It’s a sad day when you have members of Congress who are literally criminals go undisciplined by their colleagues

The word values used to mean something. If the word values was used just printed on a piece of paper without context most people would conjure a positive mental image. Republicans changed all that. Values is and has been for some time the punchline to a joke. Thanks to conservatives values became the theme to a con game, a cheap swindle, an exploitation of the common American. Though they lost control of Congress just nine months ago and look like they are about to lose the presidency ( or the throne of power as they interpret the presidency ) they’re still feeding like ravenous pigs at the public trough, The 22 most corrupt members of Congress
Members of the Senate:

Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK)

Members of House:
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA)
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-LA)
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Rep. Gary G. Miller (R-CA)
Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)
Rep. Timothy F. Murphy (R-PA)
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA)
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM)
Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)
Rep. David Scott (D-GA)
Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL)
Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-NM)

Dishonorable Mention:
Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)

Only four Democrats. Still too many. Something to keep in mind as these bad Dems run for re-election. It looks like Larry Craig gets up to more serious wrong doing then just restroom toe tapping.
A phrase that used to mean something was supporting the troops. Those too have become part of the cheap patter of the most corrupt political movement in American history, Welcome home. Now screw you.

When the President announced his surge, I wrote my first diary regarding my daughter and son-in law. He was one of nearly 3900 members of the 1/34th BCT of the Minnesota National Guard who found out through family members and media reports (not even their chain of command knew) they were being extended. Their unit served in Iraq longer than any other.

It wasn’t enough to have required they put their lives at risk, then on further hold for a madman’s delusion. Below the fold is the story of how many of our troops are being deliberately denied access to the full GI Bill educational benefits.

Both diaries are worth a read.If your home had this kind of support you’d be living in a pile of rubble.

All the right-wing temper tantrums about staying in Iraq and believing Gen. David Petraeus’ hasn’t persuaded the majority of the American people and Democrats can read poll numbers. Better late then never, Democrats Won’t Temper Iraq Legislation

After weeks of suggesting Democrats would temper their approach to Iraq legislation in a bid to attract more Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared abruptly Tuesday that he had no plans to do so.

The Democratic leader said he will call for a vote this month on several anti-war proposals, including one by Sen. Carl Levin that would insist President Bush end U.S. combat next summer. The proposals would be mandatory and not leave Bush wiggle room, said Reid, D-Nev.

“There (are) no goals. It’s all definite timelines,” he told reporters of the planned legislation.

Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Monday night he would have agreed to turn his summer deadline into a nonbinding goal if doing so meant attracting enough votes to pass. Several Republicans have said they are uneasy about Bush’s war strategy but do not like the idea of setting a firm timetable on troop withdrawals.

Reid’s hardline stance, announced after the party’s weekly policy lunch on Tuesday, reflects a calculation by Democrats that Levin’s proposal probably would have failed either way. Democrats hold a thin majority in the Senate and similar legislation has repeatedly fallen short of the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster.

When asked why Democrats won’t soften the deadline, the majority leader said he doesn’t have confidence Republicans are willing to challenge Bush on the war.

“I think they’ve decided definitely they want this to be the Senate Republicans’ war, not just Bush’s. They’re jealous,” he said with a smile.

Democrats are in a box on the Iraq war debate, lacking the votes to pass legislation ordering troops home but tied to a support base that wants nothing less. Several Democrats, including Sens. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Barbara Boxer of California, have said they will not vote for anything short of a firm deadline to end the war.

These members say they are responding to polls that show Americans still oppose the war, despite Gen. David Petraeus’ report to Congress and President Bush’s nationally televised address.

“It’s a sad day when you have members of Congress who are literally criminals go undisciplined by their colleagues. No wonder people look at Washington and know this city is broken.” ~ Senator John Kerry

Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life

Democratic Rep Accused of Anti-Semitism for Calling Pro-Israel Lobby “Powerful”

In his defense, Moran told the Washington Post, “The problem with addressing the groups who have argued strongly in favor of a long-term American military presence in the Middle East is that they raise arguments that are not related to the point. I would like to have a reasonable, objective discussion about AIPAC’s foreign policy agenda. But it’s difficult to do that because any time you question their motives, you are accused of being anti-Semitic.”

There is all too obvious hypocrisy by the Right here in the sense that they piss and moan constantly about working diplomatically with other countries and then support AIPAC’s (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) right to influence and generally meddle in U.S. foreign policy. Since they can’t win that argument on the merits they just reach for the lazy ad hominem attack of antisemitism.

Unqualified Offerings on the arrest of Assistant United States Attorney John David R. Atchison was today arraigned in U.S. District Court in Detroit. for allegedly seeking carnal relations with a 5-year-old. I’m not going to post from the text of the story, what Atchison said is too despicable. A poster at DKos says there is a registered Rethug in Florida that matches his description. Party affiliation aside this guy is a certifiable sicko. Pottersville notes the bizarre priorities of Gonzales and the DOJ under his leadership with this perve on the payroll.

Why Do Republicans Want to Punish the Troops for George Bush’s Failures?

That’s it. Bush has said he will veto the Webb amendment to give the troops adequate rest in between tours of Iraq. They obviously don’t deserve to come home because they haven’t “won.”

More at the link, but that is pretty much the bottom line and has been all along. Bush lied us into Iraq, screwed up the occupation so badly it almost seems malicious and the troops will just stay there because bringing them home will make the The Decider and his sycophantic supporters look bad.

Right-wing radio shock jock Mark Levin reports role in Giuliani attack on Clinton

Levin said that he met with Giuliani on September 11 at Fox News host Sean Hannity’s 2007 Freedom Concert and suggested that the former New York mayor link Clinton with the liberal group and demand that she and other Democratic presidential candidates denounce the group’s September 10 advertisement in The New York Times criticizing Gen. David Petraeus.

Whenever the Klan has a march or skinheads should Republicans be made to apologize. Mark has it backwards anyway General Petraeus is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and is well aware of the honor code. Something that he turned his back on when he gave his misleading testimony to Congress. So MoveOn could use some lessons in political etiqutte, but other then that they have nothing to apologize for, but the General does.

Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived

There is something to being a major player in the Republican party. In Scooter Libby’s case he committed treason and the president let him off. In the case of Bush buddy Ray L. Hunt you’re privy to inside information and contacts that enable you to make a big play for cash. Bush backer banks on Iraq’s failure

A Texas oil company whose CEO is a longtime confidant of President Bush with access to the most closely held US intelligence has entered into an agreement to explore for oil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

The agreement shows that Dallas-based Hunt Oil Co. and its chief executive Ray L. Hunt are “effectively betting against the survival of Iraq as a nation,” argues New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

Hunt raised about $100,000 for Bush during the president’s 2000 campaign, and he serves on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which gives him access to some of the most exclusive data collected by US spy agencies.

“What’s interesting about this deal is the fact that Hunt, thanks to his policy position, is presumably as well-informed about the actual state of affairs in Iraq as anyone in the business world can be,” Krugman observers. “By putting his money into a deal with the Kurds, despite Baghdad’s disapproval, he’s essentially betting that the Iraqi government — which hasn’t met a single one of the major benchmarks Bush laid out in January — won’t get it’s act together.”

Bill Maher: 9/11 Truthers need professional help, not publicity

Bill Maher takes a jab at the 9/11 Truth movement in a recent “New Rules” segment.

“Crazy people who still think the government brought down the Twin Towers in a controlled explosion have to stop pretending that I’m the one who’s being naive,” says Maher.

How big a lunatic do you have to be to watch two giant airliners packed with jet fuel slam into buildings on live TV, igniting a massive inferno that burned for two hours, and then think ‘Well, if you believe that was the cause…’

These theories or whatever are probably a huge waste of time and energy. Better to concentrate on the fact that Bush, Cheney and Condi Rice were criminally negligent in carrying out their duties.

Greenspan Book -Criticizes Bush and Republicans,

Mr. Greenspan, who calls himself a “lifelong libertarian Republican,” writes that he advised the White House to veto some bills to curb “out-of-control” spending while the Republicans controlled Congress. He says President Bush’s failure to do so “was a major mistake.” Republicans in Congress, he writes, “swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose.”

Firedoglake was quick to note how these scoundrels leave the administration and then go write books that we’re supposed to swallow whole in which they deny any and all responsibility for the mess they either helped create or stood by and did nothing out of some warped sense of party loyalty. Economist’s View also notes that Greenspan don’t know squat about oil or foreign policy, “The Iraq War is Largely about Oil”

Walter Pincus has more evidence that General Petraeus was not as honorable as one would have a right to expect from an American general, ‘Help Wanted’ Ad Belies Report on Iraq Security

A week ago today, Gen. David H. Petraeus started his rounds on Capitol Hill, reporting that security in Iraq was improving to the point that a small number of troops could begin coming home by year’s end.

But 10 days ago, his commanders in Baghdad began advertising for private contractors to work in combat-supply warehouses on U.S. bases throughout Iraq because half the soldiers who had been working in the warehouses were needed for patrols, combat and protection of U.S. forces.

“With the increased insurgent activity, unit supply personnel must continue to pull force protection along with convoy escort and patrol duties,” according to a statement of work that accompanied the Sept. 7 request for bidders from Multi-National Force-Iraq.

These civilian contractors and the role they play in basic support and personal security for members of the Iraqi government are almost never mentioned by the administration when it comes to general force reduction. They are for all practical purposes military without rank and in many cases better paid.

Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived. ~Abraham Lincoln

M. C. Escher self portrait and grasshopper

M. C. Escher (Maurits Cornelis Escher – June 17, 1898 – March 27, 1972) is probably best known for his almost mathematically precise interlocking shapes, but he also did some etchings that were a little more fluid and casual. The first one below is a self portrait. The second one is obvious enough.

Self Potrait 


We all realize that The campaign of Senator John McCain(R-AZ) is in the dumpster and likely to saty there so there is bound to be some disparate attempts to make himself seem relevant. The question is did McCain say this in his best imitation of Stalin calling for an ideologically pure authoritarian America or  was he just tossing out some raw meat for his base to chew on, McCain Calls for to be “Thrown Out of the Country”

At a crowded rally at a VFW hall in Hudson, NH last night, McCain — again — used the MoveOn “Betray Us” ad as a emotional crowd-pleaser.

American Street points out that, Protecting the Poor Little General 

Other generals spoke their mind about Iraq and were forced to retire by the Bush White House because they refused to endorse the president’s policies. Petraeus, who’s told friends he wants to run for president in 2012, is the exception, willing to stick his neck out to back anything Bush wants.

Iraq has, to be obvious an very emotionally charged issue. MoveOn used an emotionally charged term to describe Patraeus’s testimony. There are different kinds of betrayal. The General obviously has not betrayed the country in the sense of directly aiding and abetting any enimies, but in the sense that his testimony was political, having an ideological bent that he knew would please The Commander Guy, in that sense the General betrayed a more objective truth. A truth that the country expects from its military leaders. Sure it would be great if the  current state of political discourse was all sweetness and light, but it never has been and there is no reason to think we as a nation will be turning that lease anytime soon. So if General Patraeus is going to play good Bush team player rather then objective and responsible general with a moral obligation to be honest regardless of whose sensibilities are trampled he should be able to take the heat or take the nearest exit.  The Right is perfectly free to twist themselves into another contortion that most Americans are challenging their and their newest pet General’s version of reality, but how churlish and ironic to run to this general’s defense because, well his little feelings might get hurt when others expose his distortions of the truth. Patraeus (and his keyboard warrior supporters) want to have it both ways, to be thought of as above politics, just a professional doing his job while simultaneously selling the debacle in Iraq as though it was a new improved toothpaste.

A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy

The fake patriots at Red State have asked the question What If Existed 65 Years Ago? with a fake poster of General Eisenhower suggesting that if MoveOn were running WW II we would have lost. We might want to reply with a very reasonable question. Rather then Roosevelt running a war on two fronts we had Bush and Petraeus?  California and Hawaii would be part of the Japanese empire and the rest of the country would be part of the Third Reich. Oliver Willis, The Bankrupt Right

You know, except Gen. Eisenhower won the war in Europe and his commander in chief was a far left Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt. But whatever, let them play.

Mahablog also notes that recently rabid rightie Michelle Malkin was calling Bush names and some other bloggers of that ilk were calling Bush a traitor for his immigration policies, Make My Day. For those that missed it Fred Kaplan took at look at Bush’s own bizarre WW II analogy, Bush Goes a Bridge Too Far

The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq. (Bush)

Here’s the question: Does anybody believe this? If you do, then you must ask the president why he hasn’t reactivated the draft, printed war bonds, doubled the military budget, and strenuously rallied allies to the cause.

If, as he said in this speech, the war in Iraq really is the front line in “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century”; if our foes there are the “successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists”; if victory is “as important” as it was in Omaha Beach and Guadalcanal—then those are just some of the steps that a committed president would feel justified in demanding.

It also means that if we had right-wing blogs at all they would be written between patrols by conservatives serving in Iraq. We don’t have that because the Right can talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk. If cheap rhetoric won wars Bush would be king of the world and the Rightie bloggers would be on one knee kissing his royal highnesses ring.

Here’s a young Republican that seems to have a lot of pent up aggression, but instead of using it to catch Bin Laden he’s out preying on innocent people, Michigan GOP activist gets 5 years for sex assault

A Michigan lawyer who sexually attacked a 21-year-old woman at a Young Republicans convention here said Thursday that he disgraced himself, his family and his political party.

Michael Flory, 33, of Jackson, Mich., told a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judge that his humiliation and self-destruction should be punishment enough for his guilty plea to a sexual- battery charge.

Judge Peter Corrigan couldn’t have disagreed more.

Corrigan sentenced Flory, the longtime head of the Michigan Federation of Young Republicans, to five years in prison. That’s the maximum term for the offense.

“I’m sickened that he is an attorney,” Corrigan told the victim and a packed courtroom.

Flory’s wife, Erin, sitting on the defendant’s side of the courtroom, rolled her eyes, shook her head and then sobbed as Flory expressed “deep, profound remorse” for what he did and pleaded with Corrigan for probation for the sake of his 4-year-old son.

“My son needs his father,” Flory said.

Flory is like a pervert version of Scooter Libby. He commits a terrible crime and then pleads that he shouldn’t be punished for his family’s sake. There is no skirt that Republicans will not hide behind.

“A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy” – Benjamin Disraeli

Barn Flag wallpaper

Flag Barn wallpaper. This might be disrespectful if we go strictly by the Title 4 flag code, but I like it.

Mike McConnell is Director of National Intelligence. Sounds important doesn’t it. It should, his responsibilities include principal security adviser to the President, serving as the head of the sixteen-member Intelligence Community and oversight and direction of the National Intelligence Program. Along with the requisite technical qualifications one would think that such an individual would possess some basic tenets of character like being honest and worthy of the nation’s trust. Forget that he works for the president. Like the current occupants of the Whitehouse Mikey works for you and me, the people that pay his salary and provide him and his family with the best possible health-care coverage, also at our expense. Mikey has intelligence  credentials up the yazoo, but he seems to be more then willing to twist the truth beyond all recognition and not because that is what is best for America. Nope when Mikey lies he tells whoppers and his only reason is the same old reason that continues to be a stinking pox on the Conservative movement. He lies because loyalty to the conservative movement trumps loyalty to country, DNI McConnell: I Lied To The Senate

Earlier this week, in testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell claimed the new expansive FISA legislation passed by Congress prior to the August recess — the so-called Protect America Act — had helped to thwart a an alleged terror plot in Germany.A government official later told the New York Times that McConnell was wrong, and that the intelligence had been collected under the old FISA law which required warrants. A chorus of House Democrats immediately raised concerns about McConnell’s claims.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) demanded McConnell back up his sworn statement. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) said the Protect America Act “played no role in uncovering the recent German terrorist plot.” House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes urge McConnell “to issue a public statement immediately” correcting his remarks.

In a statement released today, McConnell unapologetically acknowledged he lied to the Senate:

During the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on September 10, 2007, I discussed the critical importance to our national security of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and the recent amendments to FISA made by the Protect America Act. The Protect America Act was urgently needed by our intelligence professionals to close critical gaps in our capabilities and permit them to more readily follow terrorist threats, such as the plot uncovered in Germany. However, information contributing to the recent arrests was not collected under authorities provided by the Protect America Act.

On occasion Republicans will try to appear like civilized rational Americans. It’s like a cheap Halloween mask they start sweating underneath and the mask comes off and they reveal who and what they really are, Boehner misleadingly responds to ‘small price’ criticism

Last night, TPM caught House Minority Leader John Boehner saying that the sacrifice of soldiers who have died or been wounded in Iraq “will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda.” After Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), DNC Chairman Howard Dean and DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen condemned the remarks, Boehner’s office finally responded, telling the Politico that he was “asked about the money spent in Iraq, and that’s what Mr. Boehner was referring to” with his “small price” comment. But a look at the interview’s transcript clearly shows he was asked about troop deaths:

  BLITZER: How much longer will U.S. taxpayers have to shell out $2 billion a week or $3 billion a week as some now are suggesting the cost is going to endure? The loss in blood, the Americans who are killed every month, how much longer do you think this commitment, this military commitment is going to require?

BOEHNER: I think General Petraeus outlined it pretty clearly. We’re making success. We need to firm up those successes. We need to continue our effort here because, Wolf, long term, the investment that we’re making today will be a small price if we’re able to stop al Qaeda here, if we’re able to stabilize the Middle East, it’s not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids.

Boehner is a typical big hat no cattle right-wing warrior. Boehner is so typical of the Right, they’re partial to using that royal we, when it is they, the boots on the ground doing the accomplishment and directed by an inept draft dodging president that seems to be in a perpetual alcoholic stupor and a vice-president with a deferment fetish. Boehner is House Minority yet has no idea who we are fighting who in Iraq, ” especially when it comes to al Qaeda, who has been our number one enemy here in Iraq.” No John, sorry al-Queda got into Iraq because the Bush brain trust didn’t seal the borders and the vast majority of the people who are doing the fighting and killing are Iraqis, the people that John and George and Dick and all the other Kool-Kidz pretend to be in Iraq saving.

Mike McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R) are both to genuine patriotism what corn syrup is to a gasoline engine.

You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you

MoveOn didn’t call General David Petraeus a sycophant, his boss did. Does that mean that Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM) is guilty of some form of sedition or that the Admiral isn’t much for kissing Bush ass.

Two Of Soldiers Who Penned Times Op-Ed Criticizing War Appear To Have Died. Since Josh posted this it has been confirmed that they were killed. My deepest sympathies to their families and friends.

The Right is mighty upset over this story, High School Bans American Flag

On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, students at one high school were not allowed to wear clothes with an American flag.

Under a new school rule, students at Hobbton High School are not allowed to wear items with flags, from any country, including the United States.

tristero at Hullabaloo responds here, Flag Clothes Banned

While I tend to think this might be a little heavy handed on the school’s part the policy is legally correct according to Title 4 – FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES – of the United States Code Chapter 1 – THE FLAG – §176. Respect for flag

* (d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
* (e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
* (f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
* (g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
* (h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
* (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

I missed this the other day. Ironic after the temper tantrum the Righties had over the 9-11 Truthers poll, Hit and Myth: Poll Shows 1 in 3 Americans Still Believe Saddam Involved in 9/11

NEW YORK Six years after the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S., it seems the media still have some educational work to do. A new CBS/New York Times poll reveals that even today, 1 in 3 Americans believe that “Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”

This notion was thoroughly debunked by official sources, including those in the White House, years ago, but the myth endures. Polls have shown that belief in this untruth was a prime component in support for the attack on Iraq.

One has to wonder about the mental processes at work here. They heard a rumor to this effect after 9-11 and by gumption they’re sticking to it regardless of the facts.

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” M.T. Moore

That depends a good deal on where you want to get to

There are a couple of things about walking through the looking glass that make you wonder if living in Fantasyland full time is a dream come true or a nightmare of doublespeak. Bush having surveyed the carnage of four plus years of failure and in between vacations decided we needed to escalate that darn Iraq business. Much like his codpiece modeling on aircraft carriers this new escalation was considered another smashing success (Not really successful but Republicans have decided to define losing as winning). Now Bush and his hand picked general have decided to reward the troops, their families and the American people with a puppet show. They going to bring the troops home. Well, except they’re not. If you sit up and beg like a good little dog what they will do is bring the troop level back down to pre-escalation levels – Petraeus’ Drawdown 

Based on all this and on the further progress we believe we can achieve over the next few months, I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level of brigade combat teams by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains that we have fought so hard to achieve.

Petraeus claimed that “progress” in Iraq allows the United States to begin withdrawing troops. But in reality, security and political progress in Iraq is nonexistent. Petraeus, who has said he wants to stay in Iraq for 9-10 years, is in fact reducing troop levels next summer because the escalation has overstretched and overburdened the military to its breaking point.

And people think of Ronnie Raygun as the actor who was president. This puppet show has been incredibly entertaining for for those that like to drink the blood from their barely cooked steaks, but for most Americans who thought that the president’s job was to act in the best interest of America and the responsibility of generals not to let personal politics cloud their judgment are certainly disappointed that these leaders continue to play games with our soldiers lives and the lives of the Iraqi people. There is the smallest ray of hope for change, but will Bush and the dead enders take the sage brush out of their ears and listen,  Invite Admiral Fallon to Tell Us if We’re Safer

NEWSWEEK has learned that a separate internal report being prepared by a Pentagon working group will “differ substantially” from Petraeus’s recommendations, according to an official who is privy to the ongoing discussions but would speak about them only on condition of anonymity. An early version of the report, which is currently being drafted and is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year, will “recommend a very rapid reduction in American forces: as much as two-thirds of the existing force very quickly, while keeping the remainder there.” The strategy will involve unwinding the still large U.S. presence in big forward operation bases and putting smaller teams in outposts. “There is interest at senior levels [of the Pentagon] in getting alternative views” to Petraeus, the official said. Among others, Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon is known to want to draw down faster than Petraeus.

At least in the world of TV the bad guys do their thing, the good guys catch them. Justice is done. There is something cathartic if overly simple about it, Burn, baby, burn

“Burn Notice” is truly odd. First of all, it’s about a guy, Michael (Jeffrey Donovan), who has nothing to do, really, beyond trying to figure out why he’s been fired as a government agent. In the meantime, he’s this highly trained professional, this odd mix of MacGyver and Bourne and Bond, and he’s living this sort of ragged, slacker life in Miami.

So when random, clueless people (and I love how random people on the show are always so jackassian by nature) approach Michael to ask for his help, he’s always got this world-weary attitude like, “Oh Christ, really? I really have to busy myself with these small-beans kidnapping and fraud cases, when I could be mixing it up with high-ranking Libyan officials?”

Michael’s (Jeffrey Donovan) voice overs don’t make the show, but they account for a large part of what makes it simultaneously funny and compelling.

Black and White and Re(a)d All Over: The Conservative Advantage in Syndicated Op-Ed Columns

* Sixty percent of the nation’s daily newspapers print more conservative syndicated columnists every week than progressive syndicated columnists. Only 20 percent run more progressives than conservatives, while the remaining 20 percent are evenly balanced.
* In a given week, nationally syndicated progressive columnists are published in newspapers with a combined total circulation of 125 million. Conservative columnists, on the other hand, are published in newspapers with a combined total circulation of more than 152 million.

Probably not the only reason or even the biggest one, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this is a factor in declining newspaper subscriptions. They’re shutting down the voices that represent a sizable portion of their readership.

Alice and the Cat: Quotes: Alice in Wonderland
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

from Alice in Wonderland 

Fact Checking General Petraeus and the Surge

Most Americans see Bush as having little to no credibility at this point, but many do trust the military i.e. the military commanders to be honest. The military including Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace, Army Chief of Staff George Casey and Former Secretary of State Colin Powell may not have been as aggressively forthright as many would like, but they have certainly been more honest then the administration. That makes General Petraeus’s testimony all the more disappointing for its lack of candor. The general stated that the methods used to track sectarian violence in Iraq was approved by two intelligence agencies, but failed to name them or elaborate on the exact nature of their methodology. – Fact Checking General Petraeus: Today’s Testimony Offers Few Answers

* However, U.S. Intelligence Officials Questioned Pentagon’s Methods of Tracking Violence in Iraq. “The intelligence community has its own problems with military calculations. Intelligence analysts computing aggregate levels of violence against civilians for the NIE puzzled over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal, according to one senior intelligence official in Washington. ‘If a bullet went through the back of the head, it’s sectarian,’ the official said. ‘If it went through the front, it’s criminal.'” [Washington Post, 9/6/07]

* A Military Spokesman Admitted It Did Not Track Shiite-on-Shiite or Sunni-on-Sunni Violence. “According to a spokesman for the Baghdad headquarters of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), those attacks are not included in the military’s statistics. ‘Given a lack of capability to accurately track Shiite-on-Shiite and Sunni-on-Sunni violence, except in certain instances,’ the spokesman said, ‘we do not track this data to any significant degree.'” [Washington Post, 9/6/07]

* And, the GAO Found Claims of Decreased Sectarian Violence Could Not Be Verified. “On trends in sectarian violence, we could not determine if sectarian violence had declined since the start of the Baghdad Security Plan. The administration’s July 2007 report stated that MNF-I trend data demonstrated a decrease in sectarian violence since the start of the Baghdad Security Plan in mid-February 2007. The report acknowledged that precise measurements vary, and that it was too early to determine if the decrease would be sustainable.” [GAO Report: Securing, Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq, September 2007]

The car bomb has been referred to as the poor insurgent’s WMD and they have been used quite frequently in Iraq, yet

* However, The Military Does Not Include Car Bombings in Sectarian Violence Statistics. “According to U.S. military figures, an average of 1,000 Iraqis have died each month since March in sectarian violence. That compares with about 1,200 a month at the start of the security plan, the military said in an e-mailed response to queries. This does not include deaths from car bombings, which the military said have numbered more than 2,600 this year.” [LA Times, 9/4/07 ]

* And, The Number of Car Bombings In Iraq Was Five Percent Higher in July 2007 than in December 2006. The number of car bombings in July actually was 5 percent higher than the number recorded last December, according to statistics given to the McClatchy news organization, and the number of civilians killed in explosions is about the same. [McClatchy Newspapers, 8/15/07]

Again, one of reasons Bush and his supporters (lack of genuineness aside) claim that we must stay in order to protect the Iraqi people just doesn’t add up, Civilian Deaths Steady through Surge; August Secret Official Toll Staggering 2,890; Mahdi Army Continuing Ethnic Cleansing

“[In Baghdad] the push to drive Sunnis from Shiite neighborhoods continues in a city that U.S. military officers say has gone from being 65 percent Sunni to being 75 percent Shiite . . .

Unidentified bodies continue to show up daily in Baghdad, though the pace is lower than it was last December, when 1,030 bodies were found . . . dropping . . . to 428 in August. Some military officials and many residents attribute the generally lower numbers not to the U.S. security plan, but to the purges in mixed neighborhoods that have left militants with fewer people to kill.

Of an estimated 1 million Iraqis who’ve fled their homes since February 2006, 83 percent are from Baghdad, the IOM says.

Between the simmering genocide and the exodus of Sunnis to escape the violence, sure if we stay a few more years there might be a lower level of violence. What Bush and his supporters do not seem to care about is that in the mean time a large portion of the population will either be dead or a refugee and that will be the real reason the rate of violence goes down. The Bushies don’t seem to care that they’re burning down the house to stop the ceiling from leaking. For a political party that still gives us daily reminders that they are the great gurus of foreign policy and bold ideas their approach to solving the Iraq morass is ironically pathetic.