if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them

Iraq Credits Iran for Helping to Curb Attacks by Militias

The Iraqi government on Saturday credited Iran with helping to rein in Shiite militias and stemming the flow of weapons into Iraq, helping to improve the security situation noticeably.

With the British pulling out of  Basra and the subsequent down tick in violence there, the indications that the Sunnis might have done most of the ethnic cleansing they could do and the mass exodus of Iraqis to neighboring countries it is highly unlikely that  the “surge” played the major role in the lessening of violence. Of course that will not stop the Right from making those claims as shrilly and often as possible. They’d have to acknowledge that Bush’s strategy didn’t change enough over five frick’n years, admit to turning Iraq into a living hell for the middle-class professionals who became refugees rather then stay and have to admit that the commander Guy was calling the shots as the mass ethnic cleansing took place. What if the Right totally cluster f*cked America and Iraq and the media barely said a word.

Strange Bedfellows — George W. Bush & the New York Times 

My best guess is that the Times panders to Bush in this respect to “balance” an otherwise critical approach to his policies, including his efforts to dismantle Social Security, his recent veto of health coverage for poor children and, of course, his solipsistic prosecution of the debacle in Iraq – a propaganda-fueled war that has injected into the American discourse words like “gulag,” “torture,” and “electrodes” that were previously exclusive to paranoid autocracies like Red China and Stalinist Russia.

Perhaps all the Times is seeking is a little “human interest” in its treatment of the president. And who better to cover the up-close and personal George W. than a girl? The current Times ingénue assigned to this beat is Sheryl Gay Stolberg, whose latest softball was a Veterans Day feature entitled “Bush and Relatives of Fallen Lean on Each Other.”

How are those tearful private meetings making their way into the pages of the NYT. Sounds like another case of selective leaking. You know the ones that are made to either make the administration look good or their enemies look bad.

Make the Bush Record the Issue 

Times are tough for the Republican Party and its candidates. Earlier this month, according to Gallup, more people strongly disapproved of George W. Bush than any previous president since the advent?of polling—and, really, how could things be any different? Bush can boast of an unwinnable quagmire in Iraq, a decimated housing market, economic instability and a collapsing dollar, a dysfunctional health-care system, a still-devastated Gulf Coast, a wealth gap of a scope unseen since the Great Depression and a pervasive and disturbing image of America as a hapless, blundering giant, rather than a beacon of freedom and morality in the world.

Markos might be right, but Bush’s first four years in office piled up a substantial record of failure both foreign and domestic. What happened. He piled up a record so garishly dreadful that it glowed in the dark and while his reelection was by an incredibly thin margin he was keep in office. In 2004 Alexander Hamilton’s warnings about the mob mentality couldn’t have been more pertinent. Democrats don’t need to just win elections, they need to win some hearts and minds. As it is in the presidential race it sure seems that people are thinking of voting against Republicans rather then for Democrats. Congress still has time to convince people they will take the tough stands and push their agenda, paying back the confidence of the people that put them in office.

I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. ~ Adlai E. Stevenson

Why Congress and the People Should Not Fund Bush’s Library

George W. Bush’s Presidential Library: Can Democrats Stop Bush and Cheney From Depriving The Library of The Papers They Wish to Keep Secret?

In a booklet issued by the Office of Presidential Libraries, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), former President Gerald Ford is quoted as saying, “The past can instruct the present not only in the art of leadership, but also in the opportunities of citizenship.” Yet if the records of those libraries have been cleansed, or if they are indefinitely controlled by a president (or vice president), as Bush and Cheney can do under Bush’s radical Executive Order 13233, then the past’s message to the present can hardly be a very meaningful or realistic instruction.

The whole question of Bush’s so called privilege is the root of the issue. Congress passed a law, the 1978 Presidential Records Act. The law’s constitutionality has never been legally challenged and the Constitution dictates, demands that the executive branch must adhere to laws by by Congress – Article VI – Article 6 includes an important part of the Constitution called the supremacy clause.  The Constitution is the highest law of the land. The Constitution, the laws of Congress, and all treaties must be followed by all states. State laws must agree with the Constitution. State judges must know that the Constitution is supreme over state laws.  All members of Congress, the President and all executive branch officials, all Supreme Court justices and federal judges, all members of state legislatures, all governors and state officials, all state judges take an oath of office and swear to obey the United States Constitution. Bush’s claim and of course his supporters in yet another instance of Republican situational ethics, that Bush can skirt laws passed by Congress with an executive order. Perfectly suitable behavior for Stalin and his ideologically pure Kremlin, but not so much according to even the most myopic interpretation of the U.S. Constitution whether explicit or implied. There’s no question that this is one among many instances where Bush/Cheney have broken the law and betrayed their oath of office. Dean goes on to explain that yes the nest president can over turn Bush’s executive order, but that is hardly good news. Bush will be allowed to hide and destroy documentation of his wrong doing as long as he is in office.

Unfortunately, even if a President Hillary were to change Executive Order 13233, the change would have no impact on Bush and Cheney, for, by the time it occurs, they will have done whatever they are doing, and when they leave, they will not yet be subject to a new order. Moreover, violations of the 1978 Presidential Records Act carry no sanctions whatsoever.

Conversely, however, if a President Rudy were to make even more aggressive changes than Bush did, and include past presidents within the scope of his new Executive Order, Bush and Cheney could benefit, taking advantage of the even more favorable situation to further hide their history.

Private citizens can do something. At least in theory. Some historians sued to enforce the Presidential Records Act of 1978 but, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has jumped on the case like a herd of turtles. It’s gathering dust as the Judge seems placated by the administrations occasionally giving up a document or two when it feels like it. Bush is not just the worse president in our history, but probably the most petulant. Congress with quite a few Republicans joining in have tried to do something, but the wingnuttery in the Senate runs deep,

In early March 2007, Democrats in the House of Representatives (joined by a significant number of Republicans) passed a bill to preserve Presidential records in the Senate, with an overwhelming majority vote of 333 to 93. When the bill arrived in the Senate, it similarly flew through the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. However, on its way to the passage in the Senate, this bill met the fate many others passed by the House have met: Senate Republicans stopped it.

More specifically, one or more secret holds have been placed on the legislation, which surely would pass the Senate with a solid majority, if put to a vote. It seems that Republican Senators are willing to allow the Bush White House to do whatever it wants with its papers. Moreover, the very fact that Bush has threatened to veto any new law that reversed his Executive Order 13233 has been sufficient for the Senate Democrats to back off, since they do not have a veto-proof Senate.

Dean suggests two things, one symbolic. Do whatever wrangling it takes to lose the secret hold and put it to a vote. Forcing Bush to veto this bill would be another nail in the arrogant messianic legacy of this failed presidency. The other route, and there’s no reason not to do both since the administration likes to play constitutional hardball, is to refuse to fund the Bush Presidential library. While the library structures are privately funded Administration by NARA is essential for their operation. Congress must approve funding for the NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) portion of the operation. If Congress fails as they ultimately did in their push to hold Reagan accountable for Iran-Contra we’re going to be plaqued with this kind of hubris from future presidents of both parties. It is the rare president who has given up power gathered up by a previous president. Will a president Edwards, Obama or Clinton be more respectful of the Constitution and the limits of presidential power. They probably will, but why leave such important issues to the blowing winds of politics and personalties.

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”

Fox is currently running this story, Families of Fallen Utah Highway Patrol Troopers Fight Atheist Group Over Roadside Cross Memorials

If a national atheist organization has its way, a series of 12-foot-tall memorial crosses that adorn Utah’s highways will be taken down.

But not if the families of the people those crosses honor — state Highway Patrol troopers killed in the line of duty — have anything to say about it.

American Atheists Inc. has filed a federal lawsuit, arguing that the 13 white, steel crosses represent the death of Jesus Christ and therefore violate the First Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits government establishment of religion

Twelve foot tall crosses, claimed to be a “memorial” and later in the article “the highway association downplays the significance of the cross, claiming it is a secular symbol.” The cross has in fact not always been a symbol of Christianity. Many historians think the symbol originated in pagan Druid worship and was later adopted by the Christian church. It is also known that the first official use of the cross as a symbol didn’t occur until around the middle of the 5th century and had been officially condemned by the Catholic church just two centuries earlier. As one of the spokesman for the atheists stated the issue is not about honoring fallen troopers, but the symbols being used to honor them. Though they were paid for with private funds and state law allows commemoratives to troopers that have died in the line of duty, the crosses are on state property. If the crosses are just memorials without religious meaning then why not replace them with something of a more secular nature. Constitution of the State of Utah, Sec. 4. [Religious liberty.]

No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment.

Again, the memorials were privately paid for, but the crosses are generally thought of in modern times as religious symbols and the sides of highways are easements, part of state property. These sought of clashes between the well meaning on both sides gets very emotional very quickly. It’s important to not lose sight of the principles involved. There is a wall between church and state in both the U.S. Constitution and reiniterated in Utah’s own Constitution. Surely the State Troopers of the state of Utah as law enforcement officers can see that honoring their fellow officers should also be respectful of the rule of law. In the mean time I hope that some zealot doesn’t get carried away and act like this clown, Bush Supporter Runs Over Crosses

There were shrill claims by the usual crowd of keyboard warriors that leaving Iraq would cause an increase in violence. Basra attacks down 90% since British troops left

The British army says violence in Basra has fallen by 90% since it withdrew from the southern Iraqi city earlier this year.

If Basra is an indication leaving the Iraqis to sort things out for themselves actually decreases the level of violence and al-Qaeda hasn’t poured in and taken over. Even the conservative Economist agrees that its political reconciliation that is the big road block and which the surge has not improved, The surge in Iraq -The fiscal one, that is

The Iraqi cabinet has passed an expansionary budget for 2008, based on the expectation that the recent improvements in security have created conditions for a big increase in investment in reconstruction and development. However, the reduction in violence in Iraq over the past few months has come about mainly as a result of local initiatives buttressed by extra US troops and cash, while the political divisions at the national level have if anything widened. The lack of progress towards national reconciliation raises questions as to how the plans for forging ahead with major infrastructure development and reconstruction projects will be implemented.

Corruption remains the rule of the day in Iraq, IRAQ: Corruption Adds to Baquba’s Problems

The infrastructure is clearly worse on all measurable levels than it was pre- invasion.

Under the Coalition Provisional Authority, more than 7 billion dollars went “missing” in the first year of occupation alone. Now Iraqi authorities are blamed for adding to the corruption.

Contractors in Baquba told IPS they believe the governor’s office is directly involved in the corruption.

“I’m not quite sure about the governor (Ra’ad Hameed al-Mula Jowad al- Tamimi) himself,” the owner of a security contracts company, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. “What is certain is that his protection group plays a big role in taking the money using his name.”

“In contrast to all the contractors, a large number of projects go to the governor’s nephew,” contractor Abu Ahmed told IPS. “This contractor often tries to influence the monitoring committee to sign his invoice even if it is inconsistent with the specifications of the job.”

Funny how we haven’t had the bloggers at the right-wing Powerline, Michelle Malkin, or Rush “phony soldiers” Limbaugh borrow a private jet from a like minded buddy to get a handle on all this wasted tax payer money. Well you know how it is, much easier to stay here and stalk children then hop over to Bush’s hand crafted Middle-East paradise.

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Ship in a Bottle wallpaper

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Bush’s outrageous neglect of Iraqi refugees 

One of the great looming disasters of the war in Iraq, a moral abdication of immense proportion, is the Bush administration’s failure to help those Iraqis who have risked their lives to help us.

The Iraqi translators, drivers, and assistants of all sorts face near-certain death, at the hands of one militia or another, once U.S. forces begin to pull out (and, rhetoric aside, the pullout has begun). Dozens have been kidnapped or killed already. Whatever one’s feelings about the war, it is beyond dispute that these people have earned our commitment to their safety. If they want to leave, we have an obligation to get them out.

[  ]…Helping them leave would also be an acknowledgment that Iraq holds no future for these people—some of whom are among the country’s educated elite. And that would be tantamount to acknowledging that the war will not end in victory, at least not as the term was originally defined.

Kaplan notes that one commander formed a kind of modern underground railroad to get the Iraqis that helped him into Jordan. A little more here on our national leaders and their tendency to either use or ignore Iraq at their convenience.

Republican Corruption is Gushing Faster Than Oil in Alaska 

When the FBI came looking for corruption in Alaska politics, it found an excellent perch in Suite 604 of the Baranof Hotel in Juneau, the state capital. There, a profane septuagenarian named Bill Allen did business throughout a 2006 special session called to set taxes on the oil industry. With hundred-dollar bills in his front pocket for ease of access when lawmakers turned up with their hands out, the oil-services company executive turned in a bravura performance before the pinhole camera that federal agents installed opposite his favorite chair.

“Let me count first here,” Allen said, shushing a former statehouse speaker as he counted out a bribe in video footage entered as evidence in the lawmaker’s September trial, one of several crowding the docket of the federal court here.

On another tape, Pete Kott, the former Republican speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives, crowed as he described beating back a tax bill opposed by oil companies. “I had to cheat, steal, beg, borrow and lie,” Kott said. “Exxon’s happy. BP’s happy. I’ll sell my soul to the devil.”

“Well, that will stay in this room,” one lobbyist said as a midnight session wound down.

A habit that Republicans can’t seem to break, mixing religion, politics and corruption.

Over 35 million Americans faced hunger in 2006 

Overall, 35.52 million people, including 12.63 million children, went hungry compared with 35.13 million in 2005. The survey was conducted in December 2006 and represented 294 million people, an increase of 2.5 million from 2005.

Food advocacy groups said the figures showed the United States was not doing enough to combat hunger, and feared conditions could worsen.

“As costs for food, energy, and housing continue to rise and wages stagnate or decline, households are finding themselves increasingly strapped,” said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center. “This may mean even worse numbers in 2007.”

Via TPM, Rachel Paulose  US Attorney in Minnesota known not so mush for her people skills as much as her loyalty to the fringe Right thinks that a there is a conspiracy underway to remove her frm office because she has been supposedly so aggressive on the prosecution of human traffickers, Is Rachel Paulose Being Hounded from Office by People Who Are Soft on Prostitution? 

Paulose’s  job is indeed in jeopardy, but until this breathtaking new theory was introduced by Hughes and Powerline, the jeopardy was attributed to several other causes. She was promoted by the now-discredited circle of Justice Department officials who were implicated in the forced resignations that caused several openings for new U.S. attorneys who were considered to be “loyal Bushies.” She had little administrative/managerial experience to run a large office and has alienated most of the staff in the Minneapolis office.

* Several of Paulose’s highest-ranking subordinates voluntarily took demotions to non-management positions to protest against her leadership style. Her staff has been in nearly open rebellion against her, on one occasion bursting into applause, in her presence, to honor those who demoted themselves.

Her lack of legal and management skills are obvious enough to anyone not blinded by ideology. The this is just another chapter in the Republican playbook, if all else fails yell conspiracy and claim victimhood. Whatever it takes to distract attention from their serial screw-ups.

Conservative bloggers have jumped onto the Clinton story like rabid raccoons on a camper’s ankle

Despite having political views that are an anathema to having a democracy it is important to listen to what Conservatives have to say. They hate flip-flops. Flips-flops are a sign of poor leadership. If you vote for a flip-flopper you’re stir the ship, or nation as it were toward huge debts (Is the GOP fiscally conservative?), put the nations health and the environment low on your priorities list, have a poor record of job creation and lie and exaggerate the nation into wars that are counter-productive. That’s why as Conservative blogger Captain Ed points out, one can never be too cautious in ferreting out the flip-floppers, November 14, 2007, It’s Wednesday, So We Must Have A New Position

First she sounded sympathetic to the idea during a televised debate, and within moments had refused to endorse it. Afterwards, she changed her mind and endorsed it. Now today, after Governor Eliot Spitzer shelved a plan to issue New York drivers licenses to illegal aliens, Hillary Clinton shifted her position yet again to oppose the idea entirely

Did Senator Clinton play pop politics with an issue. Probably, but in the world of politics where getting elected is the primary goal, this is hardly news worthy. Taylor Marsh gets into the details and the reasons for Senator Clinton’s sympathies,

It was clear to me after the debate that Clinton backing Spitzer was because she refused to push a fellow Democrat under a bus

This is for the most part one of those semi-daily blips on the political radar that makes people turn the page or switch channels. Still ol’ Cap has given us a most urgent reminder of what flip-flops, real flip-flops tell us about a candidate’s character,  Bush’s Top Ten Flip-Flops

The Sept. 11 Commission

4. President Bush initially opposed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 attacks. In May 2002, he said, “Since it deals with such sensitive information, in my judgment, it’s best for the ongoing war against terror that the investigation be done in the intelligence committee.”

Bowing to pressure from victims’ families, Mr. Bush reversed his position. The following September, he backed an independent investigation.

I hope that Cap doesn’t read this list as a Conservative of deep deep convictions about flip-floppery he’ll probably get queasy, 50 Bush flip flops here . Since Cap , Malkin and several other Conservative bloggers have also jumped onto the Clinton story like rabid raccoons on a camper’s ankle one assumes that thy would never support a candidate that has such an hugely egregious record on flip-flopping. Yet they have for the vast majority of the time supported Bush, the flip-flopper extraordinaire, which makes the Conservative Bloggers Against Flip-Flopping, flip-floppers and also very boring. Next, they’ll be telling us they believe in balanced budgets, supporting the military, values and some other nonsense.

While we’re on the subject of character and presidential candidates, some people, not many judging by the last two presidential elections think that mental competency, intelligence and being able to be candid with one’s self about their abilities and accomplishments are major factors in a candidate’s qualifications, Rudy Guiliani: Criminal or Liar?

“I can’t say that I [know more about torture than Sen. John McCain], but I do know a lot about intensive questioning and intensive questioning techniques. After all, I have had a different experience than John. John has never run city, never run a state, never run a government. He has never been responsible as a mayor for the safety and security of millions of people, and he has never run a law enforcement agency, which I have done. Now, intensive questioning works. If I didn’t use intensive questioning, there would be a lot of mafia guys running around New York right now and crime would be a lot higher in New York than it is. Intensive question has to be used. Torture should not be used. The line between the two is a difficult one.” ~ Guiliani

One former Justice Department Official who served during Giuliani’s tenure in the Reagan administration dismissed the idea that Giuliani made routine use of any kind of enhanced interrogation techniques. The official explained that any prisoners awaiting trial on federal charges would be in the custody of the FBI, not the U.S. Attorney office. They would have been interviewed according to FBI rules, which also acknowledge the prisoner’s constitutional rights. Ultimately, the agents of the Bureau take their orders from the Attorney General, not from the US Attorney.

At most, Giuliani might have been in a position to urge the FBI officers assigned to his office to question a suspect more intensively, but only within a strict framework of constitutional safeguards.

Lawyers take an oath to uphold the constitution. If Giuliani knowingly violated the constitutional rights of suspects, he could be disbarred.

It looks like Fred Thompson isn’t the only actor running for president. Rudy Tutti Guiliani the modern incarnation of Elliot Ness and General Patton, has written a script and a role for himself that like many RepubliWood productions has a certain entertainment value, but doesn’t serve the truth all that well.

Our government teaches the whole people by its example.

U.S. Concern Over Pakistan’s Nukes a Little Late, Authors Say

 “Deception” paints a disturbing picture of how the U.S. government turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear program, rewriting and destroying evidence provided by intelligence agencies and misrepresenting Pakistan’s intentions to the Congress and the public.

Levy and Scott-Clark assert that successive U.S. presidential administrations, from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush , ignored the dangers of Khan’s nuclear activities in order to maintain Pakistan as an ally, first in the Cold War and now in the war on terrorism — what Levy called a “willful misreading” of the Pakistan military’s intentions.

Stop worrying and learn to love the bomb gossip monger Matt Drudge former Bush administration  Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage assures us its all kool, US has secret plans to safeguard Pakistan’s nukes

But Richard Armitage, who as deputy secretary of state led the US effort to get Musharraf on board the anti-terror struggle after the September 11 attacks of 2001, dismissed fears over the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

“You know as well as I do that that nuclear arsenal is one, dispersed, and second, carefully guarded by the army,” he told CNN.

“Now we have had, historically, discussions with the Pakistani army about the safeguarding of those nuclear weapons,” the former official said.

“So I think in the short or even medium term, should things turn badly, we are not going to worry about nuclear weapons in the first instance.”

If Richie and his Konservative pals do a good a job keeping those nukes out of the hands of the extremists as they  did protecting our classified CIA agents identities a secret then break out the rib – eyes and get ready for the roast.

Democrats say $1.8 trillion spent on Iraq, Afghan wars

“War in Iraq has taken a tremendous toll on this nation in blood and treasure, costs that are hard to even fathom,” he said.

The Iraq War has already claimed nearly 4,000 American lives. Now the Democrats have attempted to gauge its financial cost, coming up with a figure of $1.4 trillion for Iraq, along with another 400 billion for Afghanistan.

This total of nearly $1.8 billion is nearly double the $900 billion the Bush Administration has sought from Congress to fund the conflicts.

On top of the direct costs of sending and equipping US soldiers, the Democrats have also factored in interest payments on the money borrowed to fund the war, as well as the long-term expense of treating seriously injured veterans.

I wonder what percentage of that is the expense to fed the Konservative Nanny State. How much to outsource the war to private contractors like Blackwater and Halliburton.

A small serving of good news, Justice Dept. Reopens Surveillance Probe 

The Justice Department said yesterday that it has reopened an internal investigation of the role played by its lawyers in the administration’s warrantless surveillance program, marking a notable policy shift just days into the tenure of new Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.

The investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility was abandoned in July 2006 after President Bush refused to give security clearances to the OPR lawyers conducting the investigation, according to documents and congressional testimony.

“Our government teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.” ~ Louis D. Brandeis

Norman Rockwell: They Remembered Me, A Drum for Tommy, Rosie the Riveter, Girl With Black Eye

They Remembered Me. I was going to put this up the other day, but thought that I would take a little time and get the others prepared. They’re all relevant for this time of year and the times we live live in. On Veterans Day, A Sobering Look At The Iraq War’s Toll

Although average U.S. soldier in Iraq is older than average Vietnam soldier, those being killed and injured are disproportionately young.

A Drum For Tommy. Every year I forget to do my part in the “War on Christmas”. O’Reilly’s Contrived ‘War On Christmas’ Is Back

– Describing the “War on Christmas,” O’Reilly claimed “Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable.” [11/29/05]

– O’Reilly compared Catholic leaders’ silence over “war” on Christmas to Church’s reaction to pedophilia scandal. [12/14/05]

– “[Y]ou’re a moron … [i]f you don’t believe” the “secular progressive movement” is behind “war” on Christmas, claimed O’Reilly on his radio show. [12/19/05]

– O’Reilly lauded Wal-Mart’s decision to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” as a victory in the “culture war battle” for those who “want to retain the Christmas tradition.”[11/13/06]

I’m not a Biblical scholar, but there are searchable Bibles on-line. None of them even mention Christmas much less retailing or Wal-Mart.

Rosie the Riveter. His original conception of her, though there were several versions by as many artists. As much as I would like to credit the whole sixties brouhaha with a great wave of change in American culture. That change probably started its inevitable march when women went to work in the mills and factories not just to maintain the economy, but were essential in winning the war against facism and imperialism.

Girl With Black Eye. A reminder of the adage that nothing much changes except the history you don’t know. Every ten years as far as I can tell anyone and everyone with a soapbox declares that this is the worse generation ever. Not so much really. The names and faces and a few details change.

They say they’re the official Norman Rockwell site and the requisite entry at Wikipedia here.

Who’s the Enemy? – In Iraq, It’s Getting Harder to Find Any Bad Guys

Who is the enemy? Who, exactly, are we fighting in Iraq? Why are we there? And what’s our objective?

Nearly five years into the war, the answers to basic questions like these ought to be obvious. In the Alice in Wonderland-like wilderness of mirrors that is Iraq, though, they’re anything but.

We aren’t fighting the Sunnis. Not any more, anyway. Virtually the entire Sunni establishment, from the moderate Muslim Brotherhood-linked Iraqi Islamic Party (which has been part of every Iraqi government since 2003) to the Anbar tribal alliance (which has been begging for U.S. support since 2004 and only recently got it) is either actively cooperating with the American military or sullenly tolerating what it hopes will be a receding occupation. Across Sunni-dominated parts of Iraq, the United States is helping to build army and police units as well as neighborhood patrols — the Pentagon calls them “concerned citizens” — out of former resistance fighters, with the blessing of tribal leaders in Anbar, Diyala, and Salahuddin provinces, parts of Baghdad, and areas to the south of the capital. We have met the enemy, and — surprise! — they are friends or, if not that, at least not active enemies. Attacks on U.S. forces in Sunni-dominated areas, including the once-violent hot-bed city of Ramadi, Anbar’s capital, have fallen dramatically.

Among the hard-core Sunni resistance, there is also significant movement toward a political accord — if the United States were willing to accept it. Twenty-two Iraqi insurgent groups announced the creation of a united front, under the leadership of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former top Baath party official of the Saddam era, and they have opened talks with Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia who was Iraq’s first post-Saddam prime minister.

We aren’t fighting the Shia. The Shia merchant class and elite, organized into the mostly pro-Iranian Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and the Islamic Dawa party, are part of the Iraqi government that the United States created and supports — and whose army and police are armed and trained by the United States. The far more popular forces of Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army aren’t the enemy either. In late August, Sadr declared a ceasefire, ordering his militia to stand down; and, since then, attacks on U.S. forces in Shia-dominated areas of Iraq have fallen off very sharply, too. Though recent, provocative attacks by U.S. troops, in conjunction with Iraqi forces, on Sadr strongholds in Baghdad, Diwaniya, and Karbala have caused Sadr to threaten to cancel the ceasefire order, and though intra-Shia fighting is still occurring in many parts of southern Iraq, there is no Shia enemy that justifies a continued American presence in Iraq, either.

It might be getting crunch time for the Iraq occupation dead enders. If things are going so well, then why are Americans still there and still dying. WE certainly can not stay based on the canard that we’re striving off Iran’s influence while simultaneously supporting an Iraqi leadership with such close ties to Tehran.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage Plays the Absent Minded Professor

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was on CNN Late Edition: Armitage on Leaking Plame’s Identity and Smart Power. The National Review’s Byron York writes,

Richard Armitage appeared on CNN today, discussing Pakistan but also addressing his role as the original leaker in the CIA leak affair. He took the blame for leaking Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity, but he also gave us a bit more evidence to show that, from his perspective at least, it was entirely unintentional. But there must be a conspiracy in there somewhere.

Even liberal blogs are entertaining the idea that Armitage is being candid. There is a elevel of candor in the whirl of spin somewhere, but Armitage’s record speaks to a history of deception and spin. He is a paid up member of the original neocons. If politics is mostly theatre it suits Mr. Armitage’s talent for playing the gosh darnit, didn’t mean no harm buffery-lite role quite well. A man’s actions always speak louder then words, Richard Armitage, Abu Ghraib and CACI,

So who is Richard Armitage? None other than a former board member of CACI–the private contractor that employed four interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison–interrogators who worked with the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade there.

Novak vs. Armitage: Was the Plame Leak Deliberate?

In a column published on Wednesday, Novak accuses Armitage of not telling the truth. The former No. 2 at the State Department, Novak insists, “obscured what he really did.” Novak writes:

First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he “thought” might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson.

Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column. (italics – quotes from Novak column)

This account depicts Armitage as deliberately leaking information on Valerie Wilson. In our book, Isikoff and I raise the possibility that Armitage might have told Novak about Wilson’s wife and her CIA employment to distance the State Department from the burgeoning Wilson imbroglio–as a way of saying, We here at State had nothing to do with that trouble-causing Wilson trip to Niger. Novak claims that Armitage “told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband’s mission.” (Valerie Wilson’s role in her husband’s mission has been overblown; Isikoff and I lay this out in the book.)

Either way Armitage knew that he was up to his neck in it. Once caught what could he do. Lying was out of the question unless he wanted to go the Scooter Libby route. He kept his head down. He could have come forth at the very beginning, but didn’t. Could that be because he knew that telling a ideologically friendly columnists that Plame was just an analyst was bigger deal then he’s now claiming. It just doesn’t add up that he claims,

ARMITAGE: They’re not words on which I disagree. I think it was extraordinarily foolish of me. There was no ill-intent on my part and I had never seen ever, in 43 years of having a security clearance, a covert operative’s name in a memo. The only reason I knew a “Mrs. Wilson,” not “Mrs. Plame,” worked at the agency was because I saw it in a memo. But I don’t disagree with her words to a large measure.

How many times in that 43 years did he give a specific CIA analyst name to a reporter. Why did he think that suddenly that kind of gossip was acceptable. Foolish? How about some real candor. It was intentional and malicious. More on Armitage’s background, Armitage and Iran-Contra – Secretary Weinberger and Defense Department Officials

The notes demonstrated that Weinberger’s early testimony — that he had only vague and generalized information about Iran arms sales in 1985 — was false, and that he in fact had detailed information on the proposed arms sales and the actual deliveries. The notes also revealed that Gen. Colin Powell, Weinberger’s senior military aide, and Richard L. Armitage, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, also had detailed knowledge of the 1985 shipments from Israeli stocks. Armitage and Powell had testified that they did not learn of the November 1985 HAWK missile shipment until 1986.

And Iran-Contra Operative Richard L. Armitage in now Colin Powell’s No.2. He has always been in the thick of things. Barely escaping prosecution for his role of covering up in Iran-Contra even though he said he thought the whole scheme was a bad idea. Does he drink as much kool-aid as the other neocons like Cheney. Maybe not, but he has always lacked the personal courage to stand up to the Cheneys. Of course the national Review is trying to sell poor old Richard as the well meaning absent minded eccentric, its all they have left.

When I wish upon an “R” I can get away with more then you by far

IBD Liars on a mission

Investor’s Business Daily Lies About Pres. Clinton Contributor

Summary: An Investor’s Business Daily editorial suggested that Bernard Schwartz, then-head of Loral Space and Communications Corp., donated “$600,000 in campaign cash” to President Bill Clinton in 1996 in exchange for “the traitorous transfer of missile technology to Beijing.” However, while the editorial mentioned that the Justice Department “investigated Schwartz,” it did not note that the Justice Department exonerated him.

[ ]… The Justice Department investigation of the campaign finance allegations regarding Schwartz was headed by Charles La Bella, chief of the Campaign Finance Task Force from 1997 to 1998. La Bella delivered a memorandum on the inquiry to then-Attorney General Janet Reno in the summer of 1998. Documents related to the La Bella memo were first obtained by the Los Angeles Times, which, in the May 23, 2000, article reported that, according to one document, the “team of federal prosecutors turned up ‘not a scintilla of evidence — or information — that the president was corruptly influenced by Bernard Schwartz.’ ” Further, one former task force investigator told the Times that “[p]oor Bernie Schwartz got a bad deal. …There was never a whiff of a scent of a case against him.” After the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee made public the memo and an “addendum” from La Bella, The New York Times reported in a June 9, 2000, article, that the “documents … show that Mr. La Bella never believed there was any evidence against Mr. Schwartz and concluded that Mr. Schwartz had not broken the law.”

The Right is obsessed with all things Clinton. I’m not sure which is their favorite myth to spread, the Vince Foster conspiracy stories or the China technology stories. Let’s think about the Clinton years and technology. It was the era of Windows 95/98. Blazing fast 400Mz Pentium IIIs. Fast forward to 2007, the Bush administartion. Ten years of a Republican controlled Congress. Intel Pours $2.5B Into China Chip Plant 03/26/07 11:17 AM PT

Chipmaker Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) announced Monday it would build a US$2.5 billion wafer fabrication facility in northeast China, the company’s latest and largest investment to date in the booming country.

Though Intel has not built a fab in China yet, the investment is far from its first in the country. Intel has had a presence in China for more than 20 years, Otellini said.

No word from IBD about how Intel’s chips are far more adavanced now then during the Clinton presidency and guess what. Those new chips can still be used for everything from desktop computing to guiding a missile to it’s target. China, nuclear technology, and a US sale

China has its heart set on buying a cutting-edge US design for a nuclear-power reactor, and the Bush administration has said it is willing to sell because the transaction will mean jobs for Americans and pave the way for a “nuclear [power] renaissance in the US.”

But critics of the mammoth $5 billion-plus sale are raising concerns that China might not use the advanced technology strictly for peaceful purposes, perhaps intending to “reverse engineer” pieces of it for military purposes.

[ ]…”You’re building an infrastructure that can be used and retooled to help out in [China’s] naval reactor sector – and they do want this for nuclear subs,” says Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a think tank on nuclear-policy issues.

[ ]…”Our concern is more about whether the US should be supporting building a commercial nuclear infrastructure when there are serious questions about whether the Chinese regulatory system [for nuclear-waste disposal] can do this safely,” says Edwin Lyman, a nonproliferation expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental group.

Why should anyone be concerned. China has told the Bush administration, just as they told the Clinton administration that they will only use any technology they get from as for peaceful purposes. Why the Right’s double standard. That magical “R”. Its like a little fairy that sits on the Right’s shoulder that allows them to do pretty much anything they want with impunity. Will there be any lingering hateful gossip mongering about Bush’s accommodating relationship with China. Of course not. Bush Jr has ignored his father’s example as president in many ways, but not when it comes to cozying up to China, Bush Renewing Trade Privileges For China, but Adds Missile Curbs – May 28, 1991

“We want to advance the cause of freedom, not just snub nations that aren’t yet wholly free,” he said. [ Excerpts, page A8. ]

Mr. Bush said he would inform Congress this week that China’s trading privileges — known as “most favored nation” status — are to be continued for another year. The move had been expected since the President said two weeks ago that he wanted to renew China’s favorable tariff treatment.

Many lawmakers have called for the privileges to be revoked to punish Beijing for its crackdown on political activity in 1989, an approach that Mr. Bush strongly rejected today in a move that is sure to lead to a confrontation with Congress.

Bush Sr was walking a thin line. Arguments can be made for and against his actions. A tough line would have been to revoke China’s favored trade status, but he didn’t. Over the course of Bush Sr and Clinton’s presidency various sanctions were imposed and lifted. If China is still America’s enemy then why is the current administration been so quick to pander to them on trade issues. Companies that range from Westinghouse to Wal-Mart to Intel and AMD all do business with China. Everyone knows that Wal-Mart gives the biggest part of its political donations to Republicans, as does chip maker Intel and Westinghouse ( a big winner in the sale of nuclear energy plants to China). Conservatives always portray themselves as the deeply serious experts on foreign policy. The media is all too happy to go ago with that spin. If a Republican president or Senator or Representaive makes less then stellar decision they do what they always do. Attack and distract. If President Clinton was still our Commander-in-Chief we’d here no end of whining about this story, but the Decider Guy is in charge, so excuses and rationales will be made by the usual crop of deeply serious right-wing pundits that dominate both TV and radio, Broken Supply Channel Sent Weapons for Iraq Astray

As the insurgency in Iraq escalated in the spring of 2004, American officials entrusted an Iraqi businessman with issuing weapons to Iraqi police cadets training to help quell the violence.

By all accounts, the businessman, Kassim al-Saffar, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, did well at distributing the Pentagon-supplied weapons from the Baghdad Police Academy armory he managed for a military contractor. But, co-workers say, he also turned the armory into his own private arms bazaar with the seeming approval of some American officials and executives, selling AK-47 assault rifles, Glock pistols and heavy machine guns to anyone with cash in hand — Iraqi militias, South African security guards and even American contractors.

“This was the craziest thing in the world,” said John Tisdale, a retired Air Force master sergeant who managed an adjacent warehouse. “They were taking weapons away by the truckload.”

Activities at that armory and other warehouses help explain how the American military lost track of some 190,000 pistols and automatic rifles supplied by the United States to Iraq’s security forces in 2004 and 2005, as auditors discovered in the past year.

These discoveries prompted criminal inquiries by the Pentagon and the Justice Department, and stoked fears that the arms could fall into enemy hands and be used against American troops. So far, no missing weapons have been linked to any American deaths, but investigators say that in a country awash with weapons, it may be impossible to trace where some ended up.

While the Pentagon has yet to offer its own accounting of how the weapons channel broke down, it is clear from interviews with two dozen military and civilian investigators, contracting officers, warehouse managers and others that military expediency sometimes ran amok, the lines between legal and illegal were blurred and billions of dollars in arms were handed over to shoestring commands without significant oversight.

WMD haven’t killed our troops in Iraq, IEDs and small arms have.