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I never said this was a family show. Heh ...
Back to normal blogging tomorrow. Spent most of the day cleaning my office. God I accumulate a lot of crap.
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
Congress joined the Bush Administration for a nice little barbecue on the South Lawn last night. The theme was Mardi Gras, so everybody could enjoy memories of New Orleans being destroyed by the Bush Administration and then pretty much left in that same condition years later.
Famous NOLA chef Paul Prudhomme catered the picnic and New Orleans jazz band Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers played Dixieland.
And then Bush told the black musicians to clean up after the politicians.
THE PRESIDENT: Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, right out of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Applause.)
MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We're glad to be here.
THE PRESIDENT: Proud you're here. Thanks for coming. You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it's over.
In a development that underlines the tensions between the anti-Iran agenda of the US administration and the preoccupation of its military command in Afghanistan with militant Sunni activism, a State Department official last week publicly accused Iran for the first time of arming Taliban forces, but the US commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan rejected that charge for the second time in less than two weeks.
The use of the phrase "irrefutable evidence" suggested that the Burns statement was scripted by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. The same phrase had been used by Cheney himself on September 20, 2002, in referring to the administration's accusation that then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had a program to enrich uranium as the basis for a nuclear weapon.
But the NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Dan McNeill, pointed to other possible explanations, particularly the link between drug and weapons smuggling between Iran and Afghanistan.
Given the very small scale of the arms in question, Cheney's interest in the issue appears to have much less to do with Afghanistan than with his aim of ensuring that President George W Bush goes along with the neo-conservative desire to attack Iran before the end of his term (my em).
The US military command in Afghanistan, on the other hand, sees the external threat in Afghanistan coming from Pakistan rather than from Iran. US commanders there are very concerned about the increase in Taliban attacks launched from Pakistan's North Waziristan and South Waziristan after Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf's truce with Islamic separatists in those border provinces last year.
The only institution that works in Pakistan is the military. The Army is mostly professional and competent. It is also vast, swallowing up approximately 39 percent of the government's budget. In a book published last month, author Ayesha Siddiqa details the vast holdings of Pakistan's "military economy"—including banks, foundations, universities and companies worth as much as $10 billion. And with or without Musharraf, as Daniel Markey ably explains in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, the military will continue to run Pakistan's strategic policy.
Deeply ingrained in the Army's psyche is the notion that it was abandoned by the United States in the 1990s, after the Soviets were driven out of Afghanistan. The generals are worried about Washington's warm overtures to India and fear that soon they will be abandoned again. One explanation for why the military has retained some ties to the Taliban is because they want to keep a "post-American" option to constrain what they see as a pro-Indian government in Kabul. If Washington were to dump Musharraf, the Pakistani military could easily sabotage American policy against Al Qaeda and throughout the region.
In response to a news story, Tony Snow, Bush's spokesman, denied that Tony Blair was being considered for a position of special representative for the Middle East quartet. So, based on Snow's record for obscuring issues, it must be true.
It would be the final epitaph for a quartet that has already proven to be a quadruple diplomatic paraplegic.
Blair has consistently done whatever Bush wanted him to do. When he took British forces into Iraq, it was with clear knowledge of the ineptitude of the White House but he nursed the fond illusion that his support would give him a hand on the steering wheel - and then he found that runaway trains do not have steering capacity, and no working brakes either.
Blair has shown consistently that he has no influence with the White House on any important issue and will not even try to influence the Israelis. In the unlikely event that he has a blank cheque from the White House, he could do something useful. But it looks much more like the White House tossing him a diplomatic dime because there are vestigial memories of him doing them an occasional good service.
Senator, the wrong message cannot be sent by those who oppose Bush's Iraq policy. The wrong message can only be sent by those who support it.
In particular, Senator, over the past 7 years President Bush has been sending a message so wrong that it has led to the criminal destruction of our valued military: the message that the Democratic Party is a danger to the safety and security of the American people.
The cruel irony of that wrong message from President Bush is obvious to every American--including those Americans fighting in Iraq: the more President Bush says that Democrats are a danger to our troops, the more President Bush's Iraq policy destroys the lives, families and reputation of the U.S. military.
We are passionate about politics, and in this era of Republican corruption, excess and failure, that passion sometimes manifests itself as anger. But how can you not be angry? So many institutions have failed us in the last decade that being vitriolic seems the only sane response.
LAREDO - In response to the Department of Homeland Security's plans to construct hundreds of miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce started a campaign of their own: build a wall around Washington, D.C.
There is something happening today in America. With the right kind of ears, you can hear it in the sound of millions of brows slowly furrowing in anger and disgust. It feels like those tense moments just before the eruption of a summer thunderstorm, those moments when the air is electric, the ozone reek of spent lightning fills the world, and you know something very loud is about to happen.
What is happening, what can be heard and smelled and sensed all across the land, is the cresting wave of rage, betrayal and fury that is, finally, roaring across the shores of our collective American heart. After more than six years of lies, theft, graft, corruption, manipulation and misconduct, just about every living person within these borders finds themselves today gripped by the slow seethe, directed inward as much as outward, of one who has come around to see just how much of a fool they've been played for.
Americans are realizing that their faith and trust in the workings of the republic have been deliberately undermined, and the simple ability to feel good about their nation has been stolen away. Faith in the constructs of our democracy has turned to gall for the citizen who perceives now the magnitude of this theft. When joined in this by another citizen and another and another again, when the unrest of the one becomes a massed and overwhelming majority, those responsible should rightly tremble before the looming possibilities of what may come to be unleashed.
That is the missing thing people have come to sense, the stolen thing which summons the storm. Partisan sensibilities and the your-team/my-team nonsense of modern politics is being replaced by the broad belief that we have all been screwed, that what is most important has been discarded by those in power. The poll numbers charting low approval for Bush and the GOP are matched by similarly low numbers approving of the new Democratic majority in congress. The former bears most of the responsibility for what has happened, as far as the citizenry is concerned, but the latter's failure to stop or reverse the trend is equally shameful.
The seeds of this Becoming have been planted, and have grown, and the time has come to reap.
It's on video, believe it or not, and even presented as a selling point to peddle their services by Cohen & Grigsby Law Firm. That's right, this group of attorneys put an entire seminar on how to screw over the American worker on YouTube. Imagine that, a seminar from lawyers on how to make sure one doesn't have to hire an American worker!
In the video attorneys explain how they assist employers in running classified ads with the goal of NOT finding any qualified applicants, and how they disqualify even the most qualified Americans in order to secure green cards for H-1b workers.
And on getting rid of extremely qualified applicants:
If someone looks like they are very qualified, if necessary schedule an interview, go through the whole process to find a legal basis to disqualify them.
Employers who favor aliens have an arsenal of legal means to reject all U.S. workers who apply.
14 U.S. troops killed in Iraq in 48 hoursMore «here»
“The U.S. military today reported the deaths of 14 U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq over the past 48 hours. The deadliest attack happened when a roadside bomb struck a military vehicle in northeastern Baghdad, killing five U.S. soldiers, three Iraqi civilians and an Iraqi interpreter. A U.S. soldier and two civilians were also wounded.”
WASHINGTON - The Army is considering whether it will have to extend the combat tours of troops in Iraq if President Bush opts to maintain the recent buildup of forces through spring 2008.
Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren testified Tuesday that the service is reviewing other options, including relying more heavily on Army reservists or Navy and Air Force personnel, so as not to put more pressure on a stretched active-duty force.
Maintaining 156,000 troops in Iraq from now until Mr Bu$h saddles up ole Marines #1 and rides off into the sunset, and dust of historical obscurity is going to require sending just about every swinging dick in a military uniform. (Apologies to the uniformed women of the US Armed Forces, who truly clank when they walk.) That would include a very large number of Majors, Colonels and even Brigadier Generals currently employed as messengers, walking folders around the corridors of the Pentagon. We could probably field at least one more brigade with those linoleum-trotters and never feel the difference. They could take turns playing brigade commander, and build up their Form 20s.
Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace now rank Iraq as the second most unstable country in the world. Sudan just eked out the number one rating, a remarkable accomplishment considering that it doesn't have the advantage of being occupied by 150,000 U.S. troops to help destabilize it. Somalia ranks right behind Iraq for instability, which makes a certain amount of sense. U.S. troops are in Somalia conducting combat operations, but not nearly as many U.S. troops as are fighting in Iraq, so you can't really fault Somalia for not being more unstable than [Iraq]
The two non-African countries in the top 10 unstable states are Iraq and Afghanistan, and we pretty much know what those two have in common, don't we?
Shoot, if a fellah didn't know any better, he might come to the conclusion that the number one cause of instability in the world is the United States of America. [my em]
The sprawling $43 billion homeland security department is known for being in charge of America's color-coded terrorist-threat alarm system, a sham that obscures HSD's real mission: to serve as a giant federal cookie jar for corporate America.
Go to HSD's website, and you'll find a prominent section called "Open For Business." There, on any given day, corporate shoppers can scroll through the hundreds of contracts and grants available to them. Just dip in and grab some cookies, each one worth from $50,000 to more than $80 million. Like the department's color codes, the vast majority of these projects do nothing to make our country safe. Instead, they are make-work studies, silly technologies, and useless systems that essentially serve as mediums for transferring billions of our tax dollars to a few corporate big shots. Ever helpful to its clients, HSD also maintains a private-sector office, headed by an assistant secretary who is not a security expert but a former banker from JP Morgan Chase. This office provides concierge service for cookie grabbers. For example, it recently held a corporate seminar, entitled "The Business of Homeland Security," offering "tips, hints, and directions" on how to grab the latest contracts and grants. Lest you think that patriotism or even national security might be the motivating force behind these government-industry confabs, a Sikorksy Helicopters executive who attended the session bluntly explained why he was there: "To us contractors, money is always a good thing."
Government by corporation.
"Pace is taking the fall for these assholes," a retired marine general said. "If you know how the war started, if you know anything about [Ahmad] Chalabi or Cheney or anything like that, you're gone (my em). Peter Pace is being sacrificed to the White House failure in Iraq." The neo-conservative press has also weighed in, calling the Bush administration's decision "cowardly".
Gates was nonplussed and quickly announced that Pace's replacement would be the current chief of naval operations, Admiral Michael Mullen - a riposte that was a mini-declaration of war against the pro-war press.
Mullen, a tough-minded and hard-nosed conservative, is known for his scoffing (if private) dismissal of Washington's neo-conservatives, though sometimes he can barely keep it under wraps. During a recent Washington reception, he was asked by a reporter whether he would oppose an attack on Iran: "It's your job to convince the politicians just how stupid that would be," he said, "not mine."
Since the retirement of Colin Powell, four generals have served as JCS chairman. All have been weak.
"This has been a purposeful policy," a former senior army commander said. "Bill Clinton quietly advised George Bush that the last thing he wanted was to have a strong chairman, as Colin Powell was able to dictate military policy to Clinton because of his prestige. He really stood him up.
"After Powell retired, Rumsfeld and Bush made certain that they never had a man of Powell's caliber in the chair. That's how we eventually ended up with Pace. He was a good man, no doubt about it, but Mullen is a real shift. He's Gates' choice. He's a real leader. He can say 'no'. and he intends to."
This is not to say that the United States is about to win the Iraq war. It's not. And it won't. But a shift, small and perceptible - away from escalation and confrontation - has begun. There are people, powerful people, in Washington who are still committed to confronting Islam, whose default position is the deployment of another division, another aircraft carrier. But there are others now, also powerful, who oppose them.
As General Joseph Hoar has put it, "Perhaps we are finally, finally learning that this idea that Americans can walk down the street and be safe in Iraq is ludicrous. And perhaps we are also learning that we cannot drag a Muslim man out of his house in front of his family, in front of his wife and children, and humiliate him and expect to be considered a great power and a great people. Maybe, just maybe, we are starting to learn that too. And it's about time."
Over the course of the last four years our Dear Leader, and his wingnut base, have preached to us that the United States is caught in a struggle of civilizations where our steadfastness is necessary and our weakness will be our demise as a nation. So, in essence, to analogize from Mr. Crocker, the issue is whether we are a country and a government at war.
We are told we are at war, yet we are encouraged to go shopping. We are told we are at war, yet tax cuts abound. We are told we are at war, yet profits continue to be made off the backs of our soldiers. We are told we are at war, yet the sacrifice is not shared.
Just moments ago, Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced that he has changed his registration at the Board of Elections to independent, thus ending Republican rule over New York City. Here's his statement in full:
"I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party. Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our City.
Press ignores congressional OK for martial law
On October 17, 2006, when George W. Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2007 - a $538 billion military spending bill - he enacted into law a section called "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." In the view of many, this Act substantially changed fundamental laws of the United States, giving Bush - and all future U.S. presidents - new and sweeping powers to use the U.S. military anywhere in the United States, virtually as he sees fit—for disaster relief, crowd control, suppression of public disorder, or any "other condition" that might arise.
Indeed, the president could order the Guard of any state into any other state - even if the governors of both states objected. Or the president could choose to use any element of the U.S. military - the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines - to suppress a protest or carry out practically any kind of domestic action the president desired. And all of this with essentially no oversight - or checks and balances - on how the commander-in-chief uses these powers. Basically, after sending the National Guard somewhere, he or she merely needs to report to Congress every couple of weeks to let them know what the Guard is doing.
What does it say about the fourth estate that such significant changes occur in our laws without news media coverage and without the intelligent and vigorous public debate one would hope for in the world's oldest democracy? The Jeffersonian ideal is of a well-informed citizenry capable of intelligent self-determination. All too often, thanks to a media asleep at the wheel, precious few even know that something has happened.
The most recent Slowpoke strip studies the strong surge of skulls-as-style statement. What's with the fashion fetish for death heads? Maybe it's just a side project of the Bush Administration to make devastation cool again...
Death's Head emblem worn by SS-Totenkopfverbände soldiers
Motto reads in English: My Honor's name is Loyalty
At this point, there are so many examples of dereliction on behalf of the administration and the "party of accountability" that it's simply not plausible that any group of people could be that oblivious. But the idea that they could avoid responsibility simply by closing their eyes... that's the stuff a normal person learns won't work by the end of second grade in elementary school.
"When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one." (my em) — the tombstone epitaph of decorated Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, whose "medals, uniform and other personal effects make up the centerpiece of 'Out Ranks,' a new exhibit that documents the tortured relationship between gay troops and the U.S. military from World War II to the present."
IMMIGRATION PASSES IRAQ AMONG AMERICANS' GREATEST CONCERNS ⇒
But both lag behind other hot button issues.
Senate No-Confidence Vote on Attorney General Fails
Gonzales calls it "a mandate."
Scientists Developing Clothing That Monitors Your Health
Underwear beeps when you're due for checkup.
But GEN Petraeus’s response is quite interesting, because being in uniform and all, one might think he actually has studied this history thing that’s such a mystery down at the shallow end of the gene pool where the never-right seem to congregate.
SELMER, Tenn. -- Two more people have died after a drag-racing car went out of control and careened into a crowd of spectators, raising the death toll to six, officials said yesterday.
There was a guard rail along at least part of the highway but not where the crash occurred.
UNITED NATIONS, June 16 — The search for Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction appears close to an official conclusion, several years after their absence became a foregone one.
The United States and Britain have circulated a new proposal to the members of the United Nations Security Council to “terminate immediately the mandates” of the weapons inspectors. Staff meetings on the latest proposal have already taken place, and officials say that the permanent Council members, each of whom has veto power, seem ready to let the inspection group — the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission — meet its end.
But unlikely moral arbiter that Mrs. Gotti may be, she does have a point. As the Iraq war careens toward a denouement as black, unresolved and terrifying as David Chase's inspired "Sopranos" finale, the mob in the capital deserves at least equal attention. John Gotti, the last don, is dead. Mr. Chase's series is over. But the deaths on the nightly news are coming as fast as ever.
Among those contributing to the 373 pages of what thesmokinggun.com calls "Scooter Libby Love Letters" are self-identified liberals and Democrats, a few journalists (including a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine) and a goodly sample of those who presided over the Iraq catastrophe or cheered it on. This is a documentary snapshot of the elite Washington mob of our time.
No wonder Victoria Gotti denigrated "that mob in Washington." When the godfathers of this war speak of never leaving "a fallen comrade" on the battlefield in Iraq, as Mr. Ajami writes of Mr. Libby, they are speaking first and foremost of one another. The soldiers still making the ultimate sacrifice for this gang's hubristic folly will just have to fend for themselves.