Saturday, January 20, 2007

Not Iraq

We don't need to be worried about Iraq right now, because a desperate White House has its eyes on Iran. Col. Gardiner:


The USS John C. Stennis departed Bremerton, Washington last Saturday and sailed to San Diego to on load its air wing. That has been completed. It is to depart this morning (Saturday) for the Gulf.


The UK has filled in more details on its mine clearing ships that are going to the region. Their deployment is "to deal with the very real threat of Iran mining the Straits of Hormuz," according to Royal Navy officers. The two ships are the HMS Blyth and the HMS Ramsey.


Lurch and I have been discussing this over at his place, wondering if the Air Force F-117s from Holloman AFB now stationed at Kunsan AB, South Korea may play a part in an Iran operation. Personally, I think they're there to keep that insane midget who runs NK from getting any ideas while we're futzing around in the Gulf.

Stennis leaving homeport with her air wing aboard is most worrisome. I also don't think the Brits would increase their minesweeper force in the Gulf (there are a couple American carrier groups there, and the British have a big presence as well) if they weren't expecting trouble of some sort.

I doubt mines will be the big problem, more an annoyance compared to the suicide bombers in little boats packed with explosives who won't be picked up by the Phalanx Close In Weapons Systems aboard the men-o-war. If the Iranians (and I'll presume there are enough people there willing to die for the cause) manage to, if not sink, take a carrier or a few escorts out of the fight (remember the Cole), it would be a great victory for them.

The U.S. fleet also isn't immune to anti-ship missiles coming from shore, from the hundreds of little coves and inlets that our satellites and radar can't discern or an Iranian Air Force plane that somehow escapes our bomb and missile attack (remember the Stark).

You already know I think attacking Iran would be a disaster of biblical proportions and probably change our way of life. I think, as we get closer to the end of the Bush Presidency, closer to congressional investigations backing them into a corner and exposing all their corruption, (and the fact there are too many big guns packed into a relatively small area) the chance of a desperation move by the White House becomes ever greater.


Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who took control of the committee this month, said that the administration was building a case against Tehran even as American intelligence agencies still know little about either Iran's internal dynamics or its intentions in the Middle East.

"To be quite honest, I'm a little concerned that it's Iraq again," Senator Rockefeller said during an interview in his office. "This whole concept of moving against Iran is bizarre."


I suggest we prepare for it.

Ooh! Dat be one col' black ass...

William Rivers Pitt writes on Congress' first 100 hours, their next 100 hours, and cutting funding for Bush's Occupation of Iraq:

The Pelosi promise to leave funding for the Iraq occupation unmolested, however, is troubling. People want the war stopped and the troops brought home, and the purse strings are the most effective way to accomplish this. Setting a firm date for the cessation of funds creates a hard line that cannot be crossed, and would require the administration to actively begin preparations for an end to our involvement in the conflict. Pelosi's promise removes that very large club from the arsenal.

There is more to this, of course, than simple political cowardice. Democrats who don't want to empower the "You don't support the troops!" demagoguery that is sure to come in the wake of any meddling with the war budget. "Stop funding the war" is easy to say, but the gritty details of a budget like this complicate matters. Killing the Iraq budget could also kill funding the rehabilitation of wounded veterans, health benefits and other vital programs embedded in the bill. Beyond the threat of political browbeating lives the actual threat of screwing the very soldiers the Democrats wish to help.

Deep in the bowels of the piece is my candidate for 'quote of the day':

Democratic Representative Charles Rangel nailed the problem in his usual blunt fashion. "If my black ass was in Korea during the war and people got fed up with it," said Rangel, "and they cut off the money so I couldn't get some snowshoes or underwear, well, goddamn, you are cutting the wrong people." (my em)

It comes down to this. If Pelosi and her people are unwilling to navigate the dangerous waters surrounding the Iraq budget, they had better be prepared for a loud roar of outrage from the base of the party. Further, if they have chosen to leave aside the most direct way to end the war, their main task now is to come up with an equally effective plan to terminate the occupation. If the Democrats merely shrink from this tough fight, they will have proven to be as cowardly and tone-deaf as the fellow bunkered down at 1600 Pennsylvania.

I don't think anyone's talking about cutting off funding to the troops, but we better talk about snatching the wallet (and, more importantly, the credit card) back from Bush.

Can we not ...

Call Fox a 'news' network anymore:

This morning, Fox News featured a segment highlighting a right-wing report that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attended an Islamic "madrassa" school as a 6-year-old child.


This is an outright lie.

Great thanks to BlogRevolution! for the link.

Hil's in!

As of this morning. Mrs. F is now conflicted and praying for a Clinton/Edwards (or vice versa) ticket. Don't ask me, I don't give a shit yet.

It's gonna get ugly ...


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. contingency planning for military action against Iran's nuclear program goes beyond limited strikes and would effectively unleash a war against the country, a former U.S. intelligence analyst said on Friday.

"I've seen some of the planning ... You're not talking about a surgical strike," said Wayne White, who was a top Middle East analyst for the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005.


"We're not talking about just surgical strikes against an array of targets inside Iran. We're talking about clearing a path to the targets" by taking out much of the Iranian Air Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles that could target commerce or U.S. warships in the Gulf, and maybe even Iran's ballistic missile capability, White said.


These plans are probably firm by now, since we've been talking about them for eight months. All they need is the Chimp's order to go.

As I noted yesterday, the Russians and Chinese are helping the Iranians (and more will follow if we attack) and the Afghanis don't want anything to do with an operation launched from their territory. We don't have the ground troops to secure Iran (we can't do the job in Iraq and Afghanistan as it is) so we'll have to bomb them back to the Stone Age. I'm sure the warmongers in the Israeli Defense Forces are chomping at the bit to go along with us.

Personally I believe, as Bush sees the cards stacked against him (even a deaf, dumb, and blind kid can tell the Congressional investigations coming down the pike will cut the legs out from under the WH), the chances of his attacking Iran increase in the short-term. Congress better do something quickly before the fuck up in Iraq becomes the least of our problems.

As Mr. White said:


"You're talking about a war against Iran" that likely would destabilize the Middle East for years, White told the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank.


To put it in easy terms, a destabilized Middle East would mean $10/gal. gasoline. That would bring our economy, and this nation, to its knees. Once again, thank you Mr. Bush.

Link via memeorandum.

Early blogwhore ...

Chapter 15 of my novel The Captains is up at The Practical Press.

Why I don't watch ...

American Idol:


Is this what Americans want to watch? Has American popular culture regressed so much that the nation gets its jollies re-enacting an adolescent nightmare of social rejection in the high school cafeteria?


Now, I don't understand how some of the no-talent folks have gone through their entire lives thinking they're the next Elvis. I knew, when I was 9 years old, that I would never make my living singing, much as I enjoy it. You should hear me when I'm alone in the car. My mom would tell me "I'll give you $1 to stop singing". The dog howls when I sing around the house. I'm under no illusions I'll ever be Roger Daltrey.

That said, I wonder what is wrong with my fellow Americans when they get off seeing people ridiculed publicly. A lot of you must enjoy it because they get big ratings. What is it, your little chance to get back at the people who did it to you in school? A little self-gratification? Do you feel bigger seeing someone else go through it too? Personally, I think it's disgusting.

Still looking ...

I'm still looking to add a new member to the Brain team. Email me if you're interested.

Friday, January 19, 2007

McGoo Gai Pan


China last week successfully used a missile to destroy an orbiting satellite, U.S. government officials told CNN on Thursday, in a test that could undermine relations with the West and pose a threat to satellites important to the U.S. military.

Good shooting, if you ask me.

According to a spokesman for the National Security Council, the ground-based, medium-range ballistic missile knocked an old Chinese weather satellite from its orbit about 537 miles above Earth. The missile carried a "kill vehicle" and destroyed the satellite by ramming it.

Sounds like the Chinese drivers around here...

The United States logged a formal diplomatic protest.

Don't worry. The U.S. has already retaliated with something far worse than a mere missile, and our arsenal is far from empty.

The writing on the wall

Commander Huber:


It may be that the best way to stay Bush's hand will come from international pressure. Russia's recent delivery of TOR M-1 surface-to-air missiles to Iran sent a clear signal of Russia's position on any U.S. military action against Iran. China is thought to have made an agreement to develop Iran's Northern Pars natural gas field, and reportedly told the U.S. not to interfere in the venture. The timing of China's shoot-down of one of its own weather satellites can hardly be regarded as coincidental. Iraq's President Jalal Talabani has encouraged the U.S. to engage in direct diplomacy with Iran. Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar-Spanta has reportedly ruled out the possibility of America using his country as a base of operations for a military operation against Iran.


Let's hope the Chimp gets the message. You know Iran will get more help as the tension rises.

And I dropped this at HQ when Blogger's power went out.

"... way over the line."

Walter Mondale on Dick 'Dick' Cheney:


"If I had done as vice president what this vice president has done, Carter would have thrown me out of there," Mondale said. "I don't think he could have tolerated a vice president over there pressuring and pushing other agencies, ordering up different reports than they wanted to send us. I don't think he would have stood for it."


Great thanks to Holden for the link.


Jane's feeling better:

As it happens, the first thing out of Jane's mouth when I saw her was "did they finish jury selection?" ...

The Constitution - down the rabbit hole

Houston Chronicle

Gonzales balks at providing details on wiretapping plans

Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was taken aback when Gonzales wouldn't commit to turning over the FISA order spelling out the domestic wiretapping program.

"Are you saying that you might object to the court giving us a decision that you publicly announced," asked Leahy. "Are we in Alice in Wonderland here?"

Gonzales responded that release of the order was "not my decision to make." He added that "there is going to be information about operational details about how we're doing this that we want to keep confidential." The presiding judge of the FISA wrote Leahy that she had no problem giving the lawmakers the order if the administration signed off.

And from Robert Parry:

Responding to questions from Sen. Arlen Specter at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18, Gonzales argued that the Constitution doesn't explicitly bestow habeas corpus rights; it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended.

"There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there's a prohibition against taking it away," Gonzales said.

Gonzales's remark left Specter, the committee's ranking Republican, stammering.

"Wait a minute," Specter interjected. "The Constitution says you can't take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there's a rebellion or invasion?"

Gonzales continued, "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended" except in cases of rebellion or invasion.

Whata buncha double-talkin' bullshit criminal-servin' lawyer-speak!

"You may be treading on your interdiction of violating common sense," Specter said.

While Gonzales's statement has a measure of quibbling precision to it, his logic is troubling because it would suggest that many other fundamental rights that Americans hold dear also don't exist because the Constitution often spells out those rights in the negative.

Applying Gonzales's reasoning, one could argue that the First Amendment doesn't explicitly say Americans have the right to worship as they choose, speak as they wish or assemble peacefully. The amendment simply bars the government, i.e. Congress, from passing laws that would impinge on these rights.

Gee, I ain't no stinkin' Bush-blowin' shyster, but it seems to me that if they can't take away certain rights, then we have those rights to begin with.

Gonzales's Jan. 18 statement suggests that he is still seeking reasons to make habeas corpus optional, subordinate to President George W. Bush's executive powers that Bush's neoconservative legal advisers claim are virtually unlimited during "a time of war," even one as vaguely defined as the "war on terror" which may last forever.

There are a multitude of reasons to think that Bush and advisers will interpret every legal ambiguity in the new law in their favor, thus granting Bush the broadest possible powers over people he identifies as enemies.

As further evidence of that, the American people now know that Attorney General Gonzales doesn't even believe that the Constitution grants them habeas corpus rights to a fair trial.

There's that 'goddam piece of paper' again, specifically the 6th Amendment. Now we know exactly what the framers were protecting us from: Bush.

Yo, Alberto, take Bush's little pecker out once in a while so you can brush your teeth.

The neoconservative blunder of the century

Geezus, how would you pick one from so many? A blindfold and a pin? Better, an M-14 and a bayonet. Anyway, following up on Fixer's post, Paul Woodward picked one:

In terms of strategic blunders by the Bush administration, the invasion of Iraq would seem to be in a league of its own. Even so, it is quite possible that the administration's biggest error in judgment came soon after the invasion when under the stranglehold of neoconservative ideology, the White House passed up an opportunity to make a "grand bargain" with Iran.

In light of the Bush administration's current bellicose rhetoric directed at Iran, it's worth looking carefully at the golden opportunity that in 2003 Bush and Cheney tossed out.

At that time, the neocons seemed convinced that having secured an "easy victory" in Iraq, they would soon be able march on and topple the Islamic regime in Tehran. The Cheney gang was in no mood for reconciliation. Yet had they not become delirious with power, they might have recognized a diplomatic prize of unparalleled proportions. Indeed, it's conceivable that had a bargain then been struck, what has since unfolded as an Iraqi disaster might have turned out in a very different way. Not only that, but another war -- between Israel and Hezbollah -- would likely have been avoided.

Stories about what never happened are easy to ignore, but at a time when tensions between the United States and Iran are mounting dangerously, it is critically important that more Americans learn about what an Iranian government was capable of offering and what a priceless opportunity the White House foolishly squandered.

I understand the language, but Cheney never wanted what this "priceless opportunity" offered. He wanted, and still wants, to "conquer" Iran or bring it to its knees, albeit under the guise of "regime change", and hang the expense in lives lost and money thrown to his big biz bros.

Just one more reason to lock these bastards up.

Americans dislike Bush more than Cheney...

TPM Cafe

This has to be a milestone: A new poll has found that the American people dislike President Bush more than they dislike ... Dick Cheney. The poll - by Fox News, of all people - finds that President Bush's unfavorable rating is 58%, while Cheney's unpopularity rating is five points lower at 53%. Bush can, however, still take some small solace from the fact that his approval rating is one point higher than Cheney's; the President's is 38%, while the VP's is 37%.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of other numbers that are striking for a Fox poll: Only 39% of Americans view the GOP favorably, and 49% view them unfavorably. Meanwhile, a majority of respondents - 51% - have a favorable view of Dems, compared to only 35% who have an unfavorable view of what Fox likes to call the "Democrat Party."

I just took a poll right here and they all came out exactly equal. The favorability rating for Bush, Cheney, POX News, the Repuglicans and everybody who likes them, came up 0% - zip-point-zilch, nada, bupkis. Take your own.

Anti-McCain-Doctrine Legislation For Gordon

I have a lot of these "for Dummies" books. They had me in mind when they came up with the format. Here's one from Bob Geiger:

It gets hard to keep track of all this stuff, doesn't it?

When we have a President of the United States doing so many things wrong, for so long and we finally get a Democratic Congress that will actually take their oversight responsibilities seriously, well, the bills start flying faster than Dick Cheney can say "go f*** yourself" to Senator Patrick Leahy.

So let me clear up what's happening in the Senate where, at press time, we have three pieces of legislation that seek to neuter George W. Bush's ability to escalate the Iraq war.

Clear it up he does. Go read.

So, to wrap up: The Biden-Hagel-Levin resolution doesn't say enough and, with Congress speaking to a president who doesn't listen and doesn't care, it's more symbolic than anything that will truly make a difference. Senator Kennedy has shown commendable leadership on this issue, but his amendment relies on the more complex mechanism of cutting funding -- and it may not even stop the surge if Bush can get the money from somewhere else in the Defense Department budget.

I'll keep you posted on when any of these come up for a vote but I like the Dodd bill... It's forceful, simple, direct and doesn't involve questions of funding an escalation. It just says no more troops to Iraq - period.

And isn't that what the American people are saying?

Uh, yup.

The Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act of 2007


Joined by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Maxine Waters (D-CA), Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma) today introduced the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act of 2007, sweeping legislation, which would establish a 6-month timeframe for withdrawal for all US military forces from Iraq, provide a framework for bringing stability back to Iraq, and fully fund the VA health care system. The proposal is a direct response to President Bush's challenge over the weekend for those who oppose his planed escalation to put forth a plan of their own. Woolsey introduced the bill during a press conference held this afternoon in the Capitol. Below are her remarks, as prepared for delivery:

I'll cut to the chase:

"Our plan will also...

1. Withdraw all U.S. troops and military contractors from Iraq within six months from date of enactment.
2. Prohibit any further funding to deploy, or continue to deploy U.S. troops in Iraq. The bill does, however, allow for funding to be used, as needed, to ensure a safe withdrawal of all US military personnel and contractors, diplomatic consultations. Funding may also be used for the increased training and equipping of Iraqi and international security forces.
3. Accelerate, during the six month transition, training of a permanent Iraqi security force.
4. Authorize, if requested by the Iraqi government, U.S. support for an international stabilization force. Such a force would be funded for no longer than two years, and be combined with economic and humanitarian assistance.
5. Guarantee full health care funding, including mental health, for U.S. veterans of military operations in Iraq and other conflicts.
6. Rescind the Congressional Authorization for the War in Iraq.
7. Prohibit the construction of permanent US military bases in the country.
8. Finally, we believe that Iraqi oil belongs to the Iraqis. Once the oil is in the international market, the U.S. will certainly have access to our share. That's why our bill ensures that the U.S. has no long-term control over Iraqi oil.

"Our plan, with the exception of Veterans' benefits, will cost the American people pennies on the dollar as compared to continuing the occupation for two more years. It will save lives, bodies, and minds, and it will give Iraq back to the Iraqis. It is an important step in regaining our credibility in the region and throughout the world, and provides the President, and this Congress, with a comprehensive way to respond to the majority of Americans who want our troops to come home."

This bill is co-sponsored by: Barbara Lee (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Diane Watson (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Bob Filner (D-CA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX).

Sounds good to me. Let's see where it goes.

Quote of the Day

"Six years ago, we held off [saying anything negative about the administration]. But considering what's happened, I think we're owed an apology. Anyone with a rational mind and a sense of decency is being positioned as a lefty by the extreme right. I believe in the tenets of democracy, and when they get pushed, it pisses me off."

- Robert Redford, at the opening of the Sundance Film Festival on Thursday

via Perez Hilton

It's About Damn Time...

Pelosi seeks global warming committee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) sought to create a special committee Thursday in an effort to jump-start long-delayed government efforts to deal with global warming and produce a bill by Independence Day.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said the committee would hold hearings and recommend legislation on how to reduce greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide generated by fossil fuels, that most scientists blame for a gradual warming of the earth's climate.

"I promise to do everything in my power to achieve energy independence ... and to stop global warming," Pelosi said.

Pelosi set a goal of the Fourth of July for finishing a global warming bill that would "truly declare our energy independence."

The committee will be led by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who shares Pelosi's goals, said a Democratic leadership aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because Pelosi had yet to announce her choice.

Actual bill-drafting duties will be left to committees that have a say in the matter. That could be several because global climate change could affect virtually everything.

Pelosi's move increases the likelihood that Democrats will propose far tougher constraints on greenhouse gas pollution than the Bush administration wants. She also has outflanked for now — and angered — a few Democrats who head important House committees.


Heh ... I love it when Michael Stickings gets mad. Off to work ...

Dems are failures ...

I'm peeing myself laughing. I'll let Oliver Willis tell it:

As my readers can easily tell, I have and will enjoy the hell out of watching the GOP deal with being in the minority (and will enjoy it even more when the Democrats recapture the White House). Today's bit of fun is Patrick Ruffini declaring that the Democrats hundred hours is a failure because they accomplished their stated goals in 42 hours.


Fairness ...

I've been saying this for years (don't have enough room on the page to link to all my posts on this subject), and the wonderful TRex says it far better than I ever could:

As you might expect (and as Taylor pointed out earlier) the Wingnut crowd is not reacting well to the notion of the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. I don't know why anyone's surprised. The Right Wing's whole stock in trade is peddling mendacious bullshit to the masses, so naturally the concept of media reform to them is like throwing water on the Wicked Witch of the West. ("MEEEELLLL-ting! MEELLLLLLL-ting! Oh, what a world! All my beautiful WICKEDNESS...MELLLLL-tiiiiiiiiiiing...!")


You can see the results of this kind of thinking played out on a grand scale in Iraq, Afghanistan, and New Orleans these days. And frankly, that's not particularly pretty. Pox News and the Right Wing robber barons it enables on a daily basis are taking full advantage of one of the salient truths of Hermann Goering and the Nazi party:


If a network or program touts itself as 'news', they should be forced to tell the truth or be held accountable. Roger Ailes and the News Corp bunch should be doing jail time, or at least be sued into bankruptcy or non-existence. This is still America and we all have the right of free-speech, but a supposedly objective news organization spreading outright lies, supposition, and propaganda disguised in the veil of truth should be held accountable for the damage they do and the crimes they abet. The airwaves belong to us or have you forgotten that?

Our news media (not just Fox, but the others in varying degrees), thanks to the 'corporate' nature of the business nowadays, will not police themselves. Most news divisions at the networks are now under control of their entertainment divisions. When the news is forced to 'get ratings' to justify their existence, this mess is what you get. A good chunk of Americans don't even believe what they see on network news shows anymore. They come to us now.

It's also time for a crackdown on churches (and other congregations who enjoy tax exempt status) that are also de facto propaganda arms of the American Right. It's time for them to pay their fare share to support the war they helped get us into. Not only that, I want jail time for the preachers who exploit their position to control their ignorant, gullible flocks and meddle in affairs of state.

And we, as a people are gullible. We are lazy and greedy. Do you think you'd get all those African email schemes cluttering up your Inbox if we weren't? Do you think all these get-rich-quick schemes you see on late-night TV would proliferate? Do you think we would have elected the Chimp twice if Americans would ask as many questions and dig for the truth the way lefty bloggers do? Do you think anyone would have agreed to the Chimp's tax cuts (how's that $300 woking out for ya now) if they didn't believe the bullshit that it will 'all trickle down'? The middle class is disappearing and the gullible public is hastening the fall; their own fall.

Very soon, we'll all have to pay more taxes. It's a fact of life in order to pay this nation's obligations. If you're greedy and ignorant enough to believe we don't have to, or can defer them forever, you'd better get a grip soon because the new reality, the real reality, is gonna come as a shock. Times are a-changing. The Republicans and their henchmen (the preachers and corporate news) told you what you wanted to hear and you didn't question it. Well, I hope you had fun swimming in your denial for the past 6 years but the bills are coming due.

Whether it be higher taxes, loss of stature in the world community, and maybe even attacks on our homeland, we'll be paying soon enough. It's refreshing to see so many of you open your eyes in the past year ... finally, but as we move back to reality, you're going to be confronted with some painful truths. The spin meisters of the Right Wing Noise Machine will be out in force, to cast blame anywhere but the place it belongs. Hopefully, you people will keep your eyes open when the shit hits the fan and remember who got us into this mess in the first place.

The same people who do not want reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Casting Call ...

[This'll be on top for a couple days. New posts begin below ~ F.]

So, I've been debating this for a while now, since I got back from vacation in October anyway. I've let on how crazy my real world life has been lately and I've been wondering how I'm going to blog with even more coming down the pike, namely beginning contruction on the house in a couple weeks (I do all the work myself) and finishing a book I've been trying to write for 10 years that's now 6 months late (writing novels and blogging don't mix, due to the fact I haven't written anything worth a damn, novel-wise, for the 2 1/2 years since I started blogging, though I've tried). That, plus today the Angry Old Broad informed me she will be taking an indeterminate leave of absence to deal with family matters, brings me to the point where I'll need to make an addition to the team here at the Brain.

Since I started this blog, I've approached people whom I've wanted to come aboard and begged asked them. I harassed approached people whose work I was familiar with and thought would add a unique flavor to a blog run by a couple of crusty old vets (some a bit older and crustier than others ... heh). This time I'm gonna do it a little differently.

I'm gonna open it up to you folks, readers and fellow bloggers alike. I'm looking for somebody* who can post several times a day, preferably with a military background (but not a requirement) and a political tilt (well maybe more of a steep incline) to the left (if you're already a blogger, send me your URL so we can check out your stuff). I'm looking for somebody to take up my slack while I get my more pressing shit done over the next few months and remain a permanent member of the team once I (and hopefully AOB) return.

If you're interested in joining the staff here at the Brain or have any questions, email me; Gord and I will discuss it and get back to you. I'll leave this up top for a few days. I'm looking to do the hiatus thing by the end of January so I'd like to get this squared away before then.

I'd also like to take this time to thank the Angry Old Broad for her contribution to the Brain and pray she'll return when she gets everything squared away. She's our 'mom' and our conscience. We love ya, honey. The door is always open and we'll keep your chair warm.

*The Alternate Brain is an equal opportunity blog. We don't give a shit if you're a man, woman, red, black, white, brown, green, gay, straight, bi, transgender, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or Spaghetti Monster worshipper. Well, if you're a Rethug you're going to the back of the bus, but other than that ...

No talking!

Seems the Iranians wanted to help us straighten out the mess in Iraq:

Iran offered the US a package of concessions in 2003, but it was rejected, a senior former US official has told the BBC's Newsnight programme.

Tehran proposed ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and helping to stabilise Iraq following the US-led invasion.

Offers, including making its nuclear programme more transparent, were conditional on the US ending hostility.

But Vice-President Dick Cheney's office rejected the plan, the official said.


But heaven forbid we actually made a friend over there. You never know when another enemy might come in handy to distract the American public, like now. A diplomatic initiative like this one could form a basis for understanding between two hostile nations. But understanding is the last thing this administration wants.

Great thanks to Larisa Alexandrovna for the link.

Growing a set

Sen Pat Leahy of Vermont:

Leahy: "We knew damn well if he went to Canada he wouldn't be tortured. He'd be held and he'd be investigated. We also knew damn well if he went to Syria, he'd be tortured. And it's beneath the dignity of this country, a country that has always been a beacon of human rights, to send somebody to another country to be tortured."

C & L has the video, of course, and they also have Feingold reaming Alberto 'Abu Ghraib' Gonzalez .060 over:

Feingold: Oh, well it's nice that you didn't have us "in your mind" when making those accusations, but given that you and the President were running around the country accusing people of opposing eavesdropping on terrorists in the middle of an election, the fact that you didn't have Congressional Democrats in "mind" isn't significant. Your intent was to make people think that anyone who opposed the "TSP" did not want to eavesdrop on terrorists, even though that was false. No Democrats oppose eavesdropping on terrorists.

Like Gord says, pass the popcorn.

"...all we can change is the speed of our defeat."

One way to look at the situation in Iraq is to try to identify variables, elements that could change. Without change, the war is likely to end with troops having to fight their way out, if they can*.

The military situation in Iraq is not a variable. All that can change is the speed of our defeat. Some actions might slow it, although the time for such actions, such as adopting an "ink blot" strategy instead of "capture or kill," passed long ago.

Other actions could speed our defeat, an attack on Iran chief among them. It now looks as if the Bush administration may have realized that an out-of-the-blue, Pearl Harbor-style air and missile attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is politically infeasible. Instead, the White House will order a series of small "border incidents," pinpricks similar to last week's raid on an Iranian mission in Kurdistan, intended to provoke Iranian retaliation. That retaliation will then be presented as an Iranian attack on forces, with the air raids on Iranian nuclear targets called "retaliation." Fabricated border incidents have a long history as casus belli; perhaps the Bushies can dress some German soldiers up in Polish uniforms*.

As Bush made clear in last Wednesday's speech, his policies are not a variable. He will pursue the neocons' dreams all the way to Hell, where they originated.

In fact, we have already failed. The war in Iraq was lost long ago. In terms of the administration's objective of a "democratic Iraq," which Bush re-stated in his Wednesday speech, it was lost before the first bomb fell, because it was unattainable no matter what we did. Now, not even the minimal objective of restoring an Iraqi state is attainable, at least until Iraq's many-sided, Fourth Generation civil war sorts itself out, and probably not then. Events in Iraq are simply beyond our control; the forces our invasion and destruction of the Iraqi state unleashed far overpower any army we can deploy to Iraq, surge or no surge.

Once Democrats accept and announce that Congress cannot lose a war that is already lost, they will have the freedom of action they need to get us out. Polls suggest the public will go along; most Americans now realize the war is lost, regardless of what President Bush may say or do.

Senator Joe Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, put it best. According to the January 5 Washington Post, he said in an interview,

"I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost. ... Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy - literally, not figuratively."

I believe Senator Biden is correct; I said the same thing in an earlier column. If the question the Democrats put to the American people is, should we allow thousands more American kids to get wounded or killed so the Bush administration can put our withdrawal off until it is out of office, the public's answer will be clear. Killing our kids for national objectives is one thing; doing so for political advantage is something else.

The key variable thus comes down to this: do the Democrats in Congress have the courage and the communication skills to level with the people about why the war in Iraq is continuing after we have lost it? If not, they will have proven themselves as unfit to govern as the Republican majorities they replaced.

Note to Congress: it's time to shit or get off the pot.

*Just a note: I'm not going to go back and look up the references, but it's nice to see things I've said, original or not, in the big blogs.

"...due to your barren, fruitless womb..."

Watch Jon Stewart volunteer to take one for the team. He's a better man than I am...

This is just gettin' too fuckin' crazy...

Joe Conason

Should the United States attack Iran, which side would the Iraqi government support? The answer to that simple question is far from clear, despite the thousands of lives and billions of dollars we have sacrificed to support the ruling coalition in Baghdad. While the Bush administration seeks to isolate and even overthrow the Iranian regime as well as its Syrian ally, its partners in Iraq are establishing closer relationships with both.

Indeed, the most powerful elements of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's political coalition regularly collude with the Iranian intelligence apparatus - which the Bush administration has accused of arming the insurgents and terrorists who are attacking our forces, committing sectarian atrocities and undermining the new Iraqi democracy. The Maliki government has resumed diplomatic relations with Syria, signed a billion-dollar aid agreement with Iran and encouraged the expansion of Iranian consulates and border stations.

Friendship with Iran and Syria is endorsed not only by Shiite fundamentalists such as Moqtada al-Sadr, the Mahdi Army warlord, and his rival Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, chief of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq - but also by President Jalal Talabani and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Kurdish leaders who believe in secular democracy and actually like the United States.

So in Iraq, the friends of our enemies are . . . our best and only friends.

That lethal contradiction is among the many reasons why the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq won't achieve his objectives - and why the basic framework of his policy is fundamentally flawed.

Nothing proposed by President Bush in his "new way forward" speech solves this conundrum. Instead, he and his aides pretend that the Middle East is now divided between "reformers and responsible leaders" in Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, versus Iran and Syria. So said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Jan. 11, when she declared that the president's escalation represents a "regional strategy."

She was wrong, as usual.

There is no such simple divide in the Middle East. Even Israel has been secretly negotiating with the Syrians through third parties over the past two years, as revealed by the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. For the United States to rule out discussion with the Iranians or the Syrians - while the Iraqis exchange diplomats and sign agreements with those governments - is not a regional strategy. It is merely the residue of strategic failure.

When you can't tell which side is which, or where the goalposts are, or how many balls are in play, or what the object of the game is, or what the rules are, it's time to leave the game. Especially if a glimmer shines through your little pea brain that everybody else is gangin' up on you and you're losing because you were stupid enough to get in the game in the first place.

Duelling Puppeteers

Pensito Review

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki responded yesterday to criticism of him and his government by Pres. Bush and Sec. of State Condolezza Rice, saying that their grim assessments were giving aid and comfort to terrorists:

Commenting on a recent statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he said, "Rice is expressing her own point of view if she thinks that the [Iraqi] government is on borrowed time," humorously suggesting that it might be the Bush administration that is on borrowed time.

Here's a news flash for ya: they're both on borrowed time. Payback is comin' due.

The question this raises is whether Maliki is being told to act defiant toward his puppet masters in order to create an illusion of independence, or whether the puppet is truly cutting his strings.

Our neocon/big biz puppet is vying for control of his puppet with al Sadr. Eventually, and not far off, Maliki's strings will be cut and Iraq will be passed to local control with or without Maliki.

Bush might be able to postpone this until he is out of office at great expense of American blood and treasure, but he can't stop it. It's all about his ego now.

Swastika less four right angles...

From a book review at Buzzflash:

In a 2004 article that served as the basis for his new book pulling the fire alarm on thuggish Christian fascism, Chris Hedges recalled:

"Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told us that when we were his age, he was then close to 80, we would all be fighting the 'Christian fascists.'

The warning, given to me 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and other radio and televangelists began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government. Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global, Christian empire. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of those who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors had found a mask for fascism in the pages of the Bible.

...All debates with the Christian Right are useless. We cannot reach this movement. It does not want a dialogue. It cares nothing for rational thought and discussion. It is not mollified because John Kerry prays or Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School. These naive attempts to reach out to a movement bent on our destruction, to prove to them that we too have "values," would be humorous if the stakes were not so deadly. They hate us. They hate the liberal, enlightened world formed by the Constitution. Our opinions do not count.

This movement will not stop until we are ruled by Biblical Law, an authoritarian church intrudes in every aspect of our life, women stay at home and rear children, gays agree to be cured, abortion is considered murder, the press and the schools promote "positive" Christian values, the federal government is gutted, war becomes our primary form of communication with the rest of the world and recalcitrant non-believers see their flesh eviscerated at the sound of the Messiah's voice.

This is not fiction.

One of the most striking conclusions we drew from "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America" is that it offers some indirect insight into the inexplicable political survival of George W. Bush.

The world that Hedges enters and depicts is run by white Christian males who reach pinnacles of religious and political power through the use of fear. They see themselves as warriors for Christ. Male authority and apocalyptic violence are integral to the Christian fundamentalist movement.

George W. Bush couldn't be a better role model, could he?


Expecting to fail

Here's some more psychobabble about the Chimp by a coupla folks with letters behind their names. Here's the last little bit:

In the recent maneuvering toward the "new strategy" in Iraq, we have witnessed a great pretense of normal decision-making. But the president clearly made up his mind almost as soon as the "surge" alternative appeared, and apparently moved to cow others, including his new secretary of defense Robert Gates (his father's man) in the process. "Success" is the only alternative for him. "Failure" and disintegration of Iraq is unthinkable because it would be synonymous with his own internal disintegration.

As his decisions go awry, he exudes a troubling, uncanny aura of certitude (though some find it reassuring). He seems to expect to feel despised and alone (and probably has always felt that), as he has always secretly expected to fail. That expectation of failure leads to sloppy, risky, incompetent decisions, which in turn compel him to swerve from his fears of incompetence.

At this point, the president seems to have entered a place in his psyche where he is discounting all external criticism and unpopularity, and fixing stubbornly on his illusion of vindication, because he's still "The Decider," who can just keep deciding until he gets to success. It's hard not to feel something heroic in this position - but it's a recipe for bad, if not catastrophic, decisions.

Psychologically, President Bush has received support for so long because many have thought of him as "one of us." Most of us feel inadequate in some way, and watching him we can feel his inadequacies and sense his uncertainties, so we admire him for "pulling it off." His model tells us, "If you act like you're confident and competent, then you are." We are the culture that values the power of positive thinking and seeks assertiveness training. We believe that the right attitude can sometimes be more important than brains or hard work. He's bullied us, too. We don't dare to really confront the scale of his incompetent behavior, because then we would have to face what it means to have such an incompetent and psychologically disabled decision-maker as our president. It raises everyone's uncertainty. And that is, in fact, happening now.

Better late than never, I suppose. I've known about this pathetic little wimp since he ran in 2000 thanks to Molly Ivins and others, but I guess folks can't be bothered with substance, just style, when it's just a minor matter like deciding who's going to be the most powerful man in the world.

Damn near enough voters had him nailed down to keep him out, but he had a set of enablers that got him in anyway. He also had an opponent that was his own worst enemy when it came to campaigning.

If it hadn't been for 9/11, he might have gotten away with the charade long enough to get through his one term without doing irreversible damage to the nation, but such was not to be.

I don't much care that Bush is unhinged. A lot of us are, no big deal. Point is, his condition has gotten bad enough that he's a clear and present danger to us all.

He is good at setting himself up to fail. He's had a lifetime of practice. Things aren't going his way, as they shouldn't, and he's bound and determined to see the United States of America go down with him rather than admit colossal mistakes.

I don't care if the sonofabitch is in denial. I don't care if he sees what he's doing plainly and is forging on regardless, which is probably worse than denial. This is not about his self-esteem. It's about the future of the WORLD and he's blowing it big time.

Head first or feet first, straitjacket or handcuffs, Bush has to go.

Nothing to see here, move along ...

Joe Galloway* of McClatchy:

President Bush was asked in an interview this week why our military and their families are bearing all the sacrifices of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His response was telling.

The American people are sacrificing, too, Bush said. Their peace of mind is disturbed by the images of carnage they see on their televisions.


The educator-in-chief said that it's been his view all along that the American people need to keep living their lives without making sacrifices while 25,000 of their sons and daughters have been killed or wounded in combat in the last five years.


Our volunteer military is working just fine, Bush said. It can continue to shoulder the entire weight of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wars that have ground the Army and the Marine Corps beyond the breaking point.


Our troops and our military are now in deep trouble. Many of our soldiers and Marines are now pulling their third or fourth combat tours.

Those tours are being extended beyond the normal 12 months and the troops' time at home for family and training is being reduced from the promised and badly needed 12 months, all in order to man Bush's "surge" or escalation or augmentation in Iraq. And now Defense Secretary Gates has conceded that more troops are needed in Afghanistan, too. [emphases mine]


My peace of mind is disturbed every time I see the Chimp on TV.

Another year of this mess and we won't have an Army or Marine Corps to defend us, and conscription will be necessary. The Idiot-in-Chief is whistling past the graveyard, hoping to dump the entire mess in the next President's lap but I don't think it can wait that long, no matter how deeply in denial the Chimp seems.

I don't know how these guys have kept it together this long and it doesn't look like there's an end in sight. Wait. You're gonna start seeing the nasty shit that went on in Vietnam, more innocents killed as more and more troops lose their perspective, more fragging incidents as guys who begin to feel their only way out of Iraq will be in a "transport tube"; some gung ho, green, 2nd Looie gets in one of these guys' grille area at the wrong time he's gonna be on the wrong end of "friendly fire".

This is a mess and the "Bush/McCain Surge" will only make it worse for both sides. It's why I'm so annoyed that we're running the presidential race already. I don't care about Hillary's motives for signing on to blocking the surge as long as she's on board. I'll worry about folks running for President next year. I want the troops home and out of that meatgrinder this year. I'm proud of the Rethugs who crossed the line too, regardless of their motives. Chuck Hagel, Sam Brownback, Norm Coleman, Snowe, Voinovich, and the rest, good on yas. I don't care why, I'm just glad you did.

I'm glad you're all starting to see we are not only breaking our armed forces in Iraq, we're breaking our nation. Time for the rest of you to step up too. Remember what you were whining about 2 weeks ago? Bipartisanship? This is how it works.

*Tip o' the Brain to Dr. Attaturk (Podiatrist to the Stars) for the link.

Maybe the Iranians wouldn't be so dangerous ...

If we didn't arm the motherfuckers. Being that we're gonna invade 'em soon, you think the morons at the Pentagram might not want to outfit the enemy:

WASHINGTON - Fighter jet parts and other sensitive U.S. military gear seized from front companies for Iran and brokers for China have been traced in criminal cases to a surprising source: the Pentagon.

In one case, federal investigators said, contraband purchased in Defense Department surplus auctions was delivered to Iran, a country President Bush has branded part of an "axis of evil."

In that instance, a Pakistani arms broker convicted of exporting U.S. missile parts to Iran resumed business after his release from prison. He purchased Chinook helicopter engine parts for Iran from a U.S. company that had bought them in a Pentagon surplus sale. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents say those parts did make it to Iran.


Mrs. F couldn't find me an RPG on Ebay last year (I have issues with the ice cream man). She shoulda gone directly to the Pentagon. Idiots. Incompetents. Criminals.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

For, Against, For, Against

Seems a lot of us have been going back through our archives lately, establishing their bona fides they were against the war since the beginning of time (at least since they started blogging). Know what? If you're on our side, I'll stipulate you're anti-war. Okay? Can we move on to more important shit now?


Shaddap! I don't want to hear about Presidential candidates already. The primaries are a year away, for crying out loud.

5 minutes to midnight ...

This is comforting:

Global warming, a new factor being used by U.S. scientists in their "doomsday" predictions, has helped push the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock to five minutes before midnight - two minutes closer to Zero Hour than before.

This is the first time that the minute hand on the Doomsday Clock, a universally recognized indictor of the world's vulnerability to the threat of nuclear weapons, has moved since 2002.


Thank you, Mr. Bush.

Draft Karl Rove's Son

Yeah, like that'll happen. When we're dodging gravitationally induced descending aviating porcine excreta. Bill Robinson lays out the case for all supporters of the present imperialistic pipe dream.

Our president calls Karl Rove his "architect." The powers that be genuflect to him in a way unprecedented. But if this genius has had anything to do with the defining act of the Bush II administration, surely he is, as they say, "in it... to win it." Well I say, if you wanna surge baby, put your money where your mouth is.

Send your son.

Shouldn't there be some gesture of authenticity in this latest round of bloody cheerleading? Where's the conviction that this escalation-- I mean, "surge"-- can triumph? I know, I know, we can't send the Bush twins, they're drunk. And Condi has no offspring to offer up. She's married to her, um, job. But Karl Rove, the man all too happy to take credit for the Decider-in-Chief, has the perfect candidate to show us what he really believes in. Why not send Andrew? He's not exactly curing cancer. Last I heard, he was volunteering for the Governor of Texas. And we all know where that can lead.

Maybe Karl doesn't want to risk losing another family member. It's understandable. His mother killed herself, his gay father left the family. Maybe he wants Andrew to follow his own example: In December 1969, Karl's number was drawn for the Vietnam War draft. Yet, on February 17, 1970, he was deferred because he enrolled at the University of Utah. Even though he quickly withdrew from classes, he maintained the deferment until Dec. 14, 1971. Maybe it all runs in the family.

Still, one can't help but wonder... how can Karl Rove deny his son the chance to march in the victory parade-- after the surge-- when the troops return triumphant? That, truly, will be an unbelievable day.

Oh, Bill - how quaint. The scions of the rich and politically influential are groomed from birth to ascend to positions where they can send the less fortunate off to die so they can maintain their grip on power and wealth. Go themselves? Heavens, no! They are the chosen. By themselves. That's what the peasants are for.

Swift boating Scott Ritter

You remember Scott Ritter, the Marine-turned-arms inspector? You remember how he was running around with his hair on fire before the Iraq War and subsequent occupation, saying that Saddam didn't have WMDs? Glenn Greenwald looks at how everybody demonized him, Dem and Rethug alike, and the press dutifully following along:


Ritter's extremely prescient warnings were all but ignored in the mainstream American press, except when television panels were convened to smear his character and attack his credibility.

On January 26, 2003, Wolf Blitzer held a panel discussion on CNN to discuss Ritter's war opposition. Ritter was not present, but Peter Beinert, the pro-war Editor of The New Republic, and Jonah Goldberg, the pro-war pundit from National Review, were invited to urge the invasion of Iraq, mock Ritter's anti-war arguments, and smear him with a series of personal attacks.


Ritter was 'righter' than anybody from the get go and the spineless Dems and 'news' media never gave his views any objective thought, going out of their way to show him as a traitor. They were all engorged, waving it around after 9/11, seeing Bush as the 'Great Warrior'. Heh ... there's a laugh. All the 'adults' and 'manly men' who'd never stared into the business end of an enemy rifle wanting it as badly as that new red Corvette in the dealership window. Yeah, thanks for thinking with the wrong head, you assholes. 4 years on, your flaccid little pricks still ain't any bigger and we're 3000 lives in the hole with a half-trillion bucks up in smoke.

You know, I'd love to draft all these guys who 'fight with their keyboards' and make them public information officers at the company level in Iraq. If they manage to keep their heads, literally and figuratively, I wonder if they'd still be parroting Rethug and WH talking points? And why aren't these assholes in Iraq anyway? The war is going badly, the Army and Marines need more volunteers. If they believe in it so much, now's the time to trade keyboard for rifle. Aren't you patriots? Your country needs you to keep up morale over there and remind the troops what they're fighting for. 4 years on, what are we fighting for anyway?

I'm sure the families of the dead thank you for your commitment to the cause.

Aw jeez ...

Give your good thoughts to Jane. Dammit ...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Watch this

A tip o' the Brain to Lurch.

Memories ...



But in January 1971 that didn't really matter. Mine was only one of about eight or ten M16's in my squad - we also had a M60 machine gun. Four squads made a platoon, three platoons made up Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. We packed immense firepower; my limited marksmanship skills made little difference. That became clear to me in my first "firefight". I use the term loosely since we took almost no return fire. But we sure poured it out even as our targets melted into the jungle. Our first salvo swept away the small brush in front of us. Our continued fire pruned away larger vegetation while the M60 rounds chewed through small trees. The entire engagement lasted no more than one very long minute and left the air filled with smoke and the smell of cordite. Our follow-up patrol found drops of blood but no other sign of the two individuals who had the misfortune to intersect our path.


They write themselves*

Incredible. And he actually believes this shit:

... I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that... ~ the Chimp on 60 Minutes.

*An increasingly regular series as reality and the Bush administration get farther and farther apart.

Great thanks to Xsociate for the link.

Stating the obvious

Stars and Stripes

LANDSTUHL, Germany - U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Monday that Afghanistan has made some progress, but the country is "tottering" and needs more troops to finish off Taliban and al-Qaida forces.

"I'm encouraged by the progress in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is tottering," Clinton said. "We've got to get more support there to make sure we try to finish off the Taliban and al-Qaida that are regrouping, coming across the border. We expect a big spring offensive."

Obvious, but thank you anyway, Senator. If, as President, you'll get us out of Iraq and back into Afghanistan, I'll vote for you.

If you can make it happen sooner, I'll still vote for the Democratic candidate.

It's the 16th of January ...

And Moderate already has a list.

More popcorn, Moqtada? We're gettin' to the good part...

Fareed Zakaria

Lt. Col. Steven Duke says the Mahdi Army is 'sitting on the 50-yard line, eating popcorn, watching us do their work for them.'

Over the past three and a half years, the dominant flaw in the Bush administration's handling of Iraq is that it has, both intentionally and inadvertently, driven the country's several communities apart. Every seemingly neutral action - holding elections, firing Baathists from the bureaucracy, building up an Iraqi military and police force - has had seismic sectarian consequences. The greatest danger of Bush's new strategy, then, isn't that it won't work but that it will - and thereby push the country one step further along the road to all-out civil war. Only a sustained strategy of pressure on the Maliki government - unlike anything Bush has been willing to do yet - has any chance of averting this outcome.

Otherwise, American interests and ideals will both be in jeopardy. Al Qaeda in Iraq - the one true national-security threat we face from that country - will gain Sunni support. In addition, as American officers like Duke and Brady have noted, our ideals will be tarnished. The U.S. Army will be actively aiding and assisting in the largest program of ethnic cleansing since Bosnia. Is that the model Bush wanted for the Middle East?

All Bush ever wanted was what the neocons told him to want - oil, hegemony, and the dominance of Israel in the area. Oh, and a legacy unlike the one he has already gotten out of the deal.

No one 'chooses to lose', but Bush did when he started his 'war'...

Good article in The American Spectator:

Oh I know, I know, we lost the war in Vietnam, were humiliated, and we're never going to let it happen again. But that's the whole point. We're always going to end up losing when we intervene in these civil wars and try to prop up a puppet regime in a country that basically doesn't exist.

How many times do we have to learn this lesson? There is no Iraqi democracy. All there is are Sunni and Shi'ites who have been fighting each other since 700 A.D. It's humiliating to watch President Bush playing Br'er Rabbit with this Tar Baby, crying, "Where are you Iraqis? Why don't they stand up?" They only exist in his imagination. Prime Minister Maliki isn't George Washington, he's a frightened bureaucrat trying to avoid being assassinated. He can't "disarm the Shi'ite militia," they're the ones who keep him in power. They're already killing television comedians, university professors, anyone who represents normal life. They'd kill him in an instant if he turned against them.

Bush had his Clark Clifford moment when Baker and company handed him The Iraq Report. Amazingly, he didn't take it. Instead, he was reportedly won over by Fred Kagan's "Choosing Victory," cooked up at the American Enterprise Institute.

I would challenge anyone to read this report. Here's the way Kagan begins:

* American resources are great: 300 million people, $12 trillion in GDP compared to 25 million Iraqis, $100 billion in Iraq GDP in a country the side of California.

* Success requires effort and will, but we need not choose to lose.

It's interesting that he implies we're at war with the whole country. I thought we were supposed to be defending somebody? Someone should also inform Kagan of Archimedes' principle. The force of an object at the end of a lever is its weight times the distance. We may have six zillion times the wealth of the Shi'ite militia, but the war is being fought on their home territory. By the time a U.S. soldier starts poking through the warrens of Sadr City, all that wealth back home has been reduced to his rifle and body armor against a bunch of IEDs and AK-47's.

Kagan's analysis simply reprises the joke that circulated around the army in 1970. The Pentagon hires a huge computer, plugs in all the data about comparative forces, and asks, "How long is it going to take us to win in Vietnam?" The answer comes back, "You won back in 1965."

The best suggestion I've heard is this. Let's schedule a referendum for March asking the Iraqis if they want us to go or stay. They're a democracy, right? Let them decide. If they want us to stay, then we've answered the world. If they want us to go, then we can withdraw with honor.

A referundum of the Iraqis as to whether they want us to stay or go? Good idea, but if you think Bush would permit that, just on the off chance (cough!) it might not go his way, then I've got this nice bridge for you...

As to 'honor', in the main, our troops have acquitted themselves with honor. For far long enough. Bring them home.

This nation's leaders have no concept of the meaning of the word. They confuse it with 'vanity' and being the biggest dog on the block or else. Which they're not.

There is no 'honor' in lying to get your way at the expense of everybody else.

Lightweight stuff

Me'n Mrs. G had a real "Global Warming Weekend", with just a smidgen of irony since it's been -2° to about 20°F around here for days. Spent eight bucks on Pay-Per-View. We watched An Inconvenient Truth, which I highly recommend to everyone. To warm up (heh!) for that we watched Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, with Queen Latifah, beautiful as ever, as a Wooly Mammoth who thinks she's a possum. Heady stuff.

We haven't watched an awards show for years, but this time we were kinda interested, and besides, there ain't enough good TV shows these days that there was anything else to watch, so we watched the first coupla hours of the Golden Globes. 'Watched' might be a little strong, but we looked up whenever something would come on we were interested in.

The actress and the show that we wanted to win, won. Congratulations to America Ferrera and Ugly Betty. To see what she really looks like, go here. There's about four shows a week we like, and that's one of them. If you haven't watched it, watch it.

I return you now to our regular earth-shattering cosmic programming.

How's that working out for ya?

Dr. Attaturk:

It looks likely Castro is going to die a natural death some 47 years after taking power, and 43 and a half years after we staked out our policy of boycotting him.

WOW, how fucking effective has that been?


Late for work, bye!


In the vein of my post the other night, via Flame, a letter to the people of Iran and Iraq, and others:

First let me speak to the people in Iran.

There is a large majority of Americans who are terrified by our governments inability to hear our voices. We do not want war. Not with you, not with anyone. We admire your ancient culture and respect your religious beliefs...

Now, the people of Iraq hear me out.

Please understand our sorrow in what our leaders have done to your nation. While most of us believe that Saddam Hussein was a terrible dictator, we also understand that for many years, our country supported him and only deposed him as the president of Iraq when it was beneficial to our government. Our leaders lied to us about the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Most of our citizens at the time were quite fearful over what was happening in the world due to the attacks on September 11, 2001, and our president used that fear to further his personal agenda. It was WRONG. It was not our place to overthrow a dictator; it was yours if you so choose.


To the people of Israel...

I'd like to say we understand.

We recognize your struggles in the world. We understand that for many years you were persecuted. However, that does not give you the right to do to others what has been done to you. I'm not suggesting that you bare all of the responsibility for the struggles in the West Asia, but you're not helping to solve it either.


Much more and very well thought out. A good morning read.

Monday, January 15, 2007


God we could use him now.

Bush the Empire Slayer

I never heard of this guy until just now, but I'm going to call this piece by Bernard Chazelle today's "damn sure oughta read".

Somewhere, deep in the cold, worm-infested soil that a mother will keep watered by tears, lies one of 3,000 young Americans. Dispersed across the land, thousands more will forever carry the scars of war in their battered bodies and hollowed souls, mutants battling hellish shadows and silent phantoms. And the Iraqis, yes those, Mr President, see them spiral into Dante's lower rings of hell, as they join the fastest-growing sect in the land: the dead - hundreds of thousands strong. Watch the White Man's Burden devolve into an orgy of torture and mayhem. (Has it ever devolved into anything else?)

Could the invasion have succeeded? Not a chance. All the grousing about incompetent planning is the age-old excuse-making prattle of losers. Leave aside the not-so-trifling fact that the United States never had the proper DNA for empire (lite or otherwise). It is the incontrovertible reality of the 21st century that the time for the White Man's Burden has passed. Not only is the era of empire gone, but the days of the so-called liberal hegemonic order are numbered. Even before 9/11, the cumulative impact of European integration, the rise of Asian powers, and the resurgence of Muslim identity sounded the death knell for American hegemony. To hasten the burial will be one of Bush's legacies. Alas, incalculable misery in the Middle East, enduring anti-American hatred, and future terrorist attacks in London, Paris, and Seattle will be another one.

To connect it to the war for terror would indeed be easier. A self-declared uniter, Bush is beginning to unite the country around the belief that he is the worst president in US history. Whether his reelection, ipso facto, makes the electorate the dumbest ever is a logical inference that a political culture drunk with self-admiration will have trouble getting its woozy head around.

To call Team Bush a thundering herd of galloping loons is to be unnecessarily kind. For rarely has daftness been elevated to such a lofty plane of power and influence. [...]

The unfolding catastrophe in Iraq had a single cause: the reassertion of US hegemony after 9/11. Its trigger was a rare astral alignment. Big Oil, the neocons, the Christian fundamentalists, the liberal hawks, AIPAC, the MSM, and 9/11 all formed cosmic dots in the sky that only one power could - and did - successfully align: the president of the United States. No American leader has so much owned a war.

And none has so little owned up to it. Victors are never war criminals. That's because they get to write the history books. Bush won't have that chance. The die has been cast and the hour is too late for him or anyone to alter the unforgiving judgment of posterity. Therein, paradoxically, lies our quandary. For, if freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, then Bush is a free man - free to pursue the most malignant policies, heedless of the consequences to his unworsenable presidential standing. Beware the desperation of a cornered man.

That's pretty much what we're seeing. It's going to get even uglier.

Iraq: Beyond the Gallows

Conflicts Forum

The Bush administration's provocative posture towards Iran in recent days could thus say more about what has already happened than about what is yet to come. From the vantage point of the Oval Office, raising the specter of a military confrontation with Iran may in fact seem preferable to facing the greatest humiliation of all: the acknowledgement of an Iranian victory in Iraq. Yet it now appears that Saddam's ignominious end was exactly that: victor's justice - Iranian victor's justice. It is a message from Iran to Iraq's Sunnis that it is Iran, and not the U.S, that is now the dominant force in Iraq. Iran may have been diplomatic enough to call Saddam's execution a "victory for the Iraqi people," but the blunt message heard across the region is that Iran will not relent in asserting its title as the region's leading power.

The message for the Bush Administration should be clear: shifts in military strategy cannot undo the fact that the political struggle for Iraq has already been lost.

The technical term for what Bush is attempting to do by way of self-salvation in Iraq is "shoveling shit against the tide", the "shit" being our troops in his estimation.

Bush: I'm Sending More Troops To Iraq No Matter What Congress Does

Think Progress

This week, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) introduced a resolution requiring President Bush to gain new congressional authorization before escalating the War in Iraq.

President Bush, however, says that he is going to send more troops to Iraq no matter what Congress does. Watch an excerpt from his 60 Minutes interview tonight:

It's there to watch if you've got a stronger stomach than I do.

Legal scholars on the right and left agree that Congress has the legal power to prevent an escalation or end the war completely.


Q: If you have the authority to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do.

BUSH: I think I've got, in this situation I do, yeah. I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it. But I've made my decision. And we're going forward.

Congress, you've just been bitch-slapped. You gonna take it from that punk?


Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Shown (left to right): Senators Feingold, Durbin, Boxer, Obama leave contentious hearing on Capitol Hill.

Robot Aircraft to Monitor Canadian Border
Will watch for seniors returning to U.S. with arthritis medicine.

Administration Will Seek Continuing Bipartisan Advice on Iraq
By talking to Joe Lieberman.

Gas Prices Plummeted During Two Months Before Election, Started Rising Day After
Consumer advocates call for more frequent elections.

Roll Call

Prince Harry: "Present, sir."

Jenna: (crickets)

NotJenna: (crickets)

Just sayin', being that the Chimp needs more troops.

Describing Lieberman

I think Michael Stickings says it best:

... Joe Lieberman has proven himself to be a dangerous idiot who thinks Bush is a great leader, cozies up to McCain and the neocons, plays the 9/11 card in defence of the Iraq War, and uses his children and grandchildren as gratuitous props in his outrageous fearmongering ...

Joe is only out for Joe and he's cast his lot with the Neocons. It was nice to see Chuck Hagel hand him his ass yesterday, but it's sorta sad a Dem couldn't have done it before Election Day. A shame Dems were conflicted over supporting their own party's candidate or spoiled, whiny Lieberman. Well, you got what you wished for. Now Joe can openly support the Chimp, undercut the Dems on national TV, and there's nothing you can do because you're afraid he'll jump ship to the Rethugs (as if he hasn't already).

Dear Dem leadership,

Ned Lamont wouldn't be parroting WH talking points on Timmeh's show. Good thing all you senators are "good friends" (right, Mr. Dodd?) and have that "collegial relationship". It's time you stopped kissing Joe's ass and call a spade a spade. Like Michael says, he's a "dangerous idiot".

Sunday, January 14, 2007


This is my overwhelming deal. It's what motivates me to blog, it's the basic story behind my books, it's my message.

I have a big problem with innocents being trampled. I have a problem when every time the big guys make a move, a buncha innocent folks have to pay the price. Reminds me of the joke: What's the black shit between the elephant's toes? Slow moving pygmies.

In my life I've seen too many innocent people, men, women, and children, run over because somebody a million miles away makes a decision. I can't take for granted that some people, somewhere, have to pay the price for polices a buncha folks who somehow are smarter than the rest of us pull out their collective ass, and that it's okay.

Like the unfortunate goatherders in Somalia, whose fires were mistaken for an al-Qaeda encampment. 90% just shrug and say 'oh well, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time'. Nice. So were those 3000 people at the World Trade Center on September 11th.

That's why people's cavalier attitude toward war, this surge in particular, chaps my ass. And it's not just folks' disregard for the lives of the troops who will be sent there, or have their tours extended, or be retained under stop-loss; though the troops are probably better prepared for it. When I was in, I was used to getting pissed on and told it was raining.

It's the poor bastids in Iraq, not the 'dead-enders' not the jihadists, but the regular folks who only want to keep their families safe, put food on the table, and give their kids a better life than they had. These poor people were getting by under Saddam, they were at peace, and though living was hard, their sons and daughters had a chance to get an education and make something of themselves. If they stayed out of the way, didn't make waves, and minded their own business they could live half-decently.

Because some moron, and a buncha other morons with him, decided that removing a despot who was contained, who kept the peace between people who have hated each other for 1400 years (something we have yet to do), was the right thing to do for whatever reason, that has all changed for the average guy. Now he's afraid to send his wife to the market, send his kids to school, or let his daughter out on the street unescorted if at all.

Because of that same buncha morons, a group of Somali goatherders won't be coming home to the families who depended on them, and the animals who were also slaughtered. Do you think these poor guys didn't have families? Did you think the goats were there for decoration? I wonder how many months' supply of meat and milk those goats represented. Did you not learn, the last time our troops were in Somalia, how these poor people have to eak out a living in a land of anarchy and chaos? Or did you even pay attention? Yeah, the black shit between the elephant's toes.

Do any of you realize how lucky we are? How lucky we are not to be subject to the tsunami that occurs when great nations shrug. We just shrug and go about our lives. Twenty thousand more troops? Yeah, no problem, ain't my kid. A surge? Yeah, no problem, it's just a buncha brown folks who like to kill each other anyway so it doesn't matter what we do there. Airstrike on al-Qaeda? Oops, just a buncha Somali goat ropers, no big deal; we'll get 'em next time.

It's nice to be at arm's length, not to be the one pulling the trigger. Take it from someone who has. It's nice to know that no matter what the clown parade in Washington decides, you'll probably wake up tomorrow and do what you do every Monday morning. You take it for granted, whether the President orders an airstrike on a buncha Somali farmers or sends three carrier groups into the Persian Gulf, you'll still pull out of your driveway and go to work. Whether the President sends twenty thousand troops into Baghdad or not, you'll still come home to your wife and kids tomorrow night.

As you lay comfortably in your beds tonight, think about the poor folks who are praying they live through tomorrow. They're the ones who are paying for our leaders' decisions. The black shit between the elephant's toes.

Quote of the Day

Two today.

Frank Rich:

What the world saw on Wednesday night was a defeated Willy Loman who looked as broken as his war.

Steve Gilliard:

Why the fuck is the president listening to this fat motherfucker who wouldn't know how to load an M-4, much less take one apart in the dark.

To all the Connecticut Dems ...

Who voted for Lieberman over Lamont. To all the Senate and House Dems who campaigned with Lieberman over Lamont (Especially you, Mary Landrieu):

Go fuck yourselves.

Glad we were there ...

For your photo ops. Seems you didn't give a shit after you used us to get what you wanted.

Come on, Steve

I never thought of Steve Soto as naive. I love his posts and his blog (he is quoted many times on this page), but God, man, do you realize, even if you are technically correct, that you're talking about the lives of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines?


Assuming that Gates did not lie to the Senate yesterday, I can support Bush's plan with qualifications. I think it is too late for Bush's plan to work, for the reasons I gave about al-Maliki, and because Bush should have taken these steps a year ago. Politically, I am glad to see that after this blog said late this week that the Democrats should answer Bush's challenge by adopting the ISG report as their policy, tomorrow's Post reports that Democrats are doing exactly that. But in the interim, with Gates tying the gradual surge to concrete steps by the Iraqis, I can support what Bush is proposing here, albeit months too late. Yes, the alternative is to withdraw, cut off funds for the escalation, or demand that the ISG report be implemented immediately. But the ISG report doesn't propose going after Al Qaeda immediately nor does it tie a surge to immediate Iraqi commitments to their own security. At the other end of the spectrum, Bush could also have escalated without any benchmarks or even kept the status quo without any tie to Iraqi performance. He didn't; instead he is inserting more troops to go after Al Qaeda, and to buy the Iraqis one last time window to take over for themselves.


Yeah, Steve, I would have supported a 'surge' too, if it would have happened in 2003, when we realized we didn't have enough troops to protect Iraqi infrastructure. In 2004, when we knew we didn't have enough troops to clear and hold the neighborhoods we pacified. But this war was doomed to failure before the balloon went up and nothing we do now can stop it. Well ... unless we abdicate what little morality we have left and say 'kill 'em all and let God sort out the mess'.

A 'surge' now will only squander American, and more Iraqi, lives. I'd support a 'surge' if it weren't doomed to failure, if it wouldn't sentence more Americans to die. There is no Divine Wind in the U.S. aside from the bad farts coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The lives of highly trained and motivated soldiers are not meant to be squandered to see if it might work. If you "think it is too late for Bush's plan to work", why bother in the first place? I lay odds one of your kids isn't staring down the sights of his rifle at the enemy, I'll lay odds you never did either or you wouldn't be so cavalier about this.


The burden will solely be upon Bush to deliver what he as the commander in chief says can work. If it doesn't work by the summer, he is done and Congress can take control of foreign policy for the remainder of his term.

Yes, his political strategy is right on, and it would be sound if we were talking about something where American lives didn't hang in the balance. When 3, 4, 5 or 10 U.S. troops die every day, political strategy and expediency don't play. Over 2800 troops have died since 'Mission Accomplished', we don't have the time, or the troops, to try different plans and wait a Friedman Unit or two to see if they work. Let me repeat; American lives hang in the balance. Our soldiers' are not guinea pigs, not lab rats. They are here to defend this nation and as long as they are in Iraq our defense suffers.

Yes, Steve, if you look at this in a clinical, detached manner, you are decidedly correct. Unfortunately, as someone who's been in combat on more than one occasion, I can't look at the deaths and maimings of my brothers and sisters in a clinical, detached manner. I can't square their losses for political gains, sir, and I refuse to trade more of their lives for a little more leverage over the Chimp.

Read my lips: No more troops to Iraq, period. Those who are there already need to be brought home now.

Our troops are not just numbers on a force strength chart or killing machines like Ahnold's Terminator. They are men and women with lives and families who volunteer to keep this nation safe. It's time we stopped treating them like pieces on a game board and realize they are human beings who are going to come home with real problems. Our focus should be getting them home in one piece and giving them the help they need when they do get home, not using them in some game played by people who don't have to worry about getting blown up as they pull out of their driveway in the morning.