Wednesday, November 29, 2006

UPDATE: The Other Weird One - The Democrat - Is In

Biden to run for Prez.

Oh God, Noooooo!!!

Ouch ... That's Gotta Leave A Mark

After hearing about the big summit between Maliki and Bush in Amman, Jordan, - you know - the one when they were really, really going to get serious this time about stopping all the violence - it was quite a surprise to hear that it got postponed.

But it's worse than that.

Here's how the New York Times described it:

[A]fter meeting earlier today, Mr. Maliki and King Abdullah decided that a joint session planned for this evening with Mr. Bush was unnecessary, according to a senior White House official.

“The Jordanians and the Iraqis jointly decided they did not feel it was the best use of time” and notified Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States ambassador to Iraq, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Mr. Khalilzad then called Air Force One to tell Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who were flying to Amman from Riga, Latvia.

Wow. Talk about leaving egg on the face of the President. Does this mean Sadr has greater pull with Maliki than Bush? One would reasonably think so.

Bush's got himself in another fine mess where, if he does nothing, the U.S. looks powerless and weak on international issues. But if he reacts punitively towards Maliki, he looks like the Colonialist that Sadr claims he is.

Justice for the Mayfields!

Brandon Mayfield - the Oregon attorney who was wrongly accused and jailed on allegations of involvement in the Madrid bombings - settled his monetary claims against the government for $2 million and an apology. Here's the CNN Report.

He will also be allowed to continue his claims challenging the Patriot Act.

Now who will be held accountable for this injustice to the Mayfields and the millions of dollars it cost the American taxpayer?

The Weird One Is Out

Bill Frist has announced he will not seek the Republican nomination for President.

Damn. Things are looking bad for the cats.

{The pic is a classic from Jesus' General].

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Poser of the Day

The Pioneer Press has the breakdown on Country star Troy Gentry's plea of guilty to falsely tafgging a "trophy" bear he claimed to have killed in the wild. Turns out this puke simply paid some guy just short of $5,000 to hunt in kill a tame bear named cubby enclosed within a few acres.

Just another Bush Republican ... all hat, no cattle.

Conservatives! Please Boycott San Francisco

Kos has a piece up on San Francisco values.

Here's a snippet:

But let's talk about "San Francisco values", you know -- tolerance, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

Since O'Reilly boycotts everything he hates, I look forward to his boycott of all Bay Area-origin products. Same with every conservative who bashes San Francisco and the Bay Area. So no iPods or anything Apple. No HP computers. No Google. No Yahoo. No eBay. Those conservative bloggers using Blogspot, MovableType, or TypePad? Sorry. Those products are Bay Area-based.

Also no Adobe or Macromedia products. No computers, either, since most run on AMD or Intel. No tax preparation using Intuit products. Cancel your Netflix subscription. Cancel your TiVo subscription. Remove your Network Associates or Symantec virus protection software from your computer. Unplug your Netgear wifi router.

Don't wear Levis (or any kind of jeans), Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, or buy your kids Gymboree. Avoid LeapFrog learning toys. Boycott Pixar movies. Boycott any movie using George Lucas' ILM special effects shop. Stay away from Treos and other Palm devices. Don't let Charles Schwab manage your portfolio. Don't bank at Wells Fargo.

Yeah, those "San Francisco values" sure are dragging the region down. Making it weak as it falls behind the rest of the country -- the parts that don't share "San Francisco values" -- economically and socially.

So let's hope conservatives do boycott San Francisco. It'll set them further back into the Stone Age.

I actually had the good fortune of living in SF for three years. It's a great place to visit and live ... well, if you can afford it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cheney Leaving? I'm Not Buying It

Think Progress has a post up that's fueling speculation that Dick Cheney may soon be stepping down.

VPs just don't step down without a massive scandal hangin' around their neck (e.g. Spiro Agnew). Moreover, neocons typically leave years too late (e.g. Rummy).

Expect Cheney to emerge from his hidden bunker and announce his resignation about a year after Bush is out of office.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Plan Formerly Known As "Cut & Run"

My how things change. It was less than a month ago when Republicans and the Bush administration were smearing any talk of a phased withdrawal as "cut & run."

Now we get - courtesy of the Washington Post - a sneak preview of the Pentagon's three proposed options for Iraq - Go Big, Go Long & Go Home.

The first option - Go Big - is really another name for John McCain's Fantasy Island plan --- a plan that makes you sound tough without the baggage of ever having to be pulled off. Here's what the Post says:

"Go Big," the first option, originally contemplated a large increase in U.S. troops in Iraq to try to break the cycle of sectarian and insurgent violence. A classic counterinsurgency campaign, though, would require several hundred thousand additional U.S. and Iraqi soldiers as well as heavily armed Iraqi police. That option has been all but rejected by the study group, which concluded that there are not enough troops in the U.S. military and not enough effective Iraqi forces, said sources who have been informally briefed on the review.

The third option - Go Home - is really just there for PR purposes; it is an immediate withdrawal that the administration will say echoes what Dems are calling for even though no Dems are really calling for it. It's not a serious proposal but will certainly confusing many in the media.

That leaves with Go Long - which is really a form of phased withdrawal; similar to the Kerry and Murtha plans it is something for which a lot of Dems have been calling.

But wait - the Bushies can't have that. So here is what's coming:

The group conducting the review is likely to recommend a combination of a small, short-term increase in U.S. troops and a long-term commitment to stepped-up training and advising of Iraqi forces, the officials said.

It's cut and run with a tough guy feint on the front end.

With troop lives and American interests on the line, it is sad that we continue to see these "serious" foreign policy analysts more concerned about the politics of a resolution than anything else.

And let me tell you what else is missing from the Post piece regarding the various options - any mention of Afghanistan.

How can any of this be taken seriously?

Friday, November 17, 2006

The "Big Weekend" College Football Picks

The premiere game is, of course, the battle between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan. The OSU is favored by 7 at home. Give up the points and bet the Buckeyes. The Wolverines will be exposed as pretenders to the crown.

Cal's at USC for a big Pac 10 match-up and the Trojans are favored by 5 1/2. No one knows which Cal team will show up this week. USC will win this one because of better players in the trenches but Cal's speedy big players will keep it close. Bet the Golden Bears.

Virginia Tech is at Wake Forest for a late season match the bookies have as a pick 'em. Tech has experience in these tough and tense late season battles whereas the Demon Deacons are novices to this pressure. Bet the Hokies.

You gotta be kidding me ... one week after putting the wood to Texas, Kansas State is a 2 1/2 point underdog at in-state rival Kansas. Bet the Wildcats and take the points.

Arizona State is favored by 5 1/2 at home against UCLA. The Sun Devils have failed to impress all year; take the Bruins and the points.

The Forgotten Soldier

Whatever happened to the hunt for the kidnapped American soldier Ahmed Qusai al-Taei?

Why aren't we hearing anything about this guy in the media or from our government? Kinda belies the whole "No Man Left Behind" ethos.

And why didn't the media outlets ever show a picture of him in his military uniform like they do for just about every other missing soldier? Did the military not give them such a picture? Or does the media have it and chose not to use it?

The standard picture shown by the media appears to be the one from al-Taei's wedding released by his family and shown above. The only picture of him from the military I could find is the one below which appears to have been released on November 2nd well after the wedding picture from the family.

Return of the Media's "Clinton Rules"

In the recent days following the election, we got to witness a media slobbering all over itself in an effort to best smear top Democrats.

ABC News' online site led with pieces on consecutive days citing an unnamed source(s) close to the Abramoff investigation as suggesting 7 or 8 Democrats and Harry Reid specifically as having received "corrupt" payments from clients of Jack Abramoff. ABC had no corroborative evidence and their source is most likely a person in Bush's DOJ, probably a Republican partisan who's a Ken Star or Robert Ray wanna be. ABC also omitted that, though long ongoing, there appears to be nothing in the ton of Abramoff docs released publicly that supports any of this.

Glenn Greenwald also posts a piece on the trashing of Nancy Pelosi coming from the beltway pundits, many proclaimed liberals but more accurately described as members of the entrenched media clique. As Greenwald shows, their natterings are on par with titilating junior high gossip.

Now the latest is CNN's piece coupling a large picture of John Edwards with the follwing headline: "Wal-Mart accuses ex-senator of cutting in line for PS3".

So what the hell happened? Did John Edwards cut in line at a Wal-Mart to get a PS3?

Well, not exactly. Here's Edwards' version:

"My wife, Elizabeth, wanted to get a PlayStation 3 for my young children. She mentioned it in front of one of my staff people," Edwards said. "That staff person mentioned it in front of a volunteer who said he would make an effort to get one. He was making an effort to go get one for himself.

"Elizabeth and I knew nothing about this. He feels terrible about this. He made a mistake, and he knows he should not have used my name," Edwards said.

Edwards said the volunteer was "a young kid" unaware of what he called flawed Wal-Mart policies. He called the Wal-Mart statement an effort to divert attention from its own problems.

And guess what? CNN has nothing that contradicts this statement. But Wal-Mart, whom Edwards has long criticized, put out a press release that falsely claimed Edwards cut in line. So what does responsible journalism at CNN call for? Running Wal-Mart's clearly misleading claim as its headline.

... and not to dis Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler, the title of this post could just as easily be "Return of the Gore Rules."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Confusing Good TV With News

Atrios makes a proposal (& takes a sartastic shot at the state of our "News" coverage):

Can we put a shark, Gary Condit, and OJ into a tank for a fight to the death?

Now that'd be news.

I'd watch that.

A Stephen Hadley Iraq Strategy: Be A Partner in Genocide with the Shiites

Laura Rozen writing in the L.A. Times tells us about an unpublicized two day meeting of Bush's national security team. She writes:

Numerous policy options were put forward at the meeting, which revolved around a strategy paper prepared by Hadley and drawn from his recent trip to Baghdad. One was the Shiite option. Participants were asked to consider whether the U.S. could really afford to keep fighting both the Sunni insurgency and Shiite militias — or whether it should instead focus its efforts on combating the Sunni insurgency exclusively, and even help empower the Shiites against the Sunnis.

To do so would be a reversal of Washington's strategy over the last two years of trying to coax the Sunnis into the political process, an effort led by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. It also would discount some U.S. military commanders' concerns that the Al Mahdi army, a Shiite militia loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada Sadr, poses as great a threat to American interests as that presented by the Sunni insurgency centered in western Iraq's Al Anbar province.

So what's the logic behind the idea of "unleashing the Shiites"? It's the path of least resistance, according to its supporters, and it could help accelerate one side actually winning Iraq's sectarian conflict, thereby shortening the conflict, while reducing some of the critical security concerns driving Shiites to mobilize their own militias in the first place.


Are they unaware of the massive human rights violations being committed by the Shiites? Acts that make Saddam almost seem like a novice. Indeed, our own Generals have described these acts as "ethnic cleansing."

One of the many fuck-ups in this whole Iraqi debacle is that we allowed the Shiite human rights abusers to become a large part of the Iraqi security forces specifically and the Iraqi government generally. Just as we should have never partnered with Saddam in the Eighties, we should not partner with the latest group of human rights abusers now.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Second Front

Shortly before the election, we got media reports of the jaw-dropping order from Nouri al-Maliki that the United States remove the checkpoints it set up in and around Sadr City in an attempt to find the abducted American soldier and to capture a notorious Shiite militia leader.

We withdrew and the Iraqi government gave us a verdict on Saddam two days before our election (yes, I think its quite possible there was a link).

Now that the election is over, our military stepped up its demands that the Shiite militias be reined in (we've also been treated to the latest McCain-anity - a demand to go after al-Sadr without any specifics as to how to deal with all the baggage that accompanies such a move).

It appears today we may be seeing some blowback from the Shiites. CNN reports on the brazen, daylight raid of the Ministry of Education in which men in Iraqi police uniforms kidnapped between 100 to 150 men.

CNN Notes:

One witness, a Sunni Arab well known to a Reuters employee, said he saw the gunmen check identity cards, pick out Sunni employees, including a man "who was just delivering tea."

So what now? A second front against the Shiites?

Where will we get the troops for that one, McCain?

Violating Human Rights in Peoria, Illinois

GlennGreenwald does the heavy lifting in detailing the Bush administration's despicable and unconscionable acts against a man - Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri - legally in the country as a graduate student at Bradley University.

The short of it is that al-Marri has been detained under changing justifications for over five years, largely in solitary confinement and solely on the unilateral order of President Bush.

The Bush Administration is now arguing that al-Marri has no habeas corpus rights because of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. These people know no bounds of decency.

We must remember that the Democrats' win in the elections last week was only one small step toward restoring an America that is a shining beacon of human rights.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Redeploy to Afghanistan

From the AP:

Insurgent activity in Afghanistan has risen fourfold this year, and militants now launch more than 600 attacks a month, a rising wave of violence that has resulted in 3,700 deaths in 2006, a bleak new report released Sunday found.

Afghanistan was the place to which a large majority of Americans and the International community were fully committed to making a change. The resources in terms of troops and money were available to effect a massive change. Much of those resources were diverted and additional resources have certainly disappeared as the world saw us shift the focus to Iraq.

Bush took his eye off the ball and now we risk losing Afghanistan to the Taliban or leaving it to the warlords. Either result is a loss which will damage American credibility for decades.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bush Spits on Bipartisanship

Renominates John Bolton to UN during lame duck Congress.

Apparently, Bush did not account for the fact that Lincoln Chaffee would go out as a class act and oppose the Bolton nomination.

The Lowest MFer of This Election Season

Michael Steele.

On Hound Dogs and a Son of a Bitch

Taegan Godard posts Kevin Rennie's hillarious column from the Hartford Courant. Here's his take on the myth that this election was a mandate for conservative Democrats:

Forget the Bluedog revival. Put your chips on the hound dog caucus. It’s the biggest one in the business because human nature still dwells within us. Plenty of cheating congressmen with wives at home and girlfriends in DC were re-elected on Tuesday. And some aspiring new recruits will take Representative Don Sherwood’s seat at that crowded table. Mark Foley is only the first to have IM’ed himself into oblivion. Other dogs will sniff that trail to ruin.

Taegan also informs us that Charlie Rangel has his sights set on evicting Dick Cheney from a cushy office space he has horded in the House of Representatives. As to his public comment that Cheney is a "son of a bitch," Rangel offered this apology:

"I take back saying that publicly. I should have reserved that for him when we were together privately. Believe me, he would have understood."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Recounts Are Part of True & Legitimate Democracy

I'm not down with calling Burns or Allen sore losers for not conceding at this point. As we all should know by now, errors to the tune of thousands of votes can happen in elections. Burns and Allen (and any number of the House candidates who are on the losing end of a close first count) should be allowed to reflect for a moment and determine whether they believe there were errors that merit requesting a recount.

The most important thing is to get the vote count correct and to have the person chosen by the most voters win the election.

"Throw Em Rummy! Maybe That Will Stop Em"

Not a chance.

Mr. Bush, you got some splainin to do on the cooked intelligence that misled a country into a bloody quagmire in Iraq.

As for Bob Gates, Larry Johnson has the breakdown on his past history of book cooking.

The short of it is that Gates is just another Bush family toadie who will spend the next two years trying to put lipstick on a pig.

Virginia Broke My Mouse

Now that was exhilirating.

Last night, I had the CNN count and Virginia's SBE site open as I watched the results come in from Virginia.

At one point, Webb took a 10 vote lead out of a then 1.5 million total, only to then fall back by more than 25,000 votes with about 90% of the precincts in.

That's when the charge started.

Every 5 minutes, Webb cut chunk after chunk away from Allen's lead. The only question was whether there were enough uncounted votes yet to come in.

The epiphanous moment finally arrived late in the night and the liberal blogs let out a collective cheer.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Throw Em Out

Let's get it on!!!

It's time to throw a bunch of corrupt and incompetent Republicans (& William Jefferson) out of office.

Here's a flick of Congressman Ass (R NY) getting ready to take his thumping at the polls.

(Via Kos).

Monday, November 06, 2006

Roboscum Republicans

Kevin Drum and Matt Stoller have the breakdown on the Republicans coordinated dirty tricks campaign that is taking place in tight contests around the country.

Here's an example from BlueJersey as to how it works:

Sources in Bergen County are reporting that an autodial robocall is being made that starts out sounding like a positive Bob Menendez message. If you hang up, it repeatedly calls you back. If you listen all the way to the end, it finishes by saying that Menendez is an embezzler and under criminal investigation.

This is a voter suppression tactic being used nationwide by the GOP. Initially callers will think they are hearing a call from the Menendez campaign asking for support. If they hang up, it will repeatedly call them back. The intention is to annoy the voter so much that they no longer support the candidate. For those who actually listen to the entire call, they are presented with a series of lies and smears against Menendez, also with the intention of suppressing turnout. It's a win-win tactic for them.

The Repugs are apparently doing this in as many as 53 races.

So where's the media on this attempt by Republicans to once again subvert democracy? Being fair and balanced by not reporting it.

Earthquake Epicenter: 5th & Madison

On the late news last night, there was a report on a small earthquake. Now typically, the news folk name some town or city as the epicenter, but this report identified the epicenter as being located precisely at one specific street intersection --- 5th & Madison.

Is that really possible or are they just funning me?

Is it like when they give the 7 day forecast where, after about the first three days, there really is no immediate scientific data upon which they are relying?

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Republican Way

The New York Times has a post up on the latest scumbag play by the Republicans in Iraq.

Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.

And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.

First, you try to find a hack for oversight. If the "hack" is not fully down with the program, then you get rid of oversight all together ... as quietly as possible ... even if you have to subvert democracy in the process.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What's That I Hear Coming?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Maliki Orders U.S. to Abandon "No Man Left Behind"

The media - apparently believing Republican politics trumps stories about the well-being of our troops - has provided scant coverage of the kidnapped U.S. serviceman who is believed to be held somewhere in Sadr City.

Kevin Drum has an interesting and thoughtful piece up about the surprise order from Iraqi PM Nouri Al Maliki that the U.S. take down its checkpoints that have cordoned off Sadr City as part of the search for the missing soldier. Kevin argues - from a utilitarian standpoint - that removing the checkpoints and supporting Al Maliki may be the right decision.

On the other hand, there's the "no man left behind" policy that has long been an important tenet of our military due to its unquantifiable effect on troop morale.
For an interesting discussion qouting people defending the poicy of "no man left behind," here's a piece from the Yale Herald discussing the actions of American soldiers in Afghanistan during which six soldiers were killed so as to recover the body of a fallen comrade.

While under these circumstances, I tend to agree with Kevin, I am still quite disturbed by the fact that we are taking orders from Al Maliki regarding an issue of such import to our troops morale and safety.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan suggests that Al Maliki was following an order from Muqtada Al Sadr and weighs in with the following:

The U.S. military does not have a tradition of abandoning its own soldiers to foreign militias, or of taking orders from foreign governments. No commander-in-chief who actually walks the walk, rather than swaggering the swagger, would acquiesce to such a thing. The soldier appears to be of Iraqi descent who is married to an Iraqi woman. Who authorized abandoning him to the enemy? Who is really giving the orders to the U.S. military in Iraq? These are real questions about honor and sacrifice and a war that is now careening out of any control. They are not phony questions drummed up by a partisan media machine to appeal to emotions to maintain power.

And where, by the way, is McCain on this? Silent on Cheney's "no-brainer" on waterboarding. Silent recently on Iraq. But vocal - oh, how vocal - on Kerry. It tells you something about what has happened to him. And to America.

Isn't the first paragraph what the righties would be screaming IF the President was from their team?

The Slide Toward Chaos

This is a leaked slide from an October 18th briefing at Central Command that the New York Times obtained. Notably, the NYT notes: "That briefing was prepared three days before General Abizaid met in Washington with President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to take stock of the situation in Iraq."