Thursday, May 31, 2007

Joe Lieberman Prepares for His Next Visit to Iraq

(h/t Christy for inspiration)

(Filed at State of the Day)


Metastasizing Terror

Lately, in an effort to scare monger support for the war in Iraq, the Bush administration has been playing the Al-Qaeda trump card so much they are wearing out the edges. Claims of "follow us home" and "bases from which to launch new attacks from" have been invoked in recent speeches. All are meant to be a warning of the consequences should the US withdraw.

But we've also learned the consequences of our staying.
Think of what has happened in only the last week in the Middle East. In northern Lebanon, in the long-established Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, out of the blue arose a new al Qaeda-related insurgent group, Fatah al-Islam. Within days and even hours, the recurring hell of the Middle East was loosed, and refugees poured out of the camp in terror...

[T]hat Iraq, where we were supposed to be "containing terrorism," is now clearly exporting insurgents to other regions – to Lebanon, to Syria, to Gaza, to Bangladesh, to Kurdistan.

And so, on the one hand, you have weakened societies vulnerable to the "new answers" of "new insurgencies," and on the other hand, you have Iraq set up as a school for terrorists with American troops and policy providing the constant inspiration for their fight.

The Bush administration's approach to terrorism has been one of hacking off limbs in the hopes it will go away. Unfortunately for all of us, the terror cancer has metastasized to the point that we may not be able to stop the spreading no matter what we do.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Shorter Digby:

Those wily Islamofascists will do anything just to make us look bad. Thankfully, we can do just fine without their help.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Rose Colored Shades

Two years to the day after Vice President Dick Cheney said that the insurgency in Iraq was in its "last throes" comes word from Sen. Joe Lieberman that the surge could be the straw to finally break the back of this incessant camel. This rose colored assessment came while Lieby made a surprise visit to Baghdad, no doubt spurred on by a hot tip on some similarly shaded Oakleys by his pals McCain and Graham.

But sadly Joe wasn't greeted as a liberator by the troops he so audaciously wished to have a photo-op with. Via McClatchy:
Spc. David Williams, 22, of Boston, Mass., had two note cards in his pocket Wednesday afternoon as he waited for Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Williams serves in the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., the first of the five "surge" brigades to arrive in Iraq, and he was chosen to join the Independent from Connecticut for lunch at a U.S. field base in Baghdad.

The night before, 30 other soldiers crowded around him with questions for the senator.

He wrote them all down. At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers:

"When are we going to get out of here?"...

...Spc. Will Hedin, 21, of Chester, Conn., thought about what he was going to say.

"We're not making any progress," Hedin said, as he recalled a comrade who was shot by a sniper last week. "It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at."

But as he waited two chairs down from where Lieberman would sit, Hedin said he'd never voice his true feelings to the senator.

"I think I'd be a private if I did," he joked. "It's just more troops, more targets."

As we learned yesterday, there will be many more years of target practice for these brave men. And all, it seems, because of those who continue to refuse to take off their shades and endure the harsh light of reality.

Meme more.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Coming to DVD

Dead polls or dead pools, either way he's a floater.

(Filed at State of the Day)


The Messiah Descends

No, Jesus hasn't returned but for many conservatives it's the next best thing. Seems that the rumors that former Senator and current Law & Order star Fred Thompson may throw his hat into the ring have now come true. This is pleasant news for all those who found fault with the top three GOP contenders. No longer will it come down to a contest between Rudy Tudy, The Mittster and Crazy Train.

And Thompson already has a one up on all three: at least we know he can act the part.

(Filed at State of the Day)

How 'Bout a Little Fire, Strawman?

I am sure that everyone is familiar with the edifice of the strawman whereby one attempts to use a false, misleading, or otherwise completely nonexistent opinion or opponent to try to win an argument. President Bush uses it frequently, often employing qualifiers such as ‘some’ or ‘a few’ to suggestion that only a small minority support a particular stance which he invariably will ‘disagree’ with. Very rarely is he ever challenged when he attempts to stand up one of these faux stand-ins.

This proclivity for vanquishing imaginary enemies has again been on display with regards to how the president views the American people’s opinions on the war in Iraq.
[In a press conference last week], Bush said: "I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, `Get out, you know, it's just not worth it. Let's just leave.' I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well."

As the AP piece quoted above goes on to note, however, the opposite would appear to be true. Polls show a majority of Americans actually favor setting timetables for withdrawal. Solid pluralities favor such action even in the absence of ‘victory’.

So how do the Bushies explain this apparent disconnect? They chalk it up to a case of selective interpretation of polling results.
Bush aides say poll questions are asked so many ways, and often so imprecisely, that it is impossible to conclude that most Americans really want to get out. Failure, Bush says, is not what the public wants — they just don't fully understand that that is just what they will get if troops are pulled out before the Iraqi government is capable of keeping the country stable on its own.

A polling expert says “I don't see what they're talking about.” It's not hard to understand really since it is far easier to battle thresh filled foes than pissed off flesh and blood Americans who've had it with the administration's penchant for placing the goalposts further and further a field while at the same time lowering the bar on those posts.

President Bush likes to say he doesn't read polls. Perhaps it's time he put down the straw and gave it a try.

More from Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Success Redefined...Again

As has become typical of the Bush administration, rather than try to actually set about accomplishing goals that the president himself laid out when he announced his surge strategy in January they'll simply dumb down the definition of "success".
U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success.

In September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, is scheduled to present Congress with an assessment of progress in Iraq. Military officers in Baghdad and outside advisors working with Petraeus doubt that the three major goals set by U.S. officials for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will be achieved by then.

Meme has more. But this really shouldn't come as a surprise. Libby nails it when she says that the Bushies knew full well they were selling us a tainted bill of goods when they hawked their "new" plan for victory. And this just lends more credence to the theory that come September, the only thing that will change is the new excuse for why another F.U. is needed.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Shorter Glenn Greenwald:

When it comes the right-wing blogosphere, humble pie is rarely on the menu.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Opening The Files: Memorial Day Edition

"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced." - President Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg.

I've already said my peace for Memorial Day, so I thought it best to use this week's OTF to highlight what others have to say on this solemn occasion. I'll be adding more as the day progresses. Feel free to add links in the comments as well. The more solidarity we show with our fellow citizen soldiers the better we are as a nation and as a people.

Steve Young: Memorial Day: Honor the Lives Not the Numbers

John Nichols: Fighting for Democracy on Memorial Day

Mike Kondor: Living on Iraq Time

Gary Kamiya: Memorial Day

Adam Cohen: What the History of Memorial Day Teaches About Honoring the War Dead

Fixer: Voices

Todd DePastino: Memorial Day: A Day for Remembering -- and Accepting Responsibility

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés: Why Soldiers Back Home Seldom Speak of War

(Filed at State of the Day)


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Revisited

I wanted to reprint a post of mine from last Memorial Day because the sentiment it professes still holds true now more than ever.


As we gather today to honor those who fought and continue to fight for our freedoms, let us examine what it means to "Support the Troops". That slogan has been around in some form or another for a long time. It was once considered a promise, an oath taken by every citizen of this great nation. Now, however, it has seemed to have lost most of it's meaning. During WWII, when our fighting men were in Europe and elsewhere, those left behind were willing to give up certain things so that our troops would not go wanting. Every citizen, both young and old, did their part. Because they knew that the sacrifices they made were for a good reason.

Today's war is very different.

The President likes to talk of the sacrifices made by the military in this war. Yet no such concessions are asked of the citizenry. Why is that? Because the true cost of this war has always been kept from the public, only rarely slipping out in snippets here and there. We are not permitted to witness the flag-draped coffins returning to Dover, now numbering some 2,466. The media is blamed for not showing more of the "good news". Those who question the war in Iraq are chastised for not supporting the troops.

And for the most part, many Americans don't want to hear about Iraq. They don't want to hear about the latest IED blast. They avert their eyes or tune out when news of the latest death is brought up. Many do not wish to be a part of this war and simply wish it would go away.

But it is not going away. So long as the public chooses to ignore the war, it's burden is unduly placed on the shoulders of the military and their families. Their sacrifices are far greater then any we could hope to make and we should be ashamed of ourselves that we are not willing to make even the most modest of sacrifices when compared to those of the men and women who have died in this war. I would certainly be willing to pay higher taxes if it meant that a soldier's life was saved because he was wearing adequate protective armor.

Many in this country practice "magnetic patriotism". They think if they just slap a bumper sticker on the back of their car that is enough. And a magnetic sticker at that. Seems we won't even sacrifice the finish on our cars to "Support the Troops". What does that say about us as a nation?

So on this Memorial Day, I say we make the ultimate sacrifice for our fighting men and women.

Get rid of the damn magnets.


Since writing the above proses, nearly a thousand more soldiers have died and thousands more have been wounded. And for the most part the magnets are gone. Not because we no longer support the troops but because we have chosen to show that support in a different way. Opposition to the war is at an all time high. We have finally begun to awaken to the true costs, both in blood and treasure. This awakening lead us to elect a Democratic Congress to bring about a change of course from where our nation was headed.

After this week, many are feeling disenfranchised with the Democrats and wonder if their trust has been misplaced. I have watched with much trepidation the back and worth between those who say this is merely a set back in the long, hard slog to affect real change and those who are angered by the Democrats submission.

Yet even in this hour of discontent, there remains one thing that has not changed: Our resolve to see an end to this conflict. For as Creature rightly notes, what it comes down to is a matter of life and death. Far too many of America's sons and daughters have been lost to this war. Scenes such as this one have become far too common place for us not to continue to fight for our men and women in uniform. As I see it, no greater tribute to their sacrifice could ever be offered than ensuring their heroism and service will never again be hijacked by the arrogance of one man.

More Memorial Day stories here, here, and here.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

He Must Think We're Barney

Have you ever been playing fetch with a dog and you rear back and swing your arm forward as if you're throwing the ball but you never actually release it from your hand? Notice how the dog will speed down range in anticipation of retrieving the ball for another go around?

Go fetch.
The Bush administration is developing what are described as concepts for reducing American combat forces in Iraq by as much as half next year, according to senior administration officials in the midst of the internal debate.

It is the first indication that growing political pressure is forcing the White House to turn its attention to what happens after the current troop increase runs its course.

The concepts call for a reduction in forces that could lower troop levels by the midst of the 2008 presidential election to roughly 100,000, from about 146,000, the latest available figure, which the military reported on May 1.

As others note this isn't the first time the Bushies have tried this little head fake. So is there really any chance that Bush will release the ball this time?

Maybe we should ask Barney.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Mack Hack Flack Attack

Senator and GOP presidential contender John McCain has become a staple for derisive fodder for those on the left. This is no doubt due to his credibility on such issues as the war in Iraq and foreign policy being only slightly more coherent than the current occupant in the Oval Office, which says a lot.

But now the Senator's camp has resorted to schoolyard insults in sparring with his Democratic rivals.
McCain responds to Obama in tough enough, if predictable, language:

"While Senator Obama's two years in the U.S. Senate certainly entitle him to vote against funding our troops, my service and experience combined with conversations with military leaders on the ground in Iraq lead me to believe that we must give this new strategy a chance to succeed because the consequences of failure would be catastrophic to our nation's security."

But, McCain being McCain, he can't help himself and goes the next step in the statement's kicker:

"By the way, Senator Obama, it's a 'flak' jacket, not a 'flack' jacket."

Which is to say, "there is only one of us in this argument who has ever worn the uniform." (my words)

And if you still don't get it, a McCain aide blows away the anthill with, well, a rocket.

"Obama wouldn't know the difference between an RPG and a bong." (bolds mine)

And President Bush probably doesn't know a WMD from a DWI, so what's your point? (Actually we are unlikely to ever know whether this is true since such knowledge, or lack there of rather, would clearly fall under the all encompassing doctrine of executive privilege.)

But seriously, this will be par for the course for the next few election cycles. The GOP have denigrated our political discourse to a mere series of "yo' mama" comebacks because for them to try to seriously address the accusations means admitting they have some validity to them. We should expect more from our prospective candidates but given the antics of our current frat-boy-in-chief, we are only likely to see more of this as the credibility gap between the contenders becomes all the more apparent.

See Anonymous Liberal for more.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bird's Eye View

Errant aves nabbed after presser pooping.

WASHINGTON (XF) - While it seemed that President Bush shrugged off an encounter with the droppings of a wayward sparrow at yesterday's Rose Garden press conference, sources tell The Xsociate Files that Mr. Bush was livid that his security detail did not thwart the fecal flinging. Soon after the presser adjourned, the President ordered all birds within a ten mile radius to be apprehended for testing and questioning for links to terrorism.

"He's worried about Avian Flu and thinks this might have been an attempt on his life by a terrorist trained bird," the source says.

If indeed the case, this wouldn't be the first time that the President's security apparatus has failed to consider the threats posed by seemingly harmless sources. In 2002, a pretzel caused a fainting spell which resulted in minor injuries. And in 2005, the President fell from a bicycle while attending the G8 summit in Britain.

But animal rights activists are upset over the round up of birds following yesterday's incident, claiming that the administration's detention practice amounts to "featheral profiling". But the administration says the move is necessary to prevent possible future acts of biological terror.

"If rounding up a few innocent birds along with the guilty ones means we will be safe from this aerial terror, then all these objections to our detention policies really are just for the birds," White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said at a recent gaggle.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Democratic Disbe-Wreath

Here's how one Democrat rationalized the capitulation to Bush's demands for more war money. Via
Democrats were particularly worried about the prospect of Bush declaring at wreath-laying ceremonies that “Democrats have stopped resources for the troops,” said Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.

Don't fear the wreather. Or you only ensure more of this:

(Filed at State of the Day)

Shorter Monica Goodling:

As long as I play the part of the naive little Christian girl, my lord and savior will forgive me. And maybe Jesus will too.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Leaking Like a Sieve, Dribbling Like an Idiot

Yesterday, President Bush gave the commencement address to a group of graduating Coast Guardsmen. Given the makeup of the audience, a big topic of the speech was the war in Iraq and the war on terror. To help lay out his case that Iraq was the central front, Bush selectively declassified a bulletin from 2005 suggesting that Bin Laden wished to use the country as a launching pad for attacks on the US. Many derided the president for once again using intelligence to help bolster his flailing credibility. But Creature was the only one to note that the leaked info actually undermines the President's basic argument that leaving Iraq will mean leaving it as a base for Al-Qaeda. The bulletin just shows they are intent on attacking us regardless of whether we are there or not.

There are other things we know that also undermine this claim that leaving will result in Al-Qaeda gaining more influence and power. Not only has our presence has already become a cause celebre for global jihadists but just this past week we learned it's also become a cash cow for Al-Qaeda specifically. And despite the fact that Bush was warned that invading might result in all of this, he invaded anyway.

So the next time you hear someone argue that we can't leave because Iraq might become a base for Al-Qaeda, ask them this one simple question:

Why'd we give it to them in the first place?

Olbermann on Betrayal

Keith was practically livid at times during last night's Special Comment. His scorn for the Democrats capitulation to our hostage-taker-in-chief of a president was palpable. He also had tough words for the Democratic presidential candidates who have thus far remained relatively silent on this betrayal of the public trust.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Opening The Files: 05/23/07

Blank Checks & Black Ops & Surges...Oh My!

So it's official, Commander Guy will get his blank check after all. And despite all insistences from Democrats that this was actually a victory, many in the blogs are just down right sour. Which really isn't all that surprising since many see this as a repudiation of the mandate which help put them in power last November. Seems they too have fallen for the "wait 'til September" frame being peddling by the GOPers.

But perhaps the Dems might have wished to ponder a few things before promising to give Dubya his war allowance. Because we really don't know what he intends to spend it on. Sure he says it's for the troops but this is the same guy who opposes a measly $6 a month pay raise for those same troops.

No, things seem to be coalescing around something big taking place later this year and I have a feeling that thing may be an attack on Iran. I'll explain my reasoning below.

As I detailed this morning, the Guardian helped catapult a propaganda piece about how Iran is staging a summer campaign inside Iraq to force the US out. Now we learn that the surge of forces into Iraq may be in for a second wave, with possibly as many as 200k in country by Christmas. Some are harrumphing that this will probably be temporary. But remember, we were told the first surge would be temporary and look how that turned out. I won't believe the whole "temporary increases that typically occur during the crossover period" line until I see boots hitting the ground at Andrews. My money is on them being a buff for any Iranian retaliation.

Which brings us to the next bit of news. ABC reports that Bush has authorized the CIA to conduct its own campaign against Iran in an attempt to weaken the regime. Not a particularly surprising revelation but when coupled with all the rest, it makes one wonder whether Bush is not only planning to double down on Iraq but bet the farm on Iran as well.

And if the above are any indications, the winter of 2007 could certainly be one of discontent.

With all the headlines about how the Dems backed down, Michael J.W. Stickings wonders for whom was this really a victory?

Lane Hudson says that even if the Democrats aren't ready for timetables, the American people sure are.

The Heretik teaches us about jackasses and votes. Or something.

Sean-Paul Kelley says we should be thankful the crazies were left in the box. I'll rest easy when we nail the lid shut.

Cernig reminds us that psy-ops can be a two way street. Hopefully we can put on the brakes before we hit the dead end.

And Robert Parry tells us of another surge we are likely to see.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Laying the Groundwork

The Guardian today helps lay the groundwork for who is truly to blame for all of the trouble in Iraq: Iran.
Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say...

The official said US commanders were bracing for a nationwide, Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive, linking al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents to Tehran's Shia militia allies, that Iran hoped would trigger a political mutiny in Washington and a US retreat. "We expect that al-Qaida and Iran will both attempt to increase the propaganda and increase the violence prior to Petraeus's report in September [when the US commander General David Petraeus will report to Congress on President George Bush's controversial, six-month security "surge" of 30,000 troop reinforcements]," the official said.

"Certainly it [the violence] is going to pick up from their side. There is significant latent capability in Iraq, especially Iranian-sponsored capability. They can turn it up whenever they want. You can see that from the pre-positioning that's been going on and the huge stockpiles of Iranian weapons that we've turned up in the last couple of months. The relationships between Iran and groups like al-Qaida are very fluid," the official said.

All that's missing are claims that Iran is supplying Iraqi insurgents with weapons of mass destruction (we don't really know where those chlorine bombs are coming from and the righties hoot and holler "WMD's in Iraq!" every time one goes off). But I mean, come on, how much more blatant does it have to be before people will realize this is just a rehash of the same BS peddled to us in the run up to the Iraq war. Now I'll admit that there is a remote possibility that some of what is written here may be true but it would require a leap of faith that many are just not willing to take given this administration's history.

For what seems like the millionth time, we must remind everyone that Iran is predominantly Shiite. Are we really to believe that they would ally themselves with their sworn enemies, the Sunnis, to foment violence in Iraq to such a degree that the US has no choice but to leave? Wouldn't it actually result in the opposite? An increase in violence only makes it more likely the US will stay longer to help quell it.

And there's the rub that makes this reek of propaganda. Having a reason to stay the course is exactly what the Bushies want. This piece yet another trial balloon. Hell, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that this anonymous "senior official" was Petraeus himself. Gotta find someone to blame for why the surge isn't working. And it has the added incentive of being more fodder for the warmongers who are jonesing to get shock and awe, this time in Tehran.

More skepticism at Meme.

Update: Steven D. reminds us of redirected misdirections.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Operation Iraq Forever

As if the half billion dollar fortress being constructed in Baghdad or the military studying the feasibility of a prolonged commitment weren't evidence enough that the US intends to stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future, word broke late yesterday that the Democrats have assured that we'll be there for quite a few more Friedmans. They've apparently stripped the Iraq supplemental of the timeline, affectively giving Bush the black check they promised they weren't going to write.

This move has disappointed many who were hoping for more of a tough stance and does not bode well for the donkey party's chances of maintaining their hold on the majority. What does it say about a party if they can't stand up to a president who's slightly more popular than malaria?

The Bushies of course are probably tickled pink over this bill but not for the obvious reasons. Sure it allows the president to keep his war going but he was intent on doing that regardless of how Congress voted. That much was clear by the petulantly dismissive way he has been treating Congress lately.

No, what will really have them excited, particularly the Rovians, is the chance to use this bill as a cudgel from now 'til election time. They will berate the Dems at every chance. The message will essentially be "You had your chance, now shut the fuck up and get to the back of the bus and let the President drive." Too bad it's right over a cliff.

And if, when it becomes clear that the only way to regain their hold on power is to run against the war, the GOPers will flip flop so fast it will make your head spin. Don't believe me? You obviously haven't been paying attention, something which the GOP is counting on. They hope that our pitifully short attention span will be their ticket back to the Speakership and beyond. Their past statements will no longer be operative and will in fact be evidence of their staunch anti-war position. Remember, hypocrisy is just not in their vocabulary.

But the people have had enough of the war and for that matter, the prattling inanity of both parties. Maybe it is time we look to for some alternatives.

Update: A must read from Jill.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Last Refuge

"As for no-confidence votes, maybe senators need a refresher course on American civics, [..] What I mean is I think you find no-confidence votes in parliamentary systems, not the American system of government." - White House spokesman Tony Fratto.

Funny how when the Bushies find one of their own facing criticism from all but Barney, then we must take care to see that our system of government if faithfully executed.

You know what? I couldn't agree more.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Hands Held High

Like Libby, I too have noticed an eerie numbness that sets in whenever I learn of th latest American or Iraqi to lose their lives because of this war. I watch videos like the above and it fills me with a cacophony of emotions. Anger. Sadness. Frustration. Guilt. Determination. All seem so hard to bare that we as a society, as a people, as human beings, have become far too desensitized to the violence so distant yet so tied to our national psyche. We've become far too complacent in allowing this president to continue this war all for the sake of his ego.

The emotion of fear was exploited to start this war. It's time another emotion ended it.

(Filed at State of the Day)

A Half Second Life

Virtual revisit draws fire.

WASHINGTON (XF) - The Washington Post reports that the White House and Congress are set to reevaulate the proposals made in last year's Iraq Study Group report. But critics of the administration remain skeptical due in part to where the deliberations for the reassessment are to take place: the online world of Second Life.

Sources who spoke to The Xsociate Files on the condition of anonymity claim that members of the ISG and administration officials will attend meetings in the virtual environment pioneered by California based Linden Lab. The source explained the reason for the virtual conference is mainly due to scheduling issues. Many of the participants are currently spread out across the globe, attending real life meetings with foreign governments or on speaking engagements. Having a virtual boardroom where participants can interact is thought will help quell some of the problems associated with long distance communications.

It is still unclear whether true to life representations will be used. Because the meeting will take place in a setting in which users can take any form they wish, some worry that the administration will once again be dismissive of the ISG' s findings.

"They didn't listen in first life, what makes us think they'll listen in a second?" one anonymous avatar said moments before sprouting red wings and flying off.

However, it can be confirmed that other online forums such as Half-Life and World of Warcraft were also considered but were dropped due to technical issues.

"Well in Half-Life, the President's in-game Secret Service detail kept mowing down anyone who got to close," said a White House aide familiar with the dress rehearsals. "And as far as Warcraft, well, let's just say we should all be thankful that Vice President Cheney isn't an ogre in real life."

(Filed at State of the Day)



One thorn that has resided in the side of many a legislator is President Bush's abuse of his recess appointment power, such as when he appointed John Bolton as UN ambassador and most recently Swift Boat financier Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium.

But now Congress has an idea about how to keep Junior on a short leash. Via
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a little trick up his sleeve that could spell an end to President Bush's devilish recess appointments of controversial figures like former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. We hear that over the long August vacation, when those types of summer hires are made, Reid will call the Senate into session just long enough to force the prez to send his nominees who need confirmation to the chamber. The talk is he will hold a quickie "pro forma" session every 10 days, tapping a local senator to run the hall. Senate workers and Republicans are miffed, but Reid is proving that he's the new sheriff in town.

If you ask me, this action is long overdue. It's become pretty evident that whenever the adults (i.e. Congress) steps out of the room for even the shortest amount of time, Junior goes on a tear and wrecks up the whole house (i.e. what use to be called co-equal governance).

And so what if the Repubs are upset about having their vacations interrupted. We pay their salaries and part of that job includes actually being there to work as opposed to just showing up for convenient photo-ops (I'm looking at you McCain).

It's about time they appointed a presidential babysitter for this troublesome toddler.
(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Trading Bushies

WASHINGTON (XF) - FOX is set to announce a reality showed based on their hit "Trading Spouses". Only in this case, the contestants will be various members of the US government, The Xsociate Files can reveal. According to insider memos obtained by XF, high ranking members of both the executive and legislative branches of government would swap places with their counterparts in the war on terror. This would include some prisoners currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The premise for the show is thought to have come about as the result of an off hand remark made by a senior member of the Justice Department about how they would rather "trade places" with suspected terrorist Jose Padilla than become Deputy Attorney General, a position left vacant after the departure of Paul McNulty earlier this month.

Critics of the administration are enthused about the show, claiming that allowing members of the administration to see things from "the other side" may dissuade them from some of their more hard line views on issues such as torture and indefinite detention.

"If Gonzales could walk a few miles in Padilla's shackled shoes, he may not be so quick to call Geneva 'quaint," one prominent political blogger is quoted as saying.

But whether the show even happens remains largely in doubt. Unresolved is whether President Bush or any his immediate staff will participate. Sources close to the White House say that the administration remains hesitant to relinquish any authority to relative unknowns. Also of concern is whose job would be the equivalence of the presidency.

"Clearly Osama Bin Laden's role as leader of Al-Qaeda is the closest fit," said one source. "But that would require the President to go on the run just like Bin Laden is now and given his approval rating, there are worries that many would rather he just stay missing."

(Filed at State of the Day)


Best Campaign Promise Ever

Tania Devereaux, who's running for the Senate in Belgium, gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "serving at the pleasure of the people".

(Filed at State of the Day)

Unseen Casualties in the War for Profit

Shortly before leaving office in 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made a now infamous speech in which he warned of the dangers of what he termed a "military-industrial complex" or a symbiosis between those who defend our nation and those who help to supply the means for that defense. Eisenhower's warning of not letting ourselves become slaves to war for the sake of profit echoes through the ages, only to fall on the deaf ears of those ordering the execution of our current military engagements.

I was reminded of this upon reading a post by Libby tonight, who points to several articles detailing the plight of private contractors in Iraq. Just as with the deaths of US soldiers, so too are the deaths of these largely unseen forces rising as the war escalates. But while our soldiers are fighting for what they believe to be some lofty goal of a free and democratic Iraq, most of these private contractors fight for the acquisition of wealth. Profit margin matters more than progress.

Then there is the US Embassy in Baghdad which is set to rival the Vatican in scale if not necessarily in influence. Yet for all the impact that these various corporate components have on our foreign policy, hardly any oversight of them has been conducted in the nearly five years of this conflict.

Eisenhower said " In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

If only we had taken heed of this warning, we might not find ourselves now similarly misplaced.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More on Mueller

Just wanted to do a quick follow up on a post of mine from the other day regarding possible FBI involvement in the warrantless wiretapping scandal. In an update, I linked to A.L. who speculated that the reason that FBI Director Mueller played such an apparently prominent role in the pushback on the wiretapping program was because of his willingness to buck pressure from the White House. As evidence of this, A.L. linked to a March 2006 U.S News & World Report article regarding warrantless searches (which I too noted at the time).

But one can go back further to get an understanding of why Mueller may have been willing to go the lengths he was on warrantless surveillance. A January 2006 NY Times article reported that after Sept. 11th, the FBI was flooded with hundreds of various forms of data (email addresses, phone numbers etc) which was thought to have been compiled by the NSA program. Most of those leads turned out to be dead ends.

Placing both articles in context, it's not surprising that Mueller would wish to be involved given that as his role as FBI Director, he would ultimately be responsible for compiling evidence against anyone who may have been swept up as a result of those NSA taps. So it would make sense that he would want to ensure that the evidentiary trail could hold up in a court of law.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Of Curtains and Trick Bags

With revelations of dubious behavior coming out on what seems to be a nearly daily basis, pressure is building on the White House. Even the vaunted Washington Post, long a deflector for this administration's most nefarious shenanigans, has taken to recalling shades of Watergate. Votes of no-confidence ring out from all but within the walls of the oval office, confidence is codified as us vs. them. Accusations of trick bags from the Democrats ring hollow when matched with reality's trickless confines. The Bushies would like nothing more than to hide all their indiscretions behind a veil of national security.

It is long past time we pay attention to the man behind the curtain and demand he reveal his own bag of dirty tricks.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Childhood Reimagined

Like many who grew up during the 80's, the two cartoons I remember most are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Transformers. And one could argue that what drove many a child's obsession was the parallel toyline tie-in. For the first time we no longer had to simply imagine the escapades of four amphibious crime fighters or metamorphing robot protectors. Being able to hold their likenesses, feel them move, able to recreate your favorite scenes or to invent all new adventures for them made the shows seem all the more visceral. All the more real. It's not surprising then that they became world wide phenomenons.

Now it would seem that 2007 is turning out to the year that both franchises receive a sort of reimagining. Already we've witnessed a return to the big screen for our favorite mutant quartet with the all CGI film TMNT. And while it might not have been as big a hit as the first film was, for this turtlephile, it was still an enjoyable one.

But I would have to say that without a doubt, the most anticipated film this year would have to be the all live action Transformers. If the previews are any indication, it will definitely be more than meets the eye.

You Make Enough Already, Soldier

Let me get this straight. A President who has presided over the largest increase in defense spending in US history is now saying he is opposed to providing Armed Service members with a 3.5 percent pay increase because it is .5 percent higher than what he thinks they deserve? That's where he chooses to finally show some conservatism? One would think he would be more interested in the billions of dollars going to pay defense contractors who haven't been very meticulous in their accounting.

But then, it's like they say. War is profitable. Just not, it seems, for the ones doing the actual fighting.

Update: So how much of a difference does this .5 percent mean in dollars? About what we spend every nanosecond in Iraq.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Cage That Imprisons All

Terror and torture were among the topics of Tuesday's GOP debate that elicited some of the most outlandish of the night's performances. In a scenario better suited to an episode of "24", moderator Brit Hume asked how far the candidates would go to thwart a pending terror attack. Rudy and Tancredo wholeheartedly endorsed whatever means necessary. Romney did them one better by also going off on a tangent about the need to double Gitmo. The only reasoned response explaining why torture doesn't work came from McCain, which isn't very surprising given his background. But still, tough on torture was what drew the biggest applauses.

But as Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar remind us, torture is definitely not something we should cheer. Here's a taste.
The American people are understandably fearful about another attack like the one we sustained on Sept. 11, 2001. But it is the duty of the commander in chief to lead the country away from the grip of fear, not into its grasp. Regrettably, at Tuesday night's presidential debate in South Carolina, several Republican candidates revealed a stunning failure to understand this most basic obligation. Indeed, among the candidates, only John McCain demonstrated that he understands the close connection between our security and our values as a nation.

Read the whole thing. It is, if anything, yet another in a series of endless reiterations of why we should endeavor not to find ourselves prisoners to the cage of irrational fear.

Update: More from Balkinization.

(Filed at State of the Day)

I, Spy More

Yesterday, everyone was talking about the testimony of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey. As Creature noted, some disturbing new questions have been raised, chief among them why Congress has not sought further investigations of the NSA spying scandal especially in light of what has just been learned.

Well Congress is finally sitting up and taking notice. In a letter sent to Gonzales late yesterday, Senators questioned the Attorney General as to whether he will continue to stand by his testimony last February that there was no dispute in the Department of Justice over the legality of the NSA wiretapping program. As Comey testified on Tuesday, he and several senior administration officials, including then AG Ashcroft, came close to resigning in protest because the Bush administration insisted upon continuing the wiretapping program despite objections from the DOJ.

Now Gonzales has responded saying that he does indeed stand by his earlier testimony. This is where the story starts to get interesting. During that testimony, Gonzales took pains to stress that he could only discuss the surveillance program that had already been revealed by the New York Times and later confirmed by the Bush administration. What Comey revealed now raises the question of whether there are more spying programs which have yet to be disclosed and Laura Rosen adds some pieces to the puzzle that may suggest that the FBI may have been involved in such surveillance.

This is definitely something that Congress needs to look into with all deliberate speed so we may finally learn just who was spied on. Because given the nature of the beast behind Purgegate, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to speculate who that may be.

Update: Marty Lederman speculates on the nature of "the program".

Update II: The Anonymous Liberal has some thoughts on why Comey may have sought help from FBI Director Mueller.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

War Comes to New Jersey

Will Bunch reports that the Bush administration has apparently decided to bring Shock & Awe to the homeland, principally in skies of New Jersey (perhaps as a response to the Fort Dix Six?). Actually an F-16 just dropped some flares during a training exercise, accidentally setting the surrounding forest ablaze and forcing evacuations.

But as Attack NJ notes in the comments "[..] We need to attack NJ there, so they dont attack us here. They hate us for our freedoms. They all worship the Jersey Devil. Plus most are Flyers fans. And no Timetables - they'll just wait for us to leave, then attack. We should build military bases there. at least bush should be able to find NJ on a map."

Nah, he'd probably just attack Wyoming and claim that it was the central front.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Opening The Files: 05/16/07

Falwell That Ends Well

Many in the blogs are noting the passing of Rev. Jerry Falwell yesterday at the tender age of just this side of Methuselah. I really don't have much to say about it since, unlike Falwell, I choose to take the moral high road and not speak ill of the dead no matter how deserving of contempt they may be. For as much as he may have tried to ostracize those who did not share his beliefs, he was still just a member of the diversity that is humanity and thus deserving of a modicum of respect. My thoughts and best wishes are with his family tonight.

For some good examples of the life and slimes of Jerry F., Carpetbagger is as good a place as any to start. And Timothy Noah has more from the Falwell hit parade.

Seeing as how much he's had to suck up to Falwell recently in order to even be considered a serious contender, it's not surprising to learn that John McCain was among the first to issue condolences to the late reverend. Wonkette wondered what the other GOPers might have said about Jerry during last night's round two debate.

Apparently FOX isn't the only ones reporting parody as actual news. MSNBC punk'd themselves when they took a quote from a fictitious White House website to tout Falwell's influence on the Bush administration. Ah, ain't research grand?

Alan Wolfe says that given his own penchant for casting stones in life, the urge to return the favor now is hard to ignore. Russell Shaw thinks it's probably best we sit out this dance with the devil's delight.

Ha Czar, Ha Czar, They Found A Czar!

After what seemed like a fruitless search, the Bushies have finally found someone to pin the blame the next Medal of Freedom on. He's Lt. General Douglas Lute. Guess they had to tap into the second string since all the first stringers knew better than to take this scapegoat of a occupation.

But already it seems there may be a problem with this pick. Lute apparently once advocated a drawdown of US forces in Iraq. How soon do you suppose it will be before the White House assures us that Czar Lute is down with the surge? A: Not long.

I'll let Meme handle the roundup on this one. I'm all Czarred out.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Armageddon It On

As Steven D says, this is disturbing on so many levels. Via Raw Story:
President George W. Bush met privately with Focus on the Family Founder and Chairman James Dobson and approximately a dozen Christian right leaders last week to rally support for his policies on Iraq, Iran and the so-called "war on terror."

“I was invited to go to Washington DC to meet with President Bush in the White House along with 12 or 13 other leaders of the pro-family movement," Dobson disclosed on his radio program Monday. “And the topic of the discussion that day was Iraq, Iran and international terrorism. And we were together for 90 minutes and it was very enlightening and in some ways disturbing too."

I don't know which is more unnerving. That Bush is actually consulting with religious leaders on foreign policy issues or that the percentage of people who still support his administration are probably also the same ones who believe that the end of days will take place this year. And the above revelation makes one thing they are trying their damnedest not to be proven wrong.

(Filed at State of the Day)

What's in a Pseud?

So we're back to harping on blog comments again? Only this time the bugaboo is about pseudonymous commenters supposedly trolling the interwebs and wreaking such havoc with their bloghate that we should police who is to be given anonymity? Frankly I could care less about whether or not someone wants to remain anonymous when they comment on my stuff so long as they remain civil. And given that foregoing anonymity really won't stop someone keen to cause a ruckus, I don't see much of a point.

Personally I don't have much of a problem with anonymous blog trolls (unless you count Kvatch, kidding!) since my blog resides somewhere in the Y tier of blogospheric hierarchy. And as far as why I choose to blog anonymously, it is not so much an issue of needing to keep my identity a secret but one of continuity. I've had the handle Xsociate* for a long time in various online incarnations and when it came time to name my blog, it was a natural fit. Why mess with a winning and uniquely recognizable moniker ya know?

Anyway, lots more navel gazing to be had here.

*For those curious where the hell I came up with the name Xsociate, it was the end result of an X-Files obsession many many years ago.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Surgin' Toward September

September has been batted about by everyone as the time in which there will be a serious assessment of the "surge" policy and how best to move forward from there. Sen. Chuck Hagel says that the 11 GOPers who visited President Bush last week only represent a small sampling of the growing concerns in the Republican caucus. Defenders of the administration like Brit Hume and Bill Kristol argue that all this talk of giving the surge until September only shows weakness and invites our enemies to continue or escalate their offensives.

I got news for you guys. They already are. During just the first half of May we've lost nearly 50 soldiers, three of whom are missing and may have been captured by members of Al-Qaeda. Despite the increase in US forces in Baghdad, death squads still run rampant and suicide bombings continue unabated. Yet everyone says that September will be when we can assess how things are going, as if current events weren't enough of a clue.

Besides, anything less than a wholesale defection of Republicans won't make the Bushies sit up and take notice. And even if it came to that, I doubt very much Bush would care. He does not care about the costs of this war, whether in blood and treasure for Americans and Iraqis or the political prospects of his party's future.

The only thing he cares about is being able to hand over the reins to the next President and walk out the back door of the White House secure in his belief that at least the war wasn't "lost" on his watch.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Justice Scandal: Pakistan Edition

While the machinations behind the various scandals at the Department of Justice have been maddening to those who actually value the meaning of the word, we should all be thankful that President Bush has not taken the route that some of his allies have.

Two months ago, Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Many feel his ousting was designed to help forestall any constitutional challenge that may arise from upcoming elections.

Now protests this weekend have gripped the city of Karachi. The ensuing clashes between backers of Chaudhry and pro-Musharraf demonstrators have left some 31 people dead and hundreds injured. Some worry what the violence could mean for democracy in Pakistan and Musharraf's fate.

And while I do not wish to downplay the seriousness of the situation, it is not without irony. Consider: Pervez may lose his grip on power not at the hands of radical Islamists bent on controlling Pakistan's nuclear arsenal but rather from those who wish to see a truer form of democracy flourish there.

Maybe we could learn a few things from their struggle.

Much more on this from Cernig who thus far has been one of the few to keep us appraised of the situation even though it could have far reaching implications not only for Pakistan but for US efforts in the region as well.

(Filed at State of the Day)


I haven't blogged much about Ann Coulter's voter fraud allegations because as we have come to realize in the many offshoots of Purgegate, voter fraud only matters when it can be leveled at Democrats. But there are some interesting twists to the story that still make for good Coulter fodder.

For those not up to speed: Last year, Ms. Coulter voted in a Florida district which wasn't the same as her physical address in state. Voting in any district other than the one in which you reside is a felony in the Sunshine State, with punishment of up to $5,000 smackers and/or five years in the pokey. Anyway, to cut to the predictable ending, Coulter got off.

But this is where the story gets interesting. Seems that the investigation of her alleged malfeasance was closed after an FBI agent interceded on her behalf. Now that same FBI guy finds himself the subject of his own investigation and if rumors are true, he may in fact be an exorcised boyfriend of Coultergeist!

So did the succubus in the black cocktail dress get help from her G-Man?

I think the bigger question is: who knew there was someone willing to put up with Ann Coulter for more than five minutes at a time?

(Filed at State of the Day)


Saturday, May 12, 2007

An Oops or Wishful Thinking?

While everyone is focused on CBS' firing of retired Gen. John Batiste for appearing in a VoteVets ad disparaging President Bush's war policy, another acronymically named channel had a similar moment of what some might call "advocacy".

TVNewser reports that the following graphic appeared for a whole twelve seconds on CNN's international broadcast.

As Gun Toting Liberal put it: "For twelve seconds, the Citizens were reaching for their shoes in order to head out the door to commence dancing in the streets, only to be shattered once they realized it was simply a mistake made by the CNN crew. But again; for twelve short seconds, thousands of households wordwide were thrilled by the “breaking news” on their television screens. Just imagine the high “high” followed by the low “low” there. Shame on CNN for that."

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, May 11, 2007

When Investigation Becomes Incitement

Last June, when the story of the Miami 7 terror cell first broke, questions ensued about the role of FBI informants in terrorism related investigations. According to some accounts, the informant in that case may have instigated some of the group's members and gone far beyond simply gathering intelligence on their activities.

Seems we may once again find ourselves wondering where the line between investigating and instigating lies.
He railed against the United States, helped scout out military installations for attack, offered to introduce his comrades to an arms dealer and gave them a list of weapons he could procure, including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

These were not the actions of a terrorist but of a paid FBI informant who helped bring down an alleged plot by six Muslim men to massacre U.S. soldiers at New Jersey’s Fort Dix.

And those actions have raised questions of whether the government crossed the line and pushed the six men down a path they would not have otherwise followed.

Terrorism investigations are perhaps the most strenuous of all for the FBI or any other law enforcement department. Unlike murder, robberies, and kidnapping which typically are post event, the demand that terrorists be stopped before they are able to commit their crimes is burdensome. A delicate balance must be maintained. Never let the line go so slack that they are allowed to carry out their heinous actions but at the same time you must strive to not let it become a noose that ensnares both criminal and crime enforcer.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Of Benchmarks and Benchwarmers

Back in January when President Bush announced his surge strategy, he also included a series of political benchmarks for the Iraqi government. The benchmarks were a great idea since it makes a great deal of sense to have some sort of parallel political process to get the warring groups to come to some sort of reconciliation, thus ensuring the military push for stability and security wasn't all for naught.

But when pressed by Congress to makes those benchmarks enforceable, the Bush administration balked. They said that to force the Iraqis to meet certain goals and lay down consequences for failing to meet those goals would put undue pressure on the already weakened Maliki government. Flexibility was the watch word for why benchmarks were a nonstarter.

Now they've reversed course yet again, saying they are open to benchmarks. But don't think of this as much of a concession on his part though since Bush has already promised he'll veto any bill which places restrictions on funding like the one passed by the House late yesterday.

As my pal Cernig notes, the Bushies have always been a Friedman Unit behind the curve. In this case they're just doing their damnedest to keep Bush from the accountability batters box where he will invariable strike out. We all know that if he can't get a pitch hitter to take the blame (i.e. Democrats), he'll be content with staying on the bench until his mom comes to pick him up.

More from Carpetbagger and Scarecrow.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Opening The Files: 05/10/07

Credibility GOP

Things aren't going well for The Commander Guy. Despite his protestations to the contrary, retired generals are claiming that Bush doesn't listen to them. His GOP buddies staged a long overdue Ides of March encounter in the Oval Office, thankfully only armed with sharp words. Meanwhile, the Iraqi parliament have tired of there overstayed house guests. So what is a Decider to do when everyone it seems is questioning his credibility?

Why send out someone with even less credibility, natch.

Dick "Last Throes" Cheney made a surprise visit to Iraq yesterday where he gave a stern warning to the Iraqi government not to take a two month vacation as planned. The warning would be hilarious given his own party's predilection for taking time off if the consequences weren't so dire, particularly for our soldiers and the Iraqi people. But then the Iraqis are free to govern however they choose, be it taking a recess or telling us to leave their country. Unless that whole "sovereignty" thing was just a phase.

Dick also delivered the same stale bromides about progress and how now "it's game time". I guess the last four years were just the pre-game pep rally. Thankfully, Dubya and Dick seem to be the only ones left willing to shake their pom poms.

Joe Gandelman says there's a whole lotta surgin' going on. Unfortunately for President Bush, it's all in the other direction.

and Big Tent Democrat don't think this GOP version of Ocean's Eleven will do much to budge the Bush. An Ocean's Sixty on the other hand...

Steven D. says the Bushies should have picked a better coach to pump up the Iraqi Dream Team.

Steve Young has the latest on an exit strategy from Iraq.

And Libby Spencer says that despite what anyone else may want, the Bushies seem intent on reaching the 2009 End Zone not matter how many defensive linemen it may take.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pelosi May Sue Over Signing Statements

While it remains to be seen how this may pan out should it become necessary, I thought it best to bring this to everyone's attention seeing as how I have been banging on this drum for some time now.

From The Hill:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is threatening to take President Bush to court if he issues a signing statement as a way of sidestepping a carefully crafted compromise Iraq war spending bill.

Pelosi recently told a group of liberal bloggers, “We can take the president to court” if he issues a signing statement, according to Kid Oakland, a blogger who covered Pelosi’s remarks for the liberal website

“The president has made excessive use of signing statements and Congress is considering ways to respond to this executive-branch overreaching,” a spokesman for Pelosi, Nadeam Elshami, said. “Whether through the oversight or appropriations process or by enacting new legislation, the Democratic Congress will challenge the president’s non-enforcement of the laws.”

It is a scenario for which few lawmakers have planned. Indicating that he may consider attaching a signing statement to a future supplemental spending measure, Bush last week wrote in his veto message, “This legislation is unconstitutional because it purports to direct the conduct of operations of the war in a way that infringes upon the powers vested in the presidency.”

And these signing statements purport to infringe upon powers vested in Congress, so what's your point?

It's heartening to see the Democrats taking this issue seriously. And while I hope this issue can be settled without the need to involve the courts as it may delay sorely needed funds for troops in the field, if ever there were a case in which Congress had standing to sue the Executive, this would probably fit the bill (no pun intended). In my layman's understanding of the whole process, if Bush were to attach a signing statement to any compromised supplemental bill, wouldn't he be trouncing on not just one but two authorities afforded to Congress: the power to write the laws and determination of how appropriated funds are to be spent?

But as is to be expected, the wingnuts see this as another instance of Congressional overreach. Yet never is any attention ever paid to the fact that Congress would not have to go to such lengths to get the President to follow the law were it not over his own encroachments.

Blog Thanks: Who knew this rather mundane piece would be so popular. Not only did the SotD version of this post get picked up on Salon's Blog Report, Shakesville and The Heretik but co-blogger Creature tells me it got a few hits from the ISP. Nice to see I'm not the only one paying attention.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Convenient Troop

Dick Morris takes the flypaper theory to a whole 'nother level. Apparently Dick thinks it's a good idea to keep US forces in Iraq because coming here to kill Americans is just so darn inconvenient. Given who the targets of this mornings foiled terror plot were, I'd surmise he'd say the same about keeping them in New Jersey.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Terror on the Jersey Shore?

And no, the Mooninites haven't returned. The rightie blogs are crowing about the arrest of six Albanians this morning in an alleged plot to raid and take down the strategically important target of ... Fort Dix, New Jersey?
Federal investigators last night arrested six Islamic radicals who were planning a heavily armed attack against soldiers at Fort Dix as part of a jihad against America, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In a statement released this morning that confirmed an earlier report on, The Star-Ledger's Web site, the U.S. Attorney's Office said the men planned to "kill as many soldiers as possible."

The alleged plot included conducting surveillance of the Army base and purchasing multiple firearms, including hand guns, shotguns and semi-automatic weapons,...

From various news accounts, this looks to be yet another "homegrown" terror cell with little, if any, connection to Al-Qaeda or any other terror network. And in a move reminiscent of the Miami 7 and their ninja garb fetish, these guys got caught because they were a bunch of show offs.
The men - several of whom are relatives - had videotaped their practice sessions in Pennsylvania, according to the complaint. That videotape, in which they fired assault weapons and railed against America, led to their arrests.

They made the mistake of bringing it to a retail store, seeking to get a copy burned to a DVD, according to the complaint. A store employee who later watched the tape called the FBI who began immediately investigating.

If these guys were indeed committed to carrying out this attack, I for one am glad they've been apprehended before they could do so. But as with anything having to do with alleged terror plots nowadays, such developments should be taken with copious amounts of salt.

(Filed at State of the Day)

GOP: Ask Again When September Ends

WaPo reports today that September could be the make or break month for continued Republican support of President Bush's surge strategery.
Congressional leaders from both political parties are giving President Bush a matter of months to prove that the Iraq war effort has turned a corner, with September looking increasingly like a decisive deadline.

In that month, political pressures in Washington will dovetail with the military timeline in Baghdad. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, has said that by then he will have a handle on whether the current troop increase is having any impact on political reconciliation between Iraq's warring factions....

"September is the key," said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds defense. "If we don't see a light at the end of the tunnel, September is going to be a very bleak month for this administration."....

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has taken a hard line in Bush's favor, said Sunday, "By the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B."...

I'm not as hopeful of these signs as some my be given the GOPer propensity for constantly shifting the goalposts but it's understandable they would wish to relieve themselves of the Bush anchor.

Come September, we'll see if they're really willing to cut the chain or if they're just yanking ours.

(Filed at State of the Day)

From Greensburg to Baghdad

Not long after Hurricane Katrina hit, it became evident to everyone sans the Bush administration that one of the biggest hurdles of the recovery effort was the lack of readily available National Guard resources. At present, some 40% of our NG are stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And once again we are learning the consequences of having so much of our forces no longer here to protect the homeland.

Via Raw Story:
Kansas' Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius said Monday that the effort to recover from the damage caused by tornadoes that hit six Kansas counties over the weekend is being hampered by the war in Iraq.

According to Sebelius there is a shortage of trucks, helicopters and other equipment necessary for the disaster clean up effort due to the Iraq war.

"There is no doubt at all that this will slow down and hamper the recovery," she told Reuters.

In a television interview with CNN on Sunday, Sebelius outlined the problem in more detail.

"Well, states all over the country are not only missing personnel, National Guard troops are — about 40 percent of the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan — but we’re missing the equipment. When the troops get deployed, the equipment goes with them," she told CNN.

"So, here in Kansas, about 50 percent of our trucks are gone. We need trucks. We’re missing Humvees, we’re missing all kinds of equipment that can help us respond to this kind of emergency."

She said that because the National Guard doesn't have the equipment it needs, the disaster relief efforts are proceeding at a much slower pace than they otherwise could.

I'll be waiting for the eventual smear campaign directed at Gov. Sebelius for not supporting the troops by suggestion they have more important work to do than quelling a civil war thousands of miles from home.

My mother often says that we should worry about taking care of our own before worrying about the rest of the world. For the citizens of Kansas, I have a feeling they would agree with that assessment right now.

Meme more.

Update: Fox News gets the grease ball rolling, natch.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

More Briar Patch

Another message from Br'er Rabbit asking us to stay in the Briar Patch just a little while longer.
In a new video posted today on the Internet, al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al Zawahiri, mocks the bill passed by Congress setting a timetable for the pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq.

"This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap," Zawahiri says in answer to a question posed to him an interviewer.

Continuing in the same tone, Zawahiri says, "We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson."

Funny that Ole Zawahiri should mention it since rather than ensuring we don't lose that many by supporting a responsible redeployment, the Republicans are just making more room on the wall.

Because if Br'er Bush and Br'er Bin Laden have their way, we're going to need it.

Meme more.

Update: Kathy peruses the right side of Blogtopia so we don't have to and finds that, not surprisingly, the righties think Zawahiri is endorsing their belief that Democrats want to surrender. As I put it in the comments section "It boggles the mind that the righties would try to twist the words [of] a known propagandist to suit their view of the world. And I’m not even talking about Zawahiri."

(Filed at State of the Day)

Future Headlines

Amalgamated Press (AP) - April 10th, 2097

Eternal General Gonzales Makes 1000th Appearance Before Congress.

Lawmakers complain of continued silence on key issues. Aides complain about smell.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Giving Rights to Terrorists

That has been perhaps one of the most egregious accusations leveled against those who've railed against such practices as suspending habeas corpus for terrorism suspects at Gitmo. No one as ever proposed giving "special rights" to those accused of terrorism. Of course such lack of advocation means little when there's a pre-election smear fest to be had.

Yet for all the opposition to "giving rights to terrorists", there appears to be one which shall remain sacrosanct: the right to bear arms.
The National Rifle Association is urging the Bush administration to withdraw its support of a bill that would prohibit suspected terrorists from buying firearms.

Backed by the Justice Department, the measure would give the attorney general the discretion to block gun sales, licenses or permits to terror suspects.

In a letter this week to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, NRA executive director Chris Cox said the bill, offered last week by Sen. Frank Lautenberg , D-N.J., "would allow arbitrary denial of Second Amendment rights based on mere 'suspicions' of a terrorist threat."

In a way I can understand their argument since the term "suspect" has been so thoroughly abused by this administration to the point of being meaningless. But does anyone else get the feeling that what really has the NRA spooked is the potential for people like this and this being barred from exercising their Second Amendment rights?

Just sayin'.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Liberating Paris

The title of this post might suggest that I am referring to Socialist Segolene Royal's warning of violence and brutality that would befall France should her opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy, win Sunday's presidential election.

If you thought I meant that, you'd be wrong.
Paris Hilton, her long blond hair tied back in a ponytail and oversized sunglasses shading her eyes, pulled up to L.A. traffic court near downtown Friday more than 15 minutes late for her probation violation hearing.

It was perhaps a moment when being prompt would have proved more fashionable.

Two hours later, Hilton departed with a 45-day jail sentence and a verbal comeuppance from the judge, who told her the time had come to take responsibility for her own actions. She has until June 5 to report to Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood to serve her time or risk a total of 90 days behind bars.

There is a debate going on right now about how deserving she was of such a harsh sentence. Some say it doesn't fit the crime while others are of the opinion that perhaps now faced with the consequences of her actions will wipe the perpetual smirk from her multi-million dollar visage.

The burning question? When is "The Simple Life: Lockdown" coming to E!?

Meme has more.

(Filed at State of the Day)

What's the difference between Iraq war cheerleaders and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders?

The Dallas gals have better choreography.

Culling the Herd

The prospective presidential pachyderm parade was the talk of the blogs yesterday and there was definitely a prevailing theme during the debate: don't mention Bush. While there were numerous invocations of former president Ronald Reagan, only once was Bush mentioned, and only then was it about how the candidates would be different from the current White House occupant.

One way they are trying to differentiate themselves from Bush is in combating terrorism, an area in which the Bush administration has been rather delinquent despite recent attempts to blame all the ills of Iraq on Al-Qaeda. John McCain gave a rather creepy tirade about following Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell. But the award for the most asinine anti-terror policy goes to Mitt Romney. According to Mitt, Bin Laden doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things because there will always be someone to take his place. I tend to agree with that sentiment but I think it down plays his importance in the terms of closure for the victims of his violence. But then there was Mitt's claim that this war is about the efforts of a whole horde of organizations bent on causing the collapse of moderate Islamic governments and the establishment of a modern day caliphate in the Middle East. No mention of Iran though, guess he forget they're the latest boogeyman de jour.

Such ignorance of the intricacies of the geopolitical landscape is only matched by the Bush administration's similar lack of vision. If this is the best the GOP has to offer, more tough-guyism lacking any basis in reality, we may find ourselves longing for the good old days of Bush II.

(Filed at State of the Day)