Saturday, December 9, 2006

How George W. Bush has ruined the family franchise

Our resident Angry Old Broad went off the other day, and rightly so, on 41 boohooin' it up over No. 2 son's loss of the Florida governor's race a number of years back. I touched on this in 'comments' as being in response to No. Wrong son backing into the presidency instead of Jeb. Well, Elinor Clift, obviously a regular reader of the Brain, expanded on my riff:

On the eve of a report that repudiates his son's leadership, former president George H.W. Bush broke down crying when he recalled how his other son, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, lost an election a dozen years ago and then came back to serve two successful terms. The elder Bush has always been a softie, but this display of emotion was so over the top that it had to be about something other than Jeb's long-ago loss.

That election turned out to be pivotal because it disrupted the plan Papa Bush had for his sons, which may be why he was crying, and why the country cries with him. The family's grand design had the No. 2 son, Jeb, by far the brighter and more responsible, ascend to the presidency while George, the partying frat-boy type, settled for second best in Texas. The plan went awry when Jeb, contrary to conventional wisdom, lost in Florida, and George unexpectedly defeated Ann Richards in Texas. With the favored heir on the sidelines, the family calculus shifted. They'd go for the presidency with the son that won and not the one they wished had won.

The son who was wrongly launched has made such a mess of things that he has ruined the family franchise. Without getting too Oedipal, it's fair to say that so many mistakes George W. Bush made are the result of his need to distinguish himself from his father and show that he's smarter and tougher. His need to outdo his father and at the same time vindicate his father's failure to get re-elected makes for a complicated stew of emotions. The irony is that the senior Bush, dismissed by Junior's crowd as a country-club patrician, looks like a giant among presidents compared to his son. Junior told author Bob Woodward, for his book "Plan of Attack," that he didn't consult his father in planning the invasion of Iraq but consulted a higher authority, pointing, presumably, to the heavens.

Bush was asked during the campaign in 2000 what would happen if he lost. He said he'd go back to Texas, watch a lot of baseball and have a great life with Laura and the girls. He's an accidental president, a man who was vaulted into a job he wasn't prepared for, and who treated war like a lark. Bush's father observed between sobs in his Florida speech, "A true measure of a man is how you handle victory and how you handle defeat." He was talking about Jeb, but surely it's his first-born who triggers the tears.

No shit.

Besides spawning an accidental president, I wonder if 41 has ever mentally chastised himself for not making that trip to the drug store back in '46 that could have prevented the worst accident of all.

Readiness ...

Huh ... what?

Dec. 8, 2006 | WASHINGTON -- Whatever its ultimate fate, the Iraq Study Group report released Wednesday should have destroyed the spurious notion that flooding Iraq with more U.S. troops might win the war. As the report makes clear, a major influx of U.S. combat brigades into Iraq is somewhere between totally unrealistic and completely impossible.

In interviews with Salon, experts who served on the study group's "working groups" explained why: The military is running out of troops and equipment. The cold, hard facts about military readiness and a 1.4 million-strong active-duty force rule out a big increase in the size of the U.S. footprint in Iraq. "We don't have enough is the short answer," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University who served on the military and security working group of the bipartisan commission headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton. Advocating a big increase in troop levels now is just political theater, Hoffman argued. "This is the beginning of the who-lost-Iraq debate," he explained. "No one wants to be a charter member of the club." [my em]


Didja hear that, Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman you bleedin' fools?

I joined the military just after the Vietnam era and it was in sad shape. Looks like we're heading for that honor again, sooner rather than later.

Hat tip to Nicole at C & L.

What I'm trying to do ...

I started this a few months ago and haven't really done anything with it because ... well ... I been crazy. But I've had this idea to get a buncha bloggers together, not just the crew here, and have them post original content, or cross-posts from their own blogs, and tie the blogs together in a loose ring identified by this button:

Details here. I really don't care the direction it takes and I'd like it if it moves away from political or veterans' issues.

If you and your blog would like to become part of AltBrainNet, just email me and I'll send you an invite and the AltBrainNet blogroll code for your blog.

As always, no rules, no censorship.

Shorter ISG

From Empire Burlesque:


The Iraq Study Group's report simply confirms, yet again, the bedrock truth of the war: the American Establishment has no intention of leaving Iraq, ever, and no intention of having anything but a pliant, cowed, bullied puppet government in Baghdad to carry out whatever the Establishment decides is in its best interests on any given day. Iraq was invaded because large swathes of the American elite thought they could make hay of it one way or another (financially, politically, ideologically or even psychologically, for those pathetic souls who get their sense of manhood or personal validation from their identification with a big, swaggering, domineering empire). And U.S. troops will remain in Iraq, indefinitely, at some level, because the American elite think they can make hay of the situation one way or another. The war is all about -- is only about -- what the American elite feel is in their own best interest, how it aggrandizes their fortunes, flatters their prejudices, serves their needs. That's it. The rest is just bullshit and murder.


There should be no 'American elite'.

Tip o' the Brain to Hugo Zoom.

So ...

Whaddaya think about Congressional term limits; 3 terms for senators, 5 for representatives or something of that sort. Froggy suggested it in comments on AOB's post and I think it's a pretty good idea.

Originally, elected officials were only supposed to serve a couple of terms and then get back to running their estates. The Founding Fathers never intended for someone to sit in the Senate for 36 or more years and in the House for twenty or thirty years...

Maritime art

Since Gord brought up the subject of crusing, it reminded me of a book I bought while aboard MS Noordam a couple months back. It is a compendium of the works, and the stories behind them in the words of the artist, of maritime artist Stephen Card, commissioned by Holland America Line. You can only buy it through Holland America but I figured I'd introduce you to his stuff. If you're into maritime art, you know Mr. Card already. If you're not, go visit his gallery.

MS Rijndam entering the Upper New York Bay in 1953.

No more Bush

My good friend Indian sent me this via email. Heh ... (yes, ladies, I know it's sophomoric male bullshit.) NOT work or child safe.

If it's Saturday ...

I must be whoring another chapter of my novel The Captains at The Practical Press.

On the homefront ...

Seems the extended deployment of Guard and Reserve troops is having an effect* on more people than just their immediate families:

WASHINGTON - The deployment of thousands of police officers to Iraq, Afghanistan and other military reserve posts is costing local law enforcement agencies up to $1.2 billion per year, according to a new analysis of Justice Department data.

The review, prepared for a law enforcement trade journal by Justice Department statistician Matthew Hickman, found that the number of military call-ups is outstripping the pace of new hires at a time when agencies are struggling to find new recruits, and as crime is ticking upward after several years of historically low crime rates.


I did 2 years Active Reserve duty once my active-duty hitch was over and I know the part the Guard and Reserves play in their local communities. As you see with the cops, this hurts people who have no direct connection to the military and the war.


The problem is particularly acute in small police agencies, which often have struggled to fill gaps in patrol coverage left by cops who have been called to military duty, according to Hickman's analysis, just published in Police Chief magazine.


It's also tough on employers* who are obligated to keep a Reservist's job for them while on active duty. While I support the law, it does cause hardship when the Guard and Reserve are used interchangably with active duty troops.

WASHINGTON - The number of reservists and National Guard members who say they have been reassigned, lost benefits or been fired from civilian jobs after returning from duty has increased by more than 70% over the past six years.


Retired Marine lieutenant general Dennis McCarthy, executive director of the Reserve Officers Association, a private advocacy group, acknowledged the deployments can be difficult for employers, particularly small companies. "That burden is an acceptable cost when it's compared to the value of reserve service to our country," he said.

What will happen, is Guardsmen and Reservists will be denied employment in the future because of their military commitment and obligation. I can't run a business if I know one or more of my people will be gone for up to 18 months, come home for 6, and then leave for another year and a half.

This is what you get when you put incompetents, amateurs, and morons in charge of the world's strongest military. I dare anyone to tell me our military isn't broken. Like the underreporting of the violence in Iraq, I'll bet you anything they're hiding the fact our Army and Marine Corps are worse off than any of us expect.

*Great thanks to the lovely Pam Spaulding for the links.


I was up this morning, hoping to do the switch to the new Blogger software. Then I find we'll have to wait a little longer because they're not ready for the bigger blogs yet. By bigger, I mean the amount of content on a particular blog.

Blew my mind when I realized, over the past 2 1/2 years, we've put close to 7000 posts up. This is #6649. Seems my cohorts and I have a lot* to say. Good ... heh.

*(It may not all be intelligent, thought-out punditry but you're getting the unvarnished truth as it affects real people who have to deal with the consequences of decisions made by the folks living in the fantasyland inside the Beltway. I hope our readers will appreciate what the people assembled here have been trying to do with the little bit of power this blog offers; the opportunity to add their voices to the din of those who want to help this nation reach its potential. To be the nation we all know it can be. ~ Fixer)

Friday, December 8, 2006


Watch your asses, comrades:

NEW YORK A new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists has found that the rise in Internet journalism has fueled an increase in the number of journalists imprisoned around the world. According to the group's new census, 134 journalists are now in prison worldwide, and one in three jailed journalists is now a blogger, online editor or Web-based reporter. [my em]


Great thanks to Lindsay Beyerstein for the link.

GOP senator criticizes Iraq war


In an emotional speech on the Senate floor Thursday night, Sen Gordon Smith, a moderate Republican from Oregon who has been a supporter of the war in Iraq, said the U.S. military's "tactics have failed" and he "cannot support that anymore."

Smith said he is at, "the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up the same bombs, day after day.

"That is absurd," he said. "It may even be criminal."

Smith said he has tried to quietly support President Bush during the course of the war -- and doesn't believe the president intentionally lied to get the U.S. into the war -- but now recognizes, "we have paid a price in blood and treasure that is beyond calculation" for a war waged due to bad intelligence.

Moved this week by the findings of the Iraq Study Group, Smith said he needed to "speak from my heart.

"I, for one, am tired of paying the price of 10 or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run or cut and walk, but let us fight the way on terror more intelligently that we have because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way," he said.

One more R sees the light.

Buh bye

Today is the LAST DAY of the 109th Congress. We're doing the Dance of Joy here in the Fixer household!

As we say at the shop: Take your shit and get out!

SS Gypsy Queen

After reading all about the Fixers' recent cruise, I kinda got the bug. I surfed the shit outta the internets and finally found one I can afford:

Now I gotta save up for some mosquito repellent and a snake-bite kit and I'll be all set...

The neocons have finished what the Vietcong started

The Guardian

Vietnam traumatised the US but left its power intact; Iraq, however, will be far more serious for the superpower

What is true regionally is also the case globally. We are reminded of how even the most powerful and, indeed, the most knowledgeable can get things profoundly wrong. It is worthwhile recalling the longer-term global context of the American defeat in Vietnam. It did not signal any serious upturn in the fortunes of the Soviet Union; this was already in a state of economic stagnation and growing political paralysis that was to become terminal in the 80s, leaving the US as the sole superpower. It was this that encouraged the neoconservatives to utterly misread the historical runes at the end of the 90s. They believed that the world was ripe for a huge expansion of American power and influence.

A few years later we can see the full absurdity of this position. Far from the US being in the ascendant, deeper trends have moved in the opposite direction. The US might enjoy overwhelming military advantage, but its relative economic power, which in the long run is almost invariably decisive, is in decline. The interregnum after the cold war, far from being the prelude to a new American age, was bearing the signs of what is now very visible: the emergence of a multipolar world. By misreading global trends, the Bush administration's embrace of unilateralism not only provoked the Iraq disaster but also hastened American decline.

Them Limeys have a way with words. Please read this one.

How can we miss you if you don't go away?

Raw Story

Concern that soldiers and Pentagon civilians might appear to be celebrating outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's last day has caused the date of a Pentagon Christmas party to be changed, according to an item in today's Washington Post.

A segment of Al Kamen's "Inside the Loop" column reports that the offices supporting the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon planned to celebrate the holiday season next Friday, December 15th. But an order came down from the office of General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to change the date of the party.

According to Kamen, someone in Pace's office "had fretted that it might look as if all the hootin' and hollerin' that would be spilling out into the hallways was in celebration of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's departure that same day."

I think Rumsfeld deserves a nation-wide 'going away' party. The day after he leaves.

GOP Hypocrite of the Year

Guess who. From BuzzFlash:

Look, when your daddy engineers a perennial milquetoast D.C. commission to haul your butt out of the frying pan, you should already feel like you're back in nursery school.

But when the group of status quo insiders, including your father's consigliere, concludes that you've crapped in your pants, killed all the livestock and burnt the house down -- and you sit there and basically say "thanks, but I've got more important things to do," then you are beyond being a hypocrite; you're a dangerous moron.

Bush is no longer content with achieving the oil grab, he wants U.S. GIs to continue to die so that he isn't "embarrassed' by withdrawing them from the most dangerous areas and appearing to "lose" the war.

That's criminal behavior and misconduct in office to sacrifice lives for a man's ego.

But BuzzFlash can't indict or impeach Bush, we can just declare him the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of 2006.

They're too kind. He may very well be the biggest hypocrite - and many other negatives as well - in the GOP since its inception. In a party full of 'em, that's quite a distinction.

Explains a lot ...

I got about 8 sets of Man Magic in my toolbox ... tha's right ... heh ...

Ladies and Gentlemen ...

The President of the United States:


I thought we would succeed quicker than we did.

God, it's so embarrassing to travel out of the country.

They were warned ...

Brother Lurch has a piece up showing that the Chimp was briefed on the deteriorating situation in Iraq over two years ago. The briefers described the current scenario accurately and warned of the consequences if the flawed policy in Iraq was pursued.


And so now we are come upon the dark days of 2006, (and 2007, and 2008) when the world sits on the sidelines watching, waiting for the Quarterback of the Free World to be blitzed and dumped 75 yards behind the scrimmage line as he desperately flounders back and forth trying to find someone anyone that he can lateral off to in order to make the lost ball someone else's fault. His line still struggles to hold off the opposing players, some of whom have gotten into the backfield and are pursuing him. Some of his own running backs, far downfield are waving their arms trying to signal their open position as Mr Bu$h scrambles, but h[e] doesn't see them because the game has always been about him, rather than moving the ball and scoring a touchdown.


Unless the Chimp and Cheney are impeached or arrested, or Congress pulls the purse strings shut, our brothers and sisters will continue to die in Iraq until 2009.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The World Has Had Enough!

Heh ... deuddersun. And yes, we could do a better job.

Come on and Cry Me a River,Cry Me a River....

I cried a river over you.....

Poor Pathetic Poppy.

When I first saw this I almost felt bad for Poppy. He sounds old,tired and frail. And I do have respect for my Elders. But this man isn't sorry for the hell his oldest son has unleashed on this planet. Nope. He's sorry because the "Bush Family Legacy" is forever tied to W and his demented,delusional and delirious douchebaggery. GOOD.

America,this crime family is precisely WHY political dynasties of any stripe are a very.BAD.IDEA. I don't give a damn what party they're from. I hope there are investigations of the Bush family all the way back to Nazi Germany. I want their ugly,nasty,filthy laundry aired on the public square. They're criminals,thieves and liars. Now they can add murderer and genocidal maniac to their "legacy".

And this guy can kiss my ass.

Tell you what buddy,tell that shit to our troops in that big fucking clusterfuck of a sandbox. I'd bet most of those folks would love to work 3 fucking days a week and then get to spend 4 days with their families you useless piece of crap. Not to mention that your "job" Representative Kingston,doesn't involve getting shot at or RPG'd. You prick,you make 165K a year,paid by the American Taxpayer(not counting your perks and"other income"). And you worked what? 100 days and some change this year? Fuck You. If We the People need you to work 24/7/365 then by god you should do it,with a smile. If that's too much for you,FIND ANOTHER JOB. Quit you little weasel. Read my lips,you are a Public Servant. So serve or get the fuck out of the way. And you had the BALLS to vote against raising the minimum wage how many times?

Or whine to my husband who already this week has clocked about 60 hours of work. And he will be going in to work to put in a 15 hour day tommorrow. You Sir are not fit to shine my husband's shoes. Tell ya what you whiner,trade jobs with my husband for a year. You'll get a taste of what it means to work,and the people of Georgia would have a man in office who gave a damn about working families and poor people. It's a win/win. But,you wouldn't last a week in my hubby's job because a)you'd have to have some actual skills and b)you'd have to get dirty and be outside in the cold.

I'm so sick of grown people who think they are entitled to everything just because they've decided they're better than everyone else. Suck it up and do what everyone else has to. Work and stop your whining.

Bring back lead poisoning

Think Progress

"The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation's biggest clean-air accomplishments," the AP reports. "Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits."

Lead is dirt cheap, and from an engine's standpoint is actually better than reformulated cleaner-emissions gasoline in terms of lubrication and anti-knock qualities.

When I worked in the Standard Oil refinery in El Segundo "Where The Sewer Meets The Sea" CA many years ago, we had tetraethyl lead gas additive by the tank-car load. It was one of the most dangerous substances in a dangerous environment. One drop could kill you.

Engines don't have that problem. Neither do batteries and paint, just people, but people's health isn't seen as contributing to the lead-using industries' bottom line, only as unwanted, unnecessary overhead, possibly capable of being overcome by greasing Repuglican palms.

We got the lead out of gasoline and paint, most fishing sinkers and shotgun shells, and nearly everything else except automotive batteries, which could do it if they wanted to.

Leave the lead out. If I want heavy-metal poisoning, I'll eat some albacore.

7 December

Today might be a good day to remember about a nation, in an attempt to maintain and expand an empire built on a desire for hegemony and access to natural resources in a large part of the world, but couched in terms of 'liberation', which pre-emptively criminally attacked another.

I think it would also be good to remember that the nation that was attacked eventually won the conflict and hanged a whole lot of the aggressors by the neck until they were dead.

Archeological find

An archeological team, digging in Washington DC , has uncovered 10,000 year old bones and fossil remains of what is believed to be the first Politician.

"Let my river flow..."

Following up on yesterday's post, here is an article and video on the opening of the gates to restore the Lower Owens River. Los Angeles' Mayor Villaraigosa makes a humorous, or perhaps ironic, freudian slip in his address to the assembled throng. Made 'em laugh. Maybe a little nervously. Go see.


The largest river habitat restoration effort ever attempted in the West was jump-started at 12:15 p.m., when Villaraigosa turned a control knob to open a new clamshell-shaped steel gate at a diversion dam that has been directing the waters that have flowed into the Los Angeles Aqueduct since 1913.

The event marked a brief detente in historic water wars that have boiled in the Owens Valley since the early 1900s, when Los Angeles city agents posed as ranchers and farmers to buy land and water rights in the valley. Their goal was to build an aqueduct that would help transform Los Angeles into a metropolis.

The stealth and deception became grist for books and movies that portrayed the dark underbelly of Los Angeles' formative years.

The most notable movie is Chinatown directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson.

This is a good thing, but besides the obvious benefits of riparian restoration, I hope at some point they let some water flow into Owens Lake. Just enough to cover it to hold down the clouds of alkali dust ("Keeler fog") stirred up when the wind blows, which is pretty often.

One thing at a time.

McCain on the ISG

For all those who think McCain would make a good President:


The sharpest break with the [Iraq Study Group] report's recommendations came from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has criticized the Bush administration's war strategy and called for boosting U.S. troop strength in Iraq. He called "tenuous at best" the report's linkage between the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict and the violence in Iraq, and objected to any "limited timeframe" on the U.S. military presence.

"Only by cracking down on independent militias, reducing criminal and terrorist activity, and protecting the population and key infrastructure - none of which can be accomplished without more troops - can a political settlement begin to take hold," McCain said in a statement.


I don't know what the fuck they did to him in Hanoi, but he seems to have a case of Delayed Onset Stupidity. Did he learn anything from Vietnam? Did he forget how many GIs (58,000) were not as fortunate as he was (he actually got to go home)? Did he forget they all died (let alone the maimed and those who came home with demons) in an unjust, optional war and were also victims of the 'let's throw more troops at a failed situation' mindset in Washington at the time? Did he forget his stay at the Hanoi Hilton was a direct result of the policy he's advocating today?

Yes, Senator, let's just send more young men and women into that meat grinder. Two years from now we'll realize we're in the same place we are today, except more of our nation's sons and daughters will have died. It's time to get out now, not send more troops in hopes of salvaging something that will never come close to the objectives stated when we embarked on this folly. This supposed 'future President' is advocating proven failure: more troops and don't talk to our enemies:


McCain, who is expected to seek the presidency in 2008, was also skeptical of the recommendation to involve Syria and Iran: "You have to understand that the Iranians and the Syrians do not have common interests with us."


Is there any difference between him and the Chimp? Not so much it seems. We have to talk to everyone who might be able to help us get out and has influence with the people carrying AKs and RPGs on the ground. James Baker said as much yesterday:


"For 40 years we talked to the Soviet Union during a time when they were committed to wiping us off the face of the Earth," Mr. Baker said. "So you talk to your enemies, not just your friends."


As I said the other day, it is in Iran and Syria's best interest not to have anarchy prevail so close to their territory:


It's time to get out and let the Iraqis sort out what works for them. Diplomatically, we should enlist Iran and Syria's aid to prevent a failed state existing between them, as Chuck Hagel said yesterday.


And for a man who wants to be President to think this does not stem from the Arab - Israeli conflict is either in the pocket of the Israel lobby or totally out of touch with what's actually going on in the world. Every source of conflict in that part of the world is derivative of the Arab - Israeli conflict and our unconditional support for everything Israel does.

It's time to dispel the myth that John McCain is some sort of Patton or MacArthur, anointed by both Right and Left to lead us into the Great Enlightened Dawn. He's just a self-serving piece of shit who will do or say anything to get into the White House.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Alternate Brainfart

This appears in our left sidebar:

"You gotta stop thinking with the alternate brain, Sarge." - Col. William 'Stonewall' Bryant to Sgt. Fixer after freeing him from the custody of the London Metropolitan Police.

One wonders how much those Bobbies raised when they took up a collection to bribe Col. Bryant to take him back...

Goodness Gracious! The Truth!

Maureen Dowd on Gates and Rumsfeld:

First Junior took over the house with grandiose plans to remodel it and make it the envy of the neighborhood. But then he played with matches and set the house on fire. So now he's frantically trying to stop the flames from torching the whole block.

Mr. Gates asserted that if America left Iraq in chaos, Iran and Syria could encroach more, and Turkey and Saudi Arabia might jump in to stop the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis by Shiites. "We're already seeing Hezbollah involved in training fighters for Iraq," he said. "I think all of that could spread fairly dramatically."

It was the sort of realistic assessment that never came from Rummy, except when he privately admitted in a classified Nov. 6 memo that their Iraq strategy was "not working well enough or fast enough," offering a silly hodgepodge of wildly tardy or dubious options, like telling the Iraqis to "pull up their socks."

So with the Pentagon deciding whether to Go Big, Go Long or Go Home, Rummy urged the White House to Go Minimalist and simply streamline the spin.

Junior took the advice to manage perceptions by minimizing Rummy two days after he sent the memo. [...]

The old criticisms of whether Mr. Gates massaged intelligence were forgotten; the senators would have embraced an ax-murderer if he had seemed sensible about Iraq.

There was no blathering yesterday about "known unknowns" or "Henny Penny" pessimists. The soft-spoken, vanilla Mr. Gates offered a sharp contrast from the finger-wagging, flavorful Rummy. In a remarkable shift from the mindless bellicosity and jingoism of the last few years, Mr. Gates said he did not favor military action against Iran or Syria.

After lunch the nominee clarified his remarks, saying he had not meant to criticize the troops, that the reversals in Iraq were not their fault. They don't lose battles in Iraq because there are no battles. There's just a counterinsurgency that they can't see and that they weren't prepared or equipped to fight.

Gates hasn't even sat in his office chair yet, and already he's light-years ahead of Rumsfeld, in perception at least.

It remains to be seen, of course, what he can and/or will do, or more correctly, what he will be allowed to do.

A little good news...

As regular readers of the Brain will know, the Owens Valley in Eastern California is one of my favorite places. Thanks to the end of a long court process, the valley is going to get some long overdue environmental relief today. From the LATimes with photos and videos:

INDEPENDENCE, Calif -- Hundreds of spectators led by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are expected to gather today to watch the 62-mile-long Lower Owens River ripple anew with its first surge of High Sierra water in nearly a century.

The largest river habitat restoration effort ever attempted in the West (my em) will launch with Villaraigosa's push of a button, opening a steel gate at a dam that has been diverting the Lower Owens' water into the Los Angeles Aqueduct since 1913.

If all goes according to plan, within five years nature will transform the revived river's lazy loops into a lush serpentine oasis of willows and cottonwood trees, wetlands for waterfowl and shorebirds and warm water fisheries for bass, catfish, frogs and crayfish.

Please read the rest and watch the videos.

Suggested reading :

Rivers in the Desert by Margaret Leslie Davis

Water and the California Dream by David Carle

As Mark Twain once said, and California has taken to heart, "Whisky's fer drinkin'. Water's fer fightin' over."


Passerby left us this comment:

Man, we caught so many trout out of the Owens River one day that we nearly got nauseous cleaning 'em all in the bathtub of our hotel...

Rainbows and browns till our arms were tired. Never seen anything like it.

Not sure those hotel maids ever saw anything like that, either.

Next time, PB, check for this feature, common amongst the better accommodations in the area:

Just look for a lotta cats hangin' around!

Been there ...

The one and only Paul Rieckhoff, citing a story on NPR, via Blondie:

Soldier Tyler Jennings says that when he came home from Iraq last year, he felt so depressed and desperate that he decided to kill himself. Late one night in the middle of May, his wife was out of town, and he felt more scared than he'd felt in gunfights in Iraq. Jennings says he opened the window, tied a noose around his neck and started drinking, "trying to get drunk enough to either slip or just make that decision."


In my case, I was sitting in my van with a pistol to my head.


Five months before, Jennings had gone to the medical center at Ft. Carson, where a staff member typed up his symptoms: "Crying spells... hopelessness... helplessness... worthlessness." Jennings says that when the sergeants who ran his platoon found out he was having a breakdown and taking drugs, they started to haze him. He decided to attempt suicide when they said that they would eject him from the Army. [my em]


Fortunately, when I began to deal with these symptoms (instead of snorting coke and drinking myself into oblivion daily), I was already out of the military and married to an understanding woman who helped me through it. This treatment is downright unconscionable and obscene.


It's time for the military to step up. Just last week, they finally released new guidelines for troops suffering from mental health problems in theatre. It's a good start, but just issuing another memo isn't going to make difference.


Memos won't do it. Prosecution and jail for officers and NCOs who harass their people when they need serious help will.

Hebeas Corpus

In the truest sense of the term. My pal Lambert reminds me that he and the guys and girls at CorrenteWire have been chasing the 'Bush Gulag' story for over a year. Yesterday I directed you to a post over there about the camp at Stare Kiejkuty, Poland. Today, Lambert follows up with one on the wherabouts of the 7,000 - 35,000 'detainees from the War on Terra' that were presumably interned at the '21st Century Gulag Archipelago':

Let's do some arithmetic on how many prisoners Bush is holding in his gulags.

  1. We know that there are thousands of prisoners (estimates range from 7,000 to 35,000).

  2. Gitmo holds only 500

  3. So, where are the missing thousands? The only alternatives I can think of:

    a. They've been released

    b. They're still in jail

    c. They've been disappeared.

Barring divine intervention, the bodies of the missing thousands occupy time and space in this world. Where are they?


Hitler, Stalin, Bush, birds of a feather.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Army you have ...

ANNISTON, Ala. -- Field upon field of more than 1,000 battered M1 tanks, howitzers and other armored vehicles sit amid weeds here at the 15,000-acre Anniston Army Depot -- the idle, hulking formations symbolic of an Army that is wearing out faster than it is being rebuilt.


Equipment shipped back from Iraq is stacking up at all the Army depots: More than 530 M1 tanks, 220 M88 wreckers and 160 M113 armored personnel carriers are sitting at Anniston. The Red River Army Depot in Texas has 700 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 450 heavy and medium-weight trucks, while more than 1,000 Humvees are awaiting repair at the Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania.

Despite the work piling up, the Army's depots have been operating at about half their capacity because of a lack of funding for repairs. In the spring, a funding gap caused Anniston and other depots to lose about a month's worth of work, said Brig. Gen. Robert Radin, deputy chief of staff for operations at the Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir. [my ems]


They're gonna be hitchhiking from the airport to the Green Zone soon. Didn't the idiots in the White House think this shit would break? Good God.

Big tip o' the Brain to Montag for the link.

And you people thought I was crazy ...

When I said we should give Saddam the keys back and say, 'never mind' ...

Gates Says U.S. Is Not Winning Iraq War

Think Progress

Incoming Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin's (D-MI) first question to Defense Secretary nominee Robert Gates: "Mr. Gates, do you believe that we're currently winning in Iraq?"

Gates' answer: "No, sir." Watch it:

I can't believe Faux News showed that!

Whatever is in Gates' past, or his present motivation, at least he gave the right answer.

Mutiny at the White House

Steve Young at HuffPo:

I don't want to go Woodward and Bernstein all over you, but last week, just after Air Force 1 lifted off towards a meeting with Iraq's Prime Minister al-Maliki, someone in the administration who had had enough of the President's insistence that he knows what he's doing, sent a message that everyone seems to have missed: an administration mutiny is in the offing.

The coup d'état warning came in the form of a leaked memorandum that national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, had sent Bush three weeks ago describing, as the New York Times editorial put it, "how Iraq was being pulled apart by sectarian hatreds and warning that Mr. Maliki was either 'ignorant of what is going on' or unwilling or unable to stop it."

Some say the President may actually heed the memo and his public pronouncements of Rumsfeldian praise ("Maliki is the right man for the job") prior to dismissal is just the Bush M.O. at work. That Maliki's Medal of Freedom is already in the smelter.

Which gives further indication the warning shot was not aimed towards Maliki, but just above the President himself; a notice to POTUS that if he continues to ignore the reality of his failed strategy in Iraq that the whistleblower(s) just might keep leaking to the American public that what Bush maintains as a victory or nothing policy, is far worse than nothing, That it is, in fact, so disastrous, an administration intimate is willing to jeopardize his position to out the boss.

That White House 'insider' must have realized that the future of the nation, not to mention his own soul, demands the collapse of this administration, and he's helping by outing its seedy machinations by any means possible.

It doesn't matter much if Bush gets the message or not, just that someone does who can take him down. Or get him committed.


Drips in the White House

The famous discipline of the Bush administration has completely broken down. This level of leaking suggests administration aides no longer feel the sense of cohesion and teamwork - or the fear of retribution - that kept them from leaking in the past. A leaker may go to the papers to make himself or his agency look good, or because the president, or those close to him, aren't listening. But in any case, the public venting of private information suggests factionalism and infighting that can't be peacefully controlled or contained. Even if these were authorized leaks - meant to influence the debate without official fingerprints - it suggests that the Bush administration has so little credibility left that the press and public won't listen unless we think we're eavesdropping.

Even before last week, administration leaking had grown to a steady drip. Senior officials at the State Department, Pentagon, and CIA had already learned to fight their battles by leaking inside stuff and offering anonymous opinions to the papers. (It was an interagency spat of this kind that produced Valerie Plame's outing.) Other leaks have appeared in the many books to be found in the "Finger-Pointing and Recriminations" section at Barnes & Noble.

[...] Perhaps this is the message the struggling administration now wants to send out about Iraq. OK, the president's a liar. But he's not as clueless as he looks.

Clueless or not, he's still a liar.

In the spirit of mutiny, I volunteer to pull Bush's rope when we keelhaul him. I hope the bottom of the ship hasn't been de-barnacled recently, too.

Leahy: Bush Should be "Terrified"

In the Green Mountain Daily, Odum writes about Senator Leahy's address at the post-election party sponsored by the Vermont Democratic party.

And finally there was our Senior Senator, Patrick Leahy. For those who've heard Senator Leahy speak, you know that his delivery can vary quite a bit. It can be easy to tell when he's tired, physically or mentally - so Leahy on the stump doesn't necessarily mean the same thing twice. But Leahy of late has had a fire in his belly, the likes of which we haven't seen in a while. His sadness at the loss of comity and the discarding of basic Constitutional values under the Bush GOP has turned into outrage, and he has been consistently riveting in front of a crowd in recent months.

But since the election, that outrage has turned into inspiration, and it's an inspiration he passed on to the crowd tonight. Like the speakers before him, Leahy was funny, thankful, exuberant... but there was an edge that was very serious. He related a conversation where he was recently asked if President Bush should be "worried" that he was now to be Chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. The crowd started cheering.

"No, no" he said, calming the crowd, as if to be prepared for a softening of his rhetoric.

"No, he shouldn't be worried. He should be terrified."

And the room exploded.

Ba da bing!

Two of a kind ...

Will the name Stare Kiejkuty become synonymous with Auschwitz?

Iraq Study Group

Brother Jo Fish echoes my sentiments toward the Baker-Hamilton Report that will be released soon:

Know what? Not interested. I don't think it's going to offer anything more than cover for an idiot president, and the enablers in Congress and his administration who should have been monitoring and overseeing this mess from it's misbegotten inception to it's unseemly demise.


This was just a play for time and nothing will happen beyond that. The Chimp ain't gonna take their recommendations and Congress won't force him to unless they defund the mission in Iraq. That ain't gonna happen neither.


So all the spin and other hype aside, there will be no good outcome from the whole thing. Yet another 'plan' consigned to the trash heap of history by the Decider and his sycophantic minions. After all, accepting the premise of the report is admitting that the whole Excellent Adventure has been a colosally mis-managed fuck-up...

Stealing Krugman's quote from Gord's post yesterday:

How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a bully's ego?

Insurance ... revisited

More on NOLA from our pal Scout Prime:

That's right, the Corps of Engineers is taking a "strategic pause" between essentially completing repair work to broken levees and "strengthening flood protection in New Orleans" according to the NYT


Seems the money's tight for the Corps of Engineers (no shit, it's all going to Iraq) and they estimate the city to be at risk until 2010. I posit that if they drag their feet so long, there won't be a NOLA by then. Scout gets to the crux of the biscuit:

... How many more will follow Travelers Ins. out of the area? ...

We'll know in the next few weeks. The big boys will follow Travelers first, once their legal departments determine they won't be answering lawsuits for the next 10 years. "Exposure" is the operative word in the insurance industry and the lowest exposure is what's best for the bottom line. Premiums collected vs. claims paid and all that. Expect the auto insurers to jump also, when they get finished tallying up their claims for all the vehicles destroyed and adjust their reserves. My gut feeling is the government will have to put a federal insurance system in place resembling the 'flood insurance' program they already have. That won't happen until next summer at the earliest.

An all around shitty situation down there. Great thanks to Scout for keeping this in the forefront.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Quote of the Day deux

Paul Krugman

Well, here's a question for those who might be tempted, yet again, to shy away from a confrontation with Mr. Bush over Iraq: How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a bully's ego?

Quote of the Day

The Chief:

... I guess they take us for fools, Honor means nothing to some of these feather merchant sons of bitches ...

If the people who made the mess ...

Are tasked with cleaning it up, odds are you'll have a bigger mess.


The people writing the lessons learned on the Iraq disaster are the very people who created it, and who have a vital stake in rewriting history before anybody figures out they're the ones responsible for one of history's most profound fiascos.


These are the geniouses who are now calling for more troops.

Hel-lo, McFly?

These are the same geniouses who called General Shinseki a traitor when he advised Congress of the need for 250,000 troops or more before the balloon went up. These are the same people who believed it would be over in six months. These are the same people who refused to learn the lessons of Gulf 1, when we needed a half-million boots to kick Saddam out of Kuwait, analogous to liberating Rhode Island. Iraq is 20 times the size of Kuwait with 10 times as many people, who don't like us, and serious sectarian divisions.


Insurgent forces, especially successful ones like the ones we face in Iraq, don't engage in decisive battles with superior, conventional military units. That's Asymmetric Warfare 101 stuff. It doesn't surprise me that Kristol doesn't know that, but why anybody still listens to Kristol or any of his cronies in the Big Brother Broadcast Network is a mystery mini-series to me.


You could put a half-million troops on the ground now but all they will be are targets for both sides. Those of you old enough to remember Vietnam will recognize the strategy all too well. We had 500,000 under arms in that toilet and look what it got us. That's where we should have learned our lessons.

It's time to get out and let the Iraqis sort out what works for them. Diplomatically, we should enlist Iran and Syria's aid to prevent a failed state existing between them, as Chuck Hagel said yesterday.

Unfortunately, I don't think the Chimp is ready to make that act of contrition.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

The last honest Republican

That would be Chuck Hagel:


No, that's not the point. Of course the Iranians and Syrians are not going to come to our assistance. Of course not. But they are going to respond in their own self-interest. All nations respond in their own self-interests. Tallyrand once said that nations don't have friends. They have interests. He was right. Ahh, it's not in the interest of Syria or Jordan or Iran to have a failed state that would be a complete mess for the middle east.

Why did the Iranians help us in Afghanistan? Why did they cooperate with us in Afghanistan on intelligence matters and other issues? Because they didn't want a failed state next to them which comes with all the problems. They didn't want heroin moving into their borders. What we're not getting here, is we're not getting a full and comprehensive wide-lens appreciation of interests. And the other fact is that there will be no peace in the middle east which we haven't talked about


And he calls Holy Joe on his stupid, Bush-sucking, warmongering, bullshit. Hagel's the only Rethug I have any respect for.


My good pal Scout Prime was on my ass about this first thing this morning (as well as a whole bunch of other bloggers I see ... heh ... she's a pit bull).

St. Paul Travelers Cos. Inc., Louisiana's largest commercial insurance provider, plans to cancel all its commercial property policies in the New Orleans area next year, sparking fears that other insurers will follow and slow the region's economic recovery.

While the St. Paul, Minn., company refused to say how many commercial policies will be affected or specify where the cuts will be in South Louisiana, two insurance brokers who were briefed by the company this week say Travelers will not renew any property insurance for businesses in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and eastern St. Tammany parishes. Cuts will also affect individual businesses in other parts of South Louisiana, including St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes.


I showed this to Mrs. F, an executive in Japan's largest insurance company, and she agrees that other insurers will most likely follow suit. Any excuse to limit exposure. The insurance companies will all jump on this statement by the insurance commissioner:


"They cited the state of the rebuilding of our levee system as the primary reason for their decision," [State Insurance Commissioner Jim] Donelon said.


The one to blame for this is your Commander-in-Chief and what he's done to FEMA and the entire emergency management infrastructure of the federal government. Don't expect anything to happen in NOLA until the Corps of Engineers rebuilds the levees to withstand Cat 4 and 5 storms. The insurers won't risk their bottom line to underwrite properties that can be washed away as easily as they were during Katrina. Let's hope something can be done before too much time passes and NOLA becomes nothing but a fond memory.

And just an observation. I give Mrs. F the willies when I can speak of combat, death, and destruction in a cool and detached manner. She does the same thing to me when she can talk about the value of a human life or property in purely clinical, actuarial, bottom line terms.

Heroes vs. Whores

A little from the lovely Eleanor Clift:

...Webb could have asked how the Bush girls are doing, partying their way across Argentina. He could have told Bush he was worried about his son; the vehicle next to him was blown up recently, killing three Marines. Given the contrast between their respective offspring, Webb showed restraint.


I still say Webb shoulda put the Coward-in-Chief on his ass. Goes to show, in both cases, the peanut doesn't fall far from the tree. Good article.


Jo Fish


It would be nice if the one George was more careful and intellectually honest than the other, but apparently that's not to be. Interesting how we get two fools named George in one city and both are so full of themselves that they can never be wrong, isn't it?



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Quote of the Day



To be sure, on November 7th, the Right certainly got their collective noses bloodied and asses sawed off and served to them on the good china.

This happened when a majority of the voting public finally showed its contempt for a clique that had literally done nothing with its One Party Rule but endlessly hector everyone else on morality, while happily giving aid, shelter and comfort to a menagerie of Pious, Jebus-luvin' liars, traitors, briber takers, bribe makers, war profiteers, war criminals, looters, child sex predators and, just for goofs, gay-hooker-frequenting, meth smoking preachers ... so long as they puked up the correct slogans or voted the right way.