November 16, 2012
I've been trying to figure out what the Republicans are going on about with Benghazi. They have themselves all in one of their frenzies. But no one can figure out why.
It started out with Romney saying Obama "sympathized with the attackers." But now they're going on about how there is a cover-up that is worse than Watergate. (But they always say that...)
So like most of us, I haven't been able to figure out just what was supposed to have been covered up. But now I think I get it.
Here is what I think is going on: They are trying to say Obama covered up that there was an attack because the election was coming. They believe that all news of attacks helps Republicans and hurts Democrats! So they think if the pubic had known there had been an attack (which everyone of course did know) then they all would have decided to vote for Republicans. And that's why they say Obama "covered up" that there had been an attack.
That's why Romney did that weird thing in the debate about how Obama never said there had been an attack, and it turned out he had said it immediately.
Remember, when Bush was President, how they would make it seem like there was a terrorist around every corner? Two dark-skinned guys on a boat with a camera and the whole right-wing media machine would go nuts about "terrorists planning an attack." They would make up stories about terrorist attacks at convenient times, and raise the alert level from red to dark-red, etc. Remember how they would use terrorism to silence everyone, and get more votes?
Republicans believe that news of an attack helps them, and hurts Democrats. That is what you have to understand, to understand this whole Benghazi thing. When you try to understand just what Obama is supposed to have covered up, that's it.
They are screaming because Obama didn't go all "noun verb 9/11." They believe they own that.
Of course, everyone knew there had been an attack. But never mind that.
July 29, 2012
To understand the damage Mitt Romney did to the country today, please read Why politics stops at the water's edge by Dave Winer
I'm talking first about Romney undermining decades of US Middle East policy by declaring Israel's capital to be Jerusalem, and second by encouraging Israel's right-wingers to attack Iran.
Overseas, we're all on the same team. It's about keeping the country strong, and that's something Romney believes in, if you take him at his word. If a foreign leader were to get the idea that he or she could choose who they negotiate with, then the US is only one half as strong as it would be if there were only one go-to guy. If 25 people have equal power, then each represents a country with the sway of a third-tier power. Gone is the power and prestige of the United States.
The only way it works in favor of the United States is if we are united. Work out our differences here, and all our power will be represented overseas. But we only have one President at a time. And if you're playing on our team, you have to respect the wisdom of that rule.
March 24, 2012
It has cost the government $400 billion to date, and is estimated to run more than $1 trillion to develop, buy and support nearly 2,500 aircraft through 2050.
Who is getting all this money?
February 23, 2012
Last night on The Young Turks: Who benefits from a war with Iran?
Cenk breaks down which people would benefit from war with Iran. U.S. military and intelligence officials are against the country getting involved in conflict, but evangelicals, neo-conservatives, oil speculators, and defense contractors all have a lot to gain. Cenk points to the $3 trillion spent on the Iraq war to help explain what. “Somebody made that 3 trillion dollars,” Cenk says. “It didn’t just come out of our pockets and go nowhere. It went into someone else’s pocket.”
March 30, 2010
Dear Deficit Commission,
It's not hard to figure out why we have a huge deficit. It's so easy I don't have to use words. Here are some pictures:
Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich. Bush cut them.
Now, about that huge national debt...
That second chart kind of explains itself.
The third chart can help you find a place to get some money:
(Note: There is no more Soviet Union.)
In case that isn't clear enough, try this:
Let me know if you still have any questions.
December 2, 2009
Here are my reasons for supporting this strategy of a surge with a timeline at the end:
First and foremost, women and the Taliban. This is the main reason I support this - we cannot abandon the women and people of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
This is not an "escalation" in the way that we are used to from Vietnam. This strategy - the one Bush resisted for years - has shown success in Iraq and has reduced the fighting, allowing the society to stabilize.
This is not Vietnam, where we were fighting the people. We are not fighting against a popular insurgency. We are helping the people throw off a bunch of thugs.
Which leads to the government, we are not there to help a corrupt government maintain power against its opposition as we were in Vietnam. Part of this plan imposes accountability on the corrupt government there. That is part of the trap Bush left behind. But we can't just abandon the people there because of the corruption in the government.
Always keep in mind the impossible position that we are in because of Bush. We wouldn't be there at all now except for Bush. He used corrupt strategies to win, aligning us with the corrupt elements of the country. After going in they just dropped it, letting the Taliban come back.
December 1, 2009
My take on Obama's speech is that Bush left Obama little choice on how to proceed, and this is the best that can be done with it.
Bush had the chance to conclude Afghanistan years ago but neglected it, just like how he let bin Laden go, because he had his agenda with Iraq. So the Taliban came back. And here we are.
I don't see any alternative to the strategy that Obama outlined. The people of Afghanistan want peace and security. If we "just leave" they get the Taliban instead, and we get decades of insecurity from the region.
Americans form the region also deserve to see security brought to Afghanistan because they can't even go home and visit their families. etc. without falling under suspicion.
April 29, 2009
Please take a look at Not My Priorities. This is a great idea, clear, simple, understandable.
From the site,
NotMyPriorities.org is an effort to enable every person in America to see a pie chart that our representatives in congress approved. I have shown the Not My Priorities pie chart to thousands of people and can count on one hand how many have disagreed. Even Republicans say that the pie chart does not represent their priorities!
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.
April 20, 2009
Juan Cole has the best summary of the Rep. Jane Harman scandal that I have seen:
The US is spied on, and a classified Pentagon document is passed to the Israeli embassy by AIPAC officials. They are caught because the FBI had them under surveillance. Apparently the FBI is one of the few US government institutions that is not corrupt on the issue of foreign influence on US institutions and policy. Then when the two AIPAC spies are indicted, a Mossad agent attempts to derail the prosecution by suborning a member of Congress and promising her the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee.Go read the whole post for the details.
July 21, 2008
The first U.S. war crimes trial since World War Two began on Monday at the U.S. navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, nearly seven years after the September 11 attacks prompted President George W. Bush to declare war on terrorism.I want to be sure I have this right. According to the Republicans the people at Guantanamo are not subject to the Geneva Conventions because they are "unlawful combatants" not engaged in "war" as defined by the conventions. But now they are being "tried" for "war crimes."
Isn't this having it both ways? Either they are or are not.
June 19, 2008
Go read: TAGUBA ON TORTURE.
A general saying the White House is guilty of war crimes! Is impeachment still "off the table?"
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.
May 26, 2008
Republicans voted down benefits for veterans, saying if there are benefits, current troops will leave the military. Seriously, that's their argument.
As most of us know, twenty-two Senate Republicans voted against Senator Jim Webb's new G.I. Bill. The most frequently cited excuse given by these Republicans for trying to shortchange our brave fighting men and women was that Senator Webb's bill would "hurt retention." In other words, these Senate Republicans suggested that our soldiers would bolt the military if the benefits they were given for putting their lives on the line in service to our country were too generous.
Yes, it's both as disgusting and as illogical as it sounds.
May 19, 2008
When you are deciding whether to listen to a Republican when they talk about Democrats as "appeasers," consider this. Crooks and Liars has the story of Oliver North on Fox News backing up Republican accusations that Democrats are "appeasers."
So who is Oliver North? Oliver North is the guy that Republican President Ronald Reagan sent to provide weapons and missiles to Iran.
Let me repeat that because many people today are either too young or don't remember what happened in the 1980s. Not long after the Iranians stormed the American embassy in Tehran and took several American diplomats hostage for 444 days, Republicans gave them missiles and other weapons. Oliver North, hero of the American Right and Fox News pundit, gave advanced weaponry to Iran.
And now they call Democrats "appeasers."
Is there anything else you need to know about Republicans?
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.
January 24, 2008
I'm not endorsing Hillary or Obama or Edwards. My own philosophy leans more toward Edwards but I would be happy with any of these three.
That said, if there is ONE thing I do NOT want a President doing, it is pushing the wrong goddam BUTTON!
according to transcripts of the proceedings in Springfield, he hit the wrong button at least six times.It only takes hitting the wrong button ONE time in the White House, and the world has a bad day.
January 9, 2008
That is the huge threat you're hearing about on the news.
December 18, 2007
For those of you concerned about the state of US security--levees that don't collapse, for example, or bridges that don't fall into the Mississippi river, sit down before you see these numbers.Do you think all that FEAR that is being pumped into the public might have an agenda? Follow the money.
Last week, both houses of Congress approved the conference report on the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization bill, H.R. 1585. The bill includes $506.9 billion for the Department of Defense and the nuclear weapons activities of the Department of Energy. The bill also authorizes $189.4 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This funding is NOT counted as part of the $506.9 billion.
. . . Keep in mind, today's defense spending is 14% above the height of the Korean War, 33% above the height of the Vietnam War, 25% above the height of the "Reagan Era" buildup and is 76% above the Cold War average.
. . .
December 7, 2007
It's Pearl Harbor Day.
See FDR's original typed speech at Pearl Harbor - FDR's "Day of Infamy" Speech. You can also listen to it there. Imagine having heard the news, and everyone crowded around the radio ...
December 5, 2007
From Veterans for America:
Introducing The American Veterans And Servicemembers Survival Guide
We are very pleased to announce the release of our new book, “The American Veterans and Servicemembers Survival Guide.” This new book, released twenty-two years after the breakthrough “The Viet Vet Survival Guide.”
Like the original book, this new publication will be instrumental in helping getting our veterans, especially those young veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the help they so very much need and deserve. Unlike the original, this new survival guide will also assist current servicemembers with some of the problems they face getting the care they need.
There are a couple of tremendous advantages to publishing this book online. The first is that you can literally just click here and download the entire book in PDF format for free. We hope you will read it, use it and forward it to anyone who needs it.
The second is that as we improve the book, add chapters, make revisions and change any information as we need to, we will do so in real time and make all the updates available instantly.
We will be publicizing and making this book free to all. If you can contribute to our efforts to make this guide known and available to all veterans and current servicemembers, we would very much appreciate your help.
December 3, 2007
It's like Bush is so much expected to lie that it's just acceptable, passes under the radar, even when it's in an attempt to incite a WAR! Is there anything more serious? "So what? Yawn. Who's gonna do anything about it?"
Remember Bush's October statement,
So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously.This statement was made after Bush is now documented to have learned from the most recent National Intelligence Estimate that Iran had abandoned any nuclear weapon development in 2003.
As Think Progress documents: Hadley: Bush Learned Of NIE’s Findings ‘In The Last Few Months,’ But Continued To Ratchet Up Rhetoric,
The central question in today’s briefing for Hadley was whether White House officials intentionally disregarded the intelligence community’s findings in order to bang the war drums against Iran. Reporters repeatedly pressed Hadley on the specific date when the White House learned about the NIE’s findings. Yet incredibly, he refused to give a “precise answer,” instead stating that it was within the “last few months.”But, of course, impeachment is "off the table."
. . . The issue is whether the President himself lied to the public about Iran’s intentions, despite knowing that Iran was even “less determined to develop nuclear weapons.” In October, Bush told a reporter that Iran was trying to “build a nuclear weapon“:Q But you definitively believe Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon?
THE PRESIDENT: I think so long — until they suspend and/or make it clear that they — that their statements aren’t real, yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon. […]
So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously.
So to recap: Sometime in the “last few months,” Bush learned that Iran is “less determined to develop nuclear weapons.” Yet as late as October, Bush was still claiming that Iran “wants to build a nuclear weapon.” What did Bush know and when did he know it?
November 21, 2007
Here's a big surprise - focus groups are being conducted on how to get people to support bombing Iran:
You all remember Ari Fleischer’s “Freedom’s Watch” astroturfing outfit? We’ve discussed this before, in the context of Ari’s trying to bolster support for staying in the Iraq quagmire; now (per Mother Jones via PR Watch) we get to see Fleischer’s Flyers and his ideological fellow travelers pimp the marketing concept of war with Iran:Click through to follow links...
“The basis of the whole thing was, ‘we’re going to go into Iran and what do we have to do to get you guys to go along with it,’” said Laura Sonnenmark, a participant in a recent focus group apparently funded by the Republican-associated lobbying group Freedom’s Watch. Sonnenmark, a “focus group regular,” said the moderator “used lots of catch phrases, like ‘victory’ and ‘failure is not an option.’” She added, “I’ve never seen a moderator who was so persistent in manipulating and leading the participants.” The final questions of the session were: “How would you feel if Hillary [Clinton] bombed Iran? How would you feel if George Bush bombed Iran? And how would you feel if Israel bombed Iran?” Neither the firm involved, Martin Focus Groups, nor Freedom’s Watch would confirm that the organization funded the focus group. But focus group participants were handed a flier with a Freedom’s Watch logo, and the group has advocated for confronting Iran, organizing forums on the “threat” posed by the country, and running ads calling the Iranian president a “terrorist.”
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 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.
October 14, 2007
Read about how Republicans take care of national security: The man who knew too much. CIA agent discovers a country working to get nukes that could threaten us, Republicans kill his career and cover everything up as "state secrets."
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.
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 14, 2007
Uh Oh. 'New rules for new wars'
May 18, 2007
The American Legion is one more organization whose leadership has been taken over by conservative movement operatives. The leadership blindly supports Bush, no matter what -- even when he is cutting funds for wounded troops and family support. Following is a letter I received from a member:
STATEMENT FROM Hal Donahue, Lt. Col. USAF (retired)
District Deputy Commander and Lifetime member of the American Legion
Legion Cuts and runs from wounded troops, active duty troops and veterans
Thursday the American Legion leadership issued a press release. It contained two key elements which I find reprehensible. First, the American Legion condemns Congress for performing its constitutional duty. Second, and most appalling, the American Legion opposes Congressional funding to meet immediate military and veterans needs. These Congressional bills for Emergency Defense Supplemental Appropriations for FY 2007 support our troops. To paraphrase former Senator Bob Dole when informed of the crisis at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, ‘where was the American Legion?’
Congress knows we must give the troops their equipment, and we must take care of the wounded. These congressional bills add additional money for areas slighted, including funding for military and veteran health care. Walter Reed Army Medical Center is included in these bills. I am a patient at Walter Reed and I see the bravery of our troops off the battlefield both trying to recover and trying to provide the best care. I see the effects of neglect caused by the Bush administration everyday; the administration pays lip service but offers no funding. These Congressional bills support the troops, the wounded and veterans. Why doesn't the Leadership of The American Legion?
I say “American Legion leadership” because I know many members of the American Legion were simply embarrassed by positions taken by the Leadership of the organization, which blindly supports this administration's war in Iraq while just as blindly ignoring wounded military living conditions at Walter Reed.
Embarrassment is no longer the word of choice. By actively urging Congress to remove immediate and urgent funding for wounded troops, military and veterans, the American Legion leadership has crossed the line to repulsion. To actively advocate in Congress against immediate support for our troops in combat and our wounded is simply repugnant. Commander Morin and the American Legion Leadership are cutting and running on our wounded, our troops, and our Veterans.
Hal Donahue, Lt. Col. USAF (retired)
District Deputy Commander and Lifetime member of the American Legion
May 7, 2007
Sourced via the UK (and a California Green Party activist):
Kagan [a leading neoconservative and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s] wrote approvingly that a keynote speech by Obama at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs was “pure John Kennedy”, a neocon hero of the cold war.
In his speech, Obama called for an increase in defence spending and an extra 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines to “stay on the offense” against terrorism and ensure America had “the strongest, best-equipped military in the world”. He talked about building democracies, stopping weapons of mass destruction and the right to take unilateral action to protect US “vital interests” if necessary, as well as the importance of building alliances.
“Personally, I liked it,” Kagan wrote.
Here's the lead from Kagan's column:
America must "lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good." With those words, Barack Obama put an end to the idea that the alleged overexuberant idealism and America-centric hubris of the past six years is about to give way to a new realism, a more limited and modest view of American interests, capabilities and responsibilities.
Here's Obama's speech:
I really don't have the mental energy to engage in a comprehensive analysis of this. Suffice it to say, I understand why a neo-conservative like Kagan would be attracted to Obama's vision ... it is the liberal version of the neo-conservative ideal. America ascendant, the shining light, the imperial empire with a human face - in essence, a different rationale for the same massively interventionist behavior abroad. ... and we know what a hundred years of that have produced, rain or shine, Republican or Democrat, in the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Philipines, Africa, South-east Asia, etc.
... and for some historical context (Nov. 2005) ... oddly enough, Kagan appears to have linked to this speech in his article (an error? it points to a similar speech in Chicago before a similarly named organization)...
Boy, I'm really excited: an increase in defense spending, adding 100,000 new members of the military, unilateral action... what more could us peace-loving anti-war activists want?
... but we know that in Washington, D.C., being "anti-war" means being "anti badly managed wars in Iraq" for all but a handful of our representatives. It doesn't mean deconstructing the American imperial empire and actually being against war in general as a tool of foreign policy and being for redirecting more than a fraction of the trillions aimed at the Pentagon to more socially beneficial purposes. My local House Rep., Sam Farr (D-Santa Cruz, CA), is solidly liberal, and clearly thinks that he's being aggressive and progressive in proposing that just $60 billion of the $400 billion dollar defense budget (as he defines it) should be redirected elsewhere. Dismantling the Amercian imperial empire is just not on the agenda of even progressive Democrats in Washington, D.C.
I'm not saying that Obama wouldn't be a vast improvement over the lunacy we've had inflicted on us over the last six years - it feels really good, by contrast, when you stop pounding your bloodied head against the wall... at the same time, is this really the standard of comparison we should just our leaders by?
Shouldn't we expect more?
April 27, 2007
By Dave Johnson and James Boyce.
Will America be safer with a Republican president?
This has been the big "elephant in the room" question: the Republican branding of "strong on defense." Did any of the candidates knock this down?
Senator Clinton Senatorially said it is a "disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality" and then dived into policy details. "We haven't secured our borders, our ports, our mass transit systems ... resources haven't gotten to the front lines where decisions are made in local government..."
Senator Dodd also filibustered with boring policy details. "our first responders are not getting the support they deserve. The administration has been resistant in supporting them ... , not building the kind of international support -- stateless terrorism is a multinational problem ... requires a multinational response ... institutions we need to build to effectively engage and fight back against terrorism ... need to have leadership that knows how to build those relationships, to encourage that kind of participation..."
The other candidates didn't get a chance to respond, and politely did not.
But this is the question. This is, to many, the only question. Why didn't these candidates knock it out of the park?
We would not have been so polite. We would have made Mike Gravel look tame and shy -- shouting and waving our arms. We would have said:
"This is a lie. This is a marketing fraud perpetuated by the Right Wing against the American people. This is a well funded marketing program that is determined to mislead the American people and give them the Right Wing the power to send our sons and daughters to their deaths. It is just false.
This country was attacked on 9/11 and Americans died because this Republican administration was weak, not strong.
New York firefighters died because Rudy Giuliani was incompetent, and far from a hero.
The facts are clear. The Republicans market the myth. The Democrats deal in the reality of serving their country on the battlefield when they're young and keeping this country safer when they serve in Washington."
From the debate transcript:
MR. WILLIAMS: Governor, thank you. We're all out of time.
Senator Clinton, Rudolph Giuliani, a friend of yours from back home, said this past week, quote: "The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us." Another quote: "America will be safer with a Republican president." How do you think, Senator, it happened that that notion of Republicans as protectors in a post-9/11 world has taken on so?
SEN. CLINTON: Well, Brian, I think that, as a senator from New York, it is something that I've worked on very hard ever since 9/11 to try to convince the administration to do those things that would actually work to make us safer. And I think there's a big disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality.
You know, we haven't secured our borders, our ports, our mass transit systems. You can go across this country and see so much that has not been done. The resources haven't gotten to the front lines where decisions are made in local government the way that they need to, and I think that this administration has consistently tried to hype the fear without delivering on the promise of making America safer. And its foreign policy around the world, as you've heard from all of my colleagues here, has also made the world less stable, which, of course, has a ripple effect with respect to what we're going to face in the future.
So I hope that we can put that myth to rest. It is certainly something I will try to do during that -- the campaign.
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Dodd, same question. How has this label been attached to the Democratic Party, that the Republicans will protect America best?
SEN. DODD: Well, that's a great question, Brian, because it's a myth in the sense when you consider what this administration has done over six years, given the attacks we faced on 9/11. Here, our first responders are not getting the support they deserve. The administration has been resistant in supporting them. The war in Iraq -- we haven't been dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan, where our efforts should have been over the last number of years, not building the kind of international support -- stateless terrorism is a multinational problem. It's a tactic. It requires a multinational response. This administration has walked away from that. The very institutions we need to build to effectively engage and fight back against terrorism, this administration seems to take the other track and move in a different direction.
I would have answered your question earlier on what's a serious threat we face. It is stateless terrorism. It isn't states; it's the absence of diplomacy, the absence of engaging nations around the world to build those relationships that allow us to have a far more effective response to these -- this scourge that we face in this century. We need to have leadership that knows how to build those relationships, to encourage that kind of participation. This administration's done just the opposite.
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you.
April 25, 2007
Like poetry, like things I remember reading during the great awakening of the 60s: MyDD :: Ending the National Security State. Excerpt,
Like an organism, American adapted to this constitutional order. Highways sprawled outward, suburbs ate the landscape, cities died and were reborn, and American dotted the world with military bases. Education turned into a competition for credentials, a cultural war where the winners turned to legal drugs and the losers turned to illegal drugs upon which there was apparently a war. Wars on concepts actually became quite popular, often initiated by those from Texas. Democrats became the party of the status quo, Nixon criminalized politics, David Broder-esque pundit middle-managers infected discourse, TV became Geraldo-ified and the civil rights movement detached from its class-based origins and moved to a rights-based model even as black nationalists convulsed from within. The culture became lost in dreams and pain, addiction mainstreamed itself, a superwealthy class helped itself to everything, and young boys and girls adopted the role model of 'more'. The religion of America turned to anticommunism, which morphed nicely into anti-enlightenment and anti-reason. America today is full of promise, but this last fifty years has been ugly and full of spite. Better living through chemistry, baby.
And then, of course, came George W. Bush, a stupid man full of evil, lethargic weakness, and spite. In a tragic election, he beat Al Gore, a man who knew all that was wrong but could not bring himself to believe that the public wanted it fixed. Bush grew up in one of these artificial suburbs, helped himself to drugs, to superwealth, to educational connections. He dreamed of nothing but 'more', and he believed in wars on concepts. Bush was a man who epitomizes all that is wrong with America, but he was chosen by a Republican Party that reveres him and beat a Democratic Party that could not reject the hatred and authoritarian system that let him happen.
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 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 30, 2007
Broadcasting pictures of the captured British sailors and marines is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Unlike the United States, England has not withdrawn from that treaty.
We face here another example of the consequences of Bush's violation of the compact between a democracy and its leaders. When the leader of your country says he has information that we face imminent attack, you must believe him. Bush did this to lead us into an attack on Iraq, and was lying. So now Bush tells us that Iran is a threat to peace - and it probably is, as this recent action demonstrates. But we can not believe Bush and we can not trust that there is no hidden agenda involved.
As I have said before, if Bush and the Right's claims about Iran come out of true concern for the country, then Bush must step aside. We must have leadership that the people can trust to tell us this is so.
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 18, 2007
March 5, 2007
Have you been following the Walter Reed & VA Hospital mess? Read this. The Republicans privatized care at Walter Reed (corruptly throwing a contract to the SAME PEOPLE - Republican campaign contributors - who screwed up ice delivery after Katrina). They gutted the professional staff and cut everything so the money would flow to a few rich fucks instead of to caring for the troops.
But what are they telling the public? That it's an example of the problem with GOVERNMENT! After firing all the professional staff and outsourcing everything they're telling people that government can't fire people so they don't care about the troops.
Republicans: Gut the government, pocket the funds, then BLAME the government when things stop working.
Newsflash: Government-run health care sucks The Washington Post is back today with another story about the pitfalls of the military health care system.:Example: Government Healthcare and YOU!
If you’ve been watching the news lately you will most likely will have seen a special or two on the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The men and women who put their lives on the line for their country are being placed in horrible conditions.Example:
... THIS, is what you will get nation wide if you decide to hand over your health care to the federal government.
If you had any doubts about universal health care, which is to say, health care furnished and managed by the government, examine the complaints about the health care furnished our veteran's by the government.
If they can't get it together to furnish decent health care to our veteran's, what chance do the rest of us have?
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 6, 2007
Most of the Democratic leadership are veterans, and all the veterans who ran for Congress or the Senate in this last election ran as Democrats. I think no Republican leaders except McCain ever served in the military. But that doesn't matter to the so-called "Dean of the Washington Press Corps."
Start with Oliver Willis: David Broder Libels Democrats,
David Broder, the most insider of Washington insiders, perpetuates a lie and smears the Democratic party in "reporting" on this past weekend's meeting of the DNC.Then Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report,One of the losers in the weekend oratorical marathon was retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who repeatedly invoked the West Point motto of "Duty, Honor, Country," forgetting that few in this particular audience have much experience with, or sympathy for, the military.That's just a boldfaced lie by Broder, no two ways about it. I happened to be in attendance at the speech in question, just a stone's throw away from General Clark when he gave it. What David Broder is saying here is an absolute lie. The crowd in attendance stood on their feet, clapped their hands loudly and strongly time and time again when speakers - including Gen. Clark - invoked the service and sacrifice of America's fighting men and women.
I expect these kinds of dishonest smears from Limbaugh, Hannity, and O’Reilly, but Broder is supposed to be credible and serious. Why take such a gratuitous shot at the entire Democratic Party? Why intentionally perpetuate a right-wing lie? Why libel a political party with an observation that’s the opposite of the truth?They destroy our leaders. They $mear us. They $ell the myth of the masculine, all-powerful, all-protecting conservative Saviour.
There are two angles to Broder’s maliciousness — the facts about Clark’s reception at the meeting, and the broader myth Broder is inexplicably anxious to propagate.
... As for the broader point, how long will Dems have to put up with such transparent nonsense about the party not supporting the troops? How many war heroes — Kerry, Murtha, Webb, Cleland, etc. — have to become Democratic champions before Broder and his brethren give up on such ugly lies?
February 1, 2007
Is the Administration trying to prepare the US and world publics for military action against Iran? Is Iran a threat to the US? We are seeing some mixed signals, but I two analysts I respect think that is what is going on. One of them, - an Arab, says war is coming and it is over oil.
First the signals. The raid on the home of an Iranian diplomat last week and the capture of 5 Iranians by Amreican troops is a pretty clear shot across Iran's bow. Add to that the movement of a second carrier group with Patriot missiles into the Gulf and we see a second shot - especially since Iran is the only country with missile capability that could be the target of the Patriots. And then add to this Bush's refusal to talk to the Iranian government despite the urgings of the Iraq War Commission and Jim Baker, backed up by particularily threatening remarks by the VP on Sunday talk shows, all point to an Administration getting ready to do the unthinkable again.
However, from their point of view, Iran is becoming very dangerous and has already begun an attack on the US. An ABC report today details new armor-piercing IED's being used in Iraq by but made in Iran (if ABC has its facts right). There is little doubt among most MIddle East experts that Iran's President Ahmadinejad would build nukes if he could. Ahmadinejad is in deep political trouble at home and may not be re-elected, so he is doing what national leaders have done for centuries when faced with defeat at home - start a war. Only starting a war for him is not massed troops, but IED's, Hizbullah demonstrations, training for insurgents, pressuring Saudia Arabia to raise oil prices, supplying weapons to Nigerian insurgents trying to take over the delta oil fields, etc. In other words, there is evidence that the Administrtion is right - Iran is harming US interestrs and killing US soldiers.
Is a perceived threat from Iran what is behind the Administration's war signals? Francis Fukuyama, no progressive to be sure, sees something else: he wrote yestereday in The Guardian that " certain neoconservatives [advocate] military action against Iran. Some insist that Iran poses an even greater threat than Iraq, avoiding the fact that their zealous advocacy of the Iraq invasion is what has destroyed America's credibility and undercut its ability to take strong measures against Iran. All of this could well be correct. Ahmadinejad may be the new Hitler; the current negotiations could be our Munich accords; Iran could be in the grip of undeterrable religious fanatics; and the west might be facing a "civilisational" danger."
But, he continues, " I believe that there are reasons for being less alarmist....What I find remarkable about the neoconservative line of argument on Iran, however, is how little changed it is in its basic assumptions and tonalities from that taken on Iraq in 2002, despite the momentous events of the past five years and the manifest failure of policies that neoconservatives themselves advocated. "
In other words, Fukyama thinks the Bushies are being pushed by trhe remaining no-cons - i.e., the American Enterprise Institute - who refuse to accept anything other than the use of overwhelming military force as the solution to all of America's problems, even when the evidence that it does not work is obvious in Iraq.
Jamal Dijani, Director ofr Middle East Programming for LinkTV, sees a much more complex picture. Dijani daily program on Link TV, Mosiac, features news broadcasts from Arab, Iranian, Israelie television, translated into English, so he sees the detail that Fukyama, and the Administration, miss. His take, posted on YouTube,
While I think both Fukuyama and Dijani are correct, I think there is something much more simple going on, the Administration is panicked. Bush and Co. realize that the Congressional testimony of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that Bush has committed the worst military and diplomatic fiasco is American history is right, and that Bush will be forever known as our worst ever President and have the blood of thousands of Americans and Iraqis on his hands. Moreover, they are panicked that Rep. Waxman's investigations of the management of the occupation will turn up massive corruption inside the Administration and among big time Republican donors - leading to jail time for Republican appointees and fat cats, and the elimination of Republicans from the White House for decades.
The White House is panicked and is trying to do anything they can to either (1) Fix it - i.e, the "surge"; (2) Blame someone else, and since it won't stick to Clinton they are trying to tar the Iranians, and (3) if all else fails, start a war with Iran so they can rally the base, repeat "War President" to every question, and shut down Congressional investigations .
Hopefully, as Fukuyama says, while the neo-cons and panicked White house refuse to change, What may change is the American public's willingness to listen to them. Then all we have to worry about is blood for oil.
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 7, 2007
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."
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 3, 2006
In a continuing series, STF asks if it is legal for the Secretary of the navy to decide contracts based on the politics of the locality?
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter vetoed plans to commission the Makin Island, the Navy's newest and most powerful warship, in San Francisco in 2008 because of a perception that the city is anti-military.So San Francisco is not Republican enough to get military contracts? Didn't we just have an election in which the public voted AGAINST corruption?
October 20, 2006
In case you are not familiar with the term "drinking the Kool-Aid" it referes back to the Jim Jones Jonestown cult, who lined up to drink Kool-Aid mixed with cyanide.
And today, another example: Top US general says Rumsfeld is inspired by God,
The top US general defended the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.While very few in leadership positions in this country have kids in Iraq, outside of the Capital there are families, parents, friends and co-workers of the people serving there. I wonder what they think when they hear this stuff? Are they filled with confidence that the leadership is ... well, sane?
"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
So how is the Right reacting? Predictably, they're lining up to drink more Kool-Aid themselves:
Confederate Yankee is triggered into a fury at "far left liberals" and "the media" - just because AP reported the story,
As is typical of the left-leaning media, they seem amazed that leaders in these modern times pray for guidance from a power higher than themselves, and thought that detail was so newsworthy as to make it this story's lede. Other elements, such as Rumsfeld's controversial leadership style, and an apparent show of support at this ceremony from the military estalishment are far more newsworthy elements of the day's events to most people, but not so to AFP.
October 18, 2006
Here's something very important that dropped out of the news. After ignoring bin Laden from the time they came into office, the Bush administration also ignored very clear warnings that an attack was imminent. (Except Atty. General Ashcroft didn't ignore them - he started chartering jets instead of flying on commercial airlines.)
Remember this? Two Months Before 9/11, an Urgent Warning to Rice,
On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.And this?
Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away. There was no practical way she could refuse such a request from the CIA director.
For months, Tenet had been pressing Rice to set a clear counterterrorism policy, including specific presidential orders called "findings" that would give the CIA stronger authority to conduct covert action against bin Laden. Perhaps a dramatic appearance -- Black called it an "out of cycle" session, beyond Tenet's regular weekly meeting with Rice -- would get her attention.
A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.And this? Think Progress: Intel Officials: Rice’s July 2001 Briefing Described Urgent Threat, ‘10 On a Scale of 1 to 10′
... Officials now agree that on July 10, 2001, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism deputy, J. Cofer Black, were so alarmed about an impending Al Qaeda attack that they demanded an emergency meeting at the White House with Ms. Rice and her National Security Council staff.
According to two former intelligence officials, Mr. Tenet told those assembled at the White House about the growing body of intelligence the Central Intelligence Agency had collected pointing to an impending Al Qaeda attack.
Simon Rosenberg is launching NDN :: Campaign to Get Condi to Come Clean
Go read the rest.
Four Questions Secretary of State Rice must answer about the July 10th Meeting
Over the last two weeks conclusive evidence has emerged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received warnings
about imminent Al Qaeda attacks well before September 11th 2001.
Bob Woodward’s State of Denial provides specific details of an emergency meeting held on July 10th between Rice and CIA Director George Tenet and Director of the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center Coffer Black. In his crisis briefing Tenet warned of an imminent Al Qaeda strike, possibly in the United States.
Yet in statement after statement Rice has implied that she was not adequately warned about possible Al Qaeda attacks, and that she was not told of a possible attack on the United States. Meanwhile, details of this emergency meeting did not appear in the official report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the 9/11 commission,) despite being covered in depth by Tenet in his sworn testimony and reported by Time Magazine in 2002.
NDN believes that the Secretary of State must answer these four critical questions about the July 10th meeting. If she does not provide honest and adequate answers to these four questions, the American people will be forced to conclude that she and others lied about what they knew to cover up their inadequate response to the Al Qaeda threat.
Question 1: Why do you continue to deny that an “emergency meeting” took place on July 10th 2001 between yourself, CIA Director George Tenet and Director of the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center Coffer Black?
AND Go sign this petition, demanding Declassification and Release of Documents relating to the July 10, 2001 meeting!
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.
September 9, 2006
ABC's Path to 9/11 doesn't just fictionalize - it intentionally tells the public the very opposite of what happened. It doesn't just broadcast the right-wing myth that Clinton was responsible for 9/11, it also misleads the public into thinking that the Bush administration was trying to prevent the attacks. But in fact the Clinton administration was "obsessed" with preventing terrorism and the Bush administration ignored terrorism.
According to Joe Conason at Salon, in The Sept. 11 that never was,
The movie shows ... Condoleezza Rice demoting Clarke in January 2001 when she takes over as national security advisor. Clarke tries to warn her that "something spectacular" is going to happen on American soil, and she assures him that "we're on it," which they assuredly were not.This is pure right-wing propaganda, following the Republican campaign theme.
Indeed, the script downplays the neglect of terrorism as a primary threat by the incoming Bush team -- and never mentions the counterterrorism task force, chaired by Vice President Dick Cheney, that never met for nine months before 9/11. The famous Aug. 6 presidential daily briefing, which warned the vacationing Bush that al-Qaida intended to strike here, is given due attention. But the movie then shows Rice telling her associates that "as a result of the Aug. 6 PDB, the president wants to take real action" against al-Qaida. But the 9/11 Commission report's section on the PDB clearly states that the August warning was not followed up on by Rice. [emphasis added]
Update - Orcinus has more.
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.
August 30, 2006
The STF Rule: When Republicans accuse, it usually means they're doing what they are accusing others of.
Question -- does it embolden the terrorists to intentionally split the country right down the middle? Does it weaken the country in a time of war to accuse half of the country of being traitors and helping the enemy? Doesn't THAT "embolden the terrorists?"
August 25, 2006
The Republicans are pushing for war with Iran. They say Iran is an enemy, a threat, "evil," behind terrorism, etc.
This may be so. But if this is so, maybe the Republicans should give us some reason to think they believe this themselves before they ask us to believe them.
For example, Iran's income comes mostly from selling oil. As the price of oil rises, Iran has more income to use against us. So if the Republicans are serious when they say that Iran is a threat to the United States, shouldn't they be pursuing policies that result in lowering the price of oil, thereby reducing Iran's oil revenues?
What about raising the fuel economy requirements for cars? What about pushing energy conservation? What about funding serious alternative energy research? What about putting solar panels on all government buildings?
I could go on, but the point is that the Republicans are opposing all of these things. And this is just one more reason - along with the lack of a draft or taxes to pay for the war - to make me think they are not serious when they try to scare us about Iran and terrorism. In the propaganda age you have to learn to look only at what they do rather than what they say, and as far as I can see the terrorism/Iran/"Islamofascism" stuff is all talk, with little action on their part to back it up.
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 23, 2006
Yes, it is that bad.
Update - OK, yes, I was being too insider there, and need to explain for those not familiar with Power Line. Power Line is a far, far right-wing weblog. This is the Democrats-are-terrorists-who -must-be-executed-for-treason and immediately-nuke-Iran crowd. Power Line has a big picture of Ann Coulter - in an ad from Scaife's NewsMax - on its front page right now.
On Monday Power Line quoted a recent column calling Democrats "covert enemies ... in our midst" and went on to write that Democrats and liberals are,
a segment of our society that wields great power and wishes its own country great ill. I would only add that these liberals want us to lose, not just in some small corner, but with their whole hearts; in fact, our defeat is the only thing they whole-heartedly work for.That was Monday. On Tuesday the person who wrote that was getting a personal tour of the Oval Office from President Bush.
The news that Bush is spending time with (i.e. endorsing and validating) the far-right webloggers is very, very distressing to say the least.
August 21, 2006
Israel suffers from the cult of the offensive, which also afflicts the U.S. military. Believing that grabbing the initiative and taking the fight to the enemy wins wars, both of these militaries have stumbled into the tar pit of fighting wars that only guerrillas could love.
August 11, 2006
With a longer-term view of what's happening in Lebanon.
"What a silly person you are." "No justice no peace."
August 5, 2006
Israeli forces killed 33 agricultural workers Friday in northeast Lebanon in a wave of airstrikes that also pierced the country's Christian heartland for the first time and severed its last major highway link to the outside.Christian support to Israel dies under hail of bombs,
For the first 24 days of Israel's campaign against Hezbollah, Lebanese Christians in the Beirut area believed they were protected from the mayhem gripping other parts of the country.I wonder if Bush or the right-wingers calling them "ragheads" even know that Lebanon has a large Christian population.
...The Israelis' target was not the Christians of Jounieh but its bridges, two in the town and two a little to the north. The intent was to sever the last artery connecting Beirut to the outside world, and in that the Israelis succeeded.
But the strikes also destroyed whatever support Israel still enjoyed among Lebanon's Christians.
Among the dead was Joseph Bassil, a Christian. Out for his morning jog, he passed under the 300 metre Fidar bridge, to the north of Jounieh, just as it was destroyed by a huge bomb that pitched cars into the ravine below. Bassil was crushed to death and three motorists were killed.
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.”
August 3, 2006
Since the Vietnam War era, it has been common to say that wars are begun by powerful men whose sons stay home, while the sons of men and women with calluses on their hands and dirt under their nails cross oceans to fight, and perhaps to die.
... A White House aide, who requested anonymity because his information was preliminary, said Wednesday that he knew of no top Bush administration official who had a relative who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
August 1, 2006
The STF Rule -- when Republicans accuse, it means they're doing it themselves... And Republicans love to say liberals hate America.
This post at TownHall just drips with elitist hated of Americans. Townhall.com::A military draft?::By Thomas Sowell,
Back in the days of World War II, the military were drafting young men who were, by and large, patriotic Americans, people who felt that they had a duty to protect this country from its enemies.
Today, a military draft would bring in large numbers of people who have been systematically "educated" to believe the worst about this country or, at best, to be non-judgmental about the differences between American society and its enemies.
The fact that we could use a larger army of the kinds of people who have already volunteered to put their lives on the line does not mean that we can get it by adding warm bodies fresh from our politically correct schools and colleges, where standards and self-discipline are greatly lacking.
Just getting such people used to the idea of duty and discipline could be a major drain on the military, not to mention a plague of lawsuits from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union if the little darlings were not handled with kid gloves.Nasty.
More than that, so many American institutions, from the Congress to the courts, have degenerated into irresponsible self-indulgence that the military is one of the very few institutions left with a sense of purpose for which it is prepared to make sacrifices.
We dare not destroy that institution, or undermine its morale, by pouring into it very different kinds of people, who will be like sand poured into the gears of machinery.
July 31, 2006
Update - and just for the record: What I meant to say, and what I should have said, was that CHOOSING war is always wrong.
Atrios posted a YouTube video of Elvis Costello singing "Peace Love and Understanding." A simple message, but I'd like readers to reflect on this a minute.
I was born not long after the end of WWII. The world was sick of war and looking for ways to avoid it -- line the UN. For example, the UN's processes helped us back away from nuclear destruction during the Cuban Missile Crisis and has helped dampen many other conflicts. But somehow it seems that lessons have been unlearned since then, the most important of which is WAR IS WRONG. WAR IS THE WORST THING!
Today I turn on the AM radio and almost every station is blasting a message that war is a good thing. Seriously, listen to Limbaugh for a while. Or just listen to Bush the other day explaining why a cease fire is out of the question. And there are well-funded organizations working long-term to undermine the UN and other peacemaking efforts. Then there are the more subtle pushes toward war, the kind that ride under the radar of the media, doing things like encouraging India and Pakistan to develop ever MORE nuclear weapons. Or refusing to talk to North Korea or Syria or Iran... It is all cloaked in modern, soothing PR-speak, but it's war and aggression and it could bring the same consequences to humanity that it has always brought in the past.
Now we live in the Propaganda Age. Marketers have figured out how to use words and images to trigger deep emotions, distract our focus, fog our thinking and get us to do things we would never do otherwise. This isn't right or wrong - it's just science. It's just knowledge. But all of us need to catch up to the science here, and find ways to regulate it, counter it, protect against it. Europe learned the hard way what happens when unrestrained racist propaganda is put in front of people -- so now in much of Europe it is banned. Look at what unrestricted marketing has brought us -- a lung cancer epidemic, widespread obesity, massive debt, global warming and other forms of what I call "marketing diseases." And now they are marketing war. We are going to have to learn, probably the hard way, that we need collective agreement about restrictions on marketing.
We live a good life in America. But that doesn't mean it can't go all wrong. We talk about "withdrawal" from the Iraq war, as if that would end anything we have started. Tell me, do you think Japan could have called for a time out and "withdrawal" after Pearl Harbor? No, that is not how war works. Japan thought it could do a quick, surgical strike and knock out our capability - and will - to respond. They guessed wrong. And now, like Japan, we have leadership that is bringing war to others. So it is our responsibility - each and every one of us individually and together - to do what we can stop this madness NOW. This could escalate and place us all in direct danger - here, in our shopping malls, in our own homes, not sanitized on a TV screen. That could be our children being dragged from bombed buildings. We all have to start taking real action to stop the madness, beyond just watching it on a TV screen and clicking our tongues. This is our country's leadership doing this -- in our names. We cannot accept this. We must stop it.
July 28, 2006
Americans need to understand that the rest of the world is seeing very different images on their news broadcasts from what we are seeing here. VERY different.
Also, go watch Mosaic - excerpts from Middle Eastern news shows.
Just go watch a bit, and then try to reconcile what you see with what we are getting here from the news. The consequences to all of us are enormous.
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 20, 2006
Bush greenlights Israeli bombing of Lebanon with 25,000 Americans in-country and no plan for evacuation. Just like what happened when Katrina struck New Orleans, once again Amercans are left on their own while Republican government pursues a hidden ideological agenda and protects the interests of a select few.
This contrast between right-wing and public interest was also clear in 2003, when Bush interrupted his vacation to fly overnight to Washington to sign "emergency" legislation keeping brain-dead Terri Schiavo alive against her and her husband's wishes. This from the same President who two years before had received the August, 2001 intelligence warning titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US" and left FOR vacation.
And this time it's the same, with the Middle East in crisis Bush acts -- not to protect living Americans, but by vetoing the only bill he has vetoed, refusing to allow stem cell research because the discarded, frozen embyos must stay frozen. But Bush refuses to act to try to ease this crisis or to protect the 25,000 Americans trapped in Lebanon. Instead, surrogates smear them, just like how they smeared the victims of Katrina, in an attempt to provide PR cover and distract Americans.
The great Bob Geiger said to me this is like a TV show, "Survivor Lebanon," so I'm stealing the line. Because so-called "conservatives" believe in a philosophy of "you're on your own" and "everyone out for themselves," Americans are left trapped in a war zone while Bush vetoes stem cell legislation instead of working for peace.
July 19, 2006
In Whiskey Bar: The Silent Party, Billmon explains why we might be hearing (in a very bad way) from al Queda soon.
Also, we have an election coming, and al Queda is on record working to keep Republican incompetence in power here...
So seriously, watch your backs.
July 18, 2006
Meteor Blades asks what I think is one of the most important questions about the Middle East conflict: Daily Kos: How Do You Know What You Know? This is the question to ask yourself about everything you think you "know."
We live in what I call The Propaganda Age. We are bombarded from every direction with carefully crafted messaging from people who want to influence us. This goes wayyyy beyond just the marketing of products, significant and effective as that is. (Cigarette marketers convince people to kill themselves, but not before handing over their money. They even know how to make us blame the victims!) This is about the very foundation of what you "know." Because so much of what we "know" is just stuff designed to make us think things...
Think about the people in the Heaven's Gate "Comet Cult" who all killed themselves because they believed they would be transported to a spaceship hidden in the comet's tail. The "knew" that spaceship was there. That is the power of manipulated information, and that is why we must always question how and why we know the things we think we know.
Think about how loaded the word "terrorist" is. Extreme emotional loading is a good tipoff to psychological manipulation. Think about the emotional reaction attached to the idea of a terrorist. Think about the images that come into your mind - and the fear. You are justified in doing anything to a terrorist - setting aside the Geneva Conventions, torture, bombing an entire country into the ground - civilians and all - if there might have been a terrorist there. No one is thinking.
Most Americans think, at this point, that Arabs and Muslims are terrorists. I wonder if they are terrorists because "our oil is under their sand?" I mean, maybe it's about giving the public a justification for going over there and taking the oil, so we propagandize them as "terrorists."
Another example of something we "know": People "know" that President Ahmadinejad of Iran called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." But did he really? Juan Cole says this is an (intentionally?) incorrect translation,
But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that "the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time." It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.This does not excuse Ahmadinejad, who hates Jews and denies the Holocaust, for example. But it does show how expertly-placed propaganda can affect people's understanding of the world.
[. . .] The phrase he then used as I read it is "The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad)."
Ahmadinejad was not making a threat, he was quoting a saying of Khomeini and urging that pro-Palestinian activists in Iran not give up hope-- that the occupation of Jerusalem was no more a continued inevitability than had been the hegemony of the Shah's government.
And don't think my writing this is intended to excuse shooting rockets into civilian areas in Israel, or bombing power plants in Gaza or bridges in Lebanon. War is bad and wrong! War is the worst thing! THAT is something we ought to "know" for sure.
What Meteor says:
Our only choice is looking futureward to what a peaceful, secure, prosperous Palestine and Israel would look like in 50 years, and doing what little part we can to make that happen. We can't say that's their problem, not ours.
This post was written for and originally appeared at the Patriot Project, which is no longer on the web.
"Swiftboating" is defined in the Wikipedia as:
"an ad hominem attack against a public figure, coordinated by an independent or pseudo-independent group, usually resulting in a benefit to an established political force. Specifically, this form of attack is controversial, easily repeatable, and difficult to verify or disprove because it is generally based on personal feelings or recollections."
If you thought the tactic of "swiftboating" ended when John Kerry conceded the 2004 election, or perhaps when report after report and article after article after article refuted the "facts" or discredited those involved, you were wrong.
The professional Republican PR and campaign consultants who created, funded, and coordinated the attacks on John Kerry continue to spread their poison. And now, with the 2006 campaign season upon us they are ready to attack again, creating false stories and spreading doubt and mistrust about the more than fifty veterans running for Congress this fall. We can expect that candidates like Admiral Jim Webb, Admiral Joe Sestak, Lt. Colonel Charlie Brown and Captain Patrick Murphy will be targets for attack. So it’s a good idea to look back and understand what is happening here, how they have perfected the politics of political destruction since the strategy emerged, where some of them are now, and examine some ways to fight back.
Let's start with some background. In 2004, the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth claimed that Kerry was "unfit to serve" because, among other accusations, his wounds were "self-inflicted," and that he was guilty of "withholding and/or distortion of material facts" about his service in Vietnam. The accusations were later proven to be categorically false, and the funding and political team behind the group was shown to be closely associated with the Bush/Cheney campaign. Media Matters' compilation of evidence includes a link to this graphic from the August 25, 2004 New York Times article, Bush Campaign's Top Outside Lawyer Advised Veterans Group (and the chart and article only begin to touch on the connections).
But, even though false, the tactic worked. Public opinion shifted dramatically following the August 2004 attacks on Kerry. The Guardian story, Why America is still fighting the battles of Mekong Delta describes this shift beginning soon after the story began to hit the corporate media:
"A recent University of Pennsylvania poll showed that its attack ad questioning whether Kerry deserved his medals had been seen or heard of by half the voters questioned.
It also revealed that 44 per cent of independent voters found the advert at least somewhat believable. Meanwhile a CBS poll showed the number of veterans who supported Kerry had dropped from 46 per cent to 37 per cent." [emphasis added]
By the time of the "Swiftboat" attack on Kerry, the tactic of attacking and spreading doubts about the quality of a person’s service to the country had already been used successfully and refined. For example, in the 2000 South Carolina primary battle between George W. Bush and John McCain, Bush surrogates (several later involved in the Kerry swiftboating effort) skillfully turned McCain's service record against him (thereby deflecting questions about Bush's own service record.) They planted stories that the torture McCain suffered as a POW had brought about mental instability, including rumors that he had been programmed as a "Manchurian candidate" who "collaborated with the enemy." No longer could McCain use the fact that he had endured torture as evidence of dedication to serving his country.
The tactic was then used on Max Cleland in his 2002 Georgia Senate race against Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss attacked Cleland’s patriotism, "for breaking his oath to protect and defend the Constitution." Surrogates more recently accused Cleland, who lost 3 limbs in Vietnam and received the Bronze and Silver Star, of being injured from "dropping a grenade" when drunk.
Richard Clarke, President Bush's counter-terrorism advisor, was attacked after revealing that he had tried unsuccessfully to get the Bush administration to take al-Queda seriously as a threat before the 9/11 attack. Columnist Paul Krugman summarized "a campaign of character assassination" against Clarke, in which un-named administration officials were saying Clarke "wants to make a few bucks, and that [in] his own personal life, they're also suggesting that there are some weird aspects in his life as well." Other surrogates called him a "fraud."
Even Bush's own Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was attacked with intent to humiliate and discredit him, with inside sources alleging "no one listened to him," accused of misusing classified documents, and forced to recant after he revealed that the Bush administration had been planning to invade Iraq even before the 9/11 attacks.
And the tactic has continued since the 2004 swiftboating of Kerry. Ambassador Joe Wilson was famously attacked after revealing that the Bush administration had misled the public about Iraqi attempts to purchase "yellowcake" in Niger. His wife's undercover CIA status was "outed," ending her career, and he was accused of committing "treason," and being a "nutcase" and "liar."
In Ohio's 2005 special Congressional election, candidate Paul Hackett was smeared when the Jean Schmidt campaign questioned his service, asking if he "saw combat" and saying "I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all."
So why does swiftboating work? First, because it is simple, and lays down a clear good vs. evil, black-and-white narrative that is easily understood by regular people who lead busy lives and don't have the time and energy it takes to closely follow the news and track the real facts. And it is smart, professionally crafted, with tons of money available to do the necessary psychological, polling and focus group work that goes into developing messaging that resonates with the public, and getting that messaging into targeted channels with reach.
Another reason it works is because it is (excuse the pun) offensive. They say that the best defense is a good offense, and considering their candidates, the Republicans certainly needed a defense. The Republicans have for some time been riding a public perception that they are somehow "better" on defense issues than Democrats. But this certainly isn't true, and they know it. (After all, it wasn’t Democrats who went on vacation, ignoring the intelligence briefing titled "bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the US.") This perception gap has placed them in terrible fear that the voting public might come to see that the reality is very different from the conventional wisdom. There is also the fear that the pubic might realize that most of the Republican leadership actually had poor or nonexistent service records (see also "chickenhawks"), while many in the Democratic leadership served with honor.
And in a race between John Kerry and George W. Bush we had a clear contrast when it came to the question of serving with honor. Kerry graduated college and, in the heat of the Vietnam War, signed up for the military. He volunteered for Swift Boat duty in Vietnam. After college Bush managed to move to the head of the line to get into what was called a "champagne unit" of the Texas Air National Guard, while checking the box on his "Application for Extended Active Duty with the United States Air Force" that read "Do not volunteer for overseas." It was clear that any fair debate on who had the courage and desire to serve his country during wartime and who didn’t was going to go one way and only one way. So yes, the Republicans needed an offensive, distracting defense, and they found one.
So the Republicans decided to take the offense, and as us bloggers like to complain, the Democrats just seemed to take it. In the sixth century BC, Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, "Generally, he who occupies the field of battle first and awaits the enemy is at ease; he who comes later to the scene and rushes into the fight is weary." And in his widely-distributed Republican strategy book, The Art of Political War, David Horowitz advises candidates to "provide a shield from attack." He advises candidates to "lead with" a posture emulating an opponent's expected strength, writing, "...working away from the negative image your opponent wants to pin on you. If you know you are going to be attacked as morally imperious, it is a good idea to lead with a position that is inclusive and tolerant." So following Horowitz's advice (and they do), if you know that you're "weak on defense," you "inoculate" yourself by claiming that you are strong on defense, and attacking your opponent first as being weak on defense. (FYI - Republicans accusing others of what they are themselves doing is formally named "The STF Rule.")
And finally, in the landmark book Marketing Warfare, authors Trout and Ries talk about the tactic of turning a competitor's strength into a weakness. The idea is to find a way to use that strength against your competitor, so repelling your attack requires them to work against their own strong point. For example, since Hertz is number one, Avis advertises that their lines are shorter. It is hard for Hertz to counter that – what would they say, that they aren't popular? Similarly, by turning a record of honorable service against a campaign opponent, the opponent reminds the voters of the smear with every mention of that service.
Building on this, Bush adds an "audacity" approach. But don't take my word for it – see the Variety story, 'Swift-boat' pros in demand in D.C. Spinmeisters go negative:
"If you can construct believable stories with enough truth in them to smear somebody royally, boy, is there a pot of gold waiting for you in D.C. Spin doctors are nothing new in politics, but a certain type -- equal parts scriptwriter, opposition researcher and ruthless street fighter -- is increasingly in demand, and for good reason. Just ask John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential candidate who became the target object of a new verb: “swift-boating.”
[. . .] "Modern communication isn't about truth, it's about a resonant narrative," says Eric Dezenhall, a former Reagan administration aide and now president of his own crisis management firm. "The myth of PR is that you will educate and inform people. No. The public wants to be told in a story who to like and who to hate."
Already suspected by blue-collar America as an elite and effete New Englander, Kerry -- one of the handful of Ivy Leaguers who volunteered to go to Vietnam -- was red meat for the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ad that cast him as a Yale snot who'd come back from Vietnam to trash his largely working-class troops.
If that sounds audacious, it's because, as Dezenhall says, "We're living in an age of audacity," another fact GOP spinmeisters understand and exploit superbly.
"George Bush communicates in terms of audacity," Dezenhall says. Bush's response to questions about the wiretapping was to say that he's just trying to catch terrorists. Bold motivation, easily understood.
"Democrats communicate in terms of complexity," Dezenhall says, referring to their windy explications of a need to pursue enemies within the rule of law as spelled out in various court ..." (snorrrrrrrrrrre). [Emphasis added]
So with swiftboating you spread a smear to raise questions with the public about the opponent's patriotism or service. It doesn't have to be true (how quaint) it just has to raise questions. This "neutralizes" the honorable record of or otherwise "discredits" the advantages that opponent has against a Republican with a poor (like George W. Bush's) or no (like Saxby Chambliss or any number of other "chickenhawks") record.
And, finally, the Republicans have the money and organizational connections to overwhelmingly implement their strategy. According to Open Secrets, in 2004 the Swift Boat Veterans spent $22.5 million, Progress for America $35.6 million and the Bush campaign $345.2 million. This is on top of the huge amount of long-term money spent outside the election cycle by the network of conservative think tanks and business groups promoting conservative ideology and issues, repeating to the public in a thousand different ways and through a thousand different channels that conservatives are good and liberals are bad. (Have you heard that?)
Partially shown in the chart above, the anti-Kerry Swiftboat operation involved the interlocking efforts of "closely associated" Republican Party adjuncts like the Progress For America 527 organization, utilizing Party-affiliated consultants like Chris LaCivita, Merrie Spaeth, Keith Appell, Benjamin Ginsberg, Susan Arcaneaux, and companies like Political Compliance Services, Creative Response Concepts (CRC), DCI Group, Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm (SRCP) and The Pinkston Group. Also involved are conservative movement-affiliated media outlets like Media Research Center’s Cybercast News Service (CNS) WorldNetDaily or NewsMax, with Drudge Report, The Washington Times and Fox News operating as echoes and amplifiers to entice the major corporate media to pick up and repeat the smears.
The February, 2005 New York Times story, A New Target for Advisers to Swift Vets, provides an example of how this kind of interlocking smear operation continues, this time supporting the Social Security privatization efforts of the Bush-affiliated organization USA Next:
"To help set USA Next's strategy, the group has hired Chris LaCivita, an enthusiastic former marine who advised Swift Vets and P.O.W.'s for Truth, formerly known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, on its media campaign and helped write its potent commercials. He earned more than $30,000 for his work, campaign finance filings show.
Officials said the group is also seeking to hire Rick Reed, a partner at Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a firm that was hired by Swift Vets and was paid more than $276,000 to do media production, records show.
For public relations, USA Next has turned to Creative Response Concepts, a Virginia firm that represented both Swift Vets - the company was paid more than $165,000 - and Regnery Publishing, the publisher of "Unfit for Command," a book about Senator John Kerry's military service whose co-author was John E. O'Neill, one of the primary leaders of Swift Vets."
You might remember this anti-AARP attack ad, which was one result of this effort. Simple, good vs bad, literally using black-and-white:
Just recently the tactic was used against the "9/11 widows" who came under attack because they had demanded Congressional oversight of the Bush Administration. In return for asking that Congress do its job they were smeared as "enjoying their husbands' deaths." Note how the attack neutralizes their "strength" – the credibility and sympathy they receive from the public because they lost their husbands. This is ongoing, it followed similar attacks by Rush Limbaugh in 2004.
And now there are attempts to do the same with Congressman John Murtha. In a duplication of the Swift Boat attacks, even including similarly-named websites (since moved to bootmurtha.com), some of the very same people involved1 have regrouped to attack Murtha for coming out in opposition to President Bush's Iraq strategy (or lack thereof). Previously, Rep. Jean Schmidt, the same Republican member of Congress who used swiftboating tactics on candidate Paul Hackett, had called Murtha a "coward" on the floor of the House.
There is some good "fighting back" news on the Murtha front – saved for later.
And now there is an election coming, with lots of "Fighting Dems" running for office – and the swiftboaters are back in the water. Here are some examples of the most recent crop of swiftboatings from the same scoundrels. Expect more, watch for it so you’re not surprised, and learn how to FIGHT BACK!
Christopher A. LaCivita is an example of a professional Republican operative working with the swiftboaters. LaCivita served as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth media strategy advisor. Previously LaCivita served as the political director for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Executive Director for the Bush-campaign-associated Progress For America organization (founded by 2000 Bush campaign political director Tony Feather). He was an employee of DCI Group when he went to work for the Swiftboat Vets.
There are conflicting stories about how the group connected with Party professionals like LaCivita. A Richmond Times-Dispatch article (referred to here)2 says:
"Retired Rear Adm. Roy Francis Hoffmann, chairman of the swift-boat group and a virtual neighbor of LaCivita in Chesterfield County ... said CRC (Creative Response Concepts), a public-relations firm in Arlington, put the group in touch with LaCivita. CRC is involved in a number of conservative causes."
But a Knight Ridder story, Anti-Kerry Veterans' group now political machine with big budget3, reports that major Bush-connected Republican funders enabled the connections,
"O'Neill said he researched how to form and run [a 527] and got help from Political Compliance Strategies, a suburban Washington organization. Political Compliance Strategies is led by Susan Arceneaux, who was the treasurer of a political action committee associated with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican. [...] Texan Harlan Crow, a trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library Fund, which honors the current president's father, gave $25,000 [note, post-election records show the Crow donations as $100-125,000]. Bob J. Perry, a major GOP donor in Texas and a friend of Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, gave $100,000 on June 30, according to a financial report. [Note, according to John O’Neill Perry ultimately gave a total of $7 million.]
"I'm certain some of the people giving us money are doing it because they think this will help their side of the campaign," O'Neill said. "It's probably fair to say the people more likely to help us are Republicans."
With money in hand, the group was able to bring on advisers led by Chris LaCivita, a political strategist and an expert in TV ads. LaCivita had worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2002. Last year, he became the executive director of PFA (Progress for America), a Republican-affiliated tax-exempt organization founded by Tony Feather, the political director of Bush's campaign in 2000."
Following the Swift-Boat episode, LaCivita went to work for USA Next, shown above attacking the AARP.
LaCivita now advises George Allen's Virginia Senate campaign against Jim Webb. And it didn't take long for the swiftboating to begin. But that is also saved for later.
(And by the way, in that IRS information linked above, was that the same Admiral Roy Hoffman as this one?
"Finance reports filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service show Swift Boat contributed $100,000 on February 8, 2006 to an outfit called the Admiral Roy F. Hoffman Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia. In 2005, the group donated $10,000 to Hoffmans foundation, $100,000 to the Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation and spent $132,087 on meeting expenses at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.")
The Republican firm that employed LaCivita, Feather Larson Synhorst-DCI (FLS-DCI), comes out of the tobacco industry and does work for such clients as the NRA, (helping them after Columbine,) Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the National Pork Producers Council (no comment). For others, see Unsavory DCI Clients:
"… DCI seems willing to work with some of the most controversial clients in the world. In 2002, it received $340,000 for eight months of work for the Union of Myanmar (Burma) State Peace & Development Council. The Washington Post’s Al Kamen wrote, "DCI's filings with the Justice Department offer an unusual glimpse into the efforts by the Rangoon junta. DCI lobbyists, featuring Charles Francis, a longtime family friend of the Bushes, ran a sophisticated campaign to improve the regime's image—and steer the conversation away from its rampant human rights abuses and such."
And DCI isn’t just using the tactics in politics! They're also using it for corporate clients. (If it works, do it again and again…) From this story, HM GETS PR HELP WITH ATTACKS:
"Houghton Mifflin, publisher of a best-selling children's book critical of the fast-food industry, has brought in Dan Klores Communications to help rebut what it sees as "Swift Boat-Style campaign" attacks on the tome. ... HM sees a "cloud of disinformation" working against the book and orchestrated by the PR firm DCI Group at the behest of the fast-food industry. It has brought in DKC to guide PR for its defense. SVP Ed Tagliaferri heads the work at DKC."
"Tobin was the ranking Republican official involved in the New Hampshire phone-jamming operation. An employee of DCI Group at the time of sentencing, he had reported to Chris LaCivita, the NRSC's National Political Director, and to Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), the Senate Majority Leader."
Keith Appell is an employee of Swift Boat media consultants Creative Response Concepts, former Club for Growth spokesperson and former John Ashcroft campaign consultant. Also, according to the Washington Post:
"But Keith Appell, a well-known Republican media adviser in Washington, said same-sex marriage is issue number one now for social conservatives. He has close ties to people like Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Concerned Women for America president Sandy Rios -- the sort of people who can pick up the phone and get Karl Rove at the White House."
Appell was involved with CRC in the Dan Rather Forgeries story. According to the PR Week story, TWO DC FIRMS RAMP UP EFFORTS OVER LATEST PRESIDENTIAL CONTROVERSIES4:
"After the CBS story aired, [CNS] called typographical experts, got them on the record that these papers were fishy, and posted a story by 3pm Thursday," said CRC SVP Keith Appell. "We were immediately in contact with Matt Drudge, who loved the story." CRC worked with CNS and the Media Research Center, another media watchdog client, to push the story into the mainstream press."
So where is Appell now? In May, 2006, Appell joined the John Raese campaign against Senator Robert Byrd. And how long did it take for the swiftboating to begin? Not long: June, 2006, John Raese Approves Dishonest Attack Ad "accusing Senator Robert Byrd of voting against the troops."
Merrie Spaeth, another Republican-connected consultant, was the original Swift Boat media consultant. How Republican-connected is she? Her husband was George W Bush's Texas running mate in 1994. She had been a Reagan administration press officer, provided debate preparations to George HW Bush, was a volunteer consultant to Ken Starr, advised Wyly brothers Republicans for Clean Air attack on McCain in 2000 – which, incidentally, was funded by some of the same supporters who funded the Swift Boaters.
Following the Swift Boat episode she wrote the "WORDS MATTER" column distributed by the UPI wire service (owned and operated by the Unification Church, also known as the "Moonies" – who also own The Washington Times, Insight Magazine and World & I Magazine, but that's a topic for a whole other article), and is listed for speaking engagements at Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau, asking $5-10,000 per event. She was also added as a commenter on public broadcasting in June of 2005.
Ms. Spaeth showed up in several news stories posing as a "friend" of Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Meirs, naturally without being identified as a long-time Republican PR professional.
Rick Reed of Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm (SRCP) was hired by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And what have they been up to, you ask? Working with LaCivita at USA Next, for one. From Maine Firm to Help "Dynamite" Opposition to Social Security Privatization:
"The Maine connection comes through Rick Reed, partner at the Maine firm Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm who USA Next is attempting to hire."
And SRCP is continuing to otherwise stir up trouble. March 2005: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Speak Out Against Misleading Driver’s License TV Ad:
"Recently, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License, released a television advertisement [created by Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm] regarding the issue of illegal immigrants' access to photo IDs and drivers' licenses. The advertisement incorrectly conflates the issues of immigration and national security while also inflaming fears about Arabs, Muslims, and Arab-Americans. In effect, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License utilizes anti-terrorism rhetoric to push their anti-immigration agenda."
For 2006 campaign SRCP has signed up with two Ohio Republicans, Craig Foltin and Frank Guglielmi, and sending a media consultant with the Ray Meier campaign in New York. Swiftboating is sure to follow.
The Donateli Group reappeared with the Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN). Additionally, a Kos diary informs us that "JCN has also hired Creative Response Concepts (CRC), the public-relations firm that "advised Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" with, Hughes for America informs us: Ohio's notorious Ken Blackwell acting as spokeman.
Most recently, Donateli is connected with Vets for Freedom, a Bush support group that condemns Rep. John Murtha.
These are examples of some of the better-known Republican swiftboaters, how they work, what they’ve done and what they’re doing now. Meanwhile, of course, "conservative-movement" outlets like Media Research Center's Cybercast News Service and other echo outfits like NewsMax, Washington Times and WorldNetDaily will be ready to spread the poison as it's produced.
So how DO we fight back? They'll keep doing this as long as it works. But maybe Jim Webb is showing us one way to make it stop working.
This is what was saved for later. These are examples of fighting back! With Chris LaCivita involved in Virginia’s George Allen Senate campaign, it didn't take long before the swiftboating began, with the campaign attacking Jim Webb’s patriotism. But the Webb campaign was ready. From Webb Rips into Allen over flag:
"George Felix Allen Jr. and his bush-league lapdog, Dick Wadhams, have not earned the right to challenge Jim Webb's position on free speech and flag burning," Webb spokesman Steve Jarding said in a press release. "Jim Webb served and fought for our flag and what it stands for, while George Felix Allen Jr. chose to cut and run.
"When he and his disrespectful campaign puppets attack Jim Webb, they are attacking every man and woman who served. Their comments are nothing more than weak-kneed attacks by cowards."
Webb was a Marine in Vietnam, serving as a rifle-platoon leader and company commander. He received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, Jarding noted.
… "This is straight out of the Republican playbook ... taking a candidate's strength and trying to turn it into a weakness," Denny Todd said. "It's what Chris LaCivita did with Swift Boats against John Kerry."
LaCivita helped orchestrate the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" attacks during the 2004 Bush campaign. He now works for Allen.
"It's been said that Democrats aren't willing to fight back in campaigns," Denny Todd said. "Well, we're willing. We're not letting them get away with it."
… "While Jim Webb and others of George Felix Allen Jr.'s generation were fighting for our freedoms and for our symbols of freedom in Vietnam, George Felix Allen Jr. was playing cowboy at a dude ranch in Nevada," Jarding said. "People who live in glass dude ranches should not question the patriotism of real soldiers who fought and bled for this country on a real battlefield."
[. . .] Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, agreed with Sabato. "It's said the best defense is a good offense and it's clear Webb isn't going to be bullied like John Kerry was two years ago," Farnsworth said."
Now THAT is powerful. As discussed earlier, the swiftboating tactic is based on a strong offense, surprise, extreme audacity and a dependence on the media repeating the charges. With a very strong, fighting response, Jim Webb has found one answer. Webb was ready to fight back with a strategy in place. He fought back immediately with a strong counter-punch. He exposed the plot, describing the "playbook" strategy and naming the players. He exposed the weaknesses the Allen campaign was trying to distract people from. And he gave the media a simple, good vs. evil storyline about the swiftboating playbook and Democrats fighting back.
And, as Taylor Marsh wrote just a few days ago in The Swiftboating of John Murtha at Patriot Project, there is also an ongoing attempt to swiftboat Representative John Murtha for questioning the wisdom of President Bush's Iraq policies. But bloggers and others fought back, exposing the tactic and exposing that so many of the same people and organizations were involved. As discussed above, the Republicans desperately need distractions and misdirections to turn the public's and media’s eyes away from their own foreign policy and national security weaknesses. But this time we have been getting ready, and information about the swiftboaters is available. Because we have started fighting back and exposing the swiftboaters, the stealth and surprise of the tactic are blunted. As the bloggers and organizations like Patriot Project continue their work, exposing and fighting back, maybe – just maybe – we can beat this.
Dave Johnson is the lead blogger at Seeing the Forest and a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute, where he studies the conservative movement’s network of foundations and think tanks and the extent of their influence on American society.
 Richmond-Times Dispatch on LaCivita introduction to SBVFT available on Nexis, but is referred to here: http://www.augustafreepress.com/stories/storyReader$25489
 Knight Ridder, Sept 12, 2004, at http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1:121841720/Anti-Kerry+Veterans+group+now+political+machine+with+big+budget.html?refid=SEO
 DCI using swiftboating for a corporate client: HM GETS PR HELP WITH ATTACKS, Dyer’s PR Daily, June 2, 2006, members only: http://www.odwyepr.com/members/0602mifflin.htm. Available on Nexis.
 PRWeek: can be seen at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1219349/posts
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 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.
July 6, 2006
I tried to watch the video linked from NORAH O'DONNELL GROSSLY CARICATURES ANTIWAR POSITION ON IRAQ.
But I can't. It only lets you watch if you are using Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I use FireFox. Great. Corporate power used to force me to use a product.
So I powered up Internet Explorer, and this is really worth watching, as much to see how the corporate press treats Americans who disagree with Bush, as anything else. "Fringes, extremist" etc...
You hear about concentration of media into a few corporate hands -- watch this video to see what that means. It's similar to what happens when you allow an operating system to become a monopoly.
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 22, 2006
Raw Story reports that President Bush and British Prime Minister Blair are set to make a joint announcement of a 'phased withdrawal' from Iraq.
The process has already been carefully choreographed in an attempt to bolster the popularity of both Bush and Blair who have suffered domestically for their handling of the war.Just in time to make it appear that Iraq should not be an election issue.
The scope of the phased withdrawal, which will see the 133,000 US force levels cut to around 100,000 by the end of the year and British numbers almost halved, has already been agreed, one senior defence source said.
... It will be described as a "transition" to Iraqi security forces taking control of the country rather than a withdrawal to avoid it looking as though the allies are being forced out by rising levels of attacks on their forces.
The Americans have already lost more than 120 servicemen in the past six weeks, making it one of the worst periods for casualties since last autumn.
May 19, 2006
I saw a story on the right-wing blogs and other news sources this morning, that the Iranians had passed a law requiring Jews and Christians to wear identifying "badges." This follows a recent report, repeated everywhere and now conventional wisdom, that the President of Iran had called for "wiping Israel off the map." That report was not correct - knocked down by Juan Cole, who wrote about the (intentional?) mistranslation in his now-famous post about Christopher Hitchens and those in Washington fishing for (or creating) a pretext for war.
And, of course, the "badges" story is also false, circulated to drum up popular support for war against Iran. Yet ANOTHER enemy for us to hate, who is "just like Hitler." Like the "babies thrown from incubators" story that launched the first Gulf war, stories like this are circulated to lay down a smokescreen to confuse the public and create that pretext for war. See: Iran report of Holocaust-style badges questioned,
"It's absolutely factually incorrect," ... "Nowhere in the law is there any talk of Jews and Christians having to wear different colours. I've checked it with sources both inside Iran and outside."I'm not defending Iran here - not at all. If the Iranian Ayatollahs have their way the world will be much worse off. I'm just pointing out that in the Propaganda Age, you have to learn to question what you hear - especially when it's designed to hit you in the gut and make you want to kill.
"The Iranian people would never stand for it. The Iranian government wouldn't be stupid enough to do it."
Political commentator and 940 Montreal host Beryl Waysman says the report is true, that the law was passed two years ago.
April 15, 2006
"Citizens" of the United States don't even seem to have a right to know when our own country is at war. See The Raw Story | Retired colonel claims U.S. military operations are already 'underway' in Iran
April 9, 2006
If this country so much as opens the question to serious consideration "whether first-strike nukes are justified in the present world," then we are already halfway down the path to a nuclear holocaust. All it will take to tip it over is one more major terrorist attack, and Bush will guarantee the nukes will fall. And if you don't think there will be another major terrorist attack in America, either a real one or one faked by this administration, you have not been paying attention to what has been going on. Bush's nuclear policy is quite clear: from the start he's wanted to be the first president since Truman to drop a nuclear bomb.
On Monday, someone must ask McClellan: Is George Bush planning to start a nuclear war?
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 16, 2006
Everything Kevin says in this post. Go read it.
See the forest. Learn to look at what Republicans do, not what they say. They say they think Iran is a threat because Iran could develop nukes, but they vote against increasing port security. They voted against installing radiation monitors. They voted against requiring scanning of containers entering the country.
And then they accused Democratic Senator Feingold of siding with the terrorists.
February 22, 2006
This posting on Baghdad Burning about a "raid" gives me a vastly greater appreciation for, and understanding, of what the 4th Amendment (protection against "unreasonable searches and seizures") to the U.S. Constitution was put in place for.
This is not how you "win friends and influence people". Imagine if this were your home, or your neighborhood. Again... profoundly disturbing, even gut wrenching.
February 13, 2006
From the UK's Independent: Into the valley of death: UK troops head into Afghan war zone. Here's the lead:
Suicide bombings and firefights, Western troops under attack, sectarian clashes between Shia and Sunni, foreigners taken hostage. Days of escalating violence have left dozens of people dead and more than a hundred injured. This is not Iraq but Afghanistan, a conflict which has now overtaken on the grim league table of body counts [em. mine, TL] - 89 killings in the last eight days in Afghanistan compared with 54 in Iraq during the same period.
Later on in the article, there's this dandy tidbit: "Nato commanders acknowledge that terrorist techniques are being imported from Iraq to Afghanistan and Islamist fighters are entering the country in ever-increasing numbers from Pakistan." It ends with a comparative timeline of fatalities and violence in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past eight days.
... and what does America's media have to say about this phenomenon? Nothing!!! A couple of wire service articles about a week ago, nothing since, and no independent reporting whatsoever. Do a search for n"afghanistan helmand" (Helmand is the most violent province in Afghanistan), and see for yourself. Note: it appears that a few minutes ago, the news broke that four U.S. soldiers have been killed in a bombing... what do we get? Brief wire reports.
The difference between the level of coverage devoted to this issue in the U.S. and internationally is flat out astounding. Something is seriously wrong... we're pouring a couple billion a month into Afghanistan (at least), 214 U.S. troops have been killed there, the overall situation is deteriorating daily, and not one American media institution cares to look into what's happening there and report back to the American people. Shameful!
February 8, 2006
Another screed from Paul Craig Roberts arrived in my inbox this morning... this time, about the rush to war against Iran and how party loyalty has become the "controlling virtue" of the Republican Party. A link at the top of the email lead me to AntiWar.com, which he regularly writes for. Novel, to say the least: a conservative (and make no mistake, he remains one) lobbing one broadside after another at Dubya and his criminal coitere! How is this possible?!? Why hasn't he fallen in line behind the Bush Administration with the rest of the "conservative" movement?
Simple: he's a small-l libertarian, and thus his politics are orthagonal to the left/right axis that political beliefs in this country conventional align themselves along... this is why he is associated with the The Independent Institute, the strongest and most consistent "conservative" critic of state power, the war in Iraq, and Bush's attacks on civil liberties and the Constitution. While I disagree with many of the positions taken by the folks there, I admire them for their forthright consistency: they oppose the expansion of state power in any form, and most definitely, in the form this administration has taken... destruction of civil liberties, disregard for the Constitution, vast expansion of the war machine, etc. No politics of convenience for these guys (unlike the rest of the right).
The cynic in me wonders if they are permitted to continue to exist in order to provide an outlet for frustrations of these sorts, or if the organization has paid a price for its ongoing and vociferous criticism of the war in Iraq and the Bush Administrations ever expanding view of Presidential perogatives.
February 6, 2006
Another right-wing blog makes light of troop deaths; small dead animals: Motorcycles More Dangerous Than Combat
February 5, 2006
I don't know if Iran is developing nuclear weapons. I don't know how far they are from doing so if they ARE developing nukes. And I can't trust the current government of the country to tell the truth on such matters - especialy with an election coming in November. Four years ago they used war fear to blatantly manipulate the election.
In my opinion, if Iran IS developing nuclear weapons, and is close to capability, it is a very serious threat to millions of lives directly and to overall world peace indirectly. But this was also the case if Iraq was developing nukes -- and it turned out that they weren't, that it was all just a lie.
If this, 'The new Afghanistan is a myth. It's time to go and get a job abroad', is the Bush Administration's definition of "success", what do you think Iraq will look like, five years from now? (and remember, the descriptions below are from Kabul, the relatively stable center of the country where most of the economic development funds have been targeted)
A United Nations report concluded last year that Afghanistan remains one of the world's least developed countries, ranking 173rd out of 178 countries surveyed. For every 1,000 babies born in Afghanistan, 142 die before their first birthday. An Afghan woman dies in pregnancy every half-hour. Overall life expectancy is estimated at just under 42 years.
In the bombed remains of Kabul's Ministry of Energy, Nasir Salam, aged eight, skips through the mud, his jacket flapping in the wind, exposing his skinny ribs. He is running towards a vast mound of rubbish where children are playing with kites, one of Afghanistan's most popular pastimes, although the kites are composites of plastic bags and greasy lengths of string. The youngsters are badly malnourished, their hair and flesh a mass of sores. their chests wheezing. On the road that runs parallel to the slum, their mothers congregate, dressed in filthy burqas and chadris, eyes visible through latticed slits as they bang on car windows begging for money. Others like them had earlier caught a bus to beg in central Kabul, hoping that passing aid workers will spare a dollar. Idle men are everywhere, standing in small groups amid creeks of raw sewage.
See also, "Afghanistan Five Years Later", on OpEdNews.com
If you could point me to a decent article on the topic in American media, I'd appreciate it. Fair amount of coverage re: the "Afghan Compact" (five year pledge to donate $10 billion by Western nations), but damn little about Afghanistan on the ground, from what I could find.
February 2, 2006
It appears to depend on who answers the question... if you're a member of the British media, he has clearly and unambiguously turned against the war in Iraq and thinks we need to get out now... if you're a member of the American media, he is "troubled" and has "doubts" and his opinion is less than clear. If you read American press, 17% of returning American soldiers have PTSD (~20,000), if you read the British press, "almost a third, 40,000" return with a mental illness.
I've posted a series of links below the fold to what stories I could find about how Blake Miller is dealing with the aftermath of his service in Iraq. Using Google News, I was surprised to be presented with a remarkably sparse set of results, considering his former media prominence... a few local stories, a couple of stories in major urban newspapers (but not the big daddy papers), two stories in British papers, and that was pretty much it (plus one apparent appearance on a television talk show). You'd think the story of the man behind the most iconic visual image of the war in Iraq would command more attention.
Read the links, and tell me what you think - the articles all seem to be based on a single interview, or at least a series of interviews producing a remarkably similar set of quotes (some of which are more detailed than others); makes me think that Miller held a press conference or group interview. The divergence of the takes, to me, is startling.
What also is startling, and saddening, is how much harm he and other Iraq war veterans have suffered - even though he's physically intact (mostly: he has no hearing in one ear, his right, which I can personally attest to is quite a pain in the ass), he's severely scared, mentally - but is he on any "casualty" list of killed or wounded veterans? No. He's only 21, but he sounds like he's aged a hundred years since graduating high school, and he's clearly not the same man who left Pike County, Kentucky, three years ago.
'Marlboro Man' Turns Against War He Symbolised, by Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, February 2, 2006
The former Marine says he now questions the US tactics and believes troops should have been withdrawn some time ago. He said: "When I was in the service my opinion was whatever the Commander-in-Chief's opinion was. But after I got out, I started to think about it. The biggest question I have now is how you can make a war on an entire country when a certain group from that country is practising terrorism against you. It's as if a gang from New York went to Iraq and blew some stuff up and Iraq started a war against us because of that."
I'M BURNED OUT: Marlboro Man, American GI hero of Iraq, has post traumatic stress, Ryan Parry Us Correspondent In New York, The Mirror, 31 January 2006
The man who once thought George Bush could do no wrong as "Commander in Chief" also believes the war is a disaster.
"I'm glad I fought for my country but I wouldn't do it again. It blows my mind that we're still over there."
Stricken by doubts about the war, he said: "After Fallujah it was time for us to pull out of Iraq. How can you make war on an entire country when only a certain group is against you?"
American media (you'd think there would be an article in the NYT or the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times or USA Today):
THE WAR WITHIN, Matthew B. Stannard, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, Sunday, January 29, 2006
[A long, detailed profile, lots of quotes and supporting material, but not one unambigous statement about his feelings regarding the war, or our presence there today.]
Miller himself seems torn -- proud of the troops fighting for freedom, but wondering whether there was a peaceful way, to find terrorists in Iraq without invading.
There was no time for such questions in Fallujah. But now, at night, when he can't sleep, Miller thinks of the men he saw through his rifle scope, and wonders: Were they terrorists fighting against America? Or men fighting to protect their homes?
Former Marine is "Marlboro Man" no more, By Jim Warren, Knight Ridder Newspapers, Lexington Herald-Leader (kentucky.com), January 22nd, 2006
He has gone through other changes, including doubts about the war.
"When I was in the service, my opinion was whatever the commander in chief's opinion was," he said. "But after I got out, I really started thinking about it. ... The biggest question I have is how you can make war on an entire country, when a certain group from that country is practicing terrorism against you. It's as if a gang from New York went to Iraq and blew up some stuff, and Iraq started a war against us because of that.
"I agree with taking care of terrorism. But after terrorism was dealt with, the way it was after Fallujah, maybe that was the time for us to pull out. That's just my opinion. It blows my mind that we've continued to drag this out."
'Marlboro Marine': Home Front Woes, CBS NEWS, Early Show, NEW YORK, Jan. 3, 2006
[All about the PTSD, which I think was the main point of Blake Miller going public, trying to enlighten folks about the effects of it and the lack of resources, etc. and difficulties American veterans are having. Nothing about the war at all. -Thomas]
Startling difference? ... or perhaps not that startling, if you share my cynical opinion about American media, or the conviction that media elsewhere are determined to spin the war in a negative fashion (as a conservative might believe). Deliberate? Unconscious? A total conincidence of focus?
February 1, 2006
It gets worse every day. At AMERICABlog, Pentagon trying to censor top US political cartoonist. I'm not even going to quote from it, just go read it.
This is THE MILITARY DIRECTLY THREATENING A NEWSPAPER on behalf of the Republican Party. This is WAYYYY beyond unprecedented. This is past "find a safe refuge in Canada" time. This is a serious WATCH YOUR BACKS!!!!
Update - the threats keep-a-coming!
You are an enemy of this country. Your day will come.
Think of some idiot (Bush) setting off a bomb outside a building full of people, the bomb damages the building but not quite bad enough that it collapses, and then you have to stand there holding up a wall. If you let go the wall collapses, kills all the people in the building, and kills you. But while you are standing there the people are fighting instead of doing what they need to do to shore up the building themselves. You're getting tired of standing there holding up the wall. But, like I said, if you let go the building collapses on the people and kills you, too. THAT is what Bush has brought us.
Nobody knows why we are in Iraq. Or, putting it a different way, everybody knows -- a different reason. Every smallest demographic was fed a reason they might buy into. Recent MyDD polling shows what I mean:
...we asked people why they support or oppose the war. We did so with our open-ended question 13: "Why is that?"The larget single reason was "Remove Saddam from power", and 7.4% said THAT was the reason we are in Iraq. Saddam gone is working out great - FOR IRAN, not us.)...Support Sufficient information regarding weapons: 6.2 Remove dictator Saddam Hussein / free Ir: 7.4 Support family / people in armed forces: .9 We are in danger / we have to protect ou: 5.1 Support our President, G. W. Bush / elec: 3.5 We were attacked first at the World Trad: 3.6 Better there than in the USA: 3.5 Inevitable / someone had to do something: 3.3 Should have dealt with Saddam Hussein du: .3 We must fight terrorism: 5.8 It is the right thing to do: 3.0 Support - other: 2.2 Support - don't know / refused: 1.1
So we seem to be in Iraq for twelve different reasons - which means THERE IS NO REASON WE ARE THERE. Except that we ARE there, and if we leave now a civil war will kill hundreds of thousands and possibly start a regional and potentially global conflict. We are there because Bush screwed up so bad that we are in a mess we can't really leave. Great.
Cindy Sheehan, after being arrested last night for the crime of opposing Bush: What Really Happened,
I told him that my son died there. That's when the enormity of my loss hit me. I have lost my son. I have lost my First Amendment rights. I have lost the country that I love. Where did America go? I started crying in pain.
What did Casey die for? What did the 2244 other brave young Americans die for? What are tens of thousands of them over there in harm's way for still? For this? I can't even wear a shrit that has the number of troops on it that George Bush and his arrogant and ignorant policies are responsible for killing.
January 24, 2006
Senator Rick Santorum recently urged his constituents NOT to enlist, and to instead "put on a bumper sticker." See Ask Not What Santorum Can Do For You,
What I'm asking all of you tonight is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker.Not supporting troops is one thing. Urging constituents NOT to enlist is wayyyyy over the line.
January 16, 2006
Now Bush is telling us that Iran is a threat. (That's Iran with an 'n', not Iraq with a 'q'.)
Iran may well be a threat. This may well be a serious crisis. But we have a problem: a President with no credibility. Mid-2003 I wrote,
Saying there was an imminent threat from Iraq when, at the very least, the intelligence did not support such a claim, opens the public up to doubt the next time a President needs to protect us from an ACTUAL threat. .... He has broken the bond of trust between the public and the Office of the President on the most critical issue, and politicized the process, and this has placed us all in danger should there be an ACTUAL threat to our nation and our lives in the future.And here we are - maybe. A man who defends starting a needless war by saying it was an honest mistake is now telling us that Iran is a threat, and this time it's for real. Naturally, the reaction of many in the world is that Bush saying Iran is a threat makes it more likely that not that Iran is not a threat.
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.
If Iran is a threat to world peace, and Bush's credibility is the obstacle to dealing with the threat, Bush should show his sincerity and concern for world peace by stepping aside.
There is precedent for my idea. On March 31, 1968 President Lyndon Johnson faced a similar problem. He had lost credibility over the Vietnam War and the country was sharply divided. He wanted to end the war, but how could he prove to the country - and to the North Vietnamese - that he meant it, that it wasn't an election gimmick? He went on TV from the Oval Office with a speech I still remember. Toward the end of the speech he spoke about how the war was dividing the country, and how politics was exacerbating the problem.
For 37 years in the service of our nation, first as a Congressman, as a Senator, and as Vice President, and now as your President, I have put the unity of the people first. I have put it ahead of any divisive partisanship. And in these times as in times before, it is true that a house divided against itself by the spirit of faction, of party, of region, of religion, of race, is a house that cannot stand.
There is division in the American house now. There is divisiveness among us all tonight. And holding the trust that is mine, as President of all the people, I cannot disregard the peril to the progress of the American people and the hope and the prospects of peace for all peoples. So, I would ask all Americans, whatever their personal interests or concern, to guard against divisiveness and all of its ugly consequences.
... With American sons in the fields far away, with America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office -- the Presidency of your country.
And then Johnson shocked the nation, saying,
"Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term of office as your President."By not running for re-election LBJ effectively resigned from office to prove his sincerity and attempt to heal the divisiveness in the country.
If Bush really believes that Iran is a threat to the United States he should do the right thing to prove his sincerity and protect the country. He should say, "I understand that following the mistaken invasion of Iraq my credibility is an obstacle, but we face a terrible threat from Iran developing nuclear weapons. For this reason, and as a gesture of my sincerity when I say that we must deal with this threat I am announcing tonite that I resign the office of President of the United States."
January 12, 2006
"A true revolution of values will say of war, 'This way of settling differences is not just.'…I call on Washington today, I call on every man and woman of goodwill all over America today: Take a stand on this issue. Tomorrow may be too late; a book may close. And I don't know about you -- I ain't going to study war no more."
- Martin Luther King
The email I got from CODEPINK advertises "Martin Luther King: Watch & Be Inspired!" and the Flash video truly lives up to that billing... but then, anything using Martin's voice would be inspiring. I could hear him speak a hundred times, and not be left unmoved.
But... but... here is my question: Where is the Martin Luther King, Jr. of today?
Why is the greatest moral authority on the conduct of this war a voice forty years out of the past? Has the stature of our leaders diminished so much since then... or their courage?
Something is very wrong here, when we as a movement have no choice but to reach back to iconic figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. to get our message across with any moral authority.
Has the mainstream media have so stifled alternative voices, that none have had a chance to develop the same stature... is that the answer? Or could it be that, perhaps, no one in today's establishment has determined that permitting someone to achieve the same level of recognition and moral authority suits their political convenience?
Has the right wing really crippled our ability to develop and communicate our message so badly, that even our most prominent voices are folks known only to a few... who in the anti-war movement qualifies as a household name? Or are we, ourselves, in the anti-war movement, doing something wrong?
Or is it that we are just lesser men and women than our predecessors... what am I missing?
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
Every now and then I come back to the idea that the "conservative movement" may have been manipulated by non-American interests. From What If It's More Than Corruption?,
To what extent is it possible that today's Republican Party scandals are not just about traditional corruption, but instead are the result of manipulation by foreign interests, masquerading as corruption and ideological cultism? China, Iran, ??? The neo-cons are persuaded by ideology and cooked-up intelligence to go to war in Iraq. Iran ends up with Shia Iraq as a client state, with its oil resources at its disposal, for sale to China. America weakened, its industries no longer competitive, it's infrastructure crumbling. Who benefits?
Think about the harm the neo-con "conservative movement" ideology has done to our country. We're left with massive debt, fractured institutions, a dangerously divided public, destruction of public infrastructure, outsourcing of our manufacturing and technological base, weakened public education system, -- the list just goes on and on. Was this just blind cultist ideology? Who benefits?
So how is the neo-con dream playing out? Russia and China benefit from having the U.S. bogged down in perpetual war against an invisible "enemy" many thousands of miles away. But "Radical Islam" just happens to be their enemy, not ours. It is a disruptive social movement on or inside their borders, not ours, but here we are fighting their war for them. Meanwhile China winds up with the manufacturing that used to be done here and holding the paper for massive U.S. debt. We spend our budget on military while their money is freed up for massive infrastructure investment. Iran winds up with Iraq as a client state.
But where does the U.S. benefit, except in the minds of the ideological cultists?
Here is what got me thinking about this again today: From the intro to an interview with John Le Carre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,
...he briefly explains an episode of Britain's history wherein they instigated proxy warfare from behind the scenes pitting Muslim against Hindu. Has Russia done the same from behind the scenes by pitting "radical Islam" against the US?And from the interview:
"In Britain, because of Empire, because of the imperial history, because of the necessity of keeping trade routes open over vast distance, we learned to divide princelings against each other. To inspire Muslims to fight Hindu. We were wicked in terms of colonial manipulation, because we had to proxy wars. And, we did this through the collecting and the distribution of a really fine quantity of intelligence.How hard would it be to figure out that the "conservative movement" was for sale, and take advantage? What controls, accountability, oversight, checks-and-balances are in place to make sure things like this don't happen? Oh, wait, those are the things the "conservative movement" got rid of first.
Update - Follow-up post: Russian Money to So-Called "Conservatives"
December 1, 2005
Jay Shaft of the Coalition For Free Thought In Media sent me a pointer to his latest article, the bulk of which consists of three letters from pissed off Iraq veterans with PTSD. These are first person accounts of what the soldiers on the front lines are going through and having to put up with... and what they (if they survive), and their families will have to cope with for the rest of their lives. Some majorly f*cked up sh*t. Stuff you don't hear about in your local newspaper. (and why is that?)
These guys are being sent back to Iraq... and they're not happy about it. One of them views himself as so screwed in the head that he's a danger to the men around him, and can't get anyone in the Army bureaucracy to take him seriously.
Reading through these letters, I suddenly get how so many soldiers qualify for disability, even though they might not have been directly in combat, or wounded. Not too many men or women can be expected to spend months on end living in the middle of a minefield, and come out whole and sane at the end of it. This is Vietnam all over again, only perhaps worse, since I don't get the impression that the Vietnamese were willing to blow themselves up to get off-duty American soldiers in an urban settting.
Truly, there is no "behind the lines" in Iraq.
November 27, 2005
Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings provides a thorough analysis of a WaPo article about the Defense Department expansion into domestic spying, Someone Is Watching You.
It's not like this is a new problem. Here's an article from last year at Capitol Hill Blue about Bush moving TIA, the Terrorist Information Awareness program over to the Pentagon.
November 26, 2005
[Let us not forget that we're still deeply mired in Afghanistan, with no more idea of when we'll be able to declare our invasion a "success" and withdraw our troops than in Iraq. American men and women are still being wounded and dying, and the American taxpayer is still shelling out a few billion every month to pay for it. -Thomas]
Doubts Grow over US Afghan Strategy
By Andrew North
Friday 25 November 2005
It is four years since the fall of the Taliban regime. The United States has spent billions of dollars on its operations in Afghanistan - but what does it have to show for it?
With no end in sight to the insurgency led by remnants of that regime and insecurity still holding back development in large parts of the country, it is a question that many more people are asking.
November 22, 2005
I have a question for those who advocate that we "just leave" Iraq: We wrongly invaded, destroyed their infrastructure and killing hundreds of thousands. Do we pay reparations? Do we pay to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq? Do we pay death benefits to the families? What TERMS do we offer to end the war? (If you think that wars just end when one side decides to "just leave" I suggest opening a history book.)
Do we prosecute the people who started the war? What do we do if Iran and their Taliban-like government ends up in control of the region?
Seriously, where does the thinking go AFTER "just leave?" Is "just leave" about more than getting the horror of this out of our faces for a while? My own opinion is that "just leave" ignores the dimensions of the mess that Bush has created.
What am I proposing? Yesterday 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." Apart from that, I'm proposing that we come to grips with the depths of the real mess we are in. Just leaving might be the right thing to do - AFTER an informed debate that looks at the various LONG-TERM potential outcomes, including the rise of a Taliban in control of the resources of an oil-rich nation-state. We have depleted our military. What if Korea erupts? What if something happens between China and Taiwan? South America? Rep. Murtha pointed out that these are serious reasons to withdraw from Iraq "as soon as practicable."
The best option just might be to retreat now and start building the military we will need to deal with a Taliban-Iran-Iraq superpower ten or twenty years down the road.
Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a ``legitimate right'' of resistance.And what about those attacking American forces?
In Egypt, the final communique's attempt to define terrorism omitted any reference to attacks against U.S. or Iraqi forces. Delegates from across the political and religious spectrum said the omission was intentional. They spoke anonymously, saying they feared retribution.Bush invaded Iraq. He installed a constuitution that makes Iraq an Islamic state. The leaders of Iraq have signed a military cooperation agreement and a friendship treaty with Iran.
Bush needs to explain why we are in Iraq and needs to explain his strategy for success. He needs to explain how setting Iran up as the superpower of the Middle East was in our interests, and wht he is going to do about it.
The referendum on the Iraqi Constitution has come and gone, passed, and been demonstrably irrelevant in its effect on the day to day lives of Iraqi citizens (and the American soldiers conducting the war). We continue to pour untold billions of dollars down the rathole of occupation, with little or no benefit to the Iraqi people (and certainly no demonstrable benefit to the U.S. taxpayer). The only rational means of stemming the bleeding is an end to the occupation, and the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
The call by a few Democrats for a withdrawal plan by the end of 2006 is encouraging only in the abstract, as evidence that the ultimate futility of the situation is beginning to dawn on our "leaders" in Washington. That even this weak position is a minority one within the leadership of the Democratic Party is atrocious, since it translates to nothing less than another full year of inaction while the human and monetary losses, in Iraq and at home, continue to mount. How is this rational? What compelling argument can be made that things will be fundamentally different a year from now (as opposed to a year ago)?
"Resident" Bush and his coitere of neo-"conservative" unilateralist thugs, along with their collaborators in the Republican House and Senate have brought shame and international condemnation on our nation, defied international standards of decent conduct and shown an unsurpassed contempt for the rights and privileges granted by the U.S. Constitution. In the process, they have immesurably damaged our national security, both now and in the future, by weakening our moral authority and the credibility of multi-lateral international institutions.
China and India are three or four times our size, and will soon have economies equal to and greater than our own, along with the military and economic might to match... the international institutions and standards of conduct the present administration has displayed so much contempt for are likely to be the only thing that stands between us and the raw economic and military power of those twin superpowers in the 21st century. Weakening them is a folly that will bring down the condemnation of history upon this administration, when future U.S. Presidents rue the day "Resident" Bush was ever (s)"elected".
But let us not forget: Bush has done this with the aid and consent of the Democratic Party's leadership (are at least the passive failure to mount a strong and effective opposition) - most of whom voted for the war, and many of whom are only now (if even that) putting forth weak mea culpas. Their failure to mount a substantive opposition to the Bush Administration's policies of global destruction (let's not forget the environmental havoc Bush's policies have wrought) has only compounded the failure of the mainstream media to fulfill it's most basic functions: to inform and educate the public on the full implications of the actions taken (or not) by our government and leaders, and to act as a check on the untrammeled arrogance of power. We need to hold them all accountable, and we need new political leadership (and it won't come from the Democratic Party or Republican "mavericks").
Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn.) and those other Congress members who have condemned the Iraq War deserve our thanks, but why did it take them so long to speak out? They're only saying now, what we all knew in early 2003, even before the invasion begun: the war was and is based upon a lie, and a delusional neo-con vision of transforming the Middle East into a democratic paradise by force of arms (while simultaneously securing their oil for our own uses).
While most of the Democratic Party (including just about all of the leadership, past and present) and the media fell for the White House's fraudulent claims (in some cases, even helping forward them as credible), tens of millions of Americans were skeptical. (to say the least). Many of us spoke out and demonstrated against the invasion, including those of us in Green Party, whose presence at the many anti-war protests I attended in 2002 and 2003 was matched only by the myriad array of "WWWD" (What Would Wellstone Do?) banners - the Democratic Party as an institution was utterly absent (and has been, at every point since) at the same time the Green Party was (and has been) institutionally invested in supporting the anti-war effort at every level.
When Republicans and many Democrats voted to transfer Congress's constitutionally mandated war power to the White House in October 2002, they undermined the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches, and created the foundation for the deceit and massive abuse of power that would be (and is being) perpetrated by the Bush Administration's radical ideologues.
There was plenty of intelligence by early 2003 to show that Saddam Hussein had no WMDs, although CIA analysts were pressured to show otherwise - even Henry Waxman's database of misleading statements can only muster up the courage to suggest that opinion was divided, when all evidence suggests that only a few ideologies in Richard Perle's renegade coitere of politicized analysts seriously believed this was the case. The inspectors' search for WMDs in Iraq had turned up nothing when President Bush interrupted them by launching the invasion. The accusation that Saddam Hussein had conspired with al-Qaeda was never plausible, and Bush officials already knew that the nuclear weapons charge was based on a forgery. President Bush, in his 2003 State of Union address, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, in his February 2003 speech before the UN, misled the US and the world -- and the Democratic Party's leaders in Congress should have known it, and called them on their deception right then and there, regardless of what the polls indicated about Bush's level of support (we Californian's know how euphemeral a 70% approval rating can be, in the face of a skilled and withering assault combined with a few mis-statements and blunders).
"Resident" Bush still insists that the invasion of Iraq was a necessary part of his 'War on Terror', even though no one outside of his administration and its apologists seriously believe that Iraq played any role whatsoever in the 9/11 attacks or had any serious level of involvement with Al Queda. The Democratic Party's leadership has yet to seriously challenge him on this fundamental point, or to highlight the negative effect the war in Iraq has had on our international standing, and the opinion of the woman and man on the street in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere (to say nothing of how it has fanned the flames of radical Arab and Islamic nationalism, and lead to a flood of easy recruits for Al Quada and other terrorist organizations).
Ever since the Project for a New American Century (whose leaders now hold positions in the Bush Administration) tried to persuade President Clinton to invade Iraq in 1989, it has been clear that an extreme Republican faction wanted to remove Saddam Hussein and gain control over Iraq's oil resources. This faction has reintroduced the concept of invasion for 'preemptive' purposes, which had been outlawed after World War II by international laws, including the UN Charter, to which the US was signatory.
Ahmed Chalabi recently visited Washington and met with Vice President Cheney and other leaders. This is the same Ahmed Chalabi who fed the US misinformation about Iraqi WMDs, who allegedly passed US secrets to Iran, who was convicted of embezzlement in Jordan -- and was named Interim Oil Minister in Iraq, with the Bush Administration's blessing. If this isn't a political resurrection to rival, and perhaps even surpass, that of Richard Nixon, I can't imagine what else would be. Frightening, ridiculous, a mockery of all that is right and sane... these are all words that still fail to due justice to the absurdity of Chalabi's political resurrection and subsequent tour of Washington, D.C. under the aegis of the American Enterprise Institute. With barely a whimper of protest from the Democratic Party about the presence of this treasonous and criminal character on our soil.
The news from Iraq could hardly be worse, and shows no signs of improving: 2,000-plus dead American servicemembers (at least), over 10,000 severely wounded, over 100,000 eligible for disability benefits; tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians (at least), untold millions more physically and mentally scarred for life (including many many children); a flood of evidence of torture in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and other sites, prompting the absurdity of Senator McCain being forced to have the Senate formally declared that torture is not formal U.S. policy; wartime profiteering on an untold scale by firms like Halliburton that hold multi-billion-dollar single-source contracts (not to mention record profits being made by oil companies such as Exxon-Mobil); the use of hyper-toxic depleted uranium and outlawed chemical weapons (white phosphorus) in civilian areas like Fallujah... the list goes on and on and on (and this is only Iraq related policies). Meanwhile, White White House officials commit literal treason in an attempt to smear war critics as unpatriotic, and Vice President Cheney lobbies for de jure legalization of a defacto Bush Administration policy of torture (conducted both by U.S. forces and sub-contracted out to pliant third world governments, such as Syria) that it took a Republican to put on the front burner.
While we have to endure three more years of Mr. Bush's lawless, rock-bottom presidency--a "Residency" that has fostered a proliferation of bumper stickers along the lines of "Richard Nixon Is No Longer THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER" (which is saying something)--we know it will eventually come to a final and definitive end (absent, of course, an even more radical turn of events), this is not the worst we have to look forward to. The perfidity and political cowardice of the national Democratic Party's leadership leaves us with the very strong possibility that the Bush Administration's worst legacy, Iraq, could continue to live on, indefinitely, under the aegis of a Democratic war hawk like Sen. Hillary Clinton (much like Vietnam dragged on for another 7 miserable years under Nixon and Ford after destroying LBJ's administration) - one of many Democrats under the delusion that pouring even MORE troops (and money, and blood sweat and tears and the treasure and toil of overworked and underpaid working and middle-class American taxpayers) into Iraq is the best solution available to end the war in Iraq.
Five years from now, if the biggest issue entering the 2010 election season is the Democratic Party's conduct of the war in Iraq, I won't hesitate to say I told you so, and say then, what I'm going to say now: the only real, authentic alternative to the warmongering corporate dominated duopoly that dominates the American political scene is not the "progressive" wing (dare I say, "wing-tip"?) of the Democratic Party, but rather, the Green Party, the only party established around a set of core values that by their very nature, preclude corporate co-optation and criminal warmongering.
The Green Party of the United States is part of an international movement, one that is growing stronger and more widespread and more effective politically every day, a movement that truly "puts people first" (and the world around them) - the only party that has a real vision for the future that consists of more than empty slogans and recycled rhetoric.
The Ten Key Values of the Green Party of the United States (California version):
Respect for Diversity
Personal and Global Responsibility
For more details, visit this web page: http://www.cagreens.org/platform/10k.htm
If this isn't a platform for the 21st century, one that addresses the key issues we as a nation (and world) face, I don't know what is. These are the nstitutional and spiritual core values of the Green Party - I challenge anyone to come up with a Democratic Party document of equal weight, significance to party doctrine, and relevance to the challenges we face today. I KNOW the Republican Party has nothing of the sort.
If you agree, then it is far past time to do the right thing, for Iraq, and the nation, and the world: join the Green Party, and help it transform the American political landscape from a desolate Republicatic monoculture, to one where the average voter has a real choice that speaks to his or her true values when she or he walks up to the ballot box. Pragmatism be damned, it is time to stand up and be counted.
What would you rather tell someone thirty years from now? "Yes, I collaborated with the Democrats and Republicans to ruin the environment and perpetrate the miserable fiasco that was the Iraqi war," or "No, I was a part of the grassroots opposition, helping to make the Green Party what it is today, a proud and effective voice for the life of the planet and the people on it."
November 21, 2005
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 since the U.S. already did I think that the people who engineered that invasion should be brought before the World Court and hung for the crime of committing aggressive war. Just as after WWII the world needs to SEE that this is what happens to people who start wars. And I think the entire "conservative movement" machine with its corrupt DeLay/Norquist/Reed/Abramoff lobbying/funding should be dismantled and prosecuted and imprisoned. I think democracy demands this.
That said, what do we do now? Iraq is really a no-win situation, for millions and millions of people. So looking at what should be done about Iraq I think we need to undertand that the reality is that none of us have any say over what will happen. And another reality to consider: Bush is getting ready to cut and run and retreat because The Party sees a late-2006 "War is Over" announcement as a way to keep power.
Again -- anything you or I say should happen is not relevant to what will happen. It is simply blowing hot air into the wind and nothing more.
Consider the post-withdrawal phase of what happens in Iraq and the Middle East. Bush will never allow the right thing to happen. He will never allow the UN or Europe to step in and provide sufficient peacekeepers to keep the lid on -- if Bush's cronies can't have the oil they can't either.
Suppose full-scale civil war breaks out with hundreds of thousands killed. Suppose the Shiites wipe out the Sunnis with millions dead. Suppose Iran winds up in control of central Iraq and the southern oil fields and launches full-scale war against a weakened U.S. Suppose the Kurds break out for independence and Turkey invades? None of us know if these terrible things will happen or not. All of us understand these are possible, even likely.
Now, think about this. If any of those results of withdrawal do occur, there will be an all-out right-wing noise machine effort to pin blame on those now calling for leaving, even though they none of us have any say in what happens.
So considering that this is what's most likely to happen, and considering the potential consequences of the coming Bush withdrawal, doesn't it make a lot more sense to be demanding to see Bush's plan for success in Iraq than to be calling for us to just leave? It's a question Bush can't answer - because there is no answer. So let's pin it all on him instead of us.
In summary, what we should "do" is Blame Bush. It's the only thing we CAN do.
The Pentagon was recently forced to admit - after denying - that it had used White Phosphoros (WP) as a weapon in Iraq. So the right-wing defense changed from "we didn't do it" to "it's not a chemical weapon." (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and how many more?)
It turns out that when convenient the Pentagon does describe WP as a chemical weapon.
A formerly classified 1995 Pentagon intelligence document titled “Possible Use of Phosphorous Chemical” describes the use of white phosphorus by Saddam Hussein on Kurdish fighters:Go to Think Progress for the links and the rest.IRAQ HAS POSSIBLY EMPLOYED PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST THE KURDISH POPULATION IN AREAS ALONG THE IRAQI-TURKISH-IRANIAN BORDERS. […]In other words, the Pentagon does refer to white phosphorus rounds as chemical weapons — at least if they’re used by our enemies.
Update - More at The Reaction.
November 18, 2005
It's time to end Bush's Global War On Terrorism. Rep. Murtha's initial statement was a perfect analysis, It is a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion. The flawed policy is Bush's Iraq war. The illusion Bush's flawed policy is wrapped in is the Global War On Terrorism.
The GWOT has never been an effective strategy for dealing with National Security And Terrorism. I initally settled for breaking Bush's GWOT into the two broad categories of Domestic Security and National Security beyond our domestic borders. A short time later, in January, I itemized six discrete aspects to Bush's mythical GWOT.
More recently I focused in on Bush's Failure On Nuclear Security.
Regardless of how much the neo-cons and the so called D.C. Strategic Class try to spin Bush's GWOT, it is still as much of a myth as a unicorn.
If Rep. Murtha has inspired you to become more active in opposing Bush's mythical GWOT, I put together a reasonablly comprehensive anti-war resource guide, Military Voices Against Endless War.
There are dozens of ways to get more active in putting a halt to Bush's illegal and immoral war. Pick one or just flip a coin and get busy. You can be a part of history instead of a bystander.
November 17, 2005
"The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a former Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam and the senior Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees military spending.
"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised,'' said Murtha, who in October 2002 voted for the resolution authorizing President Bush to take military action to oust Saddam Hussein. "It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress.''
"The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a former Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam and the senior Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees military spending.
"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised,'' said Murtha, who in October 2002 voted for the resolution authorizing President Bush to take military action to oust Saddam Hussein. "It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress.''
On CNN, Murtha also slammed Cheney for having five deferments, but attacking critics of a failed policy. Murtha slammed Bush for attacking his critics on Veterans Day.
This could be a Walter Cronkite moment for Bush's war. Dennis Hastert is saddened by Murtha's remarks. Poor baby.
November 15, 2005
Is it just me, or did anyone else notice that for quite some time the Bush line was that we invaded to "free the Iraqi people" and "bring Democracy to the Middle East," etc. and NOT just because of an imminent WMD threat? But now we're back to Bush claiming the we invaded because we had intelligence that Iraq had WMD and was going to use them against us. He says the Democrats "had the same intelligence that he did" and that was the justification for war.
What will it be next week? And what does ANY of this have to do with what we are doing TODAY in Iraq?
November 13, 2005
Steve Lopez's column in today's L.A. Times tells part of the story of the death of one soldier, Knock on the Door, a Knock on the War: The knock came just after 6 a.m., way too early for visitors at the neat two-story home in the hills of Castaic.
After recaping a previous column he wrote about how Evan Ashcraft's family was notified of his death, Lopez explains a chance encounter he had with Evan's father in law, Loren Farell, a Los Angeles native and Vietnam vet and lieutenant in the LAPD.
Farell told me his daughter and the rest of the family were doing as well as could be expected, and then he said something that stopped me in my tracks. He made a comment about this crazy war and about all the angry letters he'd written to politicians and publications, trying to make his feelings known.
Loren Farell was a changed man:
He was still a conservative — "don't get me wrong" — and still a law-and-order cop who will never get over "those longhairs" who spat on returning Vietnam vets. He still supports the troops in Iraq, but he's done a 180 on the American leaders who called them to war, including President Bush, who on Friday lashed out at critics.
. . .
As Farell helped his daughter with funeral arrangements, the body count continued to rise, and Farell, a Republican, grew angrier. Meanwhile, he says, the Army turned the business of death into even more of a nightmare. "Evan got a 17-gun salute," he says, still seething.
A month after his son-in-law was killed, Farell opened Newsweek magazine and read a story that said military officials were calling the relatively low number of casualties in Iraq "tragic but militarily insignificant."
When you finish reading about the grief and disappointment of Evan Ashcraft's father-in-law, say a prayer for the friends, family and loved ones of four more brave fallen heroes who are listed in today's L.A. Times obituaries.
During the quieter moments of soldiering, Army National Guard Capt. Raymond D. Hill II liked to talk cookouts. He savored it all: from a good barbecue sauce to memories of time spent with family and friends
Hill sometimes broke the sleepy silence riffing about a barbecue or an outing with relatives back in Stanislaus County.
"He was a funny, down-home guy," said Markert, who worked with Hill for eight years. "Very family."
With 250 soldiers under his command, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Tessar didn't have to ride in the lead vehicle of a convoy south of Baghdad one day last month.
Realizing that the first vehicle in the patrol also could be the one to trigger a hidden roadside bomb, he could have chosen a spot farther back.
But that wasn't his style, according to those who knew the seasoned combat veteran.
. . .
Returning to Simi Valley for his father's funeral last June, Tessar told his family about his plans to return to combat yet again.
"I said, 'Why go back?' " his brother Bill recalled. "But he went full throttle at just about everything he did. He loved the Army, and he loved this country."
Abundantly tattooed, Tessar enjoyed an occasional chew of tobacco and was a big fan of NASCAR racing. He also followed the news avidly. "He loved politics," his brother said. "He could out-argue anyone."
Tessar planned to retire from the Army in nine months.
"He was really going to start living life," his brother said. "He had missed so many of his kids' birthdays, missed so many holidays so the rest of us wouldn't have to."
At age 9, in what would become an annual ritual, Michael Martino tumbled out of bed at the crack of dawn, pedaled his bike across Irvine and spent the day watching planes at the El Toro Air Show.
"He always knew his mission in life was to be a pilot," said his mother, Sybil.
In high school, between stints on the football and wrestling teams, his hobby was assembling model aircraft. After graduating with an economics degree from UC San Diego in 1996, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and earned his wings.
When he was later dispatched to Iraq, he told his father, "If something happens, I don't want you and Mom to get mad at the military or the government. I'm doing what I love to do and what I believe in."
Back home, friends and relatives recalled the Oceanside resident as a quiet, selfless man who was devoted to family, work and the Washington Redskins, his favorite football team.
In Iraq, fellow Marines nicknamed him "Oprah" because he was so good at listening to people's problems. It was a trait he developed in childhood.
"Whenever I had a nightmare, I'd go to Mike instead of our parents," said his older sister, Lauri. "He'd stay up and talk to me until I could go back to sleep."
He had a contagious smile and generous spirit, said Katie Ashford, whose husband, Brian, went through flight school with Martino and served in the same squadron. "I've never known anyone to love their friends unconditionally, but Mike did," she said.
Brian Dunlap's destiny was set during a television news broadcast in 1979. Just 8 years old, he saw pictures of children starving in Africa — and cried because he couldn't go there and help them.
And that, said his mother, Dorothy Telles, was the beginning of his path. It was a road that would lead him through a difficult adolescence into a life of helping others — as a firefighter and a Marine.
"You're just a child," she recalled telling him then, "and there's nothing you can do to help these people now. But when you grow up, you're going to be able to help people — and when he grew up, he chose a life of helping others."
A patriot, an avid reader and a political conservative who wrote on his Internet blog that he wanted to talk to all open-minded people, even "libs."
. . .
In a lot of ways, he was like his Dad: they shared a blog, they both loved history and they traded books. He was the kind of guy who made friends for a lifetime, his mother said. He loved music, from Mozart to Iron Maiden, and he learned to surf while living near Oceanside and San Diego.
On the blog, which is now filled with condolences from his many friends, Dunlap detailed sad and difficult days in Iraq.
His last entry, dated Sept. 15, was titled "Im [sic] still alive."
"Almost got wacked [sic] again this morning," Dunlap wrote. "That makes 5 times in the last 2 weeks…. I've lost about 11 guys in my Company to injuries…. Please keep praying for me so I can make it home in one piece."
November 11, 2005
Bush went to war on a claim that Iraq was about to attack us with WMD. When it became clear there were no WMD the honorable thing to do would be to resign. War is serious business, and there is no room for mistakes - or lies. If you go to war over WMD and there aren't WMD the right thing to do is step aside and let someome else take your place. Simple as that.
But, really, it's worse than that. More later.
November 9, 2005
Achmed Chalabi in DC, "The fact that I misled the U.S. is an urban myth."
But previously Chalabi had something different to say on the subject:
Chalabi, asked whether his Iraqi National Congress manipulated the Bushies into invading a country that did not attack us and did not threaten us, has this to say:And, before that,"'Our objective has been achieved. That tyrant Saddam is gone, and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important.' "
frontline: truth, war and consquences: introduction | PBS:"When asked if he feels any unease or discomfort at the fact that some Americans feel the United States was suckered into a war under the false pretenses of disarming Saddam of weapons of mass destruction, Chalabi replies, 'No. ... We are in Baghdad now.'"
Over at Altercation, scroll down to "Correspondence Corner."
A March '05 publication by the US Army confirms that US soldiers used white phosphorus offensively in the Battle of Fallujah. This directly contradicts statements made by the U.S. Department of Defense and by the US State Department.Go to Altercation for the rest. (Note that this story is about Marines, not Army.)
Here is the story [PDF file] on artillery use from the March/April edition of the US Army's "Field Artillery Magazine."
. . . "WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."
What the article does not say, however, is that there is no way you can use white phosphorus like that without forming a deadly chemical cloud that kills everything within a tenth of a mile in all directions from where it hits. Obviously, the effect of such deadly clouds weren't just psychological in nature.
This claim of "shake and bake" is further confirmed in a news article by an embedded journalist at the time. See here
Update - A former Marine writes about witnessing the use of White Phosphorus rounds in An Nasiriyah.
Update - Right Wing sites talking about this story:
I've talked with grunts who were there. Fallujah was full of stuff right out of Saving Private Ryan. It was straight up war. Dirty, nasty, knife-in-the-throat urban combat. Did "tens" of people really die from exposure to white phosophorous smoke? Maybe. And you know what? That is sad, and tragic if they weren't combatants. But you know what else? Either way, it wasn't a war crime.Right Wing Fascist, The Left Tries to Make the Chemical Weapons Claim,
It was just plain war.
Does it surprise you? Just remember, as the ratio of liberal bloggers reporting the story approaches 1, the probability of the story being true either factual or true approaches 0.little green rascist,
The latest story floated out to the ever-willing mainstream media by the “anti-war” crowd is that the US military used “chemical weapons” in Fallujah; Scott Burgess has a report that casts serious doubt on this claim: Ablution Exclusive: Weapons Expert Challenges White Phosphorus Claims.protein wisdom, Weapons-grade Bullshit,
... is not a chemical weaponUpdate - Please note the rebuttal comment from Confederate Yankee in the comments.
BAGnewsNotes: Pizza II thinks an important historical picture - the Saddam Missile Strike/White House pizza shot - was staged, and explains why. It's a good read.
Everyone go read Whiskey Bar: War Plan. Then come back and discuss.
Would it be a good strategy to make it clear that the invasion of Iraq and any planning to extend this into Syria or other countries is a war crime, and that the day will come when all involved will have to answer for it? That might help to head off more invasions. Or is this a dangerous strategy, possibly provoking those involved into taking action to secure their current above-the-law status?
Watch your backs.
November 7, 2005
November 5, 2005
Hey check this one out: Fighting a War Carrying Dead Weight,
Let us at least face this one fact: this War on Terrorism has been, and will continue to be, longer and bloodier than it had to be because a large segment of our own population does not see this war for what it is - a life and death struggle for survival on the part of liberal democracy.
[. . .] the opponents, so-called, of the war have left rational dissent far behind and are now engaged, witting or otherwise, in an effort to secure our defeat.
[. . .] So, we continue the fight - our President is steadfast and we are ready for whatever call to duty may happen. [emphasis added]As long as that doesn't involve actually going to Iraq and actually fighting, of course. That's for what the "conservative movement"'s leaders call "the wackos."
November 2, 2005
A top al Queda guy was about to testify in a torture case. But he "escaped." Pentagon official: Top al Qaeda operative escaped
Escaped into a tree-chipper, most likely.
November 1, 2005
A standard Republican talking point about Iraq is that "everyone thought there were WMD" and then they cite statements by President Clinton and others.
Here's what they are leaving out. At the end of 1998, after Iraq expelled* UN weapons inspectors, President Clinton ordered a bombing campaign that completely wiped out Iraq's weapons capabilities. For good.
“Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.U.S. Strikes at Iraqi Targets
… Warplanes aboard the USS Enterprise combined with more than 200 cruise missiles from eight Navy warships to converge on Iraqi targets at 5:06 p.m. EST (1:06 a.m. Baghdad time).U.S. Steps Up Attack on Iraq
The attack by U.S. and British forces against Iraq broadened and intensified yesterday, as salvos of missiles pounded scores of targets throughout the country and the skies over the Iraqi capital filled with the flash of huge explosions, the smoke of distant conflagrations and the brilliant red tracings of antiaircraft fire.U.S. Halts Attacks on Iraq After Four Days
The second wave of strikes by allied cruise missiles – by far the heaviest attack against the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein since the end of the Gulf War in 1991 – came as Washington continued to be roiled by the historic question of President Clinton's possible impeachment. The twin crises, each compelling enough to transfix the nation, overlapped and crescendoed throughout an extraordinary day.
… Officials said the latest strikes included about 100 cruise missiles – about half as many as on Wednesday, but with 2,000-pound warheads that were twice as large as those used the first night. Among the targets of the raid were air fields, chemical plants, missile production and storage facilities, air defense systems and Iraq's surface-to-air missile sites, according to Pentagon officials.
Not a single U.S. or British casualty has been reported in about 70 hours of intensive airstrikes involving 650 sorties against nearly 100 targets. A total of 415 cruise missiles were launched, Pentagon officials said, including 325 Tomahawks fired by U.S. Navy forces and 90 heavier cruise missiles deployed from Air Force B-52s.And then, following that attack, "Between 1999 and 2001, the U.S. and British-led air forces in Iraq dropped 1.3 million pounds of bombs in response to purported violations of the no-fly zones and anti-aircraft fire from Saddam Hussein." (Thanks to Raw Story)
… "Saddam may rebuild, and attempt to rebuild, some of this military infrastructure in the future, just as he has replaced many facilities, including lavish palaces, after Desert Storm," Cohen said, referring to the aftermath of the Gulf War. "But we have diminished his ability to threaten his neighbors with both conventional and nonconventional weapons."
And, of course, the Republican reaction to Clinton wiping out Iraq's WMD capabilities? (Keep in mind as you read this all their bluster about the supposed threat of WMD as they ramped up the propaganda leading to the war...) Republicans skeptical of Iraq attack on eve of impeachment vote
"I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time," Lott said in a statement. "Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."*Update - there is controversy in the comments over whether Iraq "expelled" the UNSCOM weapons inspectors in 1998. I've researched this. Some say Iraq was right to expell them because they were nothing more than spies for the U.S. Others say the U.S. withdrew the inspectors so they could bomb.
"The suspicion some people have about the president's motives in this attack is itself a powerful argument for impeachment," Armey said in a statement.
Apparently the record is that in October of 1998 Iraq stopped cooperating with the UN inspectors (UNSCOM) and then began to physically block them from inspections, and the inspectors left Iraq. According to the UN,
31 Oct 1998 Iraq announces that it will cease all forms of interaction with UNSCOM and its Chairman and to halt all UNSCOM’s activities inside Iraq, including monitoring. The Security Council, in a statement to the press, unanimously condemn Iraq’s decision to cease all cooperation with UNSCOM.According to the Arms Control Association, Iraq Blocks UNSCOM Monitoring; Security Council Calls for Review,
15 Dec 1998 The Special Commission reports to the Security-General concerning UNSCOM’s activities and the status of Iraq’s cooperation with the Commission in the period since 14 November 1998. The Executive Chairman concludes that Iraq did not provide the full cooperation it had promised on 14 November 1998 (S/1998/1172)
16 Dec 1998 The Special Commission withdraws its staff from Iraq.
ESCALATING ITS standoff with the UN Security Council, Iraq announced on October 31 that it would no longer allow inspectors from the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) to monitor sites in Iraq for prohibited weapons activities. On August 5, Baghdad suspended inspections by UNSCOM, which oversees chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missile programs, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which handles nuclear issues, into Iraq's past weapons activities. Iraq's announcement specified only UNSCOM's monitoring activities, but will likely affect IAEA's monitoring work as well, since the IAEA depends heavily on UNSCOM for logistical support. ... The Security Council issued a statement on October 31 condemning Iraq's action and demanding that Baghdad "rescind immediately and unconditionally" the bans on both monitoring and inspections."Expell" was the wrong word. "Forced out" might have been a better choice. (Iraq had agreed to allow inspectors as a condition of ending the Gulf war.)
The question comes up again. Did Iran manipulate (or pay) Bush and the neocons to start the Iraq war? Iran was the party with the most to gain.
The Niger forgeries story - along with the Rove/Libby/Cheney stories - might be heading that way. See MORE FROM LA REPUBBLICA...,
The gist of the article is that Iran was an active supporter of the war because the Shiite mullahs in Tehran thought that a Shiite-controlled Iraq would make a better neighbor than Saddam Hussein's Sunni-controlled secular dictatorship. That's no big surprise, since Iran and Iraq were not exactly good buddies, but the implication of the Repubblica article is that not only was the Iranian regime cheering from the sidelines, but the U.S. and the Italians were actively seeking their help.
In May, 2004, I wrote about the possibility that Iran duped the Bushies into starting the war,
Jeeze. These stupid, incompetent, ideologically insane, hateful, arrogant, cultish, corrupt, right-wing, ignorant CLUCKS got duped, sold us out, made fools of us, betrayed us, destroyed our honor, besmirched our good name, bankrupted us, sold us up the river, destroyed our reputation, undermined our integrity, and killed thousands.Yep, sounds like me, doesn't it?
If you want to start digging into this, try Googling "Iran Iran Niger Ledeen and "Iran Iraq Niger Ledeen Frankin", or "Iran Iraq Italy Niger forgeries". And lots at TPM... Good things here and here. And, of course, everything by eRiposte at Left Coaster.
October 26, 2005
October 7, 2005
From Sen. Reid's blog Give 'Em Hell Harry, part of a letter to the President from several Senators:
"We are increasingly concerned that Iraq could become what it was not before the war: a haven for radical fundamentalist terrorists determined to attack America and American interests. It is clear our window of opportunity is closing and you need to immediately provide a strategy for success in order to prevent this outcome.Where I think this is heading: If the President can't outline a strategy of success the only alternative is to get out.
[. . .] Other comments by General Casey last week also suggest that your Administration lacks a political strategy to end the insurgency that matches the heroic efforts of our military on the ground.
[. . .] We are equally dismayed that your Administration has failed to produce broad international participation, both in the months leading up to the war and the years since the conflict started. There appears to be no strategy to involve regional countries as there was in the Balkans in the 1990s and in Afghanistan in late 2001 and 2002.
[. . .] The only thing as disturbing as the obvious lack of progress is the Administration�s continuing failure to level with the American people about the current situation in Iraq. This failure only serves to erode the public�s confidence about your Administration�s plan for Iraq.
[. . .] In times past, when asked to explain your Iraq policy to our troops and the American people, you have chosen to reply that we need to, “stay the course.” But simply staying the current course is not a strategy for success. We are convinced now more than ever that we need to change the course and the first step is for your Administration to immediately provide answers to these important questions. Simply saying that these answers are “unknowable” or “condition based” is no longer satisfactory. Our troops, their families, and the American people deserve better."
October 5, 2005
Several people have written to me, concerned about Bush's statements about the military and bird flu in his press conference yesterday. Bush Proposes Using Military to Fight Bird Flu.
My feeling is that we should have boosted the Center for Disease Control's budget a long time ago, instead of cut it. We should have built government-owned vaccine factories. We should have stockpiled anti-flu drugs. We should have put money into research and disease control resources and disaster planning and relief. We should have helped boost the budget of the World Health Organization. But we didn't. We chose tax cuts and war instead.
And now we're faced with the emergence of a disease that has the potential to infect a third of us, killing more than half of those infected. Damn right we should use the military and every other means to stop the spread of this disease should it emerge and reach our country.
October 2, 2005
This is the lead from a recent Reuters piece:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush sought on Saturday to dispel concerns about the readiness of U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces, declaring himself "encouraged" even though his top generals say the number of battalions that can fight insurgents without help has dropped.
Later on, the article reports that the top two generals in Iraq recently told Congress that the number of battalions that can go into combat with insurgents without the help of the U.S. military has dropped to one from three (out of a hundred).
Obviously, the Bushies believe that the moment they acknowledge that things are going other than well in Iraq, their base of support will go poof. Unfortunately for them, even crazed right wingers are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee.
September 26, 2005
Bush's "war" in Iraq has produced a "new" nation-state that is, in every way, less safe and less secure for women and religious minorities.
The Mandeans, non-Christian followers, believe it or not, of St. John the Baptist are facing physical and cultural annihilation as a result of the chaos and empowerment of Islamic radicals precipitated by Duyba's dubious invasion.
The next time you're on a right-wing blog - especially one with religious conservatives on it, ask those folks if they're happy with the idea that George Bush's invasion has produced an Islamic state where it is not safe to be a Christian.
If the Christian right, at the grassroots, woke up and realized that George Bush and the Republican Party are facilitating the extermination of Christianity in Iraq (a 2000 year tradition) and the takeover of the country, without even a shot being fired, by Islamic conservatives who favor the imposition of Islamic law on everyone, it could be the death knell of the Republican Party... the Christian Right might very well stay home, or defect in mass to an isolationist party (like the Constitution Party).
The Democrats should pound the bleep out of the Republicans with this, day and night, in 2006. TV Commercials, day and night, with pictures of sobbing Christians "the Islamic fundamentalist radicals broke into our house and killed my father and brother, life was bad under Hussein, but now it is much worse under Bush", frightened women "I can't walk on the street, even during the day, even accompanied by my husband, without fearing for my safety - and God forbid that I expose my hair and let them know I'm not a Muslim", the after math of bombings "The radicals, they come, they terrorize everyone... they just melt away when the American and Iraqi soldiers sweep through the town, and a day later, they are back, and worse than ever." Excerpts from the Iraqi constitution, from press articles, statements by Muslim clericals, "Iraq is an Islamic nation." Quotes from Iranian diplomats and Iraqi politicians about the close relationship between the two countries.
September 10, 2005
"We are close -- terrifyingly so -- to an explicit ruling that the AUMF repeals all Constitutional restraints in the face of a declaration by the executive that a person is contemplating an act of terror."
September 2, 2005
Bush's failure to provide adequate funding and planning to FEMA is just a symptom of his overall failure in the war against terrorism.
Bush's failure of judgment on the necessity to take prudent and cost effective steps to prevent this disaster was an open secret one full year ago. Bush's failure with FEMA is merely a symptom of his failure to provide for domestic security against terrorism.
We should be spending equal or greater amounts of money on securing our ports, hardening our chemical factories and protecting the nuclear waste at every nuclear facility in America. Bush Has Failed At Domestic Nuclear Security
I wrote a review of an article by James Fallows in The Atlantic Monthly Success Without Victory that covers Bush's failure to provide for domestic security, but also prudent and pragmatic steps that America should be taking.
That's the real threat to our national security. Does Al Qaida have sleeper cells in America? If they do there is absolutely nothing to stop them from setting another 9/11 type attack in motion.
August 31, 2005
[Article sourced from Editor and Publisher, via Dave Farber's Interesting People list. I had this same thought myself - given that New Orleans actually survived the hurricane, and that the real disaster was the levee breakage afterwards... shouldn't the Bush Administration be held responsible for the (possibly unnecessary) total destruction of a major U.S. city, rendering 500,000 to 1,000,000 people homeless... should we now include a portion of the deaths in New Orleans in the fatality totals for the Iraq war? -Thomas]
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.
The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history.
Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had
Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues
By Will Bunch
Published: August 30, 2005 9:00 PM ET
PHILADELPHIA Even though Hurricane Katrina has moved well north of
the city, the waters may still keep rising in New Orleans late on
Tuesday. That's because Lake Pontchartrain continues to pour through
a two-block-long break in the main levee, near the city's 17th Street
Canal. With much of the Crescent City some 10 feet below sea level,
the rising tide may not stop until it's level with the massive lake.
New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a
direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been
working with state and local officials in the region since the late
1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from
a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress
authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.
Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with
carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and
building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at
least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane
activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees
surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a
trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending
pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming
at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the
strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and
2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of
hurricane- and flood-control dollars.
Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The
Times-Picayune web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it
coming....Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious
questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."
In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President
Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said
was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004,
article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.
On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: It appears
that the money has been moved in the presidents budget to handle
homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose thats the price
we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees cant be finished,
and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a
security issue for us.
Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps'
project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East
Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for
urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for. From the June
18, 2004 Times-Picayune:
"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything
is sinking, and if we dont get the money fast enough to raise them,
then we cant stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem
that we have isnt that the levee is low, but that the federal funds
have dried up so that we cant raise them."
The panel authorized that money, and on July 1, 2004, it had to pony
up another $250,000 when it learned that stretches of the levee in
Metairie had sunk by four feet. The agency had to pay for the work
with higher property taxes. The levee board noted in October 2004
that the feds were also now not paying for a hoped-for $15 million
project to better shore up the banks of Lake Pontchartrain.
The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that,
the federal government came back this spring with the steepest
reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in
history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed
a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA
project -- $10.4 million, down from $36.5 million -- was not enough
to start any new jobs.
One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer:
a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the
main breach on Monday.
August 30, 2005
Go see the BuzzFlash editorial Either the Bush Kids Put Their Lives on the Line for George's "Noble War" or the Troops Come Home. Also sign their petition.
Like George did, the new generation of Bushes let other Americans do the dying for them.Much more, go read.
Bush has derided the mothers and fathers of our nation's war dead for not wanting any more young American men and women to die in Iraq. "We owe them [the already killed and wounded soldiers] something," he told veterans in Salt Lake City (even though his administration tried to shortchange the veterans agency by $1.5 billion, according to Maureen Dowd). "We will finish the task that they gave their lives for."
Yet, not one -- not one -- of any of Bush's children or his nieces and nephews have volunteered for service in any branch of the military or volunteered to serve in any capacity in Iraq. Not one of them has felt the cause was noble enough to put his or her life on the line.
August 25, 2005
In The Left Coaster: Exit Portal? Marie offers an interesting plan for Iraq. Buy peace. Carrots and sticks.
August 24, 2005
I agree. There are more differences than similarities. It's always a mistake to "fight the last war" and that includes looking for ways to end this one -- and things that might happen following the "end" of this one. Don't look at Iraq through a Vietnam filter.
August 23, 2005
Haunt the bastard wherever he goes. Don't give him a minutes rest. Poison all his attempts to generate positive publicity with pull quotes from angry grieving mothers and fathers. Make the power elites in the country fear for it's stability with pictures of angry mobs pushing to break through police lines, waving pictures of dead sons and daughters.
"Hey, hey, LBJ... how many kids have you killed today?" was the right strategy in 1968. It is the right strategy today, in 2005.
Let's not forget that there's another war going on, and American soldiers are dying on a regular basis there too: "13 have been killed in August alone". Not to mention quite a few Afghan policemen and soldiers (and civilians, as in Iraq).
Other excerpts: "... Al Qaeda was paying renewed attention to the country this year."
As if we needed more evidence of how wrongheaded the "we're pinning them down in Iraq" argument is.
August 22, 2005
"Personally, I think "US out now" as a simple mantra neglects to consider the full range of possible disasters that could ensue. For one thing, there would be an Iraq civil war. Iraq wasn't having a civil war in 2002. And although you could argue that what is going on now is a subterranean, unconventional civil war, it is not characterized by set piece battles and hundreds of people killed in a single battle, as was true in Lebanon in 1975-76, e.g. People often allege that the US military isn't doing any good in Iraq and there is already a civil war. These people have never actually seen a civil war and do not appreciate the lid the US military is keeping on what could be a volcano.
All it would take would be for Sunni Arab guerrillas to assassinate Grand Ayatollah Sistani. And, boom. If there is a civil war now that kills a million people, with ethnic cleansing and millions of displaced persons, it will be our fault, or at least the fault of the 75% of Americans who supported the war. (Such a scenario is entirely plausible. Look at Afghanistan. It was a similar-sized country with similar ethnic and ideological divisions. One million died 1979-1992, and five million were displaced. Moreover, all this helped get New York and the Pentagon blown up.)Go read the plan.
[. . .] On the other hand, the gradual radicalization of the entire Sunni Arab heartland of Iraq stands as testimony to the miserable failure of US military counter-insurgency tactics. It seems to me indisputable that US tactics have progressively made things worse in that part of Iraq, contributing to the destabilization of the country.
So those who want the troops out also do have a point.
So here is what I would suggest as a responsible stance toward Iraq."
Of course, Bush would never go along with any of it. For example,
9) Congress must rewrite the laws governing US reconstruction aid to Iraq so as to take out provisions that Iraqis must where possible use US companies or materiel. All of the reconstruction money should go directly to Iraqi firms, so as to help jump-start the economy.
August 21, 2005
What we all want is for the war to end. I'm not at all sure that just pulling our forces out now accomplishes that. It might even widen the war and bring it here.
What we should be talking about it how to END the war.
Update - The bully down the street starts a fire in the 12-story building next to your house. If the fire burns it could topple onto your house. Do you let the building burn because the bully is an asshole who shouldn't have started the fire?
(In no way do I advocate "staying the course." I think we should be advocating bringing the UN in rather than just "get out", and prosecute Bush. And what Republican Sen. and war veteran Hagel said, sit down and negotiate with Iran about ending this.)
From the DNC:
Dean Echoes Hagel, Says Troops Deserve Clear Plan for Success in IraqWhen we withdraw - and we will have to - let the public understand that it is because Bush and the Republicans fucked things up, and not let them be told it's because the treasonous Democrats sided with the terrorists and made us lose.
WASHINGTON - Today, DNC Chairman Howard Dean, echoing the concerns of Democrats and Republicans across the country, called on President Bush to lay out - and stick to - a clear military plan for success in Iraq that includes heeding the advice of military commanders. During his appearance on ABC's "This Week", Republican Senator Chuck Hagel warned President Bush against ignoring the advice of his military officials when putting together a military plan for Iraq, citing the Bush administration's dismissal of the prediction by former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, that several hundred thousand American troops would be needed to stabilize Iraq after the American invasion.
Yesterday, Army General Peter Schoomaker signaled that the Army had already begun logistical planning to keep 100,000 American troops in Iraq.
"This President has failed our nation and our troops by ignoring the advice of high-ranking military officials and failing to commit to a clear plan for success in Iraq," said DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "The President can't make up for the mistakes he made in taking the US to war in Iraq, but he can do the right thing going forward. When President Bush speaks later this week to members of the military and veterans, he should lay out a clear plan for future success in Iraq based on the informed advice of his military command. It's long-past time for the President to show some leadership, for the sake of our troops, their families and America's security."
Digby analyzes Kevin Drum's challenge to robust liberal hawks, Put Up Or Shut Up
Kevin Drum challenges "failure is not an option" Democrats to put up or shut up:...if you do believe we can win in Iraq, let's hear what you mean by "win" and how you think we can do it, and let's hear it in clear and compelling declarative sentences. "Stay the course" isn't enough. What Bush is doing now obviously isn't working, so what would you do that's significantly different?
Conversely, if you don't believe we can win in Iraq, and you're only suggesting we stay there because you can't stand the thought of "looking weak," then your moral compass needs some serious adjustment."
How can we win a war where we are the problem?
I can't imagine any realistic "winning" scenario at this point in which Americans are involved. Indeed, it was lost from the the minute we defied the world and decided to go it alone. It's the "american-ness" of the occupation that is its most immediate problem. So we should go, if only to relieve that pressure.
There is a very slight chance that if we leave the Iraqis themselves will create a stable, democratic system but I'm extremely pessimistic. The country was an artificial construct to be begin with and the fact that the majority were repressed by the minority for decades, and that vast amounts of money is at stake in certain areas and there is a rise of extreme religious fundamentalism in the region means that this is almost certainly destined for disaster. It was foreseen by many that we could actually make things worse for the Iraqi people and we have.
Cogitator is more blunt. It's time to pull out, because the war is already over and we lost:
The war IS over. The war, as it exists today, CANNOT be won.
We invaded Iraq because the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein possessed biological and chemical weapons. We were told that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear bomb and that we could not wait for the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud. We were told that Saddam Hussein wished to annihilate the entire United States. Remember the endless threats which all turned out to be lies? Don't forget the lies that led us to where we are now. WATCH THIS AND REMEMBER.
Bilmon examines a Wa Po article that informs us things are much worse in both Afghanistan and Iraq than anybody has admitted, Of Kurds And Crips:
Tony Shadid and his colleague Steve Fainaru -- last seen at this blog cruising the Sunni Triangle with a bunch of Saddam-loving Iraqi Army recruits -- have a long story in today's Washington Post that reviews the transformation of Iraq into the new, juiced-up Lebanon:Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines . . .Iraq's second-largest city, has witnessed dozens of assassinations, claiming members of the former ruling Baath Party, Sunni political leaders and officials of competing Shiite parties. Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot.
In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents say they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein.
The picture they paint is chaotic, thuggish and utterly detached from the political bickering now under way in the Green Zone -- which might just as well be happening on another planet. The militias have already adopted their own constitution, which is loosely modeled on the one developed for the streets of South Central Los Angeles by the Crips and the Bloods:
It's over. The only question is how many more American soldiers and innocent Iraqis will be killed before the Democratic warmongers wake up and smell the napalm. Contribute to Russ Feingold.
August 20, 2005
President George W. Bush said on Saturday U.S. troops in Iraq were fighting to protect Americans at home from more attacks like those of September 11, 2001...So much for "freeing the Iraqi people" and "bringing democracy to the Iraqis." This month the reason for invading Iraq is back to Iraq was going to attack us. And of course the mysterious "they" that we are fighting:
"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
"They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war, and they know we will prevail," he said.
"We're fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, striking them in foreign lands before they can attack us here at home," Bush said."Foreign lands." Has a ring to it, no?
Since Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and had no plans nor had the means to attack us, I guess he's saying that brown people attacked us on 9/11, so we have to fight brown people somewhere? I guess that would fit with the language about "savages."
Also - Focus group phrase alert!
"In a few weeks, our country will mark the four-year anniversary of the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. On that day, we learned that vast oceans and friendly neighbors no longer protect us from those who wish to harm our people,"This must have have good results from focus groups in "the heartland" who somehow forgot about decades of fear of nuclear missiles and long-range bombers.
August 19, 2005
We started a war. If we "withdraw" that does not end it. I know this comes as a surprise to many in America, but I am going to deliver some bad news.
America has become an audience nation. We act like everything is a TV show. We are accustomed to watching and changing the channel when the show gets boring. And we extend this attitude into our expectations about reality. We pretend that we can cut taxes but spend on programs (especially the military) and borrow the money to do this and this will never catch up to us. We pretend that we can buy on credit from China and send them all our manufacturing jobs and this will never catch up to us.
We pretend that we can ignore our infrastructure - our roads and our bridges and our rail and our schools and our justice system - and they will keep functioning. Perhaps we'll be able to change the channel again and not see the deterioration.
We start wars that others must fight, and pretend it is a show for us to watch. But Americans are disovering that we can't change the channel on the war we started. It's starting to sink in, just how bad a mess Bush has created. Dead troops don't come home and bombs keep exploding. The channel isn't changing. So Americans are getting cranky.
War is the worst thing in the world. And we have started a war. We went over there and killed maybe as many as 100,000 fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers. They aren't just going to forget that - and we shouldn't either. A year and a half ago I wrote,
My comment is that WE DO NOT KNOW why we are in Iraq, and the reasons put forth by the Republicans are obviously bogus. They laid down a smokescreen, told a bunch of lies, whipped us up into a frenzy of fear and loathing, and got their war on. But no one accepts their reasons for war, and no one understands why we REALLY went to war. So we are left with rumors, conspiracy theories, people trying to piece together logic out of whispers of supposed information from possibly trusted sources... My point being that in a Democracy WE were supposed to decide after digesting all available information, with our government serving us by making that information available so we can be informed in our decision process, and the Congress was supposed to "declare war" only in response to the gravest of emergencies. But this time we were led to war, tricked into it, lied to, and manipulated by people who are masters of marketing but apparently void of basic humanity. But why? All we have to go on is rumor and speculation.And here we are. We click and click and the channel doesn't change. So now our easy solution is to just "withdraw," as if that's all we have to do. There's an interesting psychological parallel in the term, no? Just "withdraw."
WAR. WAR. My God, we started a WAR! WAR IS THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD and we are at war, and we started it. Yes WE. You and me, our country, we started a war, and now we are starting to see it grow. We are seeing images of soldiers urinating on prisoners with hoods over their heads. We are seeing images of children burned to death, arms missing, mosques exploding, bombs ending lives, coffins returning home...
But is it really such an easy answer? Aside from all the consequences for Iraqis there will be long-term ongoing consequences here. I'm talking about serious national security concerns. While we had no reason to invade Iraq in the first place WE HAVE CREATED THE THREAT. Saying "we are less safe now" is not a political slogan. WE ARE LESS SAFE NOW. If we leave, we are leaving behind an Afghanistan, with a Taliban, infrastrucutre destroyed (by us) but with all the resources of an oil-rich nation-state, and not very concerned that we will be coming back any time soon.
Withdrawal is changing the channel. But anyone who really thinks that "withdrawal" ends this hasn't thought past those painful events of today that are making them want to "withdraw." As if "getting out" means we'd be out. No, it means never being safe again. We started a war. Do you understand? You don't just end a war by wishing it to end.
No, leaving means we're STARTING, not ending, the problems. Why on earth do you think that what we did to THEIR cities can't be done to OUR cities?
If you think the weapons that will be used against us in coming years are going to discriminate and not target the people who wanted to "withdraw," you are kidding yourselves. You are in the "denial" phase, as the consequences of what the American chickenhawk leadship has done are beginning to come home to roost. 1800 dead soldiers is NOTHING. We STARTED A WAR. Now we are AT WAR. We can't just "withdraw" and think that war ends because we want it to.
Go look at pictures of Berlin and Tokyo and see how the war they started ended for them. There was supposed to be a lesson for the world from that: THAT'S WHY YOU SHOULDN'T START WARS.
And it's why we hang people who do.
CathiefromCanada has good pics from this week's Cindy Sheehan support vigil.
Continuing my "what I'd do" about Iraq if I was King rant, and recognizing that anything we advocate is irrelevant. Like the Social Security debate, anything we put forward leaves us open to criticism and blame - but not to credit. One commenter wrote, "you know the President does not listen to anyone with a different opinion, giving him one enables him to shift the blame."
I'm saying that the RIGHT solution is not to mess everything up and just "withdraw," but to FIX IT. We should advocate that Bush either fix things or turn Iraq over to the UN and finance bringing in sufficient forces to restore stability, establish a government and justice system, AND finance the reconstruction. Not like this is what is going to happen.
Bush and the war-planners should be tried for war crimes. The Rule of Law demands this. They committed the crime of aggressive war, and the world needs to know that this is not tolerated.
Everyone in the chain of command of Guantanamo and Abu Grahib should be prosecuted for allowing the pattern of abuse of prisoners to occur.
And, finally, we need to change our country's political, election and information systems so that a far-right coup can not happen again.
Oh yeah, one more thing. Everyone who voted for Bush should be sent to Iraq to keep the peace until the UN takes over. And THEY should be taxed to pay for fixing things.
Update - For new Seeing the Forest readers: Don't misread my position as support for this war. I was completely, totally against invading Iraq from the moment it was first mentioned. I wrote from the start that it was clearly an illegal, immoral scam -- lies intended to manipulate the public. It is from this position - that it was wrong to do what we did - that I believe we now have a responsibility to the people there, and to the world, to do what we can to fix things there. As I said, you don't mess things up and then think "withdrawal" makes it right again. Unfortunately it was done "in our name" so it is us, you and me, who are responsible for the consequences. Just like the huge bill that's coming for Bush's tax cuts, trade deficit, housing bubble, etc. We're the ones on the hook for it. And one thing we can do to help set things right is put the perpetrators in jail.
August 17, 2005
Larry Mattlage, who was just practicing hunting when he fired his shotgun, and some of the "laid back friendly people" of Crawford, think Cindy and the anti-war protesters have worn out their welcome:
"It's like company," Mattlage later told reporters. "If you had your brother-in-law in your house for five days, wouldn't it start stinking up the place?"
Mattlage said most of his neighbors were upset by the presence of the protesters, and he was just the first to speak up.
"I don't want nobody to get hurt," Mattlage said.
"I just want them to pack their damn tents and go where they came from."
Millions of Iraqis feel exactly the same way about American troops.
August 16, 2005
boingboing.net just put up an article entitled, "The Profits of Fear", by Charles Platt (a former senior writer for Wired Magazine, back when it was worth reading). It is the story of Sam Cohen, the man who invented the Neutron Bomb, and his attempts to sell it in Washington, DC... and his encounters with our government's civilian and military leadership, who appear to be driven by lunatic medacity, pathological incompetence, and insatiable greed.
Why, as an STF reader, should you read this piece? Well, aside from the fact that it is a flat out fascinating read, the type of thoughtful, quirky journalism that expands the mind... to quote the author: "For those who wonder how neo-conservative think tanks managed to incite empire-building conceits that fomented a renewed war in Iraq, Cohen's experiences fifty years ago turn out to be unexpectedly relevant."
The article analyzes parallels between the nature and scope of the influence on policy that RAND (the original think tank) had in the early 1950's, and that modern incarnations like the "Project for a New American Century" have today.
I always thought that the nuetron bomb was a bad idea, because it would make war "too easy", by limiting the scope of the damage to property and life, etc. but I see that this was naive: our leaders, and our military could give a damn about the damage caused by war (this is evidenced, by, among other things, the fact that when a version of the nuetron bomb was finally built, it functioned like any other bomb: destroying everything in it's path).
Platt's theory is that our political process self-selects for pathological power-driven egotists, and that war provides these individuals with an excuse for self-importance (not to mention feeding the war machine) - and that the Cold War, and now, obviously, the "War on (some) Terror" serves this purpose ideally.
P.S. The reaction of Platt's editor at Wired to the idea of doing a profile of this sort, "The guy sounds wacky." explains why Wired became "tired" as the millenium arrives and lost it's relevance. The early Wired would have embraced the idea of a piece like this.
The day after burying their son, parents of a fallen Marine urged President Bush to either send more reinforcements to Iraq or withdraw U.S. troops altogether.Thanks to Crooks and Liars.
[. . .] 'Our comments are not just those of grieving parents,'' Paul Schroeder said in front of the couple's home. ''They are based on anger, Mr. President, not grief. Anger is an honest emotion when someone's family has been violated.''
Palmer accused the president of refusing to make changes in a war gone bad. ''Whether he leads them out by putting more troops on the ground or pulling them out -- he can't just let it continue,'' she said.
[. . .] The couple applauded Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier who has camped out in protest near Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, for bringing the war to the public's attention.
''We consider her the Rosa Parks of the new movement opposing the Iraq war,'' Palmer said.
August 15, 2005
August 11, 2005
In July 2002, at the first Senate hearing on Iraq, then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Joe Biden pledged his allegiance to Bush's war. Ever since, the blunt-spoken Biden has seized every opportunity to dismiss antiwar critics within his own party, vocally denouncing Bush's handling of the war while doggedly supporting the war effort itself. Biden carried this message into the Kerry campaign as the candidate's closest foreign policy confidant, and a few days after announcing his own intention to run for the presidency in 2008, he gave a major speech at the Brookings Institution in which he criticized rising calls for withdrawal as a "gigantic mistake."
The Democrats' speculative front-runner for '08, Hillary Clinton, has offered similarly hawkish rhetoric. "If we were to artificially set a deadline of some sort, that would be like a green light to the terrorists, and we can't afford to do that," Clinton told CBS in February. Instead, she recently proposed enlarging the Army by 80,000 troops "to respond to threats wherever danger lies." Clinton, a member of the Armed Services Committee, appears more comfortable accommodating the President's Iraq policy than opposing it, and her early and sustained support for the war (and frequent photo-ops with the troops) supposedly reinforces her national security credentials.
This is an amazing article that explains why the presumptive leaders of the Democratic party continue to get it wrong on Iraq in spite of overwhelming opposition to Bush's war in the Democratic Party and 60% opposition in the general public.
The continued high standing of the hawks has been made possible by their enablers in the strategic class--the foreign policy advisers, think-tank specialists and pundits. Their presumed expertise gives the strategic class a unique license to speak for the party on national security issues. This group has always been quietly influential, but since 9/11 it has risen in prominence, egging on and underpinning elected officials, crowding out dissenters within its own ranks and becoming increasingly ideologically monolithic. So far its members remain unchallenged. It's more than a little ironic that the people who got Iraq so wrong continue to tell the Democrats how to get it right.
Ari Berman provides the outline of the Strategic Class Pyramid with familiar names and institutions and then points out the fundamental flaw of parroting the theocon talking points:
Central to the liberal hawks' mission is a challenge to other Democrats that they too must become "national security Democrats," to borrow a phrase coined by Holbrooke. To talk about national security a Democrat must be a national security Democrat, and to be a national security Democrat, a Democrat must enthusiastically support a militarized "war on terror," protracted occupation in Iraq, "muscular" democratization and ever-larger defense budgets. The liberal hawks caricature other Democrats just as Republicans long stereotyped them. The pundits magnify the perception that Democrats are soft on national security, and they influence how consultants view public opinion and develop the message for candidates. In that sense, the bottom of the pyramid is always interacting with the top. It matters little that people like Beinart have no national security experience--as long as the hawks identify themselves as national security Democrats, they're free to play the game.
That's exactly the script played out a couple of weeks ago by Al From, Blueprint editor Peter Ross Range and Will Marshall at the Progressive Policy Institute.
The few rational foreign policy voices in the Democratic Party get drowned out:
"There's an approach which says, 'Let's raise the stakes and call,'" says former Senator Gary Hart, a rare voice of principled opposition in the party today. "That if Republicans want a ten-division Army, let's be for a twelve-division Army. I think that's just nonsense, frankly. It's stupid policy. Trying to get on the other side of the Republicans is folly, both politically and substantively."
If Hart is correct, then why does so much of the Democratic strategic class march in lockstep? There's no simple answer. The insularity of Washington, pressures of careerism, fear of appearing soft and the absence of institutional alternatives all contribute to a limiting of the debate. Bill Clinton's misguided political dictum that the public "would rather have somebody who's strong and wrong than somebody who's weak and right" applies equally to the strategic class.
It looks like the Democratic Party is destined to follow BillandHillary over the Iraq war cliff unless someone or something can wake them up:
A few courageous elected officials are attempting to drum up Congressional support for withdrawal. Thus far, the hawks have drowned them out. Unless and until the strategic class transforms or declines in stature, the Democrats beholden to them will be doomed to repeat their Iraq mistakes.
August 10, 2005
Iraqi Unions Defy Assassinations and Occupation - David Bacon - truthout | perspective
There are a lot of reasons why workers and unions might hate the occupation. Iraqi unemployment, according to the economics faculty of Baghdad University, has been at 70 percent since the occupation started. Among US occupation czar Paul Bremer's neoliberal orders was number 30, issued in September of 2003 and still in force. It lowered the base wage in public enterprises, where most Iraqis work, to $35/month, and ended subsidies for food and housing. Most of all, workers hate Law 150, issued by Saddam Hussein in 1987, which prohibited unions and collective bargaining in the public sector. Bremer chose to continue enforcing this measure, and bound the transitional government of Allawi to do the same. Bremer backed it up by issuing Public Order 1, banning even advocacy leading to civil disorder, and arrested IFTU leaders, expelling them from their Baghdad offices.
... a full blown overview of the state of the labor movement in Iraq. Lots of interesting stuff, including this tidbit: "a higher percentage of factories in Iraq have worker-based organizing committees and fledgling unions than do factories in the US".
August 6, 2005
U.S (217) & "Coalition" (39) Military Folk Killed in Afghanistan, 511 Wounded In Action (source: CNN/Pentagon)
U.S (1,825) & "Coalition" (192) Military Folk Killed in Iraq, 13,769 Wounded In Action (source: CNN/Pentagon)
... just passed up another "magic figure", folks. ... and how about that last number, 14,000+ wounded? Is anyone going to blink when the counter ticks over to 20,000? 30,000? 50,000? At least the latest news indicates that we're on the way to persuading NATO to take over in Afghanistan (although we'll still be there in force, and probably still be spending a couple $ billion a month).
August 5, 2005
[This release makes an excellent point about the impact of the war at home, and how this is as much a local issue as a national one... $26 billion would have done quite a bit to solve California's budget problems over the past few years, eh? Might've enabled our local school district to keep my kid's elementary school open, for one thing. -Thomas
P.S. The California Democratic Party is pretty good on the war issue as well, calling for immediate withdrawl and pointing out lies, etc.: IRAQ]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Greens mourn loss of Marine lives in Iraq,
urge cities, counties to also consider loss
of funds that could save lives at home
SACRAMENTO (August 3, 2005) – The Green Party of California today mourned
the loss of another 14 Americans Wednesday, and at least 21 since Tuesday
in the war in Iraq – and said that the cost of war not only takes human
lives in the war zone, but here in California.
Citing statistics that indicate more than $26 billion could have been spent
on human needs in California – many of them life-saving – the GPCA urged
local governments to send a clear message to Congress and the Bush
Administration that the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Iraq.
According to National Priorities.Org – which monitors the cost of the war
using government statistics – California could have used the money spent on
the war to provide healthcare to nearly 11 million Californians, or 16.5
million children, hired 409,000 elementary school teachers or built 153,000
affordable housing units.
In Sacramento Wednesday, a coalition of organizations, including Greens,
veterans and minority representatives, previewed a resolution asking the
City Council to call upon Pres. Bush and Congress to leave Iraq
immediately, end military recruitment on high school and college campuses,
ensure veterans are cared for and reallocate the war expenditures to
provide health care, education and affordable housing for Sacramentans.
Similar resolutions have been introduced and approved, including one in San
Francisco. Other resolutions, including one on the ballot in San Francisco,
also call for an immediate end to military recruiting in high schools,
colleges and universities.
"This war in Iraq has truly become a quagmire, as many predicted. The human
cost of this illegal war touches not only the troops on the ground in Iraq
but all of us here at home," said Pat Driscoll, a GPCA spokesperson and
former congressional candidate.
"When we think of the lives we could save in California by providing health
care and other human services instead of spending it on this ill-conceived
war, then it behooves us to pressure not only Congress, but our local
elected representatives to stand up and say ‘enough is enough,'" Driscoll
Operation Truth. Go visit.
"Operation Truth is America's first and largest nonprofit, non-partisan advocacy organization for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."Visit their Blogs from the Troops.
And, of course, do your duty and donate.
August 2, 2005
At Informed Comment.
August 1, 2005
eRiposte' Summary and Conclusions of his Uranium from Africa and the Senate (SSCI) Report is up now. It's an important read.
July 29, 2005
I forgot to mention. Yesterday on the Rush Limbaugh show the host (I forget his name...) stated to a caller that "We are in Iraq because we were attacked."
At this late date they are still trying to trick the public.
July 27, 2005
Bush cuts and runs.
eRiposte at The Left Coaster has an important story up about "the forged Niger documents and the CIA/Bush administration narrative about it."
...serious discrepancies are evident in the CIA's/Bush administration's claims about how and when they first became aware that the Niger documents were forged and on how they decided that the Niger intelligence was not credible. This raises serious questions about the extent of the Bush administration's manipulation of the truth about the "uranium from Africa" claim, their knowledge of the forged Niger documents, and their motives for attacking Joseph Wilson and exposing Valerie Plame's covert CIA identity.
July 23, 2005
War forms its own culture. The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug . . . It is peddled by mythmakers-historians, war correspondents, filmmakers, novelists, and the state-allof whom endow it with qualities it often does not possess: excitement, exoticism, power, chances to rise above our stations in life, and a bizarre and fantastic universe that has a grotesque and dark beauty. It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language, and infects everything around it, even humor, which becomes preoccupied with the grim perversities of smut and death. . . . War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks not far below the surface within all of us. And this is why for many war is so hard to discuss once it is over.
Page 3 continued:
The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our airwaves. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble.
The chief institutions that disseminate the myth are the press and the state. . . . The blunders andd senseless slaughter by our generals, the execution of prisoners and innocents, and the horror of wounds are rarely disclosed, at least during a mythic war, to the public.
. . .
The potency of myth is that it allows us to make sense of mayhem and violent death. It gives a justification to what is often nothing more than gross human cruelty and stupidity.
[Update: Bilmon has a few words to add about The War Of The Words.
July 20, 2005
Sunni Muslim members on a committee draftingIt's hard to put into words just how bad this is. It could mean civil war. The United States had a moral, ethical and legal obligation to provide sufficient security after we invaded. The looting and riots that followed the invasion - and our government's lack of concern - showed that sucurity just was not on the radar of the right-wingers in charge. They dispatched sufficient forces to guard the Oil Ministry, but didn't bother to inspect the supposed WMD sites. They didn't even bother to guard the high-explosive storage depots!
Iraq's new constitution suspended their participation Wednesday in the wake of a colleague's assassination, saying they need more security.
[. . .] "This place is unfit" for recruiting, said Capt. Hussein Ali, a police officer. "This is the seventh or the eighth attack on the same place."
But now, beyond the deaths of somany American troops and Iraqi civilians, we see that there was a geopolitical reason to provide security as well - even if they didn't care about the people. Their own empire-building agenda is undermined, and an Iranian-linked Islamic Republic hostile to the United States is the most likely outcome.
And what kind of surrealist cover story would the GOP propaganda machine come up with to convince the Fox News audience that fighting and dying to keep Khomeini lovers in power is really a good thing?
July 16, 2005
60 Years Ago Today , great picture.
July 15, 2005
China threatened us again.
“We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”
Gen Zhu is a self-acknowledged “hawk” who has warned that China could strike the US with long-range missiles. But his threat to use nuclear weapons in a conflict over Taiwan is the most specific by a senior Chinese official in nearly a decade.
At an impromptu news conference shortly after Australia turned down his request for political asylum, the bookish Chen announced that he'd spent the last four years managing a network of 1,000 informants and spies in Australia on behalf of the Chinese government.Note that Australia turned down his request for asylum.
[. . .] Like those of most countries, China's intelligence efforts employ a system of concentric circles, analysts said. Unlike U.S. intelligence agencies, with their reliance on satellite data and high technology, China is known for its "humint," or human intelligence.
"They can and do send out thousands of people with limited tasking, flooding the target country," said Larry M. Wortzel, a former U.S. Army attache in Beijing now at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.
China has three kinds of spies, asylum-seeker Hao told Australian reporters: "professional spies" paid to collect information, "working relationship" spies operating in business circles and "friends" in less formal networks, a category analysts said Chen's 1,000 spies would fall into.
China employs a relatively small number of well-trained, professional spies, intelligence analysts said, charged with digging up the most sensitive military secrets and strategic policy.
In the second tier, China relies on well-placed front companies and scientists to go after key technologies, including dual military and civilian-use products that are easier to acquire than top-secret military items.
"But you use dual-use or trading companies as far from the embassy as possible," said an intelligence expert who declined to be identified. "They're a big radioactive tag."
In one recent case, a Chinese American couple in Wisconsin was arrested on suspicion of selling China $500,000 worth of computer parts with potential applications in enhanced missile systems. [emphasis added]
[. . .] The case has also embarrassed the government of Prime Minister John Howard, which critics accuse of putting trade ahead of human rights to avoid angering Beijing, a charge the administration denies.It's really time to think about whether we want our military bogged down in the Iraq quagmire, whether we should be borrowing hundreds of billions from China, and whether we need a draft.
July 13, 2005
The world welcomed the latest news out of Pyongyang indicating that it will rejoin the 6-Party Talks now that a new US negotiating team is involved. The U.S. has reversed course and is willing to talk to North Korea, stop saber rattling, and do what is necessary to get the North to the table. But there is more.
With professional diplomats now in charge, the 6-Party Talks have in only 3 sessions agreed on major points: a multilateral dialogue; a Nuclear Free Korean Peninsula; an inspection system; and a permanent regional security forum. This last point is key – it means that the Bush Administration, has recognized that negotiating makes more sense than saber rattling.
However, there is an even more hopeful development. An unofficial, “backchannel” set of negotiations launched by citizens has been ongoing since 1992 to establish a Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia. In unofficial meetings between retired ambassadors, generals, admirals, scholars, business executives and peace activists, with the tacit but deniable approval of the US military and State Department, a group of dedicated citizens hammered out the elements of a nuclear free zone that would start a process of limited denuclearization – including nukes on US ships and subs in the region. The agreement would obligate the nations involved to withdraw certain kinds of weapons from an area they all agree to. The states pledging not to have nuclear weapons (Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan) would form a League of Non-nuclear States, and the nuclear weapon states (China, Russia, and the U.S.) would provide a good faith “buy in” by removing a percentage of their existing tactical nuclear weapons. This would be a first anywhere in the world.
The citizens’ group, launched by Professors John Endicott and Patrick O’Heffernan at Georgia Tech in 1992 and guided by Endicott for 12 years and 2 US Administrations, has not completed its work. But it has done enough to convince the 6-Party Talks participants to look closely at the idea of a limited nuclear weapons free zone in the region. A Limited Nuclear Free Zone for Northeast Asia would be the kind of good news that could give the world new hope . Full details of the North Asia Limited Nuclear Free Zone talks can be found at www.cistp.gatech.edu
July 12, 2005
From The War's Realists:
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Fran Townsend, the president's homeland security adviser, said that the war in Iraq attracts terrorists "where we have a fighting military and a coalition that can take them on and not have the sort of civilian casualties that you saw in London."There is only one way the number of casualties in London is fewer than those in Iraq and that is if you don't consider Iraqi civilians to be people.
July 10, 2005
It appears that some conservatives (reactionaries? dumbservatives?) think that violence is the solution to all problems. The more extreme, the better. This is fundamentally different worldview from that held by us liberal followers of the Enlightenment, who feel that reason and logic should prevail in human affairs.
But what could we do anyway? We could keep playing the capitalist odds hoping it is our neighbors who get killed next or, very simply, we could demand that the enemy surrender. We could simply announce to the Muslim world ( 52% of Muslims in London were not willing to condemn the 9/11 bombings and no Imam (except one) has issued a fatwa against OBL for 9/11) that their support for OBL and his ideology has earned them the following ultimatum: change your ways and turn over OBL in one month or there will be a crater one mile wide round outside of Medina; in another month, if he has not been turned over, there will be another crater inside Medina with Gumbad-e-Khizra being precisely at the center of it. If at that point you still feel divinely inspired to follow OBL toward some 15th Century mad dog Caliphate we will eliminate Mecca one terrorizing month or so later, at which point you can pray 5 times a day in the direction of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border where your great savior OBL is living like a diseased and slimy rat in a dark dank hole.
Don't ask me why he thinks that apprehending Osama Bin Ladin will single-handedly stop Al Quaeda or religiously motivated Arab or Muslim fundamentalist terrorism...
If you think he's just one lone nut, let me present you with Michael Savage (host of the nation's fifth most listened to radio talk show) - who goes one step beyond this suggestion, and advocates that we pre-emptively nuke every Arab capitol as a means of cowing the terrorists into submission (I guess)... a suggestion he made several years ago, in fact.
Now, I won't speak for others, but I don't particularly want to deal with the fallout that would result from our taking the course of action this guy outlines... it is hard to think of a more effective means of inducing global social and economic catastrophe/collapse than nuking Medina and Mecca (hell, than even threatening to do so). If you think the Muslim world is stirred up now, wait until George Bush opens his mouth to make such a statement... I sure as hell wouldn't want to be an American abroad at that point - let alone a soldier serving in Iraq!
July 7, 2005
So much for "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Time to find a new excuse for being in Iraq.
July 6, 2005
Hat tip to Iteachyourkids at MyDD, Mom, Who Lost Son In Iraq, Talks About 'Disgusting' White House Private Meeting With Bush.
Bush and the Republican party cannot be trusted with the lives our our sons and daughters in Iraq:
Cindy Sheehan has already had her heart ripped into a million pieces by the illegal Iraqi war, losing the son she loved more than life itself only five days after he arrived in Baghdad in April 2004.
There is nothing more painful or more heart breaking than a parent losing a child.
No one should have to experience such pain, but the cold reality of war is that someone’s child actually dies and there are actual parents left living with the hopeless task of trying to cope with the pain.
And anyone with any semblance of a heart and soul knows a mother coping with such a loss needs all the help and understanding she can get.
Anyone with the slightest bit of compassion knows a kind word or a shoulder to cry on helps a mother, who experienced the ultimate loss, get through another day when every day feels like it could be the end of the world.
But what she encountered was an arrogant man with eyes lacking the slightest bit of compassion, a President totally "detached from humanity" and a man who didn’t even bother to remember her son’s name when they were first introduced.
Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent," said: "Who we’all honorin’ here today?"
"His mouth kept moving, but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all. This is a human being totally disconnected from humanity and reality. His eyes were empty, hollow shells and he was acting like I should be proud to just be in his presence when it was my son who died for his illegal war! It was one of the most disgusting experiences I ever had and it took me almost a year to even talk about it," said Sheehan in a telephone conversation from Washington D.C. where she was attending a July 4th anti-war rally.
"The whole meeting was simply bizarre and disgusting, designed to intimidate instead of providing compassion. He didn’t even know our names," said Sheehan. "Finally I got so upset I just looked him in the eye, saying ‘I think you can imagine losing someone. You have two daughters. Imagine losing them?’ After I said that he just looked at me, looked at me with no feeling or caring in his eyes at all."
"Your grandchildren and children who will be entering Kindergarten this fall will be fighting George's endless war if he gets his way and is allowed to continue spreading the cancer of imperialism in the Middle-East….
"Think about it when you tuck your child into bed tonight."
Cindy Sheehan is the founder of Gold Star Families For Peace.
Lew Rockwell has a recent interview with Cindy by Kevin B Zeese. Here's a poem at the end or the interview:
A Nation Rocked to sleep
by Carly Sheehan
Sister of Casey KIA 04/04/04
Sadr City Baghdad
Have you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?
The torrential rains of a mother's weeping will never be done
They call him a hero, you should be glad that he's one, but
Have you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?
Have you ever heard the sound of a father holding back his cries?
He must be brave because his boy died for another man's lies
The only grief he allows himself are long, deep sighs
Have you ever heard the sound of a father holding back his cries?
Have you ever heard the sound of taps played at your brother's grave?
They say that he died so that the flag will continue to wave
But I believe he died because they had oil to save
Have you ever heard the sound of taps played at your brother's grave?
Have you ever heard the sound of a nation being rocked to sleep?
The leaders want to keep you numb so the pain won't be so deep
But if we the people let them continue another mother will weep
Have you ever heard the sound of a nation being rocked to sleep?
May 30, 2005
July 3, 2005
John at AMERICAblog makes a very good point. Why is Karl Rove in the White House today? We have a guy here accused of one of the most serious acts of treason in our country's history, and they won't revoke his security clearance and remove him from the White House while the charges are looked into? Huh? This guy has access to everything, and is accused of divulging secrets! And he hangs with people who have been indicted for revealing national security secrets to other countries!
Remember the STF Rule: when Republicans accuse it usually means it is something THEY are doing. Rove recently accused Democrats of treason.
July 1, 2005
June 29, 2005
[Let me quote just one key part of this statement:
The principal obstacle to peace, stability, and the reconstruction of Iraq is the occupation. The occupation is the problem, not the solution. Iraqi sovereignty and independence must be restored. The occupation must end in all its forms, including military bases and economic domination.
Here's the "simple" version of the message we need to be pounding away at the media with: The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
Make this your mantra.
Every time you're confronted with a "stay the course" or "you break it, you buy it" argument, repeat this back to them: The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
You have it from the horse's mouth. Iraqi labor activists at the grassroots. The occupation is the problem, not the solution.
Sisters and Brothers:
What follows is an historic document, a joint statement drafted by the leaders of three of Iraq’s main labor organizations and leaders of US Labor Against the War. The statement is the culmination of a sweeping tour of the US by the Iraqis who spoke eloquently in opposition to the occupation of their country. They spoke to their audiences of the threat and likely consequences of privatization of their national resources and industries and the importance of establishing free trade unions in Iraq.
The tour inspired thousands of trade unionists in the US to intensify the campaign against the war and occupation in Iraq. It brought hope and encouragement to the Iraqis who recognized that they had genuine support among the people of the occupying power. The statement, in English and Arabic, will be distributed throughout the US and Iraq as well as internationally and will be posted to the USLAW website. We hope that it will encourage unions everywhere to take a stand against the occupation and in support of the courageous Iraqi labor movement.
The English language version of the statement is posted at HERE (PDF).
The Arabic language version of the statement is posted at HERE (PDF).
We encourage you to distribute this widely throughout your unions and organizations, and put it in your organization’s newspaper and on your web pages.
As Chris notes, it's hard to reconcile the happy talk of the press releases with the reality they experience every day.Read Chris' entire post from Iraq.News flash: Iraq is a disaster. I've been back one day, and the airport road was the worst I've ever seen it. We had to go around a fire-fight between mujahideen and Americans while Iraqi forces sat in the shade of date palms on the side of the road, their rifles resting across their laps. My driver pointed to a group of men in a white pickup next to me. “They are mujahideen,” he said. “They are watching the Americans.” Indeed, they were, and so intently that they paid no attention to me in the car next to them. We detoured around two possible car bombs that had been cordoned off while Iraqis cautiously approached.The authorities say Iraq is doing great. So who should Chris believe, Rumsfeld or his own lying eyes?
June 28, 2005
The Veterans Administration assumed it would have to take care of 23,553 patients who are veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but that number had been revised upward to 103,000, Nicholson told a House of Representatives panel.
June 26, 2005
America leaving Iraq now means leaving the people and the oil there under the control of the Islamic Republic that arises after we leave. (Think about what that means for the women, for example.) It probably means that much of the rest of the Middle East also becomes an Islamic Republic, and their oil (and the resources that oil control brings) will eventually be denied to the West, perhaps even used against the West. And because of the current situation there, leaving Iraq now likely means ever-expanding terrorist war against us -- against you and me.
Invading Iraq really, really did NOT make us safer. That is not just a political slogan. This would not have happened had we not invaded, but it will happen if we leave, having invaded. It was not you and me who brought this on, but it is you and me who will pay.
The Bush people like to talk about "facts on the ground." Well, regardless of how we feel about what Bush has done, the facts on the ground NOW are that he has initiated a sequence of events, and we have to deal with things as they are, not as we wish them to be.
And, yes, a lot of this IS about control of the oil now. Our way of life depends on oil. That includes the fertilizer that feeds billions of people. It includes the gas to transport food and everything else we all consume. This is just today's reality. We don't have alternative energy sources in place (compare the waste from nuclear to the consequences of just dumping carbon and other pollutants into the air). We don't have efficient public transportation. We don't have energy efficient buildings.
WAIT - before you say it, think about how much you might be part of the problem. Are you absolutely and completely energy efficient? Do you think about the energy consequences of everything you routinely do -- and encourage others to do the same? Do you own a hybrid, or take public transportation or ride a bike to work? Do you have passive solar heating installed? Do you keep your furnace off except for a few blast each day? Do you go around your house turning off every light? Do you take elevators instead of stairs? Do you have any electronics on "standby" - using energy even when turned off? Think it through before you say what you were about to say.
So I think we have to SOLVE the Iraq problem, not just leave. Advocating that we just up and leave Iraq is similar to using energy in the wasteful ways we have gotten used to: It puts off the resulting problems for a while, but ultimately makes them worse.
Update - Maybe I worded some of my thoughts better in a comment I left at this excellent post:
I wonder what you think "throw in the towel" means in this case? It sure would be nice and easy and clean if it meant we could just walk away and then everything would be all right.I think that restoring order, if done right, would mean much LESS violence than we are seeing now. It means having enough people there to help a legitimate government start tracking down and jailing the people who are setting off bombs, which would enable Iraq to start building a real police and justice system.
But it doesn't mean that. We started a WAR. We CAN'T just "throw in the towel" and make everything OK again. It is WAAAYYY too late for that.
If we leave, what happens to the people in Iraq? Think about what an Islamic Republic means for the women there. Then think about what that means to US. Leaving could mean that the people who are driving bombs into crowds are likely to end up running the country. We will leave behind millions of people who hate us (many hating us for leaving after starting what we started there), but who will then have the resources of an oil-rich nation at their disposal.
[. . .] When we all said "Not in our name!" it wasn't just a political slogan. It was REAL. Bush started a war in our name, and now they are at war with US - namely you and me. Just leaving abandons the Iraqi people to the mess WE (Bush, in our name) created, and in the longer term possibly brings it here. Perhaps Bush has f**ked us even more than we already think. I suggest we take Bush out of our thoughts for a minute and think about where Iraq is today, and what needs to be done to bring real peace.
We broke it, we HAVE TO fix it. Even if it means restoring a draft. It would certainly be nice if we could only draft the kids of people who voted FOR this war.
And Iraq hasn’t just turned into what bin Laden wanted Afghanistan to be, it’s turned into something which is a lot better. It’s more centrally located, it has oil, because it has oil the US can’t disengage from it without potentially catastrophic economic consequences. And, even better, it’s a different type of guerilla warfare – it’s an urban insurgency. Those skills are one that al-Q’aeda didn’t have a lot of. They came of age in a rural insurgency. So, as an organization, and as a movement of people who believe in the Caliphate, Iraq’s been a perfect training ground.
[. . .] The plan, now, is as it always has been. Iraq is to be turned into a failed state or a state friendly to the Mujahideen. From Iraq, the newly trained and militant jihadis will be able to destabilize other regions – by which I mean Saudi Arabia. It has always been the end goal, and with a base in Iraq it is much more achievable. And with some of that black gold, or the money from that black gold, in Iraq, in their hands – things will be looking good.Long after Bush has left the scene, the damage will still be increasing...
[. . .] Meanwhile, as always, the goal in Afghanistan is to turn Pakistan. Pakistan, the Muslim nation which has achieved a great thing – it has created nuclear weapons and the delivery systems. The northern part of Pakistan is so rebellious that they have fought Pakistani military forces regularly over the last few years and Musharraf is derided as an American lapdog. If the Coalition can be allowed to rile up the locals enough, aided by strategic assassinations and bombings, that the Taliban, who at least kept the peace, look good again then the question becomes how long Pakistan’s proud army, humbled by the Indians and Pakistan’s intelligence service – practically the founders and certainly the long time patrons of the Taliban, will remain quiescent. Already, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, officers refused orders and were court martialed for refusing to fight their own people. If the north rises in a nation humbled a striven by chaos, who knows who may wind up in charge?
June 22, 2005
But the administration, then planning for the Iraq invasion, "spurned engagement with North Korea," said Gregg and Oberdorfer.They also were pulling resources out of Afghanistan - the country hosting the people who attacked us...
June 21, 2005
President Bush, in his Saturday President's Radio Address four days ago:
As we work to deliver opportunity at home, we're also keeping you safe from threats from abroad. We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens. Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror. ... Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home.This was just this last Saturday, and he's still saying that Iraq attacked the United States.
June 20, 2005
At Altercation: Soldiers write home
June 19, 2005
A Bush-watcher website identified as TBRNews.org is reporting under the byline of "domestic intelligence reporter" Brian Harring that the Department of Defense is using a cynical tactic to mislead the public regarding the true death toll for American military personnel in Iraq. Harring claims he has an internal pdf. file from the D.O.D. which establishes that nearly 9000 Americans have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but that the official number has been held to 1713 by designating as Iraq deaths only those who perish on Iraqi soil. The remainder, he says, are military personnel who have died en route to Germany or in German hospitals-- casualties of the war, but not listed in the official death toll.Update - More here. Click through to debunking.)
Update - More debunking here.
June 17, 2005
This is what I'm afraid could happen again. Democrats will push for withdrawal, eventually they'll get their way, and the country will blame them for the resulting chaos and defeat. Dems will argue that it would have happened anyway, but the public won't buy it. The Republican party, which should get the blame, will get off scot free.We just can't accept a solution that means Iraq falls into civil war. We have a moral and legal responsibility not to let that happen. Any resulting blame will rightly fall on our own shoulders if we do.
June 16, 2005
Today's question: How many different reasons do people give for why we are in Iraq? Everyone has a theory, but no one can really tell you why we went to war. And if different people cite different reasons, isn't that proof that no one knows THE reason? (The Bush Administration will give you a number of reasons, depending on the day of the week.)
Barney Frank just made the point that it's pretty impossible to end something when you didn't have a good reason to start it in the first place. It's hard to have an exit strategy when you don't know why you're there and what you hope to accomplish. [. . .] We've had multiple and shifting justifications from the players, but justifcations were just excuses and marketing pitches, not reasons.Bill at Liberal Oasis asks What Is "Victory" In Iraq?
Digby asks, Why oh Y,
I understand that many of us as individuals believe that we know why the administration took us to war. I have my pet theories. But the fact that these answers differ proves my point. The official rationale is clearly false and there is no consensus on the real rationale. This is absurd. We live in tyhe United States of America, not the Soviet Union circa 1956 or Nazi Germany circa 1938. It is, are I say it, unamerican for the "greatest country in the worlod" to invade and occupy another country for reasons that are not crystal clear.Matthew Yglesias asks,
But what was the White House after? Why did they do it? We have plenty of evidence that not only were the specific claims the administration made about WMD false (often knowingly so), but also that all of this was basically irrelevant to their actual thinking about why we should go to war.
But what were they thinking? Lowballing the likely costs of war to build public support makes sense in a cynical-scumbag kind of way, but how is it that these lowballs seem to have become the actual basis for real-world policy? Nobody knows.
So ... why are we in Iraq? Why are Americans dying in Iraq? Does another soldier die tomorrow so the Shiites have an extra seat in the Iraqi Parliament? is that what they signed up for? Is that "defending America?"
I mean, sure, we are there now because we can't get out. Bush won't allow the UN to take over because that would upset the funders of the think tanks, and won't put enough forces in to bring security because that would cause The Party to lose votes... But why did we start this?
Before the war I wrote,
Here is what I want to say today: Everyone understands that we are going to war for other reasons than those stated by the Bush administration. Everyone!A year later, in War is the Worst Thing, I wrote,
[. . .] Those supporting this war also understand that there is another, hidden agenda. But like so much of the right-wing agenda, they understand that the public face must be separated from the real agenda. They understand and agree that the public must be deceived. They wink and nod, and it is understood by all.
One thing I want to comment on. I talked to a lot of people. Everyone has a theory about why we are in Iraq. Some talk about Bush being swayed by neo-cons who control what he hears. Some talk about oil. Others about religious agendas like trying to start the apocalypse because the Evangelicals want to ascend to Heaven as the rest of us perish in a total war. Etc.Why are we there?
My comment is that WE DO NOT KNOW why we are in Iraq, and the reasons put forth by the Republicans are obviously bogus. They laid down a smokescreen, told a bunch of lies, whipped us up into a frenzy of fear and loathing, and got their war on. But no one accepts their reasons for war, and no one understands why we REALLY went to war. So we are left with rumors, conspiracy theories, people trying to piece together logic out of whispers of supposed information from possibly trusted sources... My point being that in a Democracy WE were supposed to decide after digesting all available information, with our government serving us by making that information available so we can be informed in our decision process, and the Congress was supposed to "declare war" only in response to the gravest of emergencies. But this time we were led to war, tricked into it, lied to, and manipulated by people who are masters of marketing but apparently void of basic humanity. But why? All we have to go on is rumor and speculation.
WAR. WAR. My God, we started a WAR! WAR IS THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD and we are at war, and we started it. Yes WE. You and me, our country, we started a war, and now we are starting to see it grow. We are seeing images of soldiers urinating on prisoners with hoods over their heads. We are seeing images of children burned to death, arms missing, mosques exploding, bombs ending lives, coffins returning home...
And worse, we did this while we were already occupied with Afghanistan, with finding the people who attacked us on 9/11, and eliminating their ability to attack us again. We took away from that effort to make this other war.
And NO ONE can really tell us why. THIS is what we have become.
June 15, 2005
Iraqi and American forces spotted a form huddled beneath a blanket when they raided a home in a dangerous Sunni neighborhood Wednesday. The residents insisted it was their ailing father - but the unfazed troops knew they'd found their man: Australian hostage Douglas Wood.But there's a special aspect to this rescue:
In a statement read by Warner, Wood, a longtime resident of Alamo, Calif., said: "I'm extremely happy and relieved to be free again and deeply grateful to all those who worked to bring about my release ... It is a sign for the future of Iraq that Iraqi soldiers played a role in my release."Iraqis are now hearing that their own troops rescued this man and can claim a victory over the thugs who are attacking civilians in their efforts to keep the country from stabilizing.
The only ways out of the Iraq mess are:
- At least double the American forces in Iraq, to increase security and allow the country to persue a path of stabilization. This won't happen because it means the Bush administration has to admit a mistake as well as impose a draft, which will be politically unpopular.
- Bring in the UN and let them solve it. This won't happen because it means the Bush administration has to admit a mistake, and go against the John Birch Society's anti-UN campaign.
- Iraqis take over security functions, enabling the US to leave.
The third is why today's rescue is such good news. The Iraqis are getting the credit and the thanks, and Iraqis need to hear this. Maybe it will give them some hope and inspiration. There is no other realistic solution that I can see.
A former Bush team member during his first administration is now voicing serious doubts about the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9-11.From Drudge, no less!
[. . .] also served as director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas and is now professor emeritus at Texas A&M University said, "If demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers at the World Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an 'inside job' and a government attack on America would be compelling. ... Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three buildings."
Update - To be clear, I'm not endorsing this, my "Wow" is because it is a former Bush admin official saying it. (Who is it that excuses everything they put out by saying. "We report, you decide"?)
How'd you like to be in basic training, two weeks from now?
Don't think that your flat feet or beer belly are going to get you an exemption:
You'll have to take a physical exam, but anyone "practicing their profession in the private sector" will be automatically "considered able to do the same in a military environment, notwithstanding physical conditions which would cause rejection as a regular registrant."
Or your gender:
Congress could decide not to include women in the medical draft. But it will be hard to get enough nurses and other professionals in some of the desired specialities without drafting women. A health care workers draft will most likely include women.
Ain't that just dandy? Found this website from a pamphlet tucked into the literature rack at my local library.
See below for more "interesting" info... such as the fact that the same rationale that makes medical professionals eligible could easily be extended to other professions where expertise is scarce and the need is critical - including "computer specialists".
The "Health Care Personnel Delivery System" and the Medical Draft
If you think the draft is just for young men, think again. The first people to be drafted will probably be health care workers. If you're a doctor, nurse, technician, therapist, or other medical professional -- man or woman, age 20 through 44 -- and if Congress authorizes a draft, you could be in boot camp less than two weeks from today.
This leaflet explains how a medical draft is likely to work, what you can do now if you don't want to be drafted, and why we hope you'll join us in draft resistance.
[... continued at URL above ...]
Here's a comment worthy of noting, embedded in the page above:
According to one military doctor, writing in a 2004 medical journal article explaining Selective Service plans:
A physician draft is the most likely conscription into the military in the near future.... Currently, this ["special skills"] mission is only for health care personnel, but in the future it is foreseeable it may include linguists, environmental engineers, computer specialists, and other professions.
More handy dandy info:
Selective Service says it is prepared to draft people "professionally qualified" in more than 60 medical specialties [see the list on the last page of the proposed regulations], including physicians, dentists, psychologists, therapists, dietitians, technicians, nurses, veterinarians, pharmacists, opticians, "other medical care and treatment personnel", and "miscellaneous allied specialists".
There's a list of newsarticles and other relevant links at the bottom of the page... here's a sampling (demonstrates that this isn't rhetorical paranoia):
# Health Care Personnel Delivery System: Another Doctor Draft?
(Wisconsin Medical Journal, 2004; by the state surgeon of the Wisconsin Army National Guard)
# U.S. Has Contingency Plans for a Draft of Medical Workers
(The New York Times, 19 October 2004)
# Possibility Of A Military Draft Of Doctors Worries The AMA
(Wall Street Journal, 8 December 2004)
A PDF of the flyer that caught my attention, along with other printable information for our offline friends (or for distribution at mass meetings, etc.) is available here.
June 12, 2005
Why wasn't Biden smart enough to also say that we are going to need a draft because of the "Republican war?"
The word "draft" should NEVER be spoken unless it is accompanied by the words "Republican war."
Othwise what the public will hear is "The DEMOCRATS are calling for a draft!"
June 8, 2005
She accidentally left a 5 1/2" butter knife with a rounded tip and serrated edge buried in a deep pocket of her carry on cooler. Now she's on the terrorist "watch list", and has been fined $500. How this helps make America more secure is beyond me.
A scary quote:
"I said what about my constitutional rights? And they said 'not at this point ... you don't have any'."
A great quote (maybe Martin Niemoller's lament won't be repeated):
"This is not the way my country should be treating me," she said. My concern is that if that's the way they're treating American citizens I would hate to think how they're treating other people. It's crazy."
Here's the article:
DES MOINES - Cecilia Beaman is a 57-year-old grandmother, a principal at Pacific Middle School in Des Moines, and as of Sunday is also a suspected terrorist.
UPDATE: A perceptive commentator noticed that the Des Moines referred to in the article is in the state of Washington, not Iowa.
June 5, 2005
If you haven't seen the work of SF Chronicle on-line cartoonist Mark Fiore yet, you've been missing some great stuff. He's brilliant, and viciously sardonic - he eats hypocrisy and right wing nutball ideology for lunch.
Check out his latest, "Democracy Lite". No registration required.
June 3, 2005
Turning to global matters, Bush repeatedly defended his approach to sticky problems:
_Bush denied any increase of strength in the Iraqi insurgency, whose deadly attacks have been on the rise since a new government was announced April 28. He said the Iraqi government would be "plenty capable of dealing with them" with the help of American training. "I'm pleased with the progress," Bush said.
Compare this with the content of recent news articles...
Iraq's security services have suffered their deadliest month since the fall of Saddam Hussein, illustrating the rise in violence in the country.
Officials reported that at least 220 police officers and soldiers were killed in May, mainly by suicide bombings. The figure does not include potential recruits killed while queuing up to join the forces, a favoured target.
"This figure does not even include those killed in the last two or three days," a senior police officer said.
March was the previous deadliest month, with 200 security personnel killed.
Suicide bombings have surged to become the Iraqi insurgency's weapon of choice, with a staggering 90 attacks accounting for most of last month's 750 deaths at the militants' hands.
Suicide attacks outpaced car bombings almost 2-to-1 in May, according to figures compiled by the U.S. military, The Times and other media outlets. In April, there were 69 suicide attacks, more than in the entire year preceding the June 28, 2004, hand-over of sovereignty.
U.S. officials and Iraqi analysts say the insurgents' resources are increasing on several fronts: money to buy vehicles and explosives, expertise in wiring car and human bombs and intelligence leaks that help them target U.S. and Iraqi forces.
"At this time, there is nothing to indicate that the availability of volunteers is on the decline," [said Navy Cmdr. Fred Gaghan, in charge of the Combined Explosive Exploitation Cell in Iraq that studies bomb scenes for clues to insurgent tactics], noting the media coverage and videos of suicide bombings posted on the Internet that are said to fuel extremist recruitment.
Why aren't members of the media asking the President questions like this:
Mr. President! Mr. President... March, April, and May of this year have seen record levels of violence in Iraq, including a record number of car bombings, a record number of suicide bombings, and a record number of casualities among Iraqi police and military forces.
In May, coalition forces suffered another 88 fatalities at a rate exceeding that of all but two months since April of 2003. 250 more American soldiers were wounded badly enough to not be able to return to duty within 72 hours.
Despite these facts, you claim that the insurgency is not increasing in strength, and that you're pleased with the progress being made.
Mr. President, how many more American soldiers, Iraqi soldiers and police, Iraqi civilians, how many more of them have to die before you become unhappy with the level of progress in Iraq? How many more records need to be set for fatalities, car and suicide bombings before you agree that the insurgency is gaining in strength? Are there any circumstances under which you would express concern with the state of affairs in Iraq and the rate of progress against the insurgency being made there?
It seems likely that Greg Palast has the answer:
...a disease epidemic in US journalism. The illness is called, "access." In return for a supposedly "inside" connection to the powers that be, the journalists in fact become conduits for disinformation sewerage.
And woe to any journalist who annoys the politicians and loses "access." Career-wise, they're DOA.
I have to agree with how he ends his article: "...that sucks."
May 31, 2005
The civilian and military leadership of this country appears to be either in a state of utter denial, or worse, consciously and systematically attempting to persuade the American public to deny reality.
Dick Cheney claims the insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes" and says "we're making major progress there. [...] They had elections, free elections, really for the first time in centuries in January of this year." [I'll resist asking exactly when, previously, Iraq had "free elections". :)]
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that "the trend lines [in Iraq] are up." ... and he's not referring to the number of American casualties (1,656) or the numbers below.
By their logic, the more casualties the insurgency inflicts, the more car bombs that go off, the more suicide bombers that blow themselves up in the midst of a crowd, the more desperate the insurgency is, and the closer to the end of the war we are.
I suppose this means that if we see Baghdad taken out by a suitcase nuke, we can expect to hear our leaders proclaiming a national day of celebration in honor of our final victory in Iraq. V.I. Day, anyone?
Iraqi military prepares largest offensive
- May recorded 140 car bombings, the highest number ever
According to a senior U.S. military intelligence official in Baghdad, more than 140 car bombings occurred in May, beating the old record of 135 in April. He also said the nearly 60 suicide bombings in May were down from 69 in April.
The official, who spoke at a press briefing on condition of anonymity, insisted the insurgency is not growing stronger, and Myers said on another talk show Sunday that it is failing.
"They attacked Iraqi security forces, trying to keep people from signing up to defend their country. ... We have more recruits than we can actually, than the Iraqis can handle," Myers said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
You can read the transcript (another softball interview) on the Face The Nation web site. Also of note, Myers implicitly endorses the view that the Geneva Convention is outdated, and even references the DOJ's attempts to provide a legal basis for that:
"How do you deal with these people in a legal regime that was set up a long time ago for a much different time? And that's what the debate ought to be about. And we've tried to work our way through that, and the Department of Justice has tried to do that and so forth."
No reaction whatsoever from the interviewer to the implications of this statement--in fact, he cut off the interview shortly thereafter... had to go on and talk about federal regulation of steroid use in professional sports. Bleah.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I think we must note that--What?--there have been 70 Americans killed just last month and more than 500 Iraqis killed since those elections.
Gen. MYERS: Right. It's been a violent month, and that's the fact. Also in this month, we have 35 operations ongoing, what we call major operations, 30 of them led by Iraqis and coalition working together, five of them led by the Iraqis themselves. So things are turning in terms of the Iraqi security forces. And in the end, obviously, they have to do this work.
The interviewer just lets this transparent evasion and spin slide right by, doesn't even try and get a real answer out of Myers. This is journalism?!?
Of course, when it comes to delusional statements, it is hard to beat the civilian members of the Bush Administration, especially Dick Cheney...
Here's the money quote:
"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
Cheney denied American wrongdoing at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which Amnesty International compared to a "gulag."
"Guantanamo's been operated, I think, in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military. ... I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently," Cheney said. "Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment.
"But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who has been inside and been released ... to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated."
The quotes originated from an interview on Larry King Live with Dick (and Lynne) Cheney Monday. No hard questions asked, of course. Cheney used the "released prisoners peddling lies" line a couple of times during the interview.
God forbid Larry King ask him how 70 American casualties, 140 car bombings and 60 suicide bombings equates to an insurgency on its last legs.
The American media is giving our national leadership a pass on the war in Iraq. Truly pathetic.
May 29, 2005
I'm on my way out for the day, going to the San Francisco Zoo. But I wanted to ask a question that has been on my mind.
The Iraq War is said to be part of the "War on Terror." But President Bush has said that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack and al-Queda. He has said that the Iraq War is about "freeing the people of Iraq from a terrible dictator."
I honor the sacrifice of our men and women in the Armed Forces. And freeing the people of Iraq is a noble cause, though I sure wish America had had the option of approving it or not on those terms. But I wonder why so many people this Memorial Day continue to talk about the men and women fighting in Iraq to protect OUR freedom, and fighting the War On Terror? Don't they believe President Bush when he says that is not what this war is about?
May 26, 2005
May 20, 2005
The STF Rule: when right-wingers accuse others, it usually means they are doing it themselves. Here we have a right-wing blog accusing "liberals" of not "supporting the troops." And the evidence? One comment at Democratic Underground, something from Scaife's NewsMax, and media reporting on torture and humiliation of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, or otherwise criticizing Bush's policies and conduct of the war.
Well, no, the "liberal" position is that supporting the troops means not prosecuting only those at the bottom for doing what they are told or encouraged or at the very least were not stopped from doing. The "liberal" position is holding the chain of command and the policies from the top responsible as well. AND the liberal position demands that Bush change his offensive policies of torture and humiliation and "rendition" that are enraging the entire Muslim and non-Muslim world! Criticizing Bush's policies and conduct of the war is not criticism of "the troops." By ignoring the responsibility of the chain of command this right-wing blog - and the right-wing line it follows - lays all responsibility for what is going on squarely on the troops. In other words, the right-wing blog - and conservatives generally - are blaming the troops.
(And, if you want to feel really bad about where Bush has taken the country and the military, read the comments.)
May 15, 2005
May 10, 2005
What he says. Every word.
May 6, 2005
You've been hearing about The secret Downing Street memo -- if you read blogs, that is.
Or, on the other hand, if you follow American news, you probably haven't heard about this.
It's real. It's a "smoking gun." It's proof. There's no more doubt about it. The Bush administration intended to go to war, and altered intelligence to trick the public into believing that Iraq was involved in 9/11. It WAS all a lie. AND they timed all of this to influence the 2002 elections.
But who is going to do anything about it? The American news media won't even report it. The Justice Department is going to help cover this up, not investigate it. The Republicans in Congress certainly aren't going to do anything, and they won't allow the Democrats to do anything.
Is the leadership of the military so infiltrated with right-wing loyalists that they'll put up with this?
May 4, 2005
Update - For those concerned... "Off with his head!" is from, I think, Alice and Wonderland. It is a reference to the days of kings and absolute power. It means throw him out. I am not recommending that anyone actually behead Bush.
April 30, 2005
At his press conference the other night Bush said,
"We operate within the law, and we send people to countries where they say they're not going to torture the people."Are you surprised to learn this was just a flat-out lie? Go read TalkLeft: Uzbekistan, Torture, and Rendition.
A United Nations human rights monitor who accused American military forces and civilian contractors last week of abusing and torturing prisoners in Afghanistan has been told his job is over.
[. . .] The day before, he had released a 21-page report saying that Americans running prisons in Afghanistan had acted above the law "by engaging in arbitrary arrests and detentions and committing abusive practices, including torture."
So the reason there are Terrorist Attacks in Iraq is actually to make George Bush look bad and hurt the image of The Party.
What Kevin says, except for the "I originally supported the war" part.