The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding

Was treating Bush and his dead end supporters the grisly spectacle of Saddam Hussein’s death worth the death of 80 Iraqis and 6 more American deaths. 80 Iraqis killed; deadly month for U.S.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – At least 80 Iraqis died in bombings and other attacks Saturday as they prepared to celebrate Islam’s biggest holiday, their first without Saddam Hussein.

The bombings came hours after Saddam was hanged in Baghdad for ordering the killings of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail in 1982. Despite concerns about a spike in unrest, Saturday’s violence was not unusually high for Iraq, nor did it appear to be in retaliation for the execution.

The AP, the Right’s favorite news outlet claims “nor did it appear to be in retaliation for the execution”. Who knows maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, it was just a normal day in Iraq. Either conclusion doesn’t bode well for the administartion’s ability to weigh action and reaction. We’re left wondering along with the families of those killed if it wouldn’t have been better to just let Saddam rot away in a cell.

Robert Fisk is even more blunt then me, Robert Fisk: He takes his secrets to the grave How the West armed Saddam, fed him intelligence on his ‘enemies’, equipped him for atrocities – and then made sure he wouldn’t squeal

We’ve shut him up. The moment Saddam’s hooded executioner pulled the lever of the trapdoor in Baghdad yesterday morning, Washington’s secrets were safe. The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the United States – and Britain – gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which our presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember. And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support – given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War – is dead.

Gone is the man who personally received the CIA’s help in destroying the Iraqi communist party. After Saddam seized power, US intelligence gave his minions the home addresses of communists in Baghdad and other cities in an effort to destroy the Soviet Union’s influence in Iraq. Saddam’s mukhabarat visited every home, arrested the occupants and their families, and butchered the lot. Public hanging was for plotters; the communists, their wives and children, were given special treatment – extreme torture before execution at Abu Ghraib.

There is growing evidence across the Arab world that Saddam held a series of meetings with senior American officials prior to his invasion of Iran in 1980 – both he and the US administration believed that the Islamic Republic would collapse if Saddam sent his legions across the border – and the Pentagon was instructed to assist Iraq’s military machine by providing intelligence on the Iranian order of battle. One frosty day in 1987, not far from Cologne, I met the German arms dealer who initiated those first direct contacts between Washington and Baghdad – at America’s request.

“Mr Fisk… at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I was invited to go to the Pentagon,” he said. “There I was handed the very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments – thousands of them – all the way up the Iranian side of the border towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I travelled with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very grateful!”

Many liberals will go so far as to say despite the calamitous consequences of their actions that many conservative mean well. I find that a hard case to make looking over the history of the last forty years. There is a level of malevolence that can only be described as the knife in America’s back. All their machinations have come back to haunt us. Rather then thinking about foreign policy in terms of balance they have been blinded by their own zealous delusions. Conservatives have had a kind of perverse success, a success at undermining the long term interests of America. Is it any wonder that they wrap themselves so tenaciously in the flag.

For Whom the Bell Tolls:Top Ten Ways the US Enabled Saddam Hussein

5) The second Baath regime in Iraq disappointed the Nixon and Ford administrations by reaching out to the tiny remnants of the Communist Party and by developing good relations with the Soviet Union. In response, Nixon supported the Shah’s Iran in its attempts to use the Iraqi Kurds to stir up trouble for the Baath Party, of which Saddam Hussein was a behind the scenes leader. As supporting the Kurdish struggle became increasingly expensive, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlevi of Iran decided to abandon the Kurds. He made a deal with the Iraqis at Algiers in 1975, and Saddam immediately ordered an invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. The US acquiesced in this betrayal of the Kurds, and made no effort to help them monetarily. Kissinger maintained that the whole operation had been the shah’s, and the shah suddenly terminated it, leaving the US with no alternative but to acquiesce. But that is not entirely plausible. The operation was supported by the CIA, and the US didn’t have to act only through an Iranian surrogate. Kissinger no doubt feared he couldn’t get Congress to fund help to the Kurds during the beginnings of the Vietnam syndrome. In any case, the 1975 US about-face helped Saddam consolidate control over northern Iraq.

The poor Kurds the Right when not using the flag likes to use the Kurds as a shield against any criticism of Republican policies. The Right has screwed them over and abandoned them so many times it kind of a wonder they’ve had anything to do with Dubya. Their distrust of Republicans was probably subordinate to their hatred of Saddam.

I have my fingers crossed that Democrats will stick to their guns and rectify some of these, The Bill of WrongsThe 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006.

The Black Dahlia: Failed Film Noir?

Just released on DVD, the Black Dahlia was widely criticised and examined as a film. Partly because of the promise of its director Brian de Palma, director of such notable films as Scarface, and partly because of the charisma of its leads, particularly its female leads and partly because of a longing for someone to repeat the success of LA Confidential and give modern film goers something of a sense of the sophistication and style that their parents and grand parents enjoyed in the classic era of forties noirs, the Black Dahlia got a drubbing from the critics.

The Black Dahlia is a failure as a film but it is a glorious failure.

I can’t comment on the specifics because I haven’t seen this version of The Black Dahlia ( there have been several movie versions of the story and several non-fiction books written about Elizabeth Short’s murder), but the film’s mediocre box office might speak to a problem that seems to be growing with Hollywood’s big films. What can Hollywood put up on the big screen in the way of narrative that TV shows like Law and Order or the CSI mega-series cannot. It is too much to expect people to shell out seven bucks for something that they can see at home. So in order for the non-special effects movies to succeed they better have especially tight writing, takes chances, and be visually extraordinary to get people into the theater. I suspect this this version of The Black Dahlia will ultimately enjoy a certain cult status because the genre itself is so wanting in recent years. Something else Hoolywood might want to consider; how can they churn out dozens of mindless comedies and action movies and ignore a whole genre like film noir.

“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” – Albert Camus

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please

Saddam Hussein executed in Iraq

US troops and Iraqi security forces are on high alert for any violent backlash. The US State Department has urged all its embassies to increase security.

While not against the death penalty in all circumstances in this case it doesn’t serve what is purported to be half of its purpose, to discourage others from killing. Iraqis that are part of one insurgent group or another, or the foreign fighters that are affiliated with al-Queda will not be the least deterred. It is even darkly comic to think so. Hussien’s death is justice served a little too late in the day for his victims, though perhaps better late then never. The thing that it does do and is perhaps the greatest injustice to his victims and to the American people is silence him forever. There will no further questions about any documents found, no intelligence to be gleaned and no clarification about his contacts and support by any group or the Reagan and Bush Sr administrations ( Reagan Played Decisive Role in Saddam Hussein’s Survival in Iran-Iraq War, Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein:
The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984
, How Reagan Armed Saddam with Chemical Weapons.) Yes Bush Sr did chase Saddam out of Kuwait, but before that Bush Sr and the same neocons that are peppered throughout our current cabal of miscreants supported Saddam Hussein if only marginally. Then there is the price that America has paid for this hanging 3,000 American dead and around $360 billion dollars. One would think that considering the price that America would get something better in return for its investment rather then the civil war we seem stuck in the middle of and fewer middle-east extremists rather then more, the ones that BushCo has tended to like a dandy gardener and grown in a way that makes Bin laden look like an amateur, Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Hurting U.S. Terror Fight. Just as Gerald Ford’s precipice pardon of Nixon back in the seventies is extracting a price we’re still paying for in terms of abuse of presidential power we are also paying a price in the middle-east for the pure mindless chicanery of neocons like Cheney and Rumsfeld who love to play mid-east power games yet have an amazing talent for always making the wrong moves. That they have sold their weakness and failures to the American public as strength and victory is testament to the power of public manipulation, of telling big lies over and over. Saddam Hussein’s execution might well serve some need for the most primitive justice, but not everyone that served as an accessory has been punished or likely will be. Hussein’s former partners have enclosed themselves in the cloak of the red, white and blue. For years the conservative mid-east policy wizards failed to truly serve America’s interests, blinded by arrogance and zealotry they’ve turned the mid-east from various simmering rivalries into one big boiling cauldron and for all their trouble they will get a pension courtesy the American taxpayer while even more troops die leaving families and nation to pick up the pieces.

Counter Terrorism Blog writes Saddam Hussein, Longtime State Sponsor of Terrorism, Executed by Iraqis (updated) By Andrew Cochran December 29, 2006 10:06 PM “His death is a victory for the rule of law in Iraq and for the civilized world.” -( I guess he would call the qiugmire in Iraq the moral answer to immorality)

Not really Saddam Hussein was just another tin horn dictator who would not have enjoyed the power that he did without a certain amount of support from Republicans during the eighties. While no one should shed any tears on his passing his death will not bring back the dead or make the situation in Iraq any better. Remember the video of Saddam Hussein’s statue falling after the initial invasion, I confess to getting a little caught up in that moment. I thought that maybe, just maybe something good would come of it all, but as we all know it has been a down hill spiral ever since, Josh Marshall writes, It’s a hornet’s nest. But I’m game. So why not jump in.

…This is what we’re reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there’s nothing else this president can get right.

Isn’t the narrative that the Right is trying to sell like cheap popcorn the idea that the Iraq debacle has been about this one execution. Now that we’ve had a hang’n we’ve had victory. The war was about 9-11 then it wasn’t, it was about WMD then it wasn’t, it was about connections to al-Queda then it wasn’t, it was about spreading democracy as we continued to support authoritarian regimes. Hold up the deck of ever revolving reasons and pick one. Ezra Klein writes, Saddam Update

Leaving aside any debate about the ethics of capital punishment for a moment, I’m not remotely convinced that turning Hussein into a martyr to satiate our need for vengeance is the wisest strategic decision in the long run.

Bush’s and the right-wing noise machine’s interests were served today, but as usual not America’s and certainly not the boots on the ground.

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” – Mark Twain

Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people’s countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood of his hands and works for “the universal brotherhood of man”- with his mouth. – from “The Lowest Animal” by Mark Twain

And I just don’t think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security

Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. “I don’t think I would have gone to war,” he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford’s own administration.

Interesting enough and relates to why I don’t think that Ford’s world view would fit in with the kind of ideological zealotry that dominates today’s conservatism, but this stood out

In a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.

“Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people,” Ford said, referring to Bush’s assertion that the United States has a “duty to free people.” But the former president said he was skeptical “whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what’s in our national interest.” He added: “And I just don’t think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security.” (emphasis mine)

This is where today’s Democrats are more the realists then conservatives. I don’t for a minute believe that the Bush-Cheney wing of the Republican party really cares about spreading democracy. While a few nations have become less authoritarian during Bush’s reign, the neocons themselves have not created one democracy. On the contrary they’ve maintained close ties and a certain reliance on countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia that practice some degree of authoritarian government and have made no attempt at all to get them to become more liberal. The Right has fully embraced a China that remains very much a totalitarian political state while they move toward a free market economy, even as right-wing web sites continue to perpetuate myths about President Clinton and selling them technology ( yes he did sell them some technology as did Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr). The spreading democracy meme plays very well in bed rock America and no doubt many folks down at the diner think that despite all of his disastrous policies and their malicious implementation continue to believe that Bush means well. A realist like Ford, not blinded by the current brand of right-wing kool-aid could see that we could break our military and deplete the national treasury and still not create one new democracy at the point of a gun. It sounds great – spread democracy – but there has to be a balance of national interests, moral justification, diplomacy and other factors before you start shipping out troops to die in far corners of the world.  Juan Cole has a good brief history of Ford, his good and not so good moments, Ford and Foreign Policy: Snapshots from the 1970s

And Matthew Yglesias being a better writer then myself explains why the Nixon pardon in the way that President Ford did it was not what was best for the country, The Pardon

But there’s a proper way to handle situations of that type designed to promote precisely those goals. It’s the Truth and Reconciliation Commission model where ancient regime figures confess to their political crimes in exchange for amnesty.

The National Review (no snickering please) is supposed to be the oh so intellectual vanguard publication of the Right. You know the Right that is obsessed with getting the Associated Press to tell the truth or actually the Right’s version of whatever the truth is this week. It looks like NR is manufacturing its own lies and then recycling them, It’s not ‘news from Iraq’ if it’s over a year old

Except, there’s a catch. The nearly identical text from May’s NR post was part of a widely disseminated email from over a year ago. Worse, there were slight deviations in the original text in 2005, which made it difficult to confirm its authenticity.

here’s something from a Guardsman in Iraq that is a little more current, The Freedoms My Brother Is Defending

My brother told me that he takes his oath to defend the Constitution seriously and that he will fight and die if necessary to honor his commitment. When I asked him if he would be offended if I participated in activities opposing the war, he replied that it was not only my right but my obligation, and the obligation of all civilians opposing this war, to try to change bad policy. “Give us good wars to fight,” he said.

While acknowledging that another possible moral option is to refuse to participate in a bad war, my brother chooses to place his oath to the Constitution and his belief in our democratic system at the pinnacle of his moral convictions. That some of us might differ with him is basically irrelevant — we (most of us) are not faced with his decision.

For the record, he believes that the war on terrorism is necessary to deal with real threats facing the United States. He is not convinced of what Iraq has to do with the matter, which puts him fairly well in the mainstream of American opinion.(emphasis mine)

There is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man’s face and another behind his back

Gerald R. Ford, Ex-U.S. President, Dies

Ford was an accidental president, Nixon’s hand-picked successor, a man of much political experience who had never run on a national ticket. He was as open and straight-forward as Nixon was tightly controlled and conspiratorial.

He took office minutes after Nixon resigned in disgrace over the Watergate scandal and flew off into exile. Ford famously declared, “our long national nightmare is over.”

But he revived the debate over Watergate a month later by granting Nixon a pardon for all crimes he committed as president. That single act, it was widely believed, cost Ford election to a term of his own in 1976, but it won praise in later years as a courageous act that allowed the nation to move on.

Other then seeming like a genuinely nice man unlike the presidential actor-conman Ronald Reagan, Nixon’s pardon is what sticks out in my mind about Ford. Those that thought and still think that it was for the best, time to move on and so forth may have a point. On the other hand much of the abuse of presidential power that we saw during the Reagan administration and now under Bush can be traced back to Ford’s decision. It would have been one thing to have a trial, convict Nixon thus drawing an historical line that future presidents would have known not to cross then pardoned Nixon, but not a preemptive pardon. If not for that pardon I doubt that we would have had Iran-Contra

2.) To the extent one can tease out a story line, the Iran-Contra saga is at odds with what we “know” about some of the characters involved, a great many of whom hold positions of power in the current Bush administration. For example, the conventional wisdom holds that Robert Gates is a white knight brought in to restore to greatness to a Pentagon yoked for six years to a preening blowhard. Yet Gates, who served as a high-ranking CIA official during the Reagan administration, appears to have been well aware at the time of illegal White House activities concerning the Contras and was not especially candid about this to Iran-Contra investigators. (For the evidence, click here and scroll down to documents 6a, 6b, and 6c.)

Another contemporary narrative holds that President George W. Bush is dwarfed in stature by his statesmanlike father. But that isn’t easy to square with the conclusion of Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh—a Republican—that Bush senior, “[c]ontrary to his public statements … was fully aware of the Iran arms sales” and some of the Contra-related shenanigans, too. Walsh further hinted that the elder Bush, at the end of his presidency, pardoned Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in order to avoid being called as a witness at Weinberger’s trial, a circumstance that would have required the ex-president to come clean about his own involvement in the scandal.

Ford was rightly noted for his openness in contrast to the dark and Machiavellian Nixon. Betty Ford also unlike many modern conservative women seemed to be thoughtful and engaged about people and issues and didn’t act like an appendage of a cold disciplined political machine like we have now. Given the extreme Right face of today’s conservatism  a new generation of Geralds and Bettys wouldn’t have fit in very well with the movers and shakers. In a way Ford was the last remnant of true Republicans, the party of Eisenhower.

By way of Treehugger, The Toyota FT-HS Hybrid Sports Concept Car

No, the interesting thing is the “halo” effect it could have, making hybrids cool and desirable to a new public.

I’m not particularly into marketing, but it does seem to be true that some products have to reach a certain tipping point before they become something the public really lusts after. Judging from the photos at the link this new Toyota has the kind of look that will appeal to die hard sports car affectionados and Treehugger makes a very salient point that the car and the technology around it will have a halo effect on other models that the average driver will buy.

Bush Inc. is lawyering up Bush is bracing for new scrutiny

“Like any White House that has to deal with a Congress run by the other party, this White House has to bulk up its staff to deal with the inevitable flood of subpoenas. They’re also going to have to coordinate with lots of friends and supporters,” said Mark Corallo, a former top Republican aide to the House committee that issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to the Clinton camp.

If Conservatives will truly the party of old fashioned values they wouldn’t need to “bulk” up legal staff. They could do something startling and amazing like being forthright and honest. Most of the Whitehouse’s paranoia about secrets has nothing to do with national security, but has a lot to do with hiding serious breaches of the law and the national trust.

The Buck Stops Everywhere

I was working on another post, entitled, “How is the War in Iraq like a Frontal Lobotomy?” (answer–false advertising), but really, I’m not that interested in the history anymore. I’m more interested in the “surge”. I’m interested because the “surge” is a classic example of a loser’s strategy, and it is about to be put in place by a bunch of
losers. The “surge” is about saving face rather than achieving an objective, and, let me say it right here, it’s a guy thing. It’s like “going down fighting”, except that those who are going to be going down aren’t going to be those who want to save face.

It’s only a “guy thing” if we exclude Condi Rice and all the women that voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, but we’ll let that slide. It is not a losing strategy Jane. The idea of the surge is to hand off the Iraq war and all the dead to the next guy(or gal). President Joe Bob or Jane Doe Democrat is president, war ends with Iraq still in chaos and the name on the toe tag is a Democrats. Bush tried his best – good intentions – and so forth, but it was a Democrat that was left holding the bag. Karl Rove and every wing-nut from coast to coast crys in their imported beer while simultaneously blowing out the candles on the cake. They will have written a million books by then that swear Bush didn’t lie us into a quagmire and mismanage the whole thing like a drunk 13 year old behind the wheel of a new Porche. Unless some Democrats and Republicans ( the ones that still care about the republic before their party) stand up and say cut the crap, the troops will just pay the price.

However, the unnecessary deaths of others never stopped little George from having it his way. One of the words they use to characterize what he cares about now is “honor”, but in fact the Iraq War was never “honorable”. It was a sleazy, ill-planned act of arrogance, as much a longshot as gambling your house on the 99 to 1 horse in the Kentucky Derby.

That is how the Right views the military as a useful pawns. Too many Americans fall in line behind the fake patriotism of these frat boy cowards that pretend to be ordinary folks and until they wise up expect more of the same one way or another. There is nothing in George Bush’s history that suggests that he has ever acted with honor. Honor is a superfluous hindrance to the conservative movement. That is what his father should have been crying about. His son suffers from being so drunk on hubris that it prevents him from having normal human empathy for others. Our troops are not enough grist for the mill apparently, Military considers recruiting foreigners

 The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks — including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer — according to Pentagon officials.

“There is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man’s face and another behind his back.” – General Robert E. Lee

Some people ain’t no damn good

The Bush administration’s holiday gift to the nation, besides more Americans dying for his lies is a disastrous environmental record and most Americans aren’t joyous about it, Americans Chide Bush’s Environmental Record

Adults in the United States are dissatisfied with the way their president has dealt with environmental issues, according to a poll by Rasmussen Reports. 67 per cent of respondents rate George W. Bush’s handling of this topic as fair or poor.

From the way back machine December 19, 2003, Holiday Tradition of Stealth Environmental Announcements

This holiday season, the Administration is adhering to its tradition of waiting until odd hours — when the press and public are preoccupied with other things — to announce controversial environmental decisions.

The year’s holiday announcements kicked off last month, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chose the day after Thanksgiving to announce its “incidental take rule” allowing for the killing of polar bears and Pacific walrus by oil companies drilling on the North Slope of Alaska.

[ ]…The 2002 announcements included the release — on New Year’s Eve — of a controversial rule allowing tuna caught by fishermen encircling dolphins to qualify for the “dolphin-safe” label. Revisions to the Clean Air Act to allow power plants and refineries to expand without having to install anti-pollution equipment were also announced on New Year’s Eve. On Thanksgiving eve came the announcement that logging would be allowed in national forests with less environmental oversight.

In 2001, the Army Corps of Engineers released its Everglades restoration plan — criticized by Everglades advocates as inadequate — on the Friday after Christmas.

It is something of a surprise that the nation even learned about these dead of night decisions considering how hard the Bushies try to control and manipulate what the public knows, White House Seeks to Control What Public Learns About Health, Environmental Emergencies

How and what Americans are told about public health emergencies would be controlled by the White House, not by the agencies with the medical or scientific expertise to handle these crises, under a new plan proposed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The proposal would strip authority from federal health, safety and environmental agencies and give the White House final say over how the public is told about such emergencies as nuclear power plant accidents, outbreaks of mad cow disease or drugs that are found to be harmful.

The Busheviks are certainly not the first to try and control the press, suppress dissent, and shape the national narrative to one that showed dear leader as a benevolent figure despite all evidence to the contrary, Merrily, we control along...

The Soviet government after 1917 began dictating all content of the popular media, telling the people, in effect, what they should be curious about and what they needed to know. Adds Brooks, “The Soviet press would report a flood in Japan, but not in Russia.”

To an extent, says Brooks, in the first years of the Communist government the press was a means for the elite to talk amongst themselves, with limited dialogue on how the state should advance the socialist revolution. And it made some effort to convince the public. But under Stalin’s dictates, any semblance of dialogue disappeared as the press and all other forms of popular culture became instruments for celebrating the state’s accomplishments and transmitting orders from the government. Newspapers became filled with articles congratulating the state or the Communist Party for its wisdom and success, accounts of a robust economy (whether it was actually robust or not), stigmatizing portraits of the state’s enemies, and unending praise of Stalin.

Nonprofit Connects Murtha, Lobbyists

“Everyone’s trying to make this a political thing, and it makes me very mad,” Scialabba said last week in a brief interview, defending the collaborations. “Would you rather have tax dollars spent on some [disabled] guy sitting at home? We’re not looking for handouts, damn it.”

But to some watchdogs, including Taxpayers for Common Sense, Democracy 21 and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, PAID looks a lot like the cozy nexus between lawmakers, lobbyists and business interests that Democrats railed against in the midterm campaigns.

Even if there is no hard core wrong doing by Murtha there are appearances and in politics appearances matter. This sounds like the sort of wink and nod arrangements that has been going on since reconstruction and doesn’t seem to encompass the kind of quid prop quo that we had with Republican wheeler dealer Jack Abrams and Rep. Randall “Duke” Cunningham(R-CA). Democrats need to step up to the plate and change the status quo. Every little revelation like this blows into a drift that piles up over time.

“It sounds like DeLay Inc.,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Democratic-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, referring to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), who set up his own charities that became the focus of attention by businesses and lobbyists seeking to curry favor with him.

But Murtha has his defenders. “Jack Murtha is supportive of everything you can think of around here, from roads and sewers to defense contractors,” said Bill Kuchera, chief executive of Kuchera Industries of Windber, Pa., and a PAID director. “But without Jack Murtha, there’d still be a Kuchera. We don’t lean on Jack Murtha at all.”

Murtha doesn’t yield anything like the iron fisted power that Tom Delay did; who coincidentally is being reincarnated as a possible lobbyist, Conservatives may resign from board if DeLay hired as lobbyist.

Republican want to privatize everything. Privatization and its brother Mr. Outsourcing are supposed to be the magic bullet that saves American taxpayers. Like all magic bullets this one is a fairy tale too, Running Government Like A Business

In one instance, Interior officials bought armor to reinforce Army vehicles from a software maker. In another, Interior bought furniture for Defense from a company that apparently had not previously been in the furniture business. One contract worth $100 million, to lease office space for a top-secret intelligence unit in Northern Virginia, was awarded without competition. Defense auditors said that deal cost taxpayers millions more than necessary, and they have referred the matter for possible criminal investigation.

Some people ain’t no damn good
You can’t trust ’em
You can’t love em
No good deed goes unpunished

from Crumblin‘ Down, lyrics by John Mellencamp

Men are happy to be laughed at for their humor, but not for their folly

Kevin Drum on the decision to throw more troops at Iraq, ONE LAST PUSH…

There’s nothing we can do to stop them anyway, so give ’em the resources they want. Let ’em fight the war the way they want. If it works — and after all, stranger things have happened — then I’ll eat some crow. But if it doesn’t, there’s a chance that the country will actually learn something from this.

And from Atrios post on Kevin’s thoughts, Wrong

I’m sympathetic to Kevin’s thinking about this stuff, but it just doesn’t work this way. There has been no grand bargain between war supporters and the rest of us such that they get their “one last shot” and if things don’t work out then, you know, the dirty fucking hippies will finally be put in charge of things.

Atrios is right about this grand bargain bit, but Kevin is right too. Some people are so hard headed that even after they’re burned their hand they feel compelled to put it back into the fire to make sure that fire really burns. As it is with the right-wing they’ve learned nothing from Vietnam or Iraq except to be more shrill. On the other hand if Democrats stand back and take Kevin’s route letting the Right have one last final choke on their own bile the lesson will leave even more unnecessary blood shed. The moral course would be the one Atrios suggests while the political choice would be Kevin’s very tempting fatalism. Neocons are like mindless zombies they just keep plowing ahead regardless of the tactical consequences or the numbers of fatalities. Either scenario plays into their martyr syndrome. You didn’t let us have one last “surge” you liberal terrorists lovers or sure you gave us our one last push, but you weren’t supportive enough so you undermined the mission and doomed it to failure. The terrorist lovers meme had worn out its novelty this past election, voters had a hard time picturing Democrats like former Marine hero John Murtha as a terrorist sympathizer. But still judging voters by the last three election cycles they’re slow to get up to speed on the Rovian spin cycle so they might just buy into the bull about undermining a purportedly noble last effort. The conservative blogs are already blaming Democrats for Bush and Rummy’s failures which at this point is background noise like snakes hissing in the grass not the oh so high moral ground. One thing that is a sure bet is that conservatives will never ever take responsibility for anything, accountability just isn’t part of their repertoire. They should be thankful for liberals, else Republicans would have to take a long hard look in the mirror. It looks as though Senator John Kerry has decided to take the moral high road, When Resolve Turns Reckless

I say this to President Bush as someone who learned the hard way how embracing the world’s complexity can be twisted into a crude political shorthand. Barbed words can make for great politics. But with U.S. troops in Iraq in the middle of an escalating civil war, this is no time for politics. Refusing to change course for fear of the political fallout is not only dangerous — it is immoral.

I’d rather explain a change of position any day than look a parent in the eye and tell them that their son or daughter had to die so that a broken policy could live.

No one should be looking for vindication in what is happening in Iraq today. The lesson here is not that some of us were right about Iraq or that some of us were wrong. The lesson is simply that we need to change course rapidly rather than perversely use mistakes already made and lives already given as an excuse to make more mistakes and lose even more lives.

When young Americans are being killed and maimed, when the Middle East is on the brink of three civil wars, even the most vaunted “steadfastness” morphs pretty quickly into stubbornness, and resolve becomes recklessness. Changing tactics in the face of changing conditions on the ground, developing new strategies because the old ones don’t work, is a hell of a lot smarter than the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again with the same tragic results.

Half of the service members listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial died after America’s leaders knew that our strategy in that war was not working.

According to the Right the AP has no credibility yet they quote this Fox tabloidish type story without question, Another moron lights himself on fire posted at 7:41 pm on December 23, 2006 by Allahpundit

There’s some discrepany about what his sign said. According to the AP, “(expletive) the religious establishment and KHSD.” According to the local NBC affiliate, “Expletive religious freedom and the silent KHSD.” I’m guessing the AP’s right on this one.

The commenters over at Hotair really seem to get off on these kinds of stories. The guy that set himself on fire is not mentally ill, nope he is a “liberal”. With the acknowledgement that commenters do not represent the editorial content of the blog a couple comment highlights,

Hippies just don’t burn as well as they used to.

mesablue on December 23, 2006 at 8:23 PM

I like my moonbats extra crispy… but him back on the BBQ

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on December 23, 2006 at 8:36 PM

Two fine conservatives just speaking their mind or at least what they have of one.

This story Eleanor Clift: Bush’s Worst Lies of 2006 reminded me of this blast from the past, Published on Friday, September 27, 2002 Agency Disavows Report on Iraq Arms

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that a report cited by President Bush as evidence that Iraq in 1998 was “six months away” from developing a nuclear weapon does not exist.

“There’s never been a report like that issued from this agency,” Mark Gwozdecky, the IAEA’s chief spokesman, said yesterday in a telephone interview from the agency’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

“We’ve never put a time frame on how long it might take Iraq to construct a nuclear weapon in 1998,” said the spokesman of the agency charged with assessing Iraq’s nuclear capability for the United Nations.

In a Sept. 7 news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Bush said: “I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied — finally denied access [in 1998], a report came out of the Atomic — the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon.

“I don’t know what more evidence we need,” said the president, defending his administration’s case that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction.

The White House says Mr. Bush was referring to an earlier IAEA report.

“He’s referring to 1991 there,” said Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan. “In ’91, there was a report saying that after the war they found out they were about six months away.”

Mr. Gwozdecky said no such report was ever issued by the IAEA in 1991.

“Men are happy to be laughed at for their humor, but not for their folly.” – Jonathan Swift

Tomorrow night is nothing but one long sleepless wrestle with yesterday’s omissions and regrets

I’ve heard over the years that one of President Clinton’s former national security advisers Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger was as eccentric as he was brilliant, but damn Berger Hid Archives Papers Under a Trailer, Probe Shows

On the evening of Oct. 2, 2003, former White House national security adviser Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger stashed highly classified documents he had taken from the National Archives beneath a construction trailer at the corner of Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW so he could surreptitiously retrieve them later and take them to his office, according to a newly disclosed government investigation.

Let’s see, he had a security clearance and had not only seen the documents before, but authored some of the content. What the heck was he thinking. This is something the Right excels in, filling in Berger’s motivations with comic book level conspiracy theories and I will leave them to it.

Marine charged in killings of Iraqi civilians

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif — A Marine Corps squad leader was charged today with 13 murder counts stemming from the killings of 24 civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha last year, his attorney said.

Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich was charged with 12 counts of murdering individuals and one count of murdering six people by ordering Marines under his charge to “shoot first and ask questions later” when they entered a house, according to charging sheets released by defense attorney Neal Puckett.

Wuterich, of Meriden, Conn., was also charged with soliciting a corporal to make false statements and making another staff sergeant make a false official statement.

As many as eight Marines in all may be charged in the case. (Note I had linked to the AP story at the LA Times and the link went behind a password wall so I substituted the Reuters link)

The Right’s reaction hasn’t changed too much since the story broke – i.e. these things happen in a war, the Marines were just defending themselves, Rep. John Murtha is still despicable for wanting to hold any guilty participants to account ( Murtha as would Marines would want charges brought to uphold the honor of the Corp, but the Republican Fighting Keyboardist have a difficult time grappling with issues that involve honor). For some background , What Happened at Haditha. There are social issues involved here thus the very strong reactions by commenters that would like to brush aside the whole sordid affair and let those accused go without punishment or with just a hand slap. This is where the going gets a little tough. Its natural to feel sympathy for those accused who had been placed in an extraordinarily stressful situation, but that sympathy should not push us from taking a moral course. These Marines might have acted in the heat of the moment, but the attempted cover-up was cold and calculated. Bloggers and pundits didn’t write the rules of engagement, the Marines did. The Marines or rather the Navy performed the investigation and brought the charges. The brass knows that even in the heat of battle you don’t rush into a bedroom and gun down children hunkered down on the floor shaking in fear.

Well we finally get a look at that column by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann that was Ok’s by the CIA, but censored by the BushCo ( some parts as you’ll see are still censored), Redacted Version of Original Op-Ed

But Tehran was profoundly disappointed with the United States response. After the 9/11 attacks, xxx xxx xx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx xx set the stage for a November 2001 meeting between Secretary of State Colin Powell and the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s six neighbors and Russia. xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx Iran went along, working with the United States to eliminate the Taliban and establish a post-Taliban political order in Afghanistan.

In December 2001, xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx x Tehran to keep Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the brutal pro-Al Qaeda warlord, from returning to Afghanistan to lead jihadist resistance there. xxxxx xxxxxxx so long as the Bush administration did not criticize it for harboring terrorists. But, in his January 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush did just that in labeling Iran part of the “axis of evil.” Unsurprisingly, Mr. Hekmatyar managed to leave Iran in short order after the speech. xxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxx the Islamic Republic could not be seen to be harboring terrorists.

xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xx xxxxx xxx xx xxxxxxx This demonstrated to Afghan warlords that they could not play America and Iran off one another and prompted Tehran to deport hundreds of suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives who had fled Afghanistan.

Those who argue that Iran did not cause Iraq’s problems and therefore can be of only limited help in dealing with Iraq’s current instability must also acknowledge that Iran did not “cause” Afghanistan’s deterioration into a terrorist-harboring failed state. But, when America and Iran worked together, Afghanistan was much more stable than it is today, Al Qaeda was on the run, the Islamic Republic’s Hezbollah protégé was comparatively restrained, and Tehran was not spinning centrifuges. Still, the Bush administration conveyed no interest in building on these positive trends.

These jacks just keep jumping out of the box. The warbloggers keep trying to whip the AP Iraq kerosene story as though everything the AP has ever reported hangs in the balance while on a regular basis we get another revelation about the Bush agenda. How could an average American come to have an informed opinion about Iran without this story. A member of the so-called “axis of evil” helped us fight Bin Laden and the Taliban after 9-11. While This news alone doesn’t magically transform Iran into a Chrysler van of soccer moms it does demand that we look at Tehran in a way that sees them as some shade of gray rather then all bad or good and obviously not all evil. While I found the recent elections encouraging, we as a nation, if I judge by Fox and various conservative pundits are not ready for debates that include subtle points of consideration. You’re either with the people that are withholding information or you’re against them. We’ll all heard the term fog of war, but they seemed determined to keep the American public in a fog. If you don’t get with the Bush program you’re a traitor, if you’d like all the facts you’re a traitor and if you’re a marginally literate adult that is keeping track of the neocons deceptions you’re just not drinking enough of the kool-aid.

Unfortunately, the window for pursuing a comprehensive settlement with Iran will not be open indefinitely. The Iranian leadership is more radicalized today, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, than it was three years ago, and could become more radicalized in the future, depending on who ultimately succeeds Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as supreme leader. If President Bush does not move decisively toward strategic engagement with Tehran during his remaining two years in office, his successor will not have the same opportunities that he will have so blithely squandered.

Billmon has some amazing analytical skills and this An Iraq Retrospective is proof. Too bad Iraq is not one of those bar bets where everyone that said I told you so can have a good laugh.

In the imperialism business, troops equal money, and the neocons are under-capitalized. The Iraq deal was sold and leveraged on the assumption that the invasion and “stabilization” forces could be drawn down relatively quickly after Saddam was gone. But now the deal is starting to go south. The debt service costs are threatening to eat the neocons alive. At some point they’re going to have to tell the CEO, and then the board of directors. The regulators (voters) may be slow, but even they may figure it out sooner or later. Heads could roll.

The Imperial Stretch
May 18, 2003

More at the link.

“Tomorrow night is nothing but one long sleepless wrestle with yesterday’s omissions and regrets” –
William Faulkner