Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I tip my hat to the new constitution

I hope that my frequent readers can understand that family and the tying up of some loose ends before my Christmas vacation have led to the light blogging around here in the past couple of days.

There is, however, another reason I haven't been able to sit down and write in the past few days. I'm simply too pissed. I've stolen a few moments away from my wife's family more than once in order to make an attempt at writing about the New York Times' discovery of Bush's approval of an "end around" spy system, but it's hard to remain coherent about this issue. Yes, I can explain why it's clearly a criminal act, but I get a few sentences in and I just want to write bad, bad words which, in small doses can quite elegantly demonstrate one's depth of feeling but, in a long string begin to lose their power.

I'll be back at it soon.

Monday, December 19, 2005

And that was hot air escaping from a bloated gasbag

Time for Cheney to get the hook.
Facing tough questions from battle-weary troops, Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday cited signs of progress in Iraq and signaled that force changes could come in 2006.

Cheney rode the wave of last week's parliamentary elections during a 10-hour surprise visit to Iraq that aimed to highlight progress at a time when Americans question the mission. Military commanders and top government officials offered glowing reports, but the rank-and-file troops Cheney met did not seem to share their enthusiasm.

"From our perspective, we don't see much as far as gains," said Marine Cpl. Bradley Warren, the first to question Cheney in a round-table discussion with about 30 military members. "We're looking at small-picture stuff, not many gains. I was wondering what it looks like from the big side of the mountain — how Iraq's looking."

...Shouts of "hooah!" from the audience interrupted Cheney a few times, but mostly the service members listened intently. When he delivered the applause line, "We're in this fight to win. These colors don't run," the only sound was a lone whistle.
Anyone else remember when the guys on the ground thought everything was just peachy?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Busy day

And because I'm busy, here's the short version of the whole day. (The "shorter" concept was of course stolen from the fine folks at BusyBusyBusy, who, I believe, stole it from someone else.)

Shorter conservative journalists:
It's naïve to think our opinions aren't for sale.
Shorter Copley News Service:
Fuck that.
Shorter Trent Lott:
Nothing I say has any meaning.
Shorter Bush administration:
We had to destroy your freedoms in order to save them. [See the village of Ben Tre.]
Shorter American people:
Bush sucks.
Oh yeah. There sure do seem to be a lot of crooked Republicans.

Special Nitpicker Flashback: Jonah Goldberg on the "slippery slope" and civil liberties from November 2001:
For all of the screeching about the thousand or so people being held in custody since September 11, there's no way you can compare it to the internment of the Japanese. If we were interning Arab or Muslim Americans there'd be millions of people in camps. Instead, "only" .0001% of that population is being held by the feds — and that's because they've all committed a crime of some kind, or, in one or two instances, are material witnesses to a crime...

The same thing holds true for pretty much every such civil-liberties "outrage" in American history. Habeas corpus was reinstated after the Civil War and, over the next century and a half, became an even stricter legal standard. After all of the revelations of the 1960s and 1970s vis-à-vis wiretaps, secret files, etc., Congress made it more, not less, difficult to abuse the civil rights of citizens. "If Bush has not gone even further in cracking down on terrorism," writes Charles Lane in the Washington Post, "it is because he is constrained by a legal and political culture far more favorable toward civil liberties than anything Lincoln, Wilson or FDR could have imagined."

This exposes the main problem with slippery-slope arguments. Much like conspiracy theories, they reflect more imagination and less hard thinking than usually required. When we go "too far" one way, we are more likely to swing back the other way than to keep sliding in the wrong direction. It's called the law of unintended consequences.
Of course Jonah's not quite ready for it to swing back yet.

Note also that Jonah calls the money that Bandow got on the side from Jack Abramoff a "paltry sum" even though the amount he made from that one little financial tributary is more than the median American income last year (PDF link) and far more than the average American soldier makes.

Shorter Jonah Goldberg: I'm full of shit and don't know what real work is like. (That one works with every Goldberg column.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Soldiers and caribou can both go to hell

The message has gone out throughout the National Guard: Only the most pressing of funding priorities will be met.

Boot camp? Yeah. Initial training in your career specialty? Sure. Anything else will be turned down. Sadly, our soldiers will go to war with a minimum of training if they're headed out in the next six months.

Why?

Because the Guard doesn't have the money. The Guard is operating on a skeleton budget since October 1st (the beginning of the new fiscal year) because Congress has failed to pass a defense spending bill, which has been held up because the White House was fighting hard to prevent an anti-torture amendment. Allowing some people to commit unspeakable acts came before soldiers.

But these bills are usually passed in advance of the turning of the fiscal year, so states know how to budget their funds. Plans are made. Orders are cut. Equipment requests are approved and sent. All of this usually happens before the fiscal year arrives. This year, however, soldiers were told to hold off and wait a bit, 'cause we don't know what we're going to get or when. In other words, the hold up has been a problem since well before the end of September.

So I was happy today to find out that Bush and McCain had come to an agreement on the torture issue and the training and equipping of National Guard soldiers (and, by the way, all other soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines) could finally proceed.

But not so fast.

Today Ted Stevens decided to attach an amendment to the defense spending bill which would allow drilling in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

If there is any justice, this will be pulled from the bill. As Russ Feingold said, "Debate about the future of the Arctic Refuge is a debate about our failed energy policy and our environmental legacy, not about the funding of our men and women and uniform, and it would be grossly irresponsible to include the drilling provision in the final Defense Appropriations bill."

Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, the head of the National Guard, has already said that his troops are stretched thin and lack the necessary equipment to properly do their jobs. I'm here to tell you that training funds are also depriving those soldiers of the training they need to prepare soldiers for those jobs and, if it continues, re-enlistments will also suffer.

Republicans are holding the funding that would help prepare some of our hardest hit Army units hostage in order to serve the interests of their donors in the oil companies.

I wish they could remember what if felt like to be ashamed.

Paranoia will destroy ya

For his next trick, Tom Cole will try to make water wetter. From Hotline:
OK Rep. Tom Cole, a former RNC executive director, is telling colleagues that Republicans can prevent losses in the 2006 midterm elections if they successfully define Democrats as carping critics who favor surrender in Iraq, higher taxes and more government spending...

Cole suggests stirring up "a little paranoia" among Republican base voters to motivate them to vote.
Let's see. So far they're stirred up about the impending loss of Christmas, all those scary Mexicans and men in black robes who want to ban the Bible and force their kids to have gay sex as they pull the plug on brain dead accident victims. If they want to fit some more paranoia into their base they're going to have to pound it in with a mallet.

George Will puts on his tinfoil hat

Again, George loves to talk like a smart guy, but he just thinks you're an idiot.
For some people, environmentalism is collectivism in drag. Such people use environmental causes and rhetoric not to change the political climate for the purpose of environmental improvement. Rather, for them, changing the society's politics is the end, and environmental policies are mere means to that end.

The unending argument in political philosophy concerns constantly adjusting society's balance between freedom and equality. The primary goal of collectivism -- of socialism in Europe and contemporary liberalism in America -- is to enlarge governmental supervision of individuals' lives. This is done in the name of equality.

People are to be conscripted into one large cohort, everyone equal (although not equal in status or power to the governing class) in their status as wards of a self-aggrandizing government. Government says the constant enlargement of its supervising power is necessary for the equitable or efficient allocation of scarce resources.

Therefore, one of the collectivists' tactics is to produce scarcities, particularly of what makes modern society modern -- the energy requisite for social dynamism and individual autonomy. Hence collectivists use environmentalism to advance a collectivizing energy policy. Focusing on one energy source at a time, they stress the environmental hazards of finding, developing, transporting, manufacturing or using oil, natural gas, coal or nuclear power.
What Will's saying is that being environmentally-minded isn't an effort by Americans to you know, keep people from shitting in their own nests, but is vast conspiracty to starve the country into becoming a communist state. Oy.

Here's my favorite part: The primary goal of collectivism -- of socialism in Europe and contemporary liberalism in America -- is to enlarge governmental supervision of individuals' lives. Call me kooky, but I don't think it's liberals who are trying to "enlarge governmental supervision." Does anyone remember how Will pissed and moaned when the Supreme Court said that it was probably wrong to bust down the door of two consenting adults and arrest them because they were A) having sex and B) both men? Does anyone remember how Will said that the PATRIOT act was just dandy? Does anyone remember how it was Will himself who told George Stephanopoulos that Republicans are the ones who are violating the rights of individuals, saying about the Terri Schiavo incident that, "if there is a general anxiety about the Republican party among swing voters, it is that it is wagged by the tail of certain extremists, and the extremists have no respect for zones of privacy such as a family dispute like this."

Liberals don't have any desire to control people's lives--that's where the modern "conservatives" come in. There are no meetings where we lefties get together and come up with sneaky ways to bring about more state control. Will, as always, just decided to make an argument up out of whole cloth.

Environmentalism, in fact, is all about the rugged individualism inspired by that great progressive, Theodore Roosevelt, who argued that every man or woman should have the right to "the old-time pleasure of the hardy life of the wilderness and of the hunter in the wilderness" and, in order to let people enjoy the land, it must be removed from the economic process and be made public to be "kept for all who have the love of adventure and the hardihood to take advantage of it." Environmentalism says that neither corporations nor nations should have the right to deprive individuals of clean air, water and, yes, a tiny portion of land without oil rigs and cul-de-sacs.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Excuse me, sir...

But I think you've gotten this wrong.

Marine Major Ben Connable wrote this in today's WaPo:
The common wisdom seems to be that Iraq is an unwinnable war and a quagmire and that the only thing left to decide is how quickly we withdraw. Depending on which poll you believe, about 60 percent of Americans think it's time to pull out of Iraq.

How is it, then, that 64 percent of U.S. military officers think we will succeed if we are allowed to continue our work? Why is there such a dramatic divergence between American public opinion and the upbeat assessment of the men and women doing the fighting?
The only poll I could find that came close to agreeing with this statement was a November 17, 2005 poll by The Pew Research Center For the People and the Press.

In the poll, military "opinion leaders" did indeed believe that a stable democracy will succeed in Iraq. However, there's nothing that says, as Maj. Connable does, that these are the people "doing the fighting." In fact, many of the military "opinion leaders" weren't even asked this question. Or any questions. The methodology explained:
The military leaders sample was drawn from a Lexis-Nexis search of retired generals and admirals quoted in American news sources in the past year. Also included was a sample of outstanding officers selected to participate in the Council on Foreign Relations' Military Fellowship program since 2000.
There's nothing that says whether these retired general officers are recent retirees who might have actually served in Iraq (at which point they might also have the added incentive to be optimistic due to their own contributions) or whether they've been out of the Army for many years. There's also nothing that says how many of the 47 military "opinion leaders" were general officers and how many were members of the CFR Military Fellowship program, so suggesting that there's any way to gauge whether this is the opinion of people "doing the fighting" is, at best, problematic and, more realistically, impossible.

The major goes on to say that mid-level officers and NCOs also seem to be optimistic about Iraq, but there's no data except his personal impressions and, I'll tell from an NCOs perspective, a Marine major probably has little chance of actually knowing what his NCOs really think. That's not a dig on him. It's just the truth.

One thing that Maj. Connable didn't mention from the same poll was that those same military "opinion leaders" were all but evenly split on the topic two major issues: A) military leaders support the choice to go to war in the first place by only 49-47 percent; and B) believe that the Iraq war has helped make us safer by only 47-45 percent.

So this poll really tells me that military "opinion leaders" (whoever they are) still believe in the ability of the military to pull America's fat out of the fire in Iraq even though they're evenly split over whether we should be there in the first place and whether it's doing us any good.

Update:I think it's important to add this, which I posted in response to a comment in this articles cross-post over at DailyKos.

Connable shouldn't be attacked personally. He's serving his country honorably in the Marine Corps. My problem with him is that he's doing the readers of the Washington Post a disservice by misrepresenting the beliefs of those in service.

I also disagree with the idea that, simply because he's been in Iraq he necessarily has a better perspective of the Iraq situation than the rest of us. As a guy who was in a position to move around Afghanistan with more freedom than 95% of soldiers, I was often surprised when I went from, say, Ghazni to Herat and found that the commanders and staff there had almost no concept of what their counterparts were dealing with--and these were Lt. Colonels and Colonels who took part in the General's daily Battle Update Briefing. It's often the case that many service members get locked into their area of the war and know their "slice" of it inside and out, but cannot see the larger picture. Connable can tell you about his mission, but extrapolating that portion onto the whole would be like my describing the entire American political scene based on my observations of Stafford county, Kansas. My guess? Bush would still win there with about 62% of the vote.

There's no way to tell what Maj. Connable's reading/research habits are, but I would argue that he's shown a willingness to either misread or misrepresent poll numbers and personal experience, as I've said, will only get you so far.

I still remember sitting with a journalist from Germany's Die Zeit newspaper as she explained the current state of the Afghanistan war to a smart, very soldierly infantry brigade commander. Being trapped in one area of the country by his duty, he could only take the reporter's word for the situation the country was in--though, for the record, she felt very positively about it.

Reading the "black site" tea leaves

A little over a month ago, Republicans were threatening to track down the person who clued Dana Priest into the existence of our secret prison facilities in Europe. If you'll remember, the official Nitpicker stance was this was an argument that we'd love to have with the Republicans.
This could be an all-out, to-the-mattresses fight over the values that we Americans truly hold dear and, in the process, we might even save our country's soul.
Republicans had made the mistake of thinking all leaks are equal and, therefore, if you're going to look into our man's outing of a CIA agent, we're going to find out who let the "black site" secret out of the bag.

In the month that's passed since then it seems they may have realized that Americans do not share their view and they're scooting away from anything that might look like an endorsement of these sites.
The Senate is poised to approve a measure that would require the Bush administration to provide Congress with its most specific and extensive accounting about the secret prison system established by the Central Intelligence Agency to house terrorism suspects.

The measure includes amendments that would require the director of national intelligence to provide regular, detailed updates about secret detention facilities maintained by the United States overseas, and to account for the treatment and condition of each prisoner. The facilities, established after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, are thought to hold two dozen to three dozen terrorism suspects, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is said to be the mastermind of the attacks.

An agreement reached Wednesday between Democrats and Republicans called for the measure to be approved by unanimous consent, but it was unclear on Wednesday night when a final vote might occur.
I'd be willing to bet that some senators received some angry calls about this and were put in the position of either saying "I agree with this policy" or saying "we had no idea" and admitting that Bush's "Congress gets the same intelligence we do" WMD defense is bullshit. So, basically, they're splitting the difference--neither defending the policy or explicitly admitting they knew nothing about it--saying that they simply want Bush to keep them in the loop.

This is pitiful, even for Bush

The parents of Marine Lt. Ryan McGlothlin were on CNN tonight. It turns out that the lieutenant and I would have agreed about a lot.

Let's remember first what Bush said today.
The work ahead will also require continued sacrifice. Yet we can be confident, because history has shown the power of freedom to overcome tyranny. And we can be confident because we have on our side the greatest force for freedom in human history: the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. (Applause.)

One of these men was a Marine lieutenant named Ryan McGlothlin, from Lebanon, Virginia. Ryan was a bright young man who had everything going for him and he always wanted to serve our nation. He was a valedictorian of his high school class. He graduated from William & Mary with near-perfect grade averages, and he was on a full scholarship at Stanford, where he was working toward a doctorate in chemistry.

Two years after the attacks of September the 11th, the young man who had the world at his feet came home from Stanford for a visit. He told his dad, "I just don't feel like I'm doing something that matters. I want to serve my country. I want to protect our lands from terrorists, so I joined the Marines." When his father asked him if there was some other way to serve, Ryan replied that he felt a special obligation to step up because he had been given so much. Ryan didn't support me in the last election, but he supported our mission in Iraq. And he supported his fellow Marines.

Ryan was killed last month fighting the terrorists near the -- Iraq's Syrian border. In his pocket was a poem that Ryan had read at his high school graduation, and it represented the spirit of this fine Marine. The poem was called "Don't Quit."

In our fight to keep America free, we'll never quit.
But here's what Lt. McGlothlin's mother had to say.
Actually, I don't feel Ryan felt that when we first went to war that was the right place or the right time. And that's why we wanted to make sure that the White House understood that. He felt if we were going to go to war we should have been in Afghanistan, and I think he felt war should have been the last resort or last possible resort. And I'm not sure he felt that it was.

What he did feel that once we went there, and we tore down the government they did know, and disrupted their country, we had an obligation to fix what we had destroyed. And he very strongly believed in that.
In other words, we're seeing the results of what Colin Powell called the "Pottery Barn" policy. McGlothlin believed that, since we'd broken Iraq, we were responsible for fixing it. He knew that the initial move was a mistake and, while he grew to admire and want to help the Iraqis, he didn't think this war had anything to do with keeping America free.

I believed the same thing until very recently.

Let's run down the list: Bush has sent our lost soldiers home as freight, joked while discussing their (and Iraqis) final sacrifices and, now, he now misrepresents the values of the dead for his own purposes. He has no shame.

Paging Sen. Roberts

Bush, today:
When we made the decision to go into Iraq, many intelligence agencies around the world judged that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of governments who did not support my decision to remove Saddam. And it is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As President, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq -- and I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities...

The constant headlines about car bombings and killings have led some to ask whether our presence in Iraq has made America less secure. This view presumes that if we were not in Iraq, the terrorists would be leaving us alone. The reality is that the terrorists have been targeting America for years, long before we ever set foot in Iraq.

We were not in Iraq in 1993, when the terrorists tried to blow up the World Trade Center in New York. We were not in Iraq in 1998, when the terrorists bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We were not in Iraq in 2000, when the terrorists killed 17 American sailors aboard the USS Cole. There wasn't a single American soldier in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001, when the terrorists murdered nearly 3,000 people in the worst attack on our home since Pearl Harbor...

One of the blessings of our free society is that we can debate these issues openly, even in a time of war. Most of the debate has been a credit to our democracy, but some have launched irresponsible charges. They say that we act because of oil, that we act in Iraq because of Israel, or because we misled the American people. Some of the most irresponsible comments about manipulating intelligence have come from politicians who saw the same intelligence we saw, and then voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These charges are pure politics. They hurt the morale of our troops. Whatever our differences in Washington, our men and women in uniform deserve to know that once our politicians vote to send them into harm's way, our support will be with them in good days and bad, and we will settle for nothing less than complete victory.
A few questions
  • How the hell would Bush know what might possibly affect the morale of troops at war? He skipped his war, remember?

  • Does he really think that American troops are such stupid, sensitive flowers that they can't distinguish truth from fiction and their morale depends on the phrases of politicians?

  • Did the Congress really get the same intelligence? If that's true, then why won't Bush hand over his PDB's to Sen. Kennedy like he's asked?

  • While we're on the subject, where the hell is the Phase II report we were promised by Pat Roberts?

  • Wasn't there a bunch of evidence never mentioned before the war which was at odds with the evidence given to support the war?

  • Why does Bush keep forgetting terrorist and/or "Islamofascist" acts like the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon? Why doesn't he mention that while, yes, we were attacked before we went into Iraq, that during the first full year we spent in the country, major terror attacks worldwide more than tripled?

  • What, once and for all, does he actually mean by victory? He lists three things which would mean victory in this speech--the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy; the Iraqi security forces can protect their own people; Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot attacks against our country--but these seem nearly impossible goals to meet. Haven't long established democracies been threatened and, even, torn down? Didn't we have one of the largest security infrastructures in the world when we were attacked on 9/11? Wasn't 9/11 planned in Germany, in Las Vegas and Florida strip clubs? So how will we measure these things?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Making it up as they go along

McCain says that he wants to bar torture by Americans and members of the Senate and the House agree with him. The standards he wants to put in place were to be based on the Army's field manual on interrogations. So what happens? The Army changes the field manual:
The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods that may complicate negotiations over legislation proposed by Senator John McCain to bar cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees in American custody, defense officials said Tuesday.

The techniques are included in a 10-page classified addendum to a new Army field manual that was forwarded this week to Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence policy, for final approval, they said.
If I were McCain, I'd track down the paper trail on this shit. Most of the comments I heard about torture from the officers in the command group in Afghanistan (while Abu Ghraib and other torture stories were really taking off in the news) were about how stupid torture was, both as a tool for gathering intelligence and as a PR move. (Was concern for those tortured further down on the list? Yeah, it often was, but, in the soldiers' defense, thoughts of how actions affect the mission are the first thoughts that pop into the heads of the best soldiers.)

So, if I were a senator, the first thing I would do was find out who wrote this classified section and see exactly who started the ball rolling on this addendum. The soldiers I've talked to don't want this shit. Does anyone else think that Cambone had probably already seen most of this stuff before it was "forwarded" to him?

My stocking is getting so full

Raw Story:
Short of a last minute intervention by Rove’s attorney, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to ask a grand jury investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson to indict Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove for making false statements to the FBI and Justice Department investigators in October 2003, lawyers close to the case say.
And Tom Delay and Duke Cunningham may be sharing a ride to the ends of their careers.
A Texas prosecutor has issued subpoenas for bank records and other information of a defense contractor involved in the bribery case of a California congressman as part of the investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Changes

This site, as frequent visitors can see, is undergoing some changes.

In the past month I've added advertising, Amazon links and a place for my generous readers to donate to the cause that is Nitpicker. I want to explain the changes.

As I've said repeatedly, Nitpicker started as a way to keep that angry vein from throbbing painfully in my temple and limit the decible of my television-focused screaming. It has become much more to me and, if the e-mails I receive are any indication, it has become more than that to the few hundred people who drop by on a daily basis as well. In a way, I've been moving toward Nitpicker since my first paid job as a writer, that of a (no shit) political satirist and movie reviewer for my hometown weekly newspaper. I started that job at the age of 13.

(For the record, the answer is "no," the columns have not withstood the test of time, although I would bet that my take on zoning and its effects on a small town's agrarian economy ranks among the best ever written by a 13-year-old. Hell, it was read aloud to the city council. Take that, Ben Shapiro.)

The problem is that things on this side of the blog are about to change drastically. I will be leaving Kansas soon to follow Ms. Nitpicker as she begins a career in the active duty military. It's her turn to serve and, being parents, we can't both take the risks of military service. This means that I will be leaving a well-paying job which allows me some flexibility at a time when the blog is taking off, is beginnning to make a difference (several military officers e-mailed me and said that, despite reading Victor Davis Hanson during their training, my post on his intellectual dishonesty has convinced them he's not worth listening to) and as work on my book--part memoir, part history, part polemic against use of the military as political tool--moves along glacially. Depending on the financial situation, something may have to give, because, unlike some commentators I wasn't born with my a silver boot attached to my tongue.

So I ask that you consider advertising here if you think that the site can bring eyeballs to your cause or products. If the books on the right interest you (like blogger David Sirota's upcoming book, Hostile Takeover), I hope you'll click through and pick them up and I also appreciate any donations that you might give. I must insist that I don't want charity. Don't donate or advertise here unless you think this site helps you, but if you do, feel free to give and advertise as you see fit.

Idiot

Lou Dobbs just said that Bush "in all national polls, sees his approval rating rising."

Really, Lou?

Someone needs to fire his research staff.

Justice denied?

It seems the entire blogosphere is united in support of Cory Maye, a man sitting on death row for killing a police officer who kicked in his door in the middle of the night. Unfortunately it was the wrong house and there is much debate as to whether the police ever announced their identities.

Righties and lefties alike think that this is a travesty of justice. I agree.

One person who's remained conspicuously silent, however, is Jonah Goldberg, who argued during the Tookie Williams saga that the wheels of justice ought to spin faster. I'm sure that Jonah--as an intellectually stalwart (self-declared) arbiter of law, propriety and scandalous behavior in the corrections system--thinks that it's just dreadful that Maye's still alive at all.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The sensitive, stupid American

George Will says that Eugene McCarthy made Americans mad because he looked down his nose at them.
McCarthy's acerbic wit sometimes slid into unpleasantness, as when, after Gov. George Romney, the Michigan Republican, said that briefers in Vietnam had "brainwashed" him, McCarthy said that surely a light rinse would have sufficed. McCarthy's wit revealed an aptitude for condescension, an aptitude that charmed intellectuals but not Americans condescended to.
If we accept Will's point that Americans are made of such tender stuff and, also, consider that most Americans disagree with Bush and his party, shouldn't Republicans be taking into account that Americans might not appreciate being called a nation of people embracing "retreat and defeat"?

Of course, the former condition for that question could never be performed with a straight face. Americans aren't afraid of intelligence, they just want some muscle in the arms which work at the behest of powerful minds. They want someone who knows what he wants, knows why he wants it and goes after and it. McCarthy's refusal to even refer to himself as a candidate during a wartime election did much more to turn Americans off than any perceived intellectual snobbery.

George Will knows this and makes it obvious in his own column. Does he really think, for example, that philippic is a word tossed off by the bake sale mothers, the bar stool jockeys or salarymen he's setting up as the offended masses? McCarthy, at the very least, was funny. By simultaneously decrying liberal intellectualism and tossing off $10 words—a favorite trick he uses to hide the shameful lack of any real intellectual integrity underlying his arguments—Will is thumbing his nose at so-called "common" Americans. I'm fucking with you and you're too stupid to even know it, he seems to be saying.

There's a lot of this going around. Earlier today, a Fox News "Holiday Party" flier surface on the web and everyone had a good chuckle. "Look at those ridiculous Foxholes, who can't even keep their pandering straight." But it's not funny and no one who feels that faith is an important part of their lives should see it as even slightly humorous. Every bit of evidence tells us that those who are most loudly bleating about a so-called "War on Christmas" know full well that such talk is ridiculous. They are, then, using one of the most holy Christian holidays as a tool not to bring about peace, understanding or (God forbid) good will toward men, but to breed hate and discontent in the hearts of Americans for the sake television ratings and donations to political "war chests." They are using a season of love and the faith from which it springs as a bludgeon, laughing behind the backs of true believers as they do it.

Yes yes yes

E.J. Dionne gets it exactly right when he writes that, like many a beaten-down partner, Democrats are now complicit in their own mistreatment.
Attacks of this sort on Democrats are effective because Democrats help make them so. Democrats are so obsessed with not looking "weak" on defense that they end up making themselves look weak, period, by the way they respond to Republican attacks on their alleged weakness. Oh my gosh, many Democrats say, we can't associate ourselves with the likes of Howard Dean or Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader who recently called for a troop withdrawal within six months. Let's knife them before Karl Rove gets around to knifing us. Talk about a recipe for retreat and defeat.
He goes on to say that Democrats really are divided and that's a problem, but America isn't exactly falling in line behind Republicans either.

As for the political "problem" of division over Iraq, I say quit treating it like a problem. I honestly think that a joint Democratic conference should be held publicly with senators and representatives making their cases for their points of view. Instead of being ashamed of internal conflict, we should be embracing it, pointing out that our party is a party of thoughts and ideas, while theirs is the party of marching in lockstep to consolidate power.

Invite Clark. Invite Shinseki. Invite Franks. Invite all kinds of military advisors and thinkers and historians. Do this not because it's a good political move, but because it's what America needs right now. The American people are justifiably torn over the war and they need to see that someone is taking this war seriously enough to put their own thoughts and values above the short-term goals of their party.

He's not even trying to hide it anymore

You can quit wondering how Bush really thinks about the people dying for his bullshit war. It's becoming obvious.
Dead heroes are supposed to come home with their coffins draped with the American flag -- greeted by a color guard.

But in reality, many are arriving as freight on commercial airliners -- stuffed in the belly of a plane with suitcases and other cargo.
And:
Long before he came to Iraq, Spec. Russell Nahvi hoped to save the world. In a spiral-bound notebook filled with math equations, he jotted his secret yearnings: "I PRAY one day I can make the world proud of me. I hope I can restore an unknown peace to wartorn nations, peoples, families, friends."

Nahvi's ambitions led him to a dark road on the outskirts of this town, where, on a patrol Oct. 19 a bomb hidden in a pothole dismembered him and incinerated his Humvee...

Afterward, the Pentagon tersely attributed the soldiers' deaths to "enemy indirect fire." An officer handed Nahvi's mother, Nancy, a form asking if she wanted her 24-year-old son's body parts returned if they were recovered. President Bush sent his parents a three-paragraph condolence letter. It contained a typo: "God less you."
And today:
Q Since the inception of the Iraqi war, I'd like to know the approximate total of Iraqis who have been killed. And by Iraqis I include civilians, military, police, insurgents, translators.

THE PRESIDENT: How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis. We've lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq.

Yes.

Q Mr. President, thank you --

THE PRESIDENT: I'll repeat the question. If I don't like it, I'll make it up. (Laughter and applause.)
Ah, yes, the perfect time for a fucking joke: "I'm responsible for over 32,000 deaths and I think it's funny to joke about making things up." Soulless, soulless bastard.

Update: SusanHu was thinking along the same lines, but much earlier.

It's all about the Benjamins?

I'll be moving to Pensacola sometime after the first of the year and, in preparation, I've been getting used to the community through its newspaper, the Pensacola News Journal. Until today, though, I'd missed the town's village idiot, Executive News Editor Kent Cockson. He seems your typical mid-sized city editor who's grown as fat and slow as a mean carp in a small pond, but I found his post about Cindy Sheehan particularly loathsome. (You'll have to click the link above and scroll down, as the paper hasn't figured out that permalinks and news "archives" don't seem to work well together.) It's an old post, but pure idiocy that must be enjoyed.
Saturday, November 19, 2005

The REAL reason Camp Casey occurred

Well, of course!

You recall Cindy Sheehan? She’s the “peace mom” who doggedly pursued a “peace vigil” for several “scorching days” in August outside President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. Well, Mrs. Sheehan made it clear as a bell on Saturday about what motivated her.

Yup. She got a book deal out of it.

Imagine that!

The book (20,000 copies to be published by a sympathetic bleeding heart of a guy in Hawaii) will be followed, we’re told, by a promotional tour to tout the spellbinding recollections of Mrs. Sheehan’s self-sacrificing 26-day vigil and to recognize the self-consuming thoughts she braved in the wake of her son’s death at the hands of rebellious, anti-occupation forces in Iraq.
So the fact that Cindy Sheehan's writing a book explains her actions, huh?

Does it explain the actions of Katherine Harris? Did she rule against Gore to sell a book? Does it explain Ashley Smith? Hell, does it explain why Ike proposed the Normandy Invasion?

Yes, Cockson's an idiot barely worth a mention, but, um, I can't help myself. Kudos to you, Kent. You're a first-class asshole.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Another hero of my misspent youth

Richard Pryor dead at 65.

Take some time off, Mr. Pryor, you seem tired.

How far we've come

This is your war.
  • The United States said Friday that it would continue to deny the International Committee of the Red Cross access to "a very small, limited number" of prisoners who are held in secret around the world, saying they are terrorists being kept incommunicado for reasons of national security and are not guaranteed any rights under the Geneva Conventions...

    The Red Cross has recognized that some of those held by the United States are not prisoners of war, and do not have the full protection of the Geneva Conventions. But it has argued that no prisoners, not even those alleged to be terrorists, should fall into what it calls a "black hole" outside any protection under international humanitarian law. A central purpose of the Red Cross is to visit prisoners and protect their human rights.

  • The Taguba Report: On at least one occasion, the 320th MP Battalion at Abu Ghraib held a handful of "ghost detainees" for OGAs that they moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey team. This maneuver was deceptive, contrary to Army Doctrine, and in violation of international law.

  • In the winter of 1992, nine of the 51 men who then lived here were taken away by regime soldiers, never to be heard from again. Today, about 20 locals gather in the local diwaniya (community sitting room) to retell the story. There was, they say, an attack by some of the villagers on the local Baath Party headquarters. No one was killed, but about 15 days later, soldiers arrived, grabbing the suspects from the university where they studied, the barbershops where they cut hair, and the beds where they slept...There has been no word from the men since except for rumored sightings by some former prisoners now released. There were never any trials, and no information has surfaced from the local Mukhabarat files.

Friday, December 09, 2005

O'Reilly: Holocaust denier?

In saying that the people who shouted down Ann Coulter were doing "exactly what the Nazis did," O'Reilly has nearly become a Holocaust denier. I mean it. Isn't diminishing the horrors of the Nazis by comparing them to a bunch of unruly UCONN students an irresponsible action? Or is it just stupid?

And don't these statements feel like part of an ongoing series of frightening comments?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

California town says it's fine to rape illegal immigrants

What? You think I overstate the case? I don't think so.
In an emerging trend, Costa Mesa leaders agreed Wednesday to clear the way for police officers to enforce federal immigration laws — a move some fear will having a chilling effect in the city's Latino community.

The City Council voted to negotiate an agreement with federal immigration officials that would allow city police to check some criminal suspects to see if they are in the country illegally, a job now reserved for federal immigration officials.
In other words, illegal immigrants who get raped (or beaten or robbed) would have to choose between, say, keeping a job that feeds their family or getting justice for the crime committed against them. If you go to the cops, you're gone.

Does anyone doubt that this is part of the intent of these laws? That there's a tacit threat of a permanent victim status for those who attempt to enter the country illegally?

I honestly haven't come to any final answers to illegal immigration, but I don't think tossing people to the wolves is a proper response.

Update: Paul, in comments, says that I'm making a leap of logic, as the article says that "Officials in Costa Mesa said they would only check the status of people arrested on suspicion of felonies or criminal gang activity."

May I just say that, like many of the immigrants of Orange Country, I ain't buyin' it? And, even if they are true to their word, if I and others aren't picking up what they're putting down, doesn't that equate to the same result as a direct threat of deportation if you report a crime? We're talking here about a class of people already living in fear of authority already, so this would just make it less likely they would report their victimhood for fear of being victimized again.

These political tirades have real results for real people.

Wow.

I am such a dick.

For the record, despite its clearly insensitive and sexist tone, the word "bitch" is fine as long as you use it as a verb.
However, mediagirl.org is a place created for women, a place to connect, rant, share, commiserate, bitch, scream, laugh, cry, or just be a little bit silly.
Or if you're not talking (directly) about a woman, but only the mother of a man you dislike.
In mocking Kerry, Rove was also mocking the Democratic youth army. The nmistakable message he conveyed was one of abject cynicism. It really doen't matter how good the message or how hard you campaign for your candidate at all. No, not in Karl Rove's America. It's the level to which you are willing to stoop in order to win that's important. Smear and distortion and initmidation and fear and hate are what wins elections these days. I thought of those kids having to watch that sick son of a bitch as he personally puked all their altruism, idealism and selflessness.

Mao was an evil mass murdering son of a bitch who will never know rest.
Surely attacking even the innocent mother of an evil mass murderer for simply being a woman should be off limits, right?

I should point out, however, that I'm shocked--shocked!--to find that MediaGirl would go so far as to suggest that I'm "denigrating women." As any ultra-correct-holier-than-though-über-leftie knows, the term "denigrate" means to "blacken or defame" and, therefore is a racially loaded word to use. In fact, its origins derive from "de- 'completely' + nigr-, stem of niger 'black,' of unknown origin." Can anyone else think of a word that claims "niger" as its root? Yeah, I figured you could. Isn't the author saying that calling someone a bitch is like calling women "n****rs"?

For shame.

Or might that word have different connotations for different people? Is it possible that the author didn't mean that? Is it possible that I don't use "bitch" to trash the entire female gender?

For the sake of avoiding offense, I suggest that we now only converse in grunts and hand signals.

P.S. That MediaGirl called me "macho" has immensely delighted many of the people who actually know me. One suggested that I make you one of my special batches of crêpes to make peace, but I refused. I wouldn't want to spoil the fact that someone actually considers me macho for once.

I did want to add, though, that this comment confuses me: "Yeah, real men have dicks." Um...don't they? What do you call a man without one?

P.P.S. It's all good. The author now says in comments the word doesn't really bother her, but that I was just so self-righteous and, so, was asking for it. I suppose that makes it OK to distill my personality down to a cardboard cutout of the white male power structure because of a single word.

I always thought that self-righteousness was defined, in part, as demanding that others see things the way you do and that your morality becomes the abiding morality. All I ever said was that people who--in every other fucking instance would agree with me--not get all up in my shit about a single word. Is that really so much to ask?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Everyone could take lessons from Murtha

From his speech today.
QUESTION: Some of your critics are saying that the use of the word "redeploy" just makes it sound like the troops are going somewhere -- you mentioned Kuwait -- is simply a code word, a recipe for allowing the pullout to (OFF-MIKE)

MURTHA: Well, why would I say "collapse"? I mean, who told you "collapse"? The Bush administration tell you "collapse"?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MURTHA: Well, it's observation by who?

You see, this is the problem. They got all these thousands of people out there talking this way and they say there's going to be a collapse, they say there's going to be more insurgencies, they say there's terrorist activity. That doesn't mean it's so.

I've seen damn little things that they have said was true turned out to be true. That's my problem.
You see how easy that is? I don't know who it was that tossed out the classic "some of your critics" bullshit, but I'm guessing that person gets his or her paycheck from Rupert Murdoch. Murtha responded exactly right: "Who? Give me a name."

O'Reilly's Christmas cheer

Every time Bill O'Reilly talks, I feel a little piece of the true spirit of Christmas die.
There is no reason on this earth that all of us cannot celebrate a public holiday devoted to generosity, peace, and love together.
So, how does Bill plan on spending this Christmas season?
I'm gonna use all the power that I have on radio and television to bring horror into the world of people who are trying to do that.
Maybe John Paul II was right. Maybe we are seeing the rise of the anti-Gospel. I'm pretty sure that Jesus wouldn't recognize O'Reilly's version of Christmas.

Murtha!

The man hits Lieberman and Bush with the sames stone. Brilliant.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Millstone Milestone

Look, it shouldn't have taken me this long. I know that. But after 16 years--which included 5.5 years active duty Navy; 9 months in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the Army Reserve; 2 months in Guatemala with the Army Reserve after Hurricane Mitch; 1 year in Afghanistan with the National Guard; 4 jobs; 1 failed marriage; 6 years as a single dad; the raising of 2 handsome, genius sons; 1 beautiful, caring and understanding second wife--I completed the last class I needed for my degree tonight and am the first member of my family to have attained a college degree. I am equal parts embarrassed and elated and champagne will be (and has been) consumed this evening with both feelings in mind.

Thank you, Franklin Delano Roosevelt--you liberal, service member-lovin'-sonofabitch--wherever you are!

Graduation gifts gladly accepted at the button to the right.

Update: A note to the Republicans who've "congratulated" me on my degree: As I've already pointed out, I know that it took me a long time to get my diploma. Too long. You're right. You're probably also right that I'm stupid because it took me so long. So I suggest you never take anything I say at face value. Really. But you have to remember to ignore the college dropouts Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh as well and, for God's sake, don't forget to forever ignore the writings of a professor shown to be a hypocritical ass by an academic failure like me.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Grow the fuck up

Update: Hi, MediaGirl visitors, please read this.

I had a guy suggest in e-mail that I misstepped in calling Ann Coulter a "bitch."
Come on, you destroyed your point with the needlessly provocative and sexist title...By attacking her for being a woman, which is what using the word bitch does, you are undermining your argument and empowering her to claim victimhood status.
First, I don't think this argument is even possible. Attacking Ann Coulter for being a woman is like attacking a lamppost for being and ocelot.

Second, I'm pretty sure that Ann didn't need me to "empower her" to talk a bunch of shit. Nor did she need me to "provoke" her. Jeebus.

Third, fuck that.

She is a bitch. Period. I don't give a damn whether you like the word or not, but I'm a fan of the old school (non-racial, non-genitalia-based) classics.

(I appreciate the rhetoric lesson that a single word can "destroy" an argument, by the way, I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm arguing with other delicate flowers whose brains shut down for fear they've offended. If "bitch" was meant for anyone, it was meant for Coulter.)

It pisses me off that liberals are supposed to tiptoe around all the time. Tiptoeing around is exactly what has been wrong with lefties for too damn long. I'm not saying that saying everyone has to go around saying bitch bitch bitch, but you can't just let these people keep throwing shit at you and think they'll go away. I've gotten several e-mails saying that I shouldn't give her the satisfaction. The satisfaction! That's what the geeky guy in the high school movie says when he gets his underwear pulled halfway up his back! "I won't give you the satisfaction of a comment, sir." Whether he's right or not, he comes off as (here comes another one) a pussy. That's the last thing we need, people.

That's why my conservative friends think they can win arguments by saying that I'm not being very "tolerant" when I point out that Pat Robertson is a whack job or that homeschooling seems often to be performed by frightening, anti-Christian-but-calling-themselves-Christian automatons.

Look, I'm probably one of a small number of Kansas boys from the middle of the state to have called himself a feminist in print and just maybe I've hung out in a different crowd, but the men and women I hang out with don't really think twice about "bitch." Yeah, we're prone to rude jokes and the suggestion that whomever we're talking to is gay, but that guy's likely to play it off. Are we anti-gay? You may want to claim so, but dammit all to hell if I haven't donated my time to Topeka's Equal Justice Coalition. We are, in other words, politically incorrect. Sure, there are words that are not only off limits but never even pop into our heads, but bitch? It's a fluffy bunny of a curse word.

Do I protest too much? Maybe, but this is not the time for ear-covering children. If we should have learned anything from Jack Murtha, it's that we need to start calling things like we see them. He saw chickenhawks and said "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." We could have said that all along, veteran or not, because they ignored Shinseki and others. Instead we caved and lost and I blame that bullshit, whiny, better-to-be-silent-than-offend attitude and the idea that these people are just going to go away if we ignore them.

Call me what you will, but if I feel "bitch," I'll say "bitch."

Oh please

These people (link via TBogg) are both nuts and anti-biblical.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

You stupid, stupid bitch

Yeah, we saw this bullshit coming.
I've never heard a single liberal preface attacks on Oliver North with a recitation of North's magnificent service as a Marine. And unlike Murtha, who refuses to release his medical records showing he was entitled to his two Purple Hearts, we know what North did. (These Democrat military veterans are hardly shrinking violets when it comes to citing their medals, but they get awfully squeamish when pressed for details.)

We also know what Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-Calif., did to earn his medals. One of only two American Navy aces that the Vietnam War produced, Cunningham shot down five MiGs, three in one day, including a North Vietnamese pilot with 13 American kills. Cunningham never did something as insane as proposing that we withdraw troops in the middle of a war, but this week he did admit to taking bribes.

And yet, no Democrat breathed a word of Cunningham's unquestioned heroism before rushing to denounce him as "the latest example of the culture of corruption" – in the words of Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
Cunningham and North both committed crimes you greasy-haired fucking bone sack. (North was, if you take anything he says at face value, actually a fucking traitor.) Not only did they commit them, but those crimes were, in their own respective ways, directly connected to their service. They tainted not only their own pasts by their actions, but the military service in total. Yes, I give you that they acted heroically at one time, but their slides into disrepute beg the question "What went wrong? How did two former Naval officers decide to spit on everything they once took oaths to uphold?"

All Murtha did was disagree with the President and agree with about 2/3 of the American public and an even larger percent of the Iraqi people. That's not a violation of law, fucktard. Not yet, anyway. What reason would any of your pinheaded flying monkeys have to question his service except the fact that he dared to say that the administration is full of shit? As we've seen, he's not the only one.

Finally, it's not up to you to decide who's "entitled" to Purple Hearts. That's the job of the commanders of the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine involved. I don't know why people let those Swift Boat fuckers get away with smearing John Kerry, but I said when I got back from Afghanistan that the simple response should have been "I BELIEVE THE NAVY!" You may be so dank and broken inside that you really don't believe military leadership when they award medals or say things like "we're going to need more troops," but, again, I believe the Marine Corps, you nasty, horse-faced hatrack of a woman.

Give it a shot. Just try to go after Murtha. He's one tough sonofabitch. He's not going to ignore this bullshit and hope it goes away like Kerry did. He's going to point out that your boys were setting at home on their asses when he went back in the service at the age of 34 and went to war. He's got the experience, he's got a real plan and he makes your pals look like the limpdicked chickenhawks they are. So go ahead. Bring it fucking on.

Update: Damn straight.
Truth is, most of us are gaining nothing and losing our freedoms, our treasure that we could be using to help people here at home in a thousand ways, and most of all a steady stream of our loved ones coming home (at night, no photos allowed) in boxes or wheelchairs. That demoralizes me. The only people demoralized by criticism of this war are the people who are financially and ideologically invested in it, i.e., war profiteers and neocons.
Update: Steve Gilliard has more on North.

Someone else they're going to need to Swiftboat

In a letter to Stars & Stripes:
Weapons of mass destruction? I'm still looking for them, and if you find any give me a call so we can justify our presence in Iraq. We started the war based on a lie, and we'll finish it based on a lie. I say this because I am currently serving with a logistics headquarters in the Anbar province, between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. I am not fooled by the constant fabrication of "democracy" and "freedom" touted by our leadership at home and overseas.

This deception is furthered by our armed forces' belief that we can just enter ancient Mesopotamia and tell the locals about the benefits of a legislative assembly. While our European ancestors were hanging from trees, these ancient people were writing algebra and solving quadratic equations. Now we feel compelled to strong-arm them into accepting the spoils of capitalism and "laissez-faire" society. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching Britney Spears on MTV and driving to McDonald's, but do you honestly believe that Sunnis, Shias and Kurds want our Western ideas of entertainment and freedom imposed on them? Think again.

I'm not being negative, I'm being realistic. The reality in Iraq is that the United States created a nightmare situation where one didn't exist. Yes, Saddam Hussein was an evil man who lied, cheated and pillaged his own nation. But how was he different from dictators in Africa who commit massive crimes again humanity with little repercussion and sometimes support from the West? The bottom line up front (BLUF to use a military acronym) is that Saddam was different because we used him as an excuse to go to war to make Americans "feel good" about the "War on Terrorism." The BLUF is that our ultimate goal in 2003 was the security of Israel and the lucrative oil fields in northern and southern Iraq.

Weapons of mass destruction? Call me when you find them. In the meantime, "bring 'em on" so we can get our "mission accomplished" and get out of this mess.

Capt. Jeff Pirozzi
Camp Taqaddum, Iraq

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Now I'm confused

Will someone please send me the wingnut rule book?
"Exploiting" a "tour of Christmas decorations" to talk about soldiers? That's bad.

Pulling heart strings about the service soldiers of soldiers while lighting a Christmas tree? That's cool.

Lugar gets this exactly right

Why don't wingnuts get this?
(A State Department spokesman said,) "This is a country where free media didn't exist for decades, so they are learning. We think it's important to assist them in that."

But if the nascent Iraqi news media are perceived by ordinary Iraqis to be a tool of American interests, that effort will be ruined, some lawmakers said.

"How are people going to get information that's reliable?" said Senator Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican who heads the Foreign Relations Committee. "Who can they trust? If you are a devout Shiite or Sunni, and you suspect that the press has been bought, why, then you wouldn't respect the press."
Again, that's why the Army Public Affairs Field Manual says:
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.

O'-Fucking-Reilly

This is really nice. (Link via Atrios.) Bill O'Reilly is just the picture of live and let live, isn't he?
Muslims are less than 1 percent of the population, and Jews are less than 3 percent of the population. They're entitled to their opinion, they're entitled to their opinion and they are entitled not to shop in places that say "Merry Christmas," just as I'm entitled not to shop in places that don't. That's what I say.
Yep. They can have their stores and we can have ours.

Hmmm...

To make it easier, we'd probably need to put all of their stores in one place, don't you think?

Update: Oh. My. God. John. Fucking. Gibson.
If you figure that -- listen, we get a little theological here, and it's probably a bit over my head, but I would think if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they're not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to. And that's fine. Let 'em. But in the meantime, as long as they're civil and behave, we tolerate the presence of other religions around us without causing trouble, and I think most Americans are fine with that tradition.
Update: Yeah, it sure is terrible of me to point out that racism just might still be prevalent in today's right wing. Yep... Sure is terrible.

Basically bullshit

Some people are hung up on the fact that the propaganda we're paying newspapers to print in Iraq was described by the Los Angeles Times as being "basically factual." If that's the case, they say, how can it be propaganda?

Since I've done this stuff before, I'll give you an example of how both statements can be accurate. Before I joined the National Guard, I was a public affairs type in the Navy. During a tour in Iceland, a warrant officer explain the job of public affairs this way. I remember it, I think, word-for-word.
If the admiral smoked crack in the nursery of the hospital and, in the process, burned the hospital down, our job is to write a story about what a good job the base fire department did.
"Basically factual" can sometimes mean full of crap.

Or, as the Pentagon puts it, "technically true but misleading." There's a lot of that going around.

An indicator of the Swiftboating to come?

Get ready to defend John Murtha. I've had several hits in the past few days from google searches looking for variations of the words Murtha bronze star medal citation.

Redemption

Jack Dunphy is a goddamn idiot. Here he is pointing out "incongruities" that make Stanley "Tookie" Williams not worth saving from death.
On the other hand is the proposition that Williams has redeemed himself during his 24 years in prison, that he has renounced gang life and urged others to do likewise. He has authored children's books, they say, warning youngsters against following in his own wayward footsteps...(I)f an imprisoned Williams truly has been a courageous voice against gang violence, how is it that his admonitions went unheard within his own family? Stanley Williams Jr., 30, is currently serving a 16-year sentence in California for second-degree murder. Sometimes the apple falls very close to the tree indeed.
That is some superbly twisted logic. Let's see how it plays when applied to others:
  • If Jesus was truly a courageous voice against sin, how is it that his admonitions went unheard by many Christians?

  • If Saul Bellow truly set an example as a good writer, why is his son such such a hack?

  • If Randall Terry is such a great crusader against "sins" like homosexuality, why is his son queer? Ditto Dick Cheney.

  • If George H. W. Bush was such an exemplary war hero, why did his son choose to avoid the war, giving up his pilot's wings to become a postal officer (and, possibly, even shirking that duty)?
And the list goes ever on...

If redemption depends not upon you but on whether or not people listen to you then, brother, we're all fucked.

Update: I really don't mean to keep harping on Jonah Goldberg so much, but the man is like an intellectual car wreck. I don't want to see his mind smeared all over the web, but I just... can't... look... a... way...

He, of course, thinks Dunphy's written an "excellent" article (even though he hasn't paid attention to the issue) and wonders "isn't part of the scandal that it's taken 2 1/2 decades to execute the guy"? That's right. He should have been killed before he could redeem himself. Now he's just gumming up our death machine with his moral ambiguity. Nothing good can come of keeping these prisoners around for years.

Except, of course, A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, Le morte d'Arthur, Historie of the World and Pilgrim's Progress. Sure, none of those authors were "Tookie" Williams, but they were all jailed for capital offenses.

Oh, and, lest we forget, we must also mention that Luis Diaz, George Rodriguez, Eddie Joe Loyd, Rolando Cruz, Kevin Green, Verneal Jimerson and many others all spent more than a decade in prison before being exonerated of their crimes.

It's scandalous that some prisoners would live to see the day they were declared innocent, right, Jonah?

Tsk Tsk

Why does Kaufman have to be such a player hater?

USA Today gets it

This is part of what I was talking about here.
Another problem not mentioned in Bush's assessment: while billions of dollars have been spent training and equipping Iraqi troops, and their numbers keep growing, their loyalty remains suspect.

Some Iraqi units have been dominated by Shiite Muslims or minority Kurds who fought Sunni Arabs who had oppressed them under Saddam Hussein.

Their participation is more of an indication of sectarian loyalties than the development of a unifying national security force, says Pat Lang, former chief of Middle East intelligence for the Defense Intelligence Agency. In sum, the training program "is very much a mixed bag," says Lang. "It isn't as good as he makes it sound, but it isn't as bad" as some contend.

Bush cited Sunni clerics' recent decree to their followers to join the Iraqi security forces, saying the Sunnis are "helping to make the Iraqi security forces a truly national institution, one that is able to serve, protect and defend all the Iraqi people."

But those Sunnis may just sign up "to infiltrate Iraqi security services," says Larry Diamond, an Iraq expert at Stanford University who took part in the U.S.-led authority that ruled Iraq after the fall of Saddam. That could better position them to attack Americans and take revenge on Shiites who have been implicated in assassinations of prominent Sunnis and the torture of Sunni detainees, he says. In its fact sheet, the White House acknowledged that infiltration is a problem.

"The core problem with the Iraqi military is that it reflects the split personality of the country," says defense analyst Loren Thompson of the conservative Lexington Institute, a critic of the administration's conduct of Iraq operations.

Bush did not address actions by Iraqi security forces that have threatened to aggravate the country's ethnic and sectarian tensions. The Shiite-led Interior Ministry's police commando units have been accused of rampant human rights violations, including kidnappings, killings and torture.

Iraqi officials admitted that elements of the Badr Brigade, a Shiite militia with close ties to Iran and the military wing of the ruling Iraqi political party, have infiltrated the police, commando and intelligence units of the Interior Ministry.

The ministry's police commandos, in particular, have proved adept at flushing out insurgent strongholds but have been accused of heavy-handedness, kidnappings and even the torture of mostly Sunni Arab victims.

U.S. Army troops last month discovered 173 malnourished Iraqi detainees, some showing signs of torture, in an Interior Ministry detention center in Baghdad.

Eliminating those practices and eradicating sectarian militants from Iraq's security forces will pose big challenges in the months ahead as Iraqi troops develop.

Derbyshire makes it easy for Jonah

Heh.
Anyone who's had even the briefest acquaintance with military life (or even just seen good military movies, like Zulu) knows how vital a good NCO culture is.
Funny.

(Emphasis Nitpicker's.)

Shorter Brent Baker

It's wrong to talk about the war at Christmas, but not the "war on Christmas."
Or...
Pay no attention to the dead soldiers behind the Christmas tree.

HA!

Yep, Fox News now has Christmas ornaments.

It seems like just yesterday...