvious. It isn't plain how America, as an outside party, could play an effective role, let alone one that was decisive, in that national redefinition. And America would do well to encourage non-American agents to act as brokers — people with names like Ban Ki-moon.
On the basis of this analysis I will vote against supplementary American involvement in Iraq.
Bill Buckley joins Colin Powell, Ollie North, George Will, Rod Dreher, James Baker, Chuck Hagel, Susan Collins, Gordon Smith, Norm Coleman, and Charles Krauthammer in the "Famous Republican Figures Against Bush's Surge Plan" Category.
Not to mention that between 61%-70% of Americans in all the latest polls disapprove of the preznut's surge plan.
On the preznut's side - Holy Joe Lieberman, Lindsay Graham, John McCain, the American Enterprise Institute and the rest of the wrist monkeys at NRO, the Weekly Standard, and FOX News.
Can CNN stop couching the surge plan debate as Dems vs. Repubs?
The debate is Dems/sane Repubs/61%-70% of the American people vs. neocons/administration apologists/30% who think Bush is the second coming of Jesus.
Is this so hard to understand?
How Much Evidence Will It Take...
Rising temperatures are allowing Southern trees to thrive farther north and stressing trees used to colder weather, according to new national guidelines issued by planting experts.
The National Arbor Day Foundation last month updated the Agriculture Department's "hardiness zones" map, which was last issued in 1990. The group acted after noticing that some tree species were thriving where they had not before, while others were doing poorly in what had been a suitable region on previous maps.
The map divides the nation into 11 planting zones tied to average low temperatures. It shows significant boundary changes as the continent has warmed. For example, in southern Texas, the edge of one zone moved more than 200 miles north to the Panhandle. A few locations jumped two zones.
The map is based on 15 years of minimum temperatures from 5,000 observers used by the National Weather Service.
Last year was the warmest on record for the USA. Twelve of the top 25 warmest years have been since 1990.
Now a story from the LA Times on what sub-freezing temperatures have done to California's citrus crop:
As much as 70% of oranges still on California trees may have been destroyed by record cold temperatures across the state, officials and farmers said Monday.
It will take days to make a full assessment of the losses to the $1.1-billion orange crop. But the state's top agriculture official said Monday that damage to fruit and vegetable crops overall will be greater and more widespread than in the devastating freeze of 1998, which destroyed $700 million worth of produce across California.
"This cold incident will surpass the 1998-99 freeze," said A.G. Kawamura, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Losses, although greatest in the San Joaquin Valley, seem to be spread through many parts of the state that typically have been immune to freezes, he said, "from San Diego … to the coast."
In addition to citrus fruits, growers are reporting damage to other crops, including leafy greens, avocados, strawberries and blueberries, said Kawamura, who has spent the last few days visiting farms from Fresno to Ventura.
Some farmers are reporting damage to 100% of their crops, and many others say more than half their produce is destroyed, he said.
In the meantime, while California enjoys 25 degree nights, the temperature in New York City has averaged 15-20 degrees above normal. Most days, the high temperature has hit somewhere in the low 50's. The weather is expected to cool now as the horrible cold snap that hit the midwest last week moves east. Even so, this looks to be one of the warmest winters (and possibly the warmest) on record so far in New York.
Strange weather patterns, record snow in Colorado, record cold in California, record warm weather on the east coast.
But, you know, it's all just due to El Nino.
Not one ounce of this wacky weather is due to human activity or carbon-based emissions.
Brian Williams, the news anchor for General Electric, told us so two weeks ago. And the preznut's official scientists at NOAA say so as well. And so does the chief science officer for the preznut, John Marburger.
Never mind these crazy scientists (all 16,000 of them) at UCUSA.org. They're just dirty, patchouli-smelling, dope-smoking, tree-hugging, industry-hating communist hippies and Luddites who hate America.
Instead, when it comes to getting information about climate change, you just have to believe the guy who works for General Electric and the scientists on the ExxonMobil payroll.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Losing The Troops
Jan. 15, 2007 - If there was one constituency President Bush could count on to back the war in Iraq through the past four years, it was members of the military. Now, their support is also ebbing. A poll conducted recently by Army Times, a commercial publication, showed only 35 percent of service members approve of the way Bush is handling the war, down from 63 percent in 2004. When asked if success in Iraq was likely, 50 percent said yes, compared to 83 percent two years ago.
In a sign of the erosion, more than 1,000 soldiers will urge their congressmen in a written appeal this week to "support the prompt withdrawal" of all American forces from Iraq. "Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price," the statement says. Anti-war appeals are common these days but this one is different: all the signatories are active duty soldiers and some have served in Iraq.
Here's Liam Madden, the 22 year old Marine Corp. Sergeant behind the Congressional appeal:
It's a war we never should have launched in the first place. It's been incompetently executed and it's brought no benefit to anyone involved, including the American people and the Iraqis. It's just people dying for no benefit.
The last Bush constituency has begun to peal away from Bush - it's going to be a long two years for the preznut if he's lost the support of the military too.
Liars and Cheats
WASHINGTON - President Bush and his aides, explaining their reasons for sending more American troops to Iraq, are offering an incomplete, oversimplified and possibly untrue version of events there that raises new questions about the accuracy of the administration's statements about Iraq.
President Bush unveiled the new version on Wednesday during his nationally televised speech announcing his new Iraq policy.
"When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation," he said. "We thought that these elections would bring Iraqis together - and that as we trained Iraqi security forces, we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.
"But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq - particularly in Baghdad - overwhelmed the political gains Iraqis had made. Al-Qaida terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's election posed for their cause. And they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis.
"They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam - the Golden Mosque of Samarra - in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate," Bush said. "Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today."
That version of events helps to justify Bush's "new way forward" in Iraq, in which U.S. forces will largely target Sunni insurgents and leave it to Iraq's U.S.-backed Shiite government to - perhaps - disarm its allies in Shiite militias and death squads.
But the president's account understates by at least 15 months when Shiite death squads began targeting Sunni politicians and clerics. It also ignores the role that Iranian-backed Shiite groups had in death squad activities prior to the Samarra bombing.
Blaming the start of sectarian violence in Iraq on the Golden Dome bombing risks policy errors because it underestimates the depth of sectarian hatred in Iraq and overlooks the conflict's root causes. The Bush account also fails to acknowledge that Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite groups stoked the conflict.
President Bush met at the White House in November with the head of one of those groups: Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. SCIRI's Badr Organization militia is widely reported to have infiltrated Iraq's security forces and to be involved in death squad activities.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recited Bush's history of events on Thursday in fending off angry questioning from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., about why Rice had offered optimistic testimony about Iraq during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in October 2005.
"The president has talked repeatedly now about the changed circumstances that we faced after the Samarra bombing of February `06, because that bombing did in fact change the character of the conflict in Iraq," Rice said. "Before that, we were fighting al-Qaida; before that, we were fighting some insurgents, some Saddamists."
She cited the version again in an appearance later that day before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "This is a direct result of al-Qaida activity," she said, asking House members not to consider Iraq's sectarian violence as evidence that Iraqis cannot live together.
Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley used the same version of events in an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Much like the administration's pre-war claims about Saddam's alleged ties to al-Qaida and purported nuclear weapons program, the claims about the bombing of the Shiite mosque in Samarra ignore inconvenient facts and highlight questionable but politically useful assumptions.
No one disagrees that the February bombing of the Golden Dome shrine was a pivotal moment. In the days following the attack, armed Shiites stormed Sunni mosques and neighborhoods, killing hundreds. Baghdad's Sunni residents responded by arming themselves, and Sunni insurgents set off car bombs in Shiite neighborhoods. By October, the monthly death toll was reaching into the thousands.
But a year before the Samarra bombing, Hannah Allam, writing for what was then Knight Ridder Newspapers, reported that Iraq could be headed toward civil war. Knight Ridder was purchased by The McClatchy Co. last June.
"Shiite Muslim assassins are killing former members of Saddam Hussein's mostly Sunni Muslim regime with impunity in a wave of violence that, combined with the ongoing Sunni insurgency, threatens to escalate into civil war," Allam, then the news organization's Baghdad bureau chief, wrote on Feb. 27, 2005. "The war between Shiite vigilantes and former Baath Party members is seldom investigated and largely overshadowed by the insurgency."
She added, "Iraq's new Shiite leaders have little interest in prosecuting those who kill their former oppressors or their enemies in the insurgency."
The story quoted the then-spokesman for the Iraqi Interior Ministry, Sabah Kadhim: "It's the beginning, and we could go down the slippery slope very quickly. ... Both sides are sharpening their knives."
By the summer, the tortured bodies of kidnapped Sunni clerics had begun turning up regularly on Baghdad's streets, and on Aug. 10, 2005, Knight Ridder correspondent Tom Lasseter wrote:
"A militant Shiite Muslim group with close ties to Iran has gained enormous power since Iraq's January elections and now is accused of conducting a terror campaign against Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority that includes kidnappings, threats and murders."
Lasseter identified the group as the Badr Organization and reported that Iraq's interior minister was associated with it.
On Nov. 15, 2005, U.S. troops raided an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad and found 169 malnourished prisoners, many of whom had been tortured. The vast majority of the victims, if not all of them, were Sunnis.
By December, Badr's involvement in death squads was widely known.
"The Iranian-backed militia the Badr Organization has taken over many of the Iraqi Interior Ministry's intelligence activities and infiltrated its elite commando units," Lasseter wrote, on Dec. 12, 2005, citing U.S. and Iraqi officials.
"That's enabled the Shiite Muslim militia to use Interior Ministry vehicles and equipment - much of it bought with American money - to carry out revenge attacks against the minority Sunni Muslims, who persecuted the Shiites under Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein," he added.
Beginning in 2002, the administration's case for a pre-emptive war in Iraq was plagued by similar oversights, oversimplifications, misjudgments and misinformation. Unlike the administration's claims about the Samarra bombing, however, much of that information was peddled by Iraqi exiles and defectors and accepted by some eager officials and journalists.
The best known of those pre-war claims was that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program - Bush's primary stated reason for invading Iraq.
Administration officials and their allies also claimed that Saddam had trained terrorists to hijack airplanes; that a Saddam emissary had met with lead Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta in Prague; that Iraq had purchased aluminum tubes that could be used only to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons; that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from the African country of Niger; that Iraqis would greet American troops as liberators; and that Iraqi oil revenues would cover most of the cost of the war.
The administration has continued to offer inaccurate information to Congress, the American people and sometimes to itself. The Iraq Study Group, in its December report, concluded, for example, that the U.S. military was systematically under-reporting the violence in Iraq in an effort to disguise policy failings. The group recommended that the military change its reporting system.
Whether many of the administration's statements about Iraq for nearly five years have been deliberately misleading or honest but gullible mistakes hasn't been determined. The Senate Intelligence Committee has yet to complete an investigation into the issue that was begun but stalled when Republicans controlled the committee.
On Thursday, frustration over the accuracy of administration statements on Iraq boiled over during Rice's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
"Madam Secretary," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., "I have supported you and the administration on the war, and I cannot continue to support the administration's position. I have not been told the truth over and over again by administration witnesses, and the American people have not been told the truth."
Liars and cheats - they lied about the rationale for war, they lied about Saddam's Al Qaeda ties, they lied about the WMD's, they lied about the aluminum tubes, they lied about the uranium from Niger, they lied and continue to lie about the number of Iraqi casualties, they lied and continue to lie about the financing for the war, they lied about the strength of the insurgency, they lied and continue to lie about the nature of the sectarian violence, they lie about the honesty and integrity of the Maliki government - they lie about everything. And then with Pat Roberts and other Republican hacks in charge of the Congressional committees, they quashed all independent investigations and hid all their malfeasance, dishonesty, stupidity and criminal activity.
Liars and cheats - and now it is important that the Democratic-led Congress, along with the few honest Republicans NOT previously implicated in all the lying and cheating, get to the bottom of it.
When all is known about how the administration got us into war and carried out their Iraq policy, the preznut is going to be lucky that 70% of America doesn't want to stick his arrogant, incompetent, dishonest, messianic ass in jail. And Cheney, with his 15% approval numbers, REALLY ought to watch out.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Slapping The Bitch
It's that good.
You'll notice in the clip that Lieberman claimed the consequences of not following the preznut's troop surge policy in Iraq "would be disastrous" for his "children and grandchildren."
All right, Senator - if that's true, then why not put your fucking money where your fucking loud mouth is and ask your children and grandchildren to ante up and join the service.
It's the least you can do if the consequences of not following your preznut's war policy "would be disastrous."
The Army needs bodies for the war. Start sending some of the Liebermans.
Prince Harry Readies For Iraq Deployment...
LONDON - A British newspaper reported Sunday that Prince Harry was scheduled to begin final training for deployment to Iraq with his army regiment, but the Defense Ministry said no decision had been made on whether he would be deployed.
The News of the World said the 22-year-old prince, who is third in line to the throne, would take part in a two-day pre-deployment course which includes instruction in basic Arabic phrases.
Harry, known as “Cornet Wales” by his Blues and Royals regiment, has trained to command 11 soldiers and four Scimitar tanks.
Yeah, Harry has drinking and tabloid issues of his own. And yeah, it's not a done deal that he's going.
But at least he's got the guts to put his ass on the line for his government's war. He WANTS to go. Just the way Prince Andrew WANTED to go fight the Falklands war.
Other than John McCain's kid and Duncan Hunter's kid, I can't think of one other war supporter who has a family member either willing to go to the war, already there, or already back.
If this war is SO important and failure would be so catastrophic, why aren't the Bush twins and the Lieberman children and grandchildren and Jonah Goldberg and Tom Friedman and the rest of the chickenhawk motherfucker brigade over in Iraq fighting their war.
Oh, yeah, I know why - because they're COWARDS who only want to engage in wars that OTHER PEOPLE fight.
House Republican leaders, who confidently predicted they would drive a wedge through the new Democratic majority, have found their own party splintering, with Republican lawmakers siding with Democrats in droves on the House's opening legislative blitz.
Freed from the pressures of being the majority and from the heavy hand of former leaders including retired representative Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), many back-bench Republicans are showing themselves to be more moderate than their conservative leadership and increasingly mindful of shifting voter sentiment. The closest vote last week -- Friday's push to require the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare -- pulled 24 Republicans. The Democrats' homeland security bill attracted 68 Republicans, the minimum wage increase 82.
"You're freer to vote your conscience," said Rep. Jo Anne Emerson (R-Mo.), who received an 88 percent voting record from the American Conservative Union in 2005 but has so far sided with Democrats on new budget rules, Medicare prescription-drug negotiations, raising the minimum wage and funding stem cell research. "Or, really, I feel free to represent my constituents exactly as they want me to be."
The Democrats "deserve the same credit that we got in 1995," when Republicans took control, said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.). "They've picked up on the really big issues of the day, the ones they won the election on, and the ones that really resonate in Republican districts."
Democratic leaders say even they have been surprised by their margins of victory, but they were always counting on GOP votes. Republicans from swing districts who have been beat up for years over their party-line voting have been liberated by their minority status, said Rep. John B. Larson (Conn.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
"They've really been the ones that have been oppressed," he said.
Gee, what a novel idea for a Republican lawmaker - voting conscience and/or voting for what constituents wants you to vote for instead of voting for the narrow right-wing agenda that the Republican leadership and their K Street lobbyists and corporate special interests shove down your throat.
Is this a new day for the Republican Party? Could this mean the days of authoritarian rule when Republican lawmakers were willing to do anything the crooks and bullies in their leadership told them to do is over?
Not if the Republican leadership has anything to say about it. The Post article says they've got parliamentary rules devised to throw a monkey wrench into the future Democratic legislative agenda and the possibility of Republican defections in support of it. Plus the early Dem agenda was devised to create broad support among members of both parties.
But here's the real funny part - Republican Ray LaHood says the reasons why Repubs are jumping the party's ship is because Dems picked mainstream issues that are important to people and garner lots of support - but his Republican leadership doesn't think these issues are so important:
"Republican discipline was critically important when we were passing legislation and moving an agenda," House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said. "The Democrats will soon move from these issues that poll at 80, 90 percent to issues that really matter."
Right. Because ensuring port security, funding homeland security, funding stem cell research, providing affordable college loans and financial aid for middle and working class Americans, and taking back the Republican giveaways to the prescription drug companies, oil industry and banking industry aren't issues that really matter.
No wonder House Minority Whip Blunt - one of K Street's favorite Congressman (in fact, he sleeps with a lobbyist) is in the minority these days. He's fucking clueless about what's important to many Americans. I guess that's what happens when you live off the corporate lobby trough for so long that ExxonMobil, Chase Manhattan Bank and Merck IS your constituency.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Another Conservative Gets Honest With Himself
Others on the left, including Al Gore, saw the same thing.
I have long said that if this war were being carried out by a Democratic administration, the conservative pundits and politicians would be going apeshit over the various lies, deceptions, cronyism, corruption, massive miscalculations, and total screw-ups this administration has engaged in while carrying out their war policy.
Yet few conservatives or Republicans, even the ones with misgivings over the war, were willing to criticize the plan beforehand.
Pat Buchanan was one such conservative who went on record before the war as an unequivocal opponent.
I cannot think of any other.
A few conservatives jumped ship soon after the war started when it became clear that a) the administration had ginned up the case for war and b) they had no clear idea how to fight it.
Andrew Sullivan was one such conservative.
But most right-wingers continued to support their preznut (especially because a presidential election was coming and to criticize the preznut at that time would be seen as betrayal of the highest order - i.e., Reagan's directive - DO NOT CRITCIZE A FELLOW REPUB.)
Four years later, as the extent of the "horrendous blunder" that is the administration's war policy becomes clear and the extent of incompetence, duplicity and stupidity with which the administration has pursued their war policy becomes even clearer, more and more Republicans and conservatives have been jumping ship.
Rod Dreher is the latest:
As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.
But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.
In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.
The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.
It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.
I turn 40 next month -- middle aged at last -- a time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. But what I did not expect was to see the limits of finitude of American power revealed so painfully.
I did not expect Vietnam.
As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.
I had a heretical thought for a conservative - that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority.
On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?
Will my children, too small now to understand Iraq, take me seriously when I tell them one day what powerful men, whom their father once believed in, did to this country? Heavy thoughts for someone who is still a conservative despite it all. It was a long drive home.
I supported the war in Afghanistan. I couldn't understand why Bush was expanding the war to Iraq when it was clear to me that Saddam had had nothing to do with 9/11. I was skeptical about the administration's reasons for going to war with Iraq. I didn't think the possible outcomes made the risks worthwhile. Plus the war felt like Junior trying to show Daddy how to do it.
I don't think my stance on the two wars makes me a "hippie" in any sense of the word (and btw, I am the EXACT same age as Dreher and share many of his political experiences - the Iran hostage crisis was also my "first real political memory".)
I am glad that Dreher now shares my skepticism of the president and his generals.
And that means being as skeptical of the motivations and policies of the guys you vote for as much as you are of the guys you oppose (or in Bush's case, despise.)
I was very skeptical of Clinton even though I voted for him twice. Somalia seemed like a mess about to happen (as many conservatives pointed out at the time) and sure enough, it became a mini-mess.
But nothing Clinton did comes even close to the scale of the fuck-up that is Bush's Iraq war. Dreher says the ramifications of the Iraq blunder pale compared to anything that even Carter created with his ineptitude and weakness.
I would agree with that.
My hope has always been that people would learn from the Iraq mistake.
Many on the right have not. Witness last May's Iraq war resolution that was used as a political bludgeon against critics of the war (i.e., pussy Dems.)
But some have learned. Joe Scarborough is off the bandwagon. Now Rod Dreher. Andrew Sullivan has long been off it.
With a little luck and some deep soul-searching, perhaps these conservative critics of the war policy will speak up the next time a president of their own party wants to gin up reasons for a war of choice and manipulate the American public into going along with it.
Kinda the way Pat Buchanan did BEFORE the Iraq war started.
Pat Buchanan On The Coming War With Iran
BUCHANAN: If you notice, the president said he‘s sending Patriot missiles in and he‘s sending an aircraft carrier in. We don‘t need air power in Iraq—aircraft. We don‘t need Patriot missiles because the insurgents don‘t have missiles. And the president said—the most important word is networks that are training and providing advance weaponry. Those obviously are in Iran.
I think what the president plans to do is to find one or two of these networks, hit them with air strikes, and when the Iranians respond militarily, then the B-2s go after the uranium plants and the heavy water reactors.
SCARBOROUGH: So you think George Bush right now—you think George Bush‘s plan—and it certainly looks like it—is to bait the Iranians into attacking us and allowing George Bush and the U.S. military cover to go into Iran?
BUCHANAN: I think—I would guess that is it. He is certainly planning that. He is preparing for that. If he hits Iran and they respond.
I think the president believes in his heart that Iranian—the nuclear program has to be eliminate or smashed before he and Cheney leave office. He‘s committed to do that. That is the Bush doctrine.
He is looking for an opportunity, and he may well be preparing the opportunity right now, Joe. I think that‘s very valid—that‘s not only valid speculation, I think it‘s pretty much what‘s planned. Why would you need Patriot missiles? Why would our allies need them? Who‘s going to fire rockets at our allies? Who‘s got ballistic missiles?
When Buchanan says "that's very valid," he's speaking of the speculation that Wednesday's Bush speech, along with the Patriot missile defenses he's added to the surge group and two carrier groups he's sent to the Persian Gulf, means Bush and Cheney have decided to expand the war to Iran.
Buchanan, btw, doesn't think war with Iran as the Bushies are currently pushing it, is valid. He has said that absent an Iranian attack on the United States or its allies, Bush has to come to the Congress to get authorization for the use of force against Iran and it shouldn't be granted.
He also has been opposed to the Iraq war from the beginning.
Buchanan's no patchouli-smelling, dope-smoking, tree-hugging hippie. He just doesn't think expanding the Iraq war (which he has called a "horrendous blunder") to Iran makes the mess in Iraq better. He thinks the push for war with Iran is coming from Israel, Saudi Arabia and neocons with ties to the Likud Party in Israel. He also isn't in favor of a complete drawdown. Here's his concern if that happens:
But Joe, let me say this. Where the president is correct—everybody‘s saying, This is a blunder, the surge is a mistake, and it‘s probably not going to work. But where the president is dead right is what Joe‘s been describing as the disaster that‘s going to occur. I believe, if we do turn around and march out of there, this government is coming down. There is going to be killing on an unimaginable scale. We are going to have a terrorist base camp. We are going to have interventions. The country‘s coming apart. We are going to have the countries down in the gulf threatened by Shias.
The whole Arab nationalist and Islamic radical world is going to be energized because when the Afghans beat the Soviets, they have beaten the last superpower, the greatest nation on earth. And that enthusiasm, that wild energy will cut lose across that region. This will be a debacle on a massive scale. That‘s where Bush is right.
Pat Buchanan may be absolutely right about that. Unfortunately it's a shame the preznut, the vice preznut, the neocons and all the war supporters and cheerleaders couldn't have thought about the possibility and ramifications of a U.S. military and political defeat in Iraq BEFORE Bush got to launch his war of choice.
Pat Buchanan thought of it. Why couldn't others on the right?