Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hiatus

Obviously, Nitpicker is on a break. Work, school, etc., are piling up.

Friday, April 20, 2007

More on Beach Boy McCain

Brian Beutler provides an interesting observation with respect to McCain's latest tune:

It occurs to me...
...that if an Iranian leader with great visibility--say, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad--had been videotaped singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb America," (which, yes, sounds foolish but you get the idea) it wouldn't be taken lightly here. Fox News would treat it as a sign that the regime was unstable and dangerous and, voila, we'd allow it to bring us a step closer to war.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

"I HOPE IT'S YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS THAT DIE" -- US Representative Dana Rohrabacher

Jim here. If you haven't done so yet, read the account by Col. Ann Wright, USAR (ret) of US Representative Rohrabacher wishing death and destruction upon other Americans.

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Crazy Talk Express

Good God John McCain is nuts.
Even though he was nursing a cold, Republican Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain spent nearly 90 minutes talking to nearly 500 people who crammed into the Murrells Inlet VFW Hall Wednesday morning.

The “Straight Talk” tour, as it’s called, included stops in Summerville and Charleston...

Before taking questions, McCain — who trails former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani by three points in the latest CNN poll — spent a few minutes talking about some of the issues facing the country. Most of his comments were about the war in Iraq...

(A) man — wondering if an attack on Iran is in the works — wanted to know when America is going to “send an air mail message to Tehran.”

McCain began his answer by changing the words to a popular Beach Boys song. “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” he sang to the tune of Barbara Ann.
How do you think this sets him up to deal with Iran diplomatically?

Update: See also, I'm not going to tell you we'll win, but we'll win.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The green room does not require camouflage

John Podhoretz says that Hillary's "almost certainly lying" about considering joining the Marines in 1975. I'm not sure why he would say such a thing. Doesn't his suggesting that Hillary would never have considered putting her ass on the line for her country mean that--*gasp*--Hillary and JPod have something in common?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Flip-flopping from beyond the grave

I look forward to Bill Bennett calling Jeane Kirkpatrick cowardly and indecent for her post mortem complaints about Bush's "failure" in Iraq, which she wrote has "helped to create the chaos that has overtaken the country" and "may have reduced rather than promoted the pace of democratic reform."

Bennett went after a dead president, after all...

Building a "McCain Minority"

There was a time when John McCain thought, smartly, that the best way to win an election was to build a "McCain majority," but since that didn't work out for him, it looks like he's decided to go a different route this election, saying that he "disagree(s) with what the majority of the American people want."

Wonder how that's going to work out for him.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

He meant to do that

According to his cheerleaders, Bush's plans literally cannot fail.

That'll do, sheep. That'll do.

Soon, we're going to have start providing airlines with a list of people who aren't on the Terrorist Watch list. Read this:
"When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years."

"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. 'That'll do it,' the man said."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

John HInderaker: Media Analyst

And, yeah, when you just pull stuff from your ass, "analyst" is pronounced with a long A. Johnny sez:
Yesterday, in an interview with the Associated Press, one of the world's leading weather experts, Dr. William Gray, blasted Al Gore for perpetrating global warming hysteria. Since Dr. Gray is generally recognized as the world's leading expert in the science of forecasting hurricanes, this is news. But let's examine how the AP handled it in the article that resulted from their interview. The AP begins in a straightforward manner...But watch where the story goes from there. First the subtle demeaning of the distinguished Dr. Gray:
Gray, an emeritus professor at the atmospheric science department at Colorado State University, has long railed against the theory that heat-trapping gases generated by human activity are causing the world to warm.
Gray is implicitly depicted as a crank; he "rails." Note that the hysterical and ill-informed Gore never "rails."
Johnny still can't work The Google:
CNN, July 11 2000:
San Francisco Chronicle, Matier and Ross, August 16, 2000:

BLUE BONE: How's this for hypocrisy?

Rep. Loretta Sanchez's plan to toss a party at the Playboy Mansion set off a firestorm among Democratic leaders, who felt it was projecting the wrong image for the party.

Apparently, however, these same leaders had no problem when a collection of powerful ``Blue Dog'' congressmen and women tossed a bash out on the Santa Monica pier that was paid for in part by both the National Rifle Association and tobacco giant Philip Morris.

Never mind that Al Gore has long railed against both the gun lobby and big tobacco. It was party time.

Time, Karen Tumulty, August 21, 2000:

When Al railed against the befouling of Love Canal in upstate New York, was anyone rooting for Hooker Chemical? On such emotional and ideological questions as abortion and gun control, his positions shifted away from conservatism as he moved from a rural House district to a more diverse statewide constituency and then to a national audience.

AP, headline, March 5, 2000:

Gore rails against Bush TV ads

Friday, April 06, 2007

DoD confirms what everyone already knew (except Dick Cheney)

What is wrong with our country that someone like Dick Cheney has such power?
Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.

The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

"This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney told Limbaugh's listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq." Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al-Qaeda."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Finally, someone calls Bill O'Reilly out for acting like a brownshirt

And, God almighty, it's Geraldo Rivera.
RIVERA: We have lured (immigrants) to this country with the promise of jobs, in a country with basically full domestic employment. We have for decades lured them here and now we're starting a mob scene. You're gonna have--Your gonna--You want your viewers to go knocking on people's door, door-to-door? "Are you and illegal? Are you an illegal? I'm gonna take you outside and do something to you." History has seen what happens when you single out people like that.
Truly a powerful, heartfelt argument by Geraldo.



I almost feel bad my unit once "lost" Geraldo for a few hours in Afghanistan (a story for another time).

Haiku for a Rose Garden press conference

As suggested by James Wolcott:
Bush is wondering
How to explain away deaths;
Birdsong fills the pause.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Death by "surge" mismanagement

A few weeks back, John Murtha had the audacity to suggest service members should be fully trained and/or rested before being deployed to Iraq. Republicans, unable to explain why untrained and unrested soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors should be sent Iraq, instead played with the words "slow bleed" like children with a new toy.

I hope they're pleased with themselves.
Two soldiers killed in Iraq in February may have died as a result of friendly fire, Army officials said Wednesday, not from enemy fire, as the press reported.

The military suspected friendly fire later in February but did not inform the dead soldiers' families of these new doubts.

One of the soldiers died just hours after arriving in Iraq -- and was one of those troops rushed to the country in the "surge" who did not receive full training. ...

On February 9, the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News reported: "At least 143 soldiers joined Fort Stewart's 1st Brigade too late to participate in a final combat exercise before their units deployed to Iraq. Last week, one of those soldiers - Pvt. Matthew T. Zeimer, 18 - was the first from the brigade to be killed when he was hit by enemy fire in Ramadi, the stronghold of Iraq's Sunni insurgency.

"Zeimer arrived at Fort Stewart on Dec. 18 after basic training and deployed to Iraq just a few weeks later. He missed the brigade's intensive four-week mission rehearsal in October when more than 1,300 trainers and Iraqi role-players came to the post as part of the most realistic training program the Army offers for Iraq operations.

"The fact some of the brigade's 4,000 soldiers missed that training raises questions about how well the Army is preparing troops for war in the face of accelerated and repeat deployments."

Two days before that, the same newspaper reported that "some Iraq veterans in the 1st Brigade have expressed concerns about their younger counterparts missing the mission rehearsal. 'The training was good but some guys came in after that. They're basically going straight from basic training into Iraq,' said Staff Sgt. Jason Massey last month, before saying goodbye to his family for a third combat tour."

At a late-February press briefing, White House spokesman Tony Snow was asked about reports that two Army brigades were being sent to Iraq without any desert training. His reply was widely quoted at the time: "Well, but, they can get desert training elsewhere, like in Iraq." (Emphasis Nitpicker's)
Update: "Greyhawk" proves to be an idiot, by arguing "Zeimer's Brigade wasn't part of the surge." Then you follow a bunch of links and get to this post, which lists the units which were planning on deploying already and which were part of the so-called "surge." Funny thing is, Zeimer's brigade isn't listed anywhere on those lists. My bet would be that they deployed with the H&HC and, according to your information, probably deployed earlier than the "late spring/early summer" Greyhawk deployment as planned, which, yeah, makes them part of the fucking surge. Greyhawk points out in comments that, yep, Zeimer's unit did deploy when it was supposed to. I was wrong to say it was part of the surge (which I referred to only in my headline). Rather, it seems the unit was just another victim of the Bush administration's "12-division strategy for a 10-division Army."

As for Greyhawk's whine that there's a "difference between missing an exercise and not being trained," I agree, but as someone who went through training similar to that which Zeimer missed, I think it was damn useful. That training provides you with the basic information about how to act in a theater, while boot camp only provides you with how to generally act in the Army. The pre-deployment training is basically a giant rock drill for the whole deployment.

For those of you with no military experience, imagine your kid gets her driver's license having spent only the bare minimum of time behind the wheel of a car. Wouldn't you feel better if, before she got out on the interstate, you could give her four weeks of realistic test driving with a car made of rubber, highly-skilled instructors and ready access to the latest info on how to survive in different types of traffic?

Now add guns. And IEDs.

A list of foxes

Lately, I've had some days where I could barely bring myself to read the news. Sure, it's nice to see a Congress exerting its right to balance out the power of the executive branch, but the press is still so willing to accept spoon-fed Republican talking points and the simplest, most common sense points are hard to get through to people who refuse to see the truth. It can make you want to pack it in, like you just can't have the same stupid arguments one more time.

So you begin to think, What the hell does it matter if I keep writing my insignificant little blog/arguing with my right wing cousins/volunteering to lick envelopes for the Sierra Club? Bush only has two more years and he's the lamest of lame ducks.

The next time you feel that feeling coming on, I want you to think of all the high-paid embarrassments Bush has nominated to powerful positions during his time in office.

The full list doesn't exist yet, but it's starting to take shape. Ruth Marcus had an excellent round-up today of examples of what she called the Bush administration's "fox-guarding-the-henhouse personnel plan." (I wrote something about this the other day, pointing out that this isn't just Bush's problem, but an error that grows straight from the root of Republican ideology.) When you see lists like Marcus's, you start to realize just how completely inept, corrupt and partisan the Bushies have been. Sure, you know that new scandals drop daily, but, my God, the ubiquity of failure and abuse of power in this administration is, perhaps, unrivaled by any that has come before it.

Marcus, for example, lists by name
  • Eric Keroack
  • Michael Baroody
  • Julie MacDonald
  • J. Steven Griles
  • Sue Ellen Wooldridge
  • Lurita Doan
Marcus also mentions, in general
(A) Pentagon that can't take proper care of its wounded, a Justice Department that can't be trusted to follow the law or tell the truth to Congress, a top White House aide who lied to a grand jury...
TPMmuckraker provided a similar, longer list a while back (which had only one name in common with Marcus's list), but that list only included "indicted/resigned" Bush officials in response to Power Liner Paul Mirengoff's claim that the only Bushie he could "think of who has faced criminal charges or had to resign in the face of scandal is Scooter Libby."

But neither list is complete.

They don't include, for example:
  • Kenneth Tomlinson, Jonah Goldberg's good buddy, who used his position of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to try to prove that the organization's broadcast entities--NPR and PBS--were slanted to the left. To do this, he paid $14,000 of taxpayer funds for an embarrassingly partisan, error-riddled survey, stepping down from the CPB after it became public. Tomlinson remained chairman of the State Department's Broadcasting Board of Governor's, however, where he
    improperly hired a friend as a contractor, starting at $88,000 a year;...had staffers run personal errands, such as buying a belt, flowers, and books;...charged the government for too many hours on the clock;...charged the agency for days he also worked for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; and, incredibly,...operated his horseracing business out of his government office
    Tomlinson is still on the job.

  • Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, who, in a forum sponsored by a national minority real estate group, said that he had denied a contract to a contractor who had "a problem with the president."
    "He had made every effort to get a contract with HUD for 10 years," Jackson said of the prospective contractor. "He made a heck of a proposal and was on the (General Services Administration) list, so we selected him. He came to see me and thank me for selecting him. Then he said something ... he said, 'I have a problem with your president.'

    "I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'I don't like President Bush.' I thought to myself, 'Brother, you have a disconnect -- the president is elected, I was selected. You wouldn't be getting the contract unless I was sitting here. If you have a problem with the president, don't tell the secretary.'

    "He didn't get the contract," Jackson continued. "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."
    When those remarks sparked an investigation, Jackson said he was just lying. The inspector general of HUD found that, while Jackson had, indeed, tried to push contracts toward Bush supporters, there was no evidence that any contracts were, in fact, given out on a political basis. This, according Jackson, was vindication and he released a statement saying that "during (his) tenure, no contract has been cancelled, rescinded, terminated, awarded or not awarded due to the personal or political benefits of the recipient." In other words, Jackson was saying that, while the IG might have accused him of attempting to break federal law, it hadn't actually been broken. This was good enough for the Bushies. Jackson is still on the job.
There are more and I'm sure more will surface, but remember this: You and I are still paying the wages of guys like Ken Tomlinson and Alphonso Jackson. No one should be taken aback by Marcus's list, since it barely scratches the surface of this administration's failings. The complete list of Bush's corrupt hacks has yet to be written, but we need to keep it in mind, to not forget that it's long and growing longer every day. It should feed our desire to push Republican hands away from the controls of our government.

Every time you think just two more years and decide to relax a bit, remember this list. Bush's nominees will not stop fucking up this country even for a second. They have proven that they couldn't run a children's birthday party without causing serious injury, paying five times too much for a Halliburton-baked cake and attracting a dozen indictments, but because they don't believe that a government can help its people, they use even their own failures as justification for their ideology. There's a lot of damage they can still do.

Let this list piss you off every day.

And get back to work.

Funnier and funnier

Little Green Footballs--pretty stupid on any day--dipped down into super stupid today. First, they mocked Nancy Pelosi for wearing what they called a hijab, never mind the fact that it was a scarf, that she was in a mosque and that many religions (including Christian sects) require headcoverings for women in a place of worship.

People who can use a little thing I like to call The Google quickly pointed out that both Laura Bush and Condi Rice have worn hijabs.

The LGF response to their idiocy being uncovered? But Nancy Pelosi is in Syria! Laura Bush was in Israel.


Nice try, but Laura actually looks to be wearing a real hijab and was still visiting a mosque.

I love watching idiot right wing bloggers try to justify mindlessness.

Does Bush really want Democrats to come back?

Bush said yesterday, just before he went on vacation, he wanted Dems to "come off their vacation," but I'm sure he just forgot to add "But not before I use the recess appointment to nominate an anti-environment corporate hack to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs."

Let me do that and then come back.

Duncan Hunter lies about Dems and scares Americans

Those damn Democrats. They've got people scared.
With pressure to shut down the Guantanamo prison mounting, the House Armed Services Committee this week released the names of 17 U.S. bases that could house suspected terrorists...

U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Chumuckla, said Friday he opposed the transfer of any Guantanamo prisoners to the U.S.

"It's obvious some in Congress want to bring these detainees to the American shore," he said. "I'm going to do everything I can to keep that from happening."

[snip]

"We'll definitely be a target," said Tracy Webb, 37, of Myrtle Grove. "It's really scary."

Others agreed.

"We're already a target here," said Ann Sullivan, 56, of Pensacola. "This is just going to make it worse."
You see, 17 different military communities were informed last week that they were being targeted by Democrats to house suspects currently held in Guantanamo if the facility is shut down. Across the country, people in those communities are shaking in their boots at the thought of having "darn dangerous" men in their towns.

But Democrats are planning no such thing. The whole thing is a lie, put forward by Republican congressman and presidential candidate Duncan Hunter. As the Army Times writes:
A list of 17 domestic military bases at which suspected terrorists might be housed if a U.S. military prison in Cuba closes, which was released Friday by a senior House Republican, is not based on any recommendations from Democrats.

[snip]

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., used the list last week to alert communities that Democrats purportedly wanted to move dangerous prisoners into their area. A March 29 statement from Hunter, the former armed services committee chairman, said, “Congressional Democrats listed the following American communities as potential relocation points for terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay.”

But Hunter’s own staff helped to write the original memo, (Loren Dealy, the House Armed Services Committee press secretary) said.
Will it be possible to find a single reporter who will ask Duncan Hunter why he thinks that he needs to lie about Democrats and scare Americans to get to the White House?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rudy sez: Checks? Balances? Whatever...

Apparently Rudy Giuliani thinks the president can simply ignore Congress's control of the purse strings and "redirect" funds to keep the war going. Even Rich Lowry seems to think Giuliani is showing he has a poor grasp of the Constitution.

Hell, not even Bush has suggested a president can overrule Congress on funding.

Update: Glenn Greenwald pulls Giuliani apart as only he can.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Conscience of the Colonel

I paid cash for Saturday's Wall Street Journal -- a big deal as I rarely buy newspapers anymore and never the WSJ.

However, I had to read the page 1 story about Lt. Col. Stuart Couch. Couch had been appointed to prosecute an al Qaeda operative, Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

An old friend of Couch's was co-pilot on United 175, the second plane to hit the WTC. Slahi had allegedly helped orgaize the al Quada cell which included hijackers of that flight.

The article states:
To Col. Couch, Mr. Slahi seemed a likely candidate for the death penalty.

"Of the cases I had seen, he was the one with the most blood on his hands," Col. Couch says.

[N]ine months later ... Col. Couch refused to proceed with the Slahi prosecution. The reason: He concluded that Mr. Slahi's incriminating statements -- the core of the government's case -- had been taken through torture, rendering them inadmissible under U.S. and international law.


The article closes
Col. Couch says he's still frustrated that the actions of the U.S. government helped ruin the case against Mr. Slahi. "I'm hoping there's some non-tainted evidence out there that can put the guy in the hole," he says.


Col. Couch has no delusions about the innocence of Mr. Slahi. But the Colonel understands that justice is not served by coerced confessions, and that when we torture prisoners, the terrorists win.

Terry's son understands this as well.

(My thanks to Bryan at Why Now? for the link to the full text of the WSJ piece by Pierre of Candide’s Notebooks.)

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McCain, Drudge make shit up; Right wing blogs claim bias when that's pointed out

A little over a week ago, John McCain told Bill Bennett during a radio interview that "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad that you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today..." When Wolf Blitzer asked McCain about that statement, pointing out that he's heard Iraq's still pretty unsafe, John "Straight Talk" McCain responded with barely concealed anger over being questioned.
That's where you ought to catch up on things, Wolf. General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee. I think you ought to catch up, you see, you are giving the old line of three months ago...
Today, after taking a stroll through a Baghdad market with only about half a company of soldiers and five helicopters, McCain held a press conference to say, "See, I was right!"

Of course, the right couldn't let McCain's obvious idiocy be the story of the day, so Matt Drudge went after CNN correspondent Michael Ware. Ware--who's been in Iraq for a long, long time--had the audacity to pretty much call bullshit on McCain's statements, which meant, of course, that he must be discredited. Quoting an unnamed source who was supposedly present, Drudge wrote that
During a live press conference in Baghdad, Senators McCain and Graham were heckled by CNN reporter Michael Ware. An official at the press conference called Ware’s conduct “outrageous,” saying, “here you have two United States Senators in Bagdad giving first-hand reports while Ware is laughing and mocking their comments. I’ve never witnessed such disrespect. This guy is an activist not a reporter.” (The post is down now.)
Right wing blogs lapped it up. "(Ware) is an extreme manifestation of an all too common phenomenon--the journalist as advocate rather than neutral observer. One of the many problems with a reporter who becomes an activist, agitating for a particular side of a public issue, is that he loses any hope of objectivity," wrote John Hinderaker.

But, after Ware said claims about his heckling were false--and video of the event proved they were--the right wanted to suddenly talk about anything but the fact they were wrong. Hinderaker's Power Line partner Paul Mirengoff wrote:
CNN's Michael Ware has denied heckling Sen. McCain during a press conference (he doesn't say whether or not he laughed at McCain). However, Ware's appearance with Soledad O'Brien...is enough to condemn him as unfit to cover the war...Ware...accuses John McCain -- American hero, frequent critic of the administration, and frequent critic of the administration's handling of the war -- of bad faith and intellectual dishonesty.
And he goes on to suggest that CNN should no longer allow Ware to cover the war.

Watch the presser again, however, and you'll see that Ware probably shouldn't have implied that McCain had acted "in bad faith" with "intellectual dishonesty." He should have called John McCain a straight-up fucking liar.

When asked about his statement there were areas he could walk around freely, John McCain says, "I just came from one." Funny, but when he was talking to Bill Bennett, he didn't say that he, Bennett and over a hundred soldiers could go on a walk. That, it seems to me, would be an odd use of the word "freely."

When he's asked about his statement that Petraeus goes around in an unarmed humvee, he said, "of course (Petraeus) has protection and we had protection today." Where, then, did he come up with the ridiculous idea that Petraeus travels the streets unguarded in an unarmored humvee? McCain doesn't say. I'm guessing it was pulled from thin air.

The truth is, McCain has made an utter and complete ass and himself and the right wing blogs are scrambling to save the one guy who thinks he can win the White House by supporting this incredibly unpopular war. Unfortunately for them, they can't save John McCain by pointing out where he's right, because the man's clearly full of shit.

Funny update: Paul Mirengoff, who complains that Ware accused "American hero" John McCain of "bad faith and intellectual dishonesty" once wrote that McCain and his traveling partner Lindsay Graham were members of the "terrorist rights wing of the Republican party" and John Hinderaker chimed in, saying this was a "a fair and objective way to describe those in either party who want to expand the substantive or procedural rights granted to terrorists in our military and judicial systems." Shocking!

Remember, the Panty Liners are the only ones allowed to attack "American heroes."