Saturday, June 30, 2007

No Circus in Piccadilly

Yesterday's big story was the twin car bombs which were discovered in London. There was breathless speculation about who was responsible, with Al-Qaeda being the goto villain of choice just as they have been recently with all things Iraq. But even with all this speculation, as Cernig who as the resident Brit on my blogroll I turn to for all my UK analysis, says there is very little to go on at this point. I am sure he will expand on the theory being raised that these bombs were designed to try to influence newly minted Prime Minister Gordon Brown. While everyone seems to be suggesting the desired outcome may have been something akin to the aftermath of the Madrid bombings three year ago (withdrawal of military forces from Iraq), I wonder if Jim's theory is far more plausible.

In any event, I am glad no one was injured in what was obviously a far more serious threat than the recent terror arrests here in the States. And perhaps the stalwart way in which the Brits have handled the situation is something we should strive to emulate here. Stiff upper lip and all that, chaps.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

A lot going on in the blogs this AM so here's what's Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

I know that prevailing wisdom says that the best way to counter the vile and hate-filled talk of people like Ann Coulter is to ignore them. But Ann is but a symptom of a larger malady, one which as the potential to become far worse. Just as with the slow decline of the Bush II presidency, there will be those who see the slow motion train wreck that is Coulter's descent into insolvency as a sign that their influence in waning. This may compel some to action and not necessarily with the best of intentions. The best way to counter this is not to ignore it but ensure that such people and their warped ideas are consigned to the fringes of society were they belong.

Whenever a controversy, scandal or something just plain embarrassing has ever cropped up, the go to excuse for GOPers has been to blame it all on Bill Clinton. So it no real surprise that Rudy Giuliani has now resorted to that tired cliche, saying that Bill (and by extention all Democrats) weren't serious about terrorism during the latter's tenure in the White House. Anyone else get the feeling the Rudy is trying to compensate for something considering how "serious" he's been on important issues of late? Check out Joe Conason for more.

And while we're on the subject of blaming Billy Boy, I wonder how soon we'll hear the argue that the Bushies just had to defy subpoenas compelling documents and testimony regarding Purgegate because of the precedent set by Dubya's predecessor? Larisa says we've officially entered the Watergate era of the Bush presidency.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kibbles 'n Bits

Whether in the dog house or the White House, this is one pooch who deserves to be hounded.

(h/t Libby for inspiration)

(Filed at State of the Day)


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Return of Coultergeist

It's been some time since last we heard from Ann Coulter and it would appear that the she-demon succubus decided she needed another dose of the life force of fawning media attention that is her sustenance. But I would have to say she is getting even more crazed in her attempts to foment adulation from the crazed sect of her conservative audience.

During a segment on Good Morning America, Coulter once again sank her fanged maw into John Edwards. Only this time she didn't remark about his haircut or malign his sexual orientation. No, this time she openly called for his assassination. Watch.

It really does boggle the mind that news orgs continue to host this vile shell of what was once a human being as if she were some sort of serious political analyst. Even Chris Matthews' lament that "she sells books" is no excuse.

And the Coulter pun-idiot wasn't done yet. On the always welcoming Hannity & Colmes, Coulter called out Barack Obama saying that "I do think someone named B. Hussein Obama should avoid using hijack and religion in the same sentence."

But it would appear that Coulter hadn't counted on someone talking back who wasn't as sycophantic as the likes of Matthews and Hannity. Elizabeth Edwards called in to Hardball to read Ms. Ann the riot act.
These young people behind you…you’re asking them to participate in a dialogue that is based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues, and I don’t think that’s serving them or this country very well.

That line elicited cheers from the crowd, something I'm sure didn't sit well with Ann. Neither, one would assume, is the less than stellar books sales of her last screed against all things liberal. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the younger generation appears to be wising up and no longer taking her words as gospel. Seems the exorcism may be working.

More ghost hunting at Meme.

Update: David Goldstein indirectly reminded me that last February righties were going apeshit because anonymous commenters on lefty blogs expressed disappointment that Dick Cheney hadn't been killed in an attack in Afghanistan. But Ms. Ann wishing a similar fate on a Democratic presidential candidate? Crickets...

Blog Thanks: The SotD of this post got picked up in the Wednesday blog round up at Real Clear Politics. Does this officially mean I'm part of the nutroots?

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Q: What Do You Get...

...when you cross the messianic world view of George Bush and the nihilistic tendencies of Dick Cheney?

A: You get the man who Sally Quinn feels should fill in as Vice President until he can move on to the top spot.

Sally forth to Meme for more reactions to Dr. Quinn, Medicated Woman.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Cheney: Banking on the Budget?

The Democrats are now set to make good on their threat to defund the Office of the Vice President. Rep. Rahm Emauel says the point of bringing a resolution up for vote is not to withhold the money but rather to elicit an admission that Cheney is in fact a part of the executive branch and thus subject to rules governing it.

But this graf from today's installment of WaPo's Cheney series has me wondering if a new meme isn't being Xeroxed as I type this for why defunding the VP is an ill-advised track for the Dems to take.
The vice president chairs a budget review board, a panel the Bush administration created to set spending priorities and serve as arbiter when Cabinet members appeal decisions by White House budget officials. The White House has portrayed the board as a device to keep Bush from wasting time on petty disagreements, but previous administrations have seldom seen Cabinet-level disputes in that light. Cheney's leadership of the panel gives him direct and indirect power over the federal budget -- and over those who must live within it. (emphasis mine)

I can just see it now. Cheney and his supporters could argue that his role as head of his budget panel is vital for the continued functioning of the executive branch and defunding his office would therefore place the entire branch in jeopardy of breaking down into dysfunction (more so than it already is of course). It can be argued then that by bringing this vote, the Democrats are attempting to break the executive branch. Now who's overreaching their authority?

Leaving aside for the moment that Bush could simply veto any bill defunding the Veep's office, if this does become the new talking point during the debate, I doubt anyone would note the irony of Cheney claiming his participation in this executive panel is critical to a branch he recently claimed to be independent from.

Blog Thanks: Salon's Blog Report for linking to the SotD of this post.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Real Decider

The Washington Post's lengthy series on Dick Cheney's time as Vice President has been generating a lot of buzz in the blogosphere this week. And like A.L., I too noticed the conspicuous absence of the President thus far. For someone who claims to be the Decider, this series seems to suggest that all he really is the decider of is what types of drapes and carpet adorn the Oval Office.

I've also noticed that Alberto Gonzales comes off as more of a Cheney lackey as opposed to some nefarious consigliere to the President. For the longest time I thought Dubya was just keeping Fredo, as Gonzales is indeed affectionately called, around to protect his backside. But now I think it's far more like that Cheney has had far greater influence on Gonzo's retention.

Part two is now available and I highly recommend a read since I have a feeling this anthology will be used by future historians to help explain some of this presidency's most egregious policies and practices.

Update: More from Larisa, Christy, Dan Froomkin and Eugene Robinson.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Opening The Files: 06/24/07

The Lone Deranger

Shoot 'em up Shooter and his faithful companion Dubya ride again. Respect their extra-constitutional authoritah! Yee-haw!

When the idea that Dick "Angler Mangler" Cheney wasn't a part of the executive branch and thus not subject to executive dictates was rekindled this week, many suggested that Congress should cut funding for the OVP (Old Villainous Posse?). If the Veep wants to be his own boss, might as well let him fit the bill. No one can shoot holes through that logic, not even Dead Eye Dick. Heck, Bush recently pledged to tamp down on wasteful spending. What could be more wasteful than dumping untold millions of dollars onto an entity that claims it is not affiliated with any branch of government yet still claims all of the privileges?

Well, now the Democrats have proposed taking away Dick's fistful of dollars. And if you ask me it's long past time this Lone Ranger rode off into the sunset.

Libby Spencer noticed how misapplied the Bushies were with their implied intent. Then again, the Founding Fathers intended a lot of things. The Bushies just misapplied them.

And speaking of unintended intentions, Steve Young has a transcript of Tony Snowjob trying to clear things up.

Scott Rosenberg says there's more than meets the eye to this Constitutional Transformer.

And Maureen Dowd (free via Rozius), who took a break from obsessing over John Edwards' haircut, thinks that the only way Shooter could possibly be more reviled is if he took a famous adolescent wizard-in-training on a quail hunt.

(Filed at State of the Day)

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

I'm still digesting all the news and views that came out during my Heroes Hiatus (which I highly enjoyed!), so here's another installment of Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

Digby, fresh from her outing at the Take Back America conference, wonders why is it that it took the vaunted MSM nearly five months to realize that Dick Cheney considers himself his own branch of government. As for the White House, the excuse now appears to be that both Dubya and Dick don't have to follow White House rules. I guess next we will be debating whether the President is in fact part of the executive branch. If so, might I suggest a name change is in order.

With Operation Whack-a-Mole proceeding apace, TPM reader SM notices the sudden fascination with referring to all gun wielding Arabs in Iraq as "Al-Qaeda". I too have noticed the sudden "all al-Qaeda, all the time" reportage of late. Do you suppose it has anything to do with who we are currently teamed up with or has the media decided to simply go back to being stenographers?

"They'll stand up, we'll stand down" appears to again be operative, at least as far as possible drawdowns next spring are concerned. However, Cernig has the skinny on this pale pony rider.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Friday, June 22, 2007

Cheney to Bush: Go Me, Yourself

It shouldn't really come as a surprise that Vice President Cheney once again feels the rules don't apply to him, this time with regards to classification of secret information. And this isn't the first time he has claimed to be an entity unto himself. We all know Dick has long sought to regain some of the authorities lost due to the abuses of the Nixon administration and then some. That he would do so to the detriment of the other two branches of government only shows how truly antipathy he is to how our system of government functions.

But I would also like to point he also apparently doesn't feel himself answerable to his nominal boss. From Wired's summary of the controversy (courtesy Steven Reynolds):
The showdown over the executive branch-wide regulations on how to classify, store, handle, and declassify government documents started sometime in 2003, when Cheney’s office refused to submit an annual report on its classification procedures, despite the fact that the order was signed by President Bush. (emphasis mine)

Now we all know the arrogance and hubris of this commander-in-chief. He's all about chest thumpin' and proclaiming who's The Decider, usually aiming such petulance at his Democratic opponents in Congress. Yet his second in command can't be bothered with rules that he himself issued. You would think he might be a little put off by that.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Heroes Hiatus

I'm suffering a bit of blogger burnout and my outrage meter is hitting critical levels. So I think it's time I take a breather for the next day or so to get my bearings back. In the meantime...

Last November, when NBC premiered its new hit series Heroes, I thought it would be another weak attempt to cash in on the superhero craze hitting tinsel town as of late. Little did I know how wrong I was. After the show had been on the air a few weeks, I finally decided to see what the buzz was about. Needless to say, I was hooked. I horded the existing episodes, which at that time numbered about eight I think. I got through the first five when I realized I only had a few left. The serial nature of the show had me begging for more and I couldn't stand the thought of having to wait week after week to see what next awaited our intrepid heroes. So I suppressed by inner geek and bided my time until the first season had run its course. I avoided NBC on Monday nights and any reference to the show in the blogosphere like the plague, fearful of catching a glimpse of a jaw dropping revelation to which I had not been privy to.

Season one of the series ended in late May and I have now finally procured all 23 episodes. So now I will indulge in a bit of escapist fair to a world where people can fly, travel through time and saving a cheerleader means saving the world.

If only real life were that simple.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Peas and Carrots

But no onion rings.

This morning the blogs and news orgs were going gaga over Hillary Clinton's recent attempt at pop culture satire. Some were analyzing whether or not it was advantageous to make allusions to being akin to a mob family, however fictionalized, given some on the right already feel the comparison is far too accurate. But perhaps the weirdest reaction of all came from Ann Althouse (see first link), who so over analyzed the sexual symbolism of the appetizer choice I thought she was going to hurt herself on one of those Freudian slips.

Note to Ann: sometimes onion rings and carrots are just to get you hungry for the main course. Though perhaps that is what has Ann, and many others, truly worried.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Rest Not the Weary

"Only the dead have seen the end of war" - General Douglas MacArthur, 1962

Creature hit upon the Bush administration's disdain for shared sacrifice yesterday. No more is this evident by the fact that the brunt of the burden for continuing the war falls squarely on the shoulders of the soldiers fighting it. Now we are learning that in order to maintain Bush's "surge", those same troops may be asked to stay even longer then they already have been. And just as before, it is again being claimed that the desired goal is to guarantee at least 12 months of down time away from combat. But if past is prologue, well...

Any extensions will no doubt have a serious impact on the psychological health of our troops as well as morale. Being in an environment where one must remain hyper-vigilant to danger for such long durations can lead even the strongest and most mentally fit individual to the brink of breakdown and beyond. To help alleviate this concern, military doctors have recommended soldiers be given at least one month away for every three in zone.

The military's response? No can do.
U.S. commanders in Iraq are rejecting a recommendation by Army mental health experts that troops receive a one-month break for every three months in a combat zone, despite unprecedented levels of continuous fighting and worsening risks of mental stress.

Perhaps is it time the Army updated their slogan.

More from Libby.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Despite his "12 commitments" to America shtick, one probably need only ask wives one or two just how "committed" Rudy Giuliani can be. His most recent divorce came in the form of his bailing on the Iraq Study Group last May. He wrote a letter claiming that "my previous time commitments do not permit me the full and active participation that the Iraq Study Group deserves".

So what were those "previous time commitments"? Why raking in money for his eventual campaign of course.
Giuliani quit the group during his busiest stretch in 2006, when he gave 20 speeches in a single month that brought in $1.7 million.

The irony here is rich enough to give one diabetes. Rudy's recent campaign promises have been all about showing leadership on a wide range of issues. But when it came time to get down to the arduous task of helping to craft policy that would affect the number one issue facing this country right now, he had "other commitments".

Of course such is to be expected from someone who feels that the war is someone else's problem.

Update: Giuliani has disavowed the accusation that he ditched the ISG to go diving for dollars. He now claims the reason he left was because he didn't want his membership to be used against him during his campaign. But this excuse doesn't really wash since it's a safe bet that had he stayed, he certainly would have used it himself. I can just imagine the numerous speeches starting with "When I was on the Iraq Study Group...". Meme has the reaction roundup. Be sure to check in with A.L. as well.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Cherry Pickin'

While many are choosing to address the rekindled RNC email scandal and new revelations involving the Abu Ghraib prison investigation, I've decided to return to a old haunt of mine: signing statements.

When the issue of what effect these statements will have on how the law is enforced, the argument, usually issued by White House mouthpiece Tony Snow, was that they were merely the President's way of laying down his interpretation of the law in question. Well now it seems these interpretations may in fact have had an effect on how those laws were applied.

The Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress and an ironically named department given the current crop of Sgt. Schultz's running our executive branch, has some intriguing data. A sample set was taken from the 1,100 laws challenged by these statements. Of the 19, only ten were applied as written. The other nine were either not enforced or were not triggered and didn't count. If one were to assume this ratio reflects the whole assortment, you're looking at a striking number of laws that the Bush administration may be failing to enforce.

The GAO reports does add a caveat that the noncompliance of the provisions weren't necessarily the direct result of the statements. But as Carpetbagger says "we only know that the president issued a signing statement questioning certain provisions of the law and then, lo and behold, the administration ignored those provisions."

And while this GAO report is a good start, as I've said on numerous occasions to seemingly deaf ears, the issue of these statements needs to be fully addressed with subpoena backing if necessary. For until then, all this fighting over bills in Congress matters very little if Bush is allowed to append an "only if I feel like it" note after the cameras are off.

Update: More from Charlie Savage, the preeminent goto guy for this.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Opening The Files: 06/18/07

September Showdown: What a Crock(er)

One of the headlines making the rounds the other day was "U.S. says Iraq troop surge complete". Huzzah! The surge was a success! We can start bringing troops home!

Alas, reading through the article one finds that merely the buildup of US forces is complete. The surge is very much still progressing. And with the full compliment now in place, the push to downplay the importance of September continues in earnest.

Gen. Petraeus, who recently called the surge a rousing success at securing normalcy for parts of Baghdad (well 40% of it anyway), says that even if he reports in September that all is sunshine and roses, we aren't likely to see any real shift in strategy. Guess Mitch McConnell didn't get the memo that "stay the course" is now operative again.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Ryan "Whadda" Crocker was so robotic in delivering his prepared talking points I thought he might start sparking at any minute from meme meltdown. Maybe the Bushies should just quit with the spin and go with the Smothers Brothers approach. It would save us all a lot time, effort, money and most importantly, lives.

Arianna translates the CrockerBot2000 for us. Anyone else think it's time to change the batteries?

Last week, the right went schizo over comments made by Sen. Harry Reid criticizing Generals Pace and Petraeus for their lack of candor on the war in Iraq. Many argued it was "inappropriate" to question generals "in a time of war". Miles Mogulescu argues that with all the reports coming out showing less than stellar returns on the surge, Reid is right to question the credibility of those charged with its implementation.

Station Agent crunches the coalition numbers and finds that the subtraction button is getting pretty lonely.

Robert Stein says that regardless of what Petraeus and Crocker have planned, one endangered species is looking to fly the coop before they get their wings clipped. If only migration season would come early this year.

Update: Libby has some thoughts and a new nickname for the surgin' General.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Better Bring a Pooper Scooper

Gonzales plans to ‘tighten the leash’ on attorneys.

(Plucked from a folder at The Xsociate Files)


Jeffersonian Democracy Sinks into the Mud

Actually, it's just the Jefferson Memorial. But if ever there was a better metaphor for the national morass we find ourselves in, I don't know what it would be. More from Capt. Fogg.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

I don't really have anything substantive milling about my brain this Sunday morning, so I will instead give you a cross section of what's Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes.

Mike Nifong, the prosecutor involved in the Duke Lacrosse rape scandal, is out and has been stripped of his law license. I don't really have much to say on this. To me, it was just another instance of an overzealous prosecutor with political aspirations looking to make a name for himself. Even at the cost of maligning the reputations of three ultimately innocent young men. Let this be a lesson of the consequences when one sets out to mix politics and governance.

Speaking of which, Karl "Turdblossom" Rove, may find himself circling the bowl soon. Seems the Office of Special Counsel has expanded their investigation into his politicization of various governmental agencies. Personally I would love to see Karl frog marched from the White House, which is the only likely way we'll ever see The Decider part ways with a Bushie as loyal as him. Then again, The Pardoner may just start doling out "get out of jail free" cards like a dealer in a high stakes game of Texas Hold 'Em.

One of the often unnoticed side effects of the war in Iraq is the psychological trauma that our soldiers must endure upon their return. This has only been exacerbated by repeated deployments and extended tours. When they do return home, their healing is stymied by miles of bureaucratic red tape and delays. In years past it use to be called "Battle Fatigue" or "Shell Shock", but now it simply goes by the innocuous acronym PTSD. Whatever moniker you may prefer, none do justice to the suffering and debilitation our soldiers must endure as they try to reenter civilian life. Libby has a must read on the subject.

Today is Father's Day. For many it means going out to get that special present your Dad has had his eye on. Whether it's a DVD or a powertool, nothing is too much for the man who helped raise you. But for some, that man is notably absent this holiday. Far too many fathers and sons have been lost to the Iraq war, both American and Iraqi. Helping to put an end to it will be the greatest Father's Day present for a good many families. Go here to help make a difference for one them.

Blog Thanks: for linking to the SotD of this post.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Begging For a Pardon When They Should be Begging Forgiveness

Bill Moyers, long an institution of what journalism use to be, rails against the neocon clique which this past week showed just how dismissive they are of values necessary to a healthy and functioning democracy. Digby provides some sage words of advice. We should all be preparing for the inevitable flip flop if and/or when a Democrat takes office 18 months hence. No doubt by then this little episode of "Free Scooter" will be just another in a long line of examples of the rank hypocrisy of those who claimed to wish to resort honor and dignity to the White House.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Outsourcing Run A Mock

Andy Borowitz, proprietor of the puntastic Borowitz Report had another of his funny yet oh so convincing "reports" the other day regarding the immigration bill which failed in Congress. Here's some choice grafs:
In an attempt to break the nagging logjam over immigration, congressional leaders announced today that they were hiring illegal immigrants to write the nation's new immigration bill.

While some observers criticized the decision to employ illegals to draft the very bill that would regulate themselves, Sen. John Kyl (R-Arizona) said that the move was a "win-win" for the American people.

"No one understands the thorny issue of immigration better than the people who have been sneaking into our country," Mr. Kyl said. "Plus, these folks work cheap."

You know what they say about life imitating art? Well:
The California Republican Party has decided no American is qualified to take one of its most crucial positions — state deputy political director — and has hired a Canadian for the job through a coveted H-1B visa, a program favored by Silicon Valley tech firms that is under fire for displacing skilled American workers.

This really is just too funny for words. One of the reasons the immigration bill failed was because rank and file conservatives in Congress weren't happy with President Bush's guest worker program which many saw as basically granting amnesty. Yet when it comes to putting immigrants into high level positions in the GOP, suddenly there is silence.

Then again, with the fact that so many positions in the Bush administration are going unfilled because no one wants them, perhaps they can utilize a sort of "guest Bushie" program to help fill them. Of course they would probably have a limited pool to choose from.

Blog Thanks: USA Today's On Deadline for mentioning the SotD version of this post.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Audited and Still Asking For More

In a report that garnered very little attention save a few posts in Blogtopia, The Blotter reported the other day that lawmakers on Capitol Hill are skeptical of an initiative by the FBI to beef up their data collection capabilities. According to the report, plans are to bring together a huge assortment of databases compiled by the FBI and other federal agencies. There is also talk of using what is being called "predictive" analysis, whereby a template for what could be a terrorist's activities is cross referenced with those in the amalgamated database. You may recall that similar templates were said to have been used by the NSA.

Civil liberties groups are rightly concerned about the potential for abuse of this new program. And their concerns are not without merit when you consider that the Bureau hasn't exactly been completely meticulous in following guidelines put in place to help safeguard those liberties.
An internal FBI audit has found that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while collecting data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years, far more than was documented in a Justice Department report in March that ignited bipartisan congressional criticism.

The new audit covers just 10 percent of the bureau's national security investigations since 2002, and so the mistakes in the FBI's domestic surveillance efforts probably number several thousand, bureau officials said in interviews.

I am often struck by the sheer audacity of the Bushies to lobby Congress to expand their authority in a given area at the same time we learn that they can't seem to follow the rules under the authority they do have. And they expect us to believe they'll do a better job with more?

(Filed at State of the Day and Blognonymous)

The Surge Dirge Part Deux

Once again, we are being treated to the obvious: the surge just isn't working.
Three months into the new U.S. military strategy that has sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Iraq, overall levels of violence in the country have not decreased, as attacks have shifted away from Baghdad and Anbar, where American forces are concentrated, only to rise in most other provinces, according to a Pentagon report released yesterday.

Yesterday, a Shiite shrine in Samarra that was bombed in early 2006 was hit again. Some are speculating who carried it out but regardless, it is only likely to increase the chances of reprisal attacks spiraling out of control. Makes you wonder if the weapons we just forked over to the Sunnis will be used to exact revenge for the retribution inflicted following the shrine bombing.

But not to worry, folks. It's still far to early to call the surge a failure, regardless of what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid say. We gotta give the surge time to take hold. Heck, we're still waiting for the full surge force to get into place. So just sit tight and we'll see what Gen. Petreaus has to say about the surge come September.

Oh, about that.
A September progress report on the U.S. troop increase in Iraq that President George W. Bush called an important moment for his war strategy is unlikely to be a "pivotal" assessment, officials now say.

Amid unrelenting bloodshed in Iraq and scant signs of progress by the Iraqi government in meeting political benchmarks, the White House sought to temper expectations of rapid strides resulting from a security crackdown begun at the start of this year.

Perhaps the Bushies will just use a different set of metrics to measure progress. Of course, the only metrics that really matter are the ones that "venerable" FOX News personalities like Bill O'Reilly think "don't mean anything".

(Filed at State of the Day and Blognonymous)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And He Parted the Red States

Giuliani unveils his new "12 Commitments" campaign platform.

(Filed at State of the Day and Blognonymous)


Burning Bridges

If roads are often called the arteries of a nation, then bridges would be the shunts that connect those arteries and help keep that society's commerce and prosperity flowing. This maxim would certainly be true in the case of Baghdad, Iraq. Bisected by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, bridges not only allow passage between neighborhoods divided by those mighty tributaries but are vital to the security plan being implemented by US forces.

Now those arteries are under siege, with three consecutive bombings in as many days. While there are many routes through which traffic can be detoured, I turn you to Larry Johnson for why these bombings could have serious implications for the viability of the surge.
Beyond the inconvenience factor, we must recognize that the destruction of bridges can produce the defacto isolation of U.S. outposts and bases. If a U.S. unit is attacked and requires reinforcements, the loss of these bridges increase the difficulty of the U.S. Quick Reaction Force reaching the scene in a timely manner. Moreover, with fewer alternate routes available, insurgents can anticipate where to hit a responding American force. In fact, an attack on an outpost could be a feint intended to provoke a U.S. reaction and give the insurgents the opportunity to ambush the inbound soldiers.

Indeed, as Ian Welsh points out this would be a classic example of anti-insurgency strategy. Only in this case our forces are the ones on the receiving end.

The arteries of Baghdad are being severed. And I fear no amount of white blood cells in the form of US soldiers will be enough to stop the hemorrhaging.

(Filed at State of the Day and Blognonymous)

Shorter Dennis Miller:

Now, I don't want to get off on a rant here, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is so irrelevant that it requires a two minute rant on a second rate Daily Show knock-off to point out how irrelevant he is. If only I were that irrelevant. (Cue laugh track)

(Filed at State of the Day and Blognonymous)


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Huckster Huckabee

The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has been in the headlines more and more in recent weeks. It started with last week's ruling by a military panel to toss charges against detainees there and when former Secretary of State Colin Powell again criticized it this weekend.

On Sunday's Late Edition, GOP presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee responded to Powell's claims about Gitmo. During the course of his argument he said that most state prisoners would "love to be in a facility more like Guantanamo." Several bloggers have taken the governor to task for his remarks but I wanted to focus on another bit of rhetoric that is sure to increase in frequency as demands to close the prison mount.

Any time the topic of closing Gitmo comes up, the go-to excuse for why we can not do so is always that if we were to release the detainees currently held there, they would simply rejoin the fight against the US and our allies. This is yet another strawman since no one to my knowledge is advocating that we simply release the detainees, only that they be brought under the purview of the criminal justice system. But nevertheless, Huckabee stuck to the "they'll come back to get us" narrative.
But I’ll tell you, if we let somebody out and it turns out that they come and fly an airliner into one of our skyscrapers, we’re going to be asking, how come we didn’t stop them? We had them detained.

What is never said is that we have in fact released hundreds of detainees from Gitmo throughout its duration. In many cases those same individuals were subsequently released by their home governments. They clearly are not concerned about those men "flying airliners into skyscrapers", yet this fear of what they "may" do is enough for the likes of Gov. Huckabee to say we should essentially keep them locked away forever without charge or trial.

If this is Huckabee's idea of what justice should be like, I'd hate to see the prisons in Arkansas.

Update: Digby reminds us of how "tough" Huckabee was on crime.

(Filed at State of the Day and Blognonymous)

Confidence Men

Just some quick thoughts on two developments today, both ostensibly involving confidence.

The first regards the no-confidence vote against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Cut to the chase, the vote failed. Well, the vote itself didn't fail rather the vote to vote on the bill failed but the message is nonetheless the same. This has both good and bad connotations for the Democrats. For starters, it is just goes to show that no matter how much they may piss and moan about how they've lost confidence in Gonzo, when it comes time to to put their votes where their rhetoric is, most of the GOPers in Congress will always side with Dubya. The downside for the Dems is that after a slew of votes seen acquiescing to the Bush administration in several areas, this vote will only mean more disenfranchised Americans who see a legislature increasingly behind the times. Regardless of the fact that the only way Gonzo will ever be removed from office is at the behest of Bush and this vote would have been yet another non-binding resolution he would undoubtedly have ignored, the impact will be the same for those already at odds with the Dem leadership.

But while Congress may have failed to pass a vote of no-confidence against Gonzo, the judiciary issued a clear rebuke of one of this amnesic AG's most controversial legacies. Today an appeals court ruled that the administration did not have standing to hold a Qatari man as an "enemy combatant", the only one known to be held under that status inside the US. Many are analyzing what implications this ruling may have but I for one am thankful that not all of the branches of government have been co-opted by the ideological drive to further entrench some of the more egregious affronts to the rule of law.

Meme roundups on Gonzo here and the ruling here.


(Filed at State of the Day and Blognonymous)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Whose Side are We on this Week Again?

Some months ago, there was talk of what was coined the 80% solution, whereby the US would essentially back the dominant Shiite population in suppressing the Sunni minority which makes up most of the insurgency. Then we learned by way of Sy Hersh that the Bushies' concerns had shifted to counteracting the growing influence of Iran. This new regional strategy involved supporting various Sunni fundamentalist groups. Some of them even had ties to or at least were not antipathy to Al-Qaeda.

Now we are getting the assistance of the Sunni insurgents to help root out Al-Qaeda for us. WaPo reported on this over the weekend and The NY Times followed up on it this morning. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out some of the risks involved in such alliances of convenience.
[C]ritics of the strategy, including some American officers, say it could amount to the Americans’ arming both sides in a future civil war. The United States has spent more than $15 billion in building up Iraq’s army and police force, whose manpower of 350,000 is heavily Shiite. With an American troop drawdown increasingly likely in the next year, and little sign of a political accommodation between Shiite and Sunni politicians in Baghdad, the critics say, there is a risk that any weapons given to Sunni groups will eventually be used against Shiites. There is also the possibility the weapons could be used against the Americans themselves.

Speaking of which. (WaPo again)
A tribal coalition formed to oppose the extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq, a development that U.S. officials say has reduced violence in Iraq's troubled Anbar province, is beginning to splinter, according to an Anbar tribal leader and a U.S. military official familiar with tribal politics.

Throw into the mix that we are also apparently getting help from Sudan with spying on the insurgency at the same time we are condemning their actions in Darfur and it's gotten to the point that distinguishing friend from foe is enough to make one's head hurt in the attempt. Imagine how soldiers on the ground must feel.

More from Carpetbagger and Maha.

(Filed at State of the Day and Blognonymous)

Opening The Files: 06/11/07

Correcting Mistakes vs. Making New Ones

This AM, the blogs are alight with discussion about two appearances on Sunday's talk show circuit. First was former Secretary of State Colin Powell who among other things endorsed closing the detention facility at Gitmo and restoring the writ of habeas corpus. Many will no doubt agree with him that correcting these two blots on our record will go a long way toward repairing some of the damage done to our reputation and image in the world. Powell was also coy about who he'd like to see elected as next president.

Of course if Joe "Cheney Lite" Lieberman has any say in the matter, whoever that is will have a lot more on their plate of problems to deal with. Holy Joe says we should bomb the heck out of Iran if they keep meddling in Iraq. Perhaps if Joe would take a moment to remove the VP's hand from his posterior he might realize that smashing the China Shop next door might not be the best way to fix the Pottery Barn we are currently trying to glue back together.

J. Kingston Pierce wonders if Powell's avoidance of a party preference is a sign that this once loyal Bushie now realizes such fidelity comes at great cost.

The Talking Dog says Powell's unsolicited advice will probably have about as much impact as it did when he was still with the administration.

Jeff Huber says that regardless of whether the Bushies truly intend to drawdown and "go long" in Iraq, the Cheneyites are pushing hard for the "long bomb" in Iran.

Jane Hamsher writes a letter.

Carpetbagger wonders if Joe was one of the "crazies" we were warned about. Cernig says there are enough Little Eichmanns Ahmadinejads on both sides.

(Filed at State of the Day and Blognonymous)


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dropping Anchor Before the Captain Jumps Ship

In recent weeks, we've been treated to a new narrative for the war in Iraq. Many bloggers and pundits set about the task of explaining how the Korean model analogy just does not fit the dynamic of what is currently taking place there. Nonetheless, the Bushies seem adamant that we will be in Iraq for some time to come. But what shape that presence will take remains to be seen.

From WaPo:
U.S. military officials here are increasingly envisioning a "post-occupation" troop presence in Iraq that neither maintains current levels nor leads to a complete pullout, but aims for a smaller, longer-term force that would remain in the country for years.

This goal, drawn from recent interviews with more than 20 U.S. military officers and other officials here, including senior commanders, strategists and analysts, remains in the early planning stages. It is based on officials' assessment that a sharp drawdown of troops is likely to begin by the middle of next year, with roughly two-thirds of the current force of 150,000 moving out by late 2008 or early 2009. The questions officials are grappling with are not whether the U.S. presence will be cut, but how quickly, to what level and to what purpose...

Even as they focus on the realities in Iraq, officials here are also keeping an eye on Washington politics. Despite the talk in the U.S. capital that Petraeus has only until September to stabilize the situation in Iraq, some officers here are quietly suggesting that they really may have until Jan. 20, 2009 -- when President Bush leaves office -- to put the smaller, revised force in place. They doubt that Bush will pull the plug on the war or that Congress will ultimately force his hand.

Does make you wonder whatever happened to "they'll follow us home" doesn't it? Personally, I have no doubts that Bush would start to bring troops home prior to his departure if it meant salvaging some of this legacy. Perhaps the surge is in fact geared toward that goal. Increase the number of troops by just enough and for long enough that everyone forgets what the old numbers use to look like. It may sound like a cheap trick to pull but what will stand out in the minds of most Americans will be the scenes of soldiers being greeted by their loved ones on tarmacs across the nation. It will be feel good time for the lame duck and any GOPer within spitting distance is bound to get some runoff.

But it won't be feel good time for all, certainly not the soldiers still stationed there. Their war will still go on, only now they are left with fewer men and resources with which to fight it. And I also think this move to a decreased but long term presence is a way of anchoring the next president's legacy to his. No leader wants to be the one to "lose" a war. Bush's failure to end to his will be a shackle that drags down the next person to take over in 2009. Should that be a Democrat, all the better they be blamed for the aftermath.

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

At Least He Didn't Call Him Benny

With Paris-a-palooza looking as though it could be finally dying down some, I'd like to turn our attention to another spoiled oligarch whose decision making processes could have a far greater impact than a drunk Hilton behind the wheel.

I am of course speaking of President Bush. He is currently doing a bit of globe trotting, having attended the G8 Summit and making a layover at the Vatican this weekend. Anyway, Russia is currently in a bit of a tizzy over the pending placement of missile defense batteries in various European countries. To try to allay the concerns of his soul-eyed Russian counterpart, President Bush had this to say.
My message will be Vladimir — I call him Vladimir — you shouldn't fear a missile defense system.

Now we know Bush has at best a fleeting relationship with the English language so it's not surprising that the above audio comes across as "Vlademer". Making ones name sound like something from a Bugs Bunny cartoon does not strike me as the best way to calm rising tensions.

Well, Dubya has now made what some are calling a Holy Gaffe by referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "sir" rather than the usual "Holiness". But with this president's proclivity for making up pet names for his associates, we should all just be thankful he chose to abstain from some of his more colorful colloquialism.

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

Friday, June 08, 2007

From Perp Walk to Cat Walk and Back Again

While everyone is rightly focused on the ousting of Gen. Peter Pace as the Chairman of the Join Chiefs since it will undoubtedly have an impact on the war effort and policy, I can't help but note our still on going national obsession with The Paris Predicament.

I must say I too am fascinated by our fascination. What should really be a non-story has turned into a media spectacle on par with the OJ trial or the Anna Nichole Smith saga. Throughout the day today, just about every major news org had breaking coverage of Paris being escorted to the LA courthouse after she was denied a chance to attend this morning's hearing via cell phone (talk about wanting to phone it in). There was even several hours of aerial footage of Ms. Hilton's palatial home as we waited for the sheriff to arrive. The copters followed the patrol car as if they half expected it to suddenly veer off course as Paris' slight hands slipped out of her cuffs and overpowered the policeman driving. All that would have been missing was the White Bronco.

But alas, Paris made it to the courthouse without incident. Though perhaps she should have taken that felonious furlough since the judge ordered her sent back to jail.

So how did the Hilton heiress handle the situation? Was she stoic in the face of knowing she must make amends for her crimes as any mature, law abiding citizen would do?

Hilton left the courtroom in tears, screaming, "Mom, Mom, Mom." Hilton was also heard saying "It's not right."

Such a response isn't all that surprising given how pampered she has been up until now. I accuse her parents. The really sad part is these are the types of people who will eventually be taking over the reins of power in years to come. And considering the petulant brat we currently having running the country, that's an unnerving prospect indeed.

See Daniel DiRito, John Cole, Libby Spencer, and a worthy read from here.

Update: Great roundup from Joe Gandelman.

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

Paris Back to the Pokey?

That is what the new orgs are speculating about this morning as word comes that the LA DA is none too happy with Paris being given a reduced sentence yesterday. It would seem John Cole may yet get some use out of his Free Paris website.

Anyway, lots of must reads in the Intertubes. Jeralyn breaks down the various arguments as to why the Sheriff may have had the rights to change her penal placement while Eugene Robinson explores why it is that we can't seem to look away. Marty Kaplan called it the Push Pull effect of news and Fixer says this could be a microcosm of us finally awakening to the real power structure in our society.

So will Ms. Hilton again be trading cell phones for cell bars? Stay Tuned for breaking updates.

Oh and in case you didn't know, there's still a war going on in Iraq.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Debunking the Habeas Resortation Meme

Likely anyone reading this blog will be aware that Congress has set about the task of correcting one of the more egregious mistakes to have ever come out of the previous Republican controlled body. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted mostly along party lines to restore the writ of habeas corpus which was nullified by last year's Military Commissions Act.

This will indeed be a herculean task for the Democrats if they are serious about restoring this long standing right. They will need to start now in hitting back against the rhetoric that everyone should expect will increase in earnest as the vote nears. Just as when the original bill was brought forth, so too will proponents of the habeas stripping provision try to again coax opponents with the mind numbingly ridicules claim that it will somehow be "giving rights to terrorists".

The Democrats need to sink this leaky ship before it has a chance to get out of the harbor. For if it is allowed to sail, we will once again fail the founders of our nation who knew all too well the value of habeas and the need for it.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Paris Liberated

Paris Hilton, whose only appreciable contribution to society is far less than those advocated by her supporters, has flown the coop. Apparently she was able to wrest herself free from the bonds of justice by doing what she does best: crying and whining until she gets her way.

Of course the official story is that her sentence was commuted to house arrest because of a "medical problem" which had developed during her five days spent behind bars. Most likely she had an allergic reaction to the reality that the world does not in fact revolve around her blond maned cranium like so many paparazzi satellites.

Now we must endure the endless stream of news cycles discussing her harrowing time in lockdown while we wait for the tell all book to hit the store shelves this fall. My money's on it being a pop-up book given how flat and two dimensional the participants are.

Update: Martin Lewis has an idea on how to rehabilitate Paris and another high profile jailbird.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Recycling Painted Proganda

If at first you don't succeed, recycle. From ABC's The Blotter:
NATO officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran's proxy war against the United States and Great Britain.

Now even the most infrequent observer will note that it's unlikely that Iran would be arming the Taliban considering that they weren't exactly on the best of terms when the later still ruled Kabul. Some may be willing to grant the slim possibility but when you look at the meat of the story, you just get the impression we are once again being asked to buy the same POS with a new paint job. My man Cernig has a look under the hood and wonders who it is that's holding the paint brush.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Of Debates and Terror

Warning: Tinfoil hat alert.

The one thing we've come to know all too well about the Bush administration is their penchant for conveniently timed terror. The latest foiled plots are no exception. And while Keith Olbermann updated his nexus the other day to reflect new events, I for one believe he got the confluences wrong.

While it is reasonable to speculate that the Bushies would wish to deflect attention away from any number of controversies that have arisen, I feel that the recent terror scares were more about creating new talking points for the last two GOP presidential debates.

For starters, consider the timing. We've learned that both the Fort Dix and JFK investigations had been proceeding for well over a year each and yet they both chose to break just days before the debates.

Also consider that these plots have played a heavy role in the discussion of terrorism at these events, particularly by Rudy Giuliani who has made a point of mentioning both as examples of the "terrorists are coming to get us where we live" meme.

Now I'm not saying that any of the participants were privy to these arrests before hand but given how much they were tossed around during the debates, it certainly makes one wonder.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Coming to Cartoon Network

Huckabee Says Thompson's Likely '08 Bid Reminds Him of 'Mighty Mouse' Candidacy.

(Filed at State of the Day)


FrankenBush and Appeals to Insanity

Yesterday, when "Scooter Libby" was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined a quarter of a millions dollars, the White House was mum on the issue of a pardon. They claim that they wish to wait on a decision until the appeal process has been exhausted. But such was not good enough for die-hardists like Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard and the National Review. Both are howling at Bush for not immediately issuing a get out of jail free card to his loyal Bushie.

And yet, as Anonymous Liberal reminds us, these same individuals have no qualms about the kangaroo courts set up at Guantanamo Bay prison to try terrorism suspects whose sentences, should they ever actually be tried, will likely far exceed anything Libby will have to endure at Club Fed.
These are the very same people who don't care one whit about the people, many of whom are totally innocent, who have been detained without process for years in Guantanamo or rendered to another country to be brutally tortured. These are the very same people who openly advocated for a kangaroo court system in which those on trial for their lives would not be allowed to see the evidence against them and in which coerced confessions would be admissible.

He goes on to recall that none of the above defenders of Libby have advocated any type of change to the justice system that will undue or prevent future "travesties" such as that which has befallen Scooter. As I noted yesterday, defendants at Gitmo don't even have an appeal process to work with. Scooter should count himself lucky.

And one can not help but note the creeping Bush Derangement Syndrome within the ranks of the 28%ers. Last week, Peggy Noonan went off on Dear Leader for his apparent dismissive behavior toward his base on the issue of immigration. It's sad that it took them six years, two failing wars, hundreds of thousands of casualties and a nearly discredited justice department to realize that when you set about creating a monster you always run the risk of them turning on their creator.

Maybe they should read more Mary Shelley.

More BDS here.

(Filed at State of the Day)

We Have Not Yet Begun to Surge

That is essentially what Gen. Petreaus, the man tasked with implementing the surge, is saying. He says what we are seeing now aren't "real operations" because the full complement of surge troops have yet to arrive. So just give him another Friedman and he'll report on what a success the surge is, if it ever gets started of course.

Regardless of how the general may feel about how "real" operations are in Iraq, there sadly remains one thing that is very real.

Update: Must read post from Michael J.W. Stickings.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Keystones at Gitmo

By now I'm sure you've heard about what happened at Gitmo yesterday regarding the military tribunals taking place there. Well, if not, the short answer is the Bush administration hit a snag.

Two men who were among the small percentage of those who've actually been charged with a crime went before a military panel yesterday. The focus has mainly been on that of Omar Khadr, who was captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15. Anyway, the presiding military judge reviewed the case and had it tossed on a technicality. Namely, that Khadr and the other detainee were improperly classified. Apparently when Congress passed the Military Commissions Act last year, it designated that only "unlawful enemy combatants" could be tried before the tribunals the law governed. But Khadr and the other fellow's status are listed as simply "enemy combatant". This may seem like a semantics issue but it's nice to see someone taking serious how the laws on the books are written as opposed to just making up their own interpretation.

The irony of the situation is not lost on some. For you see the Bushies' ad hoc system backfired on them. That's because according to news accounts, there is no appeal system set up to handle this development. This just illustrates pretty clearly how much of a farce these show trials are. They were so sure that guilty verdicts would be handed down that they didn't see fit to set up an appeals process. But now that missing component has become a double edged sword since it has them scrambling around like a bunch of Keystone Kops trying to figure out how to proceed.

Meme has a round up of analyses from both laymans and legal eagles.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Opening The Files: 06/05/07

Out of the Freezer and into the Cooler.

Okay, so I stole that line from a recollection of an old Dragnet episode from John's place but it is a rather apt description of what's happened to Rep. William Jefferson. Seems the Congressman made famous for keeping $90,000 in his freezer has been indicted on 16 counts including bribery, corruption and racketeering. I'm sure the Rovians are salivating at the prospect of using this development to suggestion some sort of equivalence between the two parties. As if one indicted Democrat is equal to the slew of GOPers now facing investigation or indictment. So really, such claims don't hold that much water.

Well, maybe if it's frozen. Perhaps Rep. Jefferson can recommend a good freezer dealer.

Gordon gives us some tips on where best to hide one's ill-gotten cold cash.

FOX News appears to be getting an early start on the "they're all the same" meme.

Matthew O'Keefe reminds us that corruption is wrong, no matter which party does it.

And Cernig glances over the pixel pundits opining on this and notes the disparity with which the two parties treat the corrupted in the midst. Fellow hogger Fester says now is as good a time as any for the Dems to keep that promise of draining the swamp.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Monday, June 04, 2007

Refreshing More

I'll grant Creature that it is refreshing to see the sheer diversity of the Democratic hopefuls on stage at last night's debate. I would also grant how refreshing it is to see, as Senator Clinton pointed out, the big differences emerging between the two party's contenders. So far we've been witness to two debates each and the differences could not be more apparent. While the Dems hope to take a pragmatic view towards a litany of issues, the GOPers appear to be all about being Bush 3.0.

Even the intra-party squabbles are different, at least at this early stage. Although the top tiers on the Dem side may have quibbled about such issues as Iraq and health care, it was nothing compared to Rudy Giuliani's total avoidance of reality when he dressed down fellow candidate Ron Paul about the later's insistence that our actions in the Middle East were among the many reasons for 9/11.

Diversity of thought is just not something to be found in GOP circles. Thankfully, it's only relegated one side.

For the analysis, check out postmortems from Digby, AL, BTD, John Dickerson, and Walter Shapiro.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Freedom of Speech Isn't Free

Men like former Marine Sgt. Adam Kokesh fought and died for that freedom. At least that's what we are constantly told to be the case. But what if Sgt. Kokesh wishes to utilize that freedom himself, a right endowed to him as a citizen of this country? Too fucking bad.

See, Kokesh is in a bit of hot water and the fucking Bushies are the ones turning up the heat. Kokesh is currently facing disciplinary action for wearing his military fatigues (sans insignia) to an anti-war rally. The military says this is a big no-no but that excuse is fucking bullshit when you consider that fucking President Bush routinely surrounds himself with uniformed active duty troops whenever it is politically convenient. What they are doing to Kokesh is nothing short of a fucking witch hunt. They wish to stifle his freedom of speech because he refuses to be enthralled to Dear Leader and his glorious war.

Despite efforts by the VFW to call off this farce, Kokesh is scheduled to appear before a military panel today. If found guilty, he could face having his discharged status changed to less than honorable. That could lead him to being ineligible for certain Vet benefits, educational opportunities and even certain jobs that require a security clearance.

Make no mistake about this, if Sgt. Kokesh is found guilty of simply exercising his First Amendment rights, it is the clearest sign yet that this administration does not give a shit about the troops. The shit of it is, Kokesh is just two weeks shy of the end of his eight year enlistment obligation. Nice way to end a relationship there, Dubya.

Note: Sorry about the profanity but my rage about this has been stewing ever since I heard about it. An NPR report this morning, in which they cited the military's lame ass excuse just set me off.

(Filed at State of the Day)

The Surge Dirge

Looks like we might not have to wait until September for an assessment of how the surge is doing. Nearly half a Friedman into brilliant and glorious plan to secure Baghdad and give everyone a pony we find that we will probably be seeing a lowering of expectations again.
Three months after the start of the Baghdad security plan that has added thousands of American and Iraqi troops to the capital, they control fewer than one-third of the city’s neighborhoods, far short of the initial goal for the operation, according to some commanders and an internal military assessment.

The American assessment, completed in late May, found that American and Iraqi forces were able to “to protect the population” and “maintain physical influence over” only 146 of the 457 Baghdad neighborhoods.

War proponents will probably try to spin this as good news, perhaps by suggesting that the Iraqi Army is taking up the operational slack in the other neighborhoods. Of course we all know who really controls them: militias on both sides of the Sunni/Shia divide.

This news isn't really that surprising to anyone who knows anything about counterinsurgency. It's been said since the surge plan was announced that to achieve the goals set forth by the Bushies, a lot more than just 30,000 troops would be needed. General Petraeus practically wrote the book on the subject (newest edition anyway) and it's sad that he would go against everything he knows just to protect President Bush's ego.

Even worse: the only thing that appears to be surging is the undertaker's business.

Meme more.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

For Steve

Many in the blogs have noted the passing of blogger Steve Gilliard of The News Blog after his long battle with poor health. Some touching tributes can be found via Memeorandum and I urge you to read them all. For they are a testament to the profound impact that one voice can have on so many others. I first came across Steve's work a little more than a year ago and after that I was hooked. His inimitable style of cutting straight to the meat of a story won him many loyal friends and followers in the blogosphere. He wasn't afraid to call BS where he saw it and there is no doubt in my mind that were he still with us, he would do so on the latest bit of trumped up fear mongering.

Steve's motto was "We Fight Back". He did so against the lies, manipulations and distortions by our government and their sycophants in the media. With his passing, the burden to keep fighting falls to us. I know of no greater tribute to his spirit.

We'll miss you Steve. You've earned your rest. We'll take it from here.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Groundhog Day Part 5432

Once again we are being treated to tantalizing hints that a troop draw down in Iraq is in the offing. Of course such news isn't all that encouraging since we already know the Bushies are sticking with the Korea model and any troop reductions would likely coincide with a solidifying strategy for keeping large volumes of said troops there well beyond 2009. I wonder how many of those soldiers would give their eyeteeth for a chance to man the DMZ in the real Korea just for the R&R.

Of course the issue of troop levels may be a moot one were we to find ourselves embroiled in a war with Iraq's neighbor Iran. In an ominous rehash of past rhetoric, the Bushies are trying hard to convince us that they really mean it this time when they say they want to settle the issue of WMD through diplomacy.

Deja Vu.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted Friday that Vice President Cheney fully supports a diplomatic course in the dispute with Iran over its nuclear program, denying claims of divisions among President Bush's foreign policy advisers.

"The president of the United States has made very clear what our policy is. That policy is supported by all of the members of his Cabinet -- and by the vice president of the United States," Rice said at a news conference here after talks with Spanish officials. "The president has made clear that we are on a course that is a diplomatic course, but it is a diplomatic course backed up by disincentives for Iran to continue its activities."

As Kevin Drum notes, Rice issued this reassurance after the head of the nuclear watchdog agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, voiced concerns about "the crazies" forcing a repeat of the Iraq debacle. Given how much we know Shooter and his fellow crazies are chomping at the bit for a showdown with Iran, Rice's attempts to allay such concerns don't cut the mustard.

If the VP really wants to see his long shadow, we'll be in for a long winter.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, June 01, 2007

TB Tinfoil

Since the current bug scare de jour is the drug-resistant Tuberculosis contracted by a globe-trotting Atlanta lawyer, I would be remiss if I didn't put in my two bits. Like Will Bunch, I too am wondering what the obsession is considering the guy is apparently asymptomatic and the chances of him having spread it are negligible. With the attention this is getting, you'd think he was coughing and wheezing like patient zero in the 1995 thriller Outbreak. Then again, maybe the news orgs are just waiting for the possibility of being able to change their chyrons.

Actually, the most likely reason this is getting so much attention is the fact that the CDC wasn't able to keep this guy from boarding several trans-atlantic flights. In the age of Bush when we are warned of the dangers of terrorists utilizing biological warfare, it doesn't look very good when our own government can't keep tabs on one lone guy whose actions are far less nefarious yet may have the same result nonetheless. But it's not really that much of a surprise when you consider that the CDC has had a scalpel taken to their budget so many times.

Some are curious about the timing of the events as well. Here's Jill from Brilliant at Breakfast donning her tinfoil hat:
Doesn't this seem just a wee tad odd to you?

I mean, what are the odds that a guy with a drug-resistant strain of Tuberculosis would be able to bypass all these safeguards and go on an overseas trip -- and his father-in-law is a TB microbiologist -- at the Centers for Disease Control?

I hate to get all tinfoil on you, but what the hell -- is this some kind of renegade experiment on the father-in-law's part? Or not so renegade? And isn't it interesting that this falls so closely on the heels of George W. Bush granting himself total control over the entire government in the event of a national emergency?

Ted discussed the order the other day. So would a TB outbreak be the catalyst for Bush taking over?

Perhaps it's time for a Surgeon General's warning.

(Filed at State of the Day)