Wednesday, November 30, 2005

As I said...

Speaking of Murtha, he made my point much more succinctly on Hardball.
This is a real war; this is not a war of words.
Indeed.

Update: The National Review say, nah, it's a war of words.

Sadly, this sounds about right

According to Rep. John Murtha, who was on Hardball earlier tonight, the "long haul" in Iraq may be longer than you think.
(W)e`ve got a position where if we won`t redeploy, as I`m suggesting, and let the Iraqis change their own destiny, let them handle their own destiny, we`re going to be there for 100 years. I remember one time in the closed hearing, one of the top generals said, "we`ll be there for 25 years." I said you saying 25 years? A lot of people think it would take that long.
25 years? Surely he must be joking, right? I don't think so.

Consider this: According to most officer career progression stats, it takes roughly 25 years to "build" a general. Along the way, an officer has to take certain steps--platoon leader, company commander, staff positions, Command and General Staff College, battalion commander, War College and, finally, general. These steps and the training they entail are important and are mirrored in the similar creation of a professional, well-trained Non-Commissioned Officer corps as well.

Bush, in suggesting that you can get a real army up to speed quickly is simply ignoring that, in doing that, you're often putting people in charge because, say, they can read (though this is probably a rarer reason to promote in a more educated Iraqi populace) or they've had the most combat experience. I saw these sorts of things more than once in Afghanistan. I don't fault the tactic, because a command structure must exist, but it does not mean you have a professional officer or senior NCO corps.

In Afghanistan, however, those who were moved into command positions due to combat experience had already fought beside members of other ethnic groups. The Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks and other ethnicities joined in battle against the Russians and, due to the number and diversity of ethnicities, no single ethnicity ever completely controlled another. Yes, Afghans have ethnic skirmishes to this day, but they are decreasing.

Iraq, as we know, was a country that has always been split along ethnic lines. We are already seeing the effects of this split in the appearance of ostensible Shiite-controlled torture chambers. In order to create an army and national police force which consider themselves Iraqi will take much, much longer in Iraq than it did in Afghanistan. It's a simple fact. In the report (PDF link) we talked about earlier today (which was delivered before the war), Conrad C. Crane and W. Andrew Terrill predicted this.
The most likely development would be for parties to emerge based on ethnic, religious, tribal, and other such factors. Thus, even under free elections, differences within Iraqi society may be further exacerbated. Ethnically-based political parties generally increase divisions rather than mitigate them in highly fractious countries. Moreover, the current Kurdish political movements are also armed militias and thus set the wrong kind of example for others to follow by establishing political organizations which also maintain para-military forces.
So, if you want to stay the course, know that it will probably be a longer haul than you thought. Unless we're willing to spend a couple decades there, the country will most likely go through some violent upheaval one way or another.

Me, I'd rather our soldiers weren't there for it, protecting a government which has said our soldiers are legitimate targets. Murtha's plan is the right one. "(R)edeploy to the surrounding areas so that we can go back in if there`s a terrorist buildup. Now, define Iraqi insurgency versus a terrorist buildup. If the terrorist camps do come into Iraq, then we could go back in if they threaten our allies or us. There`s no other plan that makes any sense to me."

Agreed.

Update: More, from an old artilleryman.

Update: Brzezinski echoes my points.

A message from the FCC

The Chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin:
You can always turn the television off and, of course, block the channels you don't want, but why should you have to?
Right.

And I don't want to have to pass by books in the library that might challenge the way I think either. Or see women's faces or legs because it gets me all frisky.
























Ah, yes, that's much better.

Update: Martin's even pissing of the Cornerites.

This is supposed to be a democracy, dammit!

When did you bastards get together and vote Kos the Leader of the Angry Left? I didn't even get my ballot!

Can I be Treasurer of the Angry Left?

Damn hippies

Froomkin points us to this story, in which we find a couple of peacenik hippie types trying to tear down Glorious Leader's speech.

Yeah, they wrote their paper (PDF link) more than a month before his speech and, you gotta admit, they were completely right when they warned that (as the AP's Charles J. Hanley puts it) "armed resistance to an occupation would grow, a harsh American response would further alienate Iraqis, and establishing political stability would prove difficult," but they're hippies all the same. Just read some of this wacko stuff they wrote:
  • It appears increasingly unlikely that U.S., Iraqi and coalition forces will crush the insurgency prior to the beginning of a phased U.S. and coalition withdrawal.

  • It is no longer clear that the United States will be able to create (Iraqi) military and police forces that can secure the entire country no matter how long U.S. forces remain.

  • The United States may also have to scale back its expectations for Iraq's political future.

  • All future wars should have carefully planned exit strategies based on something other than best case planning for the future of the countries involved.
These madmen are clearly anarchists. Why would we need to think beyond the flower-strewn streets phase?

I mean just look at this one guy's bio. Apparently they left out that he's some sort of pansy terrorist sympathizer.
CONRAD C. CRANE is the Director of the U.S. Army Military History Institute. Before accepting that position, he served with the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) at the U.S. Army War College, where he held the General Douglas MacArthur Chair of Research. He joined SSI after his retirement from active military service, a 26-year military career that concluded with 9 years as Professor of History at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA). Dr. Crane has authored or edited books and monographs on the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and has written and lectured widely on airpower and landpower issues. Before leaving SSI, he coauthored a prewar study on reconstructing Iraq with W. Andrew Terrill that in?uenced Army planners and has attracted much attention from the media. Dr. Crane holds a B.S. from USMA and an M.A. and Ph.D from Stanford University. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.
Terrible.

The bird of peace

Oh, the rightwingers are angry.
Moonbats blocked buses that held President Bush and the buses today with anti-War and anti-Bush messages. The protestors show their intelligence by whipping out the middle finger and making obscene comments.













Tsk. Tsk.

I'm so disappointed. Cursing? The finger? Just pitiful. Some people should know better.

Happy Holidays from Fox News!

Dispatches from the "War on Christmas":
Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News commentator, believes the greeting "Happy Holidays" offends Christians celebrating the season. "It absolutely does," he declared on "The O'Reilly Factor."
Yep, Bill and his buddy John Gibson have just been blasting the "secularists." Last night he excoriated those who would deny Christmas in his "Talking Points Memo."
The victories for Christmas traditionalists, that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo". All over the country, the Christmas controversy is being talked about and counterattacks are underway to blunt the diminishment of the Christmas season.

As we reported, a number of retail companies will no longer use the words `Merry Christmas'. Some school districts have banned Christmas songs. And the ACLU is threatening a number of lawsuits against towns that allow Christmas displays on public property.

But now the backlash has begun. The Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has directed that the decorated tree in front of the Capitol be called a Christmas tree. Someone, and that person remains elusive, changed the name to the holiday tree. Hastert has now changed it back.

In Boston, someone -- and that person remains elusive -- do you sense a pattern here -- ordered the traditional Christmas tree on the common to be called the holiday tree. But Boston Mayor Tom Menino says no, it will be called a Christmas tree, the way it's always been called a Christmas tree.

In Encinitas, California, north of San Diego, the traditional Christmas parade was changed to a holiday parade. Again, nobody will say who did that. But Encinitas Mayor Dan Dalinger has changed it back to the Christmas parade.

In response, the Leucadia town council, the Bernese Mountain Doll Club, the Girls Scouts Co-service unit and one Jewish congregation say they will boycott the Christmas parade in Encinitas because they are offended by the word `Christmas'. And I don't know about you, but I will miss the Bernese Dog Club.

Also, the American Family Association reports that its campaign of encouraging retail companies to use Christmas in advertising has resulted in the Lowe's stores renaming holiday trees as Christmas trees. Well, good for the AFA.

This Christmas madness will not stop until traditional Americans hold the anti-Christmas forces accountable. If you do that, Christmas will return to the marketplace and to the public square. If you do nothing, the Christmas tradition will diminish to be replaced by the winter holiday tradition.

Believe me when I tell you, the secular progressive forces that are driving the anti-Christmas agenda hate "The Factor" for exposing it. So do many CEOs who avoided the banishment of Christmas. They can't stand us.

But in the true spirit of Christmas, we forgive them and wish them the very best. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. And that's the Memo.
And John Gibson points out in his book that a whole bunch of people are fighting against Christmas.
The wagers of this war on Christmas are a cabal of secularists, so-called humanists, trial lawyers, cultural relativists, and liberal, guilt-wracked Christians -- not just Jewish people.
Not just Jews, right, Johnny? Wink wink.

It's nice to know that Fox is looking beyond "It's a Wonderful Life" to bring back that other "holiday" classic, The International Jew.

As Bill O'Reilly told them last year, if Jews don't like it, they "gotta go to Israel then."

However, as an eagle-eyed Kos diarist points out, the Foxholes can't even live up to their own hate speech. Want some "holiday ornaments" for your "holiday tree"? Why not get one with "The O'Reilly Factor" logo smeared on it?
























HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

But I'm still creeped out.

Lipstick on a pig

Meet the new plan. Same as the old "plan."

The worst moment of cognitive dissonance in the whole bit? In the "Eightfold Path to Iraqi Enlightenment" which ends the document, "Pillar Six" is to "Help Iraq Strengthen the Rule of Law and Promote Civil Rights." One of its objectives is that "Iraq's government operates consistent with internationally recognized standards for civil rights and rule of law."

Quoted at the bottom of the page? Alberto Gonzalez. "One of the most important ways to fight terrorism is to promote democracy, and one of the most important ways to promote democracy is the rule of law."

I sure hope that Alberto remembers to pass along to our new Iraqi friends that "internationally recognized standards for civil rights" don't apply in situations when you have "difficult to predict...needs and circumstances" and, when the going gets tough, the tough betray their principles.

Think Progress takes a much deeper look at the "plan."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pravda in Iraq

My people in Army Public Affairs look really bad today (Link via Atrios).
As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Here's the kicker: While I was in Afghanistan, I noticed that Public Affairs was being taken over by "Information Operations." We fought it hard. We were supposed to be the honest brokers of information. If people couldn't trust us, then we were pointless.

So I started doing some research into this shift and whose name did I find at the center of the bullshit pile topped by this sorry day? None other Zalmay Khalilzad, the current ambassador to Iraq and, while I was there, the ambassador to Afghanistan. If what we're doing in Iraq today surprises you, you haven't been paying attention to good 'ol "Zal," who co-edited a book for the Rand Corporation called Strategic Appraisal: The Changing Role of Information in Warfare. It includes this passage written by Brian Nichiporuk (PDF link):
Three cautions are important when discussing perception-shaping strategies against other states. First, in recent times, technology has often outpaced international norms and standards. We still do not have a clear sense of which types of perception-shaping activities will be construed as legitimate peacetime behavior and which as casus belli by international organizations and institutions. Therefore, to reduce the risk of inadvertent escalation, it will be necessary to rethink our doctrine for perception shaping periodically in accordance with developing international norms and standards.

Second, perception-shaping activities carry a constant threat of "blowback": Operations designed to manage the opponent’s perceptions may end up distorting our own perceptions to an equal or even greater extent. For example, while it may be advantageous to convince the enemy that U.S. forces are more capable than they actually are, it would be less helpful to convince oneself of that fiction. Yet, because of the need for consistency and secrecy to accomplish perception-shaping objectives, these two effects are, in practice, not completely separable.
As someone who's been there on the ground floor of this stuff, I can tell you this: The "blowback" of distorting American perceptions is no longer seen as detrimental. As Atrios always says, it's no longer a bug, but a feature.

Update: Hey idiot! You're wrong!
The truth of the matter is, we need to win the war before we can worry about leaving behind a pristine democracy, and what is happening here, it seems to me, is no different than, say, the LA Times or the New York Times reprinting press-releases from the anti-gun lobby—the difference being that while there is clearly a problem with such “journalism” in a free and long-established democratic republic (with an established “free” press), I’m not so sure I see “largely factual” pro-American “propaganda” as too much of a problem if it helps to burnish the image of Americans in the eyes of skeptical Iraqis long under the boot heel of a tyranical [sic] dictator—and in doing so, helps save soldiers lives and expedites the victory on the ground and the establishment of a strong and viable Iraqi government.
First of all, I recommend you go pick up a copy of Elements of Style. For a supposed writer and teacher you sure do write some awfully long, awfully awful sentences.

Second, there is a huge difference between press releases, which come across a fax with an organization's header and contact information clearly labeled, and sending some local to a newspaper with a bag-full of money to get a uncredited pro-American story printed.

Not only is this kind of stuff unethical, it's stupid. You need to read Assassin's Gate by George Packer. There's a section which discusses the horrible cultural missteps we've made in trying to woo the Iraqi public (i.e., the American-run radio station with announcers who ignore bad news and speak poor Arabic). As the field manual Army Public Affairs Operations states (PDF link):
When credibility is undermined, communication becomes ineffective and it is impossible to achieve information objectives.
And...
PAOs must ensure the PA or information operations never deceive the media or the American public. The mere perception of deception targeted against them can destroy the credibility of the Army and shatter public support.
In other words, you don't know what you're talking about.

Update: Aforementioned idiot continues to prove his ignorance. He links to this article, which--gasp--proves that there were Information Operations units before Bush!

No shit.

The difference is we didn't sign off on undercover stories presented to newspapers by front men. I was there, dumbass. I know.

Update: More in an excellent post at Bush Out.

(I highly recommend reading all of Nichiporuk's article. You will find a million ways the Bushies have misused that document. They took all of his ideas and used them without taking into account his repeated warnings that the information used as a weapon must be true or would come back to bite us in the ass.)

Getting around to it

Bush, September 24, 2001:
We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them against each other, rout them out of their safe hiding places, and bring them to justice.
Today:
The administration has made cutting off money to terrorists one of the main prongs in its attack against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. It has seized tens of millions of dollars in American accounts and assets linked to terrorist groups, prodded other countries to do the same, and is now developing a program to gain access to and track potentially hundreds of millions of international bank transfers into the United States.

But experts in the field say the results have been spotty, with few clear dents in Al Qaeda's ability to move money and finance terrorist attacks. The Congressional report- a follow-up to a 2003 report that offered a similarly bleak assessment - buttresses those concerns.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who leads the Senate Finance Committee and was one of the lawmakers who requested the study, said he was disappointed to learn that in an area as critical as countering terrorist financing, "they haven't gotten very far yet."
Yep. We'll get around to solving that problem any day now.

And then we can have a debate on Iraq.

Those damn anti-war liberals!

How dare they embolden the political process!
"The people of Fallujah love Cindy Sheehan," declared Farouk Abd-Muhammed, a candidate for National Assembly in Dec. 15 elections, referring to the mother of a slain Marine who became a U.S. antiwar activist. He spoke Tuesday at a pre-election meeting of local leaders in Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, scene of the largest U.S. offensive of the war in November 2004.

Abd-Muhammed described watching recent television reports with his family showing Americans waving banners that read "Stop the war in Iraq."

"I salute the American people because we know after watching them on satellite that they are ready to leave," Abd-Muhammed said.

"We know that there are now voices, even in the Congress, that want America to leave Iraq as soon as possible," said Fawzi Muhammed, an engineer who is the deputy chairman of Fallujah's reconstruction committee. "It makes us feel very happy and comfortable because it is the only solution to the problems in Iraq."

Unlike Fallujah -- seen now by some U.S. commanders as a model of cooperation between Sunni leaders and the military -- people in Ramadi appear to know comparatively little of the debate in the United States over the war. Fighting here, including insurgent bomb attacks, knocked out most of the provincial capital's communications to the outside world, and U.S. forces were able to restore a vital fiber-optics cable only this month.
So, where Cindy Sheehan's "loved" the fighting has lessened, but, where the debate hasn't filtered down to the Iraqis, the shit is still hitting the fan.

Reality sure must suck if you're a Republican.

Update: Nir Rosen doesn't look so silly now, does he, Jonah? Rosen wrote:
If the occupation were to end, so, too, would the insurgency. After all, what the resistance movement has been resisting is the occupation. Who would the insurgents fight if the enemy left? When I asked Sunni Arab fighters and the clerics who support them why they were fighting, they all gave me the same one-word answer: intiqaam—revenge. Revenge for the destruction of their homes, for the shame they felt when Americans forced them to the ground and stepped on them, for the killing of their friends and relatives by U.S. soldiers either in combat or during raids.
You see? There are some things you can learn by spending 16 months in the country you're talking about instead of on your fatass in front of a keyboard, cheering from a vast, vast distance.

I haunt Len Cleavelin

My post which called for the court martial of "Duke" Cunningham rang some dusty bells for Len at Dark Bilious Vapors. He discusses the ringing in his ears.

Enemies of straight talk

Lord, when will the Bush administration realize that the Iraq War won't be won by spin?
RUMSFELD: General Casey and his folks are putting a lot of pressure on the terrorists and on the enemies of the government. We frequently call them insurgents. I'm a little reluctant to, for some reason.
Later...
QUESTION: Senator McCain has suggested you don't have enough U.S. troops and Iraqi forces that are qualified to be able to hold those areas, clear them and build them.

Can you address that and can you talk about perhaps some specifics in recent weeks where that may have been happening?

PACE: I think what you see most recently are the examples of the operations that have been taking place in the Euphrates Valley between Baghdad and the Syrian border. You're seeing the combination of U.S., coalition and Iraqi forces working side by side, many times with the Iraqi armed forces in the lead, taking cities from the -- I have to use the word "insurgent" because I can't think of a better word right now -- taking...

RUMSFELD: Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government. How's that?

(LAUGHTER)

PACE: What the secretary said.

(LAUGHTER)
HA HA HA! It's funny 'cause it's bullshit!

Hey, people! Please quite listening to the Bill Bennetts and the James Q. Wilsons. Quit trying to control the language. Quit trying to control the debate. Come up with a FUCKING PLAN!

PLEASE. I'M BEGGING YOU.

The best way you could win this argument is to actually do something to WIN THE GOD DAMN WAR! Making up new names for the people blowing up our troops is a waste of time.

Update: This is mostly directed at Rumsfeld, not Pace. He's just following along. He actually called Rumsfeld on one statement in the press conference and Digby caught it.

Update: More at Cosmic Variance.

Update: Dana Milbank joins the fray.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States...

My head hurts.
I want you to know that Jon Kyl, United States Senator from Arizona, still listens to his mother. (Laughter and applause.) That's a pretty good sign, isn't it?...

Look, I don't know how many U.S. senators there are that like NASCAR. (Laughter.) I view that as a pretty good sign, to have a United States senator who follows NASCAR. It means he's down to earth. He doesn't walk around Washington with a lot of airs like some of them do...

These are serious times in which we live, and it requires serious, experienced people to deal with the problems that we're confronted with. And the biggest problem we got is we're still at war. I wish I could report to you we weren't at war, but there's an enemy that still lurks that wants to do harm to the United States of America. And they want to do us harm because we stand squarely for freedom and democracy and we're not going to change. You see, they can't stand the fact -- (applause) -- they can't stand the fact that we allow people to worship freely, or to speak their mind in the public square, or to print articles the way they want to print them in America. They have a different view of the world. They've got this vision of darkness that stifles dissent and stifles the freedoms that many of us take for granted...

The enemy has made Iraq a central front in this war on terror, so we must take it seriously...

Jon Kyl understands that in this war on terror it's important to have members of the United States Senate who understand mixed messages...

You know, I just recently came off a trip to the Far East...And it struck me that I was in a region of the world where there -- where wars had started.
Presented without comment. Where would one begin...?

Have I mentioned Jonah Goldberg's an idiot?

Good Lord.
IS THIS.... [Jonah Goldberg ]

a patent for a warp drive?

Update: The consensus from scientists and geeks alike is that this is not a warp drive for the simple -- and, alas, obvious -- reason that it doesn't involve faster-than-light travel.
As the smart people at Cosmic Variance can (attempt to) explain to Jonah, he's just going to have to keep eating if he wants to achieve infinite mass. Nitpicker's rooting for him!

Bush's lowest moment in office

Was it the "Mission Accomplished" moment?

















Was it when he challenged terrorists to attack American soldiers?










Was it when he misled the United States into a protracted war?

















Nope. According to Daniel Pipes, this is the worst thing Bush has done in office.
















Update: Wow. James Wolcott points out that Daniel Pipes is the last guy who should be tossing around that "draft dodger" epithet. I hadn't even thought to check.

Paging Bill O'Reilly

Is this a violation of privacy? Bill O'Reilly said it was when it was happening to a conservative (even though he was proven to be full of shit).

Sad, but true

Think Progress's Judd Leglum lays out the facts in Iraq. I would be tempted to think that things can only get better, but I thought that months ago.

A military tribunal I can support

I'm still seething over the idea of "Duke" Cunningham giving special favors to contractors supplying services and/or equipment to our troops, so I think that, once his plea agreement with the DoJ has been completed, he needs to be handed over to the military for trial.

You see, the Uniform Code of Military Justice applies not only to active duty service members, but also to "retired members of a regular component of the armed forces who are entitled to pay." Duke retired from the Navy, which clearly puts him in that category.

While it is the DoJ's responsibility to conduct fraud investigations involving government contractors (according to the Army's Field Manual on criminal investigations), it is not within the DoJ's purview to restore the honor of the Navy. Justice did not include in its plea agreement a violation of Title 18, USC, Section 207, which states that retirees that can be punished by up to a year in jail for scamming the government for their own gain.

I believe that an example must be made of Cunningham that proves even war heroes cannot risk our service member's lives by subverting the contracting processes. Do I know that people were hurt or put at risk by Cunningham's specific actions? Honestly, no, but that's beside the point. Trust was placed in Cunningham as an officer and as a congressman to follow the rules which exist to protect both public funds and the lives of our service members. He violated that trust. Therefore, the Navy should begin court martial proceedings against Cunningham, charging him with "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman," Article 133 of the UCMJ, and those proceedings should decide whether or not Cunningham should keep his rank and his retirement pay.

Is this harsh? Damn straight.

But it's also supported by law. In 1987--the year Cunningham retired, incidentally--the Court of Military appeals reminded everyone of the following in their finding in Overton v. the United States of America.
Retired army and naval officers have been subject to court-martial jurisdiction since the Civil War. Act of Aug. 3, 1861, ch. 42, Sections 18, 24, 12 Stat. 290, 291; Rev. Stat. Sections 1256, 1457 (1878 ed.). Article 2(a)(6), in particular, traces its lineage to the Naval Service Appropriations Act of 1916, ch. 417, 39 Stat. 589-591. See also Naval Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve Act of 1925, ch. 374, Sections 6, 10, 43 Stat. 1081-1082, 1083; Naval Reserve Act of 1938, ch. 690, Section 6, 52 Stat. 1176. Before enacting Article 2(a)(6) of the UCMJ in 1950, Congress considered the testimony of several witnesses that court-martial jurisdiction over persons in an inactive duty status was unnecessary and unfair and should be limited. Uniform Code of Military Justice: Hearings on H.R. 2498 Before a Subcomm. of the House Comm. on Armed Services, 81st Cong., 1st Sess. 706, 749, 864-870 (1949); Hearings on S. 857 and H.R. 4080 Before a Subcomm. of the Senate Comm. on Armed Services, 81st Cong., 1st Sess. 329-330 (1949). Congress rejected the argument that these persons were simply pensioners who were no longer members of the armed forces in favor of the conclusion that these persons were still members of the military who receive lesser pay for current but reduced services and thus should continue to be subject to court-martial jurisdiction. Because "Congress has primary responsibility for the delicate task of balancing the rights of servicemen against the needs of the military" (Solorio v. United States, slip op. 12) and because "'judicial deference * * * is at its apogee when legislative action under the congressional authority to raise and support armies and make rules and regulations for their governance is challenged'" (ibid. (citation omitted)), Congress's judgment on this subject is entitled to respect from the courts.
Update: You must click over to the comments of the crossposted version of this article at Main and Central. Len Cleavlin, who blogs at Dark Bilious Vapors was Overton's defense lawyer in the case and suggests that to court martial Cunningham would be violating protections against double jeopardy. He also says that, while he thinks the current court would go along with such an action, liberals ought not be siding with them.

Time to speak Bluntly

Next door in Missouri, my man Jeff Mazur seems to be leading to an interesting question: Is it likely that someone would think that bribing a single congressman would help them achieve their goals?

It's time for Roy Blunt to come clean.

DeLay? He's a lost cause.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Cohen and Confederates

Cohen has a column I mostly agree with. He says that it's too easy to claim you made a "mistake" in authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq. I agree (though there's something to the idea that people trusted Bush when he said that voting thus didn't mean war was "imminent or unavoidable"). I didn't buy it, so there's no reason some senator should have.

You know who still buys all of it, though? Idiots.
In denying that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had n the past and was pursuing a nuclear weapon, or that it had biological and chemical weapons and had used them, Richard Cohen shows that he is under the influence of the H5N1 strain of Bush Derangement Syndrome, and his grasp of reality is tenuous at best.
Said idiot then goes on to talk about the Butler report.

Look, there's "pursuing" and then there's pursuing. The "Confederate Yankee" could "pursue" a real, meaningful point or a relationship with a real, live girl, but that doesn't mean he's going to actually come close to either. Just because he wants a date doesn't mean he needs to buy condoms. Just because some bastard wants something he shouldn't have doesn't mean we should bomb 30,000-plus civilians into oblivion.

As I've said before, the CIA thought the nuke talk was "overblown" and "exaggerated" and sending people to war should require a higher standard than a someone's belief that someone else might have, just maybe, wanted to buy uranium.

Don't go wobbly

C'mon, people.

Yes, Cunningham did give an honest speech today, but that was after it was obvious that this shit was going down. He was going to fall and fall hard. Nitpicker believes in redemption and hopes that he'll get his shit together in jail, but I don't feel sorry for him one bit. Go back through Josh Marshall's posts on this scandal and you'll see that Cunningham was living large for a long time and considering that many of these bribes helped a company get contracts in the areas of military "defense and intelligence," we have to wonder if these bribes may have actually endangered the lives of American service members. Remember, if they were the best people to do the job the most efficiently, they could have gotten these contracts without scams.

Atrios says he actually feels some pity for Cunningham, writing, "Tough waking up at age 65 and realizing you're gonna go to the slammer." Bullshit. Cunningham didn't "wake up" and say "Oops!" He misused his authority for his own comfort for years and will now finally pay the price. For me, I think the years of walking around as an undercover scumbag for so long would be much tougher than finally taking responsibility for your actions. Added: Yes, Atrios wrote that he "almost" felt sorry for "Duke" and I knew he didn't mean that he excused Cunningham, but there's no way we should be happy if this fucker just leaves the house and gets a slap on the wrist sentence. For justice to be served, he's gotta do real time.

Update: Lest we forget, Cunningham was against abuse of a public office before he was for it. From the Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1994:
For more than a year, federal prosecutors have been investigating one of the most powerful and senior members of the House: Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

U.S. Atty. Eric Holder Jr. says that the investigation is now in its "final stages," with an indictment considered a distinct possibility.

Investigators are looking into allegations that Rostenkowski was involved in schemes to misuse public funds. Specifically, prosecutors seek to determine whether the House post office converted massive amounts of stamps, purchased with office funds, into cash for Rostenkowski's personal use.

They also are investigating allegations that public money was spent on goods from the House stationery store that were for Rostenkowski's personal or campaign use, and that his office payroll included improper transactions...

Despite Rostenkowski's obvious political and legal distress, many Republicans and a few Democrats have wondered aloud why the case is taking so long, demanding that the House Ethics Committee open a parallel probe. And their suspicions were fueled recently when President Clinton literally embraced Rostenkowski in a Chicago campaign appearance despite the ongoing inquiry.

"The President put his arm around the prime suspect in the investigation and endorsed him in a primary," complained Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham (R-San Diego). "What message does that send" to prosecutors?
Update: And he's always been a nutjob. Rocky Mountain News, June 1, 1995.
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in May and denounced backers of a proposed law to make military bases comply with water-pollution laws as "the same ones that would put homos in the military." When Colorado's Rep. Pat Schroeder and Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., tried to reply, Cunningham said, "Sit down, you socialist."

Stuff I missed while eating turkey

Our first puppet in Iraq says he misses the good ol' days when Saddam was running the place. Conservatives, though, disagree. All we really need to fix iraq is another speech by Bush and more meaningless gestures.

Here's one thing we can all agree on: We need to get rid of "cowboy contractors" in Iraq. Especially the ones who think it's funny to shoot Iraqis at random, videotape it and put it to music.

A new Christian group is dedicated to violating the teachings of Christ: "(W)hen thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:5-6)

Speaking of public displays of Christianity, where are the calls to ban Christian rock? Doesn't anyone remember Marilyn Manson caused Columbine?

I made Bill O'Reilly's "enemies list." Kind of. As I predicted elsewhere, Bill has been too chickenshit to actually post any such list himself\, so someone else posted it for him. I almost wonder if "True Conservative" is actually a parody or a real conservative who doesn't understand that simply calling people stupid while presenting their arguments doesnt' really do anything for his side?

Cunningham: I am a crook

The Democratic agenda to re-criminalize criminal activity proceeds apace.
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges involving the sale of his home two years ago to a defense contractor at an inflated price.

Admitting to a judge that he took bribes, Cunningham entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

Cunningham, 63, and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy a $2.55 million mansion in ritzy Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 _ a loss of $700,000.

Cunningham answered "yes, Your Honor" when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.
Update: And he's gone. (Is Atrios getting soft? How could he "almost feel sorry for" Cunningham? "Duke" presents as clear-cut a case of scumbaggery as I've seen in a long, long time.)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving

Turkey, stuffing, etc.

I've been gone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Condi: Killing our soldiers is just politics

Go read this post at AMERICAblog. Condi said:
I would just remind people that this was a really broad range of voices, and the Iraqis who have governed themselves by violence and coercion are now trying to do it by compromise and politics.
What's she describing? The decision by Iraqi leaders which said it's "legitimate" resistance to kill our soldiers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Murray Waas

You have to read his new piece. I won't give anything away. Read the whole thing.

O'Reilly disses America

Bill O'Reilly says that Americans are weak, ignorant and impotent.
Writing in The Washington Times, former CIA agent Michael Scheuer says the USA does not have the will to win the War on Terror. Scheuer believes the American public is not prepared for a brutal war, is not educated enough to understand the danger, and will not demand action from timid politicians.

He's right.
Fuck you, Bill. If there had actually been an attempt to meaningfully take on so-called "Islamofascism" you would have had me and a million other lefties like me on your side. Instead Bush (who you promised to be skeptical about) chose a war in Iraq, which had absolutely no connection to Islamist terrorism. Just because the American people want out of Bush's mistake doesn't mean that Americans are weak. It means they gave him the benefit of the doubt, but they're to smart to let him keep screwing up.

Sophists' choice

Hey, Republicans! You're either with Murtha or you're with Hillary.
BLITZER: Let's go through an immediate issue right now. Your Democrat colleague in the Congress, Senator Hillary Clinton, from New York State, quoted by the AP as saying an immediate withdrawal, in her words, would be a big mistake. "I think that would cause more problems for us in America. It will matter to us if Iraq totally collapses into a civil war." She's afraid it could become another Afghanistan, in effect.

What do you say to her and other Democrats who have a problem with a withdrawal as you recommend over the next six months?

MURTHA: Yes. Yes, what I've said, Wolf, and I believe this very strongly, there will be less terrorism.

Just because the president, just because the White House says there's going to be more terrorism if we withdraw doesn't make it so. He said there's going to be weapons of mass destruction. They said oil was going to pay for it. They said there was an al Qaeda connection. That's not necessarily true.

I predict the opposite. I think there will be less terrorism. We've become the target. We're the ones that have become the enemy. Eighty percent of the people there believe that we shouldn't be there, we shouldn't be occupiers. Forty-five percent think it's justified to attack America.

Now, let me tell you something. In 1963, Senator -- or Secretary McNamara predicted that we'd be out of there in two years. We had 2,200 casualties in 1965, two years later after he made that prediction.

BLITZER: You're talking about Vietnam?

MURTHA: From that time on -- I'm talking about Vietnam. From that time on, we had 53,000 casualties. I'm trying to prevent another Vietnam.
And...Boom!

Talking tough

Christopher Hitchens, as quoted in the Toronto Star, Nov. 19, 2005:
I don't mind being called Islamaphobic. I can't stand all religions and am perfectly happy to include Islam on the list...

(A)ny government that allows any privilege to any one faith is preparing to commit cultural suicide...

Those who believe it is possible to lead an ethical life without religion, who are agnostic or atheist, who believe in the separation of church and state must learn to fight back. We too have strong convictions, we too can be offended, insulted and annoyed, and we have to say we're not going to put up with it. Our opinions must be taken into account.
So, do you think Hitchens "fought back" when he gave his speech to the Family Research Council, which states its purpose this way?
The Family Research Council (FRC) champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.

Core Principles:
  • God exists and is sovereign over all creation. He created human beings in His image. Human life is, therefore, sacred and the right to life is the most fundamental of political rights.

  • Life and love are inextricably linked and find their natural expression in the institutions of marriage and the family.

  • Government has a duty to promote and protect marriage and family in law and public policy.

  • The American system of law and justice was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic.

  • American democracy depends upon a vibrant civil society composed of families, churches, schools, and voluntary associations.

Good for you, KU!

I live in Lawrence, Kansas, the city the University of Kansas calls home, but I'm actually a Kansas State Alumnus. Today, though, I think I'll donate some money to some Jayhawks. They're saving our reputation.
Creationism and intelligent design are slated to be the subjects of a Kansas University class next semester — but as mythology, not science.

“The KU faculty has had enough,” said Paul Mirecki, chairman of KU’s religious studies department. He said he planned to teach “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies” next semester.

Mirecki’s plans angered some of the state’s religious conservatives, who earlier this month successfully pushed changes in state science standards that critique evolution...

Mirecki said intelligent design proponents liked to view themselves as the victims, but that’s not the case.

“The educational system of Kansas is under attack,” Mirecki said. “All they are is oppressors. They’re not martyrs and victims ... I’m expecting insecure, threatened people to start being more and more vocal. They don’t want their beliefs to be analyzed rationally. That’s what this class is devised to do.”

Gene therapy for Jonah?

Good news for Jonah Goldberg! With a bit more research we may wipe out chickenhawkery in our lifetime.
Deactivating a specific gene transforms meek mice into daredevils, researchers have found. The team believe the research might one day enable people suffering from fear – in the form of phobias or anxiety disorders, for example – to be clinically treated.

The research found that mice lacking an active gene for the protein stathmin are not only more courageous, but are also slower to learn fear responses to pain-associated stimuli, says geneticist Gleb Shumyatsky, at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US. (Link via Collision Detection.)
Just imagine. We could create Republicans who are actually brave enough to risk something for their beliefs instead of, well, the ones we have now.

I have been remiss

I just realized I hadn't added Thoughts from Kansas to the blogroll. I will correct immediately.

Meanwhile, Josh Rosenau, who runs "Thoughts" was interviewed for an article on Kansas blogs in our local paper yesterday.

Good on 'im.

Fuck it.

I've been trying to point out to many people over the past week that I'm not a "cut and run" guy, but a guy who wants this job done as soon as possible and, yes, with mechanisms left in place to come to Iraqis' aid when need be.

But screw that. It's time to go.
Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.

The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens. (Emphasis Nitpicker's.)
In other words, Iraq's leaders just painted a bullseye on the backs of American soldiers and said they're fair game.

Pop smoke.

More on the communique at AMERICAblog.

Update: A "cut and run" nation?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ha!

Oy

Let me see if I get this argument right.
We were right to pull troops from the search for Osama bin Laden to attack Iraq, but we can't stop the fight in Iraq because then Osama bin Laden will run the country.
Is that about it?

The art of the Washington Times headline

Here's today's headline:
Military fears critics will hurt morale
Wow. Maybe we should shut up.

If you actually read the story, though, it attributes these fearful sentiments only to unnamed "Pentagon officials" and then goes on to quote Rumsfeld saying "We also have to understand that our words have effects. Put yourself in the shoes of a soldier who thinks that we're going to pull out precipitously or immediately, as some people have proposed."

The real story here, though, is "dog bites man" predictable. Rumsfeld's full of crap.
Still, officers in Iraq contend that troop morale is good to excellent.

"I have not heard of any morale problems related to the political debates," said Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman in Baghdad.

Lt. Col. David Lapan, a Marine spokesman in the violence-wracked Anbar province, said, "We haven't conducted any surveys so obviously we can't speak to the morale of every Marine, sailor and soldier out here. However, based on comments from commanders and leaders who interact daily with troops at all levels, I'd say morale remains pretty high."

Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, an author of books on military transformation, said he is hearing something different from returning troops.

"Soldiers see no viable mission, no plan and no strategy," Col. Macgregor said. "No one trusts any of the Arabs in the Iraqi army, only the Kurds. Soldiers want to survive to go home and are fighting to keep each other alive. There is no Iraq. There is Kurdistan, which the soldiers all love. Then, there is the Sunni Arab center and the Shi'ite south that most think is an autonomous province of Iran."
So, if Macgregor's to be believed, then the real threat to morale is that "soldiers see no viable mission, no plan and no strategy."

You've buried the lede, Moonies. Here's a headline for you:
Rumsfeld's incompetence threatens soldiers' morale

Headlines and arguments

I've had a few e-mails saying I was wrong when I said that Kathryn Lopez got it wrong here. Lopez said that the Republicans would get headlines that read "Congress votes down immediate withdrawal resolution" and that this would give them some political points going into the Thanksgiving recess.

The Republicans did get their headlines, but, for the record, I never doubted that. What I doubted was the latter point. I don't think this vote gained them any political traction and, in the long run, it served up some terribly embarrassing moments for the Republican party.

The "Tinkerbell Strategy" is hurting Republicans. They're clapping so loudly that the ringing in their ears have made them politically tone deaf. The American people are growing sicker and sicker of this war and, every time Republicans suggest that someone who doesn't support it is unpatriotic, more Americans who support the war look at their well-meaning and well-intentioned friends and neighbors who disagree and decide that Republicans are full of shit. People are finally seeing through the Republican illogic and all the misleading articles and headlines they can get from a sympathetic press aren't going to help.

Update: Here's what I'm talking about. Two stories from today...
Murtha may lose support, GOP says

By MIKE FAHER

In 2002, when U.S. Rep John Murtha faced a strong political challenge after a bitter redistricting battle, local Republicans rallied behind the powerful Democrat.

Three years later, some wonder whether that would still happen – after Murtha’s high-profile call Thursday to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq.

No one thinks the three-decade congressional veteran could lose next year’s election; he doesn’t even have announced opposition at this stage.

Murtha's call for troop pullout wins support at home

Johnstown lawmaker taps into a rueful weariness of war

By Johanna Neuman
Los Angeles Times

...(Murtha's) call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, a process he said could take about six months, sparked Republican retribution on Friday. GOP leaders sought to force a vote on a resolution that would express "the sense of the House ... that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately," knowing it would be overwhelmingly defeated. But the rebuff aimed at Murtha probably won't sting here.

"I agree with him 100 percent," said Lucy Machuta, a life-long Republican who once lived near Murtha. Asked if she previously had supported the war, Machuta said, "In the beginning, yes, but now it is useless, it's like an open Vietnam."

Asked if congressional rejection of a resolution to withdraw troops would sway her views, Machuta said, "No. Is Congressman Murtha going to change his mind? I'm not changing mine either."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Um, no

Here's one of the thinkers over at the Corner, talking about the vote to bring troops back from Iraq.
If there is a vote and all Dems who vote vote no (or the vast majority), then they are on record saying they are NOT for immediate withdrawal. A straight-playing wire headline would be something like "Congress votes down immediate withdrawal resolution." And that would go round the world. With Congressman Murtha being the going-into-recess news story, it's a strategy. It gives them something concrete on the Dems in the form of a roll call.
No. This is just stupid. This is what Republicans want, but just proves they've lost touch with the American public. Everyone should vote no for this stupid, fucked-up resolution, which demands that "the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

Murtha's resolution, as Kos and I (here) have pointed out, was a much more thoughtful and intelligent idea.

Democrats should vote no and should go home pointing out that Republicans put a resolution on the floor that was so disgusting that not a single one of them would vote for it. They should ask Americans, who overwhelmingly disagree with the administration on the Iraq issue, whether they think it's a good idea to waste the Congress time by refusing to honestly address the concerns of a respected American veteran and hero.

Fuck these people.

Update: Dems should also ask their constituents if they think that a 37-year veteran of the Marine Corps should be called a "coward."

Update: Kos agrees and John has an even better idea.

Shorter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Today:
You have to go to jihad with the suicide bombers you have, not the suicide bombers you want.

More on Murtha

You should watch the video (from C-SPAN). You should specifically hear what he says at about 24:01. Anyone who remembers the first Iraq war (or has seen "Jarhead") will remember that there was a long wait before the war actually began. Murtha reminds us that people like him were telling George H.W. Bush they needed to get the war going, but Bush and his administration said they would wait until they had a proper coalition.
But he listened to us, he had a meeting every week and listened to what we had to say. And sometimes he took the advice, sometimes he didn't. This outfit doesn't want to hear any suggestions. It's frustrating. And the troops are paying the price for it.
You should take the time to at least watch the entire Q&A session.

Krauthammer's right

An excerpt from his column today.
Let's be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a "theory" that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, "I think I'll make me a lemur today." A "theory" that violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the "strong force" that holds the atom together?

In order to justify the farce that intelligent design is science, Kansas had to corrupt the very definition of science, dropping the phrase " natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us," thus unmistakably implying -- by fiat of definition, no less -- that the supernatural is an integral part of science. This is an insult both to religion and science.
Yes. Yes. Yes.

I'm embarrassed by my state's actions.

(One quick nitpick though. Krauthammer writes this:
Newton's religion was traditional. He was a staunch believer in Christianity and a member of the Church of England..."He believed he was doing God's work," James Gleick wrote in his recent biography of Newton. Einstein saw his entire vocation -- understanding the workings of the universe -- as an attempt to understand the mind of God.
If you read Gleick's entire book, you'd find that Newton's religion was far from traditional. He disbelieved the trinity as well as other beliefs of the CofE. Newton would have been required to enter the priesthood to retain his position at Oxford, but had that requirement waived in his case as he could not commit to his church's beliefs in good faith. He wrote voluminously about religion and questioned everything, even refusing to take the sacrament on his deathbed. As Professor Robert Hatch of the University of Florida has argued, Newton was for all intents and purposes a Unitarian.)

To the ramparts, wingnuts! And bring your accountability!

Here's the story so far.

Christine Byington, a biracial girl at a nice southern college writes a column which says black should quit bitching and just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. A lot of whites feel like saying this, she says, but, because they feel nervous about doing so, whites are being discriminated against just like the blacks under Jim Crow Laws in the 1950s.
To the angry black people who might be reading this column, understand that I do not mean ill will toward you. Basically, I’m the “safe” person to write this because I’m biracial. Know that there are many people on this campus who feel the same way I do but who do not want to air their opinions in the Johnsonian because, well, they are white.

I think it’s sad when some whites feel they must stifle their opinions because of the color of their skin. That must be what life was like for blacks in the 1950s.
Needless to say, this pissed some people off.
As soon as the paper hit students' hands, it sent an emotional ripple through campus that was so powerful it inspired some students to call for a rally. The strong feelings prompted university officials to hold a forum Thursday night to discuss the controversy. The forum was attended by an estimated 400 students.

"It definitely moved really fast," Chad Kee, the university's director for multi-cultural student life, said about the reaction. "That's why we had to move fast, so it didn't become uncontrollable."
In the end Byington left the college.

La Shawn "I haven't been following the news but the Plame affair is boring (now pay me)" Barber picked it up, suggesting that Byington was pressured and harassed into leaving, a claim she had to (almost, kind of) withdraw when she found out Byington said it had nothing to with her leaving and even seemed to suggest she was just having a bad semester. This gives us a brief insight into the mind of a wingnut just dying to be outraged. From Barber's post linked above:
This is what accountability means, anonymous bloggers and commenters, so take note: I’d like to interview Byington to find out exactly what happened, i.e., whether she received nasty e-mails about her parentage, etc. While briefly researching this story, I thought I read that she received comments about being biracial. If she didn’t get those comments or e-mails, I will retract certain statements in this post. I’d also like to get a transcript or recording of the forum, too.
Get that? She thought she read something about her getting harassed, but didn't. She won't however, correct herself until someone proves that the stuff she imagined she read isn't true. That's some accountability.

The Corner follows suit.

Expect Hannity and Limbaugh and O'Reilly to be salivating over this one and expect to hear the charge she was forced to leave again.

Murtha's making the Corner stupider

Yes, it's possible for them to get dumber, but I think they're getting close to bottoming out. This was posted a little while ago.
YOU WON'T BE SURPRISED TO KNOW [Kathryn Jean Lopez]that Congressman Murtha is getting al Jazeera play.
It had a link to this article. I've provided a screen capture below (click for larger image).



















Look who else is "getting al Jazeera play." There are two stories about Cheney in the "Related" section and when you follow them through a chain (clicking on ones story and then hitting "related" stories), you find these stories.
Cheney attacks 'cynical' war critics

Cheney defends Guantanamo prison

Cheney bashes 'indecisive' Kerry

Republican's back Bush's second term
So what point, exactly, does Lopez think she's making?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

For the record

A lot of people seem to think I've always been one of the "let's leave Iraq now" crowd. I haven't. I have, however, been a member of the "we shouldn't be there in the first place" wing of the reality-based community.

Nor, however, have I been a "stay the course" guy. I've been struggling with this issue myself for some time. One one hand, we can't just leave Iraqis in the lurch and, on the other, we may just be making things worse. Our presence in Iraq is like chemotherapy in the veins of a cancer patient--a drug that could either kill you or cure you.

That's why I think Murtha's plan, properly executed, is the one I can support wholeheartedly. Republicans are saying that he's advocating surrender or retreat, but he's not. It's amazing what you can do when you have 37 years of experience as a Marine to bring to bear on a subject like this.

Look at the second bullet of Murtha's plan: Create a quick reaction force in the region. This, to me, is ingenious. It pulls our troops back from the zone where they are serving, as Murtha says, as a "catalyst for violence" and yet allows for swift response to major emerging threats. This is smart stuff.

Again, keep it up, Colonel.

Update: Kudos to William M.Arkin for being one of the few people working in Big Media who can see the forest for the trees.

So that's what journalism looks like

James Kuhnhenn and Jonathan S. Landay for Knight Ridder. (Emphasis Nitpicker's, link swiped from Froomkin.)
ASSERTION: In his speech, Bush noted that "more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power."

CONTEXT: This isn't true.

The Congress didn't have access to the President's Daily Brief, a top-secret compendium of intelligence on the most pressing national security issues that was sent to the president every morning by former CIA Director George Tenet.

As for prewar intelligence on Iraq, senior administration officials had access to other information and sources that weren't available to lawmakers.

Cheney and his aides visited the CIA and other intelligence agencies to view raw intelligence reports, received briefings and engaged in highly unusual give-and-take sessions with analysts.

Moreover, officials in the White House and the Pentagon received information directly from the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an exile group, circumventing U.S. intelligence agencies, which greatly distrusted the organization.

The INC's information came from Iraqi defectors who claimed that Iraq was hiding chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, had mobile biological-warfare facilities and was training Islamist radicals in assassinations, bombings and hijackings.

The White House emphasized these claims in making its case for war, even though the defectors had shown fabrication or deception in lie-detector tests or had been rejected as unreliable by U.S. intelligence professionals.

All of the exiles' claims turned out to be bogus or remain unproven.

A recently declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report from February 2002 said an Al-Qaida detainee was probably lying to U.S. interrogators when he claimed that Iraq had been teaching members of the terrorist network to use chemical and biological weapons.

Yet eight months after the report was published, Bush told the nation that "we've learned that Iraq has trained Al-Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and gases."

The resolution that authorized use of force against Iraq didn't specifically address removing Saddam. It gave Bush the power to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq" and to "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."

Murtha

Let's just remind everyone who John Murtha is.
After serving in the Marines in the early 1950's, he re-enlisted in 1966, at the age of 34, and served in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry, according to The Almanac of American Politics. When he won his House seat in a special election in February 1974 he became the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress.
So it's especially meaningful when a guy like him strikes back a Dick Cheney like this, reminding us of Cheney's chickenhawk status:
Murtha, a defense hawk, decorated Vietnam War veteran and retired Marine colonel, made a reference to the draft deferments that kept Cheney out of Vietnam.

"I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done," Murtha said.
Keep it up, colonel.

Yeah, he's gonna get attacked in the next few days. Hell, it's already started. Scott McClellan waded in with some of the stupidest bullshit I've ever heard him spew.
Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party.
Yeah, that's the fucking point, asshole! It's not just "extreme liberals" who are pissed and think you've fucked up this war. It's the vast majority of the American public. Idiot.

As Murtha himself put it today, saying, "The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress."

So you can get serious, assholes, or keep digging.

(Before it's forgotten, let's remind you what one of the Corner dwellers said about Murtha and his speech earlier today.
MURTHA BREAKS [Rod Dreher]
Don't know how many of you caught Rep. John Murtha's very angry, very moving speech just now in which he called on the White House to institute an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. CNN didn't air the entire thing, but as I listened to it, I could feel the ground shift. Murtha, as you know, is not a Pelosi-style Chardonnay Democrat; he's a crusty retired career Marine who reminds me of the kinds of beer-slugging Democrats we used to have before the cultural left took over the party. Murtha, a conservative Dem who voted for the war, talked in detail about the sacrifices being borne by our soldiers and their families, and about his visits out to Walter Reed to look after the maimed, and how we've had enough, it's time to come home. He was hell on the president too.

If tough, non-effete guys like Murtha are willing to go this far, and can make the case in ways that Red America can relate to -- and listening to him talk was like listening to my dad, who's about the same age, and his hunting buddies -- then the president is in big trouble. I'm sure there's going to be an anti-Murtha pile-on in the conservative blogosphere, but from where I sit, conservatives would be fools not to take this man seriously.)

Snail-mail Freepers

A Q&A excerpt from Ted Koppel's interview in the new GQ:
Do you imagine that most people can possibly guess how you feel about, say, Bush—or do you think you’ve created a heavy veil?

Let me show you something you’ll enjoy. I’ll hold these for you, and you can just read them. [holds up two letters, side-by-side in a single picture frame]

Okay. On the left side: “Dear Mr. Koppel, your excellence has made Nightline the best news program on television. ABC is to be congratulated on its discernment in appointing you to this post. The strong and subtle intelligence combined with your humanity, deep concern, directness, compassion, and tenacity and holding to the line, leading to the truth behind an issue, have given the term anchorman a new meaning…

And then, on the right [points], a new letter begins…

“Hey, you dumb Commie motherfucker. Why didn’t you put it to that Iran shithead when you had him on the night of March 24th instead of ‘sir’ this and ‘sir’ that.? Wake up cesspool.” No punctuation, and wake is underlined twice.

Actually, both those letters were in response…

And this letter came from President Reagan?

Yes. [laughs] Both those letters came in response to the same program. And in fact, the program was the first Nightline.
You know, that's something that's often not discussed when journalists decide they want to write stories about how angry and irresponsible blogs are. Even at their angriest, blogs are just making public feelings that were there all along. I think that can actually be rather useful and therapeutic, no?

Weird

Bush, yesterday:
Mr. Bush rejected a reporter's suggestion that he was embarrassed by the Senate's subsequent approval of a watered-down measure that requires the White House to give lawmakers regular progress reports on Iraq.

"That's to be expected," the president said of the measure, an amendment to the Senate version of a defense spending bill. "They expect us to keep them abreast of a plan that is going to work."
We got a new plan?

Why wasn't I informed?

Dick, Dick, Dick...

Keep digging, Dick.
"The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone," Cheney said last night. "But we're not going to sit back and let them rewrite history."
Whatever, fella. Don't you realize that the American people are no longer picking up what you're laying down? Hell, a week ago nearly a quarter of the Republicans polled by Newsweek said you personally "deliberately misused or manipulated pre-war intelligence about Iraq's nuclear capabilities in order to build support for war with Iraq."

You know why they think that? Because you did.
Vice President Cheney made perhaps the single most egregious statement about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities, claiming: “we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” He made this statement just three days before the war. He did not admit until September 14, 2003, that his statement was wrong and that he “did misspeak.”
You misspoke? Really? What did you mean to say, sir? What words could you possibly have been groping for to have just stumbled upon those particular phrases?

If I were you, I would stick to scowling and cursing and being a general prick. I don't think you really want to argue about what was said and when and with what evidentiary backing.

These guys are losing it

I sure hope we're not paying Armstrong Williams very much for this crap. This is bargain basement media whore performance if ever I've seen it. Then again, it must be hard to think when an entire administration's flop sweat is gushing down your spine.

We pick up the action as Paula Zahn points out that the American people are disgusted with this president, not just Democrats. Armstrong?
WILLIAMS: Look, it is fair game to discuss the war in Iraq. It is fair game because our men and women are dying. And it seems as though there's no exit strategy. It seems as though there's more chaos. It seems as though that the only victory the insurgents are having is just to kill other Americans. That's how they measure their victories.
Hey, asshole, you know what's fair game? Whatever the fuck I or anyone else says is fair game. That's what freedom means. You're right, though, I would have preferred to have fought this battle out before we went to war, but it needs to be fought, regardless.
It's as if the American soldiers are -- are sitting ducks. It is a legitimate discussion to have, and I think it is fair game. But when you listen to Senator Chuck Hagel discuss the president, vs. the Democrats discussing the president, he's not saying that the president lied to get us in a war. He's not saying the president misled the people.

It is unfair based to say, yes, this president admitted that there were no weapons of mass destruction, there were -- there were faulty intelligence. But this president went to war because we have been attacked on 9/11, and -- and America wanted to send a message to the rest of the world that we will not be intimidated.
Whoa! Why do I have to keep pointing out to these guys that causing the death of innocent people to "send a message" is the very definition of terrorism?

Here we see another reason I'm glad I'm not a Republican. I'll never have to worry about Armstrong Williams trying to defend me. I don't ask for much, but I would at least like it if my defender didn't compare me to the evil I'm supposed to be fighting. I'd also prefer he understand little thing called subject/verb agreement.
Understand, this war started 20 years ago. We could go to the World Trade Center in 1993. We can go to the Achille Lauro. We can go to the bombings of the embassies in Africa. We can go to Beirut. We can go on and on and on.

This just did not just start. If we were never in Iraq, these insurgents, these fundamentalist Muslim extremists would continue to try to win this war, because they feel, over the last few...several decades, they have become irrelevant.
So we've been at war for 20 years with an enemy that feels they're irrelevant? But... I thought they were emboldened by our weakness.

Next week they'll be disgruntled by cave fleas.

Hey wingnuts! Please get better morons.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dean Esmay makes my head hurt

The Editors take the time to investigate wingnut logic.

Too bad their logic always starts and ends with "A is A."

A good start?

One could argue that Congress may be finally ashamed enough that they're going to start pulling some b.s. pork barrel projects. First to go is the "Bridge to Nowhere."
Sen. Ted Stevens says earmarks for controversial bridges near Anchorage and Ketchikan will be removed from federal law under a proposal agreed to by members of a House-Senate team negotiating a transportation spending bill.
Sadly, you'd be wrong. Don't you know these fuckers have no shame?
The $452.5 million earmarked for the bridges will still go to Alaska, but it won't be directed to the bridges, according to Stevens.
Dammit!

You see, the term "Bridge to Nowhere" was too easy to ridicule. Now they're not going to fund the bridge, but they're still going to waste the same fucking money! I wish these bastards would actually try to act like they give a damn about something other than politics.

The money should go back in America's coffers, along with the $1.5 Billion Christmas present from Tom DeLay to the criminals running the oil companies.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A confederacy of liars

Remember how Republicans refused to swear in their oil company sugar daddies last week? I think the strategy might backfire.
A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.
You see, you have to wonder if the fact that they weren't "sworn in" made them feel comfortable enough to lie. As Nitpicker showed in a post about Alito, an oath isn't actually required for a crime to be committed.
(W)hoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both...(if the falsehood was committed in connection with) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.

Grampa was wrong

My grandfather once told me that "being stupid ain't illegal." Turns out, it can be.
Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting concluded today that its former chairman repeatedly broke federal law and its own regulations in a campaign to combat what he saw as liberal bias.

A scathing report by the corporation's inspector general described a dysfunctional organization that violated the Public Broadcasting Act, which created the corporation and was written to insulate programming decisions from politics.
Remember, Tomlinson paid $14,000 for Frederick Mann, a guy who worked for a long time at the National Journalism Center. The Center is an ultra-conservative agency designed to train rightwingers to write. Alumni include Ann Coulter, Cliff Kincaid and John Fund. Mann's report was sloppy, error-filled and skewed--in other words, everything we've come to expect from people connected to the NJC.

While we're at it, everyone say hi to Karl "Official A" Rove, who is most probably the Presidential staffer mentioned in the report. (PDF Link.)
Because recent news reports suggested that CPB was making personnel decisions based on political ideology, we were asked to review personnel actions to determine whether, contrary to PBA Section 396(e)(2), “political tests” or qualifications were being used to fill senior executive positions. While our review found no evidence that personnel decisions were based solely on “political tests,” we did find evidence that politics may have influenced some decisions. Specifically, we identified e-mails between the former Chairman and staff in the Executive Office of the President that, while cryptic in nature, their timing and subject matter gives the appearance that the former Chairman was strongly motivated by political considerations in filling the President/CEO position.
If I were involved in any way in this administration, I'd stay as far away from Rove as possible. He might be some sort of political genius, but he's also highly skilled at being involved in crooked shit and covering his own as just enough that others take the fall and he gets away.