Maybe there is no actual place called hell

Each generation lives in its own strange times. Our is defined by many ironies, one of which is how threats real or imagined, foreign or domestic, Christian or Muslim are treated. Does it really make any difference if the person that tries to kill you is American by birth or foreign born, pale skinned or dark, Protestant or Sunni. At the end of the day if they succeed you’ll still be dead. We are told that that these distinctions are of earth shattering importance. So much so that legal precedent like habeas corpus has been jettisoned because it is claimed that we live in such extraordinary times under such extraordinary threat it is an obstacle to our national safety. The terrorist you’ve never heard of Unlike alleged al-Qaida terrorist Jose Padilla, right-wing “dirty bomber” Demetrius Crocker was investigated and prosecuted the old-fashioned constitutional way.

On Nov. 28 — six days before the Times ran its photos of Padilla — Demetrius “Van” Crocker was sentenced to 30 years in prison. David Kustoff, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, where Crocker was prosecuted, tells Salon that “It was one of the preeminent anti-terrorism cases of 2006 nationwide.” Whether or not that is true, few outside of the greater Memphis metropolitan area have ever heard of Crocker. Only one reporter, John Branston of the weekly Memphis Flyer, even covered his entire trial. What is certain is that in every particular his case is a study in contrasts with the prosecution of Jose Padilla.

According to court documents, the investigation of Demetrius Crocker began in early 2004, around the time he told a man named Lynn Adams that Timothy McVeigh “[did] things right.” Adams, who had met the Mississippi-born farmhand through a mutual acquaintance, began to hear from Crocker about his plans for mass murder. A resident of rural Carroll County, Tenn., an hour northeast of Memphis, Crocker told Adams he wanted to kill the black population of nearby Jackson, Tenn., with mustard gas and explode a bomb outside a courthouse.

I don’t know that I’d want Jose Padilla as my neighbor, but on all things considered he is no worse then Crocker. What is the difference between Crocker and Padilla. Crocker is a white Christian good ol boy. Jose Padilla on the other hand is a U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican ancestry who is accused of being aligned with Al-Qaeda and having plans to build a so-called dirty bomb. Yet Padilla, unlike Crocker who was accorded habeas corpus rights, a lawyer, and a public trial and will now be nicely tucked away in prison. While Padilla seems to be in perpetual legal limbo. He is in this legal limbo where he has never been convicted of a crime because the Bush administration has decided that he is an enemy combatant and has invented its own rules as to what an enemy combatant is. Why are the people’s laws ( the U.S. Constitution and years of legal precedent both civilian and military) being swept aside for this bizarre Politburo type dog and pony show to deal with Padilla while the Crockers are tried and put away. This is not the rule of law at work, it is not justice, it is the rule of men. Petty little conservative men who at every turn seem in over their heads.

While I think this essay gives Bush 41 more credit then he deserves it is a good look at why the son will never be like his father, Bush Has No Idea How Much Trouble He Is In

So this pits W against his father. This pits the Pragmatists, many who actually served with the Neocons that we all know are blowhard cowards that cheer on everyone else’s death. Keep in mind that the Neocons are not contrite at all. They think invading Iraq was a grand idea poorly executed. This by the way is the answer to the question that we are all asking: how can people be so wrong, about so many things and still stick by their guns? (There is another answer to that as well. It is because they do not have to pay the price. Your kids will, not these brilliant millionaires who have fought no wars, worn no uniforms beyond Cub Scouts, know no Arabic, and are truly impressed with their knowledge of history. History is all that stuff that already happened, such that, when you recall it, it makes you sound like a scholar.) They have their neologisms like Islamofacism and Defeatocrats. But increasingly, anyone with a three digit IQ and a heart that works is not buying this anymore.

Talk in Class Turns to God, Setting Off Public Debate on Rights

Shortly after school began in September, the teacher told his sixth-period students at Kearny High School that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven, according to audio recordings made by a student whose family is now considering a lawsuit claiming Mr. Paszkiewicz broke the church-state boundary.

“If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong,” Mr. Paszkiewicz was recorded saying of Jesus. “He did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sins on his own body, suffered your pains for you, and he’s saying, ‘Please, accept me, believe.’ If you reject that, you belong in hell.”

It is sad and outrageous that the  teacher who was force feeding fundamentalism down his students throats is getting sympathy from most of the students and parents. While the student has received at least one death threat and been shunned by many of his fellow students. The town’s people don’t seem to have a very good grasp of their country’s laws or history,

Greice Coelho, who took Mr. Paszkiewicz’s class and is a member of his youth group, said in a letter to The Observer, the local weekly newspaper, that Matthew was “ignoring the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives every citizen the freedom of religion.” Some anonymous posters on the town’s electronic bulletin board, Kearnyontheweb.com, called for Matthew’s suspension.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the freedom of press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (Amendment 1,The Constitution of the United States.)
That part is called the “wall” M’s Coelho. Paszkiewicz crossed the wall when he used a government institution as a pulpit. He violated Matthew LaClair’s rights to freedom of religion.
Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, 1796-1797

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion–as it has itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims], … (“Article 11, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between The United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary,” 1796-1797. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Edited by Hunter Miller. Vol. 2, 1776-1818, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1931, p. 365.
We’re not a Christian nation, but there are no shortages of houses of worship and no restrictions on how often you may attend services. No churches or other religious institutions have been barricaded to keep the most faithful from practicing their religion as they see fit.
Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826; author, Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom; 3rd U.S. President, 1801-1809)

Convinced that religious liberty must, most assuredly, be built into the structural frame of the new [state] government, Jefferson proposed this language [for the new Virginia constitution]: “All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution”: freedom for religion, but also freedom from religion. (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 38. Jefferson proposed his language in 1776.)

I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor. (Thomas Jefferson, notes for a speech, c. 1776. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 498.)
The short of it is that our country was founded by free thinking elitist intellectuals who thought that you should be free to practice whatever religion spinned your top, but that you had no right what so ever to use your religion as a bat to beat down your fellow citizens. And no we are not a country of majority rules. We’re a democratic republic with a frame work that cannot be tossed aside by the winds of religious zealotry.

“Maybe there is no actual place called hell. Maybe hell is just having to listen to our grandparents breathe through their noses when they’re eating sandwiches.” – Jim Carrey.

“As the post said, ‘Only God can make a tree,’ probably because it’s so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.” – Woody Allen.

the nation shall have an organized control over the actions of its government

It looks as though I won’t be able to flog this story within an inch of its life anymore, Jamil Hussein, Disputed AP Source, Finally Located?

Allahpundit, posting at Malkin’s adjunct Hot Air blog, commented, “And what of the boss’s trip? Are she and Eason Jordan still going to be knocking on doors in Hurriya? So many questions!”

The tag for the story on the Hot Air home page currently reads, “Anyone got any good recipes for crow?”

Jamail Hussein is really only a small part of the story. Were 6 Iraqis burned to death in sectarian violence? There are several witnesses that say that the story is true. Even if we brush that aside the Right still has some explaining to do in how their gods in the Whitehouse have tried to cover-up the level of violence in Iraq. As Malkin and her followers are about to chew some crow here’s what Republican blogger Patterico’s Pontifications has to say, E&P Leaps All Over the Possible “Escape” for the AP, Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:31 am.

Was the AP’s story accurate? I don’t think so. Does Editor & Publisher care? And if the story is completely wrong — and there is such a person as Jam(a)il Hussein, Legit Iraqi Cop — doesn’t he have some ’splainin’ to do?(emphasis mine)

He put in the word “think” where he should have said that he chooses to believe what he wants regardless of any evidence. Why doesn’t he “think” the story is true? He offers up no real evidence of his own. This might not be the absolute end to the Jamail story, but as Orcinus points out Malkin’s credibility has taken another hit.

Iraq’s School System Crippled by Unending Violence

Here’s a story about the truth that the wing-nuttery can pursue, EXCLUSIVE: White House Forbids Publication Of Op-Ed On Iran By Former Bush Official

Middle East analyst Flynt Leverett, who served under President Bush on the National Security Council and is now a fellow at the New America Foundation, revealed today that the White House has been blocking the publication of an op-ed he wrote for the New York Times. The column is critical of the administration’s refusal to engage Iran.

Leverett’s op-ed has already been cleared by the CIA, where he was a senior analyst. Leverett explained, “I’ve been doing this for three and a half years since leaving government, and I’ve never had to go to the White House to get clearance for something that I was publishing as long as the CIA said, ‘Yeah, you’re not putting classified information.’”

This isn’t about Iran being cute and cuddly. It is getting at the truth about Iran, whatever that truth is. So far the Whitehouse with the echo of the right-wing pundits have simply given us the Iraq Treatment -i.e. Iran is the most dangerous regime yada ..yada..yada. The right-wing blogs want to nuke them while the administration has assumed the fiddler position, make noise and do nothing.

A Jules Crittenden’s has been given prominent space in the Boston Herald to do a hit piece on Senator John Kerry, Boston Herald Columnist Perpetuates Lies About John Kerry in Column and Blogosphere

First, Crittenden fails to acknowledge in his blog post or column, that Condoleezza Rice never discouraged Kerry’s visit to Syria. As the third ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Crittenden fails to recognize that Kerry’s visit is justified and considering the State Department will send a representative to the meeting with Kerry (standard procedure), the Bush administration will actually garner important information from his visit, as they did with Senator Nelson’s recent visit. Kerry, contrary to Crittenden’s claim, is an “engaged foreign policy whiz.” Crittenden claiming otherwise, makes himself look uninformed and unfamiliar with the duties of a seated Senator. But, Crittenden is not a journalist, actually — he’s hack and shill for the Bush administration.

The Democratic Daily has a good rebuttal at the link, but they didn’t get to this little gem,

The turmoil and uncertainty were not created by giving people the opportunity to freely express their political will for the first time. It was created by dictators, mullahs and terrorists who do not care to see a free, modern state emerge in their midst. It was created by the people whose suggestions for changing the various equations in the region Kerry is seeking out.

The majority of Iraqis want us out. If it is Crittenden’s assertion that we should support and obey the wishes of the Iraqi people then we shouldn’t even be there. I’m assuming that Crittenden would support real democracy for Saudi Arabia and Egypt where if truly open election were held tomorrow the people of those nations would vote in a Muslim fundamentalist government. Jules and those that think like him are incapable of an honest debate about the middle-east because they cannot or fail to grasp even the most rudimentary knowledge about the region. As much as I love Jeffersonian style democracy and wish the whole world would embrace it they won’t, at least for now and certainly not at the point of a gun. So what is Crittenden’s point? He really doesn’t have one other then anything a Democrat does is wrong and his masters at the Whitehouse are perfection on toast.

Conservative flame thrower Newt Gingrich thinks we really should give the whole Stalinist thing or fascism thing a try, I’m not sure which, Newt “Savior of Western Civilization” Gingrich has decided that free speech is for pansies:

BadVista.org: FSF launches campaign against Microsoft Vista

“Vista is an upsell masquerading as an upgrade. It is an overall regression when you look at the most important aspect of owning and using a computer: your control over what it does. Obviously MS Windows is already proprietary and very restrictive, and well worth rejecting. But the new ‘features’ in Vista are a Trojan Horse to smuggle in even more restrictions. We’ll be focusing attention on detailing how they work, how to resist them, and why people should care”, said FSF program administrator John Sullivan.

Though as other tech observers have noted the transition to Vista is inevitable because it will be sold on all new computers. As people upgrade their hardware – migrate to new computers they’ll be stuck with it. Which is why we’ll probably see quite a few articles about hacking Vista to disable some of the new “features”.

“To establish republican government, it is necessary to] effect a constitution in which the will of the nation shall have an organized control over the actions of its government, and its citizens a regular protection against its oppressions.” –Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1816. ME 19:240

The liar is no whit better than the thief, and if his mendacity takes the form of slander he may be worse than most thieves

When conservatives talk about the evils of communism maybe they know what they’re talking about. They walk and quack much like the old Soviet Pravda. Should we ask Jonah Goldberg or Michelle Malkin what happened to the statistics about attacks in Iraq for the months leading up to the November elections, Bush Admin Wont Release Iraq Attack Numbers

…called Joseph A. Christoff, the GAO official who produced the document. “I have all [the Pentagon’s] data” for those months, he told me. But the military stamped it classified, he said. And despite making weeks of phone calls, he can’t convince anyone there to declassify the numbers.

Would Jonah like to bet that Bush isn’t hiding news from the American people. Maybe Malkin would like to fly to Washington and interview the mysterious folks at the Pentagon and get the real story. We should revive the use of the word mendacity; conservatives people lie,  trample over the truth, hide facts and manipulate at every turn. How cynical do they want the American public to be. Facts in conservative world become quaint remnants of some old world Jeffersonian ideals they they would rather not be bothered with. The truth is just a road block in the Republican agenda.

Slate.com’s article on “Obama’s Shady Real Estate Deal” found nothing shady

In the very next sentence, however, the report acknowledged that there is no evidence Obama did anything wrong:

There’s no evidence that the senator is fibbing or that the indicted fund-raiser asked anything in return for his neighborly behavior (though that might have been just a matter of time). Obama hasn’t tried to change his story, even though Rezko is now talking to investigators.

The article itself was titled “Barackwater” — a reference to the Clinton-era Whitewater real-estate “scandal,” which gave rise to an extensive, multimillion-dollar investigation that turned up no evidence of illegality by the Clintons.

Looks like that time of year. The worse, the best or the most over rated or under rated books of 2006.

Steve Gilliard on the tragic death of Capt. Travis Patrquin, Officer Killed in Battle, but His Ideas Live On

Do the right-wing blogs seem in disarray or a little more panicked then usual from Hotair, Saudi intel official to ABC News: We’ll kick Al Qaeda’s ass in Anbar posted at 7:20 pm on December 15, 2006 by Allahpundit

If the Saudis end up in Iraq, it won’t be because they’re worried about AQ. They’ll be there to counter Iran. In which case, why waste perfectly good Sunni jihadis? They’re better off making a deal with them to provide them with materiel in return for their agreeing not to target Saudi personnel and limit their attacks to Shiite targets.

Some people would call that appeasement.

Interesting, Fitzgerald mum on Cheney in leak case

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speculation that Vice President Dick Cheney would testify in the CIA leak trial intensified when Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said he didn’t expect Bush administration officials to resist calls to testify.

[ ]..By 2000, Libby was working as a top adviser to Cheney in the presidential campaign and then followed him to the White House. In the White House, he was known as “Cheney’s Cheney” for being as trusted a problem solver for the vice president as Cheney was for Bush.

Even after Libby’s indictment, Cheney called him “one of the finest men I’ve ever known.”

The best way to get Cheney is through Congressional hearings. I’d love to see Dick ignore a subpoena.

“The liar is no whit better than the thief, and if his mendacity takes the form of slander he may be worse than most thieves. It puts a premium upon knavery untruthfully to attack an honest man, or even with hysterical exaggeration to assail a bad man with untruth. “- Theodore Roosevelt

Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen

We all know by now that Iraq is a modern paradise. A land of palm trees, Wal-Marts, and cable TV and that the media has been involved in a wide ranging conspiracy to cover-up this incredible success story. Never fear the Right might be sending a representative to clear things up once and for all. Malkin announces that she’s going to Baghdad

Malkin is so concerned about the Associated Press’ efforts to make things look “really bad” in Iraq when things are really actually going really well, that she has accepted Eason Jordan’s invitation to send her to Iraq.

Whether there is a Jamil or someone that has used that name to keep their true identity a secret isn’t as important as the truth of the story of Iraq’s daily death toll and the Right simply lacks the credibility to issue any findings one way or the other. The conservative blogs are chuck full of lies, distortions, and sins of omission so why should anyone believe anything they have to say. They seem to have set their sights on AP. I wonder what a comparison between the accuracy of AP’s reporting would look like compared to Malkins, Confederate Yankees, Right-wing Nuthouse, Instapundit, Blogs for Bush, etc. Counting Our Casualities in Iraq

We are fast, too fast, coming up on the 3,000th American combat death in Iraq. Or maybe not. The government has had a considerate policy of keeping the bad news away from us, so it’s possible that number 3,000 will come and go as we move on to 4,000–and we will hardly be aware of it.

This would be in line with President George Bush’s kind-hearted policy of not allowing photographs of the coffins containing the remains of those who gave their lives for the rest of us. It’s always better not to know, isn’t it?

The famous Baker-Hamilton Commission even made note of how the government is not inclined to pass along the bad news: “There is significant under-reporting of the violence in Iraq. The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases. The murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack. If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack, that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn’t hurt US personnel doesn’t count. For example, on one day in July 2006 there were ninety-three attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.”
If news should seep out that the 3,000th person has died, the government may still be able to find a way to prevent people from making a big to-do about it. For example, what if three of our people riding in a Humvee were to be killed by an improvised explosive device at the same time? Who would be number 3,000?

Remember all the bruhaha about Senator Harry Reid and those boxing tickets, Senate Panel Says Reid Did No Wrong

Last week the senate ethics panel sent a letter to a Las Vegas man who filed a complaint on the matter, saying Reid did not break any rules and it would take no further action.

A tip for the ethically challenged and lazy, if you want to win an argument credit things to your opponent that they never said. Patriotic Americans never bet that Bush would screw-up Iraq or hoped that he would. Patriots looked at the facts and predicted disaster. That Jonah Goldberg and the whining Right can’t get that simple fact straight is yet another factor in their ongoing credibility problem, Moral Clarity and Just When You Thought it was Safe to not Post on Pinochet…

…Jonah Goldberg has to go and write one of the more ridiculous sentences I have read in a while to start off a column in the LAT:

I THINK ALL intelligent, patriotic and informed people can agree: It would be great if the U.S. could find an Iraqi Augusto Pinochet.

Well, no, I don’t think that we can agree on that notion. (Indeed, almost always when someone starts a sentence “I think all intelligent, patriotic, informed people can agree…” it is almost certainly not true).

He continues:

In fact, an Iraqi Pinochet would be even better than an Iraqi Castro.

Ok, given that choice (a rather fantastical one, but fine), sure, I’d pick Pinochet over Castro. But that is like asking which room in Hell you’d prefer to reside it.

Once a fascist-lite always a fascist-lite. The Right just cannot hide its stripes. In whatever number of years Iraq becomes somewhat stable and the Right takes credit for it will just be another crap they’ve taken on the Iraqi people. Goodness knows you don’t want to give Iraqis credit for anything after Bush and the Right shocked and awed half a million of them to death to liberate them from Saddam. It won’t be conservative’s ultimate circus act, but it will be down there in the gutter with other low moments. The mighty pajama clad keyboarders of the Right might very well never have to pay for their general misanthropy, but their children might, A War Bush Wouldn’t Pay For

I think it would be a mistake to send more troops to Iraq. But for the sake of argument, let’s take seriously the idea that doing so might help, as Sen. John McCain has insisted and as American Enterprise Institute scholar Frederick W. Kagan argued in a report released yesterday. By not matching the military’s size to what we are asking it to do, we have hugely raised the costs, including the human costs, of such a policy.

Kagan and William Kristol acknowledged in the Weekly Standard last month that “surging 50,000 more troops” to Iraq “will strain a strained military further.”

“But it is also true,” they added, “that we can do it — if we think success in Iraq is a national priority — by extending tours, moving troops from other theaters into Iraq, and calling up expanded numbers from the Guard and Reserves.”

How easy it is to talk about extending other people’s tours, calling (or recalling) reservists and National Guard members who have already paid such a high price in this war, and endangering American interests elsewhere in the world in one last effort to make the Iraq gamble work. It’s absurd that the most powerful country in the world finds itself forced to treat its armed forces so shabbily.

“Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen.”
Carl Sandburg

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves

Protecting Democracy Comes Before Promoting Faith

Consider the situation in Turkey. There are radical Islamic groups intent on using the democratic process to vote in an Islamic state that would then throw away the ladder and abolish democracy, replacing it with theocracy. What should be done about this is not at all obvious. If the people democratically vote to demolish democracy, isn’t this just like a club voting itself out of existence? It would be the will of the majority, after all. In Algeria, harsh measures were taken in 1992 to avoid just such a democratic self-annihilation, with a vicious civil war resulting. In Turkey, such a calamity has been averted, or at least postponed. In 1996, an Islamic party won control, but the vigorous secularist reaction soon led to the resignation of the prime minister. A moderate Islamic party is now in power, and it has wisely restrained itself from any attempt to impose Islam on the nation, committing itself to preserving the secularism of the state.

In the United States, the problem is no less real for being less dramatic: There are many deeply religious people who believe that they may democratically impose more and more of their creed on the nation, by simply exercising their First Amendment rights to free expression and creating thereby a climate of opinion that renders opposition by secularists politically ineffective. This is a grave danger to democracy, more subversive, in fact, than anything Al Qaeda threatens.

Many of us believe that American democracy is the best hope of the world, that it provides the most secure and reliable–though hardly foolproof–platform on the planet for improving human welfare. If it tumbles, the whole world is in deep trouble. We therefore put the securing of American democracy–America’s secular democracy, with separation of church and state–at the very top of our list of priorities.

That has always been the weak link in our democratic framework, that like those extremists in Turkey some group would use democracy to undermine democracy. I have lost count at this point of the conversations, web comments, and other forums where people have simply stated that since this is America the “majority rules”. That is not what our system of government is on any level. I suspect that when those that believe in majority rule listen to their favorite politician take the oath of office they hear, but do not listen. Elected officials are forbidden to pass laws that violate the Constitution. When they endorse religion- try to legislate religion such as the Faith Based Initiative does, that is a violation of the Constitution regardless of whether the majority of people support it. James Madison warned us about factions of citizens banning together to undermine democracy in Federalist No. 10,

“I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent interests of the community.”

America’s religious Right, the christianists ( not to be confused with Christians) are such a faction. Bin Laden and his predecessors can kill a few of us now and then, but it is almost laughable that he would be considered a threat to democracy, yet the christianists, by using the freedom afforded them under our democracy are very much a threat.

This is one of those stories that made me laugh not because it is funny, but because it is so absurd, Joint Chiefs Advise Change In War Strategy

The nation’s top uniformed leaders are recommending that the United States change its main military mission in Iraq from combating insurgents to supporting Iraqi troops and hunting terrorists, said sources familiar with the White House’s ongoing Iraq policy review.

President Bush and Vice President Cheney met with the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday at the Pentagon for more than an hour, and the president engaged his top military advisers on different options. The chiefs made no dramatic proposals but, at a time of intensifying national debate about how to solve the Iraq crisis, offered a pragmatic assessment of what can and cannot be done by the military, the sources said.

Three years and hundreds of thousands of lives later and George and Dick consult the experts.

As Jerome writes in the preface to this post over at DKos I don’t necessarily agree or endorse every word, but it did point out some interesting facts on the ground in Iraq, An Answer for Iraq

We have previously shown benign neglect for the Iraqi oil and passed the responsibility to the British. They outsourced it to a British security company. In 2004 it hired a paramilitary Oil Protection Force controlled by Sunnis. Shiites retaliated by infiltrating the OPF in 2005 and killing began. Further sectarian fighting for the oil can be stopped and high security provided for oil production by redeploying about 20% of American troops to the “Enclave”: an isolated, easily defended, desert area next to the Kuwait border and the Persian Gulf that produces 71% of the oil and controls most exports.

Did the Joint Chiefs point this out to the pretend Commander-in-chief on their little visit?

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.  ~Abraham Lincoln

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.  ~Thomas Paine

Ho! Ha-ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust!

I don’t link to too many CNN stories mostly because they don’t have the kind of news gathering apparatus they used to have. While the network has become more talking heads then news and the web site relies too heavily on the wire services rather then its own reporters. Then today we get this, White House: Bush’s new Iraq policy largely decided

President Bush on Tuesday put off until early next month announcing a new approach to the Iraq war, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Bush should take whatever time necessary to decide his next steps.

The White House initially indicated that Bush might deliver the speech before Christmas.

While administration officials said Bush had largely decided on where he wants to go in terms of a new policy, he gave no public hint of his plan at a meeting with the country’s Sunni vice president.

“Our objective is to help the Iraqi government deal with the extremists and the killers, and support the vast majority of Iraqis who are reasonable, who want peace,” Bush said after an Oval Office meeting Tuesday with Tariq al-Hashemi.

He’s decided?

“The president’s goal and indeed his responsibility is to do precisely what he said he would do,” Rice said. She said that was to present to the American people “a new way forward.” (Watch how Americans are increasingly supporting a withdrawal from Iraq Video)

“It only makes sense for the president to take whatever time he needs to have confidence in the course that he will put forward before the American people,” she said.

The Decider seems to be in a muddle. While he muddles about deciding people are dying. Not a perfect analogy as far as events on the ground, but as far as double-talk and leading the American people around by the nose Bush and Rice remind me of Nixon and Kissinger. There is nothing wrong with the substance of this statement, “Our objective is to help the Iraqi government deal with the extremists and the killers, and support the vast majority of Iraqis who are reasonable, who want peace”; the problem is that BushCO has had over three years to formulate a plan to accomplish that objective and have been tragically lacking in the ability to move forward on that objective. The Pentagon might just be tipping us off about where things are headed, Army, Marine Corps To Ask for More Troops

The Army and Marine Corps are planning to ask incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Congress to approve permanent increases in personnel, as senior officials in both services assert that the nation’s global military strategy has outstripped their resources.

In addition, the Army will press hard for “full access” to the 346,000-strong Army National Guard and the 196,000-strong Army Reserves by asking Gates to take the politically sensitive step of easing the Pentagon restrictions on the frequency and duration of involuntary call-ups for reservists, according to two senior Army officials.

Lifestyles of the Rich and FascistThe decadent whims of the world’s wackiest despots

Group seeks probe of evangelical military video

A watchdog group that promotes religious freedom in the U.S. military accused senior officers on Monday using their rank and influence to coerce soldiers and airmen into adopting evangelical Christianity.

Such proselytizing, according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has created a core of “radical” Christians within the U.S. armed forces and Pentagon who punish those who do not accept evangelical beliefs by stalling their careers.

“It’s egregious beyond the pale,” said Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. “We apparently have a radicalized, evangelical Christian Pentagon within the rest of the Pentagon.”

The group asked the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate a video in which some Army and Air Force officers discuss their faith while in uniform.

According to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the video played for reporters was a promotional tool for Christian Embassy, a group that describes itself as a ministry helping national and international leaders blend faith and work.

Certainly ironic that we’re supposedly fighting al-Queda like religious zealots and yet have our own brand of zealots here who don’t care about anyone’s religious freedom but theirs. When some group thinks they have the right to shove their religion down your throat its not about helping you anymore it’s about controlling you. TGW has more Praying in the Pentagon

“Ho! Ha-ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! Thrust!” – Daffy Duck

Truth has not special time of its own. Its hour is now—always and indeed then most truly when it seems unsuitable to actual circumstances

If the story about Sunnis burned to death as they left worship services must be flogged then let the flogging continue, Michelle Malkin fiddles while Baghdad burns

“[M]any in the American media … have a vested interest in exaggerating the violence as much as possible,” announced warblogger Michelle Malkin, whose reassuring analysis was echoed by warbloggers such as the Anchoress, Power Line, Little Green Footballs, Flopping Aces, Instapundit, Redstate, The Belmont Club, Wizbang, and Pajamas Media, among others. Fox News, the New York Post, The Examiner of the Washington, D.C., area, and National Review Online also gave the story attention.

snip

* Mosul — Police said they recovered 14 bodies, including three women, in different areas of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad. [November 22]
* Baghdad — Up to six car bombs killed 133 people in a Shi’ite militia stronghold in Baghdad and a further 201 people were wounded, police said. [November 23]
* Baghdad — Baghdad police recovered 30 unidentified bodies around the capital in the 24 hours to late Friday, an Interior Ministry source said. [November 24]
* Baghdad — Baghdad police retrieved 30 bodies of victims of violence on Friday and 17 on Saturday, an Interior Ministry source said. [November 25]
* Baquba — Police in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, found the bodies of 25 people, including seven teenagers blindfolded and each with a single gunshot wound to the head, in various parts of Baquba in the past 24 hours, police said. [November 26]
* Baghdad — Baghdad police retrieved 39 bodies in the 24 hours to Monday evening. [November 27]

Focus on Jamil Hussein, look where we tell you to look and give weight to what the warblogging Bush apologists order you to. That is the real message, the message of Big Brother Right. The Right are the almighty mallahs of the truth. Anytime the Right shows concern for the truth a national alert should go off. They and their president have been caught in so many lies they have lost any moral authority to ascend to any mantle of righteous indignation.

Confederate Yankee is the same warblogger who recently posted a Reuters photo of an elderly Iraqi woman wrapped in a headscarf and crying beside a coffin. Confederate Yankee sensed foul play and claimed the picture had been mischievously doctored by the wire service because the Iraqi woman’s face was actually George Bush’s mug superimposed onto the picture. I kid you not.

There is even the assertion the the press is getting our troops killed. George W. Bush lied and distorted intelligence while members of his administration went around the country manipulating the American people, often with the help of the media like the New York Times. Those lies, that cretinous behavior is getting Americans and Iraqis killed. The Right’s reaction is that it is patriotic to die for the lies of conservatism. Reality, values, ethics, your sons and daughters must be sacrified for the good of the Right.

From a UPI featured story on Lt Gen. Pete Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq.Analysis: Iraq ‘object lesson’

“I know I am leaving Iraq in a more uncertain and somewhat more tumultuous state than the last time I left,” Chiarelli said.

The year 2006 in Iraq turned on the February bombing of the Shiite Golden Dome mosque in Samarra. That inflamed sectarian divisions and violence Chiarelli said he had not seen during his first deployment in 2004.

Chiarelli still thinks that some kind of victory could be had in Iraq, but one based on getting Iraqis employment and ” It’s going to take working along with other lines of operation, the economic and the political lines of operation, the reconstruction line of operation, to give Iraqis hope for their future.”

If the warbloggers are on the march for truth they should be outraged over this report, Taleban death toll ‘inaccurate’

The Nato force in Afghanistan has said claims it killed up to 80 Taleban fighters in a battle earlier this month were inaccurate.

A statement released on Sunday said the true figure was seven or eight.

Probably few people have heard over the last few years over the den of the Republican noise machine that dominates most of the media, but many average Iranians actually don’t think the U.S. is satan. That many of them are more moderate then the inflammatory rhetoric that comes from their leaders. Most Americans should be able to relate to that very phenomenon. Students interrupt Iran president

According to the student news Web site, ADWAR, the protesters were members of Amir Kabir University’s Islamic Students Association, a reformist group that has lost its influence since Ahmadinejad took power last year.

The president’s speech was interrupted several times by students, ADWAR reported.

Ahmadinejad responded by accusing the protesting students of having no shame and being on the payroll of the United States, according to ADWAR. But he added that he loved each one of them and said, “You insult me but I will respond to you calmly.”

If there is fire behind the smoke shame on Rahm Emanuel, Unfit for Leadership

Our own Blue America candidate researcher Howie Klein has suspicions about Emanuel’s foreknowledge of the Foley ticking time bombs based on Emanuel’s early efforts to recruit a former Republican to run as a “Democrat” for Foley’s very red district seat, sleezily pushing out a fine local progressive in Dave Lutrin. Why was Emanuel so interested in this race so early, when no signs publicly available pointed to any Foley vulnerability?

If all this turns out to be true Democrats need to draw a hard-line, take a stand now that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. Here’s an example of what the American people just voted for,

House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is “expected to stand by her decision to permanently remove” Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) from the powerful Ways and Means Committee, National Journal reports. Jefferson is currently under FBI investigation for bribery.

Fred Barnes’ family should rush him to a good psychiatrist immediately for therapy, Fred Barnes hopes the “lame Duck” Bush bombs Iran on the way out the door

“Truth has not special time of its own. Its hour is now—always and indeed then most truly when it seems unsuitable to actual circumstances. ” – Albert Schweitzer

We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat

Afghanistan has become a kind of orphan. Most the tax dollars flowing out of Washington and most of our military resources are going to that little optional war in Iraq which some of the neocons and their dead ender supporters would like to expand. For those with a short memory, the U.S. was attacked by al-Queda sponsored terrorists on September 11, 2001. The master minds behind the attack were in Afghanistan. The sheriff was supposed to get a posse together and go get the bad guys. A little complicated, but not something that couldn’t have been handled in a competent manner by an extraordinarily well trained military directed by a commander-in-chief that wasn’t a right-wing zealot with some bizarre notions about how to handle a simple straight forward criminal act by criminals. Well here we going into 2007 and how is that whole Afghanistan posse thing going? Taliban Seize US Cash from Locals to Fuel Jihad

WHEN US troops in the southern Afghan province of Ghazni handed out cash to village elders, they must have thought they were winning friends. The money, intended for bridges, wells, drinking water, irrigation systems and other infrastructure projects, was supposed to convince the locals that the foreign presence would benefit their country in general and them in particular.

After distributing the funds to villagers in Ghazni’s Andar district in early October, the US soldiers left, having done their best to get Andar on side. This “hearts and minds” campaign formed part of a major anti-Taliban offensive – codenamed Operation Mountain Fury – which US-led coalition forces launched in mid-September in conjunction with the Afghan National Army (ANA).

The only problem was that the resources intended to combat the Taliban’s influence ended up doing just the opposite.

Locals in several parts of Andar district have since told how almost as soon as the coalition forces left their villages, the money found its way into Taliban coffers to finance the jihad against the foreigners.

“American money is haram unlawful in Islam,” said Abdul Jalil, an elder in one Andar village. “We could not use it to improve our lives, so we decided to give it to the Taliban. The most important thing we could do with this money was help the Taliban to pursue the jihad.”

At a gathering in the local mosque after the coalition troops had left, mullahs exhorted the faithful to reject foreign blandishments and contribute to the insurgency, said Jalil. The elders agreed, so the Taliban were summoned and the money handed over.

The Afghanistan scenario is taking on a kind of science fiction aspect in which a small growth has been ignored and mishandled and allowed to migrate and grow. The neocons are like a mad doctor who operates and the cancer actually gets bigger and more malignant.

The facts pointed out in this article aren’t new, but it does put them all together, Why has the portrayal of Jesus in art drifted far from the likelihood he was a brown-skinned Semitic Jew?

The mainstreaming of a white Jesus began in earnest during the early Middle Ages in Europe, a time and place where darkness had a powerfully negative connotation. Eighth and ninth century European theologians, obsessed with the symbolism of the Passion, began ascribing blame to the Jews. As such, Judas and King Herod and eventually Pontius Pilate came to be represented in dark, sinister hues while Jesus became increasingly white. “The oldest basis of all Christian art is the clash of good versus evil, light versus dark,” said Colum Hourihane, director of the Index of Christian Art at Princeton University. “This was particularly the case in the ninth and tenth centuries, when basically the Jews assumed a dark coloration [in art] while Christ became radiantly white, illuminated.” This whiteness naturally extended to such secondary characters as Mary and Joseph and the disciples.

While it would help AP’s credibility in regards to the this story where six Sunnis were doused them with kerosene if they could find and produce Capt. Jamil Hussein, it does appear to the dismay of Brit Hume, Michelle Malkin, Newsbusters and others that the event did occur, Collaborating Witnesses in Jamil Hussein/AP Story

According to “USA Today”:

“On Tuesday, two AP reporters also went back to the Hurriyah neighborhood around the Mustafa mosque and found three witnesses who independently gave accounts of the attack. Others in the neighborhood said they were afraid to talk about what happened.”

To dwell on this one story is a something of a malicious distraction and the Right knows it. Iraqs are being killed in the most abominable way everyday. The Right’s motivation is not to uncover the truth about this story, but to cast doubts on any stories that contradict their views about Iraq. Its a kind of madness at this point to try and sell the American people a picture of Iraq as a nation where peace and all the wonderfulness of an American style democracy are just around the corner. So far Bush and the echo chamber of the fringe Right blogs have created so many corners we now have a circle. If the Right is genuinely concerned about the truth where was the outrage over the news manufactured by the Bush Whitehouse and the Lincoln Group, Lincoln Group gets DoD deal to work in Baghdad

The communications firm that was at the center of a controversial contract last year in which it was paid to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers began a new contract with U.S. officials in Baghdad last week.

The Washington-based Lincoln Group, was awarded a one-year, multimillion contract to provide “strategic communications” services for the top U.S. command in Iraq to help American officials counter poor public perceptions, conduct polling, and perform other communications services.

Lincoln Group officials say they can’t discuss in detail exactly what they are doing for U.S. officials in Baghdad, citing the classified nature of elements of the contract.

Lincoln began work on the contract with Multi-National Force-Iraq — led by Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander there — on Oct. 28.

“We’ve developed a certain degree of competence and professionalism particularly in information operations that we believe is recognized by the client,” said Richard Vandiver, whose title is “Director of Insight and Influence” for Lincoln.

“It’s a very important contract for us, it’s a high-profile contract, and it’s a contract we’re proud about,” he said from the company’s offices in downtown Washington.

The controversy about paying to plant factual but positive stories about the war and reconstruction efforts in Iraq in the host-nation media put the upstart communications firm on the map last year.

Witnesses detail Iraq burning deaths

Two of the witnesses — a 45-year-old bookshop owner and a 48-year-old neighborhood grocery owner — gave nearly identical accounts of what happened. A third, a physician, said he saw the attack on the mosque from his home, saw it burning and heard people in the streets screaming that people had been set on fire. All three men are Sunni Muslims.

The Right seems to be having another Haditha moment. Will they say that the bookshop owner, the grocery owner, and the physician do not exist. The sad thing is that in a search on Google News the Right has kicked up enough dust to get even the big media to allow that maybe nothing happened at all.

“We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”
–Donald Rumsfeld
On March 30, on alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty

We just had an election and while individual voters all have a personal brief as to why they voted the way they did I think we can agree that in general the public wanted a change in direction. More competence and less corruption. Reports like this add up after a while and eventually you get buyers regret, Democrats’ New Intelligence Chairman Needs a Crash Course on al Qaeda

That’s because, like a number of his colleagues and top counterterrorism officials that I’ve interviewed over the past several months, Reyes can’t answer some fundamental questions about the powerful forces arrayed against us in the Middle East.

It begs the question, of course: How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield?

OK, we could say that Republicans were not any better, but there are sometimes where tit-for-tat arguments like that just don’t cut it. Ezra Klein has more – Confederacy of Dunces

Looks like incoming House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes is the latest in a long line of Congressional national security experts who don’t actually know anything about national security. He thinks the viciously anti-Shiite al-Qaeda are...Shiites, something that even casual observers of the Iraq War know to be false, given that al-Qaeda is gaining ground in Iraq as protectors of the Sunnis. ( the links to Shia and Sunni are mine)

No cynicism intended it is easy for the old school liberal libertarian in me to object to the trans fat wars, The coming crackdown on trans fats. But trans fats are not like hemp that has been around for thousands of years. It is something science invented recently. If we think of it as a food additive/preservative/enhancer rather then a food and realize that like some drugs this one has just not worked out well and is being recalled then the liberal libertarian argument comes up shallow. Unless you’re of the school of thought that public health-care policy should be trashed altogether.

Everything that’s wrong with trans fats follows from their industrial heritage. In nature, things generally don’t stick around unless they serve some purpose. Cream is lousy for adult arteries, but it nourishes babies of all kinds. In nature, things that are harmful in excess tend to disappear unless they’re safe in moderation. And nature is always looking for alternatives, so if something dangerous is still here, it has probably been hard to replace.

None of these things is true of trans fats. They’re worse than saturated fats, because, in addition to raising bad cholesterol, they lower good cholesterol. As the health department points out, “there is no safe level of artificial trans fat consumption … in contrast to other dietary fats which, when consumed in moderation, are a natural part of a healthy diet. Artificially produced trans fat is relatively new to our food supply and confers no known health benefit.”

Because trans fats are industrial, regulating them feels like regulating chemicals, not food.

Shiites Rout Sunni Families in Mixed Area of Baghdad

Bands of armed Shiite militiamen stormed through a neighborhood in north-central Baghdad on Saturday, driving hundreds of Sunni Arabs from their homes in what a Sunni colonel in the Iraqi Army described as one of the most flagrant episodes of sectarian warfare yet unleashed in the capital.

So the Right feels that the press is exaggerating the level of sectarian violence. Black-Market Weapon Prices Surge in Iraq Chaos

The market for this American-issued pistol and the ubiquitous assault rifle illustrated how fear, mismanagement and malfeasance are shaping the small-arms market in Iraq.

Weapon prices are soaring along with an expanding sectarian war, as more buyers push prices several times higher than those that existed at the time of the American-led invasion nearly four years ago.

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” – Bertrand Russell