Saturday, March 31, 2007

President Bush tries out his latest routine

The Costanza Doctrine

(Filed at State of the Day)


I am Joe Blow

In honor of Michelle Malkin's "I am John Doe" pledge (h/t Chris Kelly)

Dear Muslim/Liberal Plotter/Planner/Funder/Enabler/Apologist,

I am Joe Blow.

I do not like you on my planes. I do not like you on my trains. I do like you on my bus, it makes me want to scream and cuss. I do not like you in my car. Nor do I like anyone in Tal Afar.

I do not like you in my government, to whose will we must submit. I do not like you in my country, for it is for me and not for thee.

I do not like your Sharia ways, I’m waitin’ for the end of days.

I do not like how you get your kicks, but at least you aren’t a bunch of spicks.


Joe Blow

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Mix Master J responds to MC Rove

Crooks and Liars has that beat, yo.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Suddenly Genuflecting to Geneva

Tensions between Iran and the West continue to mount. Britain suspended all talks until the return of their compatriots seized last week. Prime Minister Tony Blair was indignant, vowing to "ratchet up" the pressure on Tehran until the sailors are returned and the issue has now been referred to the UN Security Council. And as if things weren't precarious enough, we had Bush flexin' some Navy muscle in the Gulf. Man, it's almost as if he is trying to provoke a war or something...

But what I find most interesting about this whole situation is the lengths some will resort to in order to foment a conflict with Iran they so pine for without noting any sense of irony in their protestations. Yesterday, Iran released video of the captive sailors, including footage of the lone female in the group wearing a traditional Islamic Hijab or headscarf. Cries of foul rang forth, with some claiming that the video is against the Geneva Conventions which forbids such displays. What I wish to know is where were similar cries of outrage when Saddam Hussein was paraded before the cameras (in his underwear no less) for all to see. Oh yea, that's right. That was our doing, so that must make it OK, Geneva being "quaint" and all.

As I have discussed previously, this is one of the consequences of the Bush administration's circumvention of Geneva. Historically the US has always set the standard for what was expectable on the world stage. The same still holds true today, though in a far different context.

More from Cernig and Meteor Blades.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

First Aid Fido

Pooch gets physician position.

WASHINGTON (XF) - In an unusual move, the White House has announced that a dog will become a member of the staff at the Walter Reed Medical Center The Xsociate Files has learned.

According to an anonymous source, the hiring was prompted by reports that Toby, a 2 year old golden retriever, saved the life of her owner by performing the Heimlich maneuver when she began choking on an piece of apple. Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said that President Bush was so impressed by the heroism of the shaggy savior that he felt compelled to offer the Heimliching hound a position as "honorary physician" at Walter Reed.

While the title is considered to be unofficial, critics of the administration claim that the move is in actually in response to reports of a lack of adequate personnel to care for wounded veterans returning home from combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They are so desperate for anyone with even the slightest bit of medical training, they're willing to let the place go to the dogs," one political analyst is quoted as saying.

(Filed at State of the Day)


More non-binding BS

I'm trying to think of something meaningful to write on the news that the Senate voted to keep a timeline provision in the supplemental spending bill. As much as I would like to get fired up over what many are calling a pivotal vote on the war, one word that kept cropping up in news accounts gives me this strange feeling of deja vu: non-binding.

From what I understand, unlike last week's House vote which had firm language calling for withdrawal by the later half of 2008, the Senate provision is much more flexible (text of relevant sections of both bills here). And as we've all come to know how the Bush administration operations, give them flexible and they will contort it to the point of breaking and beyond. I know many are expecting Bush to carry out his veto threat should any withdrawal provision make it into the final bill. But I think its far more likely that just as with the resolution condemning the troop surge in Iraq, Bush and his GOP allies will latch onto this non-binding aspect as well. They need this money to keep their war going, a fact they keep harping on to get Democrats to back down. So they will make a point of how the provision is non-binding and thus meaningless in the long run. Heck, they'd probably tack on a signing statement for good measure.

I would have thought the Congress had learned their lesson when it comes to passing non-binding resolutions. Apparently not.

More from Big Tent Democrat, The Talking Dog, Michael J.W. Stickings, and Alexander Melonas.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Some things do not discriminate

And one of those is cancer.

Of all the diseases to afflict mankind, cancer is perhaps the most dreaded of all. Perhaps it is because of its suddenness, striking down healthy individuals seemingly at random. Or perhaps it is the idea of your body literally devouring itself that makes many fearful whenever a lump or mysterious pain surfaces. I know what it is like to live in the shadow of cancer. I watched my grandparents slowly succumb to the disease and my father develop it as well. He survived his run in with "The Big C" but now he must remain watchful. I can not imagine what that must be like, worried that the next ache or pain could signal the return of a disease that claims so many each and every day.

Which is why I was appalled by reactions of some on the right when John and Elizabeth Edwards announced that her cancer had returned but that it would not keep them from campaigning for the presidency. Among the most vocal of detractors was conservative Rush Limbaugh who has basically accused the Edwardses of using Elizabeth's illness to garner pity votes. Such rhetoric is par for the course for Limbaugh since he has shown he is not above leveling attacks at those who are (at least physically) weaker than him.

But now that we learn that White House Press Secretary Tony Snow has also been stricken with a resurgence of cancer, I doubt we will hear the same sorts of vile and demeaning attacks of how "selfish" he would be should he decide to carry on in his duties. Such silence is as it should be. Some things do not discriminate. Compassion should be one of them.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Opening The Files: 03/27/07

I'll have a shot of 5th on the rocks.

Purgegate just got a lot more interesting now that a top aide of Gonzales, Monica Goodling, has pled the 5th and refused to testify before Congress. There's a debate going on about whether or not Goodling can invoke such a right. But one thing is certain: there are probably quite a few Bushies out there downing a fifth over this pleading of the Fifth since this twist now implies possible criminal conduct, protestations from Gonzo notwithstanding. I guess all this pleadin' is what happens when you have a staff unwilling to take the fall for the fall guy.

And how convenient is it that the Bushies should discover the Bill of Rights right when they appear to need it. Once the subpoenas start flying, I wonder how soon it will be before others in the Bush gang start puckering up for a sip from the 5th amendment chalice.

Oliver Willis has some simple advice for Repubs worried about incriminating themselves.

Taylor Marsh says Gonzo-gate has moved into mob territory. PM Carpenter suggests BushCo's shoddy cover-up job is an insult to gangsterdom. And Frank Rich, meanwhile, wonders when Al is gonna get whacked.

Ben Schwartz has an idea for a reality show based on the Bush administration.

Tom Burka reports of other White House officials following Goodling's lead.

And Sandy Levinson says Monica should be given immunity because if "it was good enough for the first Monica, it should be good enough for the second". By the way, what is up with DC scandals and women named Monica?

(Filed at State of the Day)

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Warring like it's 1979

I have been hesitant to blog about the capture of 15 British sailors by Iran the other day because I would like to remain hopeful that this incident is not used as some pseudo-causus belli for the warmongers in this administration, which most likely it would have had it been US forces seized as Ted notes. In that sense we are fortunate, though that is not to say we should make light the seriousness of the situation. This has the potential to spiral out of control very quickly. I for one hope that it can be settled without anyone coming to blows and see the safe return of the sailors. Of course such concerns seem to matter little to the right wing blogs and their compatriots in the media who have been practically wargasming over the prospect of being able to finally settle the score vis-a-vis the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.

These proponents of a war with Iran no doubt also suffer from what Robert Parry calls "tough-guy-ism" or the propensity to wish to settle grievances through conflict and to fight on no matter how ill-advised or damaging such a conflict may be. The truly scary part is that the people who run our government are also among the afflicted.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Zbigniew Brzezinski has an excellent op-ed in the Washington Post detailing the problems with the "war on terror" phrase and how it may have in fact hindered our ability to affectively combat terrorism. Here's the lede:
The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.

Be sure to read the rest. Brzezinski goes on to discuss how the usage of such vague language may have been deliberate, so as to place the US in constant state of perpetual fear to be exploited by the Bush administration and which has only been reinforced by our hysterical need for "security". But one could argue that this one phrase has actually done more harm to our efforts in this area. For it has been used not only to justify a war of aggression and occupation that has increased the threat of future acts of terrorism but also a litany of other offenses that tarnish the image of America around the world, from torture and indefinite detention to all but the complete abrogation of the rule of law.

The War on Terror has indeed done it's job.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Dick Cheney: Perpetuating the "myth"

Shooter tried to pull a Harry Whittington on Congress yesterday. Too bad the barrel of his rhetoric rifle was plugged. I particularly like how the VP was apparently able to deliver this line with a straight face:
Cheney called it a myth that "one can support the troops without giving them the tools and reinforcements they need to carry out their mission."

He ought to know a thing or two about that "myth".

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Going, Going, Gonzo...

Well now we know why there was that mysterious 18 day "gap" in the emails of Monday's docudump.

From Friday's dump via the AP:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several U.S. attorneys in an hourlong meeting last fall, according to documents released Friday that indicate he was more involved in the dismissals than he has claimed.

Last week, Gonzales said he "was not involved in any discussions about what was going on" in the firings of eight prosecutors that has since led to a political firestorm and calls for his ouster.

A Nov. 27 meeting, in which the attorney general and at least five top Justice Department officials participated, focused on a five-step plan for carrying out the firings of the prosecutors, Gonzales' aides said late Friday.

Personally I don't know why anyone would be surprised to learn that Gonzales had been less than forthcoming with the truth. His "don't blame me, I just work here" excuse last week suggested that either he was a) so oblivious to the goings on around him at the DOJ that he did even know what his immediate staff was doing or b) he saw that all eyes were being drawn to him because of the shit storm over the firings that he wish to absolve himself of involvement in an attempt to save his job. We now know it was option two.

Which also makes me wonder how much this latest revelation has to do with ultimately protecting Rove. President Bush seemingly threw Gonzo a life preserver the other day in vouching support for his embattled AG. Now I wonder if it might have been filled with lead.

Josh Marshall has the serious and SpinDentist the snark.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Waiting for the purse snatching

Like Creature, I'm a bit ambivalent about today's House vote. While it certainly is a victory for Speaker Pelosi, it's likely to be short lived as President Pissypants reiterated his vow to veto. My guess is he's probably hoping his allies in the Senate will have a better chance of killing the bill where there is an even more tenuous chance of passage. I wouldn't put it past the Repubs to find some way to strip the deadline provision from the text altogether just so Bush could then ratify it even though it didn't pass both houses (hey, he's done it before).

But what if the Senate does, through some miracle of bi-partisan gymnastics, manage to pass the bill as is as well? Would Bush actually make good his veto threat? Wouldn't that pretty much amount to him ripping up the check for his war?

To me, a far more likely scenario is that Bush will appear to acquiesce, perhaps make some show of signing the bill in a bit of "bi-partisan" good faith while secretly amending a signing statement after the cameras have been turned off nullifying the deadline provision. By the time anyone notices, the money will have been spent and Bush will be requesting another X number of billions to keep his war going until he can pass the buck (and the bill) on to the next poor schlep to occupy the presidency.

More from Ron Chusid, BooMan, Hilzoy, Hoffmania, Carpetbagger, and Jeff Huber.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Snowjob: Oversight, Shmoversight

So Tony Snowjob doesn't think the Congress has any oversight authority over the executive branch. I guess all those congressional committees and hearings are all just for show, a chance for legislators to primp and preen for the cameras without really getting anything done. I know that's how it was during Republican rule, but the Democrats are taking that whole "oversight" thing a little more seriously.

As far as Tony and the White House is concerned, Congress' only job is to open up the treasury checkbook whenever the Decider needs an extension on his war allowance. But now that it is beginning to assert itself as the co-equal branch that it is, look for more of these "Congress has limited ability" memes to keep popping up for the next two years.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

You got served

Okay, technically not yet but the klieg lights are being prepped. Despite Bush's blustering at his petulant presser yesterday, a House subcommittee today approved the use of subpoenas to compel testimony and documents. Good on them. We're long overdue for shining some light on what lurks in the shadows of this administration.

Opening The Files: 03/21/07

Gone Fishin'

So the Decider told Congress to go Cheney themselves yesterday with regards to top aides testifying on the Purgegate scandal. He said he would not allow Rove, Miers et al to be part of the "partisan fishing expedition" being conducted by Congress. Funny, since some would say that is a far more accurate description of the White House's efforts to stock the DOJ livewell with only GOPer lovin' guppies.

But the Bushies did say they would allow Karl and Harriett to give interviews which would, given their list of demands, be about as trustworthy as a constitutional amendment written in invisible ink. And speaking of which, the Senate voted a whopping 94-2 to make the provision that started this whole sorry episode disappear.

Some sort of showdown in the courts is almost certain since neither Bush nor the Democrats look likely to back down, which is probably what BushCo are hoping for. Nothing like a prolonged legalese court proceeding to make the public lose interest and/or run out the clock.

Also interesting to watch will be how supporters of the administration will frame this defiance. No doubt some of the same people who were once clamoring for subpoenas for every White House aide all the way down to presidential dog walker during the Clinton years will either be strangely silent or will proclaim Bush has every right to resist this "fishing".

In any event, something tells me we're gonna need a bigger boat.

Many expect Bush to invoke "executive privilege" to keep his people from having to testify. Glenn reminds us how well that worked out for previous administrations.

Great analysis from Cernig on how Dubya's coupling of a double dog dare with his "reasonable" offer seems to be an attempt to setup Congress for the coming constitutional crisis.

Kagro X examines the game that Bush might be playing.

Steve Soto says Bush was the one caught fishing. Now he's just trying to hide the rod and reel.

Bryan Young on Bush v. Democracy.

And The Anonymous Liberal says that the White House's offer sounds like something from a Mel Gibson movie. Bush certainly is a "Bird on a Wire" hoping to hold us "Ransom".

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What a dump

As Creature noted, the DOJ plopped down a massive docu-dump yesterday, perhaps in an effort to keep meticulous bloggers busy reading seemingly innocuous emails while the truly juicy stuff heads for the shredder (recycle bin?). But there are some things starting to emerge, such as that the federal prosecutor who just sent Scooter Libby up the river was also on the administration's "not loyal enough" list.
U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald was ranked among prosecutors who had "not distinguished themselves" on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005, when he was in the midst of leading the CIA leak investigation that resulted in the perjury conviction of a vice presidential aide, administration officials said yesterday.

The ranking placed Fitzgerald below "strong U.S. Attorneys . . . who exhibited loyalty" to the administration but above "weak U.S. Attorneys who . . . chafed against Administration initiatives, etc.," according to Justice documents.

I wonder what was happening in 2005 that might have "chafed against administration initiatives". What, oh what could it be...

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tale of two headlines

Bush Warns U.S. Security Will Suffer if Troops Withdraw From Iraq.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq May Not Be Threat Here.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Four Years On

Today marks the end of the fourth year of our occupation of Iraq. Since President Bush launched this ill-conceived bid to secure his legacy as a 'war president', over 3200 American soldiers have died, as have countless Iraqis in the civil war our toppling of the former regime unleashed. All reasons for why turned about to be lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction or links to Al-Qaeda. We continue to be lied to, most recently about the so-called 'surge' which looks to be more of a slow escalation. Our presence has not made us any safer from terrorism and has in fact increased the threat.

For the soldiers fighting who return wounded, some face deplorable conditions during their convalescence and miles of red tape and bureaucratic hurdles. Still others who would otherwise be unfit to do so are being sent back to the killing sands. The repeated and over extended deployments of our forces have left the military ill-prepared to respond to other conflicts, all in a vain attempt to keep Bush from having to face the reality that his war was lost before it ever began.

There are many lessons to be learned from our misadventure in Iraq, and not just the insouciant ones put forth by some of the administration's most vehement supporters.

More commentary from Ayub Nuri, Fixer, Michael Linn Jones and Arianna has a roundup at her place.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Opening The Files: Scandalicious Edition

The Austin Apple Dumpling Gang rides again

Fallout from Purgegate continues unabated. After the piss poor excuses from Alberto "El Hombre" Gonzales the other day, we now learn more about just how involved Bush's Brain really was in the affair. Turns out that it wasn't just Harriet "Anne Oakley" Miers who suggested a mass firin' of US attorneys but The Rove Gunman was also gunning for it. And all the while, George "Slim Pickens" Bush was busy playing with his peashooters celebratin' his mandate with destiny.

The scandal parade reached trifecta status with word that Alberto may have gotten a DOJ investigation of himself shutdown. Will he pull a Lone Ranger and ride off into the sunset or go down with guns a blazin'?

Leahy get your gun.

Will Durst says our Justice Department has turned it into the "Just Us" department. And by us, we mean them.

Sidney Blumenthal notes that all roads in the back alley Beltway have a common destination.

Eugene Robinson has a memo for Al.

The Heretik teaches us about operas and low notes. Or something.

Hunter says that the Gang was just implementing the agenda we all know they care about most.

Old Blue caters us with a rousing rendition of Dem Bones - Bush Style. So many skeletons...

And Cenk Uygur says that while Kyle Sampson may have been designated to wear the red shirt, this Sci-fi script calls for more than just the untimely end of an unknown extra.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Thursday, March 15, 2007

The hits keep coming

Now we learn via Murray Waas that Abu Gonzales may have had an internal investigation of the NSA spying program squashed after he learned he was likely to be the focus of said investigation. How soon do you think it'll be before Torture Boy decides it's time he spent more time with his family?

Update: I can't be the only one who noticed the subtle irony of the whole Purgegate - KSM headline bait and switch. Consider that in order to deflect attention away from Gonzo's actions in the attorney purge, the Bushies chose to trot out the confession of a man whose subjection to torture leaves the reliability of his claims very much in doubt. And one of the men principally responsible for the use of that torture?

Alberto Gonzales.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Curious confession confounds captors.

WASHINGTON (XF) - The Xsociate Files has obtained a copy of a classified portion of the confession by suspected terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed revealing his involvement in the 9/11 attacks and scores of others. But details in the classified portion seem to call into question the validity of his statements because he also confessed to a litany of other seemingly implausible offenses, including the plots to assassinate presidents Kennedy and Lincoln.

Critics of the administration state this news as a prime example of why torture, which Mohammed had reportedly been subjected to during his confinement at secret CIA run prisons overseas, is an unreliable method of gathering intelligence. The administration denies that torture took place, saying that so called "enhanced interrogation techniques" are sometimes required for high value detainees trained to resist standard interrogation tactics. But critics remain unconvinced.

"More often then not they are just saying what you wanna hear," said one intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They'd confess to being the Tooth Fairy if it meant stopping whatever was causing them pain or discomfort."

Among the other things that Mohammed confessed to were being Jack the Ripper, The Zodiac Killer and the real father of Anna Nichole Smith's baby.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Purgegate and NSA spying: Pieces of a larger plot?

On more than one occasion, I have put forth my belief that the Bush administration sought to keep their activities regarding the warrantless wiretapping scandal a secret was because the surveillance may have had far more to do with the political leanings of the individuals being surveilled then whether or not they had any links to terror. As the Purgegate scandal has progressed, it has only solidified those beliefs.

As Christopher Hayes says, it's merely a matter of connecting the dots.
As the details of the US attorney purge leak out, it's clear that the Bush administration sought to convert the Justice Department into a partisan sledgehammer reminiscent of the way Nixon subverted the machinery of the state to pursuing his own petty vendettas. So here's the next question: We know that the administration has the power to wiretap any American it wants. Back during the Nixon administration, the White House used similar powers to spy on political enemies. Has the Bush administration done the same? As of now there's no evidence that they have, but given their record, and the hyper partisan mo that the most recent scandal is illuminating, it seems like a perfectly reasonable question to ask.

Reasonable indeed. As several irate bloggers have noted, the Bushies used the Patriot Act, a piece of legislation we were told was vital to our anti-terrorism efforts, for decidedly non-terrorism related causes. Who's to say that the warrantless spying was not used in a similar fashion?

Perhaps its time someone asked.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

From the makers of 'Mission Accomplished', 'New Way Forward' and 'The Surge' comes...

The iRack!

Mistakes, I've passively made a few...

The gang up on Gonzales continues as new revelations in the Purgegate saga surfaced yesterday. TPMmuckraker had a helpful synopsis of the backstory for those who, like me, are just now getting caught up to speed on the controversy. Gonzo appeared before the cameras to emote the classic 'mistakes were made' excuse, despite mounting evidence that these purges were deliberately coordinated from the get go. And quite a few bloggers were far from passive on the passive voice refrain. He also has a funny way of claiming responsibility since he seems to be dumping the whole mess on the shoulders of his now departed chief of staff and claiming ignorance of what his underlings were doing.

Still the White House professed their undying support for the beleaguered AG. I have a feeling Al might want to start working on his resume.

Lots more Gonzo grievances from Meme.

Postscript: A theme is emerging on the rightie blogs that the Bushies didn't do anything wrong because Bill Clinton had a similar purge of his own when he came into office. That whole "Bill did it too!" shtick is getting kinda old guys.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Opening The Files: 03/13/07

Undermining Reality

Vice President Dick Cheney appeared at the American Israeli Political Action Committee conference yesterday in which, surprise, surprise, he whipped out the same old tired rhetoric about how Democrats are unsupportive of the troops and rooting for the terr'sts to win in Iraq. Anyone else think that the troops have had quite enough of Cheney's idea of what support means?

Creature already voiced his disdain of the Veep's regurgitations. But then what do you expect of Dick "The Colon" Cheney?

Larry Johnson gives us a lesson in twisted logic. Time for a sub.

Jeffery Feldman on how truly violent Cheney's rhetoric has become and how much the media goes out of its way to avoid reporting it.

Mustang Bobby notes that Dastardly Dick has learned a new buzz phrase.

And Kevin Hayden examines Cheney's claims about what the terrorists want and how little divergence there is between the two's aims.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Hypocrite, thy name is O'Reilly

I had the misfortune to catch one of Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points segments tonight (video here) in which he makes light of the joke about Sen. Barack Obama that his boss, Roger Ailes, made at a recent gathering of radio bigwigs. He points out that the joke was directed primarily at President Bush and that internet "propagandists" are the ones pushing it as a slur against Obama.

You will of course recall this is the exact opposite of how O'Reilly and other right wing talking heads attempted to spin the botched joke that Sen. John Kerry told last October. Then it was the mainstream media who was trying to squash the issue of Kerry's supposed maligning bon mot, even though a careful reading of his words show that it too was a joke directed at Bush.

But all but calling Obama a terrorist, a joke that was in no way botched, is A-OK by O'Reilly's standards.

Why does that not surprise me?

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, March 12, 2007

You're never too injured

Seems as though the surge in Iraq is going so well that not only do we need to make it even surgeier but we are so hard pressed for warm bodies that the Bushies are sending injured soldiers back to the front lines.
As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.

And how do Army officials determine these soldiers are fighting fit and ready to be deployed? Do they give them thorough medical exams and physicals? Nope. They're fit because the Bushies say they are.
On Feb. 15, Master Sgt. Jenkins and 74 other soldiers with medical conditions from the 3rd Division's 3rd Brigade were summoned to a meeting with the division surgeon and brigade surgeon. These are the men responsible for handling each soldier's "physical profile," an Army document that lists for commanders an injured soldier's physical limitations because of medical problems -- from being unable to fire a weapon to the inability to move and dive in three-to-five-second increments to avoid enemy fire. Jenkins and other soldiers claim that the division and brigade surgeons summarily downgraded soldiers' profiles, without even a medical exam, in order to deploy them to Iraq. It is a claim division officials deny.

And for those of you who might be thinking these troops are complaining about minor injuries like stubbed toes or bone spurs, think again. Some are so injured they can't even wear protective gear (if they are even issued any of course).
Master Sgt. Jenkins, 42, has a degenerative spine problem and a long scar down the back of his neck where three of his vertebrae were fused during surgery. He takes a cornucopia of potent pain pills. His medical records say he is "at significantly increased risk of re-injury during deployment where he will be wearing Kevlar, body armor and traveling through rough terrain."...

One female soldier with psychiatric issues and a spine problem has been in the Army for nearly 20 years. "My [health] is deteriorating," she said over dinner at a restaurant near Fort Benning. "My spine is separating. I can't carry gear." Her medical records include the note "unable to deploy overseas." Her status was also reviewed on Feb. 15. And she has been ordered to Iraq this week...

The captain interviewed by Salon also requested anonymity because he fears retribution. He suffered a back injury during a previous deployment to Iraq as an infantry platoon leader. A Humvee accident "corkscrewed my spine," he explained. Like the female soldier, he is unable to wear his protective gear, and like her he too was ordered to Iraq after his meeting with the division surgeon and brigade surgeon on Feb. 15. He is still at Fort Benning and is fighting the decision to send him to Baghdad. "It is a numbers issue with this whole troop surge," he claimed. "They are just trying to get those numbers."...

More from BarbinMD.

(Filed at State of the Day)

We sent a soldier when we should have sent a cop

Cernig links to an article in the Observer highlighting the misgivings that Army officials are having about our effectiveness at combating the Iraqi insurgency.
In a bleak analysis, senior officers described the fighters they were facing in Iraq and Afghanistan 'as smart, agile and cunning'.

In Vietnam, the US was eventually defeated by a well-armed, closely directed and highly militarised society that had tanks, armoured vehicles and sources of both military production and outside procurement. What is more devastating now is that the world's only superpower is in danger of being driven back by a few tens of thousands of lightly armed irregulars, who have developed tactics capable of destroying multimillion-dollar vehicles and aircraft.

By contrast, the US military is said to have been slow to respond to the challenges of fighting an insurgency. The senior officers described the insurgents as being able to adapt rapidly to exploit American rules of engagement and turn them against US forces, and quickly disseminate ways of destroying or disabling armoured vehicles.

The military is also hampered in its attempts to break up insurgent groups because of their 'flat' command structure within collaborative networks of small groups, making it difficult to target any hierarchy within the insurgency.

Reading this got me thinking about my reactions to promos for Ted Koppel's special "Our Children's Children's War". I have not seen the program and can't comment on it directly but my first thoughts on seeing the ads were "great, more porn for the Long War crowd".

This has been something that has always irked me about the Bush administration and its supporters. They always try to control the debate about the war in Iraq by framing it as part of the larger war on terror. But few, if any, will ever point out that that is only the case because we made it so. We removed Saddam from power and by doing so, opened up the country to Al-Qaeda and any other terrorist organization looking to hone their deadly tradecraft in a real world laboratory. And while our fighting men and women are trying to tamp down on the bloodshed in the Sunni/Shia fight for supremacy, Bin Laden gets to celebrate another birthday free.

I have never been comfortable with characterizing the fight against terrorism as a "war" to begin with. Perhaps because for the most part this "war" will be fought not by soldiers on some distance battlefield but by police and intelligence professionals on the streets of cities throughout the world (case in point). And while there are times when a military response is called for, to me, our misadventure in Iraq best illustrates the folly of trying to send a solider to do a policemen's job.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

NYT: Eighty-six Alberto

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been taking a lot heat over the firing of eight federal prosecutors and the admission of lawbreaking on the part of the FBI this past week.

The NY Times editorial board sees fit to pile on:
During the hearing on his nomination as attorney general, Alberto Gonzales said he understood the difference between the job he held — President Bush’s in-house lawyer — and the job he wanted, which was to represent all Americans as their chief law enforcement officer and a key defender of the Constitution. Two years later, it is obvious Mr. Gonzales does not have a clue about the difference.

The piece goes on to list the litany of scandals the AG has had a hand in, from warrantless wiretapping to torture. It reads like an indictment, calling for a remedy which the NYT wholeheartedly advocates.
We opposed Mr. Gonzales’s nomination as attorney general. His résumé was weak, centered around producing legal briefs for Mr. Bush that assured him that the law said what he wanted it to say. More than anyone in the administration, except perhaps Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Gonzales symbolizes Mr. Bush’s disdain for the separation of powers, civil liberties and the rule of law.

On Thursday, Senator Arlen Specter, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, hinted very obliquely that perhaps Mr. Gonzales’s time was up. We’re not going to be oblique. Mr. Bush should dismiss Mr. Gonzales and finally appoint an attorney general who will use the job to enforce the law and defend the Constitution.

If Karl Rove is Bush's Brain (and whose recent affirmations makes one question the wisdom of such a claim) then Alberto can best be described as Bush's Liver. For it is he who as served as the organ through which has been filtered the numerous excuses and justifications for some of the worst behavior of this administration. The NY Times is right that it is time for a transplant.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

ATHF vs. 24

Jack Bauer takes on the Mooninite menace.

Why Oversight is Crucial

Yesterday the blogosphere was buzzing over a report from the DOJ's Inspector General documenting abuses, misuses and just plain shoddy paperwork by the FBI with regards to so-called National Security Letters or NSL's. Several bloggers tied this report with a signing statement issued last March that seemed to vitiate oversight provisions appended to the Patriot Act when it was reauthorized and surmised that Bush had in effect "violated the very provisions which the President proclaimed he could violate."

That conclusion is not entirely accurate says mspicata at Daily Kos. According to him/her, the Justice Department did in fact follow the provisions because they covered issuance of the Inspector General's report itself. So really this report can be chalked up as a win for oversight proponents because it shows why it is so desperately needed. But as mspicata also notes, there is still more questions left to be answered.
We have one of two possibilities here. Either Bush is full of it when he appends these signing statements; or, more ominously, he followed the signing statement exactly, and excluded information as he said he would.

If what's reported to us is bad enough, imagine what might not be reported. Don't you think Congress and the media should be asking the Administration what they excluded from the report?

Curing What Ailes You

Sorry I have been rather remiss in my blogging duties the last couple of days but sometimes you just need a break from it all otherwise you'd go stark raving mad. Not that there hasn't been much to discuss this week. There was the news that the temporary surge in Iraq might not be temporary nor a surge. There was the binding resolutions put forth by the Democrats calling for extricating ourselves from the conflict and the predictable threat of veto by President Bush.

But I couldn't pass up the chance to get in on the developing brouhaha over Fox News co-founder Roger Ailes maligning jocularity of Democratic presidential candidates. While some may have thought his jokes were clever, some were not amused and are acting accordingly.
The Nevada State Democratic Party is pulling out of a controversial presidential debate scheduled for Aug. 14 in Reno and co-hosted by Fox News, according to a letter released late Friday from state party chairman Tom Collins and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev).

The letter said Nevada Democrats had entered into the agreement with Fox, despite strong opposition from Democratic activist groups such as, as a way of finding "new ways to talk to new people."

But Collins and Reid wrote that comments on Thursday by FOX News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, when he jokingly compared Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, to Osama bin Laden, "went too far," and prompted Nevada Democrats to end the partnership.

The Democrats had been under pressure to dump the debate even before Ailes made his comments. Some will no doubt bemoan them as WATB's afraid of fair and balanced debate. But in light of the ample evidence (chronicled here) of what Fox News considers to be "fair and balanced", such claims are most assuredly without merit.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Pardon Problema

The Pardon Libby train is picking up speed. It left the station at NRO and has made stops at FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, The NY Post and now a juror from the trial has jumped on. But as Ezra Klein and Carpetbagger point out, pardoning Scooter is not without its drawbacks for the administration because it would once again make it the focus of the scandal. Indeed, one of the prime reasons why Libby was picked to fall on his sword was to protect his bosses from the fallout.

Scooter is probably thinking a draft of his pardon is in the works. Something tells me he'll be in a for a long wait.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The shirt off your back

Suggested shirt to give out in Al Kamen's contest.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Opening The Files: Fitzmas Edition

Will Scooter take down Shooter? Will Libby find a buddy in the pokey? Or will the Decider find this "fine public servant" deserving of a pardon? Find out on the next exciting episode of "Frog March Theater".

As expected, Libby's conviction was big news. Much discussion on whether the President will indeed issue a pardon despite objections and what this verdict means for the administration, especially whether it has made Cheney a liability. Many are upset that others were not on the docket, including the jurors who said that while Libby was clearly guilty, they felt he was just the fall guy. I wonder if Lee Majors is available for the TV movie.

Crooks and Liars (where I also filched the image in this post from) has audio of Rush Limbaugh being particularly incoherent about the Libby verdict saying that liberals are "poking the bear". Not exactly the best imagery to invoke given Scooter's previous writings on bears and poking.

Larisa is none too happy with the mainstream media's participation in this whole sordid affair.

Martin Lewis says that Bush has indeed returned "honor and dignity" to the White House.

Tim F. expects a pardon since Bush doesn't care a wit about public opinion.

Here's Craig Ferguson on Scooter's attempts to explain how he went from the White House to the Big House.

Old Blue says that Libby was the fall guy for just one of the many obstructions of justice plaguing this administration.

And Scarecrow notes that even in defeat, the apologists are still trying to continue the cover up.

Note from X: As this post was originally written, I made a snide reference to prison rape ("pokey in the butty"). I realize now that was a mistake and I would like to take time to apologize to all my readers for my bout of poor taste. Prison rape is no laughing matter. But as I am wont to do, I went for the cheap pun. It was never my intention to make light of a very serious subject and I should have showed better judgment, especially considering I have been chastising others for similar "jokes" the last few days.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, March 06, 2007


New networks are reporting that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has been found guilty on four out of five counts against him. Pardon expected soon.

(Filed at State of the Day)

The eXorcism II

I promise this will be the last post on Coultergeist (at least until next time, which undoubtedly there will be).

Yesterday, there is a letter being circulated on some of the conservative blogs calling on the CPAC to refuse to invite Coulter in the future. The effort is commendable, even though as one observant blogger noted, the letter seems to go out of its way to emphasize rejecting Coulter not because her remarks are contemptible but because of how her antics reflect on the conservative movement. There is also the issue of why they choose to speak up now that she has used a gay slur (rather tame by her standards).

Ms. Anne took refuge in friendly FOX Newsistan to defend her remarks, derisively dismissing the term "faggot" as a mere "schoolyard taunt". I find this defense particularly insensitive given the frequency with which we are hearing stories of gay and lesbian teens being assaulted and even killed simply because of their sexual orientation. Schoolyard taunt indeed.

And that may be one of the reasons why in this instance we are seeing far more condemnation. It is not the word itself but rather the mindset it represents. And while individual denouncements are welcomed, they should be done as part of a larger wholesale rejection of this type of hatred and bigotry.

Coulter says the conservative movement will stick with her no matter what. Sure sounds like a dare to me.

Update: Joe Gandelman has his own thoughts and a nice roundup.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Monday, March 05, 2007

A Snowballs Chance With No Backup

Via Talking Points Memo we learned that Sen. Gordon Smith isn't that optimistic about the chances of President Bush's surge plan working.
"If you're really going to do a surge, you don't do it with 20,000, you do it with 250,000," he said, noting that Baghdad is a city of nearly 7 million people. But he said the United States cannot afford such a response; instead it has to come from the Iraqi Army.

Smith goes on to say that he recently spoke with Gen. Petraeus, the man in charge of the operation, who said there was only a one in four chance of the plan succeeding in its current form. Given such a slim chance of success, one would think the Bushies would have a backup plan ready should the 'surge' not work.

But as we've come to know all too well, thinking ahead has never been this administration's strong suit.

From WaPo:
During a White House meeting last week, a group of governors asked President Bush and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about their backup plan for Iraq. What would the administration do if its new strategy didn't work?

The conclusion they took away, the governors later said, was that there is no Plan B. "I'm a Marine," Pace told them, "and Marines don't talk about failure. They talk about victory."

Pace had a simple way of summarizing the administration's position, Gov. Phil Bredesen (D-Tenn.) recalled. "Plan B was to make Plan A work."

Actually, I'd postulate that the real Plan B is simply another surge, which is probably why they low-balled this one in the first place. They could claim the failure of Plan A (not a policy failure mind you, simply a lack of will on the part of Americans or the Democrats didn't give it a chance to work) as proof of the need for more blood and more treasure to be spent sinking us deeper into the mire.

Update: Meme rounds up the usual suspects.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The eXorcism

The exorcism of Coultergeist continues with the GOP candidates who attended the CPAC now distancing themselves from her remarks. Mitt Romney must be particularly vexed by the whole affair because not only did he give her a glowing introduction but she later endorsed his candidacy.

I find it rather poignant that Dick Cheney (who is often snarkly referred to as Darth Cheney), was also in attendance because there is a famous quote from Star Wars which I thinks sums up why Coulter continues to make waves.
If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine. - Obi-Wan Kenobi

That is perhaps one of the most maddening things about Ann Coulter. She is, at her core, an attention whore. She will do anything to gain that which she craves, no matter how tasteless. And the fact that we give in and attempt to strike her down only makes her more likely to continue. Ignore her and she becomes powerless.

But we can't ignore her, for she is like a wraith haunting the political discourse in this country. Though she may fade into the background just long enough to make you think you are free of her, she returns to the fore as only a poltergeist can: throwing furniture, scaring the pets and causing general mayhem.

There's never a Ghostbuster around when you need one.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Opening The Files: 03/03/07

(Freely adapted from original post)

A Conservative Haunting

Ann Coultergeist, apparently worried that she wasn't getting enough attention in the news, issued her latest invective commentary at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Adding to last year's guffaws of referring to Muslims as "ragheads" and wishing death on Supreme Court judges, Coulter said that she would like to talk about presidential candidate John Edwards but that "it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot’".

Rehab will of course never work for someone like Ms. Anne. You can't rehabilitate the type of hatred such people espouse. It is best that they be ostracized and shunned for their deplorable behavior. But as Andrew Sullivan pointed out, the way the crowd reacted shows that she really has become the face of conservative activism.

Something tells me it's time they considered an exorcism. Don't forget the stake, holy water and creme pies.

Nancy Scola notes that while Coulter may not be the biggest elephant in the room, she is nonetheless a part of the herd. Libby Spencer says it might be time for the neocons to do some culling.

The Anonymous Liberal on Ann's latest "Borat moment" and what it says about those who were taken in by the charlatan in the little black dress.

Justin Gardner says he hopes this is the end for Callus Coulter. Sadly, somehow I doubt it will be.

Shorter Glenn Greenwald: Sure Coulter is a mainstream conservative who repeatedly spews some of the most vile and odious comments imaginable but have you seen the things anonymous commenters on liberal websites say?

And much more to be had at Meme.

Update: Coultergeist is getting it from both sides of Blogtopia.

(Filed at State of the Day)

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Such Language

A secondary issue has emerged from the comments kerfluffle the other day. Seems someone suggested an experiment which would compare how often blogs on both the left and right use George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words. I'll send you over to Dr. Taylor for analysis of the methodology and over to Shakes for the bigger picture.