PAA Expires and America is Still Here

Courtesy the Brian Beutler blog, White House FISA lies. Yep. More.

George Bush has released a myth/fact sheet. It’s actually pretty hilarious. For instance, one might think that people at the White House understand that a myth/fact sheet works by introducing a widely believed myth (say, that a frog will allow itself to be cooked to death if you heat its water to a boil) and then dispelling that myth with the relevant fact (a frog will, in fact, leap out of the water–or attempt to–when the temperature climbs too high).

But one would be wrong. For instance:

    MYTH: If any new surveillance needs to begin, the FISA court can approve a request within minutes. In the case of an emergency, surveillance can begin immediately and FISA approval can be obtained later.

FACT: Reverting to the outdated FISA statute risks our national security. FISA’s outdated provisions created dangerous intelligence gaps, which is why Congress passed the Protect America Act in the first place.

If the claim in the myth is, in fact, inaccurate, then the fact should read: “The FISA court can not approve a request within minutes, and emergency surveillance can not begin immediately.” Or something. But, of course, the “myth” is true, and, as you can see, the “fact” is a rather large heap of irrelevant bullshit.

George W. Bush is sixty-two years old, the president of what is supposed to be a model nation of modern liberal democracy and he approved this message. Bush sent out one of his sycophants  Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell to make the administration’s case and at least his argument had a small measure of honesty about it. PAA must be passed as per the Senate version of the bill with immunity for the telecoms that broke the law not because of legitimate concerns over national security, but because the administration wants to protect them from liability, i.e. responsibility for their actions, FISA Fight: How predictable was this?

    NPR: Mr. McConnell, the Bush administration says that if the Protect America Act isn’t made permanent, it will tie your hands, intelligence hands, especially when it comes to new threats. But isn’t it true that any surveillance underway does not expire, even if this law isn’t renewed by tomorrow?

MCCONNELL: Well, Renee it’s a very complex issue. It’s true that some of the authorities would carry over to the period they were established for one year. That would put us into the August, September time-frame. However, that’s not the real issue. The issue is liability protection for the private sector.

One Bush apologists tried to take the bull by the horns and admit this was the case and it was important because in the future the telecoms will not cooperate if not given immunity. Well, not so. As alway the telecoms can be compelled with the proper legal notice to cooperate with government law enforcement officials.

 Attacks in Baghdad fall 80 percent: Iraq military 

 In the six weeks to the end of 2006, an average of 43 bodies were found dumped in the city each day as fierce sectarian fighting threatened to turn into full-scale civil war.

That figure fell to four a day in 2008, in the period up to February 12, said Qanbar, who heads the Baghdad security operation.

Only four bodies a day. That sound you hear is the swoosh of right-wing bloggers packing their bags to move to this Bush created paradise in the Middle-East. There is plenty of empty housing available,

[   ]…The CLCs number some 80,000 mainly Sunni Arabs. Qanbar said Baghdad was working on compensating victims of mistakes by the Iraqi army and multi-national forces in Iraq.

While Iraqi and U.S. officials laud the security gains, humanitarian groups say it is still too early to encourage around 2 million refugees who fled Iraq to return home.

“The plight of Iraqi refugees will end with national reconciliation,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, told reporters during a visit to Baghdad.

The escalation may have opened up yet another wave of problems, Awakening to New Dangers in Iraq 

Much of the recent decline in violence in Iraq from record levels of 2006 and early 2007 can be credited in large part to the emergence of sahwa, or “awakening,” groups. These groups, essentially Sunni Arab militias, are comprised of tribes and former insurgents who turned against Al Qaeda in Iraq and other extremist militants long before the surge was even proposed in late 2006. These sahwa groups then received material support from the United States, which has politically empowered tribal sheikhs and former insurgent leaders who now enjoy de facto control over wide swathes of Anbar province and Baghdad neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, what has been extolled as a central “success” of the surge has also exacerbated existing political divisions and fomented new political cleavages in an already fractured and fragile Iraqi body politic. Newly empowered sahwa leaders are challenging each other, traditional Sunni Arab political parties, and the Iraqi government.

To what is probably everyone’s relief one Republican blogger caught a later flight so he could stay long enough to solve the whole survival strategy issue should a gunman appear on your campus – throw your Dell laptop at them.

The war and the recession: a connection? by  Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.)

But the two issues are linked. Withdrawing from Iraq will not turn the economy around, but the billions of dollars that would be saved could certainly defray the cost of an economic stimulus package, lessening the likelihood of ensuing inflation.

Accurate assessments of the war’s cost are not available, but the figure is most likely between a trillion and one and a half trillion dollars. What if that money were available for dealing with health care demands, public infrastructure underfunding, and the like?

I’ve been avoiding most of the daily frays. Barack? Hillary? Anyone want to try and connect the dots that should be connected.

According to the right-wing Heritage Foundation web site’s countdown clock we’re all supposed to be dead or at least mortally wounded as of midnite last night when George Bush let PAA run out without an extension. For those of us that have managed to survive thus far give yourselves a big pat on the back.

Old School Baseball wallpaper

Old School Baseball wallpaper 

William Kristol or just plain ol Bill as I like to call him, for those that don’t know is like his messiah George W. Bush another man-child Conservative of a famous Conservative. He is currently very busy as a prince (a duller Nicolo Machiavelli as it were) of pundits at Fox, the New York Times and his own little Pravda-like organ called The Weekly Standard. The WS is where you’ll find other oxygen starved brain trusts such as Fred Barnes, John Podhoretz, Dean Barnett and Michael Goldfarb. The Lost Bill Kristol Tapes

You loved it when Bill said invading Iraq was going to have “terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East”? You have the original recording of him explaining the war would make us “respected around the world” and his classic statement that there’s “almost no evidence” of Iraq experiencing Sunni-Shia conflict? Well, I’ve got something that will blow your mind!

I’m talking about Kristol’s two-hour appearance on C-Span’s Washington Journal on March 28, 2003, just nine days after the President launched his invasion of Iraq. No one remembers it today. You can’t even fish it out of LexisNexis. It’s not there. Yet it’s a masterpiece, a double album of smarm, horrifying ignorance, and bald-faced deceit. While you’ve heard him play those instruments before, he never again reached such heights. It’s a performance for the history books — particularly that chapter about how the American Empire collapsed.

To start with, Ellsberg made the reasonable point that Iraqis might not view the invading Americans as “liberators,” since the U.S. had been instrumental in Saddam Hussein’s rise to power: Here’s how he put it:

“ELLSBERG: People in Iraq… perceive Hussein as a dictator… But as a dictator the Americans chose for them.

“KRISTOL: That’s just not true. We’ve had mistakes in our Iraq policy. It’s just ludicrous — we didn’t choose Hussein. We didn’t put him in power.

“ELLSBERG: In 1963, when there was a brief uprising of the Ba’ath, we supplied specifically Saddam with lists, as we did in Indonesia, lists of people to be eliminated. And since he’s a murderous thug, but at that time our murderous thug, he eliminated them…

“KRISTOL: [surprised] Is that right?…

“ELLSBERG: The same thing went on in ‘68. He was our thug, just as [Panamanian dictator Manuel] Noriega, and lots of other people who were on the leash until they got off the leash and then we eliminated them. Like [Vietnamese president] Ngo Dinh Diem.”

Ellsberg here is referring to U.S. support for a 1963 coup involving the Ba’athist party, for which Saddam was already a prominent enforcer — and then another coup in 1968 when the Ba’athists consolidated control, after which Saddam became the power behind the nominal president. According to one of the 1963 plotters, “We came to power on a CIA train.” (Beyond providing lists of communists and leftists to be murdered, the U.S. also gave the new regime napalm to help them put down a Kurdish uprising we’d previously encouraged.) James Crichtfield, then head of the CIA in the Middle East, said, “We really had the t’s crossed on what was happening” This turned out not to be quite right, since factional infighting among top Iraqis required the second plot five years later for which, explained key participant Abd al-Razzaq al-Nayyif, “you must [also] look to Washington.”

Bill is one of the leading lights of the Conservative movement. He makes a living dispensing the pure unadulterated uninformed idiocy, infantile attitudes and peevish facial expressions that passes for high minded Conservative intelligentsia wrapped up in cartoonish and alarming imitations of patriotism. He doesn’t have a clue and he makes sure his followers don’t either.

This all is not to say that Cons are not capable of perverse cleverness, a kind of warped intelligence. One Brian Faughnan posting on the WS blog sites a report from The Center For Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Cordesman on Iraq: “Major Progress in Every Area”,Posted by Brian Faughnan at 11:47 AM, Iraq

No one can spend some 10 days visiting the battlefields in Iraq without seeing major progress in every area. A combination of the surge, improved win and hold tactics, the tribal uprising in Anbar and other provinces, the Sadr ceasefire, and major advances in the use of IS&R have transformed the battle against Al Qaida in Iraq. If the US provides sustained support to the Iraqi government — in security, governance, and development — there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state…

The author Anthony H. Cordesman doesn’t appear to be a complete hack he previously wrote up a piece describing Iraq in June of 2006 entitled, The Quarterly Report on Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq: “Fact, Fallacy, and an Overall Grade of “F”, but he has done work for in Iraq for a hundred years John McCain (R-AZ). The cleverness comes in two parts. Faughnan links to this post from TPM – Iraq Travel Companion Of O’Hanlon, Pollack Reveals: I’m Much More Pessimistic About Iraq and asks if the same blogger will report the “good” news. As always, when Conservatives are not babbling nonsense like the Bill Kristol they just let out little snips of information they would seem to prove a point and cross their fingers that you don’t click over and read the whole report,

Serious threats can still bring defeat or paralysis over the coming years, although this seems significantly less likely than during the fall of 2007:

* A central government failure to move funds to key provinces, improve services, fund development, and employ young men.

* A central government failure to reach out to the Sunni and Shi’ite Sons of Iraq and incorporate many into the Iraq security services.

* Potential Arab-Kurdish-minority divisions over Kurdish autonomy in the north, and creating some form of Kurdish federal zone.

* The risk of Shi’ite divisions and infighting in the south, particularly between the Hakim and Sadr factions, and Sunni-Shi’ite tensions over some form of Shi’ite federalism.

* Continued Iranian support of militias and divisions and growing Iranian influence in Basra and the south.

* The need for local legitimacy through provincial and local elections in 2008, and open lists and local representation in the COR election in 2009.

* Moving towards full development and sustained employment, and for a fair sharing of petroleum wealth a resources.

It may well be possible to help Iraq deal with all of these challenges and the others in the attached briefing, but this will require a US commitment at least through the term of the next President, far better long term planning of our aid efforts and funding, great care in further force reductions beyond 15 brigades, and much more careful attention to dealing with the above challenges rather than simply providing unfocused aid. It also will take significant aid funding in spite of Iraq’s apparent “oil wealth.”

One doesn’t have to be a brilliant Conservative intellectual to have enough in the way of reading comprehension skills to see that the rosy picture Faughnan and the WS are trying to paint. I see several caveats, dire warnings if you will that things are delicate rather then sweeter then Gran Ma’s pecan pie. That Cordesman clearly states Iraq could roll back to being more unstable then it is currently if U.S. forces are reduced. If U.S. troops are an absolute requirement for stability then, guess what, you’re still in the middle of sectarian warfare where the various factions are just taking a break. There is little difference between the Ritzy heights of big Conservative thinkers like Kristol and hate mongers like Ann Coulter and AM radio bulls*it artists like Limbaugh except for little clever deceptions like Faughnan’s.

Bush apologists and the drama queen show

Someone needs to pass poor John “assrocket” Hinderacker at PowerLies the smelling salts the poor thing is about to faint, February 14, 2008, Not Serious, Posted by John at 7:28 PM

About national security, that is. Over the last 36 hours, Congressional Democrats have again demonstrated a casual, even frivolous attitude toward their Constitutional duty to assist in keeping Americans safe from attack.

He’s upset because Democrats in the House decided to defend the Constitution and the rule of law from yet another attack by the fake patriots like John who can’t stop lying about FISA long enough or having another attack of paranoia to even get his facts straight. He’s also very upset that Democrats like most national security experts agree that torture is wrong, counter-productive. illegal and puts the lives of our troops in even further danger. Furthermore John feels that having Attorney Generals hired for the purpose of carrying out political dirty tricks is the president’s right and how dare Democrats subpoena witnesses and try to get at the truth. Just another day in Rightie La La land and another fact free post from Time magazine’s former blog of the year PowerLine.

America does face various threats. Always has and will for the foreseeable future. Besides a rag tag group of Islamic radicals, America has the continued threat of Republican fear mongering and attacks on the rule of law, Countdown Special Comment on FISA: President Bush Is A Liar And A Fascist

You are a liar, Mr. Bush, and after showing some skill at it, you have ceased to even be a very good liar.

And your minions like John Boehner — your Republican congressional crash dummies who just happen to decide to walk out of Congress when a podium-full of microphones await them — they should just keep walking, out of Congress and if possible, out of the country.

For they — and you, sir — have no place in a government of the people, by the people, for the people.

The lot of you, are the symbolic descendants of the despotic middle managers of some banana republic, to whom “Freedom” is an ironic brand name, a word you reach for, when you want to get away with its opposite.

Thus, Mr. Bush, your panoramic invasion of privacy is dressed up as “protecting America.”

Like Assrocket, Bush and John Boehner are proponents of soft fascism, all authority and fear all the time.

Congressman Silvestre Reyes, Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence sets some facts straight. You know thoise things that Republicans seem to think have a liberal bias,

You have also suggested that Congress must grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. As someone who has been briefed on our most sensitive intelligence programs, I can see no argument why the future security of our country depends on whether past actions of telecommunications companies are immunized.

The issue of telecom liability should be carefully considered based on a full review of the documents that your Administration withheld from Congress for eight months. However, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for actions that happened years ago.

Congress has not been sitting on its hands. Last November, the House passed responsible legislation to authorize the NSA to conduct surveillance of foreign terrorists and to provide clarity and legal protection to our private sector partners who assist in that surveillance.

The proper course is now to conference the House bill with the Senate bill that was passed on Tuesday. There are significant differences between these two bills and a conference, in regular order, is the appropriate mechanism to resolve the differences between these two bills. I urge you, Mr. President, to put partisanship aside and allow Republicans in Congress to arrive at a compromise that will protect America and protect our Constitution.

I, for one, do not intend to back down – not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.

Why is Roger Clemens claiming that Dubya would pardon him if he’s convicted of lying to federal officials? Because he’s friends with Bush’s dad and after all Bush did pardon traitor and Bush loyalists Scooter Libby.

  Baxter probe focuses on US-owned China plant 

Baxter International Inc’s (BAX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) investigation into the cause of deaths and allergic reactions linked to its blood-thinner heparin is focusing on a Chinese manufacturer co-owned by a Wisconsin company, according to the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Baxter said the active ingredient for its heparin was supplied by Scientific Protein Laboratories of Waunakee, Wisconsin, which has a joint-venture operation called Changzhou SPL in Changzhou, China, according to the Journal.

According to OpenSecrets Baxter International gave $27,500(11%) to Democrats and $224,447 (89%) to Republicans of its soft money political donations. Republican and Chinese communists always seem to be turning up in bed together. Maybe there is some kind of weird truth to intellectual wannabe wing-nut Jonah Goldberg’s claim that the right is really the left or the left is really the Right. The Right uses authoritarian nationalist rhetoric here at home while it provides funding for Communism as it exports American jobs and imports dangerous products to sell to American consumers.

It appears to me that almost any man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own airy citadel

Bill Curbing Terror Interrogators Is Sent to Bush, Who Has Vowed to Veto It

 The leading Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, a former prisoner of war who steadfastly opposes the use of torture, voted against the bill. Mr. McCain said the ban would limit the C.I.A.’s ability to gather intelligence. “We always supported allowing the C.I.A. to use extra measures,” he said.

At the same time, he said that he believed “waterboarding is illegal and should be banned” and that the agency must adhere to existing federal law and international treaties.

The White House again said Mr. Bush intended to veto the bill, on the ground that it would interfere with successful intelligence gathering. And Tony Fratto, a presidential spokesman, said that at least in the case of waterboarding, Democrats were criticizing a method that American interrogators no longer used.

Democratic supporters of the measure hailed its passage and immediately challenged Mr. Bush to veto it, saying that to do so would effectively endorse torture. “If the president vetoes intelligence authorization, he will be voting in favor of waterboarding,” Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York declared at a news conference.

If Bush vetoes this bill he will also be telling every country and every rag tag group of thugs that torture is OK if they believe they have something to benefit from it. McCain suffered government sanctioned torture so he is well aware of how these kinds of issues are fought in terms of propaganda and rationalization.

When We Torture 

The most famous journalist you may never have heard of is Sami al-Hajj, an Al Jazeera cameraman who is on a hunger strike to protest abuse during more than six years in a Kafkaesque prison system.

Mr. Hajj’s fortitude has turned him into a household name in the Arab world, and his story is sowing anger at the authorities holding him without trial.

That’s us. Mr. Hajj is one of our forgotten prisoners in Guantánamo Bay.

If the Bush administration appointed an Under Secretary of State for Antagonizing the Islamic World, with advice from a Blue Ribbon Commission for Sullying America’s Image, it couldn’t have done a more systematic job of discrediting our reputation around the globe. Instead of using American political capital to push for peace in the Middle East or Darfur, it is using it to force-feed Mr. Hajj.

A Republican blog called Stop the ACLU quotes in the most aduring terms to this quote from another Conservative blog, ACLU Condemns Senate FISA Vote, by Jay @ 7:39 pm on February 13, 2008. 

This upside down world, where terrorists who make it to our shores are then considered untouchable because of some bizarre fear of a new Nixon abuse of power, is what Obama voted FOR! Obama wants to give terrorists carte blanche freedom to communicate with their agents in the US once they get here. What is so wrong with the current system? Why do NSA leads have to be relegated back to some kind of impure status simply because the NSA detected them and not the FBI (who doesn’t listen in on our enemies overseas)? What is wrong with the leads being passed to the FBI to assess, which then takes those which show to be troubling to the FIS(A) Court for full surveillance?

Neither Stop or Strata seems to understand the issue, or they’re lying or maybe they’re just visiting this planet. Senator Obama has proposed no such thing and neither have Democrats. Under the Patriot Act the FBI can still spy first and get a warrant later, the revisions to PAA would have no effect on that ability at all. The NSA now and as far back as they’ve existed has the right to spy on foreign communications and pass on any leads that entail a domestic threat to the FBI. A good example of why the Right is incapable of honest debate, they’d have to start being honest first.

Ethics Panel Admonishes Craig for Conduct in Sex Sting 

The senators also cited Craig for using more than $213,000 from his campaign committee to pay legal expenses in the case without getting permission from the ethics committee.

Craig might be in denial about his sexual orientation, but he is Republican to the core using other people’s money to defend himself from charges he at first admitted to.

Things are still going semi-kinda-great in Iraq according to this Making (Some) Progress in Iraq. Now what to do about those 4.5 million Iraqi refugees. One would think that 4.5 million people would be crazy to leave the paradise that George and Dick built.

“It appears to me that almost any man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own airy citadel.” ~ John Keats

Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security

Must reads in case you missed them, Amnesty Day for Bush and lawbreaking telecoms and The WSJ editorial page lies about our surveillance laws.

From the first link,

What were the consequences for the President for having broken the law so deliberately and transparently? Absolutely nothing. To the contrary, the Senate is about to enact a bill which has two simple purposes: (1) to render retroactively legal the President’s illegal spying program by legalizing its crux: warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, and (2) to stifle forever the sole remaining avenue for finding out what the Government did and obtaining a judicial ruling as to its legality: namely, the lawsuits brought against the co-conspiring telecoms.

The self described Constitutional contexualists are thrilled by this outcome. The president’s behavior and those senators that sided with Bush has been anything but contextual. Like just about everything that the Right says they stand for they continue to fail the substance test. Asked to stand up for the Constitution and its most fundamental safeguards of individual liberty and the Right along with a few Democrats slunk down behind the boogie man and lobbyists for the telecoms. Mr. Small Government did have his defenders Like Senators Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd, ironically both liberal Democrats – of which the right-wing blogs cannot repeat the same tiresome and hypocritical ad hominem attacks quite enough. Justice William O. Douglas was said, “Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order, to efficiency of operation, to scientific advancement and the like.” Describing exactly what happed in regards to telecom immunity in the U.S. Senate. The executive branch of government with no oversight to speak of went to private corporations and formed a secret partnership to violate the law of the land and now the senate has said that’s all fine. Another irony in reading the right-wing blogs and the Wall Street Journal is how they think much like Osama Bin Laden, security first -even if a false sense of security and freedom last.

You, the American people, I talk to you today about the best way to avoid another catastrophe and about war, its reasons and its consequences.

And in that regard, I say to you that security is an important pillar of human life, and that free people do not compromise their security. – OBL October, 2004

In a recnet interview with the Boston Globe with Senator Obama,

Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?

The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes.

McCain doea know how to pander to the Right even if some of them continue to whine, McCain: ‘Anyone Who Worries About How Long We’re In Iraq Does Not Understand The Military’. I didn’t realize that John could do such a good imitation of Dick Cheney. McCain’s bizarre “maverick” status with the media might get whittled down to just another pay for play creature of the Conservative Culture of Corruption once the main contest starts and people start taking a closer look at his record, McCain Received $100,000 From Firm Of Abramoff Notoriety

The Right could care less about justice. We all know that because every time an issue arises that tests their ability to actually address the issue they’re no where to be found, Bush’s message to US women in the war zone: we won’t protect you from US men

Stone Wall Autumn Leaves wallpaper

The neocon’s “willfully self-deluding planning process”

Army Buried Study Faulting Iraq Planning

A review of the lengthy report — a draft of which was obtained by The New York Times — shows that it identified problems with nearly every organization that had a role in planning the war. That assessment parallels the verdicts of numerous former officials and independent analysts.

The study chided President Bush — and by implication Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who served as national security adviser when the war was planned — as having failed to resolve differences among rival agencies. “Throughout the planning process, tensions between the Defense Department and the State Department were never mediated by the president or his staff,” it said.

The Defense Department led by Donald H. Rumsfeld was given the lead in overseeing the postwar period in Iraq despite its “lack of capacity for civilian reconstruction planning and execution.”

The State Department led by Colin L. Powell produced a voluminous study on the future of Iraq that identified important issues but was of “uneven quality” and “did not constitute an actionable plan.”

Gen. Tommy R. Franks, whose Central Command oversaw the military operation in Iraq, had a “fundamental misunderstanding” of what the military needed to do to secure postwar Iraq, the study said.

Not an earth shattering revelation rather another confirmation of the administration’s determination to invade Iraq and sell a rosy scenario od events to Congress and the American people,  A Prewar Slide Show Cast Iraq in Rosy Hues

 When Gen. Tommy R. Franks and his top officers gathered in August 2002 to review an invasion plan for Iraq, it reflected a decidedly upbeat vision of what the country would look like four years after Saddam Hussein was ousted from power.

A broadly representative Iraqi government would be in place. The Iraqi Army would be working to keep the peace. And the United States would have as few as 5,000 troops in the country.

Military slides obtained by the National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act outline the command’s PowerPoint projection of the stable, pro-American and democratic Iraq that was to be.

More from Hullabaloo, This Just In: Bush Administration Screwed Up Iraq War Planning and The Reality Based Community, SNAFU 

I kinda wish that tristero had not used the term screwed up. Whether they meant to or not it implies that the administration had a good plan and things just went sour. That was not the case. This newest RAND report shows that the Bushies were determined to go ahead regardless of any caveats the intelligence community or the military had. We know from several retired generals that the administration operated in a bubble of yes men and yes women acting more like drunken cheer leaders on a mission then experts on a protracted Middle-East war and subsequent occupation. We’re talking about The Decider, the guy that takes action and doesn’t care too much about thinking things through. The last five disastrous years have been the result of planning that was so heavily laced with arrogance and belief in their misbegotten cause no plan that was in any way in opposition to those beliefs would have been followed; that is portion of incompetence inherent to neocon thinking combined with a large portion of the blindness of extremist ideology.

In a New York Times op-ed column, retired Major Gen. Paul Eaton, who helped revive the Iraqi army, described Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as “incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically” and called for his resignation. Retired Lt. Gen. William Odom, former director of the National Security Agency and now a Yale professor, said in a speech covered by the Providence Journal that America’s invasion of Iraq might be the worst strategic mistake in American history.

Publicizing his book, “The Battle for Peace,” in a recent “Meet the Press” appearance, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, a four-star former commander of the Central Command, describes administration behavior that ranged from “true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility” to “lying, incompetence and corruption.” Another Marine, retired Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, has written in Time magazine that the Iraq war was unnecessary. Finally, Lt. Gen. Bernard Trainor and Michael Gordon have written a history of the invasion of Iraq, Cobra II, which describes a willfully self-deluding planning process.

Chicago at Night, Atlanta at Night wallpaper

Chicago at Night wallpaper 

Atlanta at Night wallpaper 

Things are going great in Iraq: The food rationing program has been ended by the government without the permission of Iraq’s Parliament. As unemployment is still so high it is estimated the cut in food rationing will effect about 40% of Iraq’s population. Iraqi health officials are predicting another outbreak of cholera as the weather warms up do to poor sanitation. Only one of three sewerage plants is working five years after Bush ordered weapons inspectors out of Iraq, while one of the other sewerage plants is barely operational. Dozens of Iraqi legislators walked out of parliament over a deadlock in discussions concerning the distribution of political power. The number of orphans in Iraq is estimated to be between hundreds of thousands to a million or more. The country’s electrical grid supplies about two hours of electricity a day. While the U.S. continues to do its best to minimize casualties many innocent civilians continue to be killed  almost daily.

It didn’t start with George W. Bush, but rather Newt Gingrich and the bizarrely dubbed Contract on America ( it turned out to be what it sounded like a hit on America’s working class), but Dubya having fully embraced and exacerbated cronyism also loves using arcane autocratic maneuverers to get what he wants, Bush Does Earmarks Too

Conservatives will ultimately rally round their presidential candidate in the next election and when that happens it will be fun to read their rationalizations of McCain’s flip-flops, Wash. Post claimed McCain “diverged from conservatives” on immigration, taxes, without noting his flip-flops

 In an article on Sen. John McCain’s efforts “to rally conservatives to his candidacy,” The Washington Post asserted that McCain “has diverged from conservatives on several issues, including campaign finance legislation, immigration policy and President Bush’s tax cuts.” But, unlike a previous Post article that documented McCain’s “flip-flops” on taxes and immigration, this one did not mention that McCain has changed his positions on those two issues to more closely align himself with the base of the Republican Party.

Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow

Corporations Given ‘Human Rights,’ Humans Are Denied Them

While those judges were defying common sense and decency by denying legal personhood to living human beings, an appeals court in Boston has been reviewing an April 2007 decision by Federal Judge Paul Barbadoro that engaged in a different form of judicial activism — granting human rights to corporations.

Barbadoro struck down a New Hampshire law that prevented pharmaceutical corporations from learning exactly what drugs doctors prescribe and how much they prescribe. The law aims to protect doctors and, indirectly, their patients, from drug companies pressuring doctors to choose their products.

The judge’s grounds? He claims corporations, as legal persons, have “free speech rights” that would be infringed by such a measure.

Almost always when Conservatives complain about judicial activism it involves a case where the courts have stroke down a law that is unconstitutional and closely related to some wedge cultural issue. They rarely if ever complain about the judicial activism that creates a special status and rights for presidents ( when said president is a Republican) or for corporations. As Mr. Kaplan of ReclaimDemocracy.org states these judges, mostly Conservatives are creating Constitutional rights where there are none. It is one thing to decide that a corporation is a artificial person, a whole other proposition that that artificial person is deserving of the same legal rights as an actual human. Related is the case of Jamie Leigh Jones who was raped by her coworkers of government contractor KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton. The Bush administration has basically decided not to hold anyone responsible.

And we’re even outsourcing our torture, The True Faith is not what it used to be . . . 

AP Poll: to Fix Economy, Get Out of Iraq. Amazing that there has been so much bellyaching over the little stimulus package that was just passed as we spend around 8 billion a month in the hellhole of Iraq. Otherwise known as the Bush/Cheney legacy. Bush thinks that McCain is the best choice to continue his disastrous policies.

Cons at CPAC booed McCain despite instructions to behave themselves. Strange that with such a packed agenda they found the time, A Sneak Peak at the Real CPAC Agenda

9:00 AM – Kippers with the Gippers: Breakfast and Welcoming Remarks by Ronald Reagan Impersonators

10:00 AM – Workshop: How to Make a Citizen’s Arrest of the Undocumented Workers Who’ve Just Finished Serving You Breakfast

11:15 AM – Grover Norquist on the Future of the GOP: How to Sell ‘Trickle Down Economics’ to Voters Who Don’t Have a Pot to Piss In

12 Noon – Break for Lunch and Gun Show in the Charlton Heston Pry It From My Cold, Dead Fingers Ballroom

1:15 PM – Diebold Presents: Fun and Games With Electoral Machinery

2:00 PM – Evangelical Hour: Ann Coulter Explains How Her Adam’s Apple is Literally Adam’s Apple

3:00 PM – Reducing the Federal Deficit: Bill O’Reilly on Charging Tolls to Homeless Veterans Sleeping Under Bridges (more at link)

Remember Mark Foley the Republican Congressman from Florida that had a thing for teenage pages. Fox News identified him as a Democrat. McCain is getting the same treatment,  Fox News Identifies McCain As A Democrat. Not surprising from the Benito Giuliani Network. The idea that somehow the rabid nationalists on the Right will sit home on election day rather then vote for McCain is ludicrous. Bush’s U.N. hatchet man, who might actually be to the Right of Dick Cheney, John Bolton has endorsed McCain as has right-wing Grandpa Fred Thompson. The Carpetbagger writes about the sudden turn around of support that McCain didn’t have of his fellow senators just a few days ago. Give it a month and McCain be be the candidate that walks on water as far as the Right is concerned. It would be a mistake for Democrats to slack off thinking that Republicans will eat their own in a presidential election.

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong it’s reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

I can’t tell from the meter if the tank is half full or half empty

Republican discipline, When McCain speaks don’t boo. That admonition is not directed at Democrats, but at other Conservatives.

President Bunnypants got the cronies (Alberto Gonzales) he appointed to the Justice Department to say that torture was legal so the Justice Department cannot possibly turn around and investigate itself for wrong doing, Justice Dept. ‘Cannot’ Probe Waterboarding, Mukasey Says  

The attorney general yesterday rejected growing congressional calls for a criminal investigation of the CIA’s use of simulated drownings to extract information from its detainees, as Vice President Cheney called it a “good thing” that the CIA was able to learn what it did from those subjected to the practice.

Cheney thinks its such a good thing he’s going to make Fridays casual torture day so everyone can enjoy some torture while they work. More, Tyranny

Just keep saying over and over again that the media is liberal. Liberal as in open and fair minded – naw not a chance of that, MSNBC’s Brzezinski asked if McCain is “the perfect candidate” without disclosing that her brother advises him 

Mitt Romney like so many of his ilk was clean cut on the outside and flowing sewage on the inside, Romney: Staying In Race Would Have Abetted Hillary Or Obama Victory — And “Surrender To Terror”. I read one commenter say that Mitt left like the guy he was, a “class act”. Something else the Right can’t tell the difference between a class act and an assclown.

FBI Deputizes Private Contractors With Extraordinary Powers, Including ‘Shoot to Kill’ 

“There is evidence that InfraGard may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations — some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers — into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI,” the ACLU warned in its August 2004 report The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: How the American Government Is Conscripting Businesses and Individuals in the Construction of a Surveillance Society.

InfraGard is not readily accessible to the general public. Its communications with the FBI and Homeland Security are beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act under the “trade secrets” exemption, its website says. And any conversation with the public or the media is supposed to be carefully rehearsed.

This organization is another step toward citizens that get first notice/first class protection from law enforcement and the rest of us in second class who have to wait and see.

This is not satire. Though it might well be another hint at Bush’s deteriorating mental condition,  Bush: Obama, Clinton Threaten “Prosperity And Peace”

Moe: I can’t tell from the meter if the tank is half full or half empty.  – The Three Stooges in Orbit (1962)