Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Maliki to Bush: Can I Crash at Your Place?

I think it is looking increasingly likely that Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki might not be going home after his meeting today with President Bush (update: it's been postponed until tomorrow). He has lost a big bloc of supporters and the Bush administration, at least behind the scenes, doesn't sound too confident of his leadership abilities which leaves me believe he is being set up as the eventual fall guy for when we have our Saigon redux.

More from Carpetbagger, The Heretik, Steve Soto, Christy, Dan Froomkin, John in DC, Richard Cranium and Cernig.

Eye of Newt and Tongue of Serpent

Former House Speaker Newt Gringrich says that the US may have to "reexamine" freedom of speech to fit in Bush's war on terror. Might I suggest we start by telling Newt he can just STFU.

Read Bob Cesca.

Update: Countdown discussion.

Opening The Files: 11/29/06

Civil War Semantics, Not So New Phases and a Lame Duck Library

Iraq is fubar, to put it nicely. Violence continues to escalate. A few media outlets have finally decided to buck Weality and call the violence what some correspondents have long insisted was civil war. The Bush administration continues to claim otherwise, preferring the "new phase" moniker (or not). President Bush says that Al-Qaeda is behind the violence and pledges that the US will not leave until the mission is complete. Whatever the "mission" is, no one is saying clearly and considering that Bush is having to hit up Al-Maliki for ideas, I don't think he knows either. What is clear to everyone (sans BushCo) is the fact that the situation on the ground is rapidly deteriorating beyond anyones control and probably already has.

Case in point: Moqtada al-Sadr has emerged as a real power broker amongst the Shia, with his Mahdi Army providing services that the Iraqi government won't (or can't) provide. It doesn't exactly help the cause of disarming the militias when they are the ones the people are turning to for protection. And as for the "elected" officials? Their words are met with stones.

Then you have word that the British are pulling up stakes come next year while Al-Qaeda has put down roots in Anbar province. And the Pentagon is said to be mulling pulling back from Anbar in order to secure Baghdad. Didn't we go through that once already? What is it going to called this time? Operation Forward Together Again?

Of course we all know what is predominantly on Bush's mind as of late. Begging for a ridiculously huge amount of money for a library that can hopefully polish up his legacy.

Anyone else think the money would be better spent elsewhere?

Steve Soto thinks Bush is acting like a bystander in all of this. Too bad he is the one still holding the keys for two more years.

Dale R. Davis warns that we could be seeing the making for a perfect storm in the Middle East and I don't think an umbrella's gonna cut it when this shit storm hits.

A. Alexander says that the administration's soundbite shuffle is just the latest performance piece of Cirque Du Bush.

Matthew Yglesias says its no wonder Iraqis are turning to the militias and Al-Qaeda. Wouldn't you support the person claiming to be protecting you? Bush supporters should understand this better than anyone.

Arianna Huffington pops of a few obligatory jokes but then asks a serious question about just who will be fitting the bill for Dubya's depository. Maybe that was why Cheney was "summoned" by the Saudis.

Cenk Uygur says that NBC has finally admitted what we all knew was as clear as day.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When Peace Becomes Offensive

By now you have probably heard about the Colorado woman who is being threatened with a $25 a day fine for having a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace sign up on her home. Apparently the people who are complaining have children serving in Iraq and consider it to be an anti-Iraq war protest.

I guess that old saying "Peace on earth and good will toward men", only matters when we aren't at war.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

'Short-term Success'

Remember back in August when we learned from the Brits of a plot to blow up planes over the Atlantic? Many thought the timing was designed to bump the defeat of die-hard Bush defender Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary off the front page. It was later confirmed that the Bush administration had indeed forced the British into arresting the suspects sooner then they would have liked. I speculated at the time that evidence may have been lost because the Bushies wanted to get some political gain out of the episode. Turns out something else was lost as well - several of the plotters.

From The Independent (all emphasis mine):
A team of suspected terrorists involved in an alleged UK plot to blow up trans-atlantic airliners escaped capture because of interference by the United States, The Independent has been told by counter-terrorism sources.

An investigation by MI5 and Scotland Yard into an alleged plan to smuggle explosive devices on up to 10 passenger jets was jeopardised in August, when the US put pressure on authorities in Pakistan to arrest a suspect allegedly linked to the airliner plot.

As a direct result of the surprise detention of the suspect, British police and MI5 were forced to rush forward plans to arrest an alleged UK gang accused of plotting to destroy the airliners. But a second group of suspected terrorists allegedly linked to the first evaded capture and is still at large, according to security sources.

The escape of the second group is said to be the reason why the UK was kept at its highest level - 'critical' - for three days before it was decided that the plotters no longer posed an imminent threat.

Of course that's not to say they don't still pose some sort of threat. They are after all still free to plot, plan and perhaps carry out an act of terrorism, possibly one even more deadly than 9/11 or this airline plot. And this time they may not be stopped before they can bring their terrible plan to fruition.

Again from The Independent:
The operation was one of the largest undertaken by the police and MI5, yet two counter-terrorism sources suggested that the intervention of the Americans was due to "inexperience and naivety" and that they were after a "short-term success".

"After a short-term success" pretty well describes how the Bush administration chooses to combat terrorism. No long term plans are ever considered, one need only look at how Iraq has turned out to see that in action. They planned for Mission Accomplished. What came after didn't matter to them.

And America and Iraq continue to pay the price for this administration's lust for "a short-term success".

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

On Black Fridays and Ominous Sundays

American shoppers hit the stores on what is euphemistically called "Black Friday". But for Iraqis, that term holds a far different meaning. For contrary to the spin from the Bush administration and their supporters, Iraq is continuing its descent into chaos. Thousands flee their homes each day to avoid the violence. Thursday was one of the deadliest days for civilians since the invasion began. Friday saw retaliatory strikes against Sunnis, including one in which six men were burned alive. A bloc of the government loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has threatened to boycott should Prime Minister Al-Maliki attend the scheduled meeting with President Bush next week.

1,346. That is the number of days the United States was involved in World War II. On Sunday, the war in Iraq will surpass that number. Yet in all that time, we haven't achieved victory (at least as defined by the Bush administration). Perhaps that is because unlike WWII, there is no "win" to be had in our occupation of Iraq. The Iraqis must deal with their own themselves, our presence only makes it easier for them to resist what eventually must occur for them to have any kind of future. And as the events of this past week dramatically illustrate, blood will continue to be shed regardless of whether we are there or not.

More from Paradox, Jeff Huber, Tony Karon, Shakes', Georgia10, Rosa Brooks, Glenn, and Sen. Chuck Hagel.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Abu Gobbler

NEW JERSEY (XF) - The Xsociate Files has learned that a rafter of turkeys spotted at a New Jersey train station have been held on suspicion of terrorism. According to one source, federal authorities become involved after station staff noticed the group's odd behavior as they waited for the train.

"They stood huddled in a group and gobbling back and forth," the source said, "It was definitely suspicious".

Another source with knowledge of the incident said that some of the turkeys had in their possession items which may indicate ties to terrorism, such as several watches of a brand supposedly favored by terrorists.

If the turkeys are found to have been attempting to commit acts of terrorism, it is not yet known whether they will be designated as "enemy consumables" and rendered to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


On Civility

Ruth Marcus has a piece up discussing President Bush's derisive habit of dropping the "ic" whenever referring to the Democratic party. I know it may seem like a minor annoyance to some, but it goes along way to show just how insincere the President is about the need for a civil and bipartisan discourse when he can't even bring himself to refer to opposition by their preferred appellation.

Then again, this predilection may be due to a deficiency in civics. Perhaps it's time this President, and many in Washington, sit in on a few lessons.

See Tailrank for more.

Happy Turkey Day

From the Memphis Flyer (h/t Richard):
It happened today at that corny annual Thanksgiving ritual in which the president of the United States takes a break from screwing up the world for a few minutes to officially “pardon” a turkey.

Don't ask us why. We have no clue. All we know is that there was an online vote (Somehow we missed that. Was Diebold involved?) and America chose to name its mock-sacrificial turkey “Flyer.”

In an ironic twist, we here at the Flyer also pardoned a turkey today. We haven't decided what to call him yet. We're torn between “Decider” and “F**king Idiot.”

More gobblers from Marty Kaplan, Bob Geiger, Wonkette, and Windspike.

The hard to swallow bits from BooMan, Buzzflash, and Bring It On!

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Update: A second helping of giblets from Needlenose and Kvatch.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Opening The Files: 11/22/06

(Bumped and updated)

Iraq: Bigger, Longer and Uncut and Run.

Sunday, The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon is reviewing three options for improving the situation in Iraq. The options are cheekily labeled "Go Big" (more troops), "Go Long" (pull out some troops but hunker down the rest for a long stay) and "Go Home" (bug out). And even though President Bush hasn't committed to any troop level changes, we already know that by his limited math leaving = losing. So naturally the Pentagoners are leaning toward a hybrid of #1 and #2 called "Go Big but Short While Transitioning to Go Long." (otherwise known as "One last push to buy some time until we can pass the buck")

The NY Times confirmed that the military is indeed seriously considering this fourth option, though they labeled it the "surge option". This "surge" will supposedly be brief, long enough to tamp down on the violence and to shore up the advisers training Iraqi troops. But given the problems we've had, it's debatable how much impact this latest effort will have.

And regardless of what name it's given, I doubt it will go over well with those Iraqis who fear the US is setting up permanent residence in their country. An overwhelmingly high percentage of them want to see us gone. But then their opinion has never mattered to the Bush administration before so why should this time be any different?

Of course things are different now. Bush is just not as popular as he use to be. It's so bad that Bush 41, who polls better than his presidential progeny, is having to defend him from criticism.

And in a sign of our waning influence, Iran and Syria are reaching out to their troubled neighbor.

First off, mad props to Shakes who noticed the sexual connotations of the Pentagon's plan. Her call for jokes about Iraq being fornicated was the inspiration for the caption to this OTF. Send her some love.

Meteor Blades reminds us of the last time the Bush administration presented a grand plan for victory in Iraq. That worked out so well they don't even bring it up anymore.

Bush said he hasn't made any decisions about troop levels. Why does that sound so familiar?

Spencer Ackerman and Azael tell us about the "Go Long" option.

Tim Grieve reminds us of all the things going on while the UnDecider waits to makes a decideration.

Eugene Robinson tells us about the only real option.

President Bush is set to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki in Jordan next week. Given the recent flirtations of the beleaguered Iraqi government, Truthdig thinks it might make for a very awkward meeting.

And finally, The General has a simple pictorial showing the options we face.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The New York Times has a great piece up today about one of my all time favorite TV shows Mythbusters.

Like many fans, what drew me to the show was the originality of the premise: two guys from the special effects industry using their skills to test the theories behind some well know and not so well known myths, urban legends and folklore. Now this might not sound like it would be very fun to watch, but the way in which the shows hosts Jaime Hyneman and Adam Savage go about testing these myths makes for a surprisingly entertaining hour of television.

The hosts will tell you that the success of the show is due to their willingness to "blow stuff up". But I think there is more to it than that. Because even though they may be willing to "blow stuff up" they don't do so just for entertainment's sake. There is a reason behind everything they do. And while they never purport to be scientists, they none the less teach us some valuable lessons about the scientific method of discovery.

Consider that without men who were willing to test out their theories about the world around them, we wouldn't have such things as the light bulb or the telephone. Many of the amenities of modern life were bore on the backs of men willing to push the envelope.

That is one of the things that makes Mythbusters such a great show. It is literally discovery in action.

Plus it is fun to watch them blow stuff up.

Olbermann on Lessons of Vietnam

In a forceful Special Comment last night, Keith took on the President's claims about the true lessons of the war in Vietnam and how they relate to the current quagmire in Iraq.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Shorter Mel Martinez:

All detainees deserve rights. Just not ours.


Daft on the Draft

It's really hard to know what to make of Rep. Charles Rangel's call for reinstating the draft. While I understand the sentiment (that Repubs would be less inclined to start wars they knew their kids might called upon to serve in), from a practical standpoint an American public already soured on the war is unlikely to back adding more bodies to the pyre. And the move is just as unlikely to find support amongst Democrats favoring redeployment, a fact one would think Rangel would have learned by the defeat of his previous resurrection attempts.

I agree with Joe that this doesn't help the Democrats one bit. Not only will the Right seize on it as evidence of flawed leadership but it does nothing to help counter the image of 'infighting' and 'Dem disarray' that the liberal media is so willing to push. The less weight that can be added to the already tipped scales the better.

More can be found at Meme and Tailrank.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Shades of a 'Nam Redux

Vietnam has been in the news a lot this week, prompted by President Bush's first ever visit to the country he avoided in his youth. The media and blogs couldn't help but note the parallels of that war with our current situation in Iraq. Adding fuel to that comparison, Bush even went so far as to channel Henry Kissinger when he said that "We will succeed unless we quit."

Of course Kissinger has now come forward and said that a military victory in Iraq is "impossible" and that we need to negotiate with it's neighbors. I don't think this idea sits well with the Bushies, since according to a rather lengthy article by Sy Hersh, they are determined to stovepipe intelligence to turn Iran into the Cambodia to Iraq's Vietnam and that Cheney says there is nothing the Democrats can to about it.

Actually, Dick, there is. And maybe it's time they think about putting it back on the table.

Tailrank has reaction roundups to Kissinger here and Hersh here. Meme has more on Hersh here. Be sure to check out Weldon Berger as well.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Of Laws and Not Men

Contempt for the law is perhaps one of the worst grievances for a society that prides itself on adhering to the rule of law. But contempt has none the less become a hallmark of this administration. War, indefinite detention, treaty obligations, torture, all have been claimed as the sole authority of this unitary executive and any laws that attempt to regulate them are to be ignored.

When men are no longer bound by the law, that is the very definition of tyranny. What sycophants like Cheney, Chertoff and Gonzales advocate is not a country of laws but of men. Men whose rule is no longer subject to the restraints placed on society by others far more knowledgeable of life under tyranny.

More from Georgia10.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Lesson Unlearned

President Bush's "lessons of Vietnam" statement is making the rounds in the Intertubes. Given the outcome of that long ago conflict, I would find the sentiment audacious coming from anyone but particularly so from this President. For here we have a man who used his father's influence to avoid serving in that war from which we are suppose to have derived a 'lesson' for the current one.

This President never saw combat. Never knew what it was like to be in the middle of a firefight. Never knew what is was like to lose a friend to the chaos of war. Never suffered the horrors of the Hanoi Hilton, endured by men like John McCain and countless others (and which may explain why he has no aversion to such tactics being employed on our enemies).

Of course Bush has waged his own personal Vietnam in Iraq. And just as with the former conflict, he is once again turning to his father's buddies to help him escape the later. But how correctable the current mistake is remains very much in doubt.

Perhaps that is the ultimate lesson to be learned from war: That we should not let the failure of some men to heed history's warning be a failure that reflects on us all.

More from John Cole, Capt. Fogg, Larry Johnson and Suzanne Goldenberg.

Update: Still more from W. Patrick Lang and Paul Abrams.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Planted Seed of a Quagmire

Everyone is focusing on what to do about Iraq. Does President Bush plan one last push? What will the Iraq Study Group recommend? Do the Dems have a plan for getting us out?

All of these are good questions and deserve extensive debate. But we would be remiss if we ignored how we came to be there in the first place. Because we apparently did exactly what the terrorists wanted us to do.
A senior al-Qaida operative deliberately planted information to encourage the US to invade Iraq, a double agent who infiltrated the network and spied for western intelligence agencies claimed last night.

The claim was made by Omar Nasiri, a pseudonym for a Moroccan who says he spent seven years working for European security and intelligence agencies, including MI5. He said Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who ran training camps in Afghanistan, told his US interrogators that al-Qaida had been training Iraqis.

Libi was captured in November 2001 and taken to Egypt where he was allegedly tortured. Asked on BBC2's Newsnight whether Libi or other jihadists would have told the truth if they were tortured, Nasiri replies: "Never".

Asked whether he thought Libi had deliberately planted information to get the US to fight Iraq, Nasiri said: "Exactly".

This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. We all know how adept the Bush administration has become at doing exactly what the terrorists want. My only question is: when will we stop letting Osama dictate US policy?

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Karl Soon to Rove?

According to Think Progress there may be another casualty of the 2006 elections as the White House may be considering some elective 'brain' surgery:
The rumors that chief White House political architect Karl Rove will leave sometime next year are being bolstered with new insider reports that his partisan style is a hurdle to President Bush’s new push for bipartisanship. “Karl represents the old style and he’s got to go if the Democrats are going to believe Bush’s talk of getting along,” said a key Bush advisor."

I'm with Creature on this one, I'll believe when I see it. I for one won't be sorry to see Karl go. He has presided over probably one of the most divisive eras in US politics. From the rumors that John McCain had an illegitimate black child during 2000 to the President all but claiming that a vote for Democrats was a vote for the terrorists, all were strings which dangled from the Rovian hand.

Sadly, even this departure would not be the end. So long as ugly mudslinging like that which we saw this campaign season is tolerated, there will also be room for Karl's brand of 'old style' politics.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Abramoff to Jail

Convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff is to be incarcerated today. Prosecutors aren't entirely happy about it though because he was still providing them with information. With him in jail, the investigations he was assisting in, which according to ABC's Brian Ross include several "seriously corrupted Democratic senators", will be hampered by not have the same unfettered access they once did. And while many of the blogs highlighting this story are harping on the "corrupt Democrats" angle, something else from Ross' report caught my attention:
[..] sources say Abramoff was about to provide information about Bush administration officials, including Karl Rove, "accepting things of value" from Abramoff. (emphasis mine)

If true, this would go along way to explain why it suddenly became imperative that Jack be fitted for an orange jumpsuit and frogmarched off to the pokey. No doubt Karl would have loved to push the "corrupt Democrats" meme but it would have meant the risk of having to explain why his fingerprints were on the pie as well.

Update: Kvatch's Ode to Jack.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Escaping the Battlefield

Stories like that of Jeanne "Linda" Michel have become far too common place. Though they were not wounded in the sands of Iraq, some members of the military return home scarred none the less. But unlike a lost limb or disfiguring scar, these wounds are hidden. And in a society like the military, where seeking treatment for wounds not readily apparent might be seen as a sign of weakness, these cases often go untreated.

Worst still, Congress has made it a habit of cutting funding for that treatment, all in an effort to cover the cost of the war's ever burgeoning price tag. The military, desperate to maintain troop levels, has taken to sending individuals diagnosed with such things post traumatic stress disorder right back to the streets of Baghdad. Given all that, it is not surprising that some may come to see death as their only means of truly escaping the war.

Support for the troops should not end at the battlefield's edge. Because for people like Linda and her family, escape is too high a price to pay for us not to.

Update: A good sign.

(Filed at State of the Day)

In honor of Dubya finally making it to 'Nam

(h/t Creature)

Opening The Files: 11/14/06

The Bail-Out Baker Commission

One of the buzzes in the blogs this weekend was about what the Iraq Study Group headed by Bush "fixer" James Baker will do to help pull dim son's keister outta Iraq. From what's being reported, the options are too few and none of them good.

A great many bloggers are having a field day with the latest cover story from Newsweek about how Bush 41's peeps are having to rescue Dubya's presidency. It shouldn't come as a surprise since it's not the first time Poppy Bush has had to come to the rescue. But what's going on in Iraq is not some failed business venture (oil contracts not withstanding). Real lives have been and continue to be affected by the mistakes of this CEO President. Sorry Pops, but no amount of late term "fixing" will change the fact that the mistake of Iraq will forever be the legacy of George W. Bush.

Ed Naha channeled his inner Dr. Seuss. Billmon, meanwhile, has a great bit of photoshoppery goodness.

Taking a more serious tone, Swopa and AJ remind us why it doesn't really matter what the Baker Commission comes up with.

Update: Stephen Colbert has a few Wørds for Poppa Bush.

Elsewhere in the Intertubes...

Austin Cline, posting at The General's abode, has an interesting analysis of Donald Rumsfeld's famous "Known Unknowns" quote.

(Filed at State of the Day)


The Right's Take on Restoring Habeas

One of the more egregious things this Republican rubberstamp Congress did before being ousted was to bestow onto President Bush the authority to suspend habeas corpus. Thankfully, incoming committee chairman Patrick Leahy plans to put forth legislation that would repeal parts of the Military Commissions Act and attempt to undo some of the damage, the affects of which are already becoming evident.

Naturally, right-wing bloggers are incensed by the idea, claiming that Democrats want to "restore rights to terrorists". Nevermind that in most cases we are talking about individuals who have not even been tried, much less convicted, of terrorism. But as others note, this distinction matters little to President Bush's most avid supporters. To them, simply being labeled as such by the Bush administration automatically makes one a "terrorist".

Of course, now that one of their own has apparently been arrested on terrorism charges, something tells me they will demand a little more evidence of guilt then just a presidential decree.

More from David Neiwart.

Update: Glenn chimes in.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, November 13, 2006

An Intentional Flop?

No doubt many are wondering why Karl Rove still has an upbeat attitude despite what many see as a complete repudiation of the GOP in Tuesday's election.

Though I try not to let my tinfoil hat tendencies bubble to the surface that often, Karl's attitude seems to fit will with Will Bunch's speculation that the Bush administration may have intentionally threw the midterms.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bush: Vote Shows Weakness

While some have noted President Bush's amazement that we still hold elections "even in a time of war", a far more insulting statement in his weekly radio address shows how Bush really feels about last Tuesday's vote:
The elections will bring changes to Washington. But one thing has not changed: America faces brutal enemies who have attacked us before and want to attack us again. I have a message for these enemies: Do not confuse the workings of American democracy with a lack of American will. (emphasis mine)

It should go without saying that one of the greatest strengths of our democracy is the ability to choose our leaders. And even though Bush makes that acknowledgment earlier in his address, to then go on and insinuate that by exercising this right Americans have somehow shown "a lack of will" only shows how little regard Bush holds for the will of the people.

So in what should have been an address to honor the men and women in uniform, who Bush only cursorily mentioned, it was instead used as a partisan platform from which to poke jabs at the "workings of American democracy".*

* Please tell me if I am reading too much into this because what prompted this rant was the headline "Bush: Vote doesn't signal US weakness" in my feed reader the other day.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Opening The Files: Veteran's Day 2006

Today is Veteran's Day, the day we honor the men and women of the armed services, both past and present, without whose sacrifice we would never know those freedoms which we hold most dear and sometimes take for granted.

At this very hour some eighty years ago, a war ended. And never was there a more appropriate day to honor those sacrifices than on a day commemorating the end of war. For to see an end to war is the ultimate goal of any soldier, sailor or Marine.

To my cousin Joseph, and the thousands of others currently serving in Iraq and around the globe, I wish you well and pray you return to us safe. You serve this country with honor and no amount of praise can ever be enough to adequately acknowledge the debt we owe to all of you.

Firedoglake: Thank You.

John Soltz: Honoring Those Who Served.

TruthDig: On Veterans Day.

The Nation: Veteran's Day: America and Iraq.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Veterans Day 2006

Phillip Carter: Extraordinary Acts of Valor.

The Moderate Voice: In Remembrance and Heartfelt Thanks.

(Filed at State of the Day)


The Iraqi Briar Patch

I know that Creature has already flagged this, but I wanted to put in my two cents.

Many know the stories of Br'er Rabbit. The Disney incarnation is probably where most of this generation learned the tale of the wily rabbit who uses his wits to trick his foes. The most famous instance of course is the Briar Patch. Br'er Rabbit, having been caught by Br'er Fox, begs his nemesis not the throw him into the Briar Patch, which is exactly where Br'er Rabbit wants to go.

I was reminded of this tale when I read the reports yesterday of a message from Al-Qaeda in Iraq gloating over the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary. While it is expected that our enemies would gloat, other parts of the message make reference to the need for President Bush to "stay on the battleground." Given that we've learned (via intercepted communiques) that Al-Qaeda views a US withdrawal from Iraq as counter productive to their plans to grow and maintain their jihadist movement, it stands to reason they see Rumsfeld's departure as a bad sign. For it was his failed policies which lead Iraq to become a training ground and recruitment tool for Al-Qaeda. This message, to me, is a sure sign they are worried that this change in leadership could mean a true change from the "stay the course" policy.

So will Br'er Bush do just what the wily rabbit really wants?

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Not so "bi" curious after all

"Bi-partisanship" seems to be the new buzzword around Washington. Talk of a 'New Bush' willing to reach across the aisle and work with newly empowered Democrats has pundits and bloggers claiming that the President has turned a new leaf. Too bad it's a fig leaf, as we are now learning some of the things the President wants rammed through before he has to be "Bi-partisan Bush".

More from Tim F., Billmon, NY Times, and Eugene Robinson.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Rumsfeldian Slip

The blogosphere is awash in commentary over the ouster of Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary yesterday. Many note that Bush admitted he lied to reporters last week about Rummy staying on until the end of his term. Others are curious what his replacement, Robert Gates, means for potential policy changes in Iraq.

Even though Bush says that Rummy's departure has nothing to do with Iraq, I don't think that is entirely true. The incongruity of Bush's pre and post election statements leads me to believe he had every intention of keeping Rummy around had the GOP won. Only after it became apparent that Democrats would be taking over Congress was the decision to throw him under the bus made. Without doubt, the prospect of subpoena wielding Democrats demanding answers on a litany of issues, particularly about how the Bush administration misled the nation to war, weighed heavily in the decision.

And the introduction of Robert Gates, a member of the Bush 41 clique, is a sure sign that as with his past failures, Poppy Bush's friends are once again coming to rescue his wayward son.

I guess Donald should just be thankful that Dick didn't invite him to join in on the VP's election day activity.

More from Glenn and Joe Gandelman.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rummy to go but no love for Joe

While I am a little surprised that Rumsfeld is stepping down, what really surprised me was the President's choice of former CIA Director Robert Gates to succeed him. Call me a cynic, but I half expected Bush to announce that Joe Lieberman would be taking over as Defense Secretary. As it stands now, control of the Senate is on a knife's edge. The Democrats have 48 seats and since it is believed that the two independents Lieberman and Sanders would caucus with the them, they essentially hold 50 seats. Virginia is yet to be decided but if it goes blue, the Dems would have the 51 seat majority they need to win control.

But if Lieberman were to except the position of Defense Secretary, he would be forced to give up his Senate seat. And guess who's duty it would then be to name a replacement? Republican governor M. Jodi Rell. So a Repub is named to replace Joe, giving the GOP 50 seats and with Cheney's tie breaking vote, the Senate would remain under GOP control.

But I guess even the Bushies realized that would have been too blatant a machination to go unnoticed.

(Conspiratorially filed at State of the Day)

BREAKING: Rummy No More?

The networks are going ballistic over a one line brief from the AP saying that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down.

President Bush is making his address about the election results and it is expected he will make this announcement. Stay Tuned...

Update 1:08 pm: It's official. Rummy's out, Robert Gates is in.

Opening The Files: The Morning After

A quick roundup of reactions to yesterday's vote.

Glenn Greenwald: The Great Victory.

Martin Kettle: America Has Spoken.

The Carpetbagger Report: Had Enough? Apparently So.

Robert Parry: American Voters Just Say No.

(Filed at State of the Day)


A Democratic Dawn

Yesterday America made a choice: change. Change from the failed course we have been lead down by a failed President and his rubberstamp enablers of yesteryear.

While celebration is warranted, we should not let down our guard. There will be many challenges ahead for this newly elected Congress. It is always difficult to exercise the checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution. But as our Fore Fathers understood all too well, the need for such checks and balances is paramount. Never was this more true than in the case of this president, who governs as if by fiat, ignoring the will of the people from whom he is suppose to derive his power.

Will we ever regain some semblance of what were once were? Only time will tell. Thankfully the people have decided that the ones who lead us astray will no longer continue to do so. Accepting that you have a problem is the first step on the road recovery.

Yesterday, we started that down that road. How far we get is still up to us.

More from DK.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Opening The Files: Election 2006

As voters head to the polls today, a lot more than just control of Congress is at stake. To put it bluntly, the soul of who we are as a nation rests in the hands of the people, as any true democracy should. But to the current crop of liars, thugs and criminals in our government, democracy is antipathy to their notion how they wish to rule. The will of the people be damned, as Cheney not so subtilely put it recently. What we want does not matter. War will continue to be waged against a country that did not threaten us. Americans and Iraqis will continue to die based on an ever evolving series of lies. Money will continue to be plundered from the national coffers to line the pockets of a select few, the debt bore on the backs of those yet to be born. Our rights will continue to be stripped from us, all under the pretense of the need for security.

Bush was wrong when he said that he's "The Decider". Today is our day to prove it.

The Anonymous Liberal: Some Advice on Election Day.

AMERICAblog: Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. And the elections.

Matthew Rothschild: Bush and Cheney and Their Disdain for Democracy.

James Carroll: What will it take to end war.

The Reaction: It's the war in Iraq.

No Quarter: Why Today Matters So Much.

Matthew Yglesias: The Morning After.

And finally from YouTube: Iraq, Broken (Warning: Graphic. But then reality always is.)

(Filed at State of the Day)


Olbermann: 'Making it up as you went along'

In a powerful Special Comment last night, Keith took President Bush to the mat over his continued game of rationale roulette. The latest round of which seems to be his most crude, or rather, about crude.


Monday, November 06, 2006

On Elections and Helpful Enemies

I have noticed a pattern emerging when it comes to fearmongering during campaign seasons. While most of the comments were delivered with a heavy dose of sarcasm, no doubt there were some who seriously expected Osama Bin Laden to come out of hiding and allow the GOP to ramp up the fear just prior to the elections. They are probably surprised the terrorist leader has apparently decided sit this one out.

But something else did happen. Saddam Hussein was thrust front and center. The timing of his conviction for war crimes has been heavily questioned in the liberal blogosphere. That Bush is now hailing the verdict at campaign speeches only cements the belief that this event was a "November Surprise" orchestrated by the administration. Then there is also the fact, as Creature points out, the verdict itself isn't even ready but they announced it on Sunday anyway.

Few, however, will note the sense of deja vu as it was four years ago that Saddam was again the focus of another congressional election. In October of 2002, President Bush presented a resolution for the use of military force in Iraq. Even though the resolution passed, Democratic opposition to the bill was used to oust them from power.

As we all know, that resolution was eventually used by President Bush to justify an invasion of Iraq in 2003. And while Saddam's regime was dispatched fairly quickly, as the months dragged on it soon became evident that there were no WMD's to be found.

With the 2004 presidential election fast approaching, Bush was hoping to ride on to electoral victory as a strong wartime leader. But his re-election bid faced a decisive challenge from Democratic Senator John Kerry. During the month of October, Kerry was gaining ground on Bush and a repeat of the 2000 debacle looked increasingly likely.

Then Osama showed up.

On October 29th, just four days before the election, Bin Laden released a videotape in which he rallied against President Bush. His words were seen by many as an endorsement of Kerry and as a result, Bush received a much needed boost in the polls. And while it was thought at the time that the tape was be an "October Surprise" designed to thwart the President's re-election, recently we've learned that the CIA concluded that the tape was in fact designed to help Bush win.

Given what we now know, it stands to reason that Osama's absence this election cycle could mean that he intends to bide his time until he is able to affect the 2008 presidential election. So it would seem that Saddam will have to do this time around again, though how likely this verdict is to have an effect on the electorate remains to be seen. Because despite what Cheney says, Osama only cares about helping the Decider.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Hunting With Dick

Vice Presidential hunt draws ire from rights groups.

WASHINGTON (XF) - The Xsociate Files has learned the details of a hunt to be attended by Vice President Dick Cheney on election day. According to a source within the White House who asked to remain anonymous, rather than hunt quail as he did on his last outing, Mr. Cheney intends to pursue game of a different sort. Namely, terrorism suspects from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The source tells XF that as many as a dozen men now held at the detention facility will be released onto a private game reserve where they will be hunted by the Vice President and several members of his family. Human rights groups have assailed the decision, calling the hunting of the men "beyond barbaric".

The White House shrugged off the criticisms, claiming that all of the men had been convicted of war crimes against the United States and sentenced to death.

"I know some are concerned about the manner in which we intend to carry out their sentence. But all of these men were tried and convicted by military commissions set up by legislation passed by the President. And even though the evidence against them is classified, we we can assure you that these men are guilty of something," White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said at a recent press gaggle.

"I guess Cheney got just a taste last time, now he wants to feel the thrill of the kill," one prominent critic of the administration said, referring to an incident last February in which a Texas lawyer was shot and wounded by the Vice President.

At press time, XF was unable to confirm whether Mr. Cheney's hunting trip is in any way related to White House plans for Thanksgiving.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Awaiting the Verdict

(Bumped and updated)

The world is waiting for the verdict to be handed down in the trial of Saddam Hussein. Baghdad is on alert, as a surge in violence is expected in what will almost certainly be a guilty verdict. But not to worry, the Bush administration is prepared. Not for the violence mind you, but the PR blitz. They have their talking points ready to be Xeroxed, distributed and repeated ad infinitum as part of Karl's 72 hour dash for the finish line. I sorely wish the Democrats had taken some stellar advice and deflated this balloon before the Repubs have a chance to cast it aloft. Because while justice may be served today for all the victims of Saddam's tyranny, if the GOP were to use this event for their own derisive purposes (say by casting the Democrats as opposing justice for the Iraqi people) would be appalling.

Of course the mainstream is decidedly missing in action, laughing off suggestions that the Bush administration had a hand in the timing of this. Yes, because everyone knows this administration would never do something as cynical as try to use the war in Iraq to their political benefit...

Update: The Gallows Beckon. As was expected, Saddam was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. I can almost hear the hum of the Xeroxes now...

Check out reactions from Josh, Jill, Maha, and Georgia10.

Update II: More from Riverbend, Peter Baker, Christy, and a nice bit of snark from Billmon.

Tortured Silence

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that the Bush administration is attempting to gag terrorism suspects who were held in CIA prisons. Seems the Bushies are worried the suspects will spill the beans about how the Bushies got them to spill the beans. They say that interrogation techniques are a state secret. Someone should remind Cheney.

For that matter, FOX News apparently didn't get the memo either as they had one of their reporters undergo a bit of 'waterboarding'. Then again, I doubt there will be much of a fuss made about it since they are devoting the rest of their programing schedule to the White House campaign.

And this whole issue of the need for secrecy seems rather irrelevant now that it appears that interrogations have become optional. I wonder if the torture is optional too?

Check out Kvatch, Meteor Blades, Kevin Drum, Carpetbagger, John Cole, and Tailrank has a roundup of more reactions.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Neo Culpas and Gin Rummy

Man, it's bad enough that the neocon architects of the Iraq war are throwing Bush under the bus, now Military Times is calling for Rummy's ouster. The Ross Report as the advance text and it's a real doozy.

For reactions to the neo-rats abandoning the SS Bush, see here. And for the Rummy Rout see here, here and here.

No Plan Man

President Bush has taken lately to characterizing the Democrats as lacking a plan to deal with Iraq. This is what he had to say at a recent campaign stop in Nevada:
Oh, I've heard the Democrats. I'm sure you have, too. If you listen for their plan on Iraq, they don't have one. On this crucial issue facing the country, they don't have a plan for victory.

But as some astute bloggers have noted, the Democrats have put forth plans for dealing with Iraq. Plans which were soundly rejected but a GOP-led Congress. For Bush to chastise the Democrats for lacking a plan now only helps to illustrate how bankrupt his own 'stay the course' policies really are. And given that a majority of Americans don't think the President has a plan either, Bush might want to lay off the whole "Democrats are the ones without a plan" talk.

It seems like a life time ago, and indeed for some it has been, but we are fast approaching the one year anniversary of Bush's "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq". Perhaps one reason why Bush does not bring up this "plan" is because it was little more then a masturbatory aid for his administration and it's few remaining supporters.

Another reason may be because since then over 800 more headstones have been added to Arlington and other cemeteries across the country.

President Bush called John Kerry's flubbed quip against him "insulting" to the troops. I would say that not having a plan is far more "insulting" to the troops than mere words could ever be.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Opening The Files: 11/03/06

Document Dump D'oh!

Even though Creature scooped me on this, I felt it too important to just let it be.

As you probably know, WMD's are once again in the media spotlight, though not in a way the Bush administration probably wants them to be. Last March, there was a big to do by conservative bloggers and politicians to make available a treasure trove of documents seized during the Iraq war. The Bush administration acquiesced, setting up a website where the public could peruse threw these documents in the hopes they would have better luck finding evidence of Saddam's ties to Al-Qaeda and weapons programs.

Turns out it might not have been such a good idea. As the NY Times reported, documents pertaining to Iraq's pre-Gulf War I research into nuclear weapons could be used as a guide to building a bomb. Whoopsie! The site as since been shut down but there is no telling who may have had access.

Then again, this revelation might not be all bad. In addition to having a chance to decry the NY Times yet again, right-wing bloggers are seizing on this as vindication of Bush's decision to invade. One particularly muddled paragraph buried in the Times piece as the righties wetting themselves with joy:
Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away. (emphasis mine)

As Cernig and Hilzoy point out, some reading comprehension is clearly called for. Of course a little thing like comprehension won't stop the 101st Fighting Keyboardists. I just love how the righties are harping on justifications for the last war (which we are still fighting, BTW) and remaining silent about future ones that, thanks to this, may include nuclear weapons.

But maybe that's the point. Bush can now use this fowl up as one of the many excuses for why we need to bomb Iran.

This article is getting a lot of attention (as well it should) from both left and right Blogistan. Check out Memorandum and Tailrank for roundups.

Lamentedly "Tone" Deaf.

President Bush sat down with Sean Hannity and said that he doesn't like the 'tone' in Washington DC. "[..] I really don’t think it’s fitting for the president to drag the presidency into that kind of a mudslinging," said Bush speaking of the derisive rhetoric this campaign season.

Think Progress has video of the Mudslinger-in-Chief helping to contribute to that 'tone' he so dislikes. Carpetbagger has even more examples of Bush getting his hands dirty.

Bush says he's "never really resorted to name calling". Shakes says its no wonder, since he has so many toadies to do it for him.

Eugene Robinson wonders how low can Bush go? Pretty low it would seem.

And if you haven't already done so, check out Keith's latest.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Thursday, November 02, 2006

War on the Press Part MCLXIV

I wasn't surprised when I saw this FOX News headline in my feed reader. As is always the case whenever news that is damaging to the Bush administration is revealed, their is always need for an investigation of how that information came to be reported. Yes, far easier to stifle the truth rather than face it.

And people wonder why we only rank 53rd in freedom of the press.

Glenn has more.

Bonehead Boehner

By now you've probably heard what House Majority Leader John Boehner had to say yesterday about who's really to blame for the failures in Iraq. (emphasis mine)
Boehner: Wolf, I understand that, but let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer: But he's in charge of the military.

Boehner: But the fact is the generals on the ground are in charge and he works closely with them and the president.

Unlike the Kerry kerfluffle, Boehner wasn't kidding around when he made these comments. You can view the video of them here.

Now some will no doubt say that Boehner wasn't blaming the failures in Iraq on the generals. And they would be right if we inhabited the same world that Bush, Boehner et al inhabit. Cause you see in their world, there have been no failures in Iraq. Everything is going remarkably well. Rummy is doing a fantastic job.

Unfortunately in our world, the real world, things are not going remarkably well. Iraq is in turmoil and only getting worse. The situation has gotten so bad that Bush is now abandoning our troops to the militias. And the GOP were worried about a 'botched joke'?

Even though high ranking Democrats have called on Boehner to apologize (eliciting a "you're just trying to change the subject" response from the Congressman's camp), somehow I doubt the "liberal" media will be as exuberant to run with this for several news-cycles as they were with Kerry's failed attempt at stand-up.

Because the last thing anyone, most of all the Republicans, want to talk about right now is the reality that is Iraq.

More reactions from Tim Grieve, Steve Soto, Josh, Georgia10, and Jill.

(Filed at State of the Day)

'Deeply Concerned'

President Bush is desperate. Opposition to the Iraq war is at an all time high and the war has become the issue most prevalent in the minds of voters as they head to the polls. Americans are tired of the game of rationale roulette used to justify our continued presence. Bush has become so desperate that he has resorted to using the one excuse he would rather not have to. Because it is in fact the real reason we invaded and continue to stay: oil.

The excuse that we must stay in Iraq to keep the terrorists from taking control of the oil has seen limited use before. But as support for the war dwindled, it become a stock talking point whenever Bush would list the consequences if the US were to withdraw from Iraq.

The latest utterance came when Bush sat down with Rush Limpdick. (via Raw Story)
"Give me a second here, Rush, because I want to share something with you," Bush said. "I am deeply concerned about a country, the United States, leaving the Middle East."

Bush said that he was "worried that rival forms of extremists will battle for power, obviously creating incredible damage if they do so; that they will topple modern governments, that they will be in a position to use oil as a tool to blackmail the West."

"People say, 'What do you mean by that?'" The president continued. "I say, 'If they control oil resources, then they pull oil off the market in order to run the price up, and they will do so unless we abandon Israel, for example, or unless we abandon allies.'"

What particularly irks me about this whole affair (aside from Bush admitting the war in Iraq is about oil) is the fact that the mainstream media all but ignores comments like this. I know the conventional wisdom is that America would never do such a thing as invade another country just for it's resources. But when the President is all but admitting that we are staying to protect the oil, it's hard to square that with the conventional wisdom.

Face it, the only thing that Bush is 'deeply concerned' about is making sure his buddies in Big Oil can continue to reap ridiculously large profits. And if that means the blood of Americans and Iraqis will continue to stain the sands so long as access to the oil which lies beneath is not interrupted, then so be it.

More from Carpetbagger.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Charting The Chaos Course

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While everyone is so worried about Kerry's "stuck in Iraq" remarks, the NY Times reminds us just what it is we find ourselves "stuck" in. And even though my little bit of Photoshoppery above is not exactly representative of the situation, it might as well be. Because while Repubs and Dems are squabbling about who really supports the troops, Iraq is descending into chaos. Obviously the current course isn't working and despite their protestations to the contrary, the Bush administration has every intention of staying on it.

More from Attaturk, Georgia10, Christy, The Heretik, elrod, and Carpetbagger.

Update: As if to prove my point that Bush has every intention of staying the course, he today said that Rummy and Dick would be with him until the bitter end. Andrew Sullivan put it best when it said this election shouldn't be considered a referendum but an intervention.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Kerry Kerfluffle

Of all the idiotic things to do right before what is probably the most important election in US history, Sen. John Kerry's 'botched joke' probably ranks among the worst. And even though many are cheering Kerry's sudden development of a pair in defending himself, the damage has already been done. We all know how adept the Rovian propagandists are. They had almost 24 hours to cement the image that Kerry (and by extension the Democrats) think American troops are stupid (while Bush and the GOP think they're 'plenty smart') in the minds of voters. No amount of ballsy talk from Kerry now will help fend off questions posed to every Democrat running for office that will invariably start with "Well, Sen. Kerry said...".

And Kerry's "but I was really calling Bush an idiot" defense was itself an idiotic excuse. We already know how much of an idiot the President is. We don't need your snide comments to remind us of that.

So do us all a favor, Senator, leave the stand-up to the professionals and just sit this one out okay?

More from Arianna, A.L., Maha, reality-based educator, Michael Stickings and Carpetbagger.