Only its not a trip caused by drugs, but a politics composed of such poisonous delusional extremes it has blinded them to the truth and complexities of the real world

Spokesman: Romney Not “Equating Or Comparing Anyone” When Holding “Obama Osama” Sign

As you may have seen today, TMZ.com has obtained two photos of Mitt Romney posing with a supporter in South Carolina. The supporter was holding a sign with the homemade writing, “NO TO OBAMA OSAMA AND CHELSEA’S MOMA” (sic). In the second photo, Romney is himself holding up the sign with the supporter.

At least as disturbing as equating Senators Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton is the expressions on the supporter’s face and Romney’s. Saying that two U.S. Senators are as evil as a murderous terrorist is just so funny to them. Just another day in the world of politics. Mitt and his supporter have made the unhinged a ordinary social custom like having apple pie and coffee with the neighbors. The Right might have hit its peak with making deranged behavior the new normal. Of course the price they pay for that is giving license to their opponents and their supporters to make the same comparisons.

I’ve read enough from veterans and Iraq veterans in particular to think that the troops were leaning Democrat, but I find the degree of their financial support amazing and encouraging, 70.6% of money from the troops was to anti-war candidates

I’m taking a break from reading right-wing blogs today, but Mahablog has a critical look at Dean Barnett’s essay at The Weakly Standard, It’s Easy Being Right Barnett has the nerve to write this

It is surely a measure of how far we’ve come as a society from the dark days of the 1960s that things like military service and duty and sacrifice are now celebrated. Just because Washington and Hollywood haven’t noticed this generational shift doesn’t mean it hasn’t occurred. It has, and it’s seismic.

Here’s just some of the most vocal pro Iraq war supporters who didn’t serve in Vietnam or Iraq – Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Ashcroft. Dennis Hastert, Bill Bennett, Condoleeza Rice, Katherine Harris, Ann Coulter, Kenn Starr, Antonin Scalia, Ted Olson, Clarence Thomas, Dennis Miller, Ted Nugent, Michael Weiner, Matt Drudge, Lynn Cheney, Bill O’Reilly. All of them people could have joined the military. Again Dean,

Sadly, the excesses of Woodstock became the face of the Boomers’ response to their moment of challenge. War protests where agitated youths derided American soldiers as baby-killers added no luster to their image.

Does he mean people like Ted Kennedy who served, or Charlie Rangel who served or John Kerry. The list if liberals who served is as long as the list of right-wingers who never have. Remember from just yesterday’s post, Meet the Next Generation of GOP Hypocrites at the College Republican Convention

Yet when I asked these College Republicans why they were not participating in this historic cause, they immediately went into contortions. Asthma. Bad knees from playing catcher in high school. “Medical reasons.” “It’s not for me.” These were some of the excuses College Republicans offered for why they could not fight them “over there.”

Like the current Republican leaders who skipped out on Vietnam, the GOP’s next generation would rather cheerlead from the sidelines for the war in Iraq while other, less privileged young men and women fight and die.

Barnett’s essay is filled with such obvious lies, hypocrisy and distortions that I suspect that he’s writing purely for an audience of the fringe Right echo chamber. People that only read what reaffirms their world view. They read Barnett’s essay and walk away feeling an affirmation of their fun house mirror version of reality is the one and only true world. Barnett also writes that soldiers have not committed any atrocities in Iraq or Vietnam. That would be a lie. The majority of the military in general in both conflicts acted honorably enough, but it is a dangerous to pretend that such atrocities never occurred – Marine killed women, children in Haditha dwelling and Vietnam atrocities revealed in report. More here – Questions and More Questions

Barnett might want to read this though I doubt it will help with his cognitive dissonance syndrome, Why It’s Hard to Admit to Being Wrong

Dissonance is disquieting because to hold two ideas that contradict each other is to flirt with absurdity and, as Albert Camus observed, we humans are creatures who spend our lives trying to convince ourselves that our existence is not absurd. At the heart of it, Festinger’s theory is about how people strive to make sense out of contradictory ideas and lead lives that are, at least in their own minds, consistent and meaningful. The theory inspired more than 3,000 experiments that, taken together, have transformed psychologists’ understanding of how the human mind works. Cognitive dissonance has even escaped academia and entered popular culture. The term is everywhere. The two of us have heard it in TV newscasts, political columns, magazine articles, bumper stickers, even on a soap opera. Alex Trebek used it on Jeopardy, Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and President Bartlet on The West Wing. Although the expression has been thrown around a lot, few people fully understand its meaning or appreciate its enormous motivational power.

Just recently Democratic Senator Jim Webb confronted Republican Lindsay Graham on Meet The Press and Webb didn’t even bring up the fact he has a son in Iraq – Webb Rips Graham As ‘Politician Trying To Put His Political Views Into The Mouths Of Soldiers’ and former Democratic presidential candidate General Wesley Clark also has a son in Iraq, but in the nice neat little right-wing dissonant world of the  like Barnetts conveniently leave out facts like that. In right-wing world only white male Republicans were attacked on 9-11 not America and only right-wing Republicans serve their country. It is as though they’ve taken some drug induced mental trip and can’t come down. Only its not a trip caused by drugs, but a politics composed of such poisonous delusional extremes it has blinded them to the truth and complexities of the real world. The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness

Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported–and almost always go unpunished.

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom

College Republican Convention: Meet the Next Generation of GOP Hypocrites

In conversations with at least twenty College Republicans about the war in Iraq, I listened as they lip-synched discredited cant about “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” Many of the young GOP cadres I met described the so-called “war on terror” as nothing less than the cause of their time.

Yet when I asked these College Republicans why they were not participating in this historic cause, they immediately went into contortions. Asthma. Bad knees from playing catcher in high school. “Medical reasons.” “It’s not for me.” These were some of the excuses College Republicans offered for why they could not fight them “over there.”

These are the next generation of Republicans and they will carry on the Bush legacy of talking outside both sides of their mouths. They have every right to join in the national debate on Iraq or any other issue, but they have assigned themselves the role of cheer leading from the safety of the peanut gallery. A sad mix of  unquestioning nationalism and convictions lighter then a yellow feather.

Remember part of the Republican mantra for years was that privatizing everything would increase effectiveness and effiency and the tax payer would get more value for their tax dollar. Like so many Republican mantras this one has been more smoke and mirrors then reality, Privatizing the War on Terror: Endangering the Homefront 

As if that’s not enough, since 1999 Wackenhut has provided security at the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Y-12 nuclear weapons plant and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. DOE Inspector General and press reports portray a contractor there who under staffs the facility, forces officers to work persistent and excessive overtime, and has resorted to cheating and falsification of records to keep up the appearance of acceptable performance. Other reports of security lapses include discharging of live ammunition during weapons tests and security problems at a number of the national nuclear security administration sites that Wackenhut guards.

But it’s not just our national security and nuclear infrastructure that this company is endangering. They are also putting our public safety at risk in key cities like Miami, Florida, where they get county funds to guard the transportation system.

A quick search at PoliticalMoneyLine shows that Wackenhut gives the vast majority of its political contributions to, who else Republicans.

Bush administration thinks the Constitution says the executive branch is beyond the law,

    Not every questionable assertion of Executive Privilege should be resolved in the context of a criminal prosecution because not every refusal to comply with a subpoena is criminal or even wrong. There is such a thing as “Executive Privilege,” and — like all other privileges, such as attorney/client or doctor/patient — it does sometimes entitle defiance of a subpoena. It happens all the time in judicial proceedings that subpoenas are issued, the subpoenaed party claims a right not to comply, and both sides then present their arguments to a court, which resolves the dispute.

But refusals to comply with subpoenas become criminal where they are grounded not in good faith (even if questionable) assertions of privilege, but where, instead, a contempt for the rule of law is evidenced because one party abuses legitimate privileges in order to shield itself from investigation and accountability.

What the Bush administration is asserting here is the power to abolish that distinction, to immunize itself completely from the threat of criminal prosecution in those cases where it plainly abuses the assertion of privilege (as it is undoubtedly doing now) in order to immunize itself from accountability under the law. It removes completely the specter of criminal prosecution for refusing to comply with lawful investigations by vesting in the President an absolute, unchallengeable power to defy all subpoenas even where it has no arguable basis for doing so, by vesting in him the power literally to order federal prosecutors not to pursue an indictment. (emphasis mine)

CNN uncritically reported Bush charge that Democrats are denying troops’ pay increase 

Elaine Quijano uncritically reported that President Bush “essentially admonished lawmakers for failure to come to an agreement on the defense authorization bill,” and aired Bush’s statement, “Even members of Congress who no longer support our effort in Iraq should at least be able to provide an increase in pay for our troops fighting there.” Quijano did not mention Bush’s strong opposition — asserted merely two months ago — to any pay increase above 3 percent.

….As the blog Think Progress has noted, on May 16 the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) released a statement that said, “The Administration strongly opposes” section 601 of the House version of the defense bill — providing for a 3.5-percent increase in basic pay — and called the “additional 0.5 percent increase above the President’s proposed 3.0 percent across-the-board pay increase … unnecessary.”

This was that difficult all the producers and reporters at CNN had to do was make a mild effort at doing their homework. Just report the facts. Bush and only Bush is responsible for stopping a pay increase for the troops. He lied about in a speech ,

   Military Pay: The Administration strongly opposes sections 601 and 606. The additional 0.5 percent increase above the President’s proposed 3.0 percent across-the-board pay increase is unnecessary.

Se story above about welfare for Wackenhut and the 12 billion we’re spending a month in Iraq and Bush just couldn’t budge on that half percent. Give me a break “liberal ?” media.

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson

The whole family of pride and ignorance are incestuous, and mutually beget each other

Tony Snow, General Petraeus and right-wing Republican pundits can spin all they want, but one thing that the new version of the NIE (National Intelligence Estimate) makes clear is to continue with the Bush/Republican agenda is to continue down the same disastrous road. Bush and the Right want more American troops to die not to save America from another 9-11, but to try and salvage the national security reputation of the Republican party. Iraq, the war the Right manipulated America into and which too many Democrats failed to speak up against will not stop Islamic extremism. Finally, Bad News That Even Bush Can’t Spin

The latest National Intelligence Estimate concludes that al-Qaeda and its leader have only grown stronger since the inception of Bush’s war.

While the president diverted the military to Iraq, the real terrorist threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan intensified. If he reads the estimate, he will weep for the more than 3,000 lives lost and billions of dollars spent in a war that’s only heightened the hatred of Americans in the Islamic world and increased their desire to kill us — here.

High Marks

Combine the NIE summary with last week’s interim report on the Iraqi government’s progress meeting the 18 benchmarks and Bush’s claims are laughable.

The White House gave itself “satisfactory” ratings on progress if the Iraqis so much as formed a committee to study a problem. It gave the Iraqis “satisfactory” marks for fixing their constitution, while the parliament has missed every deadline for resolving disagreements.

And it gave itself high marks for securing a place for minority parties, when killing and boycotts have stalled any such thing and a major Sunni bloc withdrew.

Republicans in the private sector have been doing this for years; they have a committee look at how management is doing and what do ya know the committee always finds that management is doing great. The NIE findings also beg some questions about the surge. Cooking the intelligence, again

The latest NIE, however, is a strange product. According to highly reliable sources in the intelligence community, no new intelligence at all is reflected in the NIE. Its conclusions, on one level, are a rehash of obvious facts that anyone who reads a daily newspaper could glean, such as the protected status of al-Qaida in frontier regions of Pakistan. Other conclusions lack contextual analysis, partly because of the continuing pressure from the administration to politicize information and cherry-pick intelligence. The NIE, for example, does not explain that al-Qaida in Iraq, while lethal, is a very small part of the Sunni insurgency, and that a number of Sunni insurgent groups are its sworn enemies. Nor did the NIE note how few foreign fighters are in Iraq and what a small percentage of insurgents they constitute. (A Los Angeles Times story published on July 15 reported that of the 19,000 Iraqi prisoners held by the U.S. military there, only 135 are foreign fighters, and nearly half are Saudis.) The NIE is utterly devoid of political analysis.

According to intelligence sources, CIA director Michael Hayden has been under attack within the administration from Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives since testifying frankly to the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group that urged a strategic redeployment of U.S. forces and new diplomatic efforts in the region, which were rejected by President Bush.

Iraq is not a full house its a bluff and Bush has been called. We’re not losing now in some precipitous moment in the great battle that will end terrorism we lost the day Bush wouldn’t weapons inspectors do their job. Conservatives, both those elected and those shaking their pom-poms on the side lines are doing nothing less then creating a meat grinder in Iraq and feeding it with our troops – and if you’re against Bush’s using the troops as cannon fodder by the way you’re unamerican and pro terrorist. The Iraq government that Bush created is largely corrupt. Some of the Iraqi police are police by day and insurgents by night, and the Iraqi Army has probably reached its pinnacle of competency. A president and his supporters that cared about the troops and defeating al-Qaeda would strengthen our forces in Afghanistan, rotate troops back to the states for a rest and stop using Iraq as political cover.

A small, but still crucial victory, House protects public broadcasting from Bush attack

The House on Wednesday evening overwhelmingly rejected President Bush’s plan to eliminate the $420 million federal subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The 357-72 vote demonstrated the enduring political strength of public broadcasting. The outcome was never in doubt, unlike a fight two years ago when Republicans tried but failed to slash public broadcasting subsidies.

The move to kill subsidies for the CPB, which make up about 15 percent of its budget, was launched by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado.

Lamborn has at least two faces. One of them thinks that the misley 420 million will really make a dent in the deficit, but has never failed to vote for every bit of Republican pork amounting to hundreds of billions, not to mention the black hole which is Iraq, Iraq War Costs Approach $567 Billion, Congressional Report Says

Unka Karl lied again and the Whitehouse claims to Stalinesque powers is just bull hockey, Top ‘Attorneygate’ investigator: No ‘blind faith’ for the White House

He went on to warn that “the White House participated in false statements to Congress.”

“Chris Oprison in the Counsel’s office signed off on an inaccurate letter that the Justice Department sent to Congress claiming that Karl Rove did not play a role in the appointment of Tim Griffin to replace Bud Cummins,” he explained.

The committee’s chairman also implied an effort was being taken to obstruct the investigation of the Attorneys’ firings.

“We also have evidence of a concerted effort both by the Justice Department and the White House to hide or downplay the role of White House personnel in this process,” he argued.

Among the urban myths that the unhinged Right likes to regularly recycle is the one about Jamie S. Gorelick who was Deputy Attorney General of the United States during the Clinton administration and what has been called the “wall”. This “wall” that Gorelick supposedly created segregated criminal investigators and intelligence agents which according to those on the Right seeking to deflect blame for 9-11 away from the Bush administration has used as the institutional reason that the 9-11 conspirators(hijackers) were not caught. The 9-11 Commission found and it is a matter of public record that laws preventing certain types of cooperation between domestic agencies and bodies such as the CIA had come into place over the course of several president and as Slade Gorton (R-WA) a member of the 9-11 Commission said, “nothing Jamie Gorelick wrote had the slightest impact on the Department of Defense or its willingness or ability to share intelligence information with other intelligence agencies.” The flow of information was regulated but not stopped. The intelligences services were then and they are now free to share information with the Department of Justice which can then direct the FBI to investigate those issues , such as the 9-11 hijackers. Gorton’s letter to The Washington Times who helped to spread the misinformation against Gorelick,

Defending the September 11 commission
The criticisms of the September 11 commission and, in particular, my commission colleague Jamie Gorelick, are unfounded (“Blinks and winks on Able Danger,” Commentary, Tuesday, and “Able Danger’s hidden hand,” Commentary, Monday). The commission asked the Defense Department for all documents relating to the Able Danger military intelligence program. None of those that the Defense Department supplied us mentioned Mohamed Atta.
The one witness who did name Atta came to our staff shortly before the commission’s report went to the printer. He said he thought he had seen something showing Atta in Brooklyn early in 2000. We knew, in fact, that Atta first arrived in the United States in June 2000 with a visa. For this and other reasons, the witness simply was not credible on this subject.
Additionally, the assertion that the commission failed to report on this program to protect Ms. Gorelick is ridiculous. She had nothing to do with any “wall” between law enforcement and our intelligence agencies. The 1995 Department of Justice guidelines at issue were internal to the Justice Department and were not even sent to any other agency. The guidelines had no effect on the Department of Defense and certainly did not prohibit it from communicating with the FBI, the CIA or anyone else.
Congress created the walls that were in place before September 11 — such as the National Security Act’s prohibition on U.S. intelligence agency spying on Americans and the Posse Comitatus Act — that have nothing to do with the Department of Justice memo. The Defense Department’s own directives on sharing such information date from the 1980s. It is not clear that those laws would have prohibited sharing information in this instance.
The fact is that the Justice Department guidelines sought to encourage sharing in a way that was consistent with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. FISA enabled the government to conduct surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes under a lesser standard than typical criminal surveillance. To keep this power in check, the courts prohibited the use of intelligence wiretaps unless their “primary purpose” was intelligence gathering rather than criminal prosecution.
Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s department reissued and reaffirmed those guidelines in 2001, before September 11.
Even when the Patriot Act eliminated the “primary purpose” test, it took an appellate court ruling to permit the Justice Department to change those rules.
So attributing these procedures to Ms. Gorelick is wrong. If the Ashcroft Justice Department couldn’t eliminate them with a stroke of a pen, Ms. Gorelick could not have created them with the stroke of a pen, either.

SLADE GORTON
September 11 commission member

“Liberal” Hollywood? Pleasssse. Right-Wing ‘Path to 9/11? receives 6 7 Emmy nominations.

They should have called it The Right-Winger’s Faire Tale of 9-11.

“The whole family of pride and ignorance are incestuous, and mutually beget each other” – Charles Caleb Colton

After which he stumped his feet and threw pieces of banana at bystanders

Bush Aides See Failure in Fight With Al Qaeda in Pakistan

President Bush’s top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged today that the strategy for fighting Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan had failed…

This isn’t an editorial or a tirade from a Democratic Congressman, its Bush’s very own National Intelligence Estimate. Bush sucks at fighting terrorism and has been since he became president, Bush Administration’s First Memo on al-Qaeda Declassified

Washington, D.C., February 10, 2005 – The National Security Archive today posted the widely-debated, but previously unavailable, January 25, 2001, memo from counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke to national security advisor Condoleezza Rice – the first terrorism strategy paper of the Bush administration. The document was central to debates in the 9/11 hearings over the Bush administration’s policies and actions on terrorism before September 11, 2001. Clarke’s memo requests an immediate meeting of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee to discuss broad strategies for combating al-Qaeda by giving counterterrorism aid to the Northern Alliance and Uzbekistan, expanding the counterterrorism budget and responding to the U.S.S. Cole attack. Despite Clarke’s request, there was no Principals Committee meeting on al-Qaeda until September 4, 2001.

Many times when we see Rice’s name we see the injection of  something like the phrase – a moderate in the administration or a lone voice fighting against the Cheney camp. Rice has as large a propensity for lying as any Bush loyalist. Rice said about that memo and the warning left by the Clinton administration, “Nobody organized this country or the international community to fight the terrorist threat that was upon us until 9/11.” Rice used an early version of the Alberto Gonzales defense and denied that Clarke’s memo ever reached her and then denied that the Delenda Plan for fighting al-Qaeda. The rabid right Bush defenders tried to lay blame for 9-11 on Bill Clinton for the next four years and many still do,

CLINTON: And I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden. They had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say I didn’t do enough said I did too much — same people.

In a round about way this is still true. Bush is obsessed with Iraq. Cheney is obsessed with Iran. Democrats are still obsessed with getting those responsible for 9-11. While Bush, Cheney and Rice are still hailed as the paragons of national security by the Right. Just speculation, but it seems they issue very strong power of denial pills at the RNC initiation ceremonies, reality like facts are forbodden for loyal members. The problem is that al-Qaeda isn’t especially receptive to right-wing spin,

At the White House, Ms. Townsend found herself in the uncomfortable position of explaining why American military action is focused in Iraq when the report concluded that main threat of terror attacks that could be carried out in the United States emanates from the tribal areas of Pakistan.

She argued that it is Mr. bin Laden, as well as the White House, who regards “Iraq as the central front in the war on terror.”

Going on five years and the Whitehouse keeps saying Iraq is the front in the war on terror and Bin Laden doesn’t seem to be acting as though it was. No doubt the Bushies are giving Bin Laden reason to be happy since Bush has bogged down so much military power in Iraq while Binny gets to continue to hang out with his home boys in the hills of Pakistan. M’s Townsend puts on a poor juggling act. Good enough to placate the war blogging Bush guard, but the rest of us would prefer some actual achievements and less “resolute” BS. Bush is resolute that he is going to have one strategy, his strategy and fight one way even though he is losing because eventually Bin laden will cooperate and fight the terror war Bush’s way. Since the Right likes to throw around some of the most bizarre war analogies that one ever likely to hear isn’t only fitting we compare Bush’s attitude to that of the British during the Revolutionary War. The British insisted on fighting the war their way, the ages old traditional way. Largely because of their head in the sand attitude about a new kind of war the British lost. Bush and his supporters will continue to keep their resolute heads in the sand, make Bin Laden an even larger then life action hero to the worse of the Islamic extremists, let Afghanistan continue to slide back into control of the Taliban and make Pakistan even more unstable. As bleak as that might sound to people who are more concerned about terrorism then defending The Decider Guy and the increasingly irrelevant Republican party things might actually be worse then the new NIE suggests, Unclassified Report ‘Pure Pablum,’ Hides Truth

The 2006 version of the National Intelligence Estimate claimed U.S. efforts had “seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa’ida and disrupted its operations.””That’s no longer the case in 2007, and you have to read between the lines to understand how we have lost ground,” Clarke says.

The current White House counterterrorism official, Fran Townsend, the assistant to the president for homeland security, told reporters today, “Al Qaeda is weaker today than if we had not taken strong action against them.”
What does that mean, weaker then and not having taken action. I don’t speak corkscrew. Is that another way of saying that al-Qaeda might be stronger, but we’re winning anyway. Its like a lame after the game speech from the coach – sure they scored fourteen points and we scored twelve, but we still won. Whatever.

Today’s report also concludes that “al-Qa’ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI).”

“Given that there was no al Qaeda in Iraq until we invaded there,” says Clarke, “it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that going to Iraq has created a further threat to the United States.”

More here, The NIE and Iraq: What’s Missing from this Picture? and here, Gettin’ High On That “Homeland” Thing

And just keep repeating we do not have a mental case as president, ‘Mildly profane’ Bush ‘crashes’ Republican meeting on Iraq

His message: the policy on Iraq isn’t changing. He is not backing down and no one on Capitol Hill should be confused into thinking he is letting up.”

After which he stumped his feet and threw pieces of banana at bystanders. OK I just made that last part up, but isn’t that what comes to mind when watching the video.

Absolutely fireproof

We just had a report published by the LA Times about the foreign fighters in Iraq – Saudis’ role in Iraq insurgency outlined Sunni extremists from Saudi Arabia make up half the foreign fighters. Professor Juan Cole reports that its is even more complicated or better less simplistic then we’ve been told by the administration, Egyptian, Sudanese Jihadi Volunteers Suspected by Iraq?

Although they briefly detained some 461 Iranians, they let all of them go. Presumably these were pilgrims to the Shiite shrines who for one reason or another fell under suspicion. The LA Times reported yesterday that nearly half of the detainees in US military custody are Saudis. Not so for the suspected jihadis held by the Iraqis. They have only 9 Saudis. About half of their detainees are Egyptian, and a fifth are Sudanese. The Iraqi security services clearly think their biggest problem is jihadi volunteers from the Nile Valley. But the picture emerging from the two sets of detainees is that the publics of the two main US allies in the Middle East, Saudia and Egypt, are the most likely to fall under suspicion of supporting the insurgency. While suspicion falls on some Iranians, they appear to be cleared quickly and released. (emphasis mine)

If Dick Cheney among others on the Right have an itch to attack Iran and use the supposed pretense of Iranian fighters in Iraq then it looks as though we have another aluminum tubes/yellow cake moment. Or at least using one standard for countries the Bushies have a grudge against and another standard for authoritarian governments like Saudi Arabia and Egypt that are sympathetic to administration interests. Another way of looking at the situation is that Bush and Cheney are turning a blind eye, at least publicly to foreign fighters from anywhere but Iran and Syria. It even looks as though most of the Iranians to not seem like a threat to the Iraqi government. Can this administration ever learn its lesson. They have fooled many of the people much of the time, but like all con games the the truth eventually wins out. Political writers over the years, such as Maureen Dowd have pointed out how most modern presidents eventually become isolated from the people and the realities of the world. Bush and Cheney  have either entered into the deepest most insulated part of the executive bubble and closed off any facts that disturb their own echo or they are as delusional as the pundits that help spread their next wave of spin, Bill Kristol: On the Train to Delusionville

It isn’t pretty. In fact, the Washington Post should have put some kind of warning on the piece for pregnant women, heart patients, and anyone with an allergy to bullshit. And if the pipeline from Kristol to the White House works the same for this piece as for “precipitous withdrawal,” the country is in even worse shape than we thought.

So what did he say? I’ll take it in order, and focus on national security.

After allowing that the war has been “difficult,” he writes that “we now seem to be on course to a successful outcome.”

Really? Not only does he give no evidence for this, not only does he ignore all the overwhelmingly contradictory evidence; he also conveniently neglects to even define what a “successful outcome” would be.

Then comes an onslaught of lies:

“The war in Afghanistan has gone reasonably well.”

Afghanistan is in fact teetering on the precipice of chaos. Indeed, 2006 saw the highest number of coalition deaths since the war began. The next highest before that? 2005. The Taliban is making a comeback and unrest among Afghans is growing. Obviously, Kristol’s definition of “reasonably well” is very different than the experts’.

Then he’s onto Pakistan, where, according to Kristol, “al-Qaeda may once again have a place where it can plan, organize and train.” But, according to the National Intelligence estimate, there is no “may” about it, and this is not a future possibility, but a current reality. And, in what is unequivocally one of the greatest failures of the Bush administration, the NIE report concludes that al-Qaeda is “better positioned” to “strike the West” than at any time since 9/11.

The Bushies and their lackies such as Kristol remind me of the Iroquois Theater Fire of 1903. The theatre assured the public that it was “absolutely fireproof ” in its advertisements. The theatre caught on fire and claimed 602 lives. The right-wing dead enders keep advertising their schemes as fireproof using something other than the truth much less the facts and people are dying as a direct result. They’re not as serious about terrorism and political solutions as they are irresponsible and inept. Via Attytood Pakistan’s big problem

No, the essential question remains dismally unchanging. Where is Osama? And the ritual CIA answer (“Somewhere on the Pakistan-Afghan border”) sounds more dismal than ever. Let’s take that once again, more slowly. The might of the west, and much of Islam, has been pursuing Osama bin Laden for more than a decade now – and with cash-rich intensity since 9/11. Catching him, of course, might be only a symbolic victory, as al-Qaida morphs leaders and legends on a regular basis. But some symbols do matter. This one, for instance, would show an intelligence effort making strides. It would at least soften the US’s most recent bleak official assessment, of an al-Qaida back to pre-2001 levels of potency. Yet observe why it doesn’t happen.

How Bush Uses His Generals

President Bush says that he should be trusted on military issues because he listens to his commanders. But he has a tendency to celebrate his generals when they’re providing him political cover — then stick a knife in their backs when they’re no longer of any use to him.

Last week, Bush rejected any blame for the chaos that ensued in Iraq after the March 2003 invasion. So whose fault was it? Bush pointed the finger at Gen. Tommy Franks, the Central Command chief at the time. “My primary question to General Franks was, do you have what it takes to succeed? And do you have what it takes to succeed after you succeed in removing Saddam Hussein? And his answer was, yes,” Bush said.

That’s the same Tommy Franks to whom Bush awarded a Medal of Freedom in 2004.

And when virtually all of Bush military line of command, including the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff, opposed his “surge” proposal late last year, Bush responded not by listening, but by removing the top two commanders responsible for Iraq and replacing them with more amenable leaders, including Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus.

Petraeus, as it happens, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post just five weeks before the 2004 election describing what he called “reasons for optimism” in Iraq. Now Petraeus is Bush’s “main man.” Maybe he should be watching his back.

If Petraeus starts to hear rumors about being awarded the Medal of Freedom he might want to start shopping for some golf clubs.

Pocket watch wallpaper

Pocket watch wallpaper 1280×1024

You Call That Progress? The outrageous White House report on Iraq.

According to the report, which was required by Congress, progress has been “satisfactory” on eight of the benchmarks, “unsatisfactory” on another eight, and mixed on two. At his press conference this morning, President Bush, seeing the glass half full, pronounced the report “a cause for optimism”—and for staying on course.

Yet a close look at the 25-page report reveals a far more dismal picture and a deliberately distorted assessment. The eight instances of “satisfactory” progress are not at all satisfactory by any reasonable measure—or, in some cases, they indicate a purely procedural advance. The eight “unsatisfactory” categories concern the central issues of Iraqi politics—the disputes that must be resolved if Iraq is to be a viable state and if the U.S. mission is to have the slightest chance of success.

Army report implicates Iraqi police in Karbala attack

USA Today has obtained an Army report implicating Iraqi police in a January, 2007 insurgent raid during which four U.S. troops were captured and later slain. The story notes that the new Pentagon spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, gave a briefing last week blaming Iran for the attack but neglecting to mention the complicity of the Iraqi police.

There Are Very Few Causes Worth Dying For – Iraq Is Not One of Them

Like being shot by a sniper on the western front at 10.59am on November 11, 1918, to die now as a British soldier in Iraq is its own special category of tragedy. What has he died for? Is Iraq a safer and more secure place? Is the rest of the world, including Britain, likewise? Is the Middle East more democratic, more optimistic of its future? But adjust these lofty aims: is the price of oil lower? The answer is not just that these things have stayed much the same; it is in all cases the incendiary opposite. Worse than all this futility, worse even than the bogus prospectus for the invasion that took him there in the first place, the dead soldier will know in the last days of his life that only a small number of his fellow citizens want him and his comrades to be there

Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves

Constitutional Hardball in the Bush Administration

We might divide the Bush Administration’s practices of constitutional hardball into three categories. The first are acts used to gain power. The second are acts used to attempt to transform the government into a new constitutional order. The third are acts designed to head off accountability following the failure of the attempt. The second set fit most closely Mark’s original model of constitutional hardball. But the first and third set are equally important for understanding the phenomenon.

[ ]…At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices.

While I lifted quite a bit of this post from Balkinization it would be worth your time to read the whole thing. That last bit about future presidents disturbs most Democrats, but the important point is that it doesn’t seem to bother Republicans. At least not yet. We’re all aware of the Right’s unhinged hatred of all things Clinton; what will there reaction be if Senator Clinton becomes president and does what Bush has done in regards to issues such as ignoring Senate subpoenas or using the Justice Department as a way to harass voters of the opposing party. Polls aside Congressional Republicans with a few exceptions continue to genuflect for Bush’s every political and legal maneuver. Knowing that Bush might be setting Constitutional precedents and that a future Democratic president may use or abuse those precedents denotes something of the kamikaze mentality in play among conservatives. They seem willing to let whole fragments of our Constitutional framework and thus democracy go down in flames as some kind of symbolic gesture. Its like a game of chess where they’re know they’re knowing to loose so they just randomly cause as much havoc as they can before checkmate. Contrary to what delusional neocons like Bill Kristol say there are many reasons other then Iraq that Bush will go down in history as our worse president and Bush is young enough to see once he leaves office even his own grand illusions about himself will come crumbling down.

Speaking of Kristol Think Progress caught him doing a one-eighty on Iraq’s sectarian violence, Kristol: ‘We’re Not In A Civil War’ In Iraq, ‘This Is Just Not True’

Approximately one year ago — in an August 2006 appearance on the Charlie Rose show — Bill Kristol acknowledged that Iraq was teetering on the edge of civil war, stating: “It is true that we are at risk of a sectarian civil war there, and I’m extremely worried about that. I don’t quarrel about that.”

Since Bush adopted his escalation strategy earlier this year, Kristol has turned to defying the reality of the situation on the ground in Iraq in order to justify the troop increase. Today, on Fox News Sunday, Kristol argued that the violence in Iraq does not constitute a civil war:

We’re not in a civil war. This is just not true. American troops are attacking al Qaeda. They’re attacking some elements of the Shi’a militias. They’re doing other things, helping with reconciliation. They are not in the middle of a civil war. It’s not true.

It’s not that Kristol isn’t clever it is more that he is a conservative elite bullshitter then intellectual. He doesn’t even know who is fighting who or why. If you can’t read the play book and don’t know the players how can he go around telling people who to bet on. Saudis’ role in Iraq insurgency outlined Sunni extremists from Saudi Arabia make up half the foreign fighters in Iraq, many suicide bombers, a U.S. official says

BAGHDAD — Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.

About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq’s Sunni Arab insurgency.

For those on the Right that loath all details and see all Muslims as the enemy this isn’t much of a problem, but for Kristol and Bandar Bush some explanations are in order. Are those Iraqis and American soldiers killed by Saudi extremists less dead then the ones killed by fighters that might be from Syria or Iran. If Iran is responsible and even worthy of nuclear attack for some of its citizens fighting in Iraq then is Saudi Arabia or northern Africa (Egypt?) also worthy of nuclear annihilation.

Both the White House and State Department declined to comment for this article.

“Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daff never misses a cue

The Commander Guy has decided that betraying your country and severely compromising our national security is no big deal and let’s just call it a day, he’s tired of hearing about, For First Time, President Acknowledges Role of an Administration Official in Leak of CIA Operative

Bush did not discuss his reasoning in depth yesterday. “It’s been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House, and it’s run its course and now we’re going to move on,” he said.

Liberal as in fair minded and accurate. No one can accuse ABC and Jake Tapper of either fair or accurate today, ABC Hit Piece On Reid Embraced By Right Wing
While I was over at Think Progress reading the post on Tapper’s hackery I followed this link to a report by the Center for American Progress, Reclaiming Control of U.S. Security in the Middle East

The current Iraq strategy is exactly what Al Qaeda wants—the United States distracted and pinned down by Iraq’s internal conflicts and trapped in a quagmire that has become the perfect rallying cry and recruitment tool for Al Qaeda. The United States has no good options given the strategic and tactical mistakes made on Iraq since 2002, but simply staying the course with an indefinite military presence is not advancing U.S. interests.

Instead, the United States must reset its strategy by looking beyond the deteriorating situation in Iraq in order to counter the threat from global terrorist groups and ensure stability in the entire Middle East and Gulf region. To do this, we need to develop a new overall Middle East strategy, not just a series of tactics focused heavily on Iraq. Retired Marine Corps General John Sheehan succinctly identified the main problem when turning down the Bush administration’s offer to serve as the White House “czar” for Iraq and Afghanistan:

“What I found in discussions with current and former members of this administration is that there is no agreed-upon strategic view of the Iraq problem or the region … the current Washington decision-making process lacks a linkage to a broader view of the region and how the parts fit together strategically.”

No one likes to click the links, but American Progress’s study refutes much of the Conservative spin that seems to dominate the TV airwaves. If Mr. Tapper and ABC ever become interested in a more accurate point by point description of a moderate sane view of the situation in Iraq there are contacts for American Progress at the bottom of the report. Yes ABC if you give a truly balanced picture of the current Iraq debacle you’ll get some hate mail and threats from the rabid Right, but that flack comes with the job of being responsible and fair in coverage of important issues. Tapper could benefit in that he can show he can have a little give and take with something other then paper tigers of his own invention.

This is probably causing Bush and Joe Lieberman fits. Taking away the cornerstone of the bomb Iran before its too late movement, Iran agrees to U.N. nuclear inspection

A comment a TPM reader left was promoted to the front page, Having It Both Ways

I may have missed any commentary on this, but no one seems to be pointing out that Bush spent the whole press conference say we are fighting Al Queda, then concluded by disagreeing that Al Queda is stronger then it was in 2001. In 2001, they highjacked four airliners using box cutters and today, according to administration spin, they have the entire United States Army bogged down! How do people sit there and not start laughing, I don’t know.

Great common sense, but the problem is common sense is wasted on the Right. They don’t care if they contradict themselves every other day. The whole idea is to create noise and from the noise enough confusion and contention they get a good segment of the American people to throw up their hands in disgust and give up.

Bugs Bunny: Daff never misses a cue.

Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

Pigs at the trough once again

Pentagon Criticized for Armor Contracts

The Defense Department put U.S. troops in Iraq at risk by awarding contracts for badly needed armored vehicles to companies that failed to deliver them on time, according to a review by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

The June 27 report, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, examined 15 contracts worth $2.2 billion awarded since 2000 to Force Protection Inc. and Armor Holdings Inc.

Mike Aldrich one of Force Protection’s vice presidents replied, “Government reports are largely written by lawyers and look intimidating when you pick them up, but our vehicles perform well in theater and have saved the lives of troops.” Which is a non-answer to the issue. Maybe Force didn’t realize they would have supply problems at first, but at some point there was a relaization they would not be able to deliver per their contract. That would have been the time that an ethical and morally responsible company would have sounded the alarm and notified the Pentagon that they could not meet their obligations. Aldrich’s response, yea, but once we did get the supplies we made a good product. That’s not the point. According to Political MoneyLine Aldrich gave $2750 to the Republican National Committee or to Republican organizations, so if he sounds like he spins like a Bill O’Reilly Republican its because he is. Various Force Protection executives have given about $13550.00 to Republicans just in the 2004/2006 election cycle. Armor Holdings of Jacksonville, Fla., you know the company that sold those armored Humvees that are practically worthless as far as armored patrol vehicles has given a good chuck of change through its political action committee Armor Holdings Inc. Political Action Committee – Total Republican donations $31, 750, Total Democrat donations $ 6,500 (83% Republican, 17% Democrat). Warren B. Kanders ( COB and CEO) of Armor gave $2000 to the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004 and of $9500 given to candidates in 2006 he gave $7600 to Republicans. Its safe to say that this is another Republican scandal. Another instance where Republicans were feeding like pigs at the government trough and Republicans were giving the boots on the ground that they supposedly cry crocodile tears over the shaft.
Related articles: Breaking: Armor-Makers “Risked Soldiers’ Lives,” Says Pentagon I.G.

One of the themes that the report highlights is the resistance of officials to pursue competition, even when it was evident that other options were out there. This comes up, for example, with Force Protection’s Cougar MRAP vehicle

And, Pentagon IG Slams Contractors for Poor Humvee Armor

As for Armor Holdings — which, by the way, is being purchased by the much-investigated BAE Systems — one subsidiary, Simula Aerospace and Defense Group, delivered to TACOM armor kits with “missing and unusable components” and missed several shipment deadlines, resulting in “increasing risk to the lives of soldiers.”

Note the trolls at TPM who make basically the same argument that Aldrich made, that they make a good product. That is not at issue at present. What is at issue is first the contracts awarded without bids. OK you can make the argument that such a step was necessary because of the urgent need for the vehicles, but that doesn’t excuse not taking action once FP knew they had supply problems. Another troll suggested that the story is hurtful because it is aimed at the employees who are doing their best. Again another red herring. The rank and file employees at both companies are just that, they show up for work and are directed to perform tasks by their bosses. No doubt those front line workers want to deliver a well made product on time that they take pride in, but it is the executives who make the call on whether the company can deliver on its promises and what to do if they cannot. You have to hand it to the trolls for doing their part to redirect the issue away from the core problem; executives for these contractors have been damn close to criminally negligent.

GOP Pundit Outed In DC Madam Scandal

Via Citizens for Legitimate Government:

The phone number for GOP political operative/conservative pundit, John (Jack) M. Burkman Jr. – Principal J.M. Burkman & Associates, Arlington, VA – appears in the database of phone records of the ‘DC Madam.’ From the phone logs: 2006-01-15 18:44 1.00

As C&L points out many may remember Burkman as trying to get some sex play for pay. Think Progress notes that Burkman has recently done lobbying work for Family Research Council ( founded by right-wing christianist James Dobson), Caring To Love Ministries, and America’s Heros of Freedom.

Finally a reporter does their job and confronts Bush with some reality based questions, Reporter Smacks Bush With the Truth!

Q Mr. President, you started this war, a war of your choosing, and you can end it alone, today, at this point — bring in peacekeepers, U.N. peacekeepers. Two million Iraqis have fled their country as refugees. Two million more are displaced. Thousands and thousands are dead. Don’t you understand, you brought the al Qaeda into Iraq. THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That’s why I went to the United Nations and worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course.

Q Didn’t we go into Iraq –

THE PRESIDENT: It was his decision to make. Obviously, it was a difficult decision for me to make, to send our brave troops, along with coalition troops, into Iraq.

Does Bush not know that Saddam complied with every demand placed on him by the U.N. weapons inspectors???

Bush demanded U.N. access to the Presidential palaces and he got it. Bush demanded surprise inspections and he got it. Bush demanded all records of Iraq’s WMD’s and he got it.

That’s why the U.N. Security Council refused to pass a second resolution authorizing Bush’s invasion.

Bush might be suffering from O.J. syndrome, he has weaved this intricate series of lies for so long that he has convinced himself they’re true. Remember the Downing Street memo,

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. – George Washington