You can’t make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you’re doing is recording it

We knew that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) was the rhetorical Michael Vick of cockfighting and has something of a plantation owner mentality when it comes down to the minimum wage, but he also has a soft spot for the right of those who have been determined to have mental stability problems to have the quickest possible access to gun purchases, Locked, Loaded and Looney

As the Army’s suicide rate hits record levels in the Iraq war, there’s small wonder practically everyone in Congress wants to deal with the parallel emerging crisis of depressed veterans tempted to take their own lives. Everyone, that is, except Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma. He stands alone in blocking final passage of a suicide prevention bill in fear that the government’s record-keeping on troubled vets might somehow crimp their ability to purchase handguns.

Imagine that, Coburn in the age of unprecedented domestic surveillance is afraid that someone might misuse a data base. Tom has been AWOL to date on every other civil liberties issue yet is all too willing to use some shrill nonsensical adoration of the 2nd Amendment. Perfectly good amendment, but lets not hide some knee jerk reactionism behind it. The government, except in the case of George W. Bush’s TANG records, already keeps extensive records on veterans. The mental health screening proposed by the Senate isn’t just about protecting others it is also about protecting vets. Maybe Coburn doesn’t care about Iraqi veteran’s record level of suicides. If not just he should just say so and step out of the way. More here,  Have We Really Learned So Little? and Liberty Street includes some of the real Constitutional issues that the Right should care about. You know those people that keep swearing they’re for a strict interpretation of the Constitution and small gov’ment ( And why is it the Right keeps siting passages from the Declaration of Independence to make Constitutional arguments), The Real Surveillance Outrage

George, Dick and the pro Armageddon war bloggers are probably blowing a fuse over this, IAEA: Iran Cooperating In Nuclear Investigation

The report praised Iran for taking “a significant step forward” by agreeing to a new work plan and timelines for resolving numerous questions about the history of its nuclear program. Separately, U.N. officials said that Iran had slowed construction of a new plutonium-fuel reactor in Arak.

The Right claims, without evidence of course that the escalation in Iraq is working because of Sadr’s freeze of the Mahdi Army. The truth is no one knows why he’s making this move now. It could be tactical or it could be political maneuvering. Ezra Klein writes,

Another argument is that Sadr’s attempts to move towards a political role are growing ever more sophisticated, and he’s concluded that being part of the current sectarian violence can only hurt him. In six months, when the surge is supposed to end, he’ll reactivate the Mahdi Army, step into the breach, and clamber to the top of the political heap.

But I think the honest truth is that no one really knows what he’s doing

Gulf of Mexico Sunset wallpaper 

You can’t make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you’re doing is recording it. – Art Buchwald


Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.

Bridge Rail and Sky wallpaper

Truthdig has an interview up about the Chris Hedges (Chris Hedges and the ‘Other War’) article in The Nation magazine, “The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness,”. They don’t get into as much specifics as the original Nation article, but say there was so much material that they plan to do a book,

Harris: How about the soldiers? Did they have any recommendations for what’s next? Did they give you any indication about what they thought about the war in general now that they were home?

Hedges: Well, I would say the vast majority not only oppose the war, but would want the troops to come home. And that was the motivation for speaking with us. In terms of policy recommendations, beyond that, that really wasn’t, they may have some, we didn’t ask them that; that really wasn’t our focus. Our focus was really tightly controlled. I mean, we wanted to know how convoys were run and checkpoints were set up and how suppressing fire worked, and that was really the focus of the interview. We weren’t writing a policy piece, so those were questions, if they came up, they came up inadvertently.

In a few years it looks as though the right-wing noise machine is going to have its hands full refuting thousands of Scott Beauchamps.

For the rabid Right the case is settled, we’re in Iraq fighting “them”. Case closed. We’re not freeing them from Saddam, we’re not rounding up the the last of the 9-11 conspirators – you know the ones associated with Osama Been Forgotten. Still its my understanding there are a few rational American left and it matters who’s dying and why, Who is the US Fighting in Iraq?

Who exactly is the US fighting in Iraq? Graphed by self-confessed identity of captives, it is largely Sunni Arab Iraqis, often motivated primarily by the opportunity to earn some money from the resistance leaders.

The second largest group is Salafi Takfiris, i.e. fundamentalists who do not consider Shiites to be Muslims and who believe they may be harmed with impunity. The third group is Shiite militiamen (how many of these are non-ideological paid employees is not specified). Self-identified al-Qaeda are only 1800 of the 24000 in captivity, about 7 percent.

And as Professor Cole points out the al-Qaeda in Iraq are for the most part just rabble that are using the name as a way to scare anyone that might get in their way.

Interesting review of Mad Men, Smoking, Drinking, Cheating and Selling

There were seven deadly sins practiced at the dawn of the 1960s: smoking, drinking, adultery, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and racism. In its first few minutes “Mad Men” on AMC taps into all of them.This new drama set in the golden age of Madison Avenue serves as a bridge to a faded and now forbidden world.

Men wore white shirts, drank Manhattans and harassed compliant secretaries in the elevator. Everybody read Reader’s Digest. Jews worked in Jewish advertising agencies, blacks were waiters and careful not to seem too uppity, and doctors smoked during gynecological exams. Women were called “girls.” Men who loved men kept it to themselves.

The magic of “Mad Men” is that it softly spoofs those cruel, antiquated mores without draining away the romance of that era: the amber-lit bars and indigo nightclubs, soaring skyscrapers, smoky railway cars and the brash confidence that comes with winning a war and owning the world.

Because of my schedule its been difficult to see all of every episode, but I can see where in some ways it might fill the void left by the Sopranos. A series that tried to tackle every facet of what the sixties were like would probably be too expensive and too unwieldy a subject, but by keying in on advertising and the lives of those involved in it they can touch on a lot of trends that were evolving at the time.

GMA casts Gonzales scandals as partisan: “For Democrats, it’s another scalp to hang on the wall” 

On the August 28 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America, during coverage of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’ resignation, ABC News correspondent David Wright asserted that “[w]ere it not for the scandals, [President] Bush had hoped to make Gonzales the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court,” and ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos said that Gonzales had delayed his resignation because “no one wants to be hounded out of office.” However, Good Morning America’s coverage did not describe what the “scandals” surrounding Gonzales were or why he might have been “hounded out of office.” 

Stephanopoulos knows better. My guess is that because he was part of a Democratic administration he bends over backwards to appear nonpartisan. Sometimes the mere facts are partisan. Gonzales was as corrupt a Attorney Gneral as this country has ever had. Its not partisan to point that out its just the truth.

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.” – Jack Handey

The accomplice to the crime of corruption is frequently our own indifference

Alberto is gone and what Glenn said, The Democrats’ responsibility in the wake of Gonzales’ resignation

No matter what, they must ensure that Gonzales’ replacement is a genuinely trustworthy and independent figure.

I was surprised. I thought the only way to get rid of Gonzales was to find him in contempt of Congress followed by impeachment or at least the use of a crow bar and a few linebackers. Modern conservatives fervently embrace the politics is like high school mentality. Even when caught on tape they deny and act like petulant spoiled bullies. The ruling Conservative elite are not to be held accountable to us mere humans, us mere American voters. So why would Gonzales throw in the towel now. As much as we might like the rats-sinking ship mental picture there was probably a little more to it since in many ways Alberto was the moat to King Bush’s castle, Why did Gonzales resign?

On the U.S. attorneys, his former deputies — his former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, and former deputy attorney general, Paul McNulty — contradicted him. On domestic spying, the former acting attorney general, James Comey, described then White House counsel Gonzales’ attempted coup on behalf of a program Comey considered illegal through Gonzales’ securing the signature of the ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft, barely able to lift his head in his hospital bed after surgery. After Gonzales offered a different account, FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared before the Senate on July 27 to corroborate Comey’s version, staking his position against Gonzales’ credibility. Senators called for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Patrick Fitzgerald, a Bushie appointee non the less proved that special prosecutors are to Republicans what wooden stakes are to vampires. So that’s there is one reason – after all how many Felons can Bush pardon before the peasants storm the palace. I’ve lost count there have been so many, but the various members of the administration are facing more subpoenas then a 1970s crime family.

Rove ran the Department of Justice like a personal fiefdom as Gonzales reigned there as his vassal lord. The civil rights division was gutted, more than 60 percent of its professional staff forced out; and since 2001, not a single discrimination case was filed. The antitrust division became a favor bank. Rove granted dispensations to companies, including those seeking to override laws involving foreign purchases of U.S. assets with national security implications, a former government official involved in such a case told me.

So Rove was gone and as Gonzales proved more then once he was never his own man, capable of self direction. He was an agent of Whitehouse politics. Not of Whitehouse policy. Policy is something wonkish and frequently thoughtful. Policy to Republicans in the Age of Bush, much like the Constitution has just become so much excess baggage. No Rove, no arm twisting or deflection so what’s mindless foot minion like Alberto to do except to disengage, to become a smaller target. While Sidney is right on that score it only takes us so far. Alberto’s problems aren’t over, but Bush still thinks he is literally god’s gift to America and by pushing Alberto to the far side lines Bush probably thinks he has removed some of the tarnish from his delusional dreams of a grand legacy. A legacy so great that America will forget that he deserted the National Guard, put our grandchildren in debt and couldn’t manage to govern with even a modicum of competence. Nothing like living in a bubble, Gonzales Resignation Does Not Pardon President’s Abuse of Power

* He disparaged the Geneva Conventions as “quaint” and “obsolete” and developed legal arguments that permitted aggressive interrogation tactics in the months after 9/11, which deny detainees in the war on terror basic legal protections.
*His staff created the system by which the president could move American citizens from the criminal justice system into detention as enemy combatants, eliminating due process protections.

During his tenure as attorney general, Gonzales championed policies that eroded civil liberties protections. Among them.

* He failed to investigate and prosecute criminal acts committed by civilians in the torture or abuse of detainees and repeatedly rebuffed congressional inquiries into the matter.
* He failed to investigate and prosecute criminal acts and violations of laws as a result of the National Security Agency’s warrantless spying program. Recent reports indicate that Gonzales may have recommended to the president that he block the Office of Professional Responsibility’s investigation since he himself may have come under scrutiny.
* He championed renewal of the Patriot Act despite serous civil liberties concerns from Republicans and Democrats alike. A recent audit by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General found that the FBI underreported, misused and abused the National Security Letter authority.

As much as I might try to make this blog family friendly, Republicans and their propensity for deviant behavior just don’t make that possible, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) who called Bill Clinton “a bad boy, a naughty boy” in 1999 arrested, pleads guilty.

Roll Call reports today that Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport for “lewd conduct” in a men’s public restroom.

“The accomplice to the crime of corruption is frequently our own indifference” – Bess Myerson quotes

Debts and lies are generally mixed together

Canyon river wallpaper

Staying in Iraq: just postponing the inevitable? by Mark Kleiman

If we’re spending blood and treasure only to postpone a catastrophe we can’t prevent, the “humanitarian” argument against a fairly rapid withdrawal collapses.

As far as we know the violence in Iraq cannot be stopped by the military – not even the National Guard think so Troops Cheer Call For Iraq Withdrawal. Mark is just trying to be rational and reasonable. There is a point at which the Iraqis and the various factions have to work things out for themselves and if there are consequences to that the only question is when. We and neighbor nations like Saudi Arabia and Turkey should take a humanitarian role and act as referees to try and ease tensions. Still that isn’t going to be good enough for the war supporters. Since a large part of the occupation of Iraq has already been privatized let’s go all the way and make it a completely private endeavor. The Right can continue their misguided and counter productive messianic occupation, but they have to pay for it out of their pocket. Rudy, Mitt, the Bush family, Cheney and Rupert Murdock among others can pay for it. The soldiers that want to stay can do so under private contract and the others can come home without loss of pay or benefits. Should there be a shortage of troops then I’m sure all the chicken-hawk war bloggers and their blood thirsty commenters will be glad to pack up and do something besides whine.

Bush administration complicit in Iraq corruption, helps punish whistleblowers

He had thought he was doing a good and noble thing when he started telling the FBI about the guns and the land mines and the rocket-launchers — all of them being sold for cash, no receipts necessary, he said. He told a federal agent the buyers were Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers, State Department workers, and Iraqi embassy and ministry employees.

The seller, he claimed, was the Iraqi-owned company he worked for, Shield Group Security Co.

“It was a Wal-Mart for guns,” he says. “It was all illegal and everyone knew it.”

So Vance says he blew the whistle, supplying photos and documents and other intelligence to an FBI agent in his hometown of Chicago because he didn’t know whom to trust in Iraq.

For his trouble, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

Also held was colleague Nathan Ertel, who helped Vance gather evidence documenting the sales, according to a federal lawsuit both have filed in Chicago, alleging they were illegally imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental interrogation tactics “reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.”

The Profit vs. Country Dilemma

For China, the new arrangements have contributed to spectacular economic success. Companies sourcing and exporting from China have also reaped handsome profits. However, for the US economy it has been a different story. Manufacturing has steadily bled jobs as companies have closed factories in the face of low cost Chinese competition, and production and investment have shifted to China. That has tempered wages and investment spending, which helps explain the weak economic recovery and unsatisfactory expansion. It has also eroded the US industrial base while expanding China’s, thereby creating new national security problems

This is the economy that Conservatism has wrought (and a few ignorant Democrats). Easy to do, but will take years to undo. In the mean time the middle-class, the working class will take the hit because unlike the Republicans that love the China-Wal-Mart economy the people in America that actually work for a living don’t have the kind of financial cushion that the Bushes and Cheneys have.

“Debts and lies are generally mixed together”

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare

I guess the 101st Fighting Hypocrites ( Captain Ed, The Weekly Standard, Michelle Manufacturedoutrage Malkin and the other usual suspects will be giving this guy the Swiftboat treatment) a soldier/blogger from Iraq, Reporting On Truth, Justice And The American Way Of War – Stupid Shit of The Deployment Awards!

Working with 1920s – A Sunni insurgent group we’ve been battling for months, responsible for the death of my friend and numerous attacks, agreed to fight Al Qaeda alongside us. Since then, they’ve grown into a much more organized, lethal force. They use this organization to steal cars and intimidate and torture the local population, or anyone they accuse of being linked to Al Qaeda. The Gestapo of the 21st century, sanctioned by the United States Army.

The Surge – The beefing up of ground forces in Iraq at the beginning of the year, started by the 82nd Airborne. Unit deployments were moved up several months to maintain a higher level of boots on the ground to quell the Baghdad situation. What most don’t realize is the amount of actual fighting troops in a brigade, something in the area of 2,000 soldiers in a brigade of 5,000 depending on what unit it is. So for every 2,000 fighters, there are 3,000 pencil pushers sucking up resources in every brigade that was surged. A logistical nightmare that, surprise, failed miserably. The increase of troops in Baghdad pushed the insurgents to rural areas (like Diyala), hence our move here in March. The surge was nothing more than a thorn in the side of nomadic fighters having to move thirty five miles while the generals watched Baghdad with stubborn eyes.

This story would seem to support that soldier’s assertion that the mess just metastasizes it hasn’t stopped because of the Great Escalation by the Commander Guy, Iraq body count running at double pace

This year’s U.S. troop buildup has succeeded in bringing violence in Baghdad down from peak levels, but the death toll from sectarian attacks around the country is running nearly double the pace from a year ago.

Ann Coulter, saved from jail by friends in high places (maybe she’s buddies with Lindsay and Paris) keeps doing her best to drive Americans toward enlightened liberalism. After all what sane person would want to be on her side, Coulter: “[I]f you attack the Clintons publicly, make sure all your friends know that you are not planning suicide”

On the August 23 edition of Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter asserted: “[I]f you attack the Clintons publicly, make sure all your friends know that you are not planning suicide, that you’re not careless when you drive a car.” Coulter was apparently referring to conservative allegations that the Clintons were somehow involved in the death of Clinton deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster. As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented (here, here, and here), numerous investigations have determined that Foster’s death was a suicide. The Office of the Independent Counsel — then headed by Republican Kenneth Starr — completed its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Foster’s death with a report issued on October 11, 1997, which concluded that “based on investigation and analysis of the evidentiary record … Mr. Foster committed suicide by gunshot in Fort Marcy Park.”

Charles Krauthammer is a wonder. I mean that. He can’t write. My neighbor’s dog has more ideas and certainly has a better personality, yet Republicans see him as some great sage. Strange. THE TWILIGHT REALM OF HIS OWN SECRET THOUGHTS

“We should have given up on Maliki long ago and begun to work with other parties in the Iraqi Parliament to bring down the government, yielding either a new coalition of less sectarian parties…

The choice is difficult because replacing the Maliki government will take time and because there is no guarantee of ultimate political success. Nonetheless, continuing the surge while finally trying to change the central government is the most rational choice because the only available alternative is defeat — a defeat that is not at all inevitable and would be both catastrophic and self-inflicted.” (emphasis mine)

As Prospect notes this is simply brilliant. The whole concept of “less sectarian” must have beamed directly into Chuck’s head by those black monoliths from 2010. Those perfect political entities must be beaming in from some other world or dimension since less sectarian parties don’t exist in Iraq. Chuck, great sage that he is keeps their identity a secret. I wonder why. I also wonder why he can’t be replaced with someone who can write and knows what they’re talking about.

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. – James Madison

“Why are we compelled to go on pouring armies and treasure into these thankless deserts?”

The Lost Year

A new national intelligence estimate concludes that President Bush’s troop surge shows no signs of accomplishing its goal of encouraging political reconciliation in Iraq.

Dan Froomkin points out the obvious, the extra year of trying to salvage a war that was always more about conservative’s inability to grasp and deal with actual terrorism when it wasn’t about exploiting fear and using that fear to win elections has brought us a thousand more dead Americans, billions more in our national debt, more dead Iraqis ( which like our troops the Right swears that cared about) and last but not least the occupation of Iraq has been a great recruiting tool for al-Queda. Next month we’re likely to hear a louder echo of what we’re hearing now just give them more time and more dead soldiers and they’ll finally get it right. If we stayed another ten years maybe Iraq would be something that resembles a stable democracy. On the other hand if we left now maybe the Iraqis could work down that road by themselves without using our troops for target practice in the mean time. The later, doing the smart thing, leaving and saving American lives is what the war bloggers call defeat. The talk about staying is a study in doublespeak, U.S. general: Pulling troops ‘giant step backward’

Lynch, whose operations cover the central part of Iraq, south of Baghdad, said soldiers have been helped by the “surge,” or additional troops, and have made strides against militants. But he said, “If we were to lose that capability, the enemy would come back.”

This enemy is referred to in plain speech are Iraqis engaged in a sectarian civil war. To date the administration and its supporters have made no suggestions on how American troops can put a permanent stop to that other then the occasional mention of turning Iraq into a nuclear sandbox. Just because these dead enders talk in deeply serious tones about stability and the ever favorite ” strategic interests” they have barely acknowledged the causes of the violence and the various ideological forces that fuel the violence that in some cases dates back a good half century or even as far back as the British and the hard headed Churchill in 1920, Even Churchill Couldn’t Figure Out Iraq

There is something very sinister to my mind in this mesopotamian entanglement,” Winston Churchill wrote his Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, in August 1920. “Week after week and month after month for a long time we shall have a continuance of this miserable, wasteful, sporadic warfare marked from time to time certainly by minor disasters and cuttings off of troops and agents, and very possibly attended by some very grave occurrence.”

[ ]…Writing to Lloyd George, Churchill, frustrated after all the bloodshed in World War I, asked, “Why are we compelled to go on pouring armies and treasure into these thankless deserts?” But the British had created the problem, cobbling “Iraq” from three disparate Ottoman provinces. They chose sides, picking the Sunni minority to run the country. The Brits remained there 12 years, bleeding occasionally, until 1932. The bleeding continued after they left, as the Sunnis brutalized Iraq until 2003. The Bush Administration, defiantly ignorant of history, has created a situation far more dangerous than the one Churchill complained about. We are in free fall in Iraq, and there is no net.

Bush and his supporters continue to act like Big Brother and treating the country like Winston Smith. Interesting that just as former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld started to think a little more clearly he left or was gently shown the door, Bob Gates on the Iraq War Hot Seat

It now appears Rumsfeld fell out of Bush’s favor in fall 2006 because he began pushing the agenda of the Pentagon’s top brass who favored de-escalating the Iraq War. Bush was still looking for ways to achieve victory.

In a secret memo sent to Bush on Nov. 6, Rumsfeld called for a “major adjustment” in Iraq War policy. “Clearly what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough,” Rumsfeld wrote, seeking consideration of “an accelerated drawdown of U.S. bases” from 55 to 10 to 15 by April 2007 and to five by July 2007.

Rumsfeld also suggested that U.S. generals “withdraw U.S. forces from vulnerable positions – cities, patrolling, etc. – and move U.S. forces to a Quick Reaction Force status, operating from within Iraq and Kuwait, to be available when Iraqi security forces need assistance.”

And in an implicit criticism of Bush’s lofty rhetoric about transforming Iraq and the Middle East, Rumsfeld said the administration should “recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) – go minimalist.” [NYT, Dec. 3, 2006]

Why so many in the the business of ever so lofty punditry keep giving Bush credit for having a clear and determined vision of Iraq and the middle-east is a mystery, White House Moving The Goal Posts On Escalation, Drops Demands For Iraqi Political Reconciliation

Bill Kristol, professional wuss and pom pom waver thinks, or maybe feels something very damp in his shorts that tells him that “the surge” and “supporting the troops” is the same thing – MORE ON BILL KRISTOL. Bill also thinks that stones and donut holes are the same thing. He might be right, after all he is what passes for a Republican intellectual.

Some notes on Iran

Jenga wallpaper

h/t to dday at Daily Kos (IAEA-Iran inspection deal goes unnoticed in the US) for this story on Iran and the IAEA, UN-Iran nuclear talks ‘positive’

Since July’s agreement, Iran has allowed the IAEA’s inspectors to visit its heavy water research reactor at Arak, and has been holding talks with a UN technical team on guidelines for inspecting its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

BBC Iran analyst Pam O’Toole says that over the past few months, Iran has appeared anxious to demonstrate the transparency of its programme.

One Iranian official recently expressed hope that the West could respond to Iran’s co-operation with the IAEA by not pushing for more sanctions.

However, some Western analysts have alleged that Tehran is simply trying to play for time, hoping to delay the imposition of further sanctions while it increases its nuclear know-how.

Those western analysts would be Bush and his right-wing echo chamber. There is always reason to be cynical of what political leaders say versus what they actually do. The mind set of Iranian leaders is not world’s apart from that of Bush and Cheney. They wake up each morning, whether its Tehran or Washington eating, drinking and breathing manipulation. What is easily lost track of is that Bush and Cheney are not the American people. Just as Ahamadinejad is not the Iranian people. Though it is simply human nature and centuries of history that make the occupants of both countries nationalistic enough that if things go from poor relations to heated conflict we will support whoever our president is and the same for the Iranians. I’ve seen Ahamadinejad and he doesn’t make a great representative of his country – the arrogance and ultra-nationalism is there to a nauseating degree. What do we know about the Iranian people themselves, the people that the Right seems so determined to condemn to the same fate or worse of the Iraqis. American Blogger in the land of “Down with USA”

Q: How was it to be American and live in Iran where “down with America” is almost it’s state slogan?

I can count the times I was made to feel uncomfortable about being an American on one hand. The Iranians I met were just so unfailingly polite and kind. Everywhere I went, people were genuinely excited to meet an American. During my stay in Iran, I met Iranians from all walks of life: from the religious to the secular to the revolutionary and everything in between.

[ ]…Q: Do you see any similarity between Iranian blogs and American ones?

Yes! Iranian blogs are amazingly diverse, just like American ones. You have political blogs like Kamangir’s, Abtahi’s, even Ahamadinejad’s … our nieces and nephews in Iran read blogs about Harry Potter and David Beckham. There are blogs from people of all walks of life. Think, when Iraq had one blog (Salaam Pax now blogging at Raed in the middle) Iran reportedly had 70,000!

Just an interesting read. For years Conservatives and their noise machine have demonized anyone that was not a paid up member of the rabid Right. Its even easier to demonize an entire country that is 10 thousand miles away and their major spokesman actually does come across as crazy as our home grown wing-nut pundits. I’ve come across a couple Iranian forums and what did I find, links to pictures of American actors/actresses, links to MP3s of American pop music. All illegal according to Iranian laws. These are the actual flesh and blood people that will die if nuts like this get their way, Hail Caesar

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands

US ‘Iran attack plans’ revealed

US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country’s military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.

It is understood that any such attack – if ordered – would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.

To have plans to respond to Iranian aggression is one thing, but to once again plan to attack another country preemptively is another matter especially in light of the cooperation with the IAEA and what we know about how they lied us into Iraq.

“He entered the territory of lies without a passport for return.”

Is Pangloss Hanson writing Bush’s speeches now Victor Davis Hanson, Fabulist

So Hanson was a key voice arguing against the counter-insurgency strategy now being pursued belatedly and with too few troops in Iraq. But now Bush has signed on, Hanson is on board and busy excoriating the media. Let’s not hold our breath for intellectual accountability, shall we?

He was against the surge before he was for it in other words. Hanson like his beloved leader Dubya also has a weird fetish for absurdist analogies that never quite work. Why would Bush cite ‘The Quiet American’?

Bush seemed to be seizing on Greene’s idea of U.S. naivete on entering the war and trying to turn it around and apply it to those now calling for a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

But Greene wrote his book about the way America bumbled into Vietnam, not how it left it.

By reminding people of Greene’s book, Bush was inviting listeners to recall the mistakes his administration made in entering and prosecuting the Iraq War. Did he really want to do that?

Bush’s bumbling was of the political stripe, but we’ve all seen the result. The lesson being that Bush should have read Greene before destroying the country of Iraq and turning it into the bottomless pit of of American tax dollars and a killing field for wasted American lives. Lives not lost to make America safer, but spent supposedly showing the nebulous “them” how tough we were after 9-11. Historian: Bush’s ‘distortion’ of Vietnam ‘boggles my mind.’

“We were in Vietnam for 10 years. We dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we did in all of World War II in every theater. We lost 58,700 American lives, the second-greatest loss of lives in a foreign conflict. And we couldn’t work our will,” he said.

“What is Bush suggesting? That we didn’t fight hard enough, stay long enough? That’s nonsense. It’s a distortion,” he continued. “We’ve been in Iraq longer than we fought in World War II. It’s a disaster, and this is a political attempt to lay the blame for the disaster on his opponents. But the disaster is the consequence of going in, not getting out.”

Leadership requires a few things that have been singularly lacking from this administration and its supporters, some level of insight. The fact that Bush didn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shia before kicking the U.N. inspectors out isn’t just fodder for late night comedians. That fundamental failure to see the quagmire that Bush was injecting the U.S. into is a large part of what explains the continued cycle of failure. The Bushies still can’t see a way out because they never had a real clear or rather realistic idea of could could be accomplished once we got in. This speech was so unglued, so specious that at least one of the possibilities is that Bush isn’t so much looking for a way out – a political solution for Iraq – but laying the groundwork for a narrative for conservatives to cling to. Something in the ball park of here we were on the edge of victory and those long haired hippie liberal pinko commies didn’t cheer loud enough so we lost – oh well conservatives did the best we could for god and country. Bushes speech and the coming echo is the poorly drawn and scripted cartoon that passes for deeply serious thought on the Right. Using ‘The Quiet American’ as another desperate analogy is not just proof of that, its proof that conservatives don’t really care. For many of the war bloggers, while they sincerely love this unnecessary and counter productive fiasco in Iraq for most of them it was just another fun day at the park where they could use Iraq as a rhetorical club to beat people with. Excuse me, but there is another possibility, Bush, Hanson and the other kool aid drinkers could actually sincerely believe this crap and think that Greene makes a great analogy. In that case here’s some other comparisons they might try – Iraq is like a layer cake and we don’t know what the filling is until we stay another Friedman, or Iraq is like a donut and we have to stay to fill the hole.

McConnell: FISA Debate Will Kill Americans
So it is Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell’s assertion that if America doesn’t become at least as authoritarian as China we’re all gonna die. Tell that one to the relatives of those that died in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Literally day after day the Right asserts that we can’t be safe as long as we hang on to those freedoms that thousands of Americans fought and died for. As long as those damn liberals and libertarians hang on to their freedom the graver the threat, burn the Constitution so the terrorists won’t get us while we sleep. This would be the same Right that swears we live in a nanny state as they work tirelessly to make us the ultimate nanny state.

“He entered the territory of lies without a passport for return.” – Graham Greene

The Bushies and the right-wing echo chamber will deny any and all accountability

It’s blast from the past day. I have quote a few notes from the last six years on the Republican and Bush record on actually supporting the troops. I came across this one today, Shafting, Not ‘Supporting,’ the Troops – Soldiers Face Death in Iraq and Getting Screwed by GOP Pols at Home (July 31, 2003)

“What do you think about the ‘bring them on’ challenge President Bush issued July 2 from the White House, referring to those who attack U.S. troops in Iraq?” Nearly sixty percent agreed with the statement, “It was irresponsible and unnecessarily placed the lives of U.S. troops in even greater danger.”

[ ]…he troops in Iraq are suffering “from low morale that has in some cases hit ‘rock bottom,'” the Christian Science Monitor recently reported. And last week, several soldiers vented their frustration to U.S. television news reporters. “If Donald Rumsfeld were here, I’d ask him for his resignation,” one disgruntled soldier told ABC’s “Good Morning America” show, Reuters reported. ‘‘It pretty much makes me lose faith in the Army,” Pfc. Jason Punyhotra of the 3rd Infantry told ABC News in Fallujah, Iraq. ”I don’t really believe anything they tell me. If they told me we were leaving next week, I wouldn’t believe them.”

“I’ve got my own ‘Most Wanted’ list,” a sergeant at the 2nd Battle Combat Team Headquarters referring to the Administration deck of most wanted Iraqis, told ABC News’ Jeffrey Kofman. “The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz,” he said.

But hey this must all be something that the big bad media made up because whenever you go to a Republican blog they get very upset at the idea that not every soldier and marine in Iraq is a water carrier for the wingnuttery.

Bad decisions cannot always be blamed on sex even if with some folks that is often the case, Amen

Rudy is craaaaaaaaazy … Rudy was perfectly capable of getting crazy, stupid ideas, and then forcing them on everyone else, when there was absolutely no sex involved.

CIA Report Blames Tenet for 9/ll Failure

In recounting intelligence failures prior to 9/ll, the inspector general said there was neither “a single point of failure nor a silver bullet” that would have enabled the CIA to predict or prevent the 9/ll attacks.

But the report concludes there were “failures to implement and manage important processes, to follow through with operations, and to properly share and analyze critical data.”

The report says Tenet “did not use all his authorities in leading the IC’s (intelligence community’s) strategic effort” against bin Laden.

“That’s not fair,” said ABC News consultant Clarke. “Of course there was a strategic effort, and he did raise the issue at the highest levels of government.”

There are some details missing here so let’s wait for the follow-up. In the mean time aren’t we all a little confused. Bush is the Decider, The Commander Guy. Why didn’t he have a comprehensive plan in place nine months after being in office. Rice Falsely Claims Clinton Administration Did Not Leave A ‘Strategy To Fight Al Qaeda’

Clarke, who also worked for the Bush administration, wrote Condoleezza Rice a memo as soon as the Bush administration took office, stating, “[W]e urgently need…a Principals level review of the al Qida network.” His request was denied.

Title of a pdf file from this link, “A Comprehensive Strategy to Fight Al-Qaeda”? Vice versus Clinton on January 2001 Clarke Memo

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.

The January 25, 2001, memo, recently released to the National Security Archive by the National Security Council, bears a declassification stamp of April 7, 2004, one day prior to Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission on April 8, 2004. Responding to claims that she ignored the al-Qaeda threat before September 11, Rice stated in a March 22, 2004 Washington Post op-ed, “No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.”

Two days after Rice’s March 22 op-ed, Clarke told the 9/11 Commission, “there’s a lot of debate about whether it’s a plan or a strategy or a series of options — but all of the things we recommended back in January were those things on the table in September. They were done. They were done after September 11th. They were all done. I didn’t really understand why they couldn’t have been done in February.”

The CIA makes priorities based on executive branch initiatives or lack there of. We’ve had this particular accountability moment before and the result is the same. The Bushies and the right-wing echo chamber will deny any and all accountability. Its what they do.

Should you light one up to get past writer’s block ? Is this the end of English literature?

What do the following have in common: Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, T S Eliot, W B Yeats, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Evelyn Waugh, Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis?

[ ]…I have been racking my brains to find a single non-smoker among the great English poets or novelists of the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th centuries. Possibly, Keats had to lay off the pipe tobacco a bit after he developed tuberculosis.

Otherwise, from Swift and Pope to Cowper and Wordsworth, from Byron to Charles Lamb, they were all smokers.