January 6, 2012
There are so many unanswered questions and contradictions all around us. But like the families of alcoholics in denial we stay quiet and try not to rock the boat. Here are some questions that need to be asked, and maybe 2012 can be the year we start demanding answers.
1) Who is our economy for, anyway?
2) Why did we invade Iraq?
3) Why haven’t we broken up those too-big banks yet? Instead they just get bigger and more powerful.
3a) How long will we continue to let the banks "extend and pretend?"
4) Why do we still let tobacco companies kill more than 400,000 Americans every year?
4a) Why don't we make tobacco companies pay to clean up all those cigarette butts everywhere?
5) Wouldn't lowering the Social Security age fix a lot of unemployment and help a lot of people?
6) Is moving a factory to a low-wage country really "trade?" Seriously?
7) If our government is supposed to be of, by and for "We, the People," what do conservatives mean by demanding "less government?"
8) How come we never, ever see someone from a union on the big TV networks talking about the benefits of being in a union or how and why to organize one?
9) Since we didn't have big deficits before the Reagan tax cuts, and since the Bush tax cuts didn't create any jobs ... ???
10) Why haven't there been any criminal prosecutions of Wall Street banksters? (OK, some people are starting to ask that one a lot.)
So Many More
There are so many more questions like those. I guess that's enough for now. We as a country have to start asking questions again and demanding answers. Hey, that reminds me:
11) When will our mainstream "journalists" start asking questions and demanding answers again, instead of just saying things like "both sides do it" and "if one side says the earth is flat and the other side says it is round, that means that the earth must be oval-shaped"?
Wall Street got bailouts, the rich got tax cuts, people got job loss and wage cuts and longer hours, protests got crackdowns and it's getting too obvious to ignore. It's time to stop ignoring things and do something about them.
Please, ask your questions in the comments, and then take them out in public and ask them and keep asking them until you get answers. It's your right to ask, and your right to demand answers.
December 16, 2011
Because no one has ever explained, really.
July 4, 2009
Even more evidence that invading Iraq was about the oil. Everything else was misdirection.
April 22, 2009
One argument against the "ticking bomb" rationale for torture is that it doesn't "work." It is useless for extracting real information, but it is a great tool for making people say what you want them to say.
Yet the Republicans tortured prisoners, and defended the practice, saying that it yielded important information. So what is "important" to Republican? Protecting people? Of course not. But getting people to say what you want them to say to justify launching an aggressive war against a country in order to take over its oil fields -- now that is important.
Paul Krugman Blog summarizes what is being learned:
Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.
Repeat: they tortured poeople to get them to say things that could be used as propaganda to justify invading Iraq to steal the oil. It was never about protecting anyone.
February 22, 2009
Read about how a contract for petentially unsafe Italian helicopters that will be used to fly the President might just be a Bush payoff to Italy for helping get us into the Iraq war, in Is the U.S. Paying Off the Italian Government for Forging the Niger Documents?,
that they were doing something extraordinarily wrong. The rigged bidding process bypassed, for example, Marine One pilots who repeatedly sought to give input. They had many safety concerns. At the time of the bid, the helicopter chosen was not certified to fly in the U.S. It was an old model made of heavy materials; this flew in the face of why the President supposedly needed a new fleet: i.e., so many extra security devices had been added to Marine One after 9/11, it was struggling to lift off. In its losing bid, the Connecticut-based Sikorsky, which had manufactured virtually all presidential helicopters since Eisenhower first ordered one, proposed a new model made of much lighter, composite materials.
December 14, 2008
This is the translation of what the Iraqi show-thrower said as he threw the shoes. (Also -- In Iraq throwing a show and calling someone a dog is an extreme insult.)
This is the gift from the Irakis this is the farewell kiss you dog.
This is from the widows, the orphans and those killed in Irak.
August 1, 2008
A week after 9/11 anthrax was mailed to several news outlets and two Democratic Senators, accompanied by notes designed to make people think it was sent by Muslim terrorists. Immediately ABC News starting running stories quoting multiple anonymous sources claiming the government had proof that the anthrax came from Iraq.
Then, in his January, 2002 State of the Union speech President Bush amplified the charge, saying,
The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade.Coming as it did right after the anthrax attacks and ABC News' report that the anthrax came from Iraq, this was obviously meant to solidify in the public's mind that Iraq had attacked us. Remember The Fear? Remember how the rest of that year was full of fear stories about how Iraq also had smallpox stockpiled, with lurid descriptions of what smallpox would do to us if Iraq used it. The fear increased and increased through tthe summer. And then the Republicans insisted that the Congress vote on war with Iraq before the elections! Do you remember that? Do you remember the ads against Senator Max Cleland, who gave three limbs to this country in VietNam, accusing him of being unpatriotic?
ABC News knows who fed them these stories, and they are protecting them. Why? Greenwald writes,
They know who concocted the false bentonite story and who passed it on to them with the specific intent of having them broadcast those false claims to the world, in order to link Saddam to the anthrax attacks and -- as importantly -- to conceal the real culprit(s) (apparently within the U.S. government) who were behind the attacks. And yet, unbelievably, they are keeping the story to themselves, refusing to disclose who did all of this. They're allegedly a news organization, in possession of one of the most significant news stories of the last decade, and they are concealing it from the public, even years later.ABC News needs to reveal who set us up with this story that Iraq attacked us with anthrax. Beyond this, this is a story about a country being manipulated into attacking another country, and a voting public manipulated into electing people who then looted our treasury. It will take time to come to grips with what has happened to us. We ultimately will need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
They're not protecting "sources." The people who fed them the bentonite story aren't "sources." They're fabricators and liars who purposely used ABC News to disseminate to the American public an extremely consequential and damaging falsehood. But by protecting the wrongdoers, ABC News has made itself complicit in this fraud perpetrated on the public, rather than a news organization uncovering such frauds. That is why this is one of the most extreme journalistic scandals that exists, and it deserves a lot more debate and attention than it has received thus far.
Update - Richard at All SPin Zone thinks the suicide is mighty conveeeeenient.
July 15, 2008
In a recent story about Vets for Freedom's new campaign in support of Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, the Virginia-Pilot quoted VFFs Chairman Pete Hegseth on donor disclosure.
Vets for Freedom's efforts are being fueled by donations from thousands of people nationwide, Hegseth said. He said the group will not release donors' names nor the size of their donations. The group is registered under a section of federal tax law that allows it to advertise and organize on behalf of particular policies while maintaining the confidentiality of its donors.Thousands of donations? We looked up Vets for Freedom's reporting records and found a total of five (5) donors and $2,050 total donations in the most recent period they reported. This reporting is for their "527" committee, which is legally allowed to " influence the nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates for public office" but is not allowed to coordinate with any candidate's campaign. However, their 501c4 charity arm, the part of the group that does not have to report its donors, can not legally do any of those things.
Donations to political campaigns or political action committees, by contrast, generally must be reported and are limited by law.
So what's the takeaway? On one hand, we have a 527 group with a total of $2,050 in donations, not enough to pay for Mark Penn's coffee break, and on the other we have a charity that legally can not be involved in direct political action? What's happening?
Well if you have "thousands" of mystery donors unreported but supporting John McCain's campaign and suddenly, a small fringe front group with just 5 real donors has over $1.5 million dollars to run a television campaign and there are plans for a major push this fall.
We're betting this is nothing more than a conduit for one or two very large donations intended to get around election law to the benefit of candidate McCain.
The Washington Post's blog The Trail tried to pin Hegseth down on why this "non-election" group is advertising with McCain's message in swing states important to McCain, and only just before an election with McCain as a candidate.
From the story,
Hegseth said his group is not operating on behalf of McCain and notes that federal law prohibits the organization from coordinating the ad with the campaign. The states were chosen, he said, not because they are crucial swing states for McCain, but because the heightened interest in the election in those states will give it a larger audience.
What Hegseth didn't mention is that VFF's ads were bought immediately after the McCain Campaign stopped advertising.
What Hegseth didn't mention is that VFF is supporting candidates across the country, but surprise, none of the Iraq War or Vietnam veterans who are running like Jon Powers or Charlie Brown.
The only thing Hegseth could do was concede that the message in the ad is almost identical to McCain's on the stump -- the surge worked; let's continue the war until we win. He said McCain has been the "strongest advocate" for the veterans of the two wars.
Which is about as believable as McCain's claim that real veterans groups support him.
June 27, 2008
The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved $161.8 billion in new funds to continue fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next year, without timetables for withdrawing combat troops.It made me think of this:
. . . The Senate's 92-6 vote to pass the war-funding bill marked a victory for Bush, who has vigorously opposed any move by Congress to impose timetables for ending the Iraq war, now in its sixth year.
. . .The new money for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan puts the war tab since late 2001 at more than $800 billion, with most of that money going to Iraq.
Governor Howard Dean, M.D., Address to California State Democratic Convention, Sacramento, California, March 15, 2003
What I want to know, what I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq? [cheers].
What I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States? [cheers].
[. . .] What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren't standing up for us joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in having health insurance for every man, woman and child in America? [cheers, chants "Dean"].
[. . .] As Paul Wellstone said . . . I'm Howard Dean, and I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. [cheers].
June 17, 2008
June 15, 2008
Bush has FINALLY decided to go after Osama Bin Laden. But, of course, for all the wrong reasons. He has finally ordered the military to engage in an all-out effort to get Bin Laden, including raids in Pakistan. But he is doing it so his own legacy looks a little better, not to protect America.
If Bush and the Republicans had wanted to protect America he would have gone after Bin Laden from the start instead of retargeting most of the military on Iraq.
Actually, if he had wanted to protect America he would have listened to the Clinton people who were trying to get the incoming Bush administration interested in fighting al Queda. Instead they completely ignored the threat and let 9/11 happen.
President George W Bush has enlisted British special forces in a final attempt to capture Osama Bin Laden before he leaves the White House.
Defence and intelligence sources in Washington and London confirmed that a renewed hunt was on for the leader of the September 11 attacks. “If he [Bush] can say he has killed Saddam Hussein and captured Bin Laden, he can claim to have left the world a safer place,” said a US intelligence source.
. . . One US intelligence source compared the “growing number of clandestine reconnaissance missions” inside Pakistan with those conducted in Laos and Cambodia at the height of the Vietnam war.
June 5, 2008
Defense Department counterintelligence investigators suspected that Iranian exiles who provided dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran to a small group of Pentagon officials might have "been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service ... to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government," a Senate Intelligence Committee report said Thursday.A top aide shut down the investigation? How many other investigations of Republican wrongdoing have also been shut down?
A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the Pentagon officials' activities after only a month, and the Defense Department's top brass never followed up on the investigators' recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said.
The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.
Iran, which was a mortal enemy of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq during his reign, has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. policy in Iraq, where Iranian-backed groups now run much of the government and the security forces.
Go read it, it is fascinating. The whole Bush crowd of dumb clucks, getting used by Iranian intelligence who understood just how to play them.
May 25, 2008
Please read Informed Comment: Memorial Day, 2008
May 1, 2008
Today is Mission Accomplished Day. Great Job, Bushie!
I think maybe 70% of the public thinks Bush actually flew the plane and landed it on the carrier. (120% of FOX viewers, of course.)
Bush was a passenger. He didn't fly the plane. He isn't allowed to fly planes. Back in his National Guard days he had to stop flying when he refused to take a drug test, and then stopped showing up for duty entirely, even though there was a war going on.
April 25, 2008
Did Anyone see John Stauber of the Center for Media and Democracy on the Newhour yesterday? PBS was the first outlet to even mention the New York Times story about the government waging a huge propaganda campaign to sell the war to the public. All the networks, the Pentagon and everyone else involved refused to take part in the segment.
Here is an article by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, Pentagon Propaganda: So Much Worse Than We Thought,
Thanks to the two-year investigation by the New York Times, we today know that Victoria Clarke, then the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, launched the Pentagon military analyst program in early 2002. These supposedly independent military analysts were in fact a coordinated team of pro-war propagandists, personally recruited by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and acting under Clarke's tutelage and development.
[. . .] Since the 1920s there have been laws passed to stop the government from doing what Barstow has exposed. It is actually illegal in the United States for the government to propagandize its own citizens. As Barstow's report demonstrates, these laws have been repeatedly violated, are not enforced and are clearly inadequate. The U.S. Congress therefore needs to investigate this and the rest of the Bush propaganda campaign that sold the war in Iraq. (Emphasis added)
Ari Melber: PBS Breaks Media Blackout of Pentagon Propaganda Bombshell - Media on The Huffington Post,J
ohn Stauber, coauthor of "Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq," contended that the Pentagon's "surrogate" program violated federal law against domestic propaganda and called for a congressional investigation. "This war could have never been sold if it were not for this sophisticated propaganda campaign," he said.Other news outlets are ignoring this huge story.
April 19, 2008
"If you just had one person in every city doing what I do you wouldn't be able to drive anywhere without seeing a protest against the war."
April 6, 2008
Maybe the Iraq occupation continues because there's so much money to be made.
WASHINGTON - Members of Congress have as much as $196 million collectively invested in companies that do business with the Defense Department, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq war, according to a study by a nonpartisan research group.This is just members of Congress. What about others involved with keeing the war going? And I wonder how much money the Iraqi leadership is making off the war as well?
. . . Several members earning money from these contractors have plum committee or leadership assignments, including Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and the House minority whip Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri.
March 3, 2008
We/re waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.
February 27, 2008
The right's big thing now is to claim that "the surge is working."
OK, fine. It's working. Does that mean the troops come how now?
If now, then what does "working" mean? Does "working" mean that the troops stay in Iraq? Was that the goal of the surge?
Why are they in Iraq, again? Oh yeah, to find the WMD, to get Saddam out of power, or whatever reasons they are giving this week...
January 23, 2008
Please read this DKos diary: Daily Kos: Must Read: McConnell Ignores Navy Veteran, Then Gets Her Fired
If they can get away with denying jobs to people who oppose the Iraq war, people will be afraid to speak out.
January 22, 2008
Here is something that blog readers know, but people outside the blogosphere have only had the smallest inkling of. We've been over many of the lies told countless times. We take it for granted, but the regular person on the street has not been exposed to this information at all. Has the TV ever once said Bush lied? No wonder there hasn't been serious support for impeachment - politicians go ask regular people and they don't know of Bush's crimes.
Maybe they will now. Read the following, and follow the link to read more.
A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.How much lying?
The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.
January 6, 2008
Every American should read Why I Believe Bush Must Go byGeorge McGovern in today's Washington Post.
December 21, 2007
I think I understand the appeal of Ron Paul a little better now. This post at an economics blog makes the case:
. . . Bush would rather waste $70 billion and another 10,000 lives than admit his programs are a complete failures.People want the war stopped, they don't see the Democrats doing that. Therefore...
"With great fanfare" the Pentagon adopted a reduction in overseas force plan in 2004. The only thing that has changed since then is more lives have been lost, more money has been wasted, and the economy has soured. There are no jobs here so Bush will do whatever he can, including the deliberate sacrificing the lives of US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the deliberate waste of $billions elsewhere, just to prevent unemployment numbers from rising headed into an election year.
What's even sadder is that spineless Democrats are going along with his strategy. If you want to stop this madness, there is only one choice: Vote for Ron Paul.
Update - I am in no way endorsing Ron Paul here, I am saying I understand the appeal -- to the "low information voters" who don't understand what many of his other policies mean in the real world Some are good ideas, others are proven to not work. nd then there's this "NAFTA Highway" conspiracy stuff... Wow.
December 19, 2007
Do you see the connection?
Some of our candidates say they will keep combat troops in Iraq until 2013. The actions of the Congress since the 2006 election proves that we need to pin them down now, before the election. No more benefit of the doubt. We need a clear, indisputable mandate to end the Iraq war in this election. It is costing us too much. It is killing and injuring people, creating a massive number of refugees, forcing people to turn against America, and destroying our financial underpinnings.
December 11, 2007
Is iraq fading as an issue? Why is that?
December 5, 2007
See it at Firedoglake: Walter Cronkite: Our Troops Must Leave Iraq,
Yesterday, Mr. Cronkite and David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, published a joint statement at CommonDreams.org, calling for the removal of US troops and bases, turning over all responsibilities to the Iraqi people, and agreeing to help rebuild a ravaged Iraq. An excerpt from their statement:Go readThe invasion of Iraq was illegal from the start. Not only was Congress lied to in order to secure its support for the invasion of Iraq, but the war lacked the support of the United Nations Security Council and thus was an aggressive war initiated on the false pretenses of weapons of mass destruction.
November 23, 2007
This is brutal but I suspect you'll be hearing about it.
Three suspected al Qaeda militants, including two sisters, beheaded their uncle and his wife, forcing the couple's children to watch, Iraqi police said on Friday.
The militants considered that school guard Youssef al-Hayali was an infidel because he did not pray and wore western-style trousers, they told police interrogators after being arrested in Diyala province northwest of Baghdad.
November 21, 2007
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq shortly after the fall of Baghdad, said this week he supports Democratic legislation that calls for most troops to come home within a year.It's time.
The Bushites say the surge has been a success -so it is time to bring them home.
November 15, 2007
I've had a paranoid thought. Unfortunately, since Bush took office these seem to come true.
In 1968 the Nixon campaign sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks, to give Nixon an advantage in the election, because people hated the war and and end to the war would help Humphrey win. Then the Nixon administration kept the war going - many say for the purpose of using it in the 1972 elections. Remember, Kissinger announced "Peace is at hand" immediately before the 72 elections. Robert Parry writes,
According to now overwhelming evidence, the Nixon campaign dispatched Anna Chenault, an anti-communist Chinese leader, to carry messages to the South Vietnamese government of Nguyen van Thieu. The messages advised Thieu that a Nixon presidency would give him a more favorable result.
Journalist Seymour Hersh described the initiative sketchily in his biography of Henry Kissinger, The Price of Power. Hersh reported that U.S. intelligence “agencies had caught on that Chennault was the go-between between Nixon and his people and President Thieu in Saigon. … The idea was to bring things to a stop in Paris and prevent any show of progress.”
In her own autobiography, The Education of Anna, Chennault acknowledged that she was the courier. She quoted Nixon aide John Mitchell as calling her a few days before the 1968 election and telling her: “I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. Nixon. It’s very important that our Vietnamese friends understand our Republican position and I hope you made that clear to them.”
Reporter Daniel Schorr added fresh details in The Washington Post’s Outlook section [May 28, 1995]. Schorr cited decoded cables that U.S. intelligence had intercepted from the South Vietnamese embassy in Washington.
On Oct. 23, 1968, Ambassador Bui Dhien cabled Saigon with the message that “many Republican friends have contacted me and encouraged me to stand firm.” On Oct. 27, he wrote, “The longer the present situation continues, the more favorable for us. … I am regularly in touch with the Nixon entourage.”
On Nov. 2, Thieu withdrew from his tentative agreement to sit down with the Viet Cong at the Paris peace talks, destroying Johnson’s last hope for a settlement. Though Johnson and his top advisers knew of Nixon’s gambit, they kept Nixon’s secret.
So ... could the Republicans again be playing out a similar scenario again - keeping the war going now, so they can pretend to end it just in time to get credit before next year's elections?
November 3, 2007
There is good news. Let's hope it lasts: Powerful roadside blasts decline in Iraq - Los Angeles Times,U.S.
Defense officials said Thursday that Iraqi insurgents have sharply curtailed the use of their most powerful roadside bombs, weapons American officials have repeatedly charged are being smuggled into the war zone from Iran.Thousands Return to Safer Iraqi Capital,
. . . The decline in such attacks, Odierno said, coincided with a drop in the number of U.S. military casualties, civilian killings and overall deaths.
In a dramatic turnaround, more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods have returned to their homes in the past three months as sectarian violence has dropped, the government said Saturday.
. . . "In the past three months, the ministry did not register any forced displacement in the whole of Iraq," said Nawrous, who is a Kurd.
The claim could not be independently verified, but, if true, it would represent a dramatic end to the sectarian cleansing that has shredded the fabric of Baghdad's once mixed society.
November 1, 2007
President Bush today called for gas rationing, a draft and tax increases to fight the greatest threat the country has ever faced.
President Bush compared Congress' Democratic leaders Thursday with people who ignored the rise of Lenin and Hitler early in the last century, saying "the world paid a terrible price" then and risks similar consequences for inaction today.What? I'm sorry? You're saying he was asking for the right to wiretap without warrants, and nothing else?
... "Unfortunately, on too many issues, some in Congress are behaving as if America is not at war," Bush said during a speech at the Heritage Foundation.
... Bush said denial that "we are at war" is dangerous. "History teaches us that underestimating the words of evil, ambitious men is a terrible mistake," Bush said. "Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. And the question is, will we listen?"
Oh ... never mind.
October 25, 2007
There is a way for Bush to convince the world that there really is a terrible threat from Iran and that we must deal with it.
October 24, 2007
Gov. Bill Richardson asks, Daily Kos: Where is the National Guard?,
Today, we all extend our sympathies and prayers to those devastated by the wildfires in California. Millions of Americans are impacted by this natural disaster.
... It is a sad irony that yesterday, the very day I sent fire crews to California, 300 more New Mexico National Guard members were sent to Iraq. Just when we need them most at home, more of our brave men and women, true public servants, are sent away to a war we cannot win.
[...] Today, as the fires rage, California has National Guard men, women, and critical equipment thousands of miles away in Iraq.
They need to come home. We need them here.
This has gone on long enough. When a national disaster hits, our states depend on the National Guard. Right now, President Bush is robbing Peter to pay Paul to continue his disastrous adventure in Iraq, and when tragedy hits us here at home, Americans are stuck with the bill. This cannot continue.
Bush won't end this war. Congress must. And they must end it now.
... Join my call at www.getourtroopsout.com to push Congress to begin ending this war now. Not in January, not next spring, not next year - now.
October 21, 2007
Frank Rich's column today, Suicide Is Not Painless, talks about the systematic corruption of defense contracting, especially where Iraq is involved.
Here's the thing. You and I read the blogs, so we already know at least something about what is going on. You and I know about, for example, the truckloads of cash that were shipped to Iraq to be handed out in bricks. We know about the $9 billion that just disappeared. But most people in the country are not exposed to the information that blog readers take for granted, haven't heard about it, and would have a hard time believing that anything like this is going on. I'm serious. But remember, a huge chunk of the population still thinks that Iraq attacked us on 9/11 - or was at least involved - and there's a big chunk that believes that weapons of mass destruction were found.
There is something we can all do to help. Today's column about the corruption should be sent around by e-mail to people who don't usually read blogs.
Please help with this by e-mailing it to people. People need to know about the corruption and fraud that our huge "defense" budget is generating. If more people understood what is going on, there would be less vulnerability to Republican propaganda that says cutting military budgets - or even having hearings looking into the corruption - is unpatriotic. That kind of talk is nothing but a game to keep the corruption going, but it will keep working unless more people learn about what is going on and where their money is going.
The Abramoff corruption machine was modeled after the defense-contractor scheme, but was tiny and amateurish in comparison. (For example, the Abramoff operation didn't actually buy entire media companies as a way to help keep people from learning about the racket, as defense contractors have done.)
Please read Frank Rich's column today, and please, please send it to friends and relatives who might not otherwise see what is going on. And ask them to send it on to others!
Please read it, and e-mail it to others. Then, after you have done that, read Billions over Baghdad, another story about the massive corruption.
It’s all totally irresponsible. It’s just unbelievable. The president is sending over a new commander, he’s sending over troops, and the Democratic Congress, in a pseudo-binding way or non-binding way, is saying, ‘It won’t work. Forget it. You troops, you’re going over there in a pointless mission. Iraqis who might side with us, forget it, we’re going to pull the plug.’ It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months and say the president has made a decision, we’re not going to change that decision, we’re not going to cut off funds and insist on the troops coming back, so let’s give it a chance to work. You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that. I hate to say this about the Democrats. They’re people I know personally and I respect some of them. Do they want it to succeed or not?SO, OK, it's been nine months. Can we talk now?
October 18, 2007
A Bush admin. official was quoted saying Iraq hasn't made us "safer." Today - fired.
October 3, 2007
President George W. Bush on Wednesday vetoed a measure to expand a popular children's health care program, launching the first in a series of major battles with Democrats over domestic spending.
... Democrats have vowed to lobby Republicans who voted against the bill to try to get them to switch their votes. The party plans a series of television ads attacking Republicans over the children's health issue, including one featuring a mom with a chronically ill child.
Bush, with 16 months left in his presidency and waging an unpopular war in Iraq, has also threatened to veto a series of annual funding bills to keep domestic spending within his proposed limit of $933 billion.
September 23, 2007
Chris Thomas getting arrested in DC last weekend:
As you can see, Chris wasn't going to be silenced. I think toward the end there the cops arresting him were chanting too.
Quiz: What does Chris want, and when?
There were a lot of arrests in DC last week. By my count there were at least 230 in 4 different actions. I thought my blogging friends might like to hear about them.Another video from last weekend:
As far as my arrest, I actually only decided to cross the police line after I saw Colonel Ann Wright go over the wall and get arrested first (that was after many Vets from Iraq Veterans Against the War first crossed the line).
As you probably know, Colonel Wright was a career military woman (30 years) and was one of three State Department officials who resigned after the Iraq invasion. It actually was really inspiring and humbling to be in a DC "jail" with people who have been arrested many, many times. Probably 70% of the group were women, 15% Veterans (mostly men), and 15% other men. Many of the women were grandmothers. One of them, Maddie, was 84. 90% of the Capitol police were nice. They are on our side, but their superiors seem to be cracking down on activists. (One Codepinker was arrested on Friday for having "No War" pinned to her shirt while walking into the Jefferson Memorial. She was released 24 hours later with paper work that indicated that they "declined to proceed with prosecution" (huh?). They kept us in cuffs on a bus for five hours, then uncuffed us and put us on metal chairs for four more hours. They finally began processing us out at 3 AM (11 hours after our arrest) and finally fed us - get this - bologna, mayo and white bread sandwiches at 5 AM. I got out at 6:30 AM
I went to a teach-in on Thursday where Daniel Ellsberg spoke. He said an action in Iran in the next 15 months is "likely" and stopping that action should be our highest priority. If we take action on this Muslim country, we will do that much more to recruit a generation of people who hate the US.
September 9, 2007
Featured today at the Drudge Report this morning:
Following their testimony to Congress, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will appear exclusively on FOX News Channel on Monday at 9pm EDT for a one hour live interview with Brit Hume... Developing...That's really all you need to know about Petraeus and his report, don't you think? Drudge Report and Fox. Yup.
Will they also give an exclusive interview to Rush Limbaugh this week?
Update - Now the right is trying to change the narrative, claiming that MoveOn.org is calling Petraeus a traitor.
September 8, 2007
In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. And when Kennedy took over his presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation.Actually, while Kennedy continued the military advisers that Eisenhower had sent to assist the South Vietnamese government, the Vietnam war got going after Kennedy was killed in November, 1963. The Gulf of Tonkin incident, which provided a pretense for for direct U.S. involvement, occurred in August, 1964. Rumsfeld was Gerald Ford's Secretary of Defense, beginning in 1975.
And so Kennedy was killed...
But bin Laden justifies his attack on the U.S. by saying we allowed Bush to pick Rumsfeld and Cheney, "despite their horrific and blood history of murdering humans" in Vietnam.
Later, bin Laden says,
So in answer to the question about the causes of the Democrats' failure to stop the war, I say: they are the same as the reasons which led to the failure of former President Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war.The mind of a murderer.
Update - On PBS' Newshour yesterday "conservative" David Brooks repeated the right's talking (smear) point that bin Laden sounds like leftist bloggers:
You read this thing, and it’s like he’s been sitting around reading lefty blogs, and he’s one of these childish people posting rants at the bottom the page, you know, Noam Chomsky and all this stuff.Lefty bloggers don't get so many facts wrong.
August 30, 2007
Please watch the following response, and send it to friends and others. Take action - start your own"viral e-mail."
The Republican ads repeat the phrase "we're seeing results" and :things are getting better" and ask people to hold out for "victory." This is obvious focus-group-tested wording. The phrases have no meaning, but they sound good. It sounds reasonable to "hold out" when "things are getting better."
But it's just a lie.
What does "victory" mean? Who are we supposed to be fighting? How do we "win"?
August 24, 2007
Wanna get angry? I mean really, really angry? I just finished reading The Great Iraq Swindle: : Rolling Stone and I am really, REALLY angry now.
Iraq was the big test of the Republican vision of a privatized, outsourced government. But what it really was, was billions and billions of taxpayer dollars just handed to Republican-crony contractors - to do nothing or worse.
George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.Read this story. It talks about the environment in which everyone understood that the gates to the US Treasury were open, and the party was on, and the best part was the government expected you to steal, wanted you to steal, encouraged you to steal - because that was what the war was for.
... What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureaucracy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profiteering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure -- American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.
The Bush administration's lack of interest in recovering stolen funds is one of the great scandals of the war. The White House has failed to litigate a single case against a contractor under the False Claims Act and has not sued anybody for breach of contract. It even declined to join in a lawsuit filed by whistle-blowers who are accusing KBR of improper invoicing in Fallujah.
And then anyone who tries to do anything about it is fired and blacklisted - or worse. Worse, as in forced out of the protected, guarded areas and on your own among the insurgents.
Go read it.
What's more, when anyone in the government tried to question what contractors were up to with taxpayer money, they were immediately blackballed and treated like an enemy.
[. . .] And how did her superiors in the Pentagon respond to the wrongdoing highlighted by their own chief procurement officer? First they gave KBR a waiver for the overbilling, blaming the problem on an Iraqi subcontractor. Then they dealt with Greenhouse by demoting her and cutting her salary, citing a negative performance review. The retaliation sent a clear message to any would-be whistle-blowers. "It puts a chill on you," Greenhouse says. "People are scared stiff."
They were scared stiff in Iraq, too, and for good reason. When civilian employees complained about looting or other improprieties, contractors sometimes threatened to throw them outside the gates of their bases -- a life-threatening situation for any American.
August 23, 2007
And interesting analysis,
There is one thing about Iraq that nearly everyone can agree on it's that the Iraqi government under Nouri al-Maliki is dis-functional. Now Democracy was never what the Bush administration had in mind for Iraq. They were forced into elections by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. What they had in mind was a friendly tyrant, specifically Ahmad Chalabi. You remember him - the guy that turned out to be an Iranian spy. Now the neocons and the Bush administration would love to be rid of al-Maliki. There are two reports today that indicate that things may be about to change.
August 22, 2007
By Dave Johnson and James Boyce
In the early 1970s, the Nixon Administration took a page out of the tobacco industry's playbook and actively organized front groups to counter the anti-war efforts of Vietnam veterans like John Kerry and Bobby Muller. Men like John O'Neill - later to re-appear as one of the Swift Boat Veterans - were hired to create what Watergate felon Charles Colson called "counter-foils."
Today with the launch of "Freedoms Watch" our politics are further poisoned by the appearance of another mutant variation of this front-group tactic. Freedoms Watch is a shadowy 501c4 organization created to try to keep Republicans from abandoning the White House on Iraq. Ironically, on the very day the President invoked the legacy of Vietnam, his administration has created this Nixonian front-group counter-foil.
First of all, what is a Front Group? Front Groups have been used by the tobacco industry and the oil and energy companies to create the illusion of independence. "Freedoms Watch" can't just come out and call themselves "former White House aides and Republican fundraisers" so they create a supposedly independent group and fund it heavily. Everyone pretends it is an independent organization that sprang up from grassroots supporters of the war.
So who is behind this front group? While there is some public disclosure of who is involved, there is none on their own web site.
On www.freedomwatch.org, there is no listing of people involved, no names and no contact address. Not ONE SINGLE PERSON is listed as being affiliated with the group. According to the press, "President Bush's first White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, is the group's spokesman."
What is interesting to note about this site is how similar it is to one of the largest front groups created last cycle, Economic Freedom Fund. This group which was funded by five million dollars from Karl Rove confidante, Bob Perry, attacked Democrats throughout the cycle.
Like Freedoms Watch, their site has no name of an actual person associated with them.
Of course, this is not surprising. We also tracked back where their website is located (they made a little mistake which we caught.)
The company, Democracy Data and Communications is a leader in the "astroturf" industry. Their clients include primarily Republican-associated big businesses associations. They actually built a site called www.voteforgeorgebush.com last cycle.
Give them a cause, and a percentage of the $15 million, they'll build you a site and ads.
When "Freedoms Watch" releases their records, we will have a clearer vision into who is giving them money - $15,000,000 is a lot of money to raise - and how they are spending their money.
For now, we know they have a lot of money, and they intend to spend it.
And, there is one more funny thing that our good friend Taylor Marsh pointed out. (She also has the first tv spots in her post.) If you call the 1-800 Number that "Freedom's Watch" offers you for contacting your representative, they only actually connect you, if you agree with their policies.
This is a powerful short video from the Iraq Veterans Against the War "Coffee with the troops" event at YearlyKos.
There is a longer post about the event and the organization at PR Watch: Iraq: The "Gift" That Keeps On Bleeding,
IVAW was founded in 2004 and today it is a rapidly growing, grassroots, independent anti-war group with members active in 43 states and deployed on bases in Iraq. These rank and file soldiers are not partisans; they are Americans who have seen first hand the greatest political betrayal of our lifetime, the US attack on Iraq and the long occupation.
Iraq Veterans Against the War are not the concoction of a liberal think tank or PR firm; they have very little funding; they are not avoiding criticism of Democrats; and they are not playing political games trying to bank-shot Democratic candidates into the White House and Congress in 2008. They are in open non-violent revolt against US foreign policy, criticizing politicians of all stripes who would exploit the war for political gain.
Many IVAW soldiers are on active duty opposing the war openly and at personal risk; such is their conviction. On Saturday August 18, 90 IVAW soldiers demonstrated in St. Louis against a recruiting exhibit at a business expo, conducting the largest single action yet organized by anti-war veterans of Iraq. IVAW is stepping up its “truth in recruitment” efforts this September.
August 14, 2007
What if "The Surge" IS making things a bit better for Iraqis? What if by finally, finally bringing a larger force in, allowing the military to apply forces effectively and working with Iraqis instead of against them, things are getting a bit better for the people there? What if this is delaying the civil war that Republican incompetence caused - and is bringing Iraq some breathing room to look for a diplomatic solution?
Let's step back and take a look at this possibility.
Here is a lesson we should all learn from watching how the conservatives operate: don't do what they do. We should always, always look at things the way they are, and not be blinded by ideology and preconceptions.
Bush and the Republicans have created a terrible, terrible mess in the Middle East. But we have to look at where things are today, and figure out how to make the world better starting today.
We want to avoid bringing about another Darfur in Iraq, so we have to look at where things are today, what might work to make things better, and go from there. What if the surge is working?
August 1, 2007
Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political bloc announced its withdrawal from the government Wednesday, undermining Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to seek reconciliation among the country's rival factions.
Violence continued unabated, with 50 people killed and 60 wounded when a suicide attacker exploded a fuel truck near a gas station in western Baghdad. Another 17 died in a separate car bomb attack in a central region of the capital. The U.S. military announced the deaths of three American soldiers killed by a sophisticated, armor-piercing bomb.
July 31, 2007
It is possible, just possible,that things have gotten just a little bit better in Iraq. If so, this is a good thing, for all concerned. Let's just hope it is true. Maybe with a bit of breathing room the world can start to find a way out of the terrible, terrible mess that Bush and the Republicans have created for the entire region.
American and Iraqi casualties are down a bit: U.S. forces welcome least deadly month of Iraq push
Of course, the people still live in terrible fear, neighborhoods are experiencing "ethnic cleansing," millions of refugees have fled, death squads act with near-impunity, and the Iraqi Parliament responds, Bush-style, by leaving on vacation.
But maybe, just maybe, things are a bit better than they were. Let's hope so.
July 24, 2007
Progressive bloggers talk to each other. Conservatives talk to the public.
For example, Bush and the Republicans recently renewed their claim Iraq attacked us on 9/11 and that is why we invaded that country. Their politicians, pundits, talk-show hosts, bloggers, news anchors, op-ed writers, letter-to-the-editor writers and others all said it, using largely the same "tested" words and phrases, on the radio, in the newspapers, in their blogs and on their TV channels. Progressive bloggers responded with the truth, but who did they reach?
The right talks to the public, and it works. Support for Initial Invasion Has Risen, Poll Shows,
Americans’ support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat as the White House has continued to ask the public to reserve judgment about the war until at least the fall.And other lies continue as well. Just today, for example, from the right-wing Heritage Foundation, The War in Iraq: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,
[. . .] However, the number of people who say the war is going “very badly” has fallen from 45 percent earlier in July to a current reading of 35 percent...
[. . .] The poll’s findings are in line with those of one conducted last week by The New York Times and CBS News.
While WMD were not found, some may have been moved to Syria in the convoys of hundreds of trucks that crossed the border just before the U.S.-led intervention and during the first few weeks of fighting.Right, blame Clinton. But it was Clinton who did something about Iraq's WMD, and tried to do something about al Qaeda before 9/11, not Bush. Remember the "aspirin factory?"
[. . .] If the U.S. pulls out of Iraq before it has a stable government capable of defending itself, the likes of bin Laden will have a safe haven from which to attack the U.S. again.
[. . .] If we stand back and allow al-Qaeda's terrorists to succeed, they will turn Iraq into a base for attacking us, just as they turned Afghanistan into a base for attacking us. The Clinton Administration decided that the U.S. had no stake in the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Only after the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to operate from its territory did we discover—too late—that we did have a stake there.
Progressives need to start reaching the general public with the truth as well as each other. We need to start working together to fund and build the organizational infrastructure to develop and test messaging, then coordinate the use of messaging, train speakers, employ pundits, develop media channels, etc.
July 16, 2007
People say we should not impeach Bush because it will divert us from getting out of Iraq. I think that approach has things backwards. I think we can’t deal with the problems of Iraq until we deal with getting Bush out. With Bush in charge we can't have a rational debate about the best options for Iraq.
1) I believe that it’s wrong to just pull our forces out of Iraq. We invaded, we destabilized and we destroyed the existing institutions of order. We created the mess there. We created the civil war. We created the threat of regional conflict. So I think it is America's legal and moral responsibility to provide security for the people of Iraq. And that's also what international law says. Of course, providing security for the people of Iraq is not going to happen with Bush in office.
(Someone told me this idea is like being raped and then getting a ride to the hospital from the rapist. I can understand the sentiment, but the U.S. is not a person and Iraq is not a person. We and they are a bunch of people all with their own differing needs and interests. Countries have to deal with where things are on a given day, before they deal with where things were on a previous day. In other words, Bush did what he did -- but where do we go from here that is best for us and best for them NOW?)
2) It is wrong to blame the Iraqis for what we have done and it would be wrong to abandon them to the mess we made. But the way our forces are being used by Bush just makes things worse. This must change but it will not change with Bush in charge of policy decisions.
3) Suppose we do vote to withdraw with Bush in office? How do you think a Bush administration will execute that withdrawal? Will they do it in a way that makes things better -- or much worse? And will they just refuse, necessitating the impeachment I say has to happen first? In other words, we can't deal with Iraq until we deal with Bush.
4) There is also a national security component. The current situation in Iraq really is making us less safe here. Leaving might only make that worse. This needs to be debated rationally - impossible with Bush in office spouting his focus-group-tested bullshit, designed to put up a smokescreen and distract us from reality.
5) Bush's propaganda is causing us to doubt terror warnings that may be real. What if our intelligence agencies discovered that al Queda really is getting ready to use a nuke on an American city, for example? We simply can not trust our government right now to tell us the truth. The threat of a terrorist attack is too serious to allow this incompetent, lying gang of criminals to remain in office even one day longer than it takes to get them out.
6) Similarly, Bush's lies about Iraq have forced us to doubt the claims about threats presented by Iran. But Iran is not Iraq, and their theocratic rulers are not our friends. We need to be able to trust what is being said to us and we can't with ush in office.
So I think that the right path lies in a different direction from working to get the troops out. Options beyond the simplistic choice of doing what we are doing now or just leaving need to be discussed. But we are not going to be able to do what is right until we change the national leadership here. We are not even going to be able to properly debate the issues.
Finding the answers to the problems of Iraq begins with solving the problem of Bush.
July 13, 2007
Except without the massive enemy war machine, the taxes to pay for it, a draft, a threat to America, an endgame...
...But have a look at what Chambliss said about how troops in World War II were deployed for much longer and how he tried to use that as a stick with which to beat Webb for being "out of step with history" in his efforts to keep military men and women home longer with their families:...
... Leave it to a Republican desperate to bail out Bush, to compare World War II and the gravity of that global conflict with Bush's war of choice about absolutely nothing.
July 9, 2007
...the ROE [rules of engagement] at Fallujah was "liberalized" to allow fleeing Iraqis to be killed if they refused to stop. It was only the beginning. By the end of the fight the rules for killing insurgents were extremely liberal, Marines who were there agree. Fallujah gave a whole new meaning to the word, one of them said.The site says this is how this "war" has to be fought, and complains about the "political correctness" of those who are against such tactics.
Marines openly admit killing every military age male they saw at Fallujah.
... A study released by the Pentagon two months ago revealed that the majority of contemporary Marines apparently agree with the way the Iraqis at Fallujah were handled. In a survey of U.S. combat troops in Iraq less than half of Marines responding said they would report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian. And the closer warriors were to the pointy end of things the more enthusiastic they seem to be about killing the perceived enemy without hesitation. Only 38 percent of Marines polled said noncombatants in Iraq should be treated with dignity and respect. [emphasis added]
July 6, 2007
June 20, 2007
We're having a conversation here at Blogger Blvd. Is the line i Hillary's speech basically blaming the Iraqis new, or has she been using it. Was she trying it out to see if people like it - or was she trying to antagonize this audience?
Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis says this is the new "bipartisan cop-out line" that he is hearing everyone use - blame the Iraqis.
June 19, 2007
I'm at the "bloggor row" but I heard that Ralph Nader is introducing Senator Mike Gravel.
Ralph Nader is honored as the subject of my first post (after "Welcome.")
I'm posting this under the topic "Iraq War." Thanks, Ralph.
June 17, 2007
This convention was originally called forth by Cindy Sheehan as a response to the betrayal of the antiwar cause by Congress. Cindy gave a call to, "all citizens", "to join us in Philadelphia on July 4th to try and figure a way out of this "two" party system that is bought and paid for by the war machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives. As for myself, I am leaving the Democratic Party. You have completely failed those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We do not condone our government's violent meddling in sovereign countries and we condemn the continued murderous occupation of Iraq.”
We are convening to explore what to do next? What are we missing, and what can we do better? How do we release the war machine’s stranglehold around us?
In the living tradition of the Declaration of Independence, we convene to form a strategic alliance with anti-war, pro-impeachment, civil liberties, and other groups to develop a comprehensive strategy and implement actions to deal with this emergency.
Join us to deliberate with a wide variety of groups to create viable solutions.
Sponsors: Peace Action-Delaware Valley, Philadelphia Regional Anti-War Network, Northeast 9/11 Truth, Green Party of Vermont … join us
Location: Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market, Philadelphia, PA
Time: 1:00-9:00 pm, July 4th
June 12, 2007
A number of bridges in Iraq have been blown up recently.
Suspected Sunni insurgents bombed and badly damaged a span over the main north-south highway leading from Baghdad on Tuesday — the third bridge attack in as many days in an apparent campaign against key transportation arteries.There are signs this could be the beginning of a larger assault against US forces and the Iraqi government. It crimps the supply lines, makes it harder to bring in reinforcements and concentrates traffic on remaining routes.
In Bridge Bombing Campaign Escalates Further, the blog Gorilla's Guides has details on the bridge attacks.
The bombings outside of Baghdad are aimed at rendering the country ungovernorable by denying huge swathes of territory to the American forces. Good example of attacks aimed to achieve this are the Sahra bridge bombing and today’s Al Sabtiya bridge bombing.
Larry Johnson at No Quarter has a post, The Bombed Bridges of Baghdad writes,
The systematic destruction of bridges in and around Baghdad are the early warning signs that the mission for our soldiers in Iraq is going to get tougher and more deadly.
June 6, 2007
Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.Turkey denies major incursion into N.Iraq,
Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks.
Turkey denied a report on Wednesday it had launched a major incursion into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels there, but a military source said troops had conducted a limited raid across the mountainous border.More here as more is known.
Rumours of an invasion have rattled financial markets amid growing Turkish anger over the activity of Turkish Kurdish rebels using the mountains of northern Iraq as a refuge. Washington has urged caution on Ankara, fearing conflict in what has been one of the most stable areas of Iraq.
Update - This follows Monday's report: US urges Turkey not to attack northern Iraq.
Ignore assurances - those are words, trees. See the forest: if Turkish troops have crossed the border this is very serious.
"There is no incursion into any other country at the moment," Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, said on Wednesday.Is this the beginning of an expansion of the Iraq war into a regional conflict?
Earlier, the DEBKAfile website said 50,000 men had been deployed to the area.
Ankara described the report as "disinformation".
Hoshiyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister, said that there was no evidence that Turkish troops had entered Iraq.
"We have checked all along the border and there hasn't been any incursion or military operation inside Iraqi territory," he said.
"Iraq will not tolerate any military incursion. There is always room for dialogue."
A White House spokesman, in Germany for a G8 summit, also said that "no new activity" had been detected in northern Iraq.
June 5, 2007
My buddy James Boyce has a post up over at Huffington, James Boyce: The Iraq War Vote Was 6-94.
James took a look at which Senators actually bothered to read the classified intelligence (NIE) briefing that was available to all Senators before voting to allow Bush to go to war with Iraq. Only six Senators did their jobs and read the report and learned what the real situation was. The rest voted - however they voted - for other reasons. James writes,
In October 2002, prior to the October 12, 2002 Iraq war vote, under lock and key, prepared for our Senators and Representatives by our country's top intelligence analysts, lay a 92 page report about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, and everything we knew about Saddam.You've got to read his post. He quotes from joejoejoe in a MyDD diary,
It sat waiting for our elected officials to sign in without staff and read it, 92 pages. No staffers allowed, elected officials only. A five page declassified document was readily available to all but the 92 page document, you had to show up, sign in and read it.
Only six Senators did.
Only six Senators thought that sending our country's bravest off to war to die was worth a few minutes of their time. How long a report would you have read before deciding to send our nation's finest to war?
"The two Senators who pushed hardest to have the US intelligence community compile an NIE, Senator Bob Graham and Senator Dick Durbin, both voted against authorizing military force against Iraq - largely because the full classified 96-page NIE contained many more caveats and dissents than any of the summaries."If a Senator votes to go to war or not without reading the intelligence report, what does that say about our political process - and about our Senators?
June 4, 2007
May 27, 2007
As Army officers on duty in the war on terror, you will now face enemies who oppose and despise everything you know to be right, every notion of upright conduct and character, and every belief you consider worth fighting for and living for. Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away. These are men who glorify murder and suicide. Their cruelty is not rebuked by human suffering, only fed by it. They have given themselves to an ideology that rejects tolerance, denies freedom of conscience, and demands that women be pushed to the margins of society. The terrorists are defined entirely by their hatreds, and they hate nothing more than the country you have volunteered to defend.But no taxes to pay for the war to save civilization, no draft, no cuts in oil use, no sacrifice of any kind. Go shopping, etc. Right.
The terrorists know what they want and they will stop at nothing to get it. By force and intimidation, they seek to impose a dictatorship of fear, under which every man, woman, and child lives in total obedience to their ideology. Their ultimate goal is to establish a totalitarian empire, a caliphate, with Baghdad as its capital. They view the world as a battlefield and they yearn to hit us again. And now they have chosen to make Iraq the central front in their war against civilization.
May 24, 2007
Update - OK, stupid title. Should have been something like "The Power Of Words"
I don't see how any rational person can think that a plan to set timelines for withdrawing our forces and turning things over to the Iraqis themselves is in any way "abandoning the troops" but there you have it -- the power of the right to influence people's minds.
I have been telling anyone who would listen (and shouting at the backs of the rest) that the battle for this country is nowhere near over yet -- that just because the Republicans no longer control the House and Senate our problems are not solved. And I have been saying that taking the White House in 2008 is no where near a sure thing -- the right is strong, organized, has all the money in the world and is capable of saying and doing anything to keep power. The more their backs are to the wall the more dangerous they are.
Today we have some evidence of their power over minds. They were able to twist the plan to turn the occupation over to the Iraqi government into an almost universal acceptance - in Washington - that this would mean "abandoning the troops."
The 2008 election is not going to be pretty. Watch your backs.
May 23, 2007
Bob Borosage says this in not a poker game:
President Bush forced Democrats to “fold,” the press reports. He vetoed the Iraq funding bill that set a deadline for getting U.S. troops out of the war. The Republican minority blocked any effort to overturn the veto. Now Congress is about to vote on a funding bill the president will accept, one that doesn’t offer a path out of the mess. Bush wins, the Republicans exult, the Democrats “flinch.”
But this isn’t poker. This is life and death. The president insists on escalating the catastrophic occupation of Iraq. He scorned the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Commission that offered a way out. He scorns the American people who voted in 2006 to bring the debacle to an end. He scorned the majority of both houses of Congress that voted to start bringing the troops home on a date certain. He sustains an occupation opposed by a majority of Americans, a majority of Iraqis and a majority of the Congress.
He is aided and abetted in this folly by the Republican minority in Congress, which votes en masse to sustain his vetoes and continue the war. They murmur their concerns, clear their throats, profile their independence, but with rare exceptions, they vote en bloc to support the president’s ruinous course.
He is aided and abetted in this folly by a minority of Democrats who are afraid to take on the president, fearful of being blamed for undermining the troops, and frightened about being held responsible for bringing the occupation to an end. They, in turn, are misled by the political consultants and the national security “experts” on the Democratic side who have been wrong from the start. They advised Democrats to vote for the war to look strong. They advised Democrats to support the president to look tough. When the folly became apparent, they advised Democrats to avoid being blamed for ending the war. At the beginning of the 2006 election, they advised that Democrats focus on the lack of body armor and the mistreatment of veterans, and stay away from the debate about the war. Now they warn Democrats to keep this “Bush’s war” and not get blamed for ending it. Their expert credentials have somehow survived their consistent inanity.
The Congress will now vote on a funding bill for Iraq that offers no change of course. Every legislator open to reason, concerned for the troops, worried about this nation’s real security, or accountable to the voters will vote against this bill.
Those who vote for it are voting to enable a rogue president. They are sacrificing the nation’s security and the lives of many young soldiers to stand with George Bush.
This vote will be registered. In every state and district of the country, voters will know where their legislator stands. There are no dodges, no excuses. Vote to sustain the rogue president’s ruinous course or vote against. This is a question of life and death, not of partisan politics or Beltway political poker. Every legislator is free to vote his or her conscience. Each should be held accountable.
May 12, 2007
Health professionals worry about the war's long-term impact in Iraq, noting that Iraqi children have the lowest rate of survival to age 5 in the world. [Emphasis mine, TL] One in 8 dies between the ages of 1 and 5, many as a result of combat or diseases, including treatable infections and cholera. Roughly 270,000 children have received no vaccinations since the start of the war, and 68 percent of the population cannot access safe drinking water.
... this is success, one to two trillion dollars later?
May 8, 2007
Here's an idea for an "incentive-based" solution to paying the costs - human and financial - of the ongoing occupation of Iraq. If the COSTS of the occupation were actually being paid by the public-at-large - instead of borrowing the money and making our kids pay it off - it would end tomorrow.
1) A huge-ass whopping tax on everyone to pay the costs of the occupation. This comes to about $8500 for each family of four so far, not counting upcoming costs like replacement of equipment, medical care for the wounded, the cost of eventually bringing them home, etc.
2) Any family that actually sends someone to fight in the war does not have to pay the tax.
This is an opportunity for Bush supporters to - for the first time - do more than put "support the troops" stickers on their SUVs.
May 5, 2007
Every day, several times a day: Suicide attack on army recruits kills 15,
In a separate incident, five Iraqi police officers were discovered shot, killed and dumped in a deserted field outside the city of Beiji, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad late Friday, police said Saturday.
[. . .] Residents and police in a Shiite area in eastern Baghdad said U.S. helicopters early Saturday fired on three houses, killing six men and wounding a woman and five children. The U.S. military said a helicopter supporting ground operations in the area was attacked with small-arms fire but "did not return fire."
... In all, at least 40 people were killed or found dead in scattered violence. Those included a policeman killed in a suicide car bomb attack and a woman who died in a mortar attack in Baghdad, as well as three people killed in clashes between Shiite and Sunni militants north of the capital.
In southern Baghdad, U.S. soldiers on a routine patrol Friday searched a suspicious blue tanker truck and discovered it had been converted into a large truck bomb, the military said.
April 30, 2007
This is just offensive: Wag the Blog: What's Next for Democrats on Iraq - The Fix,
Some Democratic strategists fret that by turning the Iraq debate into a war of words on funding for the troops, an idea which Americans generally still support, the party could watch a political winner turn into a loser at the ballot box in 2008.We passed 100 American soldiers dead so far this month. How many Iraqis? How many "contractors?" How much closer is the Middle East to a regional conflict breaking out?
Today's Wag the Blog question asks The Fix's community to sound off on what the Democrats' best next move is -- politically -- when it comes to the debate over the war.
Should Democrats escalate the current standoff and provoke a showdown with the White House over funding? Or should Democrats compromise in hopes of negotiating some sort of timeline for withdrawal? If they pursue the former strategy, will it risk turning off moderate voters who will be key in next year's presidential and congressional races? And if it's the latter, will the vocal liberal wing of the party revolt, attacking congressional leaders seen as too moderate on the war issue.
Remember the issue is not which argument makes the most sense from a policy perspective, but rather which one is the savviest from a political viewpoint.
And "some Democratic strategists" and the Washington media crowd want to talk about who it's helping politically.
This is from Saturday, but it is important. General William Odom Delivers Democratic Radio Address on Iraq,
“To put this in a simple army metaphor, the Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL, that is ‘absent without leave.’ He neither acts nor talks as though he is in charge. Rather, he engages in tit-for-tat games…I hope the President seizes this moment for a basic change in course and signs the bill the Congress has sent him. I will respect him greatly for such a rare act of courage, and so too, I suspect, will most Americans.”
- Lieutenant General William E. Odom
Good morning, this is Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army, retired.
I am not now nor have I ever been a Democrat or a Republican. Thus, I do not speak for the Democratic Party. I speak for myself, as a non-partisan retired military officer who is a former Director of the National Security Agency. I do so because Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, asked me.
In principle, I do not favor Congressional involvement in the execution of U.S. foreign and military policy. I have seen its perverse effects in many cases. The conflict in Iraq is different. Over the past couple of years, the President has let it proceed on automatic pilot, making no corrections in the face of accumulating evidence that his strategy is failing and cannot be rescued.
Thus, he lets the United States fly further and further into trouble, squandering its influence, money, and blood, facilitating the gains of our enemies. The Congress is the only mechanism we have to fill this vacuum in command judgment.
To put this in a simple army metaphor, the Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL, that is ‘absent without leave.’ He neither acts nor talks as though he is in charge. Rather, he engages in tit-for-tat games.
Some in Congress on both sides of the aisle have responded with their own tits-for-tats. These kinds of games, however, are no longer helpful, much less amusing. They merely reflect the absence of effective leadership in a crisis. And we are in a crisis.
Most Americans suspect that something is fundamentally wrong with the President’s management of the conflict in Iraq. And they are right.
The challenge we face today is not how to win in Iraq; it is how to recover from a strategic mistake: invading Iraq in the first place. The war could never have served American interests.
But it has served Iran’s interest by revenging Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in the 1980s and enhancing Iran’s influence within Iraq. It has also served al Qaeda’s interests, providing a much better training ground than did Afghanistan, allowing it to build its ranks far above the levels and competence that otherwise would have been possible.
We cannot ‘win’ a war that serves our enemies interests and not our own. Thus continuing to pursue the illusion of victory in Iraq makes no sense. We can now see that it never did.
A wise commander in this situation normally revises his objectives and changes his strategy, not just marginally, but radically. Nothing less today will limit the death and destruction that the invasion of Iraq has unleashed.
No effective new strategy can be devised for the United States until it begins withdrawing its forces from Iraq. Only that step will break the paralysis that now confronts us. Withdrawal is the pre-condition for winning support from countries in Europe that have stood aside and other major powers including India, China, Japan, Russia.
It will also shock and change attitudes in Iran, Syria, and other countries on Iraq’s borders, making them far more likely to take seriously new U.S. approaches, not just to Iraq, but to restoring regional stability and heading off the spreading chaos that our war has caused.
The bill that Congress approved this week, with bipartisan support, setting schedules for withdrawal, provides the President an opportunity to begin this kind of strategic shift, one that defines regional stability as the measure of victory, not some impossible outcome.
I hope the President seizes this moment for a basic change in course and signs the bill the Congress has sent him. I will respect him greatly for such a rare act of courage, and so too, I suspect, will most Americans.
This is retired General Odom. Thank you for listening.
April 26, 2007
Where did this guy come from?
Former Senator Mike Gravel. I suspect he is going to gain a LOT of attention and some popularity. Looking at his website (while they're all talking) I see a mixture of good and bad. I'm not sure dropping the income tax is a great idea at a time when wealth is concentrating at the top.
April 13, 2007
How many Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war?
Go to Daily Kos: Picture this: 69 Times the Number at Normandy and scroll down. This is a visual representation of how many.
Note - this is not direct casualties, this is the number of additional deaths over the pre-war baseline. For example, if due to the war a diabetic can't get insulin, or there are not enough antibiotics in a region, or no power for a hospital...
April 12, 2007
Turkey's military asked the government Thursday to approve attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, signaling growing frustration over a lack of action against the guerrillas by Iraqi and U.S. forces.
Such action could put an overstretched U.S. military in the middle of a fight between two crucial partners, the Turks and the Iraqi Kurds. A recent surge in Kurdish attacks in southeastern Turkey has increased the pressure on Turkey's military to act.
``An operation into Iraq is necessary,'' Gen. Yasar Buyukanit told reporters.
April 9, 2007
OK, because of Bush's "surge" the country has run flat out of troops to fight in Iraq and is dipping way into the National Guard. Again.
This is serious shit. There are times when you need a ready armed force. Responsible leaders do not use up the military like this without calling up a draft to cover emergencies. If Bush gave a hoot about defending the country he would start an emergency draft, and increases taxes to pay for this mess.
April 4, 2007
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday warned that limiting troops' activities inI agree. Civil war is happening now, but who protects the civilians if we leave? This is what Bush brought to Iraq, maybe to the region. But what do we do now? Do we stay and try to keep the civil war from turning into out-and-out slaughter? Of course, with Bush in charge that isn't even what we are doing there...
Iraq and withdrawing from Baghdad could lead to "ethnic cleansing" in the capital and elsewhere in the country.
(Note - I turned off the requirement that commenters be registered to see what would happen, and received over 20 spam comments in less than 10 minutes, so I turned it back on. Please leave a comment so I know it is working now.)
April 1, 2007
Headlined at Drudge, this: IDF intelligence: Iran, Hizbullah preparing for possible US strike - Israel News, Ynetnews.
Sounds bad, no? Iran AND Hizbullah both getting ready to strike at the United Stastes this summer!
But if you do what most people do not do - click through to the story and read it - it does NOT say they are preparing to strike the U.S. It says they fear that the U.S. is going to attack them.
March 25, 2007
This is an important post about an important time in the history of our nation.: MyDD :: Myths About Moveon
I don't know if the supplemental is a major step forward or not. I know it won't end the war, since this was has been coming for sixty years and is part and parcel of a militaristic political structure that we must and are working to disassemble within both parties. But it is a major step forward in terms of our movement, as we affirmatively passed a significant piece of legislation through a House which, while full of some new blood, saw its Democratic membership grow by only 20% in 2006. Moveon was true to its members in helping this happen.
... Now, in a larger and more important sense, we all own the war. It's our war. American attacked Iraq. Voting against funding or this bill or for impeachment or anything else does not exempt you from responsibility for America's actions in the world. That's what it means to live in a liberal democracy; citizens get a say in things but also have to take responsibility for the actions of the state even when we don't agree with what the state is doing. That means that Moveon, or anyone else, isn't 'selling out' when we participate in the political process. There is a set of political institutions, and you either participate in them or you don't, but you are responsible for the war as an American regardless.
March 24, 2007
March 23, 2007
Regular readers know that I'm always interested in what the public "knows." This tells you a lot about where the public gets its information.
I'm looking for polling on public beliefs about Iraq being connected to the 9/11 attacks.
Last September, FIVE years after the war, Sept. 2006 Zogby International poll has 46% of the public believing that Iraq was connected to the 9/11 attack - with 65% of Republicans believing this and even 32% of Democrats.
Has anyone seen more recent polling.
March 18, 2007
February 23, 2007
I glanced at "The Note" this morning to get the Washington Insider view of things.
"See the Democrats in Congress not falling into the Republicans' trap (yet) and avoiding a stop-the-war strategy that will (fully) open them up to charges of abandoning the troops. As they tinker with various legislative efforts to achieve their goal of bringing American troops home, Democrats have three main goals: (1) appease their base; (2) keep their coalition together; and (3) most of all, pressure enough Republicans to demand that the President change course. Oh: and: as a political matter, is the surge working?"I have to give them credit for saying right at the start, "to achieve their goal of bringing the troops home." But the rest of it? The rest of it is about the politics of it. In fact the entire rest of today's Note is about "the politics" of everything - which is to say, about nothing.
The DC media perspective is about the politics. The blogger perspective is about what is happening in the real world. A lot of people are content to argue about politics and positions. I guess it's easier, emotionally, than thinking about the real world.
Here are some things going on in the real world:
Those people in Iraq are D.E.A.D.
That national debt is Money. That. We. Owe.
Houses and buildings Will. Be. Under. Water. from global warming.
Every single day that the posturing continues more people die in Iraq, more carbon goes into the air, more money is owed.
It really is this simple.
February 20, 2007
Quick question to any conservatives reading this site. Your country is "at war." Leave a comment here and let us know who is "the enemy" we are at war with.
I bet there are as many different answers as there are commenters. Or ask around and see how many of your conservative buddies give different answers to the question. You can't even tell us who "the enemy" is. Shouldn't that tell you something?
"Insurgents?" They're insurging because they object to the people they call "Persians" being put in charge by us. Persian means Iranian. Was it your understanding that Iranians are the people we invaded to put in charge? And the Sunnis we are fighting are backed by the Saudis, among others - our "allies" in the region.
Is the enemy Mutada al Sadr? He's Shiite, and a part of the government we installed.
Et cetera. You get the picture.
Or did you not know about Shiites and Sunnis and the differences when you started this thing?
February 17, 2007
Please go read the "Whereas" list, which includes,
Whereas the doctrine of preemption threatens to set a dangerous precedent that might then be cited by other countries, including other nuclear powers, to justify preemptive military action against perceived threats;And finally it resolves that,
Resolved, That--Now, contact YOUR member of Congress and ask him or her to co-sponsor this resolution.
(1) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States possesses the inherent right to defend itself against imminent or actual attack, as codified in the Charter of the United Nations and embodied in the traditions of international law, but that right does not extend to undertaking military action in the absence of such an imminent or actual attack; and
(2) the House of Representatives disavows the doctrine of preemption because it poses a threat to international law and to the national security interests of the United States.
February 11, 2007
No, Ted hasn't changed his mind about the unwise nature of the war in Iraq... he's just being forthright about what he thinks a serious commitment to making it work would require. All the liberals (and conservatives) who say we have to "do the right thing" and fix the mess in Iraq that we've made would be well advised to read this posting.
[I haven't posted in a while. Just too busy with other things, and not much to say that I haven't said already. Was listening to a Bill Hicks routine from the early 1990's... 90% of it could have been him talking about today's events. Everything old is new again.]
January 29, 2007
I am coming to think that Neil Young's Living With War is one of the great albums. I've been listening to it over and over today.
I think there's a new mix of it up for listening, with videos and a lot of other stuff at LIVING WITH WAR TODAY.
Here is his MySpace page with more streaming.
While you're at it, take a look (and listen) at Songs of the Times.
No More Lies!
January 24, 2007
From a four-year-old, speaking for all of us:
January 17, 2007
Bush believes. Do YOU believe?
Just don't look down.
Looking back at how things unfolded this was brilliant and just spot-on. No one was listening. And unfortunately he was right and they were all wrong.
I'm not even going to quote from it - just read the whole thing and tell me if Steve didn't exactly predict what is happening now! Sure, it was obvious that things could spin out of control, but Steve described what has happened step-by-step, almost four years ago.
By the way, here is where you can read your Steve nowadays.
January 11, 2007
Surge is a focus-group word, designed to sell an escalation of the war. The strategy is to deflect the incoming Democrats' argument for winding down the war by offering the opposite. And look what we are all discussing. This places "stay the course" as the reasonable middle ground.
It is ALWAYS about appearances and political strategies not reality or the good of the country with this crowd.
EVERYone said from the start that 250-500,000 troops would be needed to occupy Iraq. Bush didn't do this because sending that many troops would undermine political support for the Republican Party. With enough troops there could have been a peaceful Iraq following our illegal invasion. The Iraqi people have paid the real price for this - not us. Yes, we have lost over 3,000 troops dead and how many injured and how many "contractors" and how much money? But the Iraqi people have suffered the loss of hundreds of thousands and of the possibility of going on with their lives in peace - and are instead entering into a horrible civil war because of Bush's choices.
Bush has not asked for tax increases to pay for the war, either. Because it would undermine political support for the party. Instead he offered candy - tax cuts.
Party over country.
Bush and his surrogates say we are fighting "Islamofascism" and it is the worst threat America has ever faced - and then says "go shopping." Fight the worst threat the nation has ever faced by going shopping? Because any kind of sacrifice would undermine support for the Republican Party. Meanwhile fear changes the way people think, and leads much of the population to more easily accept the authoritarian agenda of the right.
Party over country.
In the face of the worst threat the nation has ever faced, and declining readiness of our military - "stretched too thin" - Bush does not ask for a draft to protect the country. Because that would be politically unpopular and undermine support for the Republican Party.
No draft to protect the country. No taxes to pay for the war. No lowering of oil use to cut finding to terrorists states. Nothing that might undermine support for the Republican Party.
Party over country at every turn.
January 7, 2007
Calling for an escalation in Iraq just as the Democrats take control of the Congress is a typical Rovian strategy that accomplishes two things:
- It rechannels the debate away from whether we should leave -- now we're all discussing whether to escalate or not rather than whether to get out or not.
- And it places "stay the course" as the reasonable compromise between leave or escalate.
The question that has never been satisfactorily answered - WHY did we invade Iraq? If you ask 100 people you will get 50 different answers - which means that no one really understands.
Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.Maybe that explains this, from the "Energy Task Force" that did its work BEFORE the invasion, Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Detail Iraqi Oil Industry:
The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.
The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.
Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force appeared to have some interest in early 2001 in Iraq's oil industry, including which foreign companies were pursuing business there, according to documents released Friday by a private watchdog group.
Judicial Watch (search), a conservative legal group, obtained a batch of task force-related Commerce Department papers that included a detailed map of Iraq's oil fields, terminals and pipelines as well as a list entitled "Foreign Suitors of Iraqi Oilfield Contracts."
January 5, 2007
Co-written with James Boyce.
According to numerous reports, in the next few days President Bush will announce an escalation that will send an additional 30,000 or more men and women to serve in Iraq. Some reports indicate that as many as 70,000 additional troops will be on the ground in Iraq by the middle of next year.
Shockingly, three years after the invasion, the total number of men and women in uniform in Iraq could now be 200,000 soldiers. As part of this escalation, President Bush will also seek to permanently increase the size of the United States Army and the Marine Corps reversing a trend to a smaller full time military that has been three decades in the making.
President Bush will call for these additional men and women to serve another tour in Iraq despite the fact that many will have already have served one or more tours of duty there. The rest will be new recruits, young men and women as young as eighteen years of age. Bush will say the need for this "surge" is urgent - and it is, to Bush. As we have learned time and time again over the past few years, Bush urgencies are often different from "reality-based" urgencies: Administration Official: Troop Escalation 'More Of A Political Decision Than A Military One'
As he escalates the war, it will also absolutely clear and final that President Bush will not accept the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group. Furthermore, he will not conduct direct talks with either Iran and Syria; he will not initiate mediation of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the Generals in Iraq who still favor gradual transition to an independent Iraqi army and withdrawal will be replaced. President Bush is also repeating the mantra of an extended engagement in Iraq, saying the war will be long - it "is going to last for a while" - and his surrogates publicly agree.
In essence, President Bush will ignore the will of the American people, the newly-installed Congress, the recommendations of our military leaders both here at the Pentagon and and on the ground in Iraq, the conclusions of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group and the rest of the world.
To make it even more shocking, early reports are that he will ask for us to support the escalation by saying that together we need to "sacrifice." In many ways, when one considers who has profited by this war, asking the American public at large to sacrifice is as sick as his December 20 press conference when, to the shock of many, he asked the public to "go shopping more."
But contrary to the strong first words from the new Democratic majority in Washington, we will not be surprised if the escalation takes place, in fact, we fully expect it to. There is the slight possibility of a combined effort between veteran groups, Democratic leaders and the progressive community online stopping the surge, but the chances are not good.
It is happening too fast - yet the timing of the decision to seek the surge squarely puts the responsibility for continuation in the hands of the incoming Democrats. It is close to a no-win situation. And it is clear what the rabid right thinks the Democrats will do.
The purpose of this post is to outline how the President will sell the surge, how we feel Democratic leadership will possibly be "rolled" into allowing it and why it is so critical that we stop it.
We already know that in his initial meetings at the Pentagon, no general or military leader recommended a surge. President Bush ordered Secretary of Defense Gates to bring a plan for escalation to him, not the other way around. With such a plan in hand, of course, the military leadership will fall into line after the Commander-in-Chief announces his strategy - as such is their code of service.
With the military following orders, the right wing strategy of "sell" and "smear" will go into full battle mode. If the past is any prelude, the coordinated effort will be so powerful and well constructed that some Democrats will end up supporting the escalation, falling into the same traps they did when they originally supported the war. Initial Republican grandstanding will fall away. They too will support their leader.
The American people understand this. That's why they reacted so negatively and quickly to Harry Reid's suggestion he might go along with a short term surge. Senator Reid quickly clarified his position.
However, other Senators are falling in line behind the President - bringing legitimacy to what shouldn't even be a debate. Senator Joe Lieberman has already called for more troops. Others have already committed publicly to voting for more troops. Still more will fall in step, either because they don't fully understand the administration's passion for escalation or they still fail to realize the true goals of this administration - if they give this administration an inch, President Bush will be one mile closer to Iran.
The administration handles these things as marketing missions - we're going to dissect it as such. It will be a study in right-wing marketing to watch the President sell his escalation of a strongly unpopular war.
Of course, the underlying methodology will be what it always is: sell and smear. (We discussed the conservative Sell and $mear strategy in our post titled How Long Will The Right Let Us Love Obama, describing how they have attacked our leaders.) Sell and $mear are the two most important words in the war on Iraq.
Despite Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post mocking our premise, saying "Boy, that must be one powerful machine", and frankly with the mainstream media's complicity in the process further enabling it, there is no question that the right wing machine is real, active and ready to sell the surge.
It's sad but true, this is not a military effort, it's a marketing program with 3,000 deaths attached to it. On to Step One.
Selling The Surge - Develop A New Slogan.
Just to show you how coordinated and Pravda-like this administration has become, we have had our new slogan for two months now "A new way forward."
In fact, here's the cover of The Iraq Study Group report - notice the sub-head "The Way Forward - A New Approach"
But the Study Group diverged from the administration game plan - they actually did their job and their proposals directly conflict with the goals of the administration. Having pushed the release of the report till after the mid-term election, the administration has officially dismissed their recommendations. In high irony, they were called both "unrealistic" and "impractical."
This is what has caused this unfortunate interlude for the administration. They had the slogan - they needed the ISG to complete the mission and give them permission to escalate, but the ISG didn't play the game, so now there's been weeks of reflection.
This is window dressing nothing more, nothing less because the decision to escalate and double down was made some time ago - how do we know? We know because IN DECEMBER, PRESIDENT BUSH REQUESTED AN ADDITIONAL $100 BILLION IN SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDS FOR THE WAR.
The initial budget for Iraq and Afghanistan was $70 billion for this year - now they are adding $100 billion on top of that. That's funding for a major escalation of the war - not a short term surge. That's funding of almost $2,000,000,000 a week more than was already budgeted.
The Iraq Study Group was going to provide the air cover for the escalation. Think of it as a focus group that was completed with the hope that it would tell the executives what they wanted to hear. When it didn't, it became bad research - something to be ignored.
The charade has continued.
Over the past few weeks, President Bush has held meetings, roundtables, conversations, consultations and so on, but again, the conclusion was made long ago, the interlude has been need to fine tune the sell of the escalation - not debate whether or not it is the right policy to follow, because clearly, it is not. In fact, it is now coming to light that the surge strategy has come from some of the original neoconservative thinkers who advocated the war in hte first place. So the ISG, the consultations, the debates, it's all absolute crap - cover. The decider has decided, the escalation is in full force, and the budget for it has been submitted.
Of course, you won't even hear the word escalation, instead we have a new term "surge" - a word that seems to be more of a marketing phrase than a military strategy. We can't easily recall an historical example when "surge" was used to describe a military operation because it's not a military term.
"Surge" puts you over the top. "Surge" says just a little more and we win and we come home. "Surge" sure sounds nice. That phrase must have tested well in the focus groups, but if you look a bit deeper, past the nice-sounding word, what does it mean?
What if the "surge" occurs but the fighting in Iraq stays at current levels - or increases? Will 20,000 troops really matter? Military experts say no. Then what? A second surge?
Will an administration that thinks "surging" is good strategy withdraw troops in the face of continued or increased violence? If not - and they won't - this isn't a "surge" at all. The likelihood is that no matter how the surge gets started, in practical terms, at the end of the day, it is not short term proposition, it's not a "surge," it is an escalation.
How can you sell that?
Create a core selling proposition and stick to it.
To sell an escalation disguised as a surge when Saddam is dead and there are no WMDS, there can be only one true perfect fall back position:
It's for the troops.
"The troops." It worked before, so try it again. Everyone supports the troops, we have to support our troops, we need more troops so the troops that are there have more support.
Our troops need more troops. They're stretched thin. They need help. You do love our troops don't you? (Of course, if they came HOME they wouldn't be "stretched thin" at all...)
They've sacrificed for us. We need to sacrifice for them and support the surge.
Who can argue with victory? Everybody wants to win right? Precisely the point - you can't argue.
But what is "victory?" Was it defeating the Iraqi army, removing Saddam from power and declaring "Mission Accomplished?" Apparently not.
Was it fighting "foreign fighters?" That was the mission - until it was pointed out there were few foreign fighters.
Was it to capture or kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Queda in Iraq? He's been dead since June.
Was it fighting against Sunni insurgents? For a while.
Was it to bring a Constitution and elections? Iraq has a constitution and has had elections.
Was it hanging Saddam as punishment for his crimes against humanity? The world watched it happen.
So we can't define victory but we need to have it. In fact, now we're told we're not losing, we're not winning, but there is one unwavering fact - we're still fighting.
So after months of being told, absolutely we're winning, now we're told that we're going to lose because we don't have enough troops. But surging the troops means victory. Those who oppose more troops oppose victory. And aren't supporting the troops who are already there.
So now the count is three pretty good traps laid for the Democrats. It's just a "surge" to clean up the mess, bring "victory" which everyone wants and "it's for the troops."
If anyone opposes the "surge" they will be denying the American People the moment of victory, "we've fought so hard that we need just a little bit more and it'll put us over the top and we'll surge to victory."
If the Democrats oppose, well, then yet again, the Democrats will be against "the troops." Our troops have made this sacrifice and they need help, damn it.
But just as the Democrats have fallen before for the marketing phrase "support the troops" when supporting the troops really meant leaving them in Iraq, so too might many of them now be tricked into rationalizing giving the administration its escalation.
Because not only is President Bush selling the surge, he is selling the victory that has been so elusive in Iraq - elusive, by the way, because it doesn't exist. Victory means defeating the enemy - but who is the enemy? Which brings us to another important part of the sell and smear proposition.
If the facts are against you, ignore the facts.
The "surge" is supposed to fight "the enemy." But the troops will be moved there to fight ... who?
Who are we fighting in Iraq? While previously we were fighting "Sunni / Saddamist insurgents" and "al-Queda" the "surge" was - at least originally - said to be needed in order to fight the "Sadrist" militias and death squads of Moqtada al-Sadr.
Yet the Da'wa party of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is allied with Moqtada al-Sadr - recently demonstrated when the execution of Saddam Hussein was carried out by Sadrist Shiites chanting "Moqtada, Moqtada."
Last week, Republican Senator Richard Lugar made this same point,
"The administration needs to identify precisely where the battle lines are -- who is it we combat. I haven't seen such lines," Lugar said.
The chanting at Saddam's execution was critical important proof of a core fact - Iraq is in a civil war. This leaves it unclear who our forces are with or against.
Some people will stand up and say this. And that originally people thought the occupation of Iraq would take many more than 200,000 soldiers and they were relieved from their jobs. Or that three years ago, President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished." Or that Senator Lieberman said earlier this year, that by now, we would be reducing troops.
Some people, more now than before, will speak up. How does this marketing plan deal with them?
Smear and ridicule the truth-tellers
The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group was widely smeared and ridiculed by Bush-supporters/surrogates across the country as the "Iraq Surrender Group" and "The Appeasement Caucus." This follows the pattern on their attacks on anyone who has questioned the war, from John Kerry to Jack Murtha.
It's petty, high-school, taunting and intimidation from bullies. And it is the policy and practice of this administration.
Because rather than ask these surrogates to tone down the vitriol the Bush White House instead contributed to it, remarking after receiving the report that Baker could "go back to his day job now."
Asked if Baker would help implement the report, a spokesman for Mr. Bush said, "Jim Baker can go back to his day job."
The Bush-supporting NY Post printed a front-page graphic of the Baker and Hamilton as 'surrender monkeys' on front page.
The graphic mocking the ISG report was also used across the right's websites, like this one repeatedly re-posted on the conservative Redstate blog over several days.
And at YouTube you can view the Sing-Along: Baker/Hamilton Surrender Monkey
In an insane world, the sane people look crazy. Because if you think about it, we couldn't surrender or receive a surrender even if we wanted to because we're not at war with anyone. Again we're sitting in the middle of a civil war between two factions and we're getting kids killed in the process. We can leave but there can never be a surrender.
The surge is coming. Can we stop it?
Given the slogan, the selling proposition and the coordinated effort that will take place to support the selling proposition, the answer is more than likely, no, we can not stop it.
The Democratic leadership in Washington will lose much of its first day bravado in the face of the machine. They are intent on holding hearings on Iraq and will become increasingly fixated on using legislative powers to investigate the war, and as they do so, possibly losing site of the goal - not to mention the immediate issue - President Bush will send more troops to Iraq next week.
Anyway, frankly, at the hearings they're going to be "hearing" what everyone already knows. They may also tie themselves up in all the politics of the matter - a sure fire way to lose track of right and wrong.
If they waver, a second factor of complicity comes into play. With no draft or real sacrifice, the vast majority of the general public has not been greatly affected by the situation. And Americans certainly don't want to "lose" the "war." The coordinated machine's selling of the initial invasion (40% of Americans still believe that Saddam had something to do with 9/11) is still with us so the general outcry needed to stop the surge might not exist. In fact, the right's use of the very word "war" is part of the sell. It's an occupation, not a war.
Until the situation in Iraq becomes painful for every American, either through loss or financial pain, such as an emergency gas tax to fund it, it could well continue.
There's only one problem.
Of those 200,000 men and women in uniform, how many will not come home . Of those that do, how many will not come home whole?
That's why the time to end this is now. No more hearings. No more discussions. No more meetings. And under no circumstances, can we compromise and accept the "surge."
Because, as we said, if we give an inch, President Bush will be one mile closer to Iran.
We were fooled once. If that happens again, shame on each and every one of us.
Our men and women in uniform dedicate their lives to protecting us. Now, it's our turn to dedicate our lives to protecting them.
So please, join us in supporting leaders like Jack Murtha and others, who are going to stand up and try to:
Stop the surge.
December 31, 2006
Hussein said, "Ya Allah," preparing himself for the platform he stood on to open up.Some explanation: Moqrada al-Sadr is the "terrorist" we are now preparing to "surge" our troops to fight. The Dawa party is tied to the Sadrists. The Shiites are what Saddam and the "insurgency" calls "Persians" because they are allied with Iran.
Suddenly, witnesses recalled, the room erupted in Shiite religious chants as the Shiite Muslims in the audience seized the moment they had long sought. One man yelled, "Moqtada, Moqtada, Moqtada," unveiling his loyalty to radical anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Hussein smiled, the witnesses said, and asked sarcastically, "Moqtada?"
..."Long live Muhammad Bakr Sadr," yelled another voice. Bakr Sadr was the uncle of Moqtada al-Sadr and founder of the Dawa party, of which Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is a senior leader.
Bush invaded Iraq, and this group now leading that country is the inevitable result of Bush's - and America's - terrible, terrible mistake.
December 29, 2006
December 24, 2006
Mercinaries, Halliburton-subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root, shooting at civilians for fun, whistleblowers fired for reporting it.
In other words, the usual.
"There's been no follow-up whatsoever by any government agencies," says Schmidt.
And its not just this incident. Despite similar allegations involving other companies, not a single security contractor in Iraq has yet faced charges for attacking civilians.
December 20, 2006
I ask everyone to go read this diary at DailyKos about a family in Iraq, and the local reaction to the sense that American troops will be leaving. Daily Kos: A Sobering, Agonizing Reality.
We all need to come fully to grips with the situation Bush has caused. It isn't a TV show that ends in an hour with everything neatly wrapped up. It's people's lives.My family in Baghdad - it's bad. They can't go out and go to get food. We call and they are in their house because they can't go out. They have separated Baghdad and put Sunnis in one area and Shi'ia in another. And they have people there to keep them apart. But now with your report, they are going to leave and the Shi'ia are going to come over there. I talked to one family member and he told me 'they are going to kill us when the Americans leave'. They don't want electricity and food and jobs anymore. They just want to be safe. It's the only thing they want. And now the Americans are going to leave.Yet at the end of the day, to simply pack up and go home means that my friend's in-laws get slaughtered. Literally slaughtered. Whatever tiny semblance of control there is in Baghdad exists at the end of an American rifle. No more Americans, and those people are GONE.
Yes, it's a terrible situation. We should not have invaded Iraq and the people involved need to be tried for war crimes. But what do we do now?
We started a war, and the war continues. If we "just leave" it gets worse. If we stay it gets worse. But we all have to stop thinking that it can be made to just go away, and start thinking about where we go from here.
Here is a fact - the Geneva Conventions require an occupation force to provide for the security of the occupied region. That's international law, too, just like invading was against the law. Bush and everyone involved in the invasion and aftermath should be tried for their part in it - but from now on the US government STILL has the legal - and moral - responsibility to bring security to the people of Iraq. THAT is what our conversation needs to be now about because that is the most serious need today.
WE invaded - America, not just Bush. We said, "Not in our name!", but it was done - in our name. Citizens in a democracy share responsibility for what that country does. We, the people of the United States, finally lived up to our responsibility to get rid of the Republican majority in the Congress. But that takes us only part of the way back home. It is still our responsibility to impeach Bush and then fulfill our obligation to find a way to protect the people of Iraq.
December 16, 2006
See Army Captain's Simple Demonstration: How to Win in Iraq. (Note - it's a PDF slide show.) This slideshow is of course three years too late - and it is a crime that we are there in the first place. It references the idiocy from "the 25-year-olds" that the Republican ideologues sent over to run things.
The story behind it is here,
But Patriquin [the author of the slide show] will not see victory in Iraq. He was killed by the same improvised explosive device that killed Maj. Megan McClung of the Marine Corps last Wednesday.Count this as one more item in a long list of things we should have done... History will not be kind to the conservatives.
Patriquin had fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. A gifted officer, he spoke numerous languages, including Arabic.
December 13, 2006
So the word is that Bush is planning to send more troops to Iraq. This could be a good strategy if we are sending enough troops to truly secure the country, calm things down, stop the ethnic cleansing and death squads, stop the insurgency, let people just go to work and the park, allow POLICE to investigate crimes and arrest perpetrators and put them in jail, etc. and allow Iraq to develop institutions of justice and government. This was the moral and legal obligation that the Bush warmakers ignored. We could have done this from the start, and didn't.
My question is, how many is enough? If we send enough, it means the violence abates. Seriously, if there are troops on every corner, that has to cut way down on the violence. But if we do not send enough, we're just making things worse. At this point we might be talking about needing at least 400 or 500,000 troops to accomplish this.
So, if we're going to send more, are they going to send enough more? Or is this just another stopgap measure? We all know the answer.
December 7, 2006
I guess we know the answer to "Will Bush listen?"
But this president may not be in much of a hurry to accept Baker's ideas about that — or much else. Asked if Baker would help implement the report, a spokesman for Mr. Bush said, "Jim Baker can go back to his day job."
December 4, 2006
Bush and the Republicans decided invading Iraq - the people who did NOT attack us - was more important than stabilizing Afghanistan - the people who DID attack us. So now the Taliban is returning to Afghanistan.
The gunmen came at night to drag Mohammed Halim away from his home, in front of his crying children and his wife begging for mercy.
The 46-year-old schoolteacher tried to reassure his family that he would return safely. But his life was over, he was part-disembowelled and then torn apart with his arms and legs tied to motorbikes, the remains put on display as a warning to others against defying Taliban orders to stop educating girls.
Mr Halim was one of four teachers killed in rapid succession by the Islamists at Ghazni, a strategic point on the routes from Kabul to the south and east which has become the scene of fierce clashes between the Taliban and US and Afghan forces.
November 9, 2006
Interesting. If this the STF Rule in action again? Bush brings in one of the guys who financed and trained bin Laden, and helped set up the Jihadist movement, to the job to catching bin Laden? Daily Kos: Robert Gates Promoted and Financed Osama Bin Laden
November 8, 2006
I just got off of a 40-minute call with a few bloggers and Speaker-To-Be Pelosi.
Here are some things can be and will be changed right now, as a matter of the rules the House sets for itself:
Earmarks - Any earmarks must be presented in public before the committee, be publicly justified and approved by the committee. NO tax earmarks at all. This ends the system of purchasing earmarks.
Lobbying crackdown - NO gifts, meals, trips, etc. from lobbyists, period. Plus other reforms.
Open government - the leadership will not restrict amendments to bills. This means that Republicans will be able to offer amendments to bills before the House - something they prevented Democrats from doing. This lets policy be set by the strength of ideas rather than corrupt deals and hidden agendas.
Some needed changes require legislation, which will be introduces ASAP, including:
- Public financing of elections to remove the entire campaign contribution corruption system.
- Requiring non-partisan redistricting of every state, decided by a non-partisan commission, which will occur only after each 10-year census. Political considerations will be removed from the drawing of district boundaries.
- Oil subsidies ended and the money used to fund alternative energy.
There was a discussion of Iraq. I'll wait for other bloggers from the call to post and link to that.
November 1, 2006
October 26, 2006
Independent experts looked at the Lancet study's method and the data and said it is valid -- it could be as high as 943,000 -- compared to up to 290,000 killed by Saddam in 20 years.
President Bush has dismissed new statistics showing that more than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion and the continuing insurgency. But the U.S. military's own estimates suggest that the casualty rate for Iraqis is five times what it was at the beginning of 2004.The story continues,
And many scientists -- including four experts who anonymously peer-reviewed an article for the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet -- insist that the 654,000 figure, a measurement of what demographers call "excess mortality," is derived by a scientifically valid methodology from a statistically valid sample.
...The figure is actually the midpoint in a statistical projection of "excess" deaths -- the number of people who have died as a result of increased mortality rates since March 2003.Of course go read the whole thing.
The projection says that number of excess deaths can be said, with 95 percent confidence, to range between 393,000 and 943,000. It said that 92 percent of the excess deaths were from violence, mainly gunfire, but also explosions. In those instances where respondents allocated [a cause].
By way of comparison, Human Rights Watch has estimated Saddam Hussein's regime killed 250,000 to 290,000 people over 20 years.
October 7, 2006
The Secret Letter From Iraq is circulating. Go read.
Most Profound Man in Iraq — an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."Go read
[...] Second Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province — It's a 20,000-way tie among all these Marines and Soldiers who venture out on the highways and through the towns of al-Anbar every day, not knowing if it will be their last — and for a couple of them, it will be.
[. . .] Biggest Hassle — High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and "battlefield" tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what's going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they've been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.
September 25, 2006
New book -- go watch the video.
September 17, 2006
If the Bush administration truly believes that “Islamofascism” and Iran are threats to the very survival of the United States, then for the good of the country there are steps they can take to get the public to rally behind the effort.
First, they need to recognize that they have lost credibility because of their “mistake” about Iraq’s WMD. They said the United States needed to invade Iraq because we faced an imminent threat, an they were wrong - with the severest of consequences for the United States and the Middle East. So it is hard for the public to trust that they are right now. If we really do face such a serious threat then for the good of the country Bush and Cheney should declare that Iran is a serious enough emergency to warrant that they leave office and ask the Congress to put in place leadership that the American public and the world can trust.
Second, they should immediately implement the draft, so that there will be sufficient forces available to prevail in what they are saying will be a decades-long “clash of civilizations.”
Third, they should immediately repeal their tax cuts and impose an additional 50% surtax on incomes above $250,000. This is necessary to immediately balance the budget and begin paying down the massive debt they have accumulated. The country will need to be strong financially to purchase the necessary weaponry.
This fourth suggestion is really important. The Republican election strategies are tearing the country apart. If they really do believe that we are in a war for the country’s survival they should stop this stuff right now. Calling people traitors does not motivate them to join arms with you against a common enemy. A divided country is a weakened country. President Bush (before resigning and requesting that the Congress bring in credible leadership) should DEMAND that the Ann Coulters, Rush Limbaughs and John Bohners and his other surogates stop attacking other Americans as unpatriotic, and begin working to bring the country together.
They would do these thing if they really do mean what they say, and all this talk isn’t just another cynical, divisive election tactic.
Former Reagan Administration official Paul Craig Roberts, America Has Fallen to a Jacobin Coup,
The most important casualties of September 11 are respect for truth and American liberty. Propaganda has replaced deliberation based on objective assessment of fact. The resurrection of the Star Chamber has made moot the legal protections of liberty.
The US invasion of Iraq was based on the deliberate suppression of fact. The invasion was not the result of mistaken intelligence. It was based on deliberately concocted "intelligence" designed to deceive the US Congress, the American public, and the United Nations.
[. . .] There is an even greater cost of the war – the legal system that protects liberty, a human achievement for which countless numbers of people gave their lives over the centuries. The Bush administration used September 11 to whip up fear and hysteria and to employ these weapons against American liberty. The Orwellian-named Patriot Act has destroyed habeas corpus. The executive branch has gained the unaccountable power to detain American citizens on mere suspicion or accusation, without evidence, and to hold Americans indefinitely without a trial.This is just excerpts. Go read it.
Foolishly, many Americans believe this power can only be used against terrorists. Americans don’t realize that the government can declare anyone to be a terrorist suspect. As no evidence is required, it is entirely up to the government to decide who is a terrorist. Thus, the power is unaccountable. Unaccountable power is the source of tyranny.
[. . .] The collapse of the institutions that confine government to law and bind it with the Constitution was sudden. The president previous to Bush was impeached by the House for lying about a sexual affair. If we go back to the 1970s, President Richard Nixon had the decency to resign when it came to light that he had lied about when he first learned of a minor burglary. Bush’s failures are far more serious and numerous; yet, Bush has escaped accountability.
September 14, 2006
This piece originally appeared on The Patriot Project
The Republican “527” front-group Progress for America has reemerged, and is running a TV advertisement that echoes and amplifies the “be afraid” election campaign theme launched by President Bush. The ad is currently running in Missouri and nationally on cable TV.
The ad, titled “The War on Terror,” is not even a little bit subtle, marketing pure fear. “There are people who want to KILL … US!” it shouts in a horror-movie-advertisement voice, as dark-skinned, Middle-Eastern faces appear on the screen.
Just as President Bush did all last week (political campaigns traditionally begin on Labor Day), the ad conflates different groups like al Queda, Islamic Jihad, and Hezzbollah together as if they are one group. The ad reinforces the Bush administration and surrogate’s repeated claim that Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attack. Referring to “the evil” that happened five years ago while showing a plane hitting the World Trade Center, the ad then says President Clinton “took little action” against al Queda and says that “after 9/11 we destroyed al Queda terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Also, echoing current Party talking points, the ad claims there are those who want to “cut and run” from the war on terror.
Reflecting another campaign point advocating warrantless wiretapping of Americans, the ad goes on to say “we have narrowly escaped another 9/11, using proven surveillance that some would stop” – even though it was British law enforcement that caught those involved, using warrants.
Finally, the ad closes saying “the war on terror is a war for our country’s freedom, security and survival.”
The Progress for America website claims its mission includes:
• Winning the "War on Terror" in Iraq to prevent future terrorist attacks in America;Of course, in this supposed war for our very survival there is no call for sacrifice or public effort of any kind beyond voting for Republicans – no draft to provide the needed troops who fight for our freedom and security, no taxes to pay for this war for our survival, and certainly no energy conservation or even fuel use standards to reduce the flow of money flowing to the supposed “enemies” from oil purchases. Such appeals to national sacrifice for the war effort might cause the Republicans and Progress For America to sacrifice something they desire much more than defeating terrorists – votes.
• Increasing the public’s awareness of the under-reported positive news and advances in Iraq;
• Educating the public about the necessity of winning the war on terror by completing the mission in Iraq;
Progress for America is a front-group. It is a “527” organization. As Patriot Project pointed out in Behind the Front: The Creation of Vets for Freedom, Opensecrets.org writes:
"527 groups are tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activities, often through unlimited soft money contributions. Most 527s on this list are advocacy groups trying to influence federal elections through voter mobilization efforts and so-called issue ads that tout or criticize a candidate's record."
And Common Cause writes:
"In the 2004 election, 527 groups influencing federal elections spent an estimated $400 million. About 25 individuals alone gave $146 million to these groups, some of which were staffed by political operatives who had close ties to the national political parties. The fear was that 527 groups would be a backdoor route for parties to once again collect soft money, and to evade Federal laws on the books for more than 50 years that have prohibited labor unions and corporations from using their treasury funds to influence federal elections."
Initially intended as an Astroturf operation to create the appearance of public support for President Bush’s policies such as tax cuts, energy deregulation and judicial appointments, PFA was one of the largest political operations in the 2004 Presidential campaign. According to SourceWatch,
“In the last three weeks leading up to the November 2, 2004, election, PFA-VF outspent the next largest spending Democratic 527 group three-to-one on political ads.”Following the election, PFA is reported to have spent as much as $20 million – much of that received from investment firms anticipating commission fees – in support of privatizing Social Security. From the Feb., 2005 Washington Post story, Conservatives Join Forces for Bush Plans,
"For corporations wary of publicity over their involvement in [promoting Social Security privatization, tort reform] and other controversial issues, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform, the Club for Growth and Progress for America pointedly offer donors the promise of anonymity."The next PFA cause was pressing for Bush’s judicial nominations, and later fighting against “Net Neutrality.” And now, like clockwork, PFA has arrived on the scene, with an ad campaign that exactly correlates with the Republican Party and President Bush’s election-season message of extreme fear.
PFA was formed in February 2001 by Tony Feather, who had been political director for the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign. PFA is closely-linked to the Republican firm Feather, Larson & Synhorst DCI Group (DCI). According to the Center for Media and Democracy,
FLS-DCI specializes in creating phony front groups to make it appear as if there's a groundswell of support for its clients' issues.Tony Feather was also a founding partner of DCI, which does extensive work for the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney campaign ($17 million combined in 2004). <
Tom Synhorst, PFA strategic advisor, also a veteran of Bush/Cheney 2000, was the founder of DCI. Previously Synhorst worked as a tobacco PR specialist, and an associate of Christian/lobbyist Ralph Reed.
Chris LaCivita, former National Republican Senatorial Committee director, later employed at DCI, became Executive Director of PFA before he went over to help the Swift Boat Vets to attack John Kerry’s service record with claims like he lied, or that he shot himself to get his medals.
(Incidentally, DCI, which is still receiving large payments from PFA – over $147,000 just this year, as of June 30. and its Republican ties have been in the news for other reasons as well. DCI employee James Tobin, New England campaign chairman for the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, was convicted last December for his part in a plot to jam Democrat’s phones on election day.)
So here we have yet another front group, misleading and manipulating the public. They want us to be afraid. Perhaps we should be afraid of what they are doing to democracy.
September 8, 2006
According to Max Blumenthal at Huffington Post, Republican strategist (and Karl Rove friend) David Horowitz was involved from the start in ABC's Path to 9/11 smear blaming Clinton for 9/11. This is significant because Horowitz has been involved for some time in a strategic PR effort to shift blame for 9/11 from Bush to Clinton. According to a Feb. 26, 2002 story in O'Dwyer's PR Daily, titled "PR CAMPAIGN BLAMES CLINTON FOR SEPT. 11 ATTACKS",
The Center for the Study of Popular Culture, in Los Angeles, has begun a PR campaign to pin the blame of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Clinton Administration.From Eat The Press | Max Blumenthal: Discover the Secret Right-Wing Network Behind ABC's 9/11 Deception | The Huffington Post,
The Center has mailed copies of David Horowitz's new pamphlet entitled "How the Left Undermined America's Security," to about 1,500 media outlets on Feb. 19. Horowitz is president of the Center.
The 46-page pamphlet charges that the U.S. national security interests were undermined by the left, leading to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
In fact, "The Path to 9/11" is produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, he is working with a secretive evangelical religious right group founded by The Path to 9/11's director David Cunningham that proclaims its goal to "transform Hollywood" in line with its messianic vision.
...With the LFF now under Horowitz's control, his political machine began drumming up support for Cunningham and Nowrasteh's "Untitled" project, which finally was revealed in late summer as "The Path to 9/11." Horowitz's PR blitz began with an August 16 interview with Nowrasteh on his FrontPageMag webzine. In the interview, Nowrasteh foreshadowed the film's assault on Clinton's record on fighting terror. "The 9/11 report details the Clinton's administration's response -- or lack of response -- to Al Qaeda and how this emboldened Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests," Nowrasteh told FrontPageMag's Jamie Glazov. "There simply was no response. Nothing."So it is becomming clear that ABC's Path To 9/11 is part of a long-term campaign to smear the Clinton administration - and by extension Democrats and others opposed to Bush's takeover. This is an attempt to distract public attention from Bush's own lack of concern about - and efforts to prevent - terrorism before 9/11.
But remember, George Bush was given an August, 2001 document titled, "Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside U.S." and left for vacation instead of doing anything about it. In contrast Bill Clinton was accused of having an "unhealthy American obscession" with terrorism while Republicans tried to block his administration's anti-terrorism efforts..
This April 2, 2000 Washington Post article, An Obscure Chief in U.S. War on Terror, discusses the extent of Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts - which were ignored or even stopped after Bush took office. I am quoting extensively because of the contrast to the Horiwitz/Republican efforts to rewrite history.
Four weeks before, Clarke had sketched out a plan on the whiteboard in his office at the National Security Council for neutralizing the latest threat from the Afghanistan-based Saudi exile. Approved by President Clinton and his top foreign policy advisers, Clarke's plan became the basis of administration efforts to prevent bin Laden supporters from ringing in the New Year with what officials believed could be dozens, perhaps hundreds, of American deaths in a series of simultaneous attacks from the Middle East to the West Coast.
Central to Clarke's strategy was a major disruption effort, orchestrated by the CIA and implemented by friendly intelligence agencies around the world, aimed at harassing members of bin Laden's al Qaeda organization and forcing them onto the defensive. Other moves included putting the FBI on a heightened state of alert, dispatching counterterrorism teams to Europe and having the State Department issue an informal ultimatum to Afghanistan to keep bin Laden under control.
... As the national coordinator for infrastructure protection and counterterrorism, Clarke has presided over a huge increase in counterterrorism budgets over the past five years to meet a wide array of new--and some would argue, still hypothetical--challenges, such as cyber warfare or chemical or biological attacks in New York or Washington. Last month, the administration submitted an $11.1 billion request to Congress to strengthen "domestic preparedness" against a terrorist attack.
... Such talk irritates national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, Clarke's direct supervisor, who insists that the threat of large-scale terrorist attacks on U.S. soil is "a reality, not a perception." "We would be irresponsible if we did not take this seriously," he says. "I hope that in 10 years' time, they will say we did too much, not too little."
Clarke's warnings about America's vulnerability to new kinds of terrorist attack have found a receptive ear in Clinton. With little fanfare, the president has begun to articulate a new national security doctrine in which terrorists and other "enemies of the nation-state" are coming to occupy the position once filled by a monolithic communist superpower. In January, he departed from the prepared text of his State of the Union address to predict that terrorists and organized criminals "with increasing access to ever more sophisticated chemical and biological weapons" will pose "the major security threat" to the United States in 10 to 20 years.
... He compares the current threat of global terrorism with the situation faced by Western democracies in the period leading up to World War II, when appeasement carried the day. Imagine what would have happened, he says, had Winston Churchill come to power in Britain five years earlier and "aggressively gone after" Nazi Germany. Hitler would have been stopped, but in all likelihood, Clarke says, Churchill would have gone down in history "as a hawk, as someone who exaggerated the threat, who saber-rattled and did needless things."
Which is precisely what some of Clarke's critics have said about him.
... The latest administration request for $11.1 billion in counterterrorism funds--compared with $5.7 billion in 1996--includes $1.5 billion for defense against weapons of mass destruction and almost $2 billion for protection of computer networks, utility systems and other "critical infrastructure." The figures do not include intelligence spending, which remains classified.
... Clarke's authority derives in large measure from the fact that Clinton shares his area of interest. According to aides, the president is a voracious reader of popular books on terrorism...
... The U.S. budget to fight terrorism has grown by more than 90 percent over the past six years in response to a series of terror attacks at home and abroad. New programs have been launched to counter the threat of terrorists using nuclear, chemical or biological agents. But critics question how dangerous the threat remains. [All emphasis added]
Go see Progress for America's ad, which will saturate the airwaves for the next two months. (Progress for America IS the Republican Party - all the same people, all the same funders, etc.)
"THEY WANT TO KILL US." The site says the War on Terror is a war for our country's freedom, security and survival.
But, of course, the Republicans respond to this threat to our very survival without a draft or taxes to pay for it, or even buying less oil from our "enemies."
Update-Go see this new DNC video, responding.
September 7, 2006
Every single day Bush equates the Iraq occupation with the "War on Terror." You and I know that Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11. But 43% of the public is still fooled. The Republican messaging will only increase between now and November 7.
From yesterday's CNN poll:
Asked whether former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, 52 percent said he was not, but 43 percent said they believe he was. [emphasis added]Go watch this video clip in which Cenk fro The Young Turks instructs us on the proper attitude to have over this. Cenk writes about this at HuffPo today.
This is a colossal failure on the part of the press. It is the job of the press to get information to the public. They have failed miserably. Five long years after September 11th, 43% of the country still believes Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for 9/11.
Obviously, the mainstream media did a woeful job of communicating the truth to these people. This should be an everlasting mark of shame on the press. And it is not in the past - it is in the present. These people still believe Saddam did it. When is the press ever going to let them in on the truth?
.. Recently Zogby conducted a poll of US troops fighting in Iraq. And in this group, 85% believe Saddam was responsible for 9/11. When in the world are we going to tell these poor kids the truth? Don't they deserve to know that they are fighting and dying for a lie?
Crooks & Liars points out something,
The poll also shows that the lower education someone has, the higher the chances they believe in the Saddam/9-11 connection.As well as other stuff the Republicans feed them, I bet.
September 6, 2006
Election campaigns officially begin on Labor Day, which was Monday. This is Wednesday and there's a BIG election-related announcement: Iraq to take control of armed forces. From the story,
"This is such a huge, significant event that's about to occur tomorrow," U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said of the shift in the Iraqi command.All timed to affect the election... Everything between now and November is about the elections, and not about anything else. Bush and the Republicans are not about the good of the country or winning in Iraq or ANYthing besides getting and increasing power.
September 2, 2006
The most influential moderate Shia leader in Iraq has abandoned attempts to restrain his followers, admitting that there is nothing he can do to prevent the country sliding towards civil war.Juan Cole writes,
Aides say Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is angry and disappointed that Shias are ignoring his calls for calm and are switching their allegiance in their thousands to more militant groups which promise protection from Sunni violence and revenge for attacks.
"I will not be a political leader any more," he told aides. "I am only happy to receive questions about religious matters."
It is a devastating blow to the remaining hopes for a peaceful solution in Iraq and spells trouble for British forces, who are based in and around the Shia stronghold of Basra.
I no longer have power to save Iraq from civil war, warns Shia leader
I take it he is saying that it is his perception that he is no longer in a position to play that pivotal role because Iraq's Shiites have been turning to leaders such as Muqtada al-Sadr. (Since al-Sadr is sort of an all-but-dissertation Ph.D. student and Sistani is the most eminent professor in the system, this desertion of the old man for the younger one in the street is a real slap in the face to the Najaf establishment.)From Kuwait, Sistani calls for barring non-governmental troops from carrying arms,
Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki said Saturday after meeting the top spiritual guide of Shiite Iraqis Sayyed Ali Al-Sistani that the top scholar called for barring non-governmental troops from carrying or keeping weapons.If only it can happen...
"Al-Sistani called for unifying the nation and restricting arms to government troops," the senior official said at a news conference held in the holy city of Najaf.
"The national reconciliation plan is a governmental plan which was agreed upon by all political forces," pointed out Al-Maliki, and added that the current government is the only authority responsible for seeking the welfare of this country.
Update Sunday - More at Gorilla's Guides.
August 24, 2006
This Washington Times op-ed echoes and amplifies the right-wing narrative that we are in a glorious world war against Islam. Iran scores in world war
A world war in which we face extinction - but don't need a draft, or taxes to pay for it, or fuel economy standards, or ... well anything. Just go shopping and be afraid.
August 21, 2006
August 20, 2006
This post took some courage to write: Right Wing Nut House -- IRAQ: QUIT OR COMMIT
Go read it to the end.
President Bush recently changed his definition of who "the enemy" is from bin Laden and the al Queda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 to "Islamic fascists" in general, sending the right after Islam in general and Middle Easterners in particular. The other day I wrote about how the Right's amplification machine was picking up the signal on this, calling for "racial profiling" of Middle-Easterners, even though not all Muslims are Middle Eastern. Of course, never mind about Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph and others of domestic origin.
Let's be clear what "profiling" means - it means singling out all people of a certain racial appearance for harassment and intimidation. And let's be clear about what complaints about "political correctness" and "multiculturalism" are - they are racist phrases demanding domination and privilege for those of European descent.
The Right is also heavily promoting books like, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam,
When PC propagandists assure us that jihadist terror doesn't reflect "true," "peaceful" Islam, they're not only wrong, they're dangerous...and The Life and Religion of Mohammed, sold with
... reveals all the disturbing facts about Islam and its murderous hostility to the West that other books ignore, soft-pedal -- or simply lie about.
This book is a unique guide to the bloody teachings and history of Islam, and to the Crusades that still stand today as the Western world's most sustained and successful defense against the warrior hordes who were inspired by those teachings.
"Mohammed: the ugly truth about the founder of the world's most violent religion." and "With Islam on the march everywhere and Muslims streaming into the U.S. in record numbers, the candor, common sense, and solid Christian faith of this book are needed more than ever."Today the Right is promoting a story about a "mutiny" aboard a British flight in which fearful British passengers refused to let a plane take off because there were two dark-skinned, Arabic-speaking men aboard, encouraging people to follow this example and start taking matters into their own hands. As I write this the lead post at the "respectable" right-wing hub Towhhall has the very popular TV and radio celebrity Bill O'Reilly writing,
Of course, the sane way to protect Americans in the sky is to stop looking for nail files and begin profiling people who might actually cause terror damage. That is not "racial" profiling, that is "terror" profiling. Most of the recent terror activities have been perpetuated by young Muslim men.Now take a look at this right-wing blog post, British Air Passengers Mutiny and the comments it solicits, the post blaming "politically correct touchy-feely multiculturalism" for the passengers' reaction.
This one, like many others, make the appeal for people to take matters into their own hands.
It appears that if “we the flying public” are going to be safe, no one but ourselves is going to save us. The hell with political correctness! We need more mutinies of this nature. It’s our money paying for these trips and, ultimately, our lives that are in jeopardy. If the airlines and our “PC” brethren don’t like it, I say “Then follow your own rules!”Or take a look at this one that goes after those who resist "profiling," writing,
I now doubt that anything will bring the so-called “moderate Muslims” out from their hiding places, in order to speak against their suicidal and homicidal brethren. But, at least a few, or many, more of these mutinies might just get the airlines to step up and listen. Contrary to politically-correct opinion, profiling is a good thing—at least if you want to have your best chance of remaining alive.
One mustn’t risk offending anybody, after all, even if tippy-toeing around the obvious truth leads to hundreds or thousands of dead civilians.This one says "'Asians,' of course, is UK mediaspeak for Muslims." It goes on to make the typical victimized claim that there will now be
"calls by Muslim leaders and their willing Leftist stooges for some kind of institutionalized and nationwide "education" (i.e. propaganda) campaign to prevent this sort of thing."The comments at these MAINSTREAM hate sites talk about having the "guts" to go after "towel heads" and praising the "Second Amendment," asking for "Arab-free flights" and saying things like, "Arabs and Muslims need to feel the pain." "They [Muslims] Mshould all be banned from flying and have to pay for their own extremists directly by not flying, the extremists and moderates have caused all of this murder and chaos." "I have been reading the articles and comments for over a year and have to say they have woken me up to the reality of Islam."
Is this just a conservative build-up to the election -- or the beginnings of something worse?
Watch your backs.
August 5, 2006
Tens of thousands of Shiites thronged a Baghdad slum Friday to show support for Hezbollah as Arab anger toward Israel mounted on the Muslim holy day. Such protests have even reached Saudi Arabia, where public discontent is rare.Will the Republicans pass a law against going to war to put into power people who burn American flags?
...Demonstrators wearing white shrouds symbolizing willingness to die for Hezbollah waved the guerrillas' banner and chanted slogans in support of their leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.
"Allah, Allah, give victory to Hassan Nasrallah," the crowd chanted before burning Israeli and American flags.
For those of you who, like President Bush, don't know about Shiites and Sunnis, Iran is Shiite. Iraq has a Shiite majority that was controlled by Baathist Party Sunnis until we invaded. Now the Shite majority in Iraq has come to support Hizbullah against Israel. Iran is a major backer of Hizbullah, and is gaining influence with the Shiite Iraqis. Iraq's Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sistani, even though he is independent from Iran and does not want Iraq run by Iran, has sided with Hizbullah over Israel and previously had publicly forbidden America from attacking Iran AND has said that he would consider an Israeli attack to be an attack by America. And of course the more militant pro-Iran Muqtada al Sadr's position is even more hostile to us.
Southern Iraq is Shiite, and from the little I know about these things it seems to me that we face a danger that Iran has the ability to shut off the logistical "tail" of our forces in Iraq if they decide to. You see, almost ALL of the supplies for our forces in Iraq come up from Kuwait, through Southern Iraq, and surrounded by Shiites the whole way. That leaves our entire Iraqi military force vulnerable to the whim of Iran.
So here we are. From the start I have said that America's interest, far from "bringing democracy to Iraq," might really be to prevent democracy there. "Democracy" sounds nice - a really good PR word - but democracy in a country with a Shiite majority necessarily strengthens neighboring Iran, possibly even leading eventually to a merger of Iraq with Iran -- and thereby brings Iraq's oil over to Iran/China/Russia's advantage in the world strategic picture. How is this in America's interest? Sorry, but that is just cold, hard "realpolitik."
I think Bush's father and his circle understood this. They didn't want Iraq/Saddam in control of the region AND they didn't want Iran in control either -- the standoff between the two worked for our interests. When Saddam went into Kuwait, that upset the balance so they pushed him out. But they stopped before Baghdad because removing Saddam and his Baathist Party from power would also upset that balance. So that is why Bush's father abandoned the Shiites when they revolted against Saddam -- to keep that balance in the region, with the Shiites (Iran), Sunnis (Saudi Arabia, etc) and Baathists (Iraq and Syria) all in a kind of balance that reflected our interests.
Now Bush II has handed the whole playing field to Iran. Everything Bush has done has played into Iran's hands there. So let me go a little further. Is it just an accident that everything Bush has done has played into Iran's hands? Were the neo-cons conned -- or paid -- by Iranians? Ahmed Chalabi, for example, was the head of the Iraqi National Congress exile group that was feeding the neo-cons the phony "intelligence" about WMD... Was he working for Iran, feeding the neo-cons what they wanted to hear? What do you think?
During VietNam we had a draft and taxes covered the cost, which meant that the voters felt the pain of war. If we had a draft do you think the public would ever let us get into a war unless we were attacked? The reason conservatives are against a draft (and taxes) is because they want their wars.
If there were a draft now I think there would never have been a war in the first place. This is one reason we need a draft. If we HAD one we wouldn't need to USE it. Would the public passively allow wars like Iraq if there were a draft, or taxes to pay for it? And if there were a draft, and taxes that covered the costs of government, I think people would start voting again - because the things government does really would affect them.
And if we ARE attacked, don't we need to have a draft in place so we're ready?
AirForceTimes.com, Thousands of troops say they won’t fight,
Since 2000, about 40,000 troops from all branches of the military have deserted, the Pentagon says. More than half served in the Army. But the Army says numbers have decreased each year since the United States began its war on terror in Afghanistan.Desertion these days is not usually about the war,
The vast majority of soldiers who desert do so for personal, family or financial problems, not for political or conscientious objector purposes,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman for the Army.
In fact, the numbers deserting for political reasons are very low compared to the Vietnam era.
Jeffry House, an attorney in Toronto who represents Magaoay and other deserters, said there are about 200 deserters living in Canada. They have decided not to seek refugee status but instead are leading clandestine lives, he said.Of course, people in the military signed up voluntarily, so deserting is very different from the VietNam days. More on this later.
Like many of the people helping today’s war resisters, House fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War. About 50,000 Americans sought legal residency in Canada during the Vietnam era.
Is it treason?
Joe Davis, spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said deserters aren’t traitors because they’ve done nothing to help America’s enemies. But he rejects arguments that deserters have a moral right to refuse to fight wars they consider unjust.
“None of us can choose our wars. They’re always a political decision,” Davis said. “They’re letting their buddies down and hurting morale - and morale is everything on the battlefront.”
July 23, 2006
We invaded Iraq to overthrow the Sunni government and put Shiites in charge there. Now Bush is at war with Shiite Hezbollah, encouraging and assisting Israel in the destruction of Lebanon, and threatening Shiite Iran.
We have over 120,000 troops in Iraq, dependant upon a logistical supply chain through Shiite southern Iraq to Kuwait. One word from Iran - just one - and those troops are cut off. I wonder if the families of our troops understand how serious this whole situation is?
With Iraq, the question is why did we do it? Ask ten people why we invaded Iraq and you will get ten answers, which means there is no real reason which people understand. From Republicans you get a different answer every week...
Now the same question comes up about Lebanon. Why is Israel destroying Lebanon? Destroying the civilian infrastructure, bombing fuel depots and power plants and water pumping stations even in the northern part of the country... and Bush responds by rushing them more bombs. Of course this has nothing to do with the soldiers that were taken or the rockets shot into Israel. But even if it were just because of that, it is collective punishment, which is a war crime. One-third of civilian casualties so far have been children.
I think that maybe what is happening is a "show of force." What I mean is maybe the Republicans and Israel think they are showing the world that even though the US is tied up in Iraq, we can still destroy a country any time we want to, and have no compunctions at all about law or humanity. But the "little people" like you and I aren't going to be let in on the reasons things happen. THAT sort of thing is for old-fashioned democracies and republics. So we just have to speculate.
July 19, 2006
6. If you are not Muslim, don't speak Arabic well, haven't read the basic texts of Islam or participated in services, haven't been to Iraq, and/or believed - for whatever reason - prior to the invasion that it was a smart, or at least reasonable, idea to invade Iraq - that is, if you can't answer "yes" to a decent number of my first five questions - then why should I bother to take seriously anything you might think to say?Meanwhile, right now it is a good idea to check in every day with Juan Cole, Mosaic (if you have satellite TV), Middle East Report.
Suggest others in the comments.
July 14, 2006
Soon it will be true that everybody knows that Iran is behind all of this. That's how repetition works. Remember how "everybody knew" Iraq had WMD?
Iran just might be behind it, and might not. Ask for evidence before you believe anything, and if they provide evidence, remember Colin Powell's presentation of evidence of Iraqi WMD at the UN. So judge carefully.
July 13, 2006
Bush is blatantly taking sides, which destroys America's ability to mediate Different parts of the administration ar each saying different things. Bush tells Israel to go ahead full steam ahead, Rice asks them to show restraint... Senators from both sides of the aisle are asking Bush to bring in someone who knows what they are doing.
July 12, 2006
President Bush has yet to attend even a single soldier's funeral. But now at least we know why.
From a Stars & Stripes interview via Edward M. Gomez, the president finally addresses the reason he hasn't been to a single funeral:Bush, who famously dodged the regular-forces draft during the Vietnam War era, then went AWOL from his National Guard duty post in Texas, said: "Because which funeral do you go to? In my judgment, I think if I go to one I should go to all. How do you honor one person but not another?"Or: There's too danged many! Yeah, like, over 2500 now.
July 10, 2006
I have had two objections to the idea that we can "just leave" Iraq. One is that US and British troops are pretty much the only buffer preventing all-out civil war. The problem with this is that Bush is in charge and incompetent, so we do not have enough troops in Iraq to prevent a slower meltdown, which is occurring. The responsible thing to do is beg the UN to take over and send enough troops and promise to pay for the whole thing.
My second objection is that the idea that you can start a war and then call "time out" is ridiculous. Imagine of the Japanese had decided to "just leave" that war after the invaded Pearl Harbor - that just was not in the cards. And it probably isn't in the cards for us either. Sure, we can "just leave" Iraq but that doesn't end the war we started. It just brings it here.
Here is an idea. We created the mess. We destabilized the country and unleashed the forces that are tearing the country apart now - with the civilians in the middle. What if we offer to bring anyone who wants to come here transportation and a place to live? (Provided they are not in one of the militias, etc.) And then, maybe we CAN "just leave."
I mean, with Bush in charge, anything you or I suggest is about as likely to happen as anything else (not), so why not propose the world? It doesn't make any difference.
July 9, 2006
Who said this?
A speedy victory is the main object in war. If this is long in coming, weapons are blunted and morale depressed. ...
When the army engages in protracted campaigns, the resources of the state will fall short.
When your weapons are dulled and ardor dampened, your strength exhausted and treasure spent, neighboring rulers will take advantage of your crisis to act. In that case, no man, however wise, will be able to avert the disastrous consequences that ensue.
Thus, while we have heard of stupid haste in war, we have not yet seen a clever operation that was prolonged. for there has never been a protracted war which benefited a country.
Therefore, those unable to understand the dangers inherent in employing troops are equally unable to understand the advantageous ways of doing so.
Those adept in waging war do not require a second levy of conscripts nor more than one provisioning. They carry military equipment from the homeland, but rely on the enemy for provisions. Thus, the army is plentifully provided with food.
When a country is impoverished by military operations, it is due to distant transportation; carrying supplies for great distances renders the people destitute. Where troops are gathered, prices go up. When prices rise, the wealth of the people is drained away. When wealth is drained away, the people will be afflicted with urgent and heavy exactions. With this loss of wealth and exhaustion of strength, the households in the country will be extremely poor and seven-tenths of their wealth dissipated. As to government expenditures, those due to broken-down chariots, worn-out horses, armor and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantlets, draft oxen, and wagons will amount to 60 percent of the total.
Hence, a wise general sees to it that his troops feed on the enemy, for one bushel of the enemy's provisions is equivalent to twenty of one's own and one shi of the enemy's fodder to twenty shi of one's own.
[. . .]
Hence, what is valued in war is victory, not prolonged operations. And the general who understands how to employ troops is the minister of the people's fate and arbiter of the nation's destiny.
June 3, 2006
Larry Johnson, Earplugs, Marines, and Haditha | TPMCafe, excerpt:
As we keep sending our sons and daughters into the teeth of the insurgency in Iraq, we are discovering that we have forgotten the horror of fighting an insurgency. When tight knit units, like these Marines, lose friends and colleagues, they normally are not thinking like philosopher warriors. The Marines train these kids to kill (and well they should). They are not trained to operate as police officers. Entirely different rules of engagement.
Insurgents don't play fair either. They do not show up in clearly marked uniforms. They look like civilians and hide in the midst of populations. Sometimes the locals are witting and supportive and sometimes they are coerced. Both situations currently exist in Iraq.
I do not know who is personally responsible for the killings at Haditha, but it certainly appears that some Marines lost control and are probably guilty of manslaughter. Fortunately, this has not been a common event. But that offers small comfort. In the war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqis we do not have the luxury for any mistakes like this.Go read.
We must also accept that Americans as a whole share some responsibility for the actions of these soldiers. We sent them to war. We put them square in the middle of the battle. We cannot simply sit idly on the sidelines clucking our tongues over the awful thing that was done. We are complicit. If we think we can deal with this by simply "punishing" the guilty and move happily on with the rest of our lives, then we have ignored our societal obligation to the soldiers we ask to go to war to fight on our behalf. If young Marines have murdered Iraqi civilians, who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, then they must be held accountable. But, in punishing them, we must remember that we still have an obligation to these soldiers. Leaders we selected put sent these young men and women to war (and yes, I realize Al Gore probably won the election). We have an obligation to help make them whole and return emotionally intact to civil society.
May 31, 2006
What should you expect when you start a war? A "cakewalk" was how one leading Republican described it, back when they were trying to get it started, trying to sell it like soap - or, more accurately, like a video game experience. PLEASE read the linked piece, in which he talks about "fear-mongering" military analysts, to see how we got into the mess we are in.
The mess we are in: U.S. troops kill pregnant woman in Iraq
U.S. forces killed two Iraqi women — one of them about to give birth — when the troops shot at a car that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials and relatives said Wednesday.THIS is what war is. THIS is what the Republicans have brought us.
Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, was being raced to the maternity hospital in Samarra by her brother when the shooting occurred Tuesday.
Jassim, the mother of two children, and her 57-year-old cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, were killed by the U.S. forces, according to police Capt. Laith Mohammed and witnesses.
May 23, 2006
Through Juan Cole, this LA Times story, In Corruption, New Government of Iraq Faces a Tough Old Foe,
Iraqi government documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times reveal the breadth of corruption, including epic schemes involving hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts, as well as smaller-scale cases such as the purchase of better grades by university students and the distribution of U.S.-issue pistols as party favors by a former Justice Ministry official.But what kind of system would we EXPECT Bush and the Republican Culture of Corruption to set up - an honest one? HA!
"We are seeing corruption everywhere in Iraq — in every ministry, in every governorate," said Judge Radhi Radhi, head of the Commission on Public Integrity, Iraq's anti-corruption agency.
If you are an American soldier, you can thank the Republican Culture of Corruption for this:
Corruption helps fuel the insurgency too, Radhi said. "The terrorists help the criminals, and the criminals help the terrorists," he said. "Without corruption, we would have been able to defeat the terrorists by now."
May 11, 2006
Religious freedom, anyone? Not even among those of the Islamic faith. Here's the full quote:
"We reached an agreement that the imams of mosques must be nominated by the Shiite and Sunni Waqfs (religious administrations) because we have discovered that some imams are imposters who should not be in charge," Major General Mehdi Musabah -- the interior ministry commando chief -- said Thursday.
Oh, and apparently the only way that the Iraqi government can ensure that its own troops don't function as death squads, and prevent insurgents (or renegade elements of official forces) from posturing as official army units, is to have them accompanied by U.S. troops. ... but, apparently, even though members of the U.S. armed forces were present at the negotiations, officially, the military knows nothing about it.
"That's news to me, that's a surprise to me," said US military spokesman, Major General Rick Lynch.
Sounds like things are going swimmingly over in Iraq. NOT.
Full article: Agence France Presse, May 11, 2006: Baghdad Clerics Must be Approved by Iraqi Gov't
May 7, 2006
Caution, do not read this if you are the least bit squeamish. It is truly horrible. Part of me died when I saw this cruel killing.
Lots of right-wing blogs (more here and here) and others are using this to show how horrible our "enemies" and "terrorists" are and how terrible the "liberals" are for supporting them, etc. (Be sure to read the comments, too.)
But read it again - this is apparently an article about the people WE invaded to put in charge there. This particular act was apparently by the Iran-allied Shiite majority that we put in charge. The Sunni minority insurgency is doing the same things. The al Queda are also. But THIS article is about something the ones WE put in charge did.
We are supposed to have invaded in order to bring democracy to Iraq - the "Nation building" that conservatives once scorned. At least, bringing democracy to Iraq is ONE of the various reasons given for the invasion - there were plenty of others. Iraq was responsible for 9/11, they were allied with al Queda, they were going to nuke us, whatever -- we all heard all of the reasons. But "bringing democracy to Iraq" is the one most frequently cited now. And here we are. And here they are. Great. This is what war is. There is nothing worse than war. If you don't like it you sould have thought about that before you started a war, huh?
The right-wing blogs and the commenters seem to be getting around the problem that this was done by the people we invaded to put in charge by saying that it is Muslims in general who are our "enemy" and are "terrorists." And you certainly don't hear that message condemned by our country's leadership, do you? So is that the "war" we are in? A forever war against anyone we decide we're against that day, which gives the leaders absolute power to do anything they want? We invade a country, put one side in charge, and then call them terrorists?
April 3, 2006
Through Atrios, one of the more important stories about Iraq. Please read it to the end. The Bush people have set it up so there is no way to know how much oil is being pumped and sold, nor any way to know where the money is going. SOMEone is walking away with BILLIONS.
March 26, 2006
This is a turning point. In tomorrow's New York Times, Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says,
In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.
But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.
"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.
"The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March," Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. "This was when the bombing would begin."
Go read the whole thing.
[. . .] The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.
The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.
. . . Two senior British officials confirmed the authenticity of the memo, but declined to talk further about it, citing Britain's Official Secrets Act, which made it illegal to divulge classified information. But one of them said, "In all of this discussion during the run-up to the Iraq war, it is obvious that viewing a snapshot at a certain point in time gives only a partial view of the decision-making process."
[. . .] By late January 2003, United Nations inspectors had spent six weeks in Iraq hunting for weapons under the auspices of Security Council Resolution 1441, which authorized "serious consequences" if Iraq voluntarily failed to disarm. Led by Hans Blix, the inspectors had reported little cooperation from Mr. Hussein, and no success finding any unconventional weapons.
At their meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said. The president spoke as if an invasion was unavoidable. The two leaders discussed a timetable for the war, details of the military campaign and plans for the aftermath of the war.
So here we are. There is now no doubt that Bush and Blair committed the crime of aggressive war. What will we do about this? There is no masking the need to defend our Constitution and democracy from a criminal takeover. Is there anything we CAN do about this?
March 11, 2006
Asked if a civil war was developing there, Burns said, "It's always been a civil war," adding that it's just a matter of extent. He said the current U.S. leaders there--military and diplomatic--were doing there best but sectarian differences would "probably" doom the enterprise.I was talking to a believer last week, who said to understand our invasion of Iraq you need to look at a Risk game board. Iraq is "the key to the Middle East" and pins Iran between itself and Afghanistan. So you have Iran surrounded, and bases in the middle of the region. Etc.
Burns said that he and others underestimated this problem, feeling for a long time that toppling Saddam Hussein would almost inevitably lead to something much better.
Reality is so damn inconvenient. You get the whole thing mapped out according to a board game you played a lot in college, and it all looks like a winning strategy. So you finally get control of the government, and want to show how good a Risk player you are, so you invade Iraq.
...and then these darn things that never came up in the board game start happening and just mess everything UP for you. Like private sectarian militias - where are THEY in the board game, anyway?! And civil wars! There's no civil wars in Risk! And IEDs. And car bombs in the middle of crowds of police recruits. And you don't even NEED body armor in Risk. And post-traumatic stress disorder. And dead children. And the smell of burning flesh. And needing another $100 bilion dollars that you have to borrow from the Chinese. And not having enough troops so you have to call up the National Guard and keep them oversees for an extra year.
These people just don't understand the GAME!
February 28, 2006
This article, Re-engineering Iraq, and published by IEEE Spectrum, provides a fascinating inside look at the successes and failures and problems associated with the Iraqi reconstruction effort. It is a long, but definitely worthwhile read... unfiltered by "spin" from one side or the other. After reading it, you'll be a lot more educated on the nature of the task at hand.
February 23, 2006
Last time they had raided my aunts area, they took away four men on their street alone. Two of them were students in their early twenties- one a law student, and the other an engineering student, and the third man was a grandfather in his early sixties. There was no accusation, no problem- they were simply ordered outside, loaded up into a white pickup truck and driven away with a group of other men from the area. Their families haven’t heard from them since and they visit the morgue almost daily in anticipation of finding them dead.
February 22, 2006
Never mind all the other stuff going on. Someone blew up the Askariyah shrine in Samarra, Shiites across the country are retaliating, Iran is balming the US, and things appear very close to coming apart there. One of the best places to learn about what is happening in Iraq is Informed Comment. Drop everything you are doing, go read.
February 9, 2006
In Educators face blowback for protesting Iraq war in schools, Raw Story documents teachers around the country fired for opposing Bush's war.
January 28, 2006
Scott Ritter was the featured speaker at today's luncheon at the California Democratic Party's Executive Board Meeting in Manhattan Beach earlier today. I transcribed his speech fairly accurately, but please do not hold Scott Ritter accountable for any small factual errors in dates or syntax. Here it is:
There is another issue that is even a magnitude of order bigger, which is Iran. Let's look at some uncomfortable facts. If you ask Americans most polls say we should not go to war with Iran by 78%. Let's talk about poll numbers, if Iran represents a threat to the U.S. 82% say yes. If you ask why 76% will say Iran has an active nuclear threat. This plays into the ultimate fear perpetuated by Condelizza Rice's of a smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud. This fear has even more resonance if you bring in the threat to one of America's best allies, Israel.
Most Americans say we should turn Iran over to the Security Council of the UN. What happens ladies and gentlemen, if the Security Council says no, we will not support imposing economic sanctions against Iran. Where does that leave us?
It doesn't matter what the actual threat is, but what the American people perceive the threat to be. Now let me introduce you to John Bolton. What role does John Bolton play? Mr. Bolton has one job and one job only. When the Security Council fails to implement sanctions, John Bolton will stand up and say that America cannot be held hostage to the unwillingness of the UN to deal with this threat.
Remember that Americans already perceive Iran as an active nuclear threat. Our Imperial President has already said he does not need additional approval from Congress to go to war. If and when Bush declares war, say good-by to your business. Oil will go through the roof. Iraq, the second biggest producer may have to import oil soon. If we take Iran's oil off the market, China will now be competing with us to purchase oil in a restricted market. Every American airline will be out of business. Every car manufacturer will be out of business. There will not a single American manufacturer out there. We will see an economic collapse the likes of which we have never seen.
The first question we need to demand the Bush administration answer is where is the evidence that Iran has nuclear weapons? In 1970's Iran sponsored a terrorist to drive a bomb into marine barracks, so there is no love lost between me and the Iranians. But before we engage militarily, we have to make sure there is a threat that that is worthy of meeting it with military action. To this date the Bush administration has introduced no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.
Iran is in full compliances with the non-proliferation treaty, which is more than we can say for our ally Israel. Between 1994 and 1998 I traveled back and forth to Israel several times. I am first and foremost an American. If we ask our men and women to go to war we have to make sure there is a reason that is worthy of the sacrifice we are asking them to make.
Have we learned anything since invading Iraq? Did we learn anything from the Downing Street Memos? The Bush administration has sold American public on the idea of regime change, but they have no evidence to back up their conduct. Whenever anybody stood up to talk about WMD in Iraq they were really talking about regime change. The same thing is happening in Iran. What anyone who talks about WMD in Iran they are really talking about regime change. This is the policy of the Bush administration; regime change.
Familiarize yourself with The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. In a nutshell, it says we can invade unilaterally and militarily with no regard to any other country in the world. They are dead serious about implementing a policy of regime change in Iran. Only one thing can stop a war with Iran. If you get a Congress that does not rubber stamp another war. I voted for George Bush in 2000. I'm telling you right now I will do anything I can in California or anywhere else to help Democrats take back Congress. Unless we have a Congress that respects the Constitution and the balance of power between the Executive and the Legislative branch there is no hope at all.
Scott: Fair question: I am still a registered Republican. But if I run for office, I guess I'll have to become a Democrat. Republicans have to say I reject the Bush agenda.
Steve: How do we get them to make that change?
Scott: A lot of Democrats voted for Ronald Reagan. You need a candidate who motivates Republicans. You are weak on foreign policy, national security and homeland security. All you have to do is tell Americans they should be afraid. Republicans exploit that fear. Democarsts need someone who can explain how to deal with their fear.
Q: What is the actual motivation of the Bush administration? Is it all just money for their narrow interests?
Scott:" I can only hypothesize, but the man I voted for in 2002 is not the man who is President. He is not carrying out the vision he articulated in 2002.
Scott: The PNAC are parasites. During the Reagan administration we ran a campaign against communism. Soviet Union collapsed. Bush 41 came into office and said neo-cons are crazy. Their policy is inherently un-American.
Neo-cons came along and said we need a Pearl Harbor to motivate the American people. 9/11 happened. That's how they exploited Aermica's fear to fulfill their vision of an Imperial America.
Q: Democrats taking back the House and separation of power?
Scott: I have no sympathy for anybody who supports this war. For anytbody who voted for this war or continues to support it.
Q: What about the Iranians starting their own oil market? Could this be what is driving their need for nuclear weapons? Euros, not dollars.
Scott: What we should call the dollar is a petro dollar. The U.S. dollar is basically useless, backed by a failing economy. The world keeps backing up the dollar because it is the currency used to buy and sell oil. China and others are going to switch to Euros when they get tired of propping up the dollar. The Iranians are the ones making the noise, but what happens when Russsian, Venezuela say they are tired of buying with petro dollars?
Q: Iranian policy?
Scott: We can't separate Iraqi policy from Iran. Sunnis. Sistanii is still an Iranian. Has refused to take Iraqi citizenship. There was a compromise reached one week before the Cosntitution that will satisify the Sunnnis. Sistani came out and said there will be no Amendments to the Cosntitution. Wait until 60% of the Iraqi population turns against us.
Q: Do you think we are going to have a draft?
Scott: Do I see a draft coming? No. Republicans don't want it. Democrats don't want it. Americans don't want it. That means we have to dumb down our military, whch means next time we go to war even more of our men and women will die.
It would be nice of Congresss asked some of the questions like Where are the WMD? Demanding evidence before we send our men and women to fight and die is not pro-terrorist, it is pro-American.
January 18, 2006
... just had Cindy Sheehan's latest passed to me on an internal Green Party list, an article entitled The Opposite Of Good Is Apathy. After reading it, I'm now going to be paying a lot closer attention when I hear her name.
The lead, "The apathy of most of America is stunning and appalling to me.", is just the start.
Here's a couple more excerpts:
If we don't get off of our collective apathetic and complacent backsides to stop the barbaric killing in Iraq, when will the next candlelight vigil be? George Bush and the evil neocons are killing our precious soldiers at the rate of 2.78 per day. By my calculations, we should be lighting our candles again and singing "Kum bah ya" by October.
If I hear one more rendition of "We Shall Overcome" and then watch the vigilers or marchers go home and turn on their TVs and crack open a brewsky, content in the fact that they have done something for peace that day, I am going to scream! We can't overcome unless we take the proverbial bull by the horns and overcome!
and I really like this one...
Hillary Clinton told me that the "wheels of government grind slowly." This is a tired cliche and it is unacceptable blather while the war machine is grinding the bones of our children.
... I was concerned that Cindy's "ordinary American mom" shtick wasn't... but, clearly, she "gets" it, the systemic nature of the problem with the Bush Administration and the neo-cons, that the problem isn't just the war in Iraq and the soldiers dying there... but all the innocent Iraqi civilians: "By his own admission, [Dubya] is ten times the terrorist that Osama ever was. If George says 30,000 ... who knows what the truthful total is. It fills me with sorrow and hurts my heart to even contemplate the number." and damn near every other anti-policy initiative pursued by the Bush Regime:
America: this is what you are allowing your government to do in your name: Detain and torture prisoners without due process. Use chemical weapons on other members of humanity. Spy on Americans without a court order (I hope my conversations put them in a coma of boredom). Carpet bomb cities filled with human beings like yourselves.
Destroy the infrastructure of other countries. Destroy the infrastructure of American cities. Cut taxes on the rich while pouring money and blood into the thirsty sands of the Middle East. Decimate our treasury. Rape the environment. Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.
... "ad nauseum" is right. Every time I open up my email inbox, I'm confronted by an alert or plea about some new and emerging threat from the right... how is it possible for them to simultaneously do so many different things that are wrenchingly wrong and tragically stupid?
Hurrah for Cindy. She's right... we really need to pick up the pace, to take the movement to the next level... America will not be moved out of its apathy by anything less than truly radical action. Bluntly, we must make the nation ungovernable in the absence of action: this means direct action and mass non-violent civil disobedience on a large scale. The "Battle of Seattle" must be repeated a hundred times, until people wake up and realize there is a severe problem, until the governing elite of this country comes to the realization that we will not go away, that the "chaos" and "anarchy" on the streets will not stop until something is done, that "business as usual" is no longer possible in the face of opposition from the anti-war movement, and pull the reins in on Dubya and his gang of thugs and cronys.
January 17, 2006
AST WEEK, at the annual meeting of the American Economic Assn., we presented a new estimate for the likely cost of the war in Iraq. We suggested that the final bill will be much higher than previously reckoned — between $1 trillion and $2 trillion, depending primarily on how much longer our troops stay. Putting that into perspective, the highest-grossing movie of all time, "Titanic," earned $1.8 billion worldwide — about half the cost the U.S. incurs in Iraq every week.
Like the iceberg that hit the Titanic, the full costs of the war are still largely hidden below the surface. Our calculations include not just the money for combat operations but also the costs the government will have to pay for years to come.
Spending up to $2 trillion should make us ask some questions.
This ain't no tree falling in the forest folks. This is the shot heard 'round the world and of course in the 2006 and 2008 elections.
January 9, 2006
Hat tip to Bob Geiger:
The New York Times reported yesterday on a secret Pentagon study concluding that a large number of Marines killed in Iraq – perhaps up to 80 percent of those who died of upper-body injuries – would have survived had they been properly equipped for battle.
How many times and for how many years have Bush and Rummy been promising they were doing everything that could possibly be done to provide our soldiers with the proper equipment?
January 5, 2006
We've got more important things to deal with - Bush is a figurehead... we're barking up the wrong tree by focusing our energy on him and impeachment, which would be nothing more than a symbolic beheading of the beast, and ultimately change nothing. Bush is not the problem, and centering attention on him distracts from the very real Constitutional crisis his presidency, and our Congress, have engendered via the war on (some) terror.
What is vastly more important, is to reverse the "use of force" authorization that Bush contends gives him (and just as importantly, when you're talking about impeachment, anyone who replaces him) carte blanche to ignore the Constitution's built in checks and balances, and declare non-operative any and all laws he finds inconvenient, as evidenced by today's headline in the Boston Globe (sourced via truthout.org): Bush Could Bypass New Torture Ban - the cynicism of his actions in this matter is appalling beyond measure, and should outrage Americans of all political persuasions, if it could only be brought to their notice.
The "use of force" authorization is the most Constitutionally dangerous cop-out that our Congress has ever passed. By permitting the President to act as if we "at war", without defining who the enemy is, what the terms of "victory" are, or putting any sunset date on the authorization for the use of force, Congress has basically put the nation on a permanent "wartime" footing (as far as I can tell, it will take exactly what I am advocating, an explicit repudiation by Congress, to end it), and decisively shifted the balance of power in our system of government in favor of the executive. Reversing this open-end and Constitutionally dangerous measure, and putting explicit constraints and defined limits on Presidential authority in its place (along with sunset provisions), is the single most pressing public policy initiative we face -- and it is one that should unite sane people of all political persuasions: right, left, center, libertarian, green, liberal and conservative.
... and yet, you hear almost nothing about action on this front, not from the pundits, not from the politicians, not from the blogosphere. Any complaints you hear from mainstream political circles regarding Bush's behavior in office pertain to "abuse" of the power granted him, rather than any fundamental questioning of the nature of the beast. In March of 2002, Michelle J. Kinnucan wrote an article entitled: Rethinking the 'Authorization for Use of Military Force' in which she quotes reservations about the open-ended nature of the resolution by several "reluctant" endorsees.
Where is the rising chorus of concern about the resolution itself? Bush's sole legal authority for his ever more clearly imperial presidency lies in his status as a commander-in-chief during wartime, and the "use of force" authorization. Eliminate that, and Bush's actions become vastly more legally tenuous, possibly to the point where even today's apparently somnolent judiciary might begin to take alarm.
If you're not outraged, then you're not paying attention, and if you don't think reversing the "use of force" authorization is more important than impeaching a puppet President who is nothing more than a proxy for the neo-conservative conspiracy to undermine the Constitution and put in place an imperial Presidency free of Constitutional, legislative, or judicial constraint, then you're REALLY not paying attention.
If anyone out there is listening, if anyone has influence with the 'net and the political sphere's movers and shakers, please do everything in your power to get them to take on this issue and move this meme into the national dialogue.
December 30, 2005
From Juan Cole, Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005:
1. The guerrilla war is being waged only in four provinces.
2. Iraqi Sunnis voting in the December 15 election is a sign that they are being drawn into the political process and might give up the armed insurgency.
3. The guerrillas are winning the war against US forces.
4. Iraqis are grateful for the US presence and want US forces there to help them build their country.
5. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, born in Iran in 1930, is close to the Iranian regime in Tehran.
6. There is a silent majority of middle class, secular-minded Iraqis who reject religious fundamentalism.
7. The new Iraqi constitution is a victory for Western, liberal values in the Middle East.
8. Iraq is already in a civil war, so it does not matter if the US simply withdraws precipitately, since the situation is as bad as it can get.
9. The US can buy off the Iraqis now supporting guerrilla action against US troops.
10. The Bush administration wanted free elections in Iraq.
December 24, 2005
Bob Geiger covers what amounts to yet another exercise in public self immolation by Christopher Hitchens. A Night With Scott Ritter – And Some Other Guy. If the M$M ever decides to let the American people in on the truth about Bush's Iraq war, all they have to do is give Scott Ritter a forum:
This is a war that's not worth the life of one American because it's a war based on a lie. And no amount of revisionism will make those lies true," he said. "And if you support this ridiculous notion that the ends justifies the means, then come up here, throw your passport on the stage and get the hell out of my country because that's un-American.
December 22, 2005
Following Dave's link to Paperwight's By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them I ran across what should be a red flag for the Democratic Party.
Hagel 2008: Declare Iraq Victory And Leave: You're getting flanked, chumps.
If the Democrats can be kept on the warmongering side, it allows the Republicans to keep selling the Iraq war as bipartisan, blurring the distinctions between the parties, and allows a Republican (think Chuck Hagel) to flank the Democrats as the declare-victory-and-get-out candidate in 2008.A lot of people kept trying to tell the Pro-War Dems that they were making a mistake, Howard Dean being the most visible. And, now, most of the country thinks we were right and Hagel is capitalizing on that movement.
But hey, the "centrists" must be right. The DLC / Blue Dog triangulation Dems' need to be almost-Republicans will never bite us in the ass. Nope. Never.
December 14, 2005
I was watching CSPAN and saw someone I had never heard of talking about Bush's plan for "victory" in Iraq and how Iraq is a central part of Bush's mythical WOT.
Who is J.D. Crouch?
I found an October, 2003 article from Antiwar.com, Pentagon Hawk Released – Straws in the Wind? which discusses Crouch's dismissal following the WMD fiasco:
"He's not being fired, but they're starting to move people around," said one knowledgeable source. "It's all about (Bush's) reelection and how to get rid of the loonies without looking like they screwed up."
As assistant secretary, Crouch reported to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, whose office has been responsible for postwar strategy in Iraq.
Slate discussed some of the beliefs Crouch expressed during his brief sabatical from helping Bush deceive America into an immoral war, Don't Be Fooled:
It was during those years of exile that Crouch expressed his views most clearly. He criticized President George H.W. Bush's decision to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea, calling it "a major geopolitical mistake." He advocated setting "a firm deadline for the destruction of North Korea's nuclear complex." He called for the end of the Anti-Ballistic-Missile Treaty and the swift development of missile defenses (a development that he oversaw in his recent Pentagon tenure). Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1995, he fervently supported resuming the production of chemical weapons . . .
The most revealing article I ran across concerned his testimony during his 2001 confirmation hearing from Flogging the Simian: (scroll down)
From reading this Washington Post article on the confirmation hearings of Crouch, which took place at the same as those of Douglas Feith and Stephen Cambone, I found a couple of troublesome items. The article was published in June of 2001:Feith's sharpest exchange, however, came with Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), who reacted with alarm when Feith said he favored development of a policy for "the liberation of Iraq."Liberation of Iraq in June 2001?
"Well, that's the most disturbing answer of all," Cleland said.
Cleland, a Vietnam combat veteran, summed up his feelings at the end of the hearing, telling Feith and Crouch that "your answers have been very troubling to me, and I want you to know that. And it's going to be an agonizing thing to go over your testimony."
But at the end of the day, they seemed to have made little headway with Levin and other leading Democrats. After hours of back-and-forth, Levin said he thought Crouch's writings on how to counter North Korea's nuclear program were "reckless."
Crouch countered that he no longer favored either redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons in South Korea or bombing North Korea if it did not accede to U.S. demands, as he had in the mid-1990s. But he added: "Given what I knew at the time, I stick by the recommendations."
Bush would have invaded Iraq whether 9/11 happened or not. Today on CSPAN J.D. Crouch said that Bush's plan for "victory" has been in place for the last two and a half years. He's right. Iraq is going exactly the way the neo-cons planned it. "Building Democracy in Iraq" is a one hundred year project. The neo-cons never had any intention of leaving Iraq. That's why Iraq's army was dissolved.
December 13, 2005
Watch the video: Demoralizing the troops. (Click the picture on the right side. to see the video.) Short, sweet, hard-hitting.
And sign the petition.
December 11, 2005
With his appearance on Face The Nation, Jack Murtha just drove a stake through the heart of Bush's immoral war in Iraq.
It's all over but the shoutin'. The fat lady has packed her bags and gone home. The only thing left to do is bring our troops home and let the Iraqi people put their country back together.
December 7, 2005
In my posts about Iraq there was a point that was not clear. In What Do We Do About Iraq? I wrote,
I think it is urgent that the US not have invaded Iraq. We should do absolutely everything we can to prevent the United States from having invaded Iraq.But I also said that because we did we have an obligation to protect the people of Iraq from civil war, chaos, starvation, etc. as well as an obligation to rebuild the infrastructure we destroyed.
Let me clear something up. I think that the United States should not be in Iraq. I think we all agree on that. But I also don't advocate that we "just leave" and here is why.
I don't think we have, or will have for some time, political leadership capable of handling this situation. In fact, our leadership is making matters worse. Torture, death squads, corruption, hidden agendas, screwups and the fact that their primary motivation is personal power not the country's interests all show their failures.
What can we - you and I who share Seeing the Forest - do about this? Very little. In fact, nothing of consequence to what happens in Iraq. But what is the RIGHT thing to happen next? If there's nothing we can do, we can at least advocate the RIGHT thing.
The things we are for and against still have consequences, if only to ourselves, to our own humanity. For example, NY Times columnist recently wrote that if the Sunnis in Iraq won't go along with the majority results in the elections there, we should arm the Shiites and let them take care of the Sunnis. He wrote,
"If [the Sunni] come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind."So think about that - he is advocating genocide.
Similarly, if you or I advocate just leaving Iraq, knowing full well that it might result in a civil war, we are accepting similar results. And that must have some effect, somehow, on us. I am not a religious person, but I think people are harmed inside somehow when they allow themselves to be desensitized to such a point.
We can advocate just leaving, or anything else, and in a country controlled by the "conservative movement." the real-world effect of our advocacy will be the same: "Shut up and go away." So I think that the right thing to happen would be for the world to send in enough troops to stabilize the country and keep the peace while Iraq builds the institutions of justice required to moderate the tensions. No matter how long it takes, or how much that would cost. That is what I advocate. This is why I do not say we should "just leave."
December 4, 2005
Nir Rosen has written an article that answers every single potential catastrophic outcome in the parade of horribles that area trotted out as reasons America cannot possibly withdraw from Iraq. Nir Rosen's article is titled HYPOTHETICALS: If America Left Iraq: The case for cutting and running.
With only a closing comment on my part, the bulk of the article is reproduced after the break.
[Update 12/06: Pulled up from the comments, Roger Blayne has a good analysis of the very real possibility that Iraq will become a failed state regardless of whether the U.S. stays or withdraws at RPayneblogspot. Check it out.]
If the people the U.S. military is ostensibly protecting want it to go, why do the soldiers stay? The most common answer is that it would be irresponsible for the United States to depart before some measure of peace has been assured. The American presence, this argument goes is the only thing keeping Iraq from an all-out civil war that could take millions of lives and would profoundly destabilize the region. But is that really the case? Let’s consider the key questions surrounding the prospect of an imminent American withdrawal.
Would the withdrawal of U.S troops ignite a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites?
No. That civil war is already under way—in large part because of the American presence. The longer the United States stays, the more it fuels Sunni hostility toward Shiite “collaborators.” Were America not in Iraq, Sunni leaders could negotiate and participate without fear that they themselves would be branded traitors and collaborators by their constituents. Sunni leaders have said this in official public statements; leaders of the resistance have told me the same thing in private. The Iraqi government, which is currently dominated by Shiites, would lose its quisling stigma. Iraq’s security forces, also primarily Shiite, would no longer be working on behalf of foreign infidels against fellow Iraqis, but would be able to function independtely and recruit Sunnis to a truly national force. The mere announcement of an intended U.S. withdrawal would allow Sunnis to come to the table and participate in defining the new Iraq.
But if American troops aren’t in Baghdad, what’s to stop the Sunnis from launching an assault and seizing control of the city?
Sunni forces could not mount such an assault. The preponderance of power now lies with the majority Shiites and the Kurds, and the Sunnis know this. Sunni fighters wield only small arms and explosives, not Saddam’s tanks and helicopters and are very weak compared with the cohesive, better armed and numerically superior Shiite and Kurdish militias. Most important, Iraqi nationalism—not intramural rivalry—is the chief motivator for both Shiites and Sunnis. Most insurgency groups view themselves as waging a muqawama--a resistance—rather than a jihad. This is evident in their names and in their propaganda. For instance, the units commanded by the Association of Muslim Scholars are named after the 1920 revolt against the British. Others have names such as Iraqi Islamic Army and Flame of Iraq. They display the Iraqi flag rather than a flag of jihad. Insurgent attacks are meant primarily to punish those who have collaborated with the Americans and to deter future collaboration.
No. If the occupation were to end, so, too, would the insurgency. After all, what the resistance movement has been resisting is the occupation. Who would the insurgents fight if the enemy left? When I asked Sunni Arab fighters and theclerics who support them why they were fighting, they all gave me the same one-word answer: intiqaam revenge. Revenge for the destruction of their homes, for the shame they felt when Americans forced them to the ground and stepped on them, for the killing of their friends and relatives by U.S. soldiers either in combat or during raids.
But what about the foreign jihadi element of the resistance? Wouldn't it be empowered by a U.S. withdrawal?
The foreign jihadi element—commanded by the likes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—is numerically insignificant; the bulk of the resistance has no connection to al-Qaeda or its offshoots. (Zarqawi and his followers have benefited greatly from U.S. propaganda blaming him for all attacks in Iraq, because he is now seen by Arabs around the world as more powerful than he is; we have been his best recruiting tool.) It is true that the Sunni resistance welcomed the foreign fighters (and to some extent still do), because they were far more willing to die than indigenous Iraqis were. But what Zarqawi wants fundamentally conflicts with what Iraqi Sunnis want: Zarqawi seeks re-establishment of the Muslim caliphate and a Manichean confrontation with infidels around the world, to last until Judgment Day; the mainstream Iraqi resistance just wants the Americans out. If U.S. forces were to leave, the foreigners in Zarqawi's movement would find little support—and perhaps significant animosity—among Iraqi Sunnis, who want wealth and power, not jihad until death. They have already lost much of their support: many Iraqis have begun turning on them. In the heavily Shia Sadr City foreign jihadis had burning tires placed around their necks. The foreigners have not managed to establish themselves decisively in any large cities. Even at the height of their power in Fallujah they could control only one neighborhood, the Julan, and they were hated by the city's resistance council. Today foreign fighters hide in small villages and are used opportunistically by the nationalist resistance.
When the Americans depart and Sunnis join the Iraqi government, some of the foreign jihadis in Iraq may try to continue the struggle—but they will have committed enemies in both Baghdad and the Shiite south, and the entire Sunni triangle will be against them. They will have nowhere to hide. Nor can they merely take their battle to the West. The jihadis need a failed state like Iraq in which to operate. When they leave Iraq, they will be hounded by Arab and Western security agencies.
What about the Kurds? Won't they secede if the United States leaves?
Yes, but that's going to happen anyway. All Iraqi Kurds want an independent Kurdistan. They do not feel Iraqi. They've effectively had more than a decade of autonomy, thanks to the UN-imposed no-fly zone; they want nothing to do with the chaos that is Iraq. Kurdish independence is inevitable—and positive. (Few peoples on earth deserve a state more than the Kurds.) For the moment the Kurdish government in the north is officially participating in the federalist plan—but the Kurds are preparing for secession. They have their own troops, the peshmerga, thought to contain 50,000 to 100,000 fighters. They essentially control the oil city of Kirkuk. They also happen to be the most America-loving people I have ever met; their leaders openly seek to become, like Israel, a proxy for American interests. If what the United States wants is long-term bases in the region, the Kurds are its partners.