Monday, March 31, 2008
Seeing Spocko again, realizing that he's not just a hard-working, big-hearted activist, but a true warrior; hearing his thoughts during the Media Bias Panel; and talking to him about strategies for getting the Vile & Murderous William Kristol out of the "liberal" New York Times.
The Humor & Political Critique Panel, on which my dear friends watertiger and Ted Rall appeared. Much LOL-ing from the packed house. And by the way, is there is some correlation between lousy vision and a great sense of humor?
Meeting The Rude Pundit, who was, at least during the moments we spoke, not at all rude.
This moment, wherein we all cheered Echidne, a lovely woman who provides yet more proof that that "smart" and "beautiful" are not mutually exclusive categories.
Oh, and speaking of smart and beautiful ....
Getting to ask Paul Krugman a question (and a follow-up!) at the DFH Economics Panel (even if he did correct me by saying that the Bear deal is not a "bailout"). (Thanks for calling on me, Atrios!)
Matching faces with nyms for the very first time ... Sinfonian, Hecate, billy b, Zap, and euphronius, among many others.
Marveling at the awesome task of organizing the whole thing, which Molly Ivors pulled off with style and aplomb.
A new poll from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Gallup asked if people believed that college professors use their classes as vehicles for their personal political views and beliefs. And a surprisingly large percentage of the respondents to the survey, did believe so:
Only 29 percent of those age 25 to 34, and who are more likely to have spent time on a college campus in recent years, responded that professors "often" use their classrooms to espouse their political views. But that response grew to 41 percent of those between the ages of 45 and 54, and to nearly 60 percent of those over age 65.
Now, it appears that among those who attended college -- there is a more realistic view. However, I -- for one -- find this trend quite disturbing. Imagine if Lynn Cheney or David Horowitz set the standard for American education? Makes Alan Bloom look positively centrist.
Clearly the Right-wing and nut-wing of the conservative movement have seen their ideology take flight.
On the question of political indoctrination in the classroom, Americans are also divided by political party. About 70 percent of Republicans but only 17 percent of Democrats said professors often use their classrooms as political platforms, the Chronicle/Gallup survey shows. That puts politics on the campus in a league with abortion and gay marriage, say professors, among the biggest wedge issues today.
But as someone who has spent some time at several schools. Enrolled and attended a few myself, I never saw political indoctrination. Never. I saw passion, spirited attacks from the right and the left (although we have never had much of a left in the United States), but never an attempt to control the thoughts of others. I am reminded of the admonish of the 19th century German thinker, Max Weber with his excellent essay, Science as a Vocation where he speaks about the nature of education and scholarship:
To take a practical political stand is one thing, and to analyze political structures and party positions is another. When speaking in a political meeting about democracy, one does not hide one's personal standpoint; indeed, to come out clearly and take a stand is one's damned duty. The words one uses in such a meeting are not means of scientific analysis but means of canvassing votes and winning over others. They are not plowshares to loosen the soil of contemplative thought; they are swords against the enemies: such words are weapons. It would be an outrage, however, to use words in this fashion in a lecture or in the lecture-room. If, for instance, 'democracy' is under discussion, one considers its various forms, analyzes them in the way they function, determines what results for the conditions of life the one form has as compared with the other. Then one confronts the forms of democracy with non-democratic forms of political order and endeavors to come to a position where the student may find the point from which, in terms of his ultimate ideals, he can take a stand. But the true teacher will beware of imposing from the platform any political position upon the student, whether it is expressed or suggested. 'To let the facts speak for themselves' is the most unfair way of putting over a political position to the student.
Why should we abstain from doing this? I state in advance that some highly esteemed colleagues are of the opinion that it is not possible to carry through this self-restraint and that, even if it were possible, it would be a whim to avoid declaring oneself. Now one cannot demonstrate scientifically what the duty of an academic teacher is. One can only demand of the teacher that he have the intellectual integrity to see that it is one thing to state facts, to determine mathematical or logical relations or the internal structure of cultural values, while it is another thing to answer questions of the value of culture and its individual contents and the question of how one should act in the cultural community and in political associations. These are quite heterogeneous problems. If he asks further why he should not deal with both types of problems in the lecture-room, the answer is: because the prophet and the demagogue do not belong on the academic platform.
The NeoCons have clearly won on the issue of how Americans should "see" higher education. They have attacked all forms of education that does not meet their goals. And it appears that they are winning... what does this mean for higher ed or any level of education in the next several decades? It would do them good to read Weber's advice, although he was a progressive so I am certain they have dismissed him already as a form of left wing indoctrination.
Followers of Mr Sadr handed out sweets as a symbol of victory in his main stronghold of Sadr City, though hours later, rockets were still being fired towards the government and American headquarters in the Green Zone. The US military was shocked at the speed with which the crisis span out of control. Boasts about the ability of the Iraqi army to cope on its own are demonstrably untrue.
The U.S. housing secretary will resign Monday morning under pressure after accusations of improper allocation of federal contracts, the Wall Street Journal reported in its Monday edition.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson will step down on Monday morning, the paper reported. The department announced late Sunday that Jackson will make a statement to the press on Monday morning.
Jackson has faced calls for his resignation after lawmakers have said he behaved improperly in awarding federal contracts.
I know, I know. As is usually the case with Republican HUD secretaries your first question...often that of the President's themselves is...WHO?
Brings back memories:
Sunday, March 30, 2008
The Iraqi government has welcomed an order by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to pull his fighters off the streets.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Iraqi state TV in an interview that the decision is "positive and responsive."
Sunday's offer was contained in a nine-point statement issued by his headquarters in Najaf.
As late as Yesterday Maliki was pledging to destroy the Mahdi Army. He even proclaimed them "worse than al Qaeda". A day later, everyone is letting bygones be bygones. Amazing, but not exacty surprising.
Now, not only has that effort failed, but Sadr emerges with his Mahdi Army not only victorious tactically, but also strategically. He's also the moral victor, the only one who ever offered olive branches. Once again, al Sadr, the leader least close to Iran of the three Shiia groups outflanks and outsmarts the more cultured and and favored Shiias of Bush, Maliki & Hakim, the latter two also ironically favored by Iran.
As always, the Bush Administration ends up blundering into another disaster, stubbing its toe -- and Iran comes off the winner again.
Your $3 trillion at work.
NBC's Meet The Press: Gen. Michael Hayden, Director Central Intelligence Agency. David Brooks, New York Times. Peter Beinart, Council on Foreign Relations, New Republic, Time Magazine.
There is no action the idiots who have supported this war can take that get them even temporarily removed from the gravy train.
A few days ago at Firedoglake I put up some predictions of how al-Maliki's 'Great Basra Adventure' would go, some of them were:
1. Maliki will strut about like Bush on a caffeine bender. An Iraqi general here and there will be fired, as will random police officials.
2. Al Sadr will be as inscrutable as ever, hinting at belligerence while simultaneously extending olive branches (may not be a prediction as it is already happening).
3. Many more will die than initially reported. Not all that many will be from the Mahdi Army -- and those that do will be replaced easily and then some.
4. The Bush Administration will cheer anything that looks like shooting or blowing crap up. Chuckles Krauthammer will cry tears of joy and write it is time to bomb Iran.
5. There will be loud initial claims of victory by the Iraqi government and louder ones by Bush. These proclamations will at least last long enough to take us past the next round of Petraeus' testimony before Congress. After all, any one who dares question our impending awesomest victory over the evilizers ever is a two bit America-hatin',YouTube snippet preachin', hater!
Well some of these are arguably true, but to be honest even I'm rather amazed that this incursion has been blatantly and undeniably fucked up from the get go. Usually there's at least a period of a week or so where the bogus claims get tossed out before the truth becomes known. I thought at least the "fake news" period would last until after Petraeus testified. Now, I think the odds are higher he won't testify because "he'll be busy".
This time the disaster is before our eyes.
Witnesses in Basra said members of the most powerful militia in the city, the Mahdi Army, were setting up checkpoints and controlling traffic in many places ringing the central district controlled by some of the 30,000 Iraqi Army and police forces involved in the assault. Fighters were regularly attacking the government forces, then quickly retreating.
Senior members of several political parties said the operation, ordered by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, had been poorly planned. The growing discontent adds a new level of complication to the American-led effort to demonstrate that the Iraqi government had made strides toward being able to operate a functioning country and keep the peace without thousands of American troops.
Mr. Maliki has staked his reputation on the success of the Basra assault, fulfilling a longstanding American desire for him to boldly take on militias.
But as criticism of the assault has risen, it has brought into question another American benchmark of progress in Iraq: political reconciliation.
How fabulous. And to think it has all cost only $3 trillion and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands dead.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Iraq's new army is "developing steadily," with "strong Iraqi leaders out front," the chief U.S. trainer assured the American people.
That was three-plus years ago, the U.S. Army general was David H. Petraeus, and some of those Iraqi officials at the time were busy embezzling more than $1 billion allotted for the new army's weapons, according to investigators.
The 2004-05 Defense Ministry scandal was just one in an unending series of setbacks in the five-year struggle to "stand up" an Iraqi military and allow hard-pressed U.S. forces to "stand down" from Iraq.
The latest discouraging episode was unfolding this weekend in bloody Basra, the southern city where Iraqi government forces — in their toughest test yet — were still struggling to gain the upper hand in a five-day-old battle with Shiite Muslim militias.
Year by year, the goal of deploying a capable, freestanding Iraqi army has seemed always to slip further into the future. In the latest shift, with Petraeus now U.S. commander in Iraq, the Pentagon's new quarterly status report quietly drops any prediction of when homegrown units will take over security responsibility nationwide, after last year's reports had forecast a transition in 2008.
Earlier, in January last year, President Bush said Iraqi forces would take charge in all 18 Iraqi provinces by November 2007. Four months past that deadline, they control only half the 18.
Responsibility for these ever-unfulfilled goals lies in Washington, contends retired Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who preceded Petraeus as chief trainer in Iraq.
"We continue to fail to properly resource and build the very force that will enable a responsible drawdown of our forces," Eaton told The Associated Press.
Somehow, David Broder is writing from THE FUTURE!
But it's still just a load o' crap as he kissed the saggy, rapidly disappearing tuccus of St. John McCain...
this McCain speech is worthy of careful study and analysis. It began with a note that only a warrior such as McCain could choose -- a declaration by the son and grandson of combat veterans and the survivor of a Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp that "I detest war" as only a man who has experienced its horrors can do. "Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war,"
Friday, March 28, 2008
As President Bush told an Ohio audience that Iraq was returning to "normalcy," administration officials in Washington held meetings to assess what appeared to be a rapidly deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country.
My God, the idiot is quoting Warren G. Harding!
Meanwhile in 'Happy Land'
In Dayton, Ohio, on Thursday, President Bush praised Maliki's "bold decision" to confront Shiite militias and said it was evidence that the Iraqi military is increasingly confident and able to act on its own. In fact, the U.S. military is providing air cover, embedded advisers and ground reinforcements for the Iraqi offensive.
Three days into a U.S.-backed government offensive, however, the Mahdi Army retained control of key neighborhoods of the southern port city of Basra and was able to prevent Iraqi soldiers and police from penetrating its strongholds...
Clashes broke out in at least 10 Baghdad neighborhoods, and mortar rounds continued to rain down on the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the Iraqi and U.S. governments are housed. Mortar rounds struck the Interior Ministry compound, killing at least one person. In Basra, militants struck an oil pipeline.
The Mahdi Army also launched attacks in the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf, while fighting in Kut, Diwaniyah and Hilla. Across the south and in Baghdad, Mahdi Army militants torched offices of its rival Shiite party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and Maliki's Dawa Party, which like the other two is a Shiite group supported by Iran.
So the Iraqi military, after five years, still struggles, we have to save it's ass and now we, once again get involved in a civil war to try to put down the largest and least favored by Iran of three Shiia groups?
Wow, now that's par for the course in Bush World.
On Monday, Kagan was proclaiming the Iraq Civil War was OVER! Everybody was committed to getting along.
By Tuesday, of course, we found out what Juan Cole had been predicting for several weeks occurring (Kagan vs. Cole, talk about phonies versus actual experts).
But this was the most powerful part of Greenwald's takedown:
I just received the following email from a woman whose son has been serving in Iraq, along with a picture of him:
Thank you for coverage of the war in Iraq. Since you posted a picture of one of the people who got us into this war, I would like to share a picture with you. I have attached a picture of my son, US Army XXX XXXX XXXXX. He spent XX months in Iraq in 2006-2007 and will return in XXX. 2009. He was lucky and came back OK, although he lost friends and had many narrow escapes. He is 23 years old, married for almost 2 years, and a wonderful man in every way. In the picture he's with a couple of Iraqi kids.I wish Kaplan (sic) and his fellow war cheerleaders could live as the parent or spouse of a deployed soldier or as an Iraqi parent for just a few days. He wouldn't be so quick to say the war is over.
Thanks again for your work,
Thursday, March 27, 2008
But whether or not any of [Reverend Jeremiah] Wright's "controversial" statements have any validity at all is beside the point. The point is that a country that had any balls at all — that was secure enough in its patriotic self-image to stare vicious criticism right in the face and collectively decide for itself, in a state of sober reflection, what part of it was bullshit and what wasn't — such a country wouldn't do what it did in the case of the Wright flap, which is to panic instantly, collectively leap off the ground in terror like a bunch of silly bitches, and chase the criticism away in a torch-bearing mob with its eyes averted without even bothering to talk about what was actually said...
Now, no one is suggesting that there shouldn't be some reaction to genuinely toxic ideas, or that all criticism of racist or unpatriotic comments is unfounded. But what we're getting with all of these scandals isn't a sober exchange of ideas but more of an ongoing attempt to instill in the public a sort of permanent fear of uncomfortable ideas, and to reduce public discourse to a kind of primitive biological mechanism, like the nervous system of a squid or a shellfish, one that recoils reflexively from any stimuli....
The net effect of all of this is to make the electorate exquisitely sensitive to constant prodding and poking by media stimuli, and what people don't notice is that that prodding and poking is tirelessly moving them in the same direction, toward a safe, inoffensive middle, away from anything that smells controversial. The endless onslaught of tiny scandals trains the electorate to be hyper-responsive to temporary, superficial outrages while simultaneously chipping away at their long-term memories, their inclination to look at the big picture, their ability to grasp subtleties of opinion and policy.
A Pentagon official said Wednesday that reports from the Basra area indicate that militiamen had overrun a number of police stations and that it was unclear how well the Iraqi security forces were performing overall. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
No, only those who will proclaim that it is going AWESOMELY, VIC-VIC-VICTORY! are allowed to talk publicly.
The United States has escalated air strikes against al-Qaeda fighters operating in Pakistan's tribal areas fearing that support from Islamabad may slip away, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
U.S. officials, who were not identified, said Washington wants to inflict as much damage as it can to al Qaeda's network now because Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf may not be able to offer much help in the months ahead.
Hitting Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan is something Barak Obama said he also would do, with or without Pakistan's consent.
This, of course is what John McCain -- "follower of Al Qaeda to the Gates of Hell" said is wrong and claimed Obama is naive and counter American policy in so advocating. Apparently, he has an understanding with Hell, but not Pakistan.
An assault by thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police officers to regain control of the southern port city of Basra stalled Wednesday as Shiite militiamen in the Mahdi Army fought daylong hit-and-run battles and refused to withdraw from the neighborhoods that form their base of power there.
American officials have presented the Iraqi Army’s attempts to secure the port city as an example of its ability to carry out a major operation against the insurgency on its own. A failure there would be a serious embarrassment for the Iraqi government and for the army, as well as for American forces eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively on their own.
Now, I fully anticipate from the distance of an entire hemisphere that somehow this operation will be called a smashing success. The full ramifications of the operation (this is Bush we're talking about so it will be a fully BAD ramification) will be known ONLY after Iraqi Jesus, General Petraeus, testifies before Congress. One way or another it will be claimed as treason to question him in any form that makes George Bush look ineffective or deceitful.
That sort of stuff is only useful for Democratic Primaries.
After all, after proclaiming reduced violence actually reflecting stalemate as victory, Bush and the Pentagon portrayed the actions in Basra as a "VICTORY" for the surge already yesterday.
So for those of you following at home:
- Horrific biblical levels of violence = Success
- Protracted intolerable levels of violence = Success
- A return to horrific levels of violence = Success
Iraq, a quality return on investment.
But wait, that's not all...NOW HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY?
A Basra newspaper editor who asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisals said most residents despised the Mahdi Army and welcomed the assault. But he said it was obvious that the central government had not consulted with local commanders in planning the assault, citing the inability of the armored vehicles to fit through city streets. But support for the assault already seems to be eroding in several neighborhoods, as militiamen retained control of their strongholds and residents were confined in their homes. “The Mahdi Army is still controlling most of these places,” the editor said. “The result is negative.”
Local residents said the southern sections of Basra, mostly poor and heavily populated, were still controlled by the Mahdi Army on Wednesday night. One Mahdi commander bragged by telephone that after Iraqi armored vehicles failed to gain access to his neighborhood, the Army units fled and his fighters spray-painted Koranic slogans on the vehicles. The claim could not be independently verified.
Both Mahdi and Iraqi Army officers agreed that some of the heaviest fighting took place in the western Basra neighborhood of Hayaniya, where fighters attacked the Iraqi forces and then retreated into the neighborhood.
Col. Abbas al-Tamimi, media officer for the 14th Iraqi Army Division operating in the city, said he expected the fighting to escalate. “The gunmen have heavier and more sophisticated weapons than we have,” he said.
Oh, I'm sure it will all work out well in the end.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
When I first saw the tape of McCain's comment on Iran--which he corrected a moment later after Joe Lieberman whispered in his ear--I thought it was a blunder, but not necessarily a consequential one. After all, McCain has made eight visits to Iraq and been involved in foreign policy for 20 years. He's no greenhorn when it comes to this stuff. Brit Hume dismissed it as a "senior moment."
But then I learned that the Arizona senator had made that Iran/Qaeda assertion two or three times before. That's serious business. It means either that McCain really believes the link exists and wants to spread it around--until he got called on it--or he is so forgetful that he keeps saying so even though he knows it is untrue.
And Kevin Drum did sum this up best:
Let's recap. Foreign policy cred lets him get away with wild howlers on foreign policy. Fiscal integrity cred lets him get away with outlandishly irresponsible economic plans. Anti-lobbyist cred lets him get away with pandering to lobbyists. Campaign finance reform cred lets him get away with gaming the campaign finance system. Straight talking cred lets him get away with brutally slandering Mitt Romney in the closing days of the Republican primary. Maverick uprightness cred allows him to get away with begging for endorsements from extremist religious leaders like John Hagee. "Man of conviction" cred allows him to get away with transparent flip-flopping so egregious it would make any other politician a laughingstock. Anti-torture cred allows him to get away with supporting torture as long as only the CIA does it.
But the guy can sure grill for the press corps.
Kiss the Cook.
Want some evidence of how personnel shortages is affecting the military, look no further than this:
When four American soldiers, two dressed in Iraqi mufti and not uniforms, appeared at the Al-Janabi farmhouse on the afternoon of March 12, 2006, they were not entirely unexpected. Abeer had told her mother that some of the Americans at the checkpoint were being sexually aggressive toward her and her mother, fearing for her safety, had been making her stay home.
Among the soldiers entering the house was Private First Class Steven Green, a 21-year-old boy-man and petulant loner with a history of drug and alcohol problems and a petty criminal record back in Midland, the titular home of the Bush family in Texas oil patch country.
Green had been in Iraq for only a few weeks when he was found to have "homicidal ideations" when he was sent to an Army Combat Stress team on December 21, 2005. Nevertheless, he was sent back into combat.
In February 2006, Green matter-of-factly told a reporter for Stars & Stripes that he had come to Iraq "because I wanted to kill people" and bragged that he had "shot a guy who wouldn't stop when we were out at a traffic checkpoint and it was like nothing. Over here, killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it's like 'All right, let's go get some pizza'."
And then it gets worse:
According to an affidavit prepared by FBI Special Agent Frank Charles and other accounts, on the evening of March 11, Green talked up the idea of going to Abeer's house and raping her. Then, on the following morning, he and several buddies played cards and got drunk on black market Iraqi whiskey, a violation of war-zone policy.
After hitting some golf balls behind the checkpoint, an intoxicated Green again brought up the idea of raping Abeer, changed into Iraqi civilian clothing and made arrangements for a buddy to monitor the radio at the checkpoint so he and his confederates could go "kill and hurt a lot of Iraqis."
Once at Abeer's house Green herded her father, mother and Hadil, her 7-year-old sister, into a bedroom. Abeer’s brothers, Ahmad and Muhammad, were at school.
Green shot the father several times in the head, the mother several times in the abdomen and the sister several times in the head and shoulder with an AK-47 that the family was legally allowed to keep in the house, proudly announcing to his buddies, "I just killed them, all are dead."
Green then turned on Abeer, whom U.S. officials initially claimed was 20 or 25. As if that justified what happened next.
Abeer's dressing gown and bra were torn from her body and her legs tied. Green and two other soldiers then took turns raping her. By the time they had finished, blood was flowing from her vagina. Green then shot Abeer in the head two or three times, threw a blanket over her torso and set the family's bodies afire in a crude effort to cover up the atrocity.
And how has he been treated?
Steven Green will spend Abeer’s 15th birthday in a federal lockup in Kentucky as he awaits trial for the rape-murders. He has pleaded not guilty.
Green’s behavior had become so problematic by May 2006 that the Army sent him home on the grounds that he had an "anti-social personality disorder," but nevertheless gve him a regular discharge.
The war has had such a deleterious effect on the Army that it has repeatedly been forced to lower its recruiting standards and has granted an increasing number of waivers to recruits with criminal backgrounds like Steven Green.
By any measure, Green was unfit to wear an Army uniform, but he not only was fast-tracked through basic training and sent off to Iraq, his readily obvious homicidal tendencies were merely acknowledged and dealt with by medication, "Atta boys" and pats on the back as he was repeatedly sent back into the hell hole that is Mahmoudiyah.
It wasn’t likely that Green would trigger something awful while he was in Iraq, it was inevitable, and the war was a perfect crucible: Not enough troops, vague and changing rules of engagement, negligible efforts to win over an occupied people, and an Army mental-health system that betrays its own soldiers just as their president has betrayed them and his country.
The blood that coursed from between Abeer Qassim Hamza's legs after she was raped is on Steven Green’s hands. But it is on George Bush’s hands as well, and neither will ever be able to wash it off.
McCain is slated to give his acceptance speech the same day the NFL kicks off it's season opener.
There is apparently a chance the NFL will move the game up an hour and a half, but still what if it goes into overtime?
BUT THIS IS WAY WAY WAY TOO FAR (per Marc Ambinder)
The Clinton campaign is distributing an article in the American Spectator (!) about Obama foreign policy adviser Merrill McPeak and his penchant for.. well, the article accuses him of being an anti-Semite and a drunk. Principally, the author takes McPeak to task for supporting a Middle East map that would require Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 border. It also makes the case that McPeak supports the Walt-Mearsheimer view of the influence of the Israeli lobby on foreign policy.
The author's sudden conclusion: "Obama has a Jewish problem and McPeak's bigoted views are emblematic of what they are. Obama can issue all the boilerplate statements supporting Israel's right to defend itself he wants. But until he accepts responsibility for allowing people like McPeak so close to his quest for the presidency, Obama's sincerity and judgment will remain open questions."
As one keen observer pointed out to me, if advocating the pre '67 border map makes one an anti-Semite, just about every iteration of the U.S. government since 1967 would qualify. Tony McPeak's verbal gymnastics do not make a "Jewish problem" for Obama.
James Fallows sums it up:
But if, as I assume is true based on Marc Ambinder's report, the Hillary Clinton campaign is circulating a hit job from the American Spectator, this is simply disgusting. (Marc has just confirmed to me that indeed the article came in an on-the-record email from Phil Singer, the Clinton campaign spokesman.)
That the Clinton family would dignify the American Spectator, of all publications, is astonishing to anyone who was alive in the 1990s.
That they would bless this attempt to paint Merrill McPeak as an anti-Semite is grotesque.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I don't know what I like more: the fact that our new governor has copped to having done drugs (and had sex) -- or the fact that no one here gives a damn.
(Trust me, we care a lot more about this bait and switch. Our transit fares went higher in early March.)
This can mean ONLY one thing:
In reference to cocaine, Gov. David Paterson, 53, said in a television interview that he "tried it a couple of times" when he was "about 22 or 23."
Tim Russert will have to ask Barack Obama about this black man's behavior.
This week we reached the mark of 4,000 American dead in Iraq. It is a sad milestone in a grinding war that can never be won and is already lost in so many ways. But even when this war, like Norman Bates's mother, is gussied up by its embalmers and declared a glorious effort, the shame of Abu Ghraib will forever stain George Bush and his top aides. For them, the photos from Abu Ghraib are not pictures. They're mirrors.
Gird up, because the next Cohen column is sure to be one gigantic piece of excrement -- for balance.
Noboby could have anticipated, etc.
As the U.S. military recorded its 4,000th death in Iraq...President Bush spoke about the death toll, saying, "One day, people will look back at this moment in history and say, 'Thank God there were courageous people willing to serve, because they laid the foundations for peace for generations to come.' "
Even as he spoke, the situation on the ground was rapidly worsening.
Monday, March 24, 2008
In an event at the American Enterprise Institute today, Brookings analyst Michael O’Hanlon — sitting next to hawks Fred Kagan and Ken Pollack — praised the Iraq surge, saying the surge architects would make former Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi “proud”
As we mourn the passing of the 4,000 men and women who have given their lives in Iraq, It’s important to remember who allowed this to happen. I remember Sen. Robert Byrd, attempted to mount a filibuster against the resolution to allow the war but he was cut off on a 75 to 25 vote.
"This is the Tonkin Gulf resolution all over again," Byrd said. "Let us stop, look and listen. Let us not give this president or any president unchecked power. Remember the Constitution. As the senior Senator he made a powerful speech to call out fellow democrats to say no to the vote to go to war.
Here was the longest serving human being in the history of the United States Senate. Nine times elected to a six year term. He stood up during this resolution, and he begged his colleagues. And he begged the people. All to no avail. And look where we are now. He was right.
And here is what Senator Clinton did:
After just returning from burying an amazing grandparent who influenced the lives -- positively -- of over 50 members of a family, I return home to the news that over 4,000 American soldiers have died in Iraq.
Anger does not capture the anguish I feel.
Frustration, alienation, hatred does not begin to compare to how I feel about the murderous treasonous thugs of the Bush misadministration.
The man we buried a few days ago lived to be 92. Had lived in a house he built with family for over 50 years! We told stories about him and his life until 2am.
What kind of stories are the parents and loved ones of these soldiers going to be able to tell?
(picture from USA Today)
Damn this war.
Damn the ones who lied, cheated, and killed to get it.
Nearly 40 trucks carrying fuel to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan have been destroyed in two bomb attacks on the Pakistani border. Officials say about 100 people have been injured.
Local government official Muhammad Iqbal Khan said the blasts late Sunday were from two bombs planted in a parking lot on the Pakistani side of the Torkham customs post.
A young, ambitious immigrant from Guatemala who dreamed of becoming an architect. A Nigerian medic. A soldier from China who boasted he would one day become an American general. An Indian native whose headstone displays the first Khanda, emblem of the Sikh faith, to appear in Arlington National Cemetery.
These were among more than 100 foreign-born members of the U.S. military who earned American citizenship by dying in Iraq.
All for the vanity of old men.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
A suicide car bomber penetrated tight security to strike an Iraqi military base on Sunday in the deadliest of a series of attacks that killed at least 42 people across Iraq. In Baghdad, the U.S.-protected Green Zone came under heavy fire by rockets or mortar rounds.
Seven people also were killed and 14 wounded in a suicide car bombing in the Shiite area of Shula in the capital.
Yeah, I just had to re-run this, because I'm nutty about that dress, which was last seen on a 6' 10" black man in four-inch, size thirteen Manolo Blahnick stillettos dancing on a bar 4AM and belting out "I Will Survive." Today, as all the little kids exit church sporting their Easter finery and jonesing for their fix of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and Peeps, they'll glimpse the crazy neighbor lady across the way arriving home from her big night on the town in the dress she took off that poor drag queen in a bet that she wouldn't vlog her next OB/GYN appointment. And when those kids see all that pink they're gonna dive like savages for the biggest Eastuh egg the Five Towns has ever seen.
You know how I love that family -- they're like the Flying Wallendas of Wankery and criminal appeasement.
Asked on PBS’s The Charlie Rose Show earlier this week about “how fragile” the surge in Iraq is, surge architect and American Enterprise Institute “military analyst” Frederick Kagan declared that “the situation in Iraq today is, I think, not that fragile.” He then added that he believed Iraq would be “fragile” if America made “the mistake of pulling out prematurely.” ...
This, of course, contradicts Iraqi Jesus:
Kagan’s bold claim about the surge’s lack of fragility is directly contradicted by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, who told CBS News this week that “while military progress has been made with a ’surge’ of U.S. forces, ‘progress in Iraq is fragile, it is tenuous.’”
In fact, the very next day following Kagan’s remarks, the Guardian reported on one key aspect of the surge’s strategy that is quite fragile: the reliabilty of U.S. alliances with Sunni militia. The report noted that “Sunni militia employed by the US to fight al-Qaida are warning of a national strike because they are not being paid regularly”
You won't be able to reach Fred today. He gets up about 4:30 in the morning to get in line for Easter Brunch at the local Radisson.
So he may not have noticed this:
Smoke rises from the U.S. protected Green Zone in central Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, March 23, 2008, after it was targeted by a series of rockets or mortars. Some 10 blasts were heard in the sprawling area in central Baghdad starting shortly before 6 a.m. U.S. officials said there was no indication of casualties. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed).
Some 10 blasts were heard starting shortly before 6 a.m in the sprawling area in central Baghdad, which houses the U.S. and British embassies, the Iraqi government headquarters and thousands of American troops.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
A policeman drives a motorcycle over police graduates as they demonstrate their skills during a graduation ceremony in Baghdad March 20, 2008. About 900 policemen graduated from the national police school in Baghdad after finishing their training on Thursday.
REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud(IRAQ)
I did not know metaphors constituted a skill-set.
Older White House computer hard drives have been destroyed, the White House disclosed to a federal court Friday in a controversy over millions of possibly missing e-mails from 2003 to 2005.
The White House revealed new information about how it handles its computers in an effort to persuade a federal magistrate it would be fruitless to undertake an e-mail recovery plan that the court proposed.
(Speaking of the Empire State of Fornication, on and on it goes.)
Photo: Agence France-Presse
Friday, March 21, 2008
In an interview with Newsbusters, former Bush adviser Karl Rove claimed that the conservative blogosphere “has much better quality and quantity” than the progressive blogosphere. Calling left-leaning blogs “unpersuasive,” Rove said “they are, most of them are hate-filled, obscenity-clogged rants of anger and hatred.”
That's bullshit and you know it, and by the way:
Oh and "Hate-filled hatred"?
What other kind is there asshole?
But the rest of his analysis of Obama's speech is fantastic.
Whether you vote for him or not, it was an amazing and searing speech on racism, the long-standing curse of this country.
[T]he problem generalizes to everyone who tries to be honest about race, and now it has happened to Barack Obama. Take, for example, the treatment of his reference to his white grandmother. Of course you can go after him in all the ways that people have gone after him—if what you want to do is go after him. But suppose you approach Obama’s text under the twin assumptions that (a) he is trying to communicate with you, and, (b) your obligation is to make a good-faith effort to understand his meaning. I read what he said about his grandmother, and his words left me in no doubt about two things: He really loves his grandmother, and he was saying something important about race that I recognized from my own experience. I bet many of the people who have slammed him recognize it from their own experience too. The guy was being honest, and he was being right. What the hell more do you want?
Ah, but he was trashing his grandmother for political purposes, he was equating what she said with the much more terrible things that Rev. Wright said, blah, blah, blah. Yes—if you insist on interpreting what he said purely as an exercise in political positioning. No, if you go to his text with the intention of trying to understand what Obama thinks about race.
I understand how naïve it is to read a presidential candidate’s speech as if it were anything except political positioning, but that leads me to my final point: It’s about time that people who disagree with Obama’s politics recognize that he is genuinely different. When he talks, he sounds like a real human being, not a politician. I’m not referring to the speechifying, but to the way he comes across all the time. We’ve had lots of charming politicians. I cannot think of another politician in my lifetime who conveys so much sense of talking to individuals, and talking to them in ways that he sees as one side of a dialogue. Conservatives who insist that he’s nothing but an even slicker Bill Clinton are missing a reality about him, and at their peril.
I can’t vote for him. He is an honest-to-God lefty. He apparently has learned nothing from the 1960s. His Supreme Court nominees would be disasters. And maybe he is too green and has lived too much of his adult life in a politically correct bubble. But the other day he talked about race in ways that no other major politician has tried to do, with a level of honesty that no other major politician has dared, and with more insight than any other major politician possesses. Not bad.
Friday, March 21, 2008
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq has defeated terrorism and is well on the road to recovery after five years of war, a confident Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday.
Then the lights went out.
Maliki, known for his steely nerves, tried to continue his speech. But his bodyguards would have none of that.
They hustled him off the stage,, possibly fearing that the power failure might be part of a plot against the prime minister.
Maliki's speech was an attempt to boost his nation's morale on the anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. But its abrupt end was a reminder of the obstacles ahead.
Iraqis must cope with frequent power outages, lack of clean drinking water, rampant joblessness — and the ever-present fear of violent death. Five years of bombs, bullets and sectarian slaughter have sapped much of the spirit from this troubled nation. Despite signs of progress, many Iraqis hold out little hope for a quick end to their suffering.
"The situation is very unstable," said Jassim Mohammed, 40, a Sunni employee of the Iraqi National Library in Baghdad. "I simply do not see any light at the end of this dark tunnel."
The unique mess that our republic is in can be, in part, attributed to a corrupt press whose roots are in mendacious news (sic) magazines like Time and Newsweek, aided by tabloids that manufacture fictional stories about actual people. This mingling of opinion and fiction has undone a media never devoted to truth. Hence, the ease with which the Republican smear-machine goes into action when they realize that yet again the party’s permanent unpopularity with the American people will cause them defeat unless they smear individually those who question the junk that the media has put into so many heads. Anyone who says “We gotta fight ’em over there or we’re gonna have to fight ’em over here.” This absurdity has been pronounced by every Republican seeking high office. The habit of lying is now a national style that started with “news” magazines that was further developed by pathological liars that proved to be “good” Entertainment on TV. But a diet of poison that has done none of us any good.
The "Mr. Show" duo of Bob Odenkirk and David Cross are returning to HBO with "David's Situation," a new comedy pilot starring Cross.
Odenkirk and Cross co-wrote the project, which will star Cross as himself. He leaves Hollywood to move into a suburban, gated community where he has two roommates, a right-wing conservative and a liberal hippie.
And here's some more funny (I love these guys -- as you've probably long figured out)
I enjoyed the lecture, which was attended by 850 other DFHs (think about that -- 850 people lined up down the block to listen to talk by an evolutionary biologist on a Saturday night), despite the little spat reporting about it set off at Eschaton. I'll be honest. I didn't know much about Dawkins save that he'd written a book that was provoking fits in the faithful. That and the venue were good enough reasons for me to cancel my plan to jet to Lake Como with Mr. Clooney, but I digress...
So I've spent the last few days (and nights, as a spate of insomnia plagues me) clicking around the web reading about Dawkins and thinking about adding The God Delusion to the stack next to my bed. Meanwhile, via James Wolcott, I'm treated to a rather interesting and amusing anecdote in which the good professor makes an appearance. After you read it, watch this and note the characteristic wingnut victimology theme delivered in the inimitable nasal drone of a Richard Nixon apologist who's made millions selling himself as one of the smartest guys in the room.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Are the chickens coming home?
We all know how the passage goes, right?
According to CNN:
The State Department says security on Barack Obama's passport file has been breached, campaign officials tell CNN.
And now we have a major breach of security.
Hello Regular readers, I apologize for my tardiness of which Dr. Atta J. Turk is all too familiar with but after a breaking of spring and a death in the family, I have returned back to my electronic homestead.
And I return to hear a vice president cavalierly dismiss the entire sentiments of three quarters of the American public with a single word, "So..." I come back to hear what must have been a slightly drunk prezneet Bush try to defend a failed and by any sane person's account -- an unmitigated disastrous and destructive war in the middle east.
I reenter and the economy is sliding toward depression where the two America's that John Edwards spoke about is being quite apparent. Where is the DAMN INDIGNATION over what will become $4 a gallon gas (or more)!!!
I am back. I promise my thoughts on politics, culture, and music. But man, I sure wish everything didn't have be in such a spiral when I did.
Yeah, I'm alive.
1. THIS is completely unacceptable, but rather homoerotic.
2. Now THIS is completely fine.
3. While THIS is unbelievably unacceptable and dickish and like No. 1 above par for the course.
Truly, this must be Brian Ross's defining story...so very proud (pic from Glennzilla)
Chris Britt, Springfield Journal Register.
Via Blue Gal at Crooks & Liars.
This from Nick Kristof is nice to see as well...for the actual depth and meaning of Obama's church is buried beneath small edits and snippets of Wright, not anything approaching the voluminous body of work:
Many well-meaning Americans perceive Mr. Wright as fundamentally a hate-monger who preaches antagonism toward whites. But those who know his church say that is an unrecognizable caricature: He is a complex figure and sometimes a reckless speaker, but one of his central messages is not anti-white hostility but black self-reliance.
“The big thing for Wright is hope,” said Martin Marty, one of America’s foremost theologians, who has known the Rev. Wright for 35 years and attended many of his services. “You hear ‘hope, hope, hope.’ Lots of ordinary people are there, and they’re there not to blast the whites. They’re there to get hope.”
Professor Marty said that as a white person, he sticks out in the largely black congregation but is always greeted with warmth and hospitality. “It’s not anti-white,” he said. “I don’t know anybody who’s white who walks out of there not feeling affirmed.”
Mr. Wright has indeed made some outrageous statements. But he should be judged as well by his actions — including a vigorous effort to address poverty, ill health, injustice and AIDS in his ministry. Mr. Wright has been frightfully wrong on many topics, but he was right on poverty, civil rights and compassion for AIDS victims.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Who needs Flowers & Sweets (or $3 Trillion)?
Police said Wednesday 17 border guards have been shot dead by gunmen in different areas in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
The killings occurred over the last 24 hours, police sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The sources did not say whether the killings were carried out by the same gunmen and what the motive behind them was.
Criminal gangs and militias loyal to rival political powers have been active in Shiite-dominated Basra, 550 kilometres south of Baghdad.
In a separate incident in the city, Sheikh Abdel-Azim al-Idani, a close aide of senior Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was critically wounded in an attack by gunmen Tuesday, according to the same the sources.
Al-Idani's aide was killed in the attack.
But hey, those Black Preachers sure are crazy (when you edit their clips down into 2 minute segments).
"We have to keep fighting or the scary brown men will join with the scary black men and ruin all that is right about America, the most free & equal society on earth!"
- Paraphrased Sean Hannity
When your side stops kissing the ass of ...
Jerry Falwell (okay too late for that one)
Or any number of Catholic-Jew-Gay-America Haters you can talk to me about Jeremiah Wright.
Furthermore, if we are just going to extract a few minutes here and there of sermons then what can we find from those folks?
But my favorite for this perpetual double-standard has to be the long-time GOP love affair with Reverend Moon and the Moonies. For Moon is the self-proclaimed messiah on earth and has owned the Washington Times for about three decades now. Something that goes curiously unmentioned in our media while condemning some black people and their craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy ways.
And during this whole time he and the conservative media have been giving each other reach-arounds.
See how many times the Washington Times, a loss-leader if ever there was one, is quoted by these knuckleheads in condemning a liberal...especially on religious matters.
When you guys stop cupping Reverend Moon's balls, you guys can have some point worth listening to on extreme religious speech.
But until then...
"Feels good" it said five years ago today when it launched 'Operation Clusterfuck' and it's sequels, "Operartion Clusterfuck II:Electric Boogaloo"; "Operation Clusterfuck III: This time it's Personal"; "Operation Clusterfuck IV: Taxing The Next Generation"; "Operation Clusterfuck V: The Surge" and of course the now premiering "Operation Clusterfuck VI: Bush vs. Freddy".
Yes, it's been a delightful five years so far in the land where lauching voluntary wars and proclaiming everlasting Freidmans is the height of sound policy and if you disagree you're a big liberal fascist.
Thank goodness for those 4,000 dead Americans, 25,000 wounded, the $500 billion and counting all the way up to at least $3 trillion. And let us not forget the nameless, faceless, brown-people who worship a faith that has so few people boisterous about bombing us as the 'Great Satan' that we had to bomb a shitload of non-offending brown-people to prove that we aren't evil at all, just EXXXXXXXXXXXXXTREMELY freedom loving.
I'm getting a little teary-eyed...of course that might be the tap water.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Take comfort, New York governors, you're in good company.
Artwork: "Triumphant Eros" (1602) -- Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
A conference to reconcile Iraq's warring political groups began to unravel even before it got under way on Tuesday, with the main Sunni Muslim Arab bloc pulling out and protesting it had not been properly invited.
The gathering, billed as the biggest of its kind in Iraq, aimed to bring leaders of rival factions together around much-delayed so-called laws meant to promote common cause between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs.
The Accordance Front, the main Sunni Arab bloc, had said it would attend but pulled out as dozens of political leaders gathered at a hotel in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.
"The Front will not attend the conference, not because it does not believe in reconciliation ... but because the invitations were sent to members of the Front and not formally to the Accordance Front," spokesman Salim al-Jubouri said.
We've advanced to the point from where only white people can be elected President to one where ... black people who are really white people can be elected.*
Where exactly have we advanced?
And thank goodness our media has advanced so much that a media critic can say this about a black man and think nothing of it or how it reads:
It's not that I think the Illinois senator should be tarred with every eccentric or anti-American ranting by the reverend
*Not Applicable in America.
John McCain, Looking Good [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
McCain’s 67% Favorable Rating His Highest in Eight Years
Obama has a 62% favorable rating, while Clinton's is 53%
It's a good think K-Lo wasn't invited to the bbq, plenty of ribs to go around for the Michael Scherer's of the world.
11,181 posts later...where's my fuckin' dream?
Anyhoo, here's an old one in remembrance of blog posts past:
photo via crazymaq
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a feckless drip.
That started from a zygote spore,
from this preppy's tiny dick.
The Chimp was a steely rocket man,
his Condi brave and sure.
The nation's fate set sail that day,
appointed to an eight year tour, an eight year tour………
Al Qaeda started getting rough,
the neo-con shit was tossed.
If not for the doltage of the feckless crew,
Bin Laden wouldn't be lost; Bin Laden wouldn't be lost.
The Fools took ground on the land of this wretched desert place,
and Cheney too,
the Spinning Ass,
and the Wives,
and Crazy Ann,
Yes, they're all quite vile!
Guess what, we're so lucky to be "and the rest"