Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hating the Troops

Army Times:
The Pentagon also clamped down on media coverage of any and all Defense Department medical facilities, to include suspending planned projects by CNN and the Discovery Channel, saying in an e-mail to spokespeople: “It will be in most cases not appropriate to engage the media while this review takes place,” referring to an investigation of the problems at Walter Reed.
Suppress the flow of information and the problem will go away.

Military intelligence...

Another Friedman unit. And this time we really mean it!


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Support The Troops!

Bring them home!

Der Spiegel:
As criticism of the Iraq war grows at home, some US soldiers abroad are rejecting Bush's mission. On military bases across Germany, many are now seeking a way out through desertion or early discharge.

That Other War

New York Times:
A suicide bomber blew himself up this morning outside the main gate of the United States military base at Bagram while Vice President Dick Cheney was inside the base. Mr. Cheney was not hurt in the attack.

The explosion killed and wounded a number of American and allied soldiers,Afghan and Pakistani truck drivers and laborers waiting for access at the gate. There were conflicting reports of the number of casualties and deaths.

The incident took place at the outermost security gate of the sprawling base, far from where Mr. Cheney was staying at the time. A few hours after the attack, Mr. Cheney traveled to Kabul to meet with President Hamid Karzai, and later left Afghanistan to fly to Oman. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing and said Mr. Cheney was the target of the attack, news agencies reported. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, who claimed to be a Taliban spokesman, told the Associated Press: “We knew that Dick Cheney would be staying inside the base.” He said the bombing was carried out by Mullah Abdul Rahim.

Global Warming

Minnesota Public Radio:
The air temperature part is no mystery. The climate has warmed measurably just like that in many places worldwide. Climatologists are calling it global warming.

"But what surprised us is that Lake Superior's water temperatures were warming around twice as fast as that," Austin says. "And it's, as far as I know, one of the largest changes in temperature of any natural system that's been observed over the last 25 years."...

"The date of what we call the spring overturn, has been getting earlier in the year," Austin says. "It's basically the start of the summer season in the lake. It's when you start to develop strong positive stratification: warm water sitting on top of cool water."

Politicizing the Judiciary

TPM Muckraker:
Over the weekend, the Justice Department finally turned over performance evaluations for six of the fired U.S. attorneys to the Senate Judiciary Committee. And as The New York Times reported over the weekend, they were all positive, ranging from “well regarded" to “very competent.”

That's upset already angry Dems on the committee, who threatened action if they found out the prosecutors had been well rated. In a letter sent late yesterday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote that "these reports only serve to fuel my concerns that the Department of Justice based its decisions to fire competent and successful U.S. Attorneys because of a desire to put young politically-connected lawyers from the outside into these offices."

She attached the reports to her letter and called on Reid and McConnell to bring a bill, sponsored by Feinstein and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), that would force the administration to seek Senate confirmation of U.S. attorneys, or otherwise face having replacements appointed by a federal judge.
Click the link to read Sen. Feinstein's letter.


That one daily attack Laura was talking about...

Iraq's Shiite vice president escaped an apparent assassination attempt Monday after a bomb exploded in municipal offices where he was making a speech, knocking him down with the force of the blast that left at least 10 people dead. Outside the capital, a suicide car bomber exploded near a police station in Ramadi, killing at least 13 people and wounding 10, police said.

Laura Bush

When will the media stop pretending she's the nice one? Or the smart one? She's a lying political hack, just like all the rest.

Huffington Post has the damage.


Monday, February 26, 2007

International Court of Justice clears Serbia of Genocide

But the International Court of Justice did rule that Belgrade had violated international law by failing to prevent the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica....

The case is the first of a state being charged with genocide. Individuals have been convicted of genocide in Bosnia....

In the ruling, the president of the court, Judge Rosalyn Higgins, said: "The court finds that the acts of genocide at Srebrenica cannot be attributed to the respondent's (Serbia) state organs."
In this case, the definition of genocide fails on the difference between crimes of omission and commission. It's an interesting dividing line. If those who fail to stop genocide are deemed guilty of it, much of the world could be held responsible for Darfur. On a legal level, it makes sense; on a moral level, it doesn't.

The Media Are the Menace

The Washington Post editorial board excoriates Rep. John Murtha for his plan to get us out of Iraq. Their own poll shows strong public support for the plan, so they omit that result from their own story about their own poll.

Think Progress has the damage.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Digby may be the most respected blogger

Here's an example of why...

Why does he hate America?

Los Angeles Times:
Republican and Democratic governors meeting here Saturday warned that President Bush's "surge" of additional troops to Iraq would put added pressure on National Guard units already stretched to their limits.

"We the governors rely on the Guard to respond to natural disasters, a pandemic or terrorist attack," said North Carolina Gov. Michael F. Easley, a Democrat. "Currently, we don't have the manpower or the equipment to perform that dual role" of responding to both state and federal needs.

The Pentagon last week announced plans to send 14,000 National Guard members to Iraq next year as support for the 21,500 troops to be deployed under Bush's plan. The announcement came on the heels of a change in Pentagon policy to deploy Guard troops more frequently but to limit tours to a year; the average now is 18 months.

Uh oh

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani arrived in Jordan late Sunday for medical treatment amid conflict reports about his health. Sources in Amman and from Talabani's office in Baghdad told CBS News that the 73 year old had had a stroke, but in a televised interview his son said that Talabani suffering from fatigue or exhaustion.

The Iraqi ambassador in Jordan said for Talabani was there for a medical checkup intended to determine the reasons for his feelings of exhaustion. He also said that Talabani had not suffered a stroke or heart attack.
Hoping he has a speedy recovery.


A suicide bomber triggered a ball bearing-packed charge Sunday, killing at least 41 people at a mostly Shiite college whose main gate was left littered with blood-soaked student notebooks and papers amid the bodies.

Witnesses said a woman carried out the attack at the business school annex to Mustansiriyah University, but Interior Ministry officials said it was investigating the reports. The school's main campus was hit by a string of bombings last month that killed 70 people.



Washington Post:
During what turned out to be the last Friday prayer he led, Imam Mohammad al-Marawi urged worshipers at a Sunni mosque in the western city of Habbaniyah to stand firmly against al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni insurgent group that has a strong following in the area.

"A bunch of corrupted individuals," the imam called the group's members, according to a man who was at the service.

Less than 24 hours later, someone in a Mercedes truck drove up next to the mosque and detonated explosives hidden under a load of stone and marble. At least 40 people were killed, including 15 who were praying inside.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

More Mission Accomplished- again!

Der Spiegel:
Southern Iraq is relatively secure. But the British have not taken advantage of the four years of occupation to develop this bleak region. Now that they are pulling out, the Shiite Mahdi militia are standing by to take over.

For the record...

Not that we expect honesty from Lieberman- he did, after all, originally say he would respect the choice of Connecticut's Democratic Primary voters; but Talking Points Memo has a list of ten times he has vowed to not switch parties. Amidst recent rumors that he's considering doing so, this might be worth bookmarking.

Nobody's Mayor

Like the great president he would like to succeed, Rudy Giuliani is afraid of the American people.

New York Times:
More than the other major presidential candidates, Mr. Giuliani has limited himself to events with narrowly defined, friendly audiences, avoiding the kind of uncomfortable interrogations his rivals have occasionally faced. Aside from a couple of brief swings through diners, including one yesterday in Delray Beach, Fla., he has done little of the politicking that exposes candidates to random sets of people — at shopping malls or train stations — who might be of any political stripe, and can raise any issue.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Salisbury Cathedral

Global Warming is a Human Rights issue

The Inuit of Arctic Canada and Alaska are bearing the brunt of global warming and their way of life is in peril, an international human rights body will be told next month.

Inuit activists hope a hearing on Arctic climate change by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will lead to reduced emissions and will help to protect the culture of the northern native people.

"In the Arctic, things are happening first and fastest and it's a way of life that's being jeopardized here," said Canadian Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who submitted a petition for a hearing on how climate change infringes on Inuit human rights to the commission in 2005 on behalf of Inuit in Canada and Alaska.

Mission Accomplished- again!

Los Angeles Times:
Britain's decision to pull 1,600 troops out of Iraq by spring, touted by U.S. and British leaders as a turning point in Iraqi sovereignty, was widely seen Wednesday as a telling admission that the British military could no longer sustain simultaneous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The British military is approaching "operational failure," former defense staff chief Charles Guthrie warned this week.
And while the Most Despicable Man in America runs around telling everyone the British are pulling out of Basra because, well, their mission has been accomplished:
...the Pentagon, in its most recent quarterly report to Congress, listed Basra as one of five cities outside Baghdad where violence remained "significant," and said the region was one of only two "not ready for transition" to Iraqi authorities.

Once a promising beacon, Basra suffers from sectarian violence as well as Shiite militia clashes over oil smuggling. Ferocious street battles have broken out between rival Shiite Muslim groups in provincial capitals such as Samawah, Kut and Diwaniya in the last year.

The Most Despicable Man in America

Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday harshly criticized Democrats' attempts to thwart President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq, saying their approach would "validate the al-Qaida strategy." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired back that Cheney was questioning critics' patriotism.

"I hope the president will repudiate and distance himself from the vice president's remarks," Pelosi said. She said she tried to complain about Cheney to President Bush but could not reach him.

"You cannot say as the president of the United States, 'I welcome disagreement in a time of war,' and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country," the speaker said.
On face value, Dick Cheney's neo-McCarthyite tactics are despicable; but having received seven deferments from serving in a war he supported, having taken the lead in lying us into a war that didn't need to be fought, and having been instrumental in outing the identity of an undercover CIA agent who had been working to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Dick Cheney is literally the last person in the United States who has a right to question anyone's patriotism.

Good news from the world of sports!

I mean, besides Liverpool's upset of Barcelona...

Female tennis players will earn the same prize money as their male counterparts at Wimbledon this year for the first time ever after the All England Club finally bowed to the weight of public opinion and the will of the WTA Tour.

The New York Times editorial page gets it

American Liberty at the Precipice:
In another low moment for American justice, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that detainees held at the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, do not have the right to be heard in court. The ruling relied on a shameful law that President Bush stampeded through Congress last fall that gives dangerously short shrift to the Constitution.

The right of prisoners to challenge their confinement — habeas corpus — is enshrined in the Constitution and is central to American liberty. Congress and the Supreme Court should act quickly and forcefully to undo the grievous damage that last fall’s law — and this week’s ruling — have done to this basic freedom....

When the Founding Fathers put habeas corpus in Article I of the Constitution, they were underscoring the vital importance to a democracy of allowing prisoners to challenge their confinement in a court of law. Much has changed since Sept. 11, but the bedrock principles of American freedom must remain.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pont du Gard

Bridge and aqueduct built by the Romans in the middle of the First Century of the Common Era, near what is now Nimes, France.


New York Times:
The Pentagon is planning to send more than 14,000 National Guard troops back to Iraq next year, shortening their time between deployments to meet the demands of President Bush’s buildup, Defense Department officials said Wednesday.

National Guard officials told state commanders in Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma and Ohio last month that while a final decision had not been made, units from their states that had done previous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan could be designated to return to Iraq next year between January and June, the officials said....

The accelerated timetable illustrates the cascading effect that the White House plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq by more than 21,000 is putting on the entire Army and in particular on Reserve forces, which officers predicted would face severe challenges in recruiting, training and equipping their forces.
When will people get it? He's abusing our troops, and destroying our national security!

Nine States sue Bush for Lack of Regulation of Pollutants

Michigan and eight other states sued the Bush administration Tuesday, saying the White House failed to adequately regulate emissions of mercury and other pollutants at cement plants.

The states contend a rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in December does not comply with the federal Clean Air Act.

For Armchair Warriors and Keyboard Commandos Everywhere

Concord Monitor:
The war of words between (New Hampshire) GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter continues.

Last week, Cullen criticized Shea-Porter's recent speech on the House floor, saying it undermined U.S. troops. Shea-Porter called on Cullen to retract his statement.
He refused. And he called her vote on the non-binding resolution opposing Bush's war escalation "shameful." Her response?
Shea-Porter hit back: "If Fergus Cullen has the courage of his convictions, he should go enlist, because they're having trouble meeting their quota. He's young, he's single and he's healthy. If he needs to know where the recruiters are, call me."

Senator Reid nails it

On Britain's announced plan to begin withdrawing from Iraq:
"There can be no purely military solution in Iraq," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"At a time when President Bush is asking our troops to shoulder a larger and unsustainable burden policing a civil war, his failed policies have left us increasingly isolated in Iraq and less secure here at home," the Nevada Democrat said.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Caernarfon Castle

One of a series of castles built by Edward I after his 1283 conquest of Wales, construction started that year, and continued for about forty years. It is from Caernarfon Castle that each new Prince of Wales, and his eventual betrothed, is first publically presented. The small balcony where they stand looks out on part of the small town, but if the royals look just down and to the left, the main thing they'll see is an outhouse.

This is not good

Iran’s president remained defiant today on the eve of a United Nations deadline for his country to stop enriching uranium, as tensions between Iran and the United States continued to mount in various ways.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country will halt its uranium enrichment program, a prerequisite for building nuclear weapons, only if Western powers do the same. The U.N. Security Council has imposed limited sanctions on Iran, and has said it would consider further sanctions if the enrichment program is not stopped by tomorrow.
A second U.S. aircraft carrier group is just arriving in the Sea of Oman, south of Iran. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says there is no plan to go to war with Iran. Of course, the Administration repeatedly said the same thing in the months before the invasion of Iraq. Given the disastrous course of the Iraq War, it might fairly be said that the Administration really didn't have a plan for Iraq, because they clearly still lack one; but there is now an abundance of evidence that they had every intention of going to war with Iraq, plan or no. The same dissembling illogic may pertain to Iran, but this is what's most important:
Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency... was quoted as saying, American and British intelligence services estimate that Iran is still 5 to 10 years away from developing a workable nuclear bomb.
Iran is making great strides in developing its nuclear weapons capabilities, and its government is not one that anyone wants to see with nuclear weapons; but there is plenty of time to figure out what to do about it. Watch the Administration try to convince you otherwise...

The Republican War on the Constitution continues

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that foreign-born prisoners seized as potential terrorists and held in Guantanamo Bay may not challenge their detention in U.S. courts, a key victory for President Bush's anti-terrorism plan.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 that civilian courts no longer have the authority to consider whether the military is illegally holding the prisoners — a decision that will strip court access for hundreds of detainees with cases currently pending.
Both majority judges are Republican appointees...
Most criticized by Democrats and civil libertarians was a provision that stripped U.S. courts of the authority to hear arguments from detainees who said they were being held illegally. The law instead authorizes three-officer military panels to review whether there is sufficient evidence to justify the detention.
On Daily Kos, Big Tent Democrat provides legal analysis.War

Credit where credit's due

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard opposes Kyoto, supports Bush's Iraq War, and made the truly odious assertion that terrorists would prefer that we elect Barack Obama or some other Democrat as President, but:
Australia has announced plans to ban incandescent light bulbs and replace them with more energy efficient fluorescent bulbs.

The environment minister said the move could cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tonnes by 2012.

"It's a little thing but it's a massive change," Malcolm Turnbull said.

Temple of Vesta, Rome

Actually probably dedicated to Hercules, this Republican Era temple from the 2nd Century BCE was one of the first buildings in Rome made of marble.

Monday, February 19, 2007

And the good news of the day!

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Some sweet news: Chocolate could be good for your memory....

Scientists funded in part by the Mars Inc. candy company delivered the not-unwelcome news Sunday morning during what was described as the first systematic review of chocolate's effects on learning and memory.

A two-hour symposium on the neurobiology of chocolate, billed as a potentially "mind-altering experience," drew a standing-room-only crowd during the annual meeting in San Francisco of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
And check my old diary on Daily Kos: Chocolate: H*ll Yeah!!!

Only the beginning...

Murray Waas of the National Journal has been one of the best reporters on the Plame leak case. As the Libby trial wraps up, he offers this tantalizing hint:
If Libby is found guilty, investigators are likely to probe further to determine if Libby devised what they consider a cover story in an effort to shield Cheney. They want to know whether Cheney might have known about the leaks ahead of time or had even encouraged Libby to provide information to reporters about Plame's CIA status, the same sources said.
And don't forget the pending civil trials. This story is far from over...


New York Times:
In a coordinated assault on an American combat outpost north of Baghdad, suicide bombers drove three cars filled with explosives into the base today, killing two American soldiers and wounding at least 17 more, witnesses and the American military said.

The brazen and highly unusual attack, which was followed by fierce gun battles and a daring evacuation of the wounded Americans by helicopters, came on a day of violence across the country that left more than 40 people dead in shootings, suicide bombings, mortar attacks and roadside explosions.

The violence was directed at civilians, Americans and the Iraqi security forces.

Harry Reid: Iraq War the worst foreign policy mistake in U.S. history!

After months of heated rhetoric slamming President Bush's Iraq policy, the Senate's top Democrat moved into new terrain by declaring the Iraq war a worse blunder than Vietnam.

"This war is a serious situation. It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country," Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"So we should take everything seriously. We find ourselves in a very deep hole and we need to find a way to dig out of it."
Glad to hear him say it. Glad he's Senate Majority Leader. Hope he can figure out something to do about it!

How horrible is Bush? Bin Laden's back!

New York Times:
Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.
So, more than five years after the September 11 attacks, we are essentially back where we began. George W. Bush has lost the War on Terror.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Atrios is angry

Atrios is an atheist, and it pisses him off that we focus so much on candidates' religious beliefs. It should. Any open atheist could never get elected president. And by demanding a religious purity test, we beg for dishonesty and hypocrisy. Bush is supposedly deeply religious, yet he's as selfish, greedy, dishonest, and blithe about causing violence as any president we've ever had. And, as usual, the media is as much to blame for this bullshit game as is anyone.

You know what I'd love to see? A candidate with enough courage, when asked about her or his religious beliefs, to simply invoke the U.S. Constitution. From Article VI: religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
In other words, to all you media hacks who continually make candidates' religious beliefs a political issue: it's none of your fucking business!

I'm not an atheist, but it pisses me off, too!

And in Thailand...

At least 28 bombs exploded Sunday in apparently coordinated attacks in parts of southern Thailand plagued by a Muslim insurgency, killing three people and wounding more than 50, the military said.

The bombings targeted hotels, karaoke bars, power grids and commercial sites in the country's southernmost provinces, the only parts of predominantly Buddhist Thailand with Muslim majorities. Two public schools were torched.
I realize it was a long time ago- back before we invaded a country that had never attacked us and had nothing to do with 9/11- but remember when we were supposed to be fighting international terrorism?


At least 60 people have been killed and 131 injured in two car bombs in a Shia district of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, police sources have said.

The blasts ripped through a market in the city's New Baghdad area. Two people died in another blast in Sadr City.

The attacks are the deadliest since a joint US-Iraqi security offensive was launched on Wednesday.
A U.S. helicopter suffered a "sudden, unexplained loss of power" and crashed Sunday in southeastern Afghanistan, killing eight American troops, the military said. Fourteen people on board survived.

A NATO spokesman denied the helicopter had been shot down, saying the pilot had radioed ahead to report engine problems. It was the worst U.S. crash in Afghanistan since last May.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


It doesn't get any worse

From the AP:
Some 18,000 children die every day because of hunger and malnutrition and 850 million people go to bed every night with empty stomachs, a "terrible indictment of the world in 2007," the head of the U.N. food agency said.

The Bullshit Express

John McCain will go to South Carolina and preach abstinence.

The AP has the story:
The Arizona lawmaker is scheduled to speak Sunday night to about 1,500 middle and high school students about abstaining from premarital sex.
Atrios provides the analysis:
I know it will never happen, because it would cause David Broder to faint, but any politician or public figure should be asked if they, in fact, saved themselves for marriage, and whether they were abstinent between their multiple marriages.
And CNN reports that the Great Man will be the only Senator to not show up for today's vote on the non-binding resolution opposing the Iraq War escalation.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Schloss Hohenzollern

Global Warming

From AFP:
World temperatures in January were the highest ever recorded for that month of the year, US government scientists said.

"The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the highest for any January on record," according to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climate Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Lieberman REALLY sucks!

But you knew that.

Josh Marhsall has a fuller quote. I'll give you a taste:
The potential for a constitutional crisis here and now is real, with congressional interventions, presidential vetoes, and Supreme Court decisions. If there was ever a moment for nonpartisan cooperation to agree on a process that will respect both our personal opinions about this war and our nation’s interests over the long term, this is it.
Right. And who, exactly, is provoking the crisis? Who has been provoking it with torture, illegal detentions, illegal wiretaps, etc., etc.?
But at this difficult juncture, at this moment when a real battle, a critical battle is being waged in Baghdad, as we face a brutal enemy who attacked us on 9/11 and wants to do it again, let us not just shout at one another, but let us reach out to one another to find that measure of unity that can look beyond today’s disagreements and secure the nation’s future and the future of all who will follow us as Americans.
You didn't really intend to conflate Iraq with 9/11, did you, Joe? Joe? And, being a responsible Senator, you have read the National Intelligence Estimates that say the war on Iraq is harming the overall war against terrorism, haven't you? Joe?

Sen. Joe Biden has a plan for Iraq

Senator Biden says it's time to repeal the original Iraq War resolution:
The WMD were not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq.

I am working on legislation to repeal that authorization and replace it with a much narrower mission statement for our troops in Iraq.

Congress should make clear what the mission of our troops is: to responsibly draw down, while continuing to combat terrorists, train Iraqis and respond to emergencies. We should make equally clear what their mission is not: to stay in Iraq indefinitely and get mired in a savage civil war....

Leaving Iraq is a necessity, but it is not a plan. We need a plan for what we leave behind. That is what I have offered.

To those who disagree with my plan, I have one simple question: what is your alternative?

Gov. Bill Richardson

Via Digby, Richardson has a simple and direct way for people to state their opposition to a war against Iran: an online petition. But note this wording:
We are clear and united - we want negotiations now and no unauthorized and unwarranted attacks in Iran.
The petition twice uses the word "unauthorized." As I've said, only Congress can authorize a war. The Democrats in Congress need to impress that point both to the media and the Administration. Richardson gets it.

The Media Are the Menace

Via Atrios, the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin sums it up:
It seems almost inconceivable: The White House actually invites the press corps to hold it accountable -- but when the time comes, and a key benchmark is missed, the press is silent.

And yet that's exactly what has happened.

Back in January, when President Bush announced that in spite of the public opinion against the war in Iraq he was going to send in more troops, he repeatedly insisted that what was different this time was that the Iraqis were finally serious about stepping up.

Responding to reporters who were skeptical -- after all, they'd heard this many times before -- White House officials urged them to judge for themselves whether that would happen....

And President Bush yesterday insisted that everything's going according to plan: "Our new commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is now on the ground in Baghdad," Bush told the American Enterprise Institute. "He says the Iraqi government is following through on its commitment to deploy three additional army brigades in the capital."

But at a Pentagon press conference yesterday, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Peter Pace acknowledged that only two of those three Iraqi brigades are there: "You've got two of the Iraqi brigades in -- that were going to plussed up in Baghdad in Baghdad now. The third one is moving this month," Pace said.
Did the White House Press Corps challenge Bush on this blatant contradiction? Guess.

And Greg Sargent, at Talking Points Memo, offers a simple comparison of the Watergate era's Press Corps to the grinning fools we now have. Back then, the Press agressively pursued the facts. Yesterday, Bush was asked about the revelations at the Libby trial that three of his top aides had leaked the highly classified identity of an undercover CIA agent to reporters. Bush evaded the question and made an insipid joke. The Press Corps laughed along.

It's a reminder that tolerance and even jadedness towards official mendacity and stonewalling have become about as pervasive and unremarkable as the air you breathe. I mean, here you have testimony saying that three of Bush's senior officials helped destroy the career of a CIA officer. The President blithely refused to say whether he authorized it. And the response is...laughter? What the hell's so funny about this?

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Sen. Schumer to investigate purge of federal prosecutors

TPM Muckraker has the video, from the Senate floor:
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), speaking on the Senate floor this afternoon, vowed to "get to the bottom" of the administration's December purge of federal prosecutors, and said that if they found that the prosecutors had indeed received positive job evaluations from the Justice Department before being booted, "there will be real trouble."
This is a very disturbing story, as President (sic) Bush used a provision of the Patriot (sic) Act to bypass otherwise required Senate confirmation, while replacing professional prosecutors- many of whom had been investigating Republican lawmakers or federal officials- with political cronies. Keep an eye on this.


Congressman Murtha wants to protect our troops, prevent the escalation in Iraq, and may try to prevent Bush from starting a renegade war with Iran:
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said he would seek to tie future deployments in Iraq to troops meeting high standards of training and getting enough rest between combat tours. Murtha said he believes the Army may have no units that can meet those standards, meaning that Bush's attempt to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq would be effectively thwarted.

Murtha, who has been among Congress's foremost opponents of Iraq war policy, also said he is considering attaching a provision to a looming war spending bill that would bar U.S. military action against Iran without congressional approval.

"We don't have the capability of sustaining a war in Iran," Murtha, chairman of the House panel that oversees military spending, said in a videotaped online interview.

Condoleezza Rice is a liar!

And water is wet, and the sky is blue.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice misled the U.S. Congress when she said last week that she had not seen a 2003 Iranian proposal for talks with the United States, a former senior government official said on Wednesday.

Bush hates our troops

It never ends.

From a New York Times editorial:
It’s bad enough that these soldiers are being asked to risk their lives without President Bush demanding that Iraq’s leaders take any political risks that might give the military mission at least an outside chance of success. But according to an article in The Washington Post this week, at least some of the troops will be sent out in Humvees not yet equipped with FRAG Kit 5 armor. That’s an advanced version designed to reduce deaths from roadside bombs, which now account for about 70 percent of United States casualties in Iraq....

The Army says it is now accelerating its production of FRAG Kit 5 armor and handing it out to Baghdad-bound units on a priority basis. But it acknowledges that the armor upgrading project will not be completed until summer. Right now, it’s February, and the new American drive in Baghdad has already begun.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bryce Canyon National Park

"Hillary" means never having to say you're sorry

I loathe reflexive Hillary-bashers, and if she wins the Democratic nomination, I'll vote for her; but this is part of the problem...

Tim Grieve, in Salon:
As transcripts show, Sen. Clinton's views on the war have slowly changed since 2002, but she still can't say her own vote to authorize force was a mistake....

Her public statements since October 2002 reflect a slow, relatively steady evolution in her thinking -- or at least in her talking points. She has gone from 1) voting for the use-of-force resolution, to 2) questioning the intelligence that formed the basis of that vote, to 3) arguing that the Bush administration distorted the intelligence, to 4) saying she didn't regret giving Bush authority to use force but did regret the way he used that authority, to 5) saying the resolution never would have come to a vote if Congress knew then what it knows now, to 6) saying that Congress wouldn't have voted for the resolution if Congress knew then what it knows now, to 7) saying that she wouldn't have voted for the resolution if she knew then what she knows now.

That's a lot of small steps, but Clinton remains either unable or unwilling to take the final one: To say not just that she would have voted differently if she knew then what she knows now but that she should have voted differently based on what she knew then. Clinton has said many, many words in her evolution. "Mistake" -- at least when it come to describing her own vote -- still hasn't been one of them.

Here we go...

New York Times:
President Bush said today he is certain that elements of the Iranian government are supplying deadly roadside bombs that kill American troops in Iraq, even if the innermost circle of the government is not involved.

Mr. Bush said it had been established beyond a doubt that a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps known as the Quds Force is supplying Shiite groups inside Iraq with particularly deadly, Iranian-designed weapons known as explosively formed penetrators, or E.F.P.s....

The president brushed off a suggestion that there is a disagreement within the American military about the role of the Quds Forces, as evidenced by recent statements by Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said he was not ready to conclude that the top Iranian leadership was behind the attacks.
Would you buy some used bullshit from this man?

Al Franken's running for the Senate

Check his website.

The Media Are the Menace

CNN's Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr helps the Bush Administration catapult the propaganda about Iran. TPM Muckraker has video:
CNN's Barbara Starr just reported that President Bush and General Peter Pace are on the same page about munitions in Iraq. In reality, they're not even in the same book.
Atrios provides a Starr quote, with telling emphasis:
"Well, Tony, this is going to sound all pretty confusing because it's a mix of politics, domestic, and politics, international. What the US military is really saying is they have evidence that Iran is shipping weapons into Iraq. That does not appear to be in dispute. The question is - who is responsible for it? At a background briefing, over the weekend in Baghdad, a top US official - at that briefing at least he was a top official - said that there was evidence tying all of this to the highest levels of the Iranian government. That set off a firestorm when General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said hang on, I don't know that, he said he did not know that it was at the orders of the highest levels of the Iranian government. One can only assume that the president will stand behind his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What appears to be going on here at the end of the day is, yes, that there is evidence that it is tied to the Iranian government, but the US doesn't really want to talk about it. According to sources we have spoken to today, they do feel they have evidence but they do want to ratchet down the tensions with Iran and the new message point is - we're only here to talk about protecting our troops from Iranian weapons. We're not here to point the figure out blank, and we would like Iran to take care of the problem."
Of course, all those background sources proved real reliable in the run-up to the Iraq War, right?

ThinkProgress also has video, and points out that (emphasis theirs):
In other words, CNN is now overstating the intelligence on Iran beyond the overstatements of the Bush administration.
Nitpicker gives Starr a little cover (except for the fact that a high profile reporter ought to be able to, you know, report) by pointing out that:
The truth is, there's a pretty good reason for her confusion over Maj. Gen. William Caldwell's suggestion that "hype" is involved in the Iran evidence: Caldwell can't keep his story straight.
That should be Barbara Starr's story: the Bush Administration and its minions are once again hyping a non-existent threat, possibly to once again drum up support for an illegal, immoral, and unjustified war.

Republicans continue to implode

Hat tip to Digby...

Thomas F. Schaller, in the Baltimore Sun:
According to the latest Gallup survey, Republican self-identification has declined nationally and in almost every American state. Why? The short answer is that President Bush's war of choice in Iraq has destroyed the partisan brand Republicans spent the past four decades building.

That brand was based upon four pillars: that Republicans are more trustworthy on defense and military issues; that they know when and where markets can replace or improve government; that they are more competent administrators of those functions government can't privatize; and, finally, that their public philosophy is imbued with moral authority. The war demolished all four claims.

Stupid Republican tricks

ThinkProgress has Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) demonstrating typical Republican insight into the culture of a country we're busily destroying.

And a hat tip...

Back to BentLiberal, at Daily Kos, who takes my short notice from yesterday, about the latest Bush record trade deficit, and goes ahead and actually analyzes what that means.

Ballooning US Trade Deficit: Cool Maps & Analysis

Global Warming

The Carbon Institute's Richard Bell, who was also the Kerry campaign's blogmaster, has a terrifying report on today's Congressional hearings:
Global warming is sweeping Capitol Hill. Tuesday featured three different committee hearings, with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee featuring heavy-hitter Sir Nicholas Stern. Stern is the author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.

Stern told the Senators that the costs of inaction in dealing with global warming far exceeded, by at least 5 times, the cost of dealing with global warming today....

One of the most striking phrases in Stern’s presentation was his description of climate change as "the biggest market failure the world has ever seen."
To those who whine that the Democrats are no better than the Republicans, I say that were the Republicans still in power, these hearings would not be taking place! It's a start! But I also repeat what I will continue to repeat:

To all our presidential candidates: we need to hear what you will do about global warming. It's not anywhere close to enough to criticize the Bush Administration or to acknowledge what is now basic scientific consensus. We need to hear plans! No issue is more important! Do you have the courage to discuss economic sacrifice? Are you ready to lead?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The Shakespeare Birthplace.

For the record

This has been much reported, but:
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday that he has no information indicating Iran's government is directing the supply of lethal weapons to Shiite insurgent groups in Iraq.
Of course, the Bush Administration, which is trying to convince everyone that Iran is now the enemy, had made exactly such a charge just the day before.
Asked by reporters yesterday to provide more information on the charge, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "The Iranians are up to their eyeballs in this activity."
So, the Administration is trying to sell a lie about a country being a threat, while the military experts say it just isn't so. Where have we heard that before?

While you were sleeping...

The New York Times reports:
The gap between what Americans import and what they export widened to another record in 2006, totaling $763.6 billion, the Commerce Department said today.

It was the fifth year in a row that the trade deficit broke through its previous record, which in 2005 stood at $716.7 billion.

Rebuilding our republic...

Spencer Ackerman, at TPM Muckraker, reports the Senators Chris Dodd and Bob Menendez will introduce a bill to radically reform Bush's demented law on foreign detainees. Among other basics, Dodd and Menendez want to restore habeas corpus and bar the use of evidence obtained through torture. Will they have the votes to pass the reform? Unclear. Will they have the votes to over-ride a certain Bush veto? Probably not. But it at least begins shifting the momentum.

The Bush bill was passed during a heated election campaign, and many Democrats supported it because they were too timid about voting down the entire bill based on those particular violations of basic human rights. They knew that to vote against the entire bill would have led to Republican and corporate media accusations that they were "soft on terror." No honor in their putting fear above principle. But they now have the opportunity to keep the legitimate parts of the law, while ridding it of its most obscene depredations. They might lose the votes, but they can at least force people to put on the record where they stand specifically on habeas corpus and torture.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Borgund, Norway

Built in the mid-12th Century, the Borgund Stavekirche is the only one that remains unaltered from its original construction.


Now, I feel like a real blogger!

A couple people have told me they find it difficult to read white text on a black background. I want opinions. Please.

The road ahead...

TPM Cafe's Eric Kleefield reports on Stuart Rothenberg's Roll Call column, which suggests that the Democrats have a realistic shot at a veto-proof Senate majority after 2010. In the next two election cycles, the Republicans will be defending a lot more Senate seats than will the Democrats, and some key ones are in Democratic states. Since I don't subscribe to Roll Call, just click and read Kleefield's summary.

The truth about Thomas Friedman

This is for a friend, but I also want it to be up here...

Having won four Pulitzer Prizes, Thomas Friedman is considered by many in the mainstream media to be the most respected journalist in America. This is actually but another example of what's wrong with the mainstream media.

I will keep this relatively brief, but it must first be noted that Friedman is a champion of free trade- and never mind the environmental, human rights, and labor consequences.

Trinity College professor Vijay Prashad sums it up, in an article that is much more scathing than this little quote:
Even as tales of corporate corruption transform the business pages into tabloid sheets, the mouthpieces of imperialist globalization like Friedman turn on their America First boosterism to high volume.
But it's even worse. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explained to the Washingtonian:
“Participation in the new world requires resources, computers, education, and access to those is very unequally distributed,” says Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, author of the 2002 bestseller Globalization and Its Discontents. “He has this high level of optimism that means that anyone can do it if they just have wills. . . . He hasn’t emphasized as much that in effect some of the forces of inequality make the world less flat. Globalization inherently increases the inequalities in developing countries.”
Meanwhile, Friedman himself is on top of the world. The Washingtonian, again:
In 2003, the Friedmans built a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7 ½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club.
And, as Norman Soloman pointed out, in the Huffington Post:
Throughout his journalistic career, Friedman has been married to Ann Bucksbaum -- heiress to a real-estate and shopping-mall fortune now estimated at $2.7 billion. When the couple wed back in 1978, according to The Washingtonian article, Friedman became part of "one of the 100 richest families in the country."
But certainly, having such great wealth wouldn't affect Freidman's intellectual integrity. Would it?

Supposedly rigorous about facts and ideas, Friedman has prostituted his intellect. During a CNBC interview with Tim Russert in late July, the acclaimed savant made a notable confession: "We got this free market, and I admit, I was speaking out in Minnesota -- my hometown, in fact -- and guy stood up in the audience, said, 'Mr. Friedman, is there any free trade agreement you'd oppose?' I said, 'No, absolutely not.' I said, 'You know what, sir? I wrote a column supporting the CAFTA, the Caribbean Free Trade initiative. I didn't even know what was in it. I just knew two words: free trade.'"...

Tim Russert didn't bother to pursue the fact that one of the nation's leading journalists had just said that he fervently advocated for a major trade agreement without knowing what was in it. "
But it's still worse! Not only was Friedman a passionate advocate of the Iraq War (Glenn Greenwald provides an impressive list of quotes), but he has always been a passionate advocate of war! It's an over-used phrase, but Friedman actually is a warmonger!

Soloman again, this time writing for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), reports that Friedman actually used the words "Give war a chance" to describe his advocacy of not only the Iraq War, but those in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, as well! He loves the phrase! He would not repeatedly use such a cynical twist on John Lennon's famous pacifist mantra unless he thought it was somehow clever! Safe in his suburban American palace, he obviously thinks warmongering is cute! Soloman then adds two quotes that accurately summarize Friedman's cool, passionate, rational approach to foreign policy:
I was a critic of [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld before, but there's one thing ... that I do like about Rumsfeld. He's just a little bit crazy, OK? He's just a little bit crazy, and in this kind of war, they always count on being able to out-crazy us, and I'm glad we got some guy on our bench that our quarterback — who's just a little bit crazy, not totally, but you never know what that guy's going to do, and I say that's my guy.

And Friedman doesn't just talk that way. He also writes that way. "There is a lot about the Bush team's foreign policy I don't like," a Friedman column declared in mid-February, "but their willingness to restore our deterrence, and to be as crazy as some of our enemies, is one thing they have right."
How's that craziness working, Tom?

And Friedman's also just plain dishonest. FAIR compiled a list titled Tom Friedman's Flexible Deadlines. Since November, 2003, Friedman has been telling the world that we need just six more months to determine whether or not the Iraq War will be a success. Time passes, but that deadline never shrinks (although he does sometimes provide himself wiggle room by saying it's a six-to-nine month window). Friedman repeated the six month claim in June 2004, October 2004, September 2005, December 2005, January 2006, March 2006. and May 2006.

Blogger Duncan Black has coined the phrase "Friedman Unit" to connote a period of six months. I'll use an example: If Bush isn't impeached or forced to resign, I think we will be in Iraq for at least four more Friedman Units. And I'm sure Tom Friedman will still be rationalizing the fact that he was just plain murderously wrong!

Sunday, February 11, 2007


The son et lumiere (here sans son, obviously) is designed to emulate Monet's paintings.

How to prevent a war with Iran

On Daily Kos, Big Tent Democrat has a recommended diary emphasizing that the best way to prevent a war with Iran is to stop the war with Iraq. As his links reveal, he is of the opinion that the Democrats don't have the votes to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, but that they do have the ability to cut off funding. He may be right about that. But there's an easier way to prevent a war with Iran...

As Big Tent points out, some Dems are now absurdly promoting a resolution stating opposition to any potential war with Iran; but if such a resolution failed (as it might), that would give the imprimatur of Congressional support to such a war; and the Dems don't even need to attempt such a resolution, anyway. You see, there's this little thing called the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 8 gives Congress sole authority to declare war. So, Congress doesn't need to declare themselves opposed to a potential war they have sole authority to authorize! They need merely assert their Constitutional authority!

So, how can the Dems prevent a war with Iran? Simple. Have John Conyers, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, publicly declare that if Bush starts a war- any war- without having first been granted Constitutional authority, Impeachment proceedings will begin forthwith.

Why does he hate America?

You know how Bush and the Republicans equate criticism of their policies with hatred of the country? Check these quotes:
The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq starkly delineates the gulf that separates President Bush's illusions from the realities of the war. Victory, as the president sees it, requires a stable liberal democracy in Iraq that is pro-American. The NIE describes a war that has no chance of producing that result. In this critical respect, the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is a declaration of defeat.

Its gloomy implications -- hedged, as intelligence agencies prefer, in rubbery language that cannot soften its impact -- put the intelligence community and the American public on the same page. The public awakened to the reality of failure in Iraq last year and turned the Republicans out of control of Congress to wake it up. But a majority of its members are still asleep, or only half-awake to their new writ to end the war soon.
The writer goes on to describe the conditions in Iraq, and what we must do for conditions to improve. Among them:
The first and most critical step is to recognize that fighting on now simply prolongs our losses and blocks the way to a new strategy. Getting out of Iraq is the pre-condition for creating new strategic options.
The President (sic)?
If Bush truly wanted to rescue something of his historical legacy, he would seize the initiative to implement this kind of strategy. He would eventually be held up as a leader capable of reversing direction by turning an imminent, tragic defeat into strategic recovery.
Everyone knows this will never happen. Bush never changes direction. Bush is never wrong.

If he stays on his present course, he will leave Congress the opportunity to earn the credit for such a turnaround. It is already too late to wait for some presidential candidate for 2008 to retrieve the situation. If Congress cannot act, it, too, will live in infamy.
In other words: non-binding resolutions won't cut it! Do something!

And who is this writer, who dares lambaste Bush and boldly challenge Congress?
William E. Odom, a retired Army lieutenant general, was head of Army intelligence and director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan. He served on the National Security Council staff under Jimmy Carter. A West Point graduate with a PhD from Columbia, Odom teaches at Yale.
Read his entire column, here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mezquita, Cordoba

What's wrong with America?

I should have posted this yesterday.

On Thursday, two American women died. The American media has been absolutely obsessed with one of them. They have completely ignored the other. One was a thirty-nine year old former nude model. She died in a Florida hotel. The other was a twenty year old U.S. Marine. She died in Anbar Province, Iraq. Guess which one the American media is obsessing over...

Read Aphra Behn's heartbreaking diary:

Bread and Media Circuses: Jennifer, Anna, and History

Friday, February 9, 2007

Raphael Loggia, Vatican City

Want to make $25 million?

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and some guy named Al Gore announced a $25 million prize "to anyone who develops technology capable of removing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases at the rate of one billion tons a year."

Branson had already credited Gore with convincing him to spend three billion dollars to fight climate change!

Next time you're thinking of going to a media store, consider Virgin. And someone ought to find that Gore guy a real job. He could go places...


Courtesy of Bill in Portland Maine, the 2006 winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been announced. A sample winner, from the Romance category:
Despite the vast differences it their ages, ethnicity, and religious upbringing, the sexual chemistry between Roberto and Heather was the most amazing he had ever experienced; and for the entirety of the Labor Day weekend they had sex like monkeys on espresso, not those monkeys in the zoo that fling their feces at you, but more like the monkeys in the wild that have those giant red butts, and access to an espresso machine.
Dennis Barry
Dothan, AL
Read them all, plus the Runners-up and Dishonorable Mentions, here.

Alberto Gonzalez's coup d'etat

That's the title of Joe Conason's analysis of the forced resignations of nine U.S. attorneys, many of whom had pursued criminal investigations of top Republicans.
Under any circumstances, the Bush administration's sudden, explicitly political dismissal and replacement of United States attorneys in judicial districts across the country would be very troubling -- both as a violation of American law enforcement traditions and as a triumph of patronage over competence.

But as the story behind these strange decisions unfolds, a familiar theme is emerging. Again, the White House and the Justice Department have been exposed in a secretive attempt to expand executive power for partisan purposes. And again, their scheming is tainted with a nasty whiff of authoritarianism....

Any such self-serving statements emanating from Alberto Gonzales should always be greeted with appropriate skepticism. So should the claim that he sought to seize control of interim U.S. attorney appointments because of his concern over the "separation of powers" issues supposedly inherent in judges' appointing prosecutors. As the McClatchy Newspapers reported on Jan. 26, Gonzales has named at least nine "conservative loyalists from the Bush administration's inner circle" to positions vacated by professional prosecutors.

Family values

L.A. Times:
President Bush's uncle William H.T. "Bucky" Bush was among directors of a defense contractor who together reaped $6 million from what federal regulators say was an illegal five-year scheme by two company executives to manipulate the timing of stock option grants, court documents show.

The youngest brother of former President George H.W. Bush, he is the second Bush family member whose name has surfaced in stock options scandals this month....

Last week in an unrelated case, Marvin Bush, the current president's youngest brother, was named as a defendant in a suit charging that officers and directors of HCC Insurance Holdings benefited from backdated options.
And there is Neil, and Jonathan, and W himself.



Washington Post:
Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community, according to a report by the Pentagon's inspector general.

Feith's office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," according to portions of the report, released yesterday by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.). The inspector general described Feith's activities as "an alternative intelligence assessment process."
If I'd been doing this longer, I'd have posted many more examples. The evidence piles on top of itself: the Administration deliberately manipulated intelligence. They lied us into war. It's not just impeachable, it's criminal!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

And in potentially GREAT news...

Veterans of Al Gore's past are quietly assembling a campaign to draft the former vice president into the 2008 presidential race — despite his repeated statements that he's not running.

His top policy adviser from his 2000 presidential campaign and other key supporters met Thursday in Boston to mull a potential Gore campaign. The participants and Gore's Nashville office both said Gore, who is in London, is not involved.
Keep in mind that he hasn't completely ruled it out. He keeps saying he has no plans at this time! The door is far from closed!

Have I mentioned that I love


And meanwhile...

Despite recent efforts, the violence showed little signs of receding.

At least 104 people were killed or found dead Thursday in Iraq, including at least 10 Sunni men gunned down in the village of Rufayaat, just east of Balad. Balad is a majority Shiite town 50 miles northeast of the Iraqi capital, but it is surrounded by territory that is mainly populated by Sunnis.
Also Thursday, the U.S. announced that four U.S. Marines were killed the day before in fighting in Anbar, an insurgent stronghold. At least 3,114 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an AP count.


Salon's Sidney Blumenthal reports that the Pentagon is planning for the aftermath of Bush's war escalation's failure!
Deep within the bowels of the Pentagon, policy planners are conducting secret meetings to discuss what to do in the worst-case scenario in Iraq about a year from today if and when President Bush's escalation of more than 20,000 troops fails, a participant in those discussions told me. None of those who are taking part in these exercises, shielded from the public view and the immediate scrutiny of the White House, believes that the so-called surge will succeed. On the contrary, everyone thinks it will not only fail to achieve its aims but also accelerate instability by providing a glaring example of U.S. incapacity and incompetence.
Yes, we're going to spend $27 billion more, risk 20,000 more American, and countless more Iraqi lives, for a purely political act of face-saving desperation, and the Pentagon's already planning its failure! And, of course, in an act of supreme cynical hypocrisy, seven Republican senators who opposed efforts to even debate a weak, non-binding resolution opposing the escalation now say they've changed their minds, and want the debate to go forward!

The war rages, Iraq burns, people die, Bush wants to escalate, and Senate Republicans scramble to find cover for having opposed merely talking about opposing Bush's planned atrocity! Yesterday, new Democratic Senator Jon Tester had the best response:
On the Senate floor a few moments ago, Jon Tester said that he's traveled all around his home state of Montana, and "not a single person told me we should debate about whether or not to have a debate on Iraq."

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Nature Magazine on Climate Change

Reviewing the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the editors of the leading international journal of science tell it like it is:
The IPCC report, released in Paris, has served a useful purpose in removing the last ground from under the climate-change sceptics' feet, leaving them looking marooned and ridiculous.
And while emphasizing that addressing the issue has long been required, they explicitly note who have been impediments:
This requirement has been disputed by a collection of money-men and some isolated scientists, in alliance with the current president of the United States and a handful of like-minded ideologues such as Australia's prime minister John Howard.
They then note that even major corporations, like Citigroup, have begun to speak boldly about the dangers of climate-change. And they discuss some of the measures currently being taken to address the impending crisis.

The trouble is, none of this is even close to being sufficient to meet the challenge.
The problem being, of course, that any action even close to being sufficient will require economic sacrifices that no governments yet have the courage to acknowledge. They highlight the hypocrisy of governments taking some measures to reduce emissions, and develop cleaner sources of energy, while also expanding airport development- air travel being "the fastest-growing source of emissions, and one not capped by the Kyoto Protocol."

They state the obvious: it is time to begin discussing the economic sacrifices we must make. They call for mitigation as well as emissions cuts, and new approaches as the second stage of Kyoto negotiations proceed. They close with this brutal assessment of Bush's role as impediment to action:
US President George W. Bush will remain a participant in such negotiations until the end of 2008. But even before then, talks should include all the options open to a planet that is now ready, at last, to acknowledge the fix it is in.

What's wrong with America?

From the Washington Post:
The financial reports begin to document the underpinnings of a drive for dollars that is expected to make 2008 the nation's first billion-dollar presidential campaign. Top-tier candidates are hard at work courting wealthy political enthusiasts who can deliver scores of thousand-dollar donors.
That's where it begins. That's the key. That's why our government fails to represent the best interests of most Americans, most people, or the world. Government of, by, and for the special interests. The only way we will ever take our government back is to take money out of political campaigns.

War Profiteering

ProgressiveSouth has an important post about the ongoing hearings:
As Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) gears up for the second day of his House Hearings on Waste, Fraud and Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars, the focus will shift to North Carolina-based Blackwater International....

Blackwater's ill-fated presence in Iraq has been especially curious because, for many of their missions, no one could find the U.S. contract that actually authorized them to be working there.

UNTIL NOW. Yesterday, the Army finally disclosed who had sub-contracted Blackwater's operations -- and it's none other than our good friends Halliburton (via AP)...


While the Senate continues to squabble over a non-binding resolution that only criticizes Bush's plan to escalate the Iraq War:
An American CH-46 Sea Knight military helicopter crashed about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad on Tuesday, the American military said today. It is the fifth American helicopter to crash or be shot down in less than three weeks, and military officials have grown increasingly concerned that Iraqi insurgents have adapted their tactics to be much more effective against American aircraft.

By late afternoon in Baghdad, the military had not released any information about casualties or the cause of the crash. The helicopter — a large transport model easily distinguished by its twin rotors, one mounted near the cockpit and the other on a tall structure at the tail — can carry as many as 25 combat troops, according to

New York Times
Update: Seven believed dead.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


I will try to post a photo each evening or morning.


Rep. Waxman is just getting warmed up...

Fun with pundits

Arianna Huffington rips Joke Line a new one. He already had plenty...

Global Warming

The Washington Post's Anne Applebaum offers a solution:
Any lasting solutions will have to be extremely simple, and -- because of the cost implicit in reducing the use and emissions of fossil fuels -- will also have to benefit those countries that impose them in other ways. Fortunately, there is such a solution, one that is grippingly unoriginal, requires no special knowledge of economics and is easy for any country to implement. It's called a carbon tax, and it should be applied across the board to every industry that uses fossil fuels, every home or building with a heating system, every motorist, and every public transportation system. Immediately, it would produce a wealth of innovations to save fuel, as well as new incentives to conserve. More to the point, it would produce a big chunk of money that could be used for other things. Anyone for balancing the budget? Fixing Social Security for future generations? As a foreign policy side benefit, users of the tax would suddenly find themselves less dependent on Persian Gulf oil or Russian natural gas, too.
It's an interesting solution, and really a purist capitalist approach: pay as you go. It's a perfect example of Robert. F. Kennedy, Jr.'s proposal that we stop subsidizing polluting industries by having the taxpayers clean up after them. The public costs of the means of their private profits is not only unfair corporate welfare, it inhibits technological innovation. Make the industries bear the costs, and they will either go out of business or be forced to innovate. That's a truly free market approach.