Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth

In this long, but interesting article by Tom Engelhardt,12 Answers to Questions No One Is Bothering to Ask, He takes a look at what Iraq would look like if the U.S. made at least a tactical withdraw to the sidelines.

11. No, al-Qaeda will not control Iraq if we leave (and neither will Iran): The latest figures tell the story. Of 658 suicide bombings globally in 2007 (more than double those of any year in the last quarter century), 542, according to the Washington Post’s Robin Wright, took place in occupied Iraq or Afghanistan, mainly Iraq. In other words, the American occupation of that land has been a motor for acts of terrorism (as occupations will be). There was no al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia before the invasion and Iraq was no Afghanistan. The occupation under whatever name will continue to create “terrorists,” no matter how many times the administration claims that “al-Qaeda” is on the run. With the departure of U.S. troops, it’s clear that homegrown Sunni extremists (and the small number of foreign jihadis who work with them), already a minority of a minority, will more than meet their match in facing the Sunni mainstream. The Sunni Awakening Movement came into existence, in part, to deal with such self-destructive extremism (and its fantasies of a Taliban-style society) before the Americans even noticed that it was happening. When the Americans leave, “al-Qaeda” (and whatever other groups the Bush administration subsumes under that catch-all title) will undoubtedly lose much of their raison d’être or simply be crushed.

It is odd that the Right, traditionally ultra-nationalists, doesn’t understand the resentment Iraqis feel about the occupation of their country and its government being something of an arm of U.S, policy rather then genuine representatives of its own people. Either the Right doesn’t understand or understands and in typical hard headed fashion refuses to acknowledge this dynamic. Every Iraqi that dies directly or indirectly because of the occupation creates another friend or relative that is determined that we leave. The cycle of violence will never settle completely if we leave, but it certainly will not end if we stay. If AQ doesn’t take control when we leave the Iranians will. Not likely unless the Iranians want to take the place of Americans forces as occupiers,

Without the U.S. military in Iraq, there can be no question that the Iranians would have real influence over the Shiite (and probably Kurdish) parts of the country. But that influence would have its distinct limits. If Iran overplayed its hand even in a rump Shiite Iraq, it would soon enough find itself facing some version of the situation that now confronts the Americans. As Robert Dreyfuss wrote in the Nation recently, “[D]espite Iran’s enormous influence in Iraq, most Iraqis — even most Iraqi Shiites — are not pro-Iran. On the contrary, underneath the ruling alliance in Baghdad, there is a fierce undercurrent of Arab nationalism in Iraq that opposes both the U.S. occupation and Iran’s support for religious parties in Iraq.” The al-Qaedan and Iranian “threats” are, at one and the same time, bogeymen used by the Bush administration to scare Americans who might favor withdrawal and, paradoxically, realities that a continued military presence only encourages.

Iraq has presented other consequences. The opportunity for felons to get some military training, which might come in handy after their hitch’s are up, Military Waivers for Ex-Convicts Increase

The Army admitted about one-fourth more recruits last year with a record of legal problems ranging from felony convictions and serious misdemeanors to drug crimes and traffic offenses, as pressure to increase the size of U.S. ground forces led the military to grant more waivers for criminal conduct, according to new data released yesterday.

Such “conduct waivers” for Army recruits rose from 8,129 in fiscal 2006 to 10,258 in fiscal 2007. For Marine Corps recruits, they increased from 16,969 to 17,413

The expose in the NYT about the military sockpuppetry was oriented toward the Pentagon and the analysis, but neither group could have presented such one sided pictures of Iraq and Afghanistan without the help of the networks, Pentagon propaganda and The NYT Does Penance?

It is easy to pile on the NYT, as much as bloggers berate it we still most of us obviously read it everyday. Whether it deserves to be or not it is still the most important newspaper published in America. Still the NYTs influence is nothing in comparison to TV where most Americans get most of their news. These military analysts are the latest and most visible example of where TV journalism has failed as a reliable source of information for the majority of the public. The morning news shows are laughable when it comes to anything other then tabloid style news – celebrity misdeeds, sex scandals, new shoe styles,etc. Life is too serious to be two hours of hard hitting journalism every day, but how about doing the public a favor and force 30 minutes of actual news about their country into that two hours of chatty infotainment.

Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth. ~  Will Rogers

Cincinnati Skyline wallpaper

Cincinnati Skyline

McCain’s self narrative and one that many in the media have been too glad to echo is that McCain is maverick and new get back to basics reformer Republican. Like his maverick image that is all more show then go, List of McCain Fund-Raisers Includes Prominent Lobbyists

But the potential for conflicts of interest are obvious. Several of Mr. McCain’s top fund-raisers, for example, lobby for the telecommunications industry, which regularly does business before the Senate Commerce Committee, where Mr. McCain is a senior member and once served as chairman.

Kirk Blalock, of the lobbying firm Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, leads Mr. McCain’s young professional group and has raised over $250,000 for him; his clients include Sprint Nextel and Viacom.

Kyle McSlarrow, chief of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the lobbying arm for the cable industry, has raised over $100,000 for Mr. McCain. He and others in the cable industry recently butted heads with Mr. McCain over a proposal that would allow customers to pick and choose which channels they received.

McCain has no idea what its like NOT to have public healthcare, but he’s sure its a bad thing, John McCain feels your health care pain

STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s wrong with government — what’s wrong with government-run health care?

MCCAIN: And we continue to have these debates — what’s wrong with it? Go to Canada. Go to England and you can find out what’s wrong with it. Governments don’t make the right decisions. Families make the right decisions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the points Mrs. Edwards made in the Wall Street Journal, she said that your whole life, you had government health care. You were the son of a Naval officer, a Naval officer, now a member of Congress. And her point is, why shouldn’t every American be able to get the kind of health care that members of Congress get or members of the military get?

Go to Canada and ask someone? What does this guy have the mental age of an eight year old. If he isn’t capable of a cogent explanation what does that say about his ability to handle the complexities of being president in the 21st century.

We’re up to 12 billion dollars a month, going on year six and the Iraqis finally take Basra on their own – nope wait they had the American and British air support and artillery blow the area to hell and back then they secured the area. Then that pinnacle of personal bravery Condi Rice, pausing to adjust her gun belt and saber calls Sadr a coward. Republicans bloggers in their parent’s basements across America are yelling you tell’em Condi. A nice military show, but was that the kind of action the administration should be taking at this point if they really, well you know, have some idea of  what they’re doing and really want Iraq to come to together politically.

Can the grand old fart of Conservatism John Podhoretz and his sycophantic Max Boot read English. What The Times Was Up To, John Podhoretz – 04.20.2008 – 9:56 PM

Max Boot’s post earlier today about the preposterous New York Times story on the relationship between the Pentagon and former-military men-turned-war-pundits was spot on. I think, based on many years of experience working at various newspapers, that there is an explanation for the extreme length — 7800 words — of the story and the fact that it manages to find nothing more than an effort by the Pentagon to get good coverage. The Times thought it was on to something very big, ended up with something very small, and then took what little they had and tried to make a silk purse from the sow’s ear that was reporter David Barstow’s investigation.

Very predictable. When faced with overwhelming evidence of the Pentagon, the administration, and so-called media military analyst were joined at the hip in a misinformation campaign to mislead the American public the likes of which put Pravda to shame just pretend its much ado about nothing. Some of the key findings in the New York Times story

*”Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they were asked to assess on air.”

* “These business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves.”

*”Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military officials, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters.”

“They have been given access to classified intelligence.” (This revelation demands immediate hearings by relevant Congressional committtees.)

* Members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated…One trip participant, General Nash of ABC, said some briefings were so clearly ‘artificial’ that he joked to another group member that they were ‘on the George Romney memorial trip to Iraq,’ a reference to Mr. Romney’s infamous claim that American officials had ‘brainwashed’ him into supporting the Vietnam war during a tour there in 1965.”

*”Again and again, records show the administration enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents.”

General Nash, one of the Conservative movement purportedly greatest intellectuals just called you a liar. Expect a counter-top inspection from the wing-nuts any minute.

The struggle is always between the individual and his sacred right to express himself and the power structure that seeks conformity, suppression and obedience

The Dis-Info Squad

Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

[ ]…In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

[ ]…Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said.

[ ]…Five years into the Iraq war, most details of the architecture and execution of the Pentagon’s campaign have never been disclosed. But The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation.

These records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.

Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”

Part of a much longer expose at the NYT. In fairness there has been some criticism, if mild by a few of these same spokes persons. In a way that would make the majority of their opinions have a little more resonance. When Senator McCain criticized the Bush tactical management of the Iraq occupation that was a very safe criticism. Even most Republicans bought into McCain and other Conservatives consoling narrative that the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq wasn’t wrong, it was simply mismanaged. This story follows on the heels of much huffing and puffing by Conservative bloggers about this news report from McClatchy, Pentagon institute calls Iraq war ‘a major debacle’ with outcome ‘in doubt’

The war in Iraq has become “a major debacle” and the outcome “is in doubt” despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon’s premier military educational institute.

[ ]…At the time the report was written last fall, more than 4,000 U.S. and foreign troops, more than 7,500 Iraqi security forces and as many as 82,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed and tens of thousands of others wounded, while the cost of the war since March 2003 was estimated at $450 billion.

“No one as yet has calculated the costs of long-term veterans’ benefits or the total impact on service personnel and materiel,” wrote Collins, who was involved in planning post-invasion humanitarian operations.

How dare McClatchy publish excerpts from that report now and according to those right-wing bloggers distort its findings – that makes McC the usual pro-terrorist, appeasers, surrender monkeys…ad nauseum. One of the authors of the report Joseph Collins issued a statement on McClatchy’s report,

The central finding of this study is that U.S. efforts in Iraq were hobbled by a set of faulty assumptions, a flawed planning effort, and a continuing inability to create security conditions in Iraq that could have fostered meaningful advances in stabilization, reconstruction, and governance. With the best of intentions, the United States toppled a vile, dangerous regime but has been unable to replace it with a stable entity. Even allowing for progress under the Surge, the study insists that mistakes in the Iraq operation cry out in the mid- to long-term for improvements in the U.S. decision-making and policy execution systems.

The dead-enders have had their Iraq wet dreamed condemned. That there are half degrees of difference in condemnation will not penetrate the tin-foil of the remaining members of the Bush Cult that believe Iraq is the front in the war on terror. If Iraq was on track to be the front that ends all radical Islamic terrorism in our lifetimes then one shouldn’t need a cadre of mis-information specialists flooding the air waves spoon feeding the American public lies and distortions. Which brings us to our Shrill Wing-nut blog of the week. From A Newt One, War News: McClatchey News Anti-Americanists,

These poor excuses for journalistic integrity couldn’t get a story straight if their lives depended on it. And, by the way, it does. They just don’t or won’t see the threats from the enemy. They are very similar if not identical to the chronic malcontents at SmolderingMutantBlobs. Every time I read such disingenuous TP worthy trash written by members of the anti-Americanist class of fools, I always question their motives, their Patriotism and their social integrity. We all know their motives – lose the war at any cost in order to be able to say, “See? We told you so.” We all know to whom and to what they swear their allegiances to – anyone that hates the United States; anyone that will replace the United States Constitution with some morphed socio-commie tripe; anyone that will rid this land of Traditional Americana; anyone that will replace a thriving Capitalist Economy with a failed socialist “everyone is equally poor” economy; anyone that can defeat the United States.

Newt’s mind couldn’t wrap itself around the report itself, a product of the National Defense University (Lieutenant General Frances C. Wilson, USMC, President, National Defense University, Ambassador Richard A. Roth Senior Vice President, National Defense University, Colonel Michael R. Helms, United States Air Force Chief of Staff, National Defense University) or any of the facts contained in the report (pdf). Much easier to ramble on in a series of incoherent epitaphs at a news organization. If Newt could have presented a simple fact or two as is incumbent on someone that makes such outlandish statements maybe someone other then the other rabid right-wingers he linked to would take him seriously. I wonder about his definition of patriotism and American values. When did it become an American value to manipulate the United States into a costly and counter productive war. Mcclatchy has published a lot of news and while I haven’t read every story if they had written an article that was pro Islamic radicalism, or pro communism or that expressed hatred toward the U.S. I think I would have caught it myself or had it brought to my attention. The blogger seems concerned about freedom and the Constitution, but I couldn’t find a single post that was critical of Bush using the Department of Justice for partisan dirty tricks, or protesting the use of presidential signing statements for Bush to use as a way to side step legislation passed by Congress – a co-equal branch of government, or violating the Geneva Conventions.  The Newt One, and this is understatement, seems like most of his right-wing comrades grossly uneducated about anything that resembles the U.S. its laws, traditions and culture.

The struggle is always between the individual and his sacred right to express himself and…the power structure that seeks conformity, suppression and obedience. ~ Justice William O. Douglas

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.

Senator McCain wants to be the next Commander-in-Cheif, but doesn’t know the difference between the radicals that attacked America on 9-11 and Iran. An inexcusable if not egregious moral negligence at this point. A general low level awareness of national security that we’ve come to expect from the average Fox viewer. Apparently John’s knowledge of national security is also on par with his knowledge of economics, Obama Criticizes McCain on Economic Stance

Mr. Obama, speaking on the campus of Penn State Erie, was referring to remarks that Mr. McCain made Thursday to Bloomberg Television. When asked if he believed Americans were better off now than when President Bush took office, Mr. McCain conceded that people were facing “very challenging times.” But he went on to say, “You could make an argument that there’s been great progress economically over that period of time.”

To an audience of about 1,800 voters here, Mr. Obama telegraphed a general election message for Democrats. He seized upon Mr. McCain’s quotation to make a point that Americans have suffered under the administration’s stewardship of the economy.

“Here’s what happened since George Bush took office, here’s what John McCain calls great progress,” Mr. Obama said. “We went through the first period of sustained economic growth since World War II that saw incomes drop; 11 million more Americans don’t have health care; 2 million more Americans are out of work; millions of families are facing foreclosure. The poverty rate has gone up. You are working harder for less.”

“You’re paying more for tuition, you’re paying more for groceries, more at the pump. That’s what John McCain calls great progress,” Mr. Obama said. Later, he added: “Only somebody who spent two decades in Washington could make a statement as disconnected from the hard times that people are facing all across America.”

There’s nothing wrong with being a millionaire or marrying into millions as John has, but like so many of his Republican brethren he has let those millions give him the privilege of retreating into an ivory tower mentality.

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Republicans are experts at everything. They’re serious. If want a job done right call a Republican, or maybe not, U.S. Effort To Rebuild From War Criticized

The report cites PRT projects that overlap with those run by other U.S. entities and an indecipherable chain of command. It says the program lacks “strategic guidance and oversight” and “clearly defined PRT objectives and milestones for achieving larger operational and strategic goals.”

The majority of Americans, as has been the case for a couple of years think that staying in Iraq is not in our best interests and has little to do with stopping another 9-11 style attack. Well Republican elitest Bill Kristol thinks you’re all “feckless” and needs to get “serious”. Its has been a very important part of Republican rhetoric for the last forty years to portray themselves – millionaires like Kristol who went to America’s most elite schools – as the party of the people, but they just can’t help betraying themselves. Kristol’s deriding of Americans is just one of millions of arrogant digs at American workers and families. Whether its Kristol, O’Reilly or Limbaugh discourse is always more about litmus tests then American values. Don’t support the war that the neocons manipulated the country into – that your family and friends are paying for in lives and taxes? Then there’s something wrong with you. What does the press have to say the lack of straight talk and mountains of hypocrisy. Not much, they’re too busy spinning Hillary or Barack’s latest beverage preference or the tiny insignificant details of a story few people care about.

F6F-3 Hellcat. This is the first model I assembled as a kid.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” ~ J. C. Maxwell

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10 Debate Questions John McCain Will Never Be Asked

1.  Do you agree with Pastor John Hagee that war with Iran is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy?
In February, you shared a stage with Pastor John Hagee and said you were “very proud” to have his endorsement.  You also called the Reverend Rod Parsley, a man who said of Islam “America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed”, your “spiritual guide.”  Do you believe America’s mission is to destroy Islam?  Do you join Pastor Hagee in believing the United States must attack Iran to fulfill the biblical prophecy of Armageddon in Israel in which 144,000 Jews will be converted to Christianity and the rest killed?  Is that why you joked about “bomb bomb Iran?” If not, why will you not renounce the support of Hagee and Parsley?

9.  Why did you flip-flop on the Bush tax cuts you twice opposed? Why do you now support making them permanent for the wealthiest Americans who need them least?
You twice voted against the Bush tax cuts.  Now you support making them permanent.  In 2001, you said, “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief.”  Now, according to the Center for American Progress, your tax plan would cost more than $2 trillion over the next decade and “would predominantly benefit the most fortunate taxpayers, offering two new massive tax cuts for corporations and delivering 58 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of taxpayers.”  Isn’t it true that you flip-flopped on the Bush tax cuts?  Isn’t it fair to say that you now favor a massive expansion of the federal budget deficit in order to fund a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans who need it least?

It would be astonishing act of political courage if we could all get an honest answer to how McCain thinks he can get the deficit under control and still maintain those Bush tax cuts. If he has a plan to get America’s debt under control, what is that plan. Even the Concord Coalition, hardly a pro tax and spend organization thinks McCainanomics don’t add up, “is that the tax cuts are specific and large and the spending cuts are small and vague,”

It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare

The Official Village Voice Election-Season Guide to the Right-Wing Blogosphere

Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit gets a 95% evil, 5 % stupid, while Michelle Malkin get s a 97% stupid and 3% evil. Is there a Republican blogger more stupid then Michelle? Ace of Spades ( blog title a dead giveaway) scores a 99% stupid,

New blog quickly mutated into rowdy multi-author scrum specializing in schoolyard taunts, e.g.: “Yeah, Bryan Singer is gay, but that’s not really what I mean by ‘art-fag,’ ” “John F’n’ Kerry attempts to claim that only non-military pussyboys are attacking him,” etc. Nancy Pelosi became “Granny Rictus McBotoximplants.” Site contributors and readers became “morons,” but affectionately, e.g.: “There’s Hope For You Morons Yet: Woman Takes Out Ad To Lose Virginity Before 30th Birthday.” Throughout good times (2004: “I don’t plan on doing anything except gloat until Thanksgiving”) and bad (2006: “Islamist Enemies Take Great Relief in Democratic Win”), contributors keep their spirits high with “not safe for work” links..

Reynolds probably deserves the evil rating more then some more obvious picks (protein wisdom, mac’s mind, Powerline) because he constantly links to evil and when called on it claims that he wasn’t endorsing what the blogger wrote he just thought it was interesting. His perennial shirking of responsibility which he defends with the stereotypical  weasel lawyer-speak has a fifth column rat mentality at its core. Glenn is very civil in the sense that he let’s others write his shrill soft-fascism for him.  Ace on the other hand is the kind of blogger that gives stupid a bad name. The posts are multilayered mountains of nonsense written in the language of Wingnuttia which even other wing-nuts don’t understand and dare not say so for fear they be declared morons by the Ace blog Gestapo.  Leave it to the Right to bring ideological sadomasochism to the net.

There has been some defense of John Yoo. A lawyer that assisted at the Department of Justice with the Bush administration’s rationalization of using torture and that prisoner’s taken such as those at Guantanamo Bay are not covered by the Geneva Convention. I’m not a lawyer, but he was my impression that it was illegal for a lawyer to advise his clients to do something illegal. Even if as Mark Kleinman appears to claim, Yoo had a reasonable interpretation of the law. So Yoo thought up a legal argument consulted with a few like minded lawyers and they all nodded their little bobble heads in agreement so Yoo is off the hook at least as regards his tenured position at the Boalt School of Law ( I thought Cons didn’t believe in tenure). Some other lawyers, less sleazy and intellectually lazy then Yoo, David Addington and others don’t let Yoo off quite that easily, Center for Constitutional Rights Supports National Lawyers Guild Call for Dismissal and Prosecution of John Yoo

“The ‘Torture Memo’ was not an abstract, academic foray. Rather, it was crafted to sidestep U.S. and international laws that make coercive interrogation and torture a crime. It was written with the knowledge that its legal conclusions were to be applied to the interrogations of hundreds of individual detainees… And it worked. It became the basis for the CIA’s use of extreme interrogation methods as well the basis for DOD interrogation policy… Yoo’s legal opinions as well as the others issued by the Office of Legal Counsel were the keystone of the torture program, and were the necessary precondition for the torture program’s creation and implementation.” (emphasis mine)

The Center for Constitutional Rights Supports National Lawyers Guild notes the defense of Yoo by Boalt Hall Dean Christopher Edley, Jr. which to some degree makes Mark’s same defense and replied,

But John Yoo and the other Justice Department lawyers, including David Addington, Jay Bybee, William Haynes and Alberto Gonzales, are also liable for the same offenses. They were an integral part of a criminal conspiracy to violate U.S. laws. In U.S. v. Altstoetter, Nazi lawyers were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity for advising Hitler on how to “legally” disappear political suspects to special detention camps. The United States charged that since they were lawyers, “not farmers or factory workers,” they should have known their technical justifications for circumventing the Hague and Geneva Conventions were illegal.

The cases of Altstoetter and those of the Bush lawyers share common aspects. Both dealt with people detained during wartime who were not POWs; in both, it was reasonably foreseeable that the advice they gave would result in great physical or mental harm or death to many detainees; and in both, the advice was legally erroneous. More than 108 people have died in U.S. detention since 9/11, many from torture. And the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel later withdrew the memoranda, an admission that the advice in them was defective.

Yoo has apparently defied federal law giving his clients, the Bush administration, advice about how to commit illegal acts. It also means that under the rules set out in the University of California’s Academic Personnel Manual, Yoo has committed acts that are grounds for termination of tenure and dismissal. It is not a matter of academic freedom, Yoo’s arguments were not a class exercise. Yoo and his co-conspirators used legalistic mambo jumbo as a way to “rubber stamp” the illegal acts of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice.

“It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare” ~ Mark Twain

Nearly 1 in 5 US troops reports mental problems, possible brain injury from Iraq, Afghanistan

Roughly one in every five U.S. troops who have survived the bombs and other dangers of Iraq and Afghanistan now suffers from major depression or post-traumatic stress, an independent study said Thursday. It estimated the toll at 300,000 or more.

Integrity is the essence of everything successful

The Pentagon’s $1 Trillion Problem

For the first three quarters of 2007, $1.1 trillion in Army accounting entries hadn’t been properly reviewed and substantiated, according to the Department of Defense’s inspector general. In 2006, $258.2 billion of recorded withdrawals and payments from the Army’s main account were unsupported. It’s as if the Army had submitted multibillion-dollar expense reports without any receipts.

The myths as we know them: Republicans are fiscally responsible, Republicans are for small government, Republicans are ethical and Republicans are competent. The government of King George, the president that the New York Times columnists Bill Kristol swears will be vindicated and hailed as a courageous visionary, couldn’t possibility loose a trillion dollars could he. Main and Central has some ideas about what America could have spent a trillion dollars on, Brother, can you spare a Trillion bucks?

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Right-wing blogger The Strata-Sphere about two and a half weeks ago, Posted by AJStrata on Sunday, March 30th, 2008 at 9:10 am,

Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called off his militia in southern Iraq and submitted his terms for his forces to stop fighting (terms for their surrender):

[ ]…Sadr must be a democrat at heart for the way he tries to spin a loss into a position from which he can dictate any terms. The fact is his forces were taken a beating and he had no broad support, so he capitulated and all we are discussing how to give him some face saving for the surrender. This is a huge success for Iraq, who has now defeated both al-Qaeda and al-Sadr, the two largest threats to their nation. Now onto the October elections. (emphasis mine)

A Republican blogger wouldn’t be blowing smoke up his reader’s backside now would he. Sadr is hard headed, lives in an ideological bubble and doesn’t care to be too bothered with facts; Sadr sounds more like Strata and George Bush then the average Democrat. Al-Sadr Tightens the Screws – Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2008

Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr threw down yet another challenge to the Iraqi government, demanding that policemen and soldiers Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fired for refusing to fight al-Sadr’s militia be reinstated “after honoring them.” On Sunday, Maliki’s government announced the dismissal of more than 1,300 security personnel who deserted last month when fighting broke out between Iraqi government forces and the Mahdi Army in Basra. Sadr reacted swiftly to the news by issuing a statement from the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf Monday that said those who refused to take up arms against his militia were only doing their religious duty.

“Our brothers in the army or police who gave up their weapons to their brothers were only obeying their grand religious leaders,” declared Sadr’s statement. “So I call on the official authorities to reconsider their termination order.” Sadr’s exact whereabouts remain unclear, though he is rumored to have recently returned to Najaf after spending the past several months undertaking intensive religious studies in Iran.

The demand, which came before another burst of Sunni insurgent violence north and west of Baghdad, is unlikely to be heeded by Maliki. Still, it underscored the political weight of Sadr’s voice. Sadr’s Mahdi Army has effectively stopped an advance by U.S. and Iraqi forces into its strongholds in Baghdad and Basra after weeks of fighting. On Monday Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, said American troops operating at the edge of Sadr City in support of Iraqi troops would not press deeper into the area. That means any decisive push into the heart of the Mahdi Army stronghold in east Baghdad would be left to Iraqi security forces, which so far have been unable to deal any meaningful blows against the militia.

Like most Republican dead-enders Strata doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in Iraq, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t stop to throw up some meaningless crap on the “internets”. We’re up to about 12 billion dollars a month on Iraq and the Bushies can’t get the Iraqi army trained and willing to fight. We could well stay in Iraq for a hundred years and the fundamentals won’t change. That we cannot win by military force alone. Meanwhile, remember 9-11 and the master mind behind that attack that is still running around the hills of northern Pakistan. AS badly as Bush has done by creating a failed state of perpetual chaos in Iraq, he has also left Afghanistan to a resurgent Taliban and AQ, Rising Afghan violence leaves U.S. scrambling for troops

WASHINGTON – While America’s attention remains focused on Iraq, violence is escalating in Afghanistan, worrying senior U.S. defense officials and commanders who are struggling to find some 7,000 more American and European troops to combat resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida forces.

There are indications that Islamic militants may have adopted a new strategy of avoiding U.S and NATO forces and staging attacks in provinces that haven’t seen major unrest and on easy targets such as aid organizations and poorly trained Afghan police.

The daily reminder that if Bush and Conservatives had been in charge of WW II we’d all have funny mustaches by now. For people that pretend to be the know-it-alls of winning its tragically ironic that they can’t even manage a status quo.

Lieberman willing to star at Republican convention

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the Democratic Party’s 2000 vice presidential nominee, is leaving open the possibility of giving a keynote address on behalf of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) at the Republican National Convention in September.

Republicans close to the McCain campaign say Lieberman’s appearance at the convention, possibly before a national primetime audience, could help make the case that the presumptive GOP nominee has a record of crossing the aisle. That could appeal to much-needed independent voters.

If Lieberman is willing to let it be publicly known that he would go so far as to join with Republicans at their convention then he should be honorable enough now to show his true colors and stop caucusing with Democrats in the Senate. One assumes that he will not do so because integrity has become excess baggage for Joe.

“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” ~ Richard Buckminster Fuller

Recipegate and orange juice watch

McCain “Family Recipes” Lifted from the Food Network

On a section of McCain’s site called “Cindy’s Recipes,” you can find seven recipes attributed to Cindy McCain, each with the heading “McCain Family Recipe.” Ms. Handel quickly realized that some of the “McCain Family Recipes,” were in fact, word-for-word copies of recipes on the Food Network site.

To most people this is just another entry in the cataloge of daily gaffes. On the other hand it is also another example of Republican hypocrisy and desperation. The recipes are a McCain campaign statement that announces to the world that they’re not incredibly wealthy people that own eight homes, but salt of the earth folks just like you and me. Even that presence to being one of the common folk was based on cheating and lying. Will the Beltway king makers that spew their daily insights into bowling and orange juice tell America how Recipegate reflects on McCain’s character. Hunter has a must read rant about the same thing, Obama Orange Juice Watch… Day Whatever

There is a profound lesson to be taken from Orangejuicegate, or Bowlinggate, or Bittergate, and that lesson is that the guardians of our discourse are, at heart, idiots. There is no other explanation or redemption. Anyone attempting to draw out character definition from a glass of orange juice is, at heart, someone who has entirely run out of insightful things to say. Anyone attempting to make the case that a bowling score represents the measure of a man deserves to be basted, roasted, and served to whatever imbecile of a president does manage to rise to the top of their addled internal scoresheet.

Obama already has a target on his back. This probably isn’t going to help in that regard. Doesn’t he realize that Republicans are the embodiment of elitism, they are not to be questioned, they are answerable to no one, Obama would ask his AG to “immediately review” potential of crimes in Bush White House

Obama said that as president he would indeed ask his new Attorney General and his deputies to “immediately review the information that’s already there” and determine if an inquiry is warranted — but he also tread carefully on the issue, in line with his reputation for seeking to bridge the partisan divide. He worried that such a probe could be spun as “a partisan witch hunt.” However, he said that equation changes if there was willful criminality, because “nobody is above the law.”

The question was inspired by a recent report by ABC News, confirmed by the Associated Press, that high-level officials including Vice President Dick Cheney and former Cabinet secretaries Colin Powell, John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, met in the White House and discussed the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques on terrorism suspects.

People are not bitter. People are not bitter, Obama is wrong. They have nothing to be bitter about, right? Retailing Chains Caught in a Wave of Bankruptcies

The consumer spending slump and tightening credit markets are unleashing a widening wave of bankruptcies in American retailing, prompting thousands of store closings that are expected to remake suburban malls and downtown shopping districts across the country.

Live in a bubble, ignore reality,be happy.

Long-lost article by Obama’s dad surfaces

Parts of the article, titled “Problems Facing Our Socialism,” have been making the rounds on several small blogs over the past week, but Politico is now reproducing the entire piece in its original form online for the first time.

In other words, Obama Sr.’s paper was not a cry for acceptance of radical politics, but was instead a critique of a government policy by Kenya’s Ministry of Economic Planning & Development, which applied African socialism principles to the country’s ongoing political upheaval.

The critics of this article are making a big mistake,” says Omwami, who read the document and the associated internet debate at the request of Politico over the weekend. “They are assuming Obama Sr. is the one who came up with this concept of African socialism, but that’s totally wrong. Based on that, they’re imbuing in him the idea that he himself is a socialist, but he is not.”

Obama’s father was actually channeling American presidents from Jefferson to Kennedy that knew unregulated capitalism only works well for the elite dogs at the top of the food chain. This has got to be a disappointment to the cult of wingnuttiness that they can’t find any proof of guilt by association.

New World map wallpaper circa 1786

Western Hemisphere or  New World wallpaper circa 1786 by William Faden (1750-1836). Faden is renowned for the remarkable attention to the graphic detail of his maps. Only fitting since he was a cartographer to the King of England.

New World map 1786 full view. I had to cut off part of the original for the wallpaper in order to get the proportional dimensions so I thought I’d put up the full view too. This is one of my favorite maps, its so beautiful it is as much art as cartography.

Alternet has a large excerpt from Steve Rosenfeld’s new book “Loser Take All”, How Republicans Quietly Hijacked the Justice Department to Swing Elections

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School has found that 25% of adult African-Americans, 15% of adults earning below $35,000 annually, and 18% of seniors over sixty-five do not possess government-issued photo ID. While various studies — such as a 2006 Election Assistance Commission report by Tova Andrea Wang and Job Serebrov, and a 2007 study by Lorraine Minnite of Barnard College — have found modern claims of a voter fraud “crisis” to be unfounded, that has not stopped states from adopting remedies that impose burdens across their electorate and on voter registration organizations. “Across the country, voter identification laws have become a partisan mess,” Loyola University Law Professor Richard Hasen said in an Oct. 24, 2006 column, speaking of one such remedy. “Republican-dominated legislatures have been enacting voter identification laws in the name of preventing fraud, and Democrats have opposed such laws in the name of protecting potentially disenfranchised voters.” Hasen was commenting on a little-noticed 2006 Supreme Court ruling, Purcell v. Gonzales, which upheld Arizona’s new voter ID law. The court unanimously affirmed the state’s 2004 law, writing that, “Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised.”

Hasen said that while the ruling “seem[ed] reasonable enough” at first glance, it actually was deeply troubling, as the Court never investigated if there was evidence of widespread voter fraud, and never examined “how onerous are such [voter ID] laws.” Instead, it adopted the Republican rhetoric on the issue “without any proof whatsoever.”

And related, Dick Cheney Was Never a “Grown Up”

The congressional investigation into the political purge of U.S. Attorneys uncovered evaluation forms with a column to be checked about whether or not the applicant was a Federalist Society member. On every issue, from the gutting of the civil rights division of the Justice Department, where 60 percent of the professional staff was driven out and not a single discrimination case was filed, to the implementation of the so-called “war paradigm,” including abrogation of Article Three of the Geneva Convention against torture, (which then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales termed “quaint” in a memo to the president), Federalist Society cadres were at the center. David Addington, Cheney’s counsel and later chief of staff, directed the tight-knit group of “torture lawyers” within the administration.

There has been some lawlessness here, but the subtler issues of extremists ideological purity is precedent in modern American history. We all expect presidents to pick partisans, but not so partisan that they’re all too willing to jettison the rule of law to advance their agenda, disenfranchise voters and win elections at any cost.