Friday, August 31, 2007

Redacted, DePalma: Pictures Will End This War

Editor and Publisher has a story on a new film directed by Brian Depalma called Redacted. Depalma has made a film documenting the images from the Iraq war which the mainstream media refuse to publish. The images are out there if you know where to look, but the mainstream media will not touch them with a ten foot pole.

I spend a decent amount of time bopping about the intertubes, and every now and then a picture will come across the screen which really sticks with me. I know where to go to see the gore and body parts... and those pictures have a certain shocking quality. But before reading the Depalma article I stumbled over a picture which has been haunting me all day:

This picture for me is so expressive of exactly what is so freaking wrong about having our Army in Iraq. You see this little girl, postitively traumatized... I know life as she knows it has just ended, and she faces the rest of her life with a sorrow that I can not begin to fathom... I don't know the circumstances that led to that instant when the camera captured her utter despair, but I do know this. If my nation were not occupying her homeland then I would not have to be haunted by her terrible image. I do feel in some very small way lessened by this, and I want to just rage at those responsible for bringing us to this pass. (BTW, I found this picture on the blog Sysyphus)

That picture reminds me of another from the early days of the war:

I've been haunted by this picture for years. This was the picture splashed across the rest of the worlds media in January of 2005... while American media were focused on the inauguration festivites of President George Bush. This picture was taken in the city of Tal Afar. In just over one year from the time this picture was taken President Bush would be citing Tal Afar as a great example of success for the cause of Democracy and Peace in Iraq. I wonder if this little girl and the rest of her surviving family feel that way?

This war is a needless atrocity. I could post pictures on this obscure little blog showing charred flesh and brain splattered gore that would shock your senses. But for me these two snapshots, which show no gore beyond bloodstains, are more powerful in their effect. I just wonder if the President has ever been shown these images?

While I'm on the kick of posting images here which have affected me in the course of this war, here is another, and this one is iconic. Chances are that you have already seen this photo on several occasions:

This is a picture of Seargant Ty Ziegel, 24, taken on the day he was married to Renée Kline, 21. For all I know, Seargant Ziegel and/or Ms. Kline may be the biggest hawks on the homefront regarding the Iraq war. But this photograph is so very evocative, bringing home for me the terrible costs of this war on many American families, now and that are yet to be. The interaction between the two principles in this shot can be read in so many ways.

Nina Berman won the prestigious World Press Photo competition with this image.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chavez Sees Craig Hypocrisy, By The Media!

Linda Chavez has discerned hypocrisy when it comes to the issue of Senator Larry Craig being busted in a bathroom by an undercover cop... To Chavez the hypocrisy of it all is the coverage being generated by the media!

Chavez speculates on how the media would react if the veritable shoe tippity tapping under the bathroom stall had been on the other foot as it were. She then declares that the heat generated by that sort of disclosure would be much less than is being directed at Craig, simply because he is a Republican. Chavez wraps up by decrying the media's "abuse of power" and their willingness to delve into the private sex life of Craig, speculating that they are doing so only because he is a conservative.

It is notable however that Chavez does not bother to give even one example of such unbalanced treatment. I suspect the reason for this lack of substance is because there are no examples to be given that would prove her point. You can just feel the pent up frustration building to a nearly palpable rage as the fevered right wing noise makers watch the incoming waves of scandal after scandal envelope their leadership... but the Democrats are only touched by an occasional ripple. I mean which would you rather be defending... a Senator busted in a public restroom for playing footsie with an undercover cop, or an ex Senator getting an expensive haircut?

Frankly, I don't believe Chavez has a valid point but, oddly enough, I think she ought too. Based upon the pontification of the conservative movement in America about family values and their demonizing of people who do not live up to those same standards, when the leaders of that movement are found to be living lives that do not comport to those values I do think it's a bigger deal than when other politicians are found to be doing the same thing.

As an example on the other side... let us for a moment imagine that Nancy Pelosi made a huge issue of animal rights. If Pelosi raises tons of money and wins voters over by making animal rights a central issue, and then some news outlet gets video of her killing a deer during a hunt by illegally shooting from the roadside... that would be a pretty big deal. There can be no doubt that such a scandal would be a lot bigger than your typical Republican, who thinks hunters should basically be left alone, being pictured doing exactly the same thing. The Republican would face a bit of controversy for shooting from the road, but it is entirely understandable that a pro animal rights Democrat in this scenario would face harsher coverage than the pro hunter Republican. I mean... duh!

Democrats generally have a platform that calls for tolerance and social understanding for gays and lesbians. Don't misunderstand me here, I don't think that means it would be ok for Democratic politicians to go soliciting strangers in airport bathrooms. Republicans on the other hand have made gay bashing and homophobia a central tenet of their party. That means not only is it not ok to go solicit sex from strangers of the same gender in airport terminals, but when they are caught doing it the glare of negative publicity SHOULD be harsher.

Why Chavez does not understand this perfectly understandable dichotomy is beyond me. Let us chalk it up to the growing sense of helplessness she must feel as the Republican facade of holiness crumbles with no equivalent events to bring down the Democratic party as well. The only thing left for them to do is rail about the hypocrisy of everybody else.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bill Donohoe: Bigoted Crusader Against Anti Catholic Bigotry

I watched Bill Donohue debate Christopher Hitchens on Hardball yesterday and I was struck by the repeated use of a line by Donohue which I had never heard before, which line sounded very bigoted and frankly a little weird.

The exact quote used by Donohue is "An Englishman has to be quiet when an Irishman talks." In the transcript linked above you will only see that phrase once, so here is a link to the video. Donohue uses that line at 3:30 and again at 5:00, (which in the transcript is listed as cross talk) even reiterating the second time that he is an Irishman.

The context in which he uses the line is not comedic. Hitchins and Donohue are engaged in heated debate and Donohue is trying to silence Hitchins... evidently by asserting his primacy to speak based upon Donohue's superior ethnicity. Or something...

Actually I must admit that I am mystified at why Donohue would use that line at all to be honest. It is just nonsensical. An Englishman has to be quiet when an Irishman talks? What does that even mean really? All Englishmen must be forever mute because somewhere in the universe there is certainly an Irishman talking. Does that apply to the women folk? Or is it only when they are in hearing distance of each other? The manifest implausibility of the line makes it meaningless under any reading, and the denigration of one ethnic group due to the supremacy of another, especially given the troubles between the two groups, is offensive on it's face.

Frankly that line is doubly weird coming from the mouth of a man who has made his mark on the world by being so obnoxious whenever he perceives any sort of "discriminatory" behavior towards Catholicism. Imagine how weird it would have been hearing Rosa Parks, before her passing, pop off with the quote "white people have to be quiet whenever black people are talking". The world would have been shocked! And for the love of all that is good and righteous, I am not equating Donohue with Parks!

I searched Google, and I have not found any other usage of the line listed on the internet, except one referencing last nights debate. Where Donohue heard the line is beyond me, but I think he would be well served to forget using it going forward. In fact he may be well served to offer an apology to Englishmen.

Finally let me just point out Donohue's seeming lack of understanding of one very basic tenet of every sect of Christianity that I am familiar with, including Catholicism. No human is or has been perfect except Jesus Christ. Everybody... every single one of us, with one single exception, is a sinner. With that in mind, I find it hard to understand Donohue's very opening lines: "This is laughable. I suppose next week we will find that Mother Teresa considered herself to be a sinner as well."

The response to that would be to wonder at how Donohue would support any type of assertion that Mother Teresa did NOT consider herself a sinner? I mean she was Catholic right?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Senator Craig Is Not Gay! And Other Observations

I watched Senator Craigs statement live this afternoon, and I must say that the very first words to pass his lips can only be described as unfortunate given the circumstances.

Senator Craig opened the event by saying "Thank you all for coming out today". Initially I thought this may be some type of Freudian signal as to what Craig would announce. I anticipated Craig baring his soul to the world, describing how he struggled with his public persona even as he lived a secret life. Maybe he would even apologize for being so insufferably holier than thou on the issue of homosexuality, and call for others who once looked up to him to change their approach on the issue...

Suffice to say that I was sadly mistaken as Craig announced, and then reiterated, that he was not gay. Actually Craig may have a point here... He is married and has a gaggle of kids, so I would lay money on Craig being bi-sexual. I believe the chances are pretty solid that if the shoe on the other side of the stall had been worn by a female which Craig percieved to be willing, that he would have started trying to hit on that just the same as he tried hitting on the male undercover cop.

I also note the extremely frustrating use of a gimmick which has been long employed by the Bush administration to stifle questioning on subjects which they do not wish to address. The "I can not comment on an ongoing investigation" ploy. However, the pretzels which Craig must twist himself into in order to employ that logic is truly amazing. Typically an ongoing investigation would be considered to be wrapped up when the accused pleads guilty.

BUT... in one of the wierdest legal twists of logic ever in the history of legalisms, Craig has now hired a lawyer to "examine this matter and I will make no further comment". Thus we have Craig somehow falling back on the old canard that there is an ongoing legal... issue, even when there clearly is not. So he left the event being trailed by shouted questions from the press, and his supporters will say that he can't answer those questions because there is an ongoing legal proceeding of some sort. How twisted, and positively devious, is that?!

Actually, you have to admire that sort of chutzpah. The guy pleads guilty... and when one pleads guilty it's not like the judge one files the plea with doesn't drive it into ones thick skull exactly what one is doing. Craig was fully aware of what he was pleading too. So to now get a lawyer and to use that simple fact as a reason to not comment beyond his near delusional statement because the lawyer is examining the matter is truly breathtaking.

It is clear, at least in this one respect, that Craig has learned his lessons from the administration all to well.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Republican Politicians Are RUINING Public Bathrooms

Gonzo leaving is the big news of the day, so this must have seemed like a good time for the office of Senator Larry Craig (Reprobate, Id.) to release some bad news. Senator Craig, who is a noted "conservative" backer of George Bush and the "pro family" Republican agenda was busted in June for lewd conduct in a public restroom at a Minnesota airport. A spokesperson for the Senator said "this is a he said he said situation". His wife must have been devastated when Senator Craig plead guilty to the charges.

With this news coming on the heels of McCain's Florida campaign manager being arrested for lewd conduct in a public restroom, I have had an epiphany. The Republicans, being against big government spending, have decided to smear the already troubled public perception of these restrooms with the hopes of ending all funding for public commodes. How fiendishly clever of them!

I could use this post to defend the need and justify the expense for public restrooms. But rather, let me appeal to the scheming Republicans who are on this dastardly drive to give public restrooms an even worse public perception, to please cease and desist from this atrocious behavior. It is bad enough when some parent has to stand in line with their little child doing the cross legged "I really have to go" dance, anticipating the urine splattered, germ infested, feces smelling horror to come... but to have that parent then have to shield their child from the local "drown government in a bathtub" Republican who is trying to ruin public restrooms for the rest of us by acting like a degenerate perv is really beyond the pale!

The answer may be to install card readers for voter registrations to identify the partisanship of the potential user at the entrances to our public restrooms. If the card reader identifies a Republican politician about to enter the premises that person would have to be accompanied by a police officer to make sure that nothing untoward happens. Or maybe we could have separate but equal public restrooms segregated by party affiliation. Something must be done to save our public restrooms!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Top Ten Actions Warner Will Take To Support W...ithdrawal

The big news yesterday was that John Warner has called for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq to begin no later than this December.

After last years trouncing of Republicans in the midterm elections it became very fashionable for Republicans facing election in the next campaign to suddenly discover how wrong headed the President is regarding Iraq. Yet when it was time to actually vote on timetables and funding, those same Republicans always seem to find cause to vote to support the Presidents policies.

Now maybe Warner will set a different example than the other member of his caucus who have seen the light on Iraq. But with the typical pattern in mind I will now give my top ten list of actions which Republican Senator John Warner will take, now that he wants troop withdrawals. Unfortunately, based upon past Republican history, Warner voting against the President will not make the list.

10:Warner will go on Fox News and talk about illegal immigration for 4 1/2 minutes, the Presidential campaign for 3 minutes, Iran for 2 1/4 minutes and the need for withdrawal from Iraq for 12 seconds.
9: Warner will push to withdraw the troops from Iraq and deploy them to Iran.
8: Warner will post an anonymous comment on a random blog detailing why he thinks withdrawal is the way to go.
7: Warner will retire in disgust, and then enthusiastically support the Republican running to replace him despite that candidate being more of a hawk than Rush Limbaugh.
6: Warner will release a dove bearing an olive branch from a Virginia mountaintop (which will promptly be attacked and eaten alive by the starving eagle which administration ne'er do wells will release near by).
5: Warner will have a peace symbol tattooed on a butt cheek.
4: Warner will debate a loud mouthed right wing koolaid drinker on Hardball... in which debate Warner will be given a 30 second opening statement and then cede the remaining 5 minutes of the segment to the filibustering right wing freakazoid.
3: Warner will have a talk with the President, after which he will be well prepared for conversation with a fence post.
2: Whenever he drives past war protesters, Warner will honk in support.
And the number one action John Warner will take to support withdrawing the troops from Iraq is (and this is not a joke):
1: Warner will cosponsor a bill with timetables for withdrawal, but will not vote for cloture in order to break the filibuster of his own party.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Erm... Don't Look Now But The Iranians Just "Attacked" Iraq

According to McClatchey News, the Iranians have gone into Kurdish controlled Iraq to attack several villages. I tend to pay attention when McClatchey reports something so I must admit that this has me a bit startled.

Which leaves me wondering... is this another Gulf Of Tonkin or is the Iranian government just begging to be bombed? The one thing that is certain to unite Irans populace behind their current leadership is an attack by America.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bush: Determined To Divide The Nation

All day long I've been contemplating the Presidents comparison between the Iraq war and Vietnam. I've thought of top ten lists of similarities, (the President supported both but fought in neither) and various screeds about the comparison. But the nagging question for me all day long has been... just why did the President want to go there?

Vietnam is an ugly piece of history which brings very negative connotations to the debate. Prior to todays speech by the President it was the anti war side which most often brought up the spectre of Vietnam, not the administration. There are many apt comparisons and the President seems to embrace them rather than want to debunk them. In fact with the Vietnam comparisons being so consistent from the left, maybe the President is using the tried and true Rovian tactic of turning a weakness into a supposed strength...

As the permutations and rationalizations tumbled through my mind I was left more and more perplexed. Then I was hit with an epiphany. There is a significant minority at the extreme of the Republican party who think that Vietnam was a good thing. They believe it was a noble cause and if they had their druthers we would still be there today, despite the thousands of dead Americans extending our presence there would have resulted in.

President Bush is drawing a comparison between Vietnam and Iraq to bolster the support of his right wing conservative base, knowing full well that the analogy will not be well recieved by the rest of the nation. This is a case where the President is willing to divide the nation, knowing full well that strong majorities consider Vietnam a mistake from the beginning, which once started should have ended sooner. He is drawing an analogy which to most folks is a decided negative in order to appeal to those who still support his Iraq blunder.

By recalling the Vietnam war in such strange terms, the President is also clearly calling the people who disagreed with that war wrong. The President hearkens to the days of social upheaval surrounding the Vietnam war and marks his sympathies with the hawks. It is a flashback to his days as a young hawk while the debate raged at the time, and the President avoided fighting the commies over there so we wouldn't have to fight them over here. By recalling those days and siding against those who thought Vietnam was a mistake the President further divides us amongst ourselves.

Frankly Iraq war critics should welcome the Vietnam comparison by Bush. The nation has been with the left on Vietnam for decades now. I think wavering Congressional Democrats who are being bombarded by the pro war media surge should be made confront the analogy which Bush now embraces. Do these Congressional Democrats believe Iraq is like Vietnam? Do they support continuing this Presidents Vietnam?

There are lessons which echo through the decades between Vietnam and Iraq. But the lessons are not how we end each war, but how we ought not have started either.

Bang Bang, You're Dead

The iconic imagery of children playing cops and robbers may be closer to coming true in adult life than one would ever have imagined, thanks in large part to the war in Iraq.

Imagine this scenario: You are in some downtown area and are startled by the sound of glass shattering. A shrieking siren immediately alerts the world that something untoward is causing a commotion near-by. You reflexively look in that direction and see a masked man who, caught in the act, grabs a nearby bystander produces a pistol and holds it to the hostages head.

A nearby police officer draws his weapon and commands the criminal to drop his pistol. The masked man refuses to do so and screams that he will kill his hostage if the police officer doesn't disarm. The actions of the kidnapper are erratic and everyone watching is convinced that without decisive action from the officer on scene that the hostage will be killed. In response to this desperate situation... to your unbelieving ears comes the following triumphal shout from the police officer.

"Bang Bang... You're DEAD!"

This farce may be unimaginable, yet because of the war in Iraq police departments across the nation are facing shortages in ammunition used by officers to train with the weapons they carry on the streets. According to the AP:
Troops training for and fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are firing more than 1 billion bullets a year, contributing to ammunition shortages hitting police departments nationwide and preventing some officers from training with the weapons they carry on patrol.

An Associated Press review of dozens of police and sheriff’s departments found that many are struggling with delays of as long as a year for both handgun and rifle ammunition. And the shortages are resulting in prices as much as double what departments were paying just a year ago.
So it turns out that not only is the war in Iraq harming our security in the global "war on terror", this mistaken war is starting to harm our security domestically. It is in all of our best interests that police officers be able to train with live fire ammunition, and demonstrate proficiency in placing rounds accurately when the occasion is called for in real life situations.

Police departments report not being able to certify officers for weapons commonly used by their departments due to not being able to secure adequate ammunition for those arms. These police departments are resorting to using paintball rounds and computer simulations in order to train in courses which normally would have the police using live ammunition.

Can you imagine, in the scenario I drew leading off this post, if rather than the officer yelling "bang bang you're dead" he had drawn careful aim and shot the hostage taker between the eyes with a paint ball?

Of course the police will scrimp and save on training so that the officer in this scenario will be shooting with live rounds. So the question then is would you rather have that officer experienced in firing live rounds and placing them accurately on target? Or well trained only firing paint-balls and laser beams, but relatively inexperienced in the actual weapon they use on the streets?

This is a real world consequence and a concrete example of how the war in Iraq affects our security on the home front. Support the troops, and local law enforcement. End the war in Iraq.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fred Thompson Is A Gucci Loafer Wearing Doof

I don't know about you folks, but it really drives me up a wall to hear someone use the following (paraphrased) logic: "America needs to unify in order to deal most effectively with this or that issue. So if you disagree with my position on this or that issue you are a doofus".

To be sure, the term doofus is only rarely invoked by whom so ever uses this logic, but the meaning could not be plainer. The latest example of this irksome logic is courtesy of Fred Thompson as he addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Here is how CNN reported Thompson's speech:
Calling terrorism "a global threat" to the United States, Thompson pointed out that he thought the United States was at a crossroads and told the veterans "it's time that we had a frank discussion in this country at the highest levels with both parties as to what it's going to take and the unity we're going to need" to battle terror.

Thompson also faulted those calling for a troop withdrawal from Iraq, saying it would hurt the overall fight against terrorism.

"Some people in this country apparently think that if we can pull out of Iraq, our problems are going to be over. You and I know better than that. We know that Iraq is an important front in this war," Fred Thompson said to an audience of combat veterans on Tuesday.
Indeed, it is time to have a frank discussion Mr. Thompson. Frankly it is time that the extremists running the Republican party come to grips with the facts that are well understood by a growing majority of the American people. Frankly Mr. Thompson, the Iraq war is a mistaken endeavor. Frankly this war is harming our interests on the world stage. Frankly Mr. Thompson, the Iraq war has proven a huge boon to the very people who attacked us on 9/11. Frankly, the winnner of the war in Iraq is Iran. Yes... let us be frank with each other Mr. Thompson. Frankly your position is wrong headed, divisive and widely recognized as foolish. Frankly I could continue with these widely understood rebuttals of Republican pro-Iraq war talking points ad infinitum, but the overall point is this. Frankly Mr. Thompson, you and the Republican machine are flat out wrong about Iraq, and we the people know it.

Now I understand Thompson has to hold this seemingly hopelessly ignorant position on Iraq in order to have any hope of winning the Republican nomination for President. That is because the Republican party is widely dominated by people who only get their "news" from Fox and right wing talk radio, and having to win the votes of that crowd while appearing rational would be nigh on impossible. But I wish Thompson would please do the rest of the nation the favor of not pretending that he wishes to unify America behind such nonsense.

If Thompson really wants to unify the nation he will try to use his meager influence in the public sphere to try to bring the administration die hards around to see things with a bit of objectivity.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Of Course This Administration Is In Contempt

So Senator Patrick Leahy is threatening to slap contempt charges on the administration if they do not come across with documentation of their legal reasoning over the warrantless wiretapping program. In fact Leahy took a flight to Washington, during the middle of the August recess, to wait in the hearing room for the administrations response to the subpoena.

I can just picture Leahy sitting alone in this rather expansive room, an impatient look on his face... no audience, no cameras, no witness or other senators... just Leahy narrowly watching the door to the room from his chairman's perch. Eventually the door opens and in walks a sheepish looking administration flunky bearing a sealed envelope. They hand the envelope to Leahy and scurry off. Leahy opens the envelope and reads the following one page response...

Dear Senator Leahy
Go F*** Yourself
Dick Cheney

What is my point here? Of course this administration is in contempt of Congress! They have been since the very beginning. It's just that now that Democrats are in power they have the ability, if not the will, to legally hold the administration to account for this behavior.

In fact the administration is in contempt of the entire nation, except for a very small segment of the population... the neocons or extremely wealthy who are not concerned about society as a whole as long as their oceans of cash are fed with more and more wealth. It doesn't matter what the populace thinks. The truth is that this administration is actually proud of that. How many times do they tell us that the President doesn't pay attention to the polls? This is a Republic, if we can keep it, but what the nation wants doesn't really matter to the President and his backers. The Adminsitration has treated the entire population with contempt for years, holding town meetings with handpicked audiences and arresting dissenters, ignoring growing public dissatisfaction, treating the federal government like a cash tree for their own interests and the benefit of their rich buddies. The entire Iraq boondoggle is a resounding lesson in contemptuousness, which the President refuses to learn. It doesn't matter what we the people think about this war, the President knows whats best, even though there is an unbroken chain of wrong headed policy since before the war.

Contempt breeds contempt in return and this is the reason that such a wide margin of the American people dislike this President. It's because he doesn't care for them despite his folksy attitude. If we the people are regaled by administration flunkies telling us to, in effect, go f*** ourselves, are we really surprised that the President is held in such low regard?

Friday, August 17, 2007

TPM Falls For Ancient Semantic Trickery

One of my favorite daily reads is Talking Points Memo. So it was with great dismay today that I read TPM and discovered a glaring instance of anti administration hokum and blather...

The issue they covered deals with a supposed administration attempt to have General David Petraeus give his much anticipated report to a closed session of Congress. This desire for the closed session was confirmed by Congressional sources, and the great "controversy" over this story is that a White House spokes person (formerly referred to in this blog as "spokestoady") supposedly lied about it.

Yet a careful examination of the actual quote by the White House spokestoady... erm... spokes-hero shows the utter dishonesty and hatefulness of administration critics. Here is the direct quote in question.
Asked yesterday if the White House had pushed for closed-door-only briefings, Johndroe said, "No, no."
Frankly people who use wordcraft to make a living ought to be smart enough to not misinterpret the meaning of a classic double negative. (Not misinterpret... is that a double negative? Well you know what I mean!!) When Johndroe said "no, no" he was technically affirming that the White House HAD pushed for the closed door session.

Frankly, when administration critics take statements like these and twist the meaning of the words to make it appear the administration somehow lied, the terrorist win. I'm sure THEY know a double negative when they hear it. In fact TPM was probably clued into this entire affair from their direct satellite feed from a cave in Pakistan!

For TPM's unfair and unpatriotic attack on the Bush administration I have only one word. OUTRAGEOUS!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top Ten Reasons Henry Hager Is Not Fighting In Iraq

Today brings news that President Bush's daughter Jenna Bush is engaged to be married. The lucky groom is a fellow by the name of Henry Hager. Hager is 29 years old, so my immediate thought went like this: "I wonder when he is going to be given a furlough from his unit in Iraq to come back to the states to marry Jenna?" Imagine my absolute SHOCK when I googled up Hager, and found out he was not doing his part to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here!

In fact Mr. Hager, and others in his family are quite the hangers on in adminsistration circles. My personal favorite was finding that Hager used to fill in for his boss at meetings of the "President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities". I really am trying to be nice here because I try very diligently to not slam around segments of our society who face difficulties aplenty as it is. Besides, it must be hard enough for these poor folk having President Bush posterize their demographic each and every time he makes a speech. But I digress!

I decided it probably was not Hagers fault that he isn't melting down and dodging snipers in Baghdad this summer, so following is my top ten list of reasons that Henry Hager is not fighting in Iraq.

10: Hager put in his time serving the nation by helping on President Bush's re-election campaign. (h/t M. Romney)
9. Old football injury
8: Heres an honest answer... He's a freaking rich elitist Republican... Duh!
7: Here's another honest answer... He might get killed! Duh!
6: Hager enlisting would set a HORRIBLE example for all the other rich rightwing Iraq war cheerleaders.
5: Invade and pillage a foriegn land? You've obviously confused Hager The Republican with Hagar The Horrible.
4: President Bush forbade him from joining his military because Jenna might wig out and go on another bender.
3: Hager just HATES getting sand in his Gucci's!
2: So many other youths have joined that, sadly enough, there is no room to take Hager into the military. (h/t T. Delay)
1: If he joined he would have to give the wrong answer the next time Jenna asks him "is that a rifle in your pocket or are you happy to see me?"

It Is Not The War In Iraq/Afghanistan

I believe we have seen the opening lines in a new commentary which the Bush apologists are trotting out to justify the war in Iraq. The new logic conflates the war in Iraq with the war in Afghanistan. The goal is to make it seem that those who want to withdraw from Iraq also want to abandon Afghanistan, even though overall support for the war in Afghanistan remains steady.

The newest koolaid drinker (spiked to be sure) is Christopher Hitchens who has the temerity to proclaim in his newest screed:
These objections sometimes, but not always, amount to the suggestion that the "real" fight against al-Qaida is, or should be, not in Iraq but in Afghanistan. (I say "not always," because many of those who argue the difference are openly hostile to the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as to the presence of coalition soldiers in Iraq.)
Just who could Hitchens be referring to? Is there even one Congressional critic of the war in Iraq who has expressed this opinion? Instead of using the term "many" Hitchens would be more honest by pointing to a small minority.

Hitchens' statement is perverse because the predominant opinion from critics of the Iraq war stands in direct opposition from that which Hitchens claims. The vast majority of those opposed to the war in Iraq support increasing aid to Afghanistan, and reinforcing our troop presence there. We understand that Afghanistan is where Al Qaeda plotted the attacks, and we want to successfully finish the job there.

I feel like following each of these obvious truths with "duh". We need to finish the job in Afghanistan, duh. Iraq did not attack us, duh. Loyal Bushies should stop conflating the wars, duh.

Is it not odd that Hitchens' misrepresentation of the prevalent opinion amongst those he disagrees with was given to us on nearly the same day that Rudolph Giuliani made essentially the same claim in his Foreign Affairs article? From Giuliani's perspective, to consider withdrawal from Iraq is to consider withdrawal from Afghanistan:
We cannot predict when our efforts will be successful. But we can predict the consequences of failure: Afghanistan would revert to being a safe haven for terrorists, and Iraq would become another one -- larger, richer, and more strategically located
In fact Giuliani mentions Iraq and Afghanistan in the same sentence through out his article, as though these two distinct wars are one and the same. As though the reasons for going into both nations were one and the same. Never mind that the nation had to be brought to reluctant support of the invasion of Iraq by a systematic campaign of lies and deception. The Bushies now want to conflate the two wars making it seem that not supporting Iraq means you don't support Afghanistan. Of course if you support the effort in Afghanistan, in the new paradigm you must also support the war in Iraq.

In this light, it may make sense for the neocons to bring Iran into the fray and sort of join up the separated war fronts with conflict stretching, uninterrupted, from Jordan in the west to Pakistan in the east. But as is my wont, I digress!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Giuliani: Not Fit To Be Commander In Chief

The leading Republican Presidential candidate has written an extensive article for Foreign Affairs Magazine. For me, there are several notable sections of this article which disqualify Giuliani from serious consideration for leader of the free world.

First is Giuliani's take on Palestinian statehood:
The election of Hamas in the Palestinian-controlled territories is a case in point. The problem there is not the lack of statehood but corrupt and unaccountable governance. The Palestinian people need decent governance first, as a prerequisite for statehood. Too much emphasis has been placed on brokering negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians -- negotiations that bring up the same issues again and again. It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism. Palestinian statehood will have to be earned through sustained good governance, a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and a willingness to live in peace with Israel. America's commitment to Israel's security is a permanent feature of our foreign policy.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root cause for all the instability roiling the middle east. Somehow finding a peaceful solution to that problem should be THE major goal of any President in pursuit of a lasting peace in the middle east. Without a solution to that problem in particular, the only peace we will be given is by allying with repressive regimes, and occupying and suppressing those who do not agree with us.

The only hope for a Palestinian/Israeli peace is by a two state solution. The thought of an American President working to deny Palestinians statehood, after decades of American leadership at least paying lip service to the need for such a state, is really depressing. Giuliani would guarantee another several years of open ended conflict with American supporting Israel and working against Palestinian interests, further inflaming Arabian and Muslim opinion against us. Even the vast majority of Israelis understand the need for a two state solution, so I think Giuliani needs to stop pandering the the extreme rightwing of the Republican party and get on board with the rest of the world in this regard.

The next section to consider is from earlier in the article, under the heading of WINNING THE EARLY BATTLES OF THE LONG WAR. That section is too long to just copy and paste in it's entirety, but let us look at several misconceptions which further disqualify Giuliani from consideration as commander in chief as far as I'm concerned.
It is almost certain that U.S. troops will still be fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan when the next president takes office. The purpose of this fight must be to defeat the terrorists and the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and to allow these countries to become members of the international system in good standing.
It is notable that, from Giluiani's point of view, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are conflated. Repeatedly Iraq is paired with Afghanistan by Giuliani throughout this section. Never mind that the problems we face in the two nations are entirely disparate. Never mind that the growing trouble in Afghanistan can be traced directly to the transfer of focus from that theater to Iraq. Further into the article, when Rudy plays tough guy by promising to not rest until Osama and crew are hunted down, yet again he can not bring himself to mention Afghanistan, or Pakistan for that matter. It must be because it clearly would not make sense to mention Iraq in that context, and Rudy clearly MUST conflate Iraq and Afghanistan in each instance that one of those nations is mentioned.

Also in the above quote, note that Giuliani's goal in Iraq is to basically push for a military victory: "The purpose of this fight must be to defeat the terrorists and the insurgents in Iraq"... This type of language is great for pandering to the extremists of the party he is trying to win the nomination of. But that goal is not achievable, and don't just take my word for that. Listen to Ricardo Sanchez who was the first overall commander of American forces in Iraq. Even the much vaunted General David Petraeus says "there is no military solution" to Iraq. The most we can hope for under President Bush's and now, apparently, Rudy Giuliani's leadership would be an extended stalemate, with valleys and peaks in the level of violence. That is until Americans have had enough and force a recalcitrant President Bush or Giuliani to withdraw with a veto proof majority for sanity elected to Congress.

When Giuliani covers the consequences of withdrawal, he is careful to include his take on withdrawal from both Afghanistan and Iraq in the same sentence, as if there is equal pressure to withdraw from both. In Giuliani's world those calling for redeployment from Iraq were equally set on the abandonment of Afghanistan. By attempting to conflate the argument on withdrawal in such a manner Giuliani is being intellectually dishonest. The fact is that the vast majority of Americans calling for withdrawal from Iraq would like to see the mission in Afghanistan reinforced with more troops. We would like America to focus on the stability of that nation as the rightful focus in the "war" on terror. The last thing this nation needs after eight years of Bush will be another dissembler who relies upon tricky semantics to mislead the nation into seeing things his way, no matter how far off base his logic is. Giuliani is certain to score points with the rabid right with this type of rhetoric, but I honestly think the vast majority of the nation is sick of that type of dirty semantic jujitsu.

Giuliani thinks that the lesson of Vietnam is that we should stay in Iraq. This logic leads us to the conclusion that the lesson of the Civil War is that slavery is okie dokie. Seriously... the notion that America would have won the Vietnam war by just sticking it out a little while longer is simply goofy. Yet the parallels betwixt Vietnam and Iraq are legion and undeniable, so recently neocons (including even the President) have started combating that unfortunate truth by making noise about how America was actually on the verge of militarily winning that war. Somehow, from the neocon point of view, it was only our decision to pull out that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

To be fair about the subject, I searched the google tubes for evidence of Giuliani's claim that "historians" saw things his way. I did find several such cases, nearly all by neocon hacks and Vietnam vets with a bit of an axe to grind. I especially appreciated a review of the book Unheralded Victory: The Defeat of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army, 1961-1973. Author Mark Woodruff by a reviewer from the U.S. Army Infantry School for Infantry Magazine. The review is generally positive, but on the salient point of the entire book here is what the reviewer has to say:
[T]o declare military victory over the communist forces is superficial, naive, and--to invoke the famous rejoinder made to Harry Summers when he first ventured this interpretation to a North Vietnamese general--"it is also irrelevant." The novice reader will find some valuable statistical and explanatory detail, but one should treat the larger purpose of the book with the same skepticism that Woodruff demands of competing interpretations of the war.
Giuliani would be well served to give the evolving neocon interpretation of the Vietnam war more skepticism than to base his interpretation of how America ought to proceed in Iraq on those superficial, naive and irrelevant trips down neocon memory lane.

Finally, let us take note of Giuliani's opinion on the role of diplomacy if he is elected President. Giuliani takes a swing at Nancy Pelosi for visiting Syria without actually saying her name. He covers his bases by merely fingering "members of Congress" for talking to rogue regimes. That amorphous designation does include the Republicans who accompanied Pelosi on the trip which earned her such opprobrium amongst the koolaid drinkers. But to the wingnut base he appeals to, the signal here is unmistakable: Giuliani is with you as you rave at the speaker.

Yet in that same paragraph Giuliani calls for unity of purpose by the entire government in the nations approach to foreign diplomacy. To be honest, how Giuliani expects to slog it out in Iraq until we achieve an unachievable military victory, but keep the rest of the Government on track with his diplomacy initiatives is beyond me. There can be no unity of purpose of any sort if a vocal minority, led by the President, insist on pursuing wrong headed policies which harm American interests. For that matter how can Giuliani call for a unity of Government in this regard even as he castigates Congress members for their actions? Giuliani would be well served at this stage of the game to practice what he is preaching. But that is just my perspective... from the perspective of your average Fox News vegetable, Giuliani must be hitting on all cylinders with that type of tough sounding non starter.

Also of note is the fact that Giuliani expounds on the use of diplomacy in achieving a "realistic peace", but not once does he mention Iraq in conjunction with diplomacy. Giuliani singles out Iran as a case study in how he would approach diplomacy from a position of strength and even disinters the creaking bones of Ronald Reagan (who will never rest in peace so long as a Republican is behind in the polls) as an example of successful diplomacy with the evil empire... but on THE major issue of war or peace in our time, Giuliani does not offer one tid bit as to how he would, or even if he would, use diplomacy regarding Iraq.

I see the opening salvo by Giuliani in the area of foreign policy as an appeal to the rightwing loonies who run the Republican party. Giuliani is with them, and will continue the wrong headed Bush policies which they have supported all along. I do not believe his stated outlook on world affairs comports with where the vast majority of Americans want to take this nation, but it is where he must be right now in order to win that nomination.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More On Padilla: A Cycle Of Torture

Truthout links to The Christian Science Monitor and their must read part two of a three part expose on the treatment of Jose Padilla at the hands of the Bush administration. Part three of the article, focusing on the legal implications of Padilla's case, can be found here. And the Christian Science Monitor editorial regarding their three part report can be found here.

Also of note is the article by CSM from September 15, 2006 titled 'Alternative' CIA tactics complicate Padilla case. That article details how Padilla was first implicated because of the testimony of three "high value" terrorist detainees, all of whom were tortured before giving up information about Padilla. The reason the administration has played fast and loose with Padilla's status is because the evidence they used to identify him as an Al Qaeda agent would never be allowed in a U.S. court of law.

Part two of the article details just why Padilla went into custody mentally sound, as determined by government psychologists when he was taken to the brig, but is now suffering from various mental health issues. Padilla was driven mad by being subjected to extreme isolation and sensory deprivation. Thats bad enough, but the CSM article indicates the government who subjected Padilla to this brutality knew full well that what they were doing was a form of torture:
The new Army Field Manual bars the use of isolation to achieve psychological disorientation through sensory deprivation. "Sensory deprivation is defined as an arranged situation causing significant psychological distress due to a prolonged absence, or significant reduction, of the usual external stimuli and perceptual opportunities," the manual states. "Sensory deprivation may result in extreme anxiety, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts, depression, and anti-social behavior. Detainees will not be subject to sensory deprivation."

Despite the tough words, the field manual offers only a general prohibition. So-called coercive interrogation methods - including isolation - have been specially authorized for certain units in the military and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The technique is not new. The Soviets used isolation and sensory deprivation to identify and discredit political dissidents. US prisoners of war confessed to nonexistent war crimes in the Korean War after similar treatment.

Fear of "brainwashing" prompted the CIA and Defense Department to underwrite research in the 1950s and '60s into the impact of isolation and sensory deprivation. The findings were included in a 1963 CIA handbook, later declassified. The book discusses the possible use of such techniques, including isolation. But it warns of the "profound moral objection" of applying "duress past the point of irreversible psychological damage."

That's what happened in Padilla's case, says Grassian. "It is clear from examining Mr. Padilla that that limit was surpassed."

He has "undergone a profound, tremendously prolonged psychological stress involving extended periods of utter isolation and deprivation," the psychiatrist writes. Grassian's report concludes: "Given the extensive research on this issue, much of it funded by the United States government, it follows necessarily that the United States government was well aware of the likely consequences of its conduct in regard to Mr. Padilla."
I've stepped all over any semblance of fair use on the CSM article, and I highly encourage anyone interested in the Padilla case to read it. The article goes on to describe how the Soviets expected their dissidents to break after four to six weeks of isolation. Padilla appears to have been given a particularly intense period of isolation lasting for aproximately five months between November of 2002 and April of 2003. Padilla refers to this particular stretch of isolation as the "terrible time".

What irks me is the thought that Padilla was accused by three men who broke under torture. Those men may be horrible terrorists and killing machines, but they would have ratted out the Queen of freaking England to make the torture stop. Then the government turned around and did the same exact thing to Padilla. They broke him through torture, and who knows who he ratted out in order to try to make it end. It is a cycle of torture always leading to the next victim, and the President stands up and tells the nation how valuable the program is in stopping terrorists plots and how many lives have been saved. Well how many lives have been ruined Mr. President? I can name two immediately. Maher Arar of Canada and Khaled el Masri of Germany. Both have been absolutely exonerated of any connection with terrorism, but only after they were detained and tortured, in the case of Arar being rendered to Syria.

How many innocent men have been released from Guantanamo and why were they there in the first place? Wait, I can hear the right wing bots now... "but what about the ones we released who were later killed or captured fighting us?!" If I were in those detainees shoes I'd be freaking cheesed off about it too! Maybe cheesed off enough to want to fight the guys who were responsible for imprisoning me for years even though I was innocent and torturing me on top of it all. Freaking right, I'd be mad as a wet cat in a moving car... and so are those guys. Honestly right wing koolaid drinkers, put yourself in that position. You get nabbed by some government half the world away who dissapears you, tortures you, and generally makes your life a living hell for several years. When you get out are you going to just let that slide? Maybe so... but you can understand not feeling all peaceable after that as well I hope.

Well Padilla was nabbed after being fingered by men who were being tortured. Padilla was tortured as well. Who knows where that particular cycle ended... if it ever did.

I get so hot about this that my train of thought just goes off on random trails and trying to make sense of my take on this makes for difficult reading I'm cerain. I want to end this with a couple of points I've made in the past. First: There is no way the emergency faced by President Bush and the nation after 9/11 was as dangerous as that faced by George Washington in 1775, Lincoln in 1861, or FDR in 1941. How is it then that President Bush has seen fit to over throw over 230 years of military doctrine and allowed for detainees to be tortured. Oh yeah... I don't care if Bush doesn't want to call it torture, it is.

And my final thought on this travesty. Jose Padilla and his insanity are the living embodiment of tyranny ruling America. If a detainee can have Padilla's name torn from his screaming, tortured body, who is to say it could not have been your name or mine? If the interrogators had wanted to hear your or my name from their victim they would have gotten it. And eventually you or I would have given our own confessions, in order to make it stop, and Bush would then hold you or I up as examples of how this anti American abomination of a program is saving lives. Here's my word for this. Disgusting!

[UPDATE] I knew there was something else I wanted to say about this. MAJOR KUDOS go to the Christian Science Monitor for an excellent piece of journalism. That sort of extensive and well researched reporting is sadly lacking in today's media, and CSM deserves praise for this article in particular. So thank you to the Christian Science Monitor for a job well done!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jose Padilla Under Threat Of Return To The Brig

Truthout has an article from the Christian Science Monitor which details the diminished mental capacity of Jose Padilla.

The particulars of what Padilla endured remain sketchy because he steadfastly refuses to talk about the treatment he endured while being held as an enemy combatant. There are two parts of this article which piqued my interest in particular. First, I think the following portion of the article demonstrates why Padilla will not talk to anyone about what he went through while in the brig:
Padilla's treatment in the brig is classified as a state secret.

Ironically, no one knows this better than Padilla himself. When Hegarty, the psychiatrist, asked him about his interrogation in the brig, Padilla responded: "I can't talk about what happened to me because it is classified."
No wonder Padilla refuses to discuss his treatment with the people who are charged by the courts with finding out if he was tortured. He has been told in no uncertain terms that what happened to him is classified. Implicit in being told that is if he does talk about his treatment, Padilla is liable to be prosecuted for leaking state secrets. The article makes clear that Padilla is positively terrified of being returned to the brig. "[I]f one were to offer him a long prison term or return to the brig, he would take prison, in a heartbeat." "He said he will go back there. He will die there. He is fearful of his time in the brig." In effect the administration of George Bush has silenced Padilla by threatening to further torture him if he tells anyone about the torture he has already endured. This is America?

The next part of the article which grabbed my attention is this startling account given by Padilla's mother about one time when she tried to get him to open up:
Padilla's mother became increasingly anxious. Finally she confronted her son: "Did they torture you?" she asked.

"He turned towards her, his face grimacing, his eyes blinking, and in panic and rage he demanded: 'Don't you ever, ever, ask that question again,'" the Grassian report says.
That scene is as much proof of the torture as if Padilla were to give a blow by blow account of how he was driven mad. If he were not tortured he simply could have said that he was not tortured. Of course, if Padilla had not been tortured then he most likely would not be exibiting the signs which cause his mother such concern when she visits him. On the other hand, if Padilla were tortured, and dreaded yet more torture if he were to talk about his treatment... then you have a scene where he flies into a rage and panic when his mother pushes the issue.

Jose Padilla is the living example of tyranny come to America. He is an American citizen who was dissapeared after being arrested on American soil, and tortured. There is no greater offense which can be brought on a citizen than for that person to be abruptly stripped of all human rights and then tortured to insanity. Even death would be preferrable from my point of view, melodramatic as that may seem.

From The Comments:

I will simply copy and paste the following comment left on the last post (regarding the consequences of another 9/11) without editorial comment. I have taken the liberty of briefly proofing the comment for the purpose of posting here.

Stephen said...
I pray there is never another terrorist shock in the United States. I remember my son calling me on his cell from a city bus, where he had heard of the twin towers disaster. He had served four years in the air force. A year later he enlisted in a Wisconsin National Guard field artillery battalion. The Army deployed them last year to guard supply convoys on the roads of Iraq from HUMVEEs. An explosive formed device, placed by the Shia, bored in to my son's up-armored Humvee on his first mission and wounded him. The convoy forged ahead, abandoning the destroyed HUMVEE. He was bleeding and received no first aid for 90 minutes until a medevac helicopter arrived. Though he was bleeding (nobody had applied a tourniquet to his leg) his heart and respiration were normal and he was yelling in pain. His condition continued to be stable with good vitals during the medevac flight, but 30 seconds before touchdown at the hospital, he went into cardiac arrest. The doctors attempted heroic measures to save him, but were unsuccessful. His death certificate says he bled to death.

My goal is to bring justice to the commander of the convoy, who lost command and control and abandoned an impacted HUMVEE and four crew members. I want justice to the officer that dispatched them on a daylight mission, when the insurgents are most motivated because they can film the attack. I want justice to every officer who failed to protest the abominable pre-deployment training and the wholly unprotective HUMVEEs, whether or not armored. Officers should be busted, pensions should be denied. The message must be sent that yes men will not be tolerated in today's military.

Stephen L. Castner
Father of CPL Stephen W. Castner, 1-121st, Wisconsin National Guard, killed in action, July 24, 2006, MSR Tampa, near Camp Cedar, Tallil, Iraq.
Cedarburg, Wisconsin

[Update: Welcome C&L readers. I felt a very small portion of this mans burden had somehow been transferred to me, and I'm just doing what I can from this obscure little blog to give him some support. His is a very heavy burden indeed.]

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Real Consequences Of Another 9/11

The Philadelphia Daily News' Stu Bykofsky has written a column which has caused a bit of a stir lately. The title of the column says it all: To save America, we need another 9/11.

I think Mr. Bykofsky is 180 degrees off the mark. Another 9/11 at this point in our history would lead to an America which you an I would find very alien to the America we grew up in, and even the America we now live in.

The proof for my point of view lies in the consequences of the first 9/11. Think about America on 9/10. On that day if a respected pundit had foretold a day coming soon in which American policy would endorse the torture of detainees, that pundit would have been retired to a madhouse. On 9/10, if anyone had predicted that a program would be set up by the President to allow for the warrantless wire tapping of American citizens, and that when the program was disclosed that the President would defiantly proclaim his intention to continue the practice in defiance of the law and constitution, that person would have been labeled a conspiratorial kook.

Both of those unimaginables, and many many more besides, occurred as a direct result of the attacks of 9/11.

In fact it was the lock step loyalty given the President by the nation and the world immediately following the attacks, which unity Bykofsky pines to return, which allowed these changes to be instituted. As a nation we allowed oursleves to be frightened into changing the fundamental meaning of what we once stood for. Over 230 years of military doctrine in governing the treatment of prisoners was over turned. American ideals on the international stage were upended in pursuit of pre-emptive war when a threat is merely perceived, not realized. This new doctrine was even named after President Bush. The thinking of the greatest military minds of our generation was supplanted by the new fangled doctrines of yet another incompetent neoconservative, Donald Rumsfeld.

9/11 was used by the President, the Vice President, and those they surrounded themselves with to consolidate and expand power in blatantly unconstitutional ways. They tarred political opponents as weak on terror in order to consolidate power in Congress. They used the lack of oversight from the legislative branch to turn the Federal government into a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican party. In doing so they have destroyed the Department of Justice. The President purged the Pentagon and military of officers who would not knuckle under and endorse blatantly wrong headed and disastrous military policy, even as he claimed to be listening to the generals on the ground. Indeed, the Valery Plame debacle is an early example of just this type of insidious purging of those elements who do not toe the administration line, even when that line is a demonstrated falsehood. It was only the rebellion of the electorate in 06 and the sweep of Republicans from Congress that brought much of this to light.

These neocons counted on fear and dread by the populace of being targeted by terrorists in order to lead the nation to a needless war. A war which has cost the nation more blood and treasure than were taken from us by the terrorists in the initial attack for which the wrong headed war is supposedly a response. The neocons are fond of repeatedly saying "but we haven't been hit since 9/11 so we must be doing something right." Try telling that to the family of Spc. Donald M. Young, 19 years old of Helena Montana, who died Monday from an ied in Baghdad. Try telling the family of Spc. Christopher T. Neiberger, 22, of Gainesville, Florida, killed by an ied in Baghdad, that we have not been hit since 9/11. There are roughly 3,700 families of dead service members who each have a story about how they have been affected by a loved one being killed after 9/11. Tell the tens of thousands of maimed and limbless returning from Iraq and facing lifetimes of pain and suffering that we haven't been hit since 9/11. Or the members of our reserves who signed up for 2 weekends a year but who wake up screaming from the nightmares of what they have seen in this God forsaken war... try telling these people we haven't been hit since 9/11.

So yes... the America I grew up in changed dramatically after 9/11. It is not the America I once lived in. Me and those who hold my opinions are doing our best to get the nation back on track, but I believe another 9/11 would accelerate the downward slide of the nation rather than helping to bring about the restoration of the nation I love.

I actually have no reason to believe that what Bykofsky wishes for would not occur. The nation would unite after another 9/11. We would unite and support the President using that unity to further erode the constitution and fundamental ideals of America. We would allow fear to again stampede us into military adventurism, and into voting for the most bellicose and thoughtless politicians who promise to support the Presidents agenda. All of this is the antithesis of the America you and I once lived in.

I suppose what it boils down to is whether or not you believe all of us running in lemming like fashion over a cliff out of fear is good for America. We may be united as we trash the fundamental ideals of the nation, but is that really saving America? So I think Bykovsky is partly right, in that we would unite, but wrong in thinking it would save America. Another 9/11 would accelerate our destruction.

Friday, August 10, 2007

This Type Of Thinking Really Mystifies Me

The AP has a report on the problems faced by the immigrant family members of service members who are fighting in Iraq.

The thought of the men and women serving in Iraq who daily risk their lives while having to fret and worry about having a loved being deported frankly riles me up. Simply based upon the need to keep our service members mentally focused and able to concentrate on their own and their comrades survival, this nation ought to grant automatic citizenship to these service members and to their spouses. I really wonder why there is even a debate about this.

But one paragraph of the story just has me entirely mystified. That paragraph reads:
Supporters of tighter immigration controls say giving the relatives of service members a free pass would only create an incentive for immigrants to enlist to legalize undocumented family members. They also oppose narrow solutions addressed at individual cases like that of Yaderlin Jimenez.
Erm... yeah... giving family members a break would create an incentive for immigrants to enlist. Is there a problem with that? Are these "supporters of tighter immigration controls" human beings or interstellar space aliens from planet Dunderhead?! I mean seriously... being all hostile to illegal immigrants is bad enough, but when you let that color your view of the families of the men and women fighting for America you have got a major psychological problem from my point of view. Not only should we give the family of military members a break... we should be freaking happy to do it. In fact that should be a great recruitment tool for filling the ranks of our overstretched military. Maybe then we could break up some of these repeated fourteen month rotations.

And exactly what is wrong with "only giving immigrants an incentive to enlist"?! I mean thats like saying that if I were to find a million dollars I would "only" buy a house and live happily ever after. This is yet another instance in which I don't get the mindset I suppose. To me the use of the word "only" in the context it's used in is just strange.

The particular case mentioned in that paragraph is very instructive of the absolute heartlessness of these "supporters of tighter immigration controls". I previously wrote a post on this case, but here is a brief recap. Yaderlin Jimenez illegally entered the states from the Dominican Republic in 2001. In 2004 she married Alex Jimenez who in turn joined the military and was sent to Iraq. He petitioned to have her status legalized while in Iraq which caused her to come to the attention of immigration officials, who promptly started trying to deport her.

Alex was a member of the team of five soldiers who were attacked in Iraq, resulting in two of his teams members being killed outright, with the remaining three being captured. One of those captured was later found dead near the Tigris river. Alex is still missing in Iraq.

The "supporters of tighter immigration controls" think it is somehow wrong for the government to cut this missing soldiers wife a break! I mean how absolutely heartless and inhuman... unpatriotic and downright wrong headed can you possibly be? How much do you have to hate illegal immigrants to hold a position against providing "narrow solutions addressed at individual cases like that of Yaderlin Jimenez" whose husband is being held prisoner in Iraq, unless he's already been tortured to death. These cads would like to see her already unimaginable grief and trouble added to by having Yaderlin deported. They want to literally add insult to injury for the spouse of a missing soldier. I think these immigration nazi's are pathetic actually!

Do you see why that type of thinking mystifies me? I mean am I alone on this? I can not begin to comprehend the depths of hatred and absolute inhumanity it would take to know the story of Yaderlin and not wish for her to have the best life she can have in the nation her husband has possibly given the last measure of devotion to. Seriously... I can't even begin to imagine the mindset of someone that would like to have Yaderlin deported at this stage of her life. For these "supporters of tighter immigration controls" I have one word: Shame!

Friks Top Ten Takes On Republican Purple Fingers

Raw Story is reporting on the decision by the Republican party to have voters in the upcoming Ames straw poll dip their thumbs in the same brand of indelible ink as the Iraqi's did during the 2005 national election in Iraq. Note that the ink being used is provided by a Canadian manufacturer.

The more I thought about this story, the more I realized there were several observations I had on this ploy which I would love to share with the world. So without further ado, here are bhfrik's top ten observations on the Republicans use of indelible ink in the Ames Straw Poll.

10: What do the Republicans have against American ink manufacturers anyway?
9: To really draw a parallel between Ames and Baghdad lets have the voters run a gauntlet of snipers and car bombs to get to the polls.
8: This is a GREAT idea for Republicans nationwide. That way the rest of us know who to point and laugh at.
7: The most appropriate symbology Republicans could give for what they've done to America and Iraq would be to dye and then prominently display their middle fingers.
6: I'm confused... Does this mean the Iowa Republicans are predominantly Kurdish, Shiite or Sunni?
5: Just wow... now the brain dead Republicans actually want to remind America about Iraq?
4: After voting, run to your fav campaign headquarters and join the Giuliani-Romney militia-deathsquad!
3: Purple? Why do Republicans hate Red White and Blue?!
2: With Ames being deluged by Republicans, having them dye their fingers should make it easier for the Ames Police Department to solve most of the cases in this weekends crime wave.
And Friks number one observation on Republican purple fingers in this weekends Ames Straw poll is... *** drumroll***
1: Now gung ho Republicans show support for the Iraq war by... staining a finger. Will they ever show support by signing up and actually fighting over there?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bush: See No Reality, Hear No Reality

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in Iran holding meetings on the security situation in Iraq. Maliki met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in what the A.P. describes as a warm meeting, with the leaders walking hand in hand.

President Bush held a news conference (because the best way to recover from the widespread perception that the President is an incompetent congenital liar is to have him butcher the language while repeatedly lying) and was asked about the reports that Maliki and Ahmadinejad were swooning over each other in Tehran. Here is the exchange:
Thank you, Mr. President. I'd like to pivot off of what you were talking about earlier, with Prime Minister Maliki's visit to Iran. Reports out of Iran today, out of Iran, say that Prime Minister Maliki told President Ahmadinejad that he appreciated Iran's positive and constructive stance. The pictures from the visit are very warm. I'm wondering, do you and your Iraqi counterparts see eye-to-eye on Iran, and what kind of message do those images send to your allies in the region and Americans who are skeptical about the Prime Minister's role?

THE PRESIDENT: Jim, I haven't seen the reports. Before I would like to comment upon how their meetings went, I would like to get a readout from our embassy, who of course will be in touch with the Prime Minister, and get his readout. And so it's a -- you're asking me to be a little speculative on the subject. I haven't seen the picture.

Look, generally the way these things work is you try to be cordial to the person you're with, and so you don't want the picture to be kind of, you know, ducking it out. Okay, put up your dukes. That's an old boxing expression. (Laughter.)

Q Once more, please?

THE PRESIDENT: And so, I don't know, Jim. You've obviously followed this a lot -- you've seen the reports. I'm sure you're confident that what you've asked me is verifiable. I'm not surprised that there's a picture showing people smiling.

Q However --

THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish, please. And so it's a -- anyway, let me get the facts on what happened. Now if the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart-to-heart with my friend, the Prime Minister, because I don't believe they are constructive. I don't think he, in his heart of heart, thinks they're constructive, either. Now maybe he's hopeful in trying to get them to be constructive by laying out a positive picture. You're asking me to speculate.
I wonder if the report which will supply the President with his information on the Maliki trip to Iran will actually delve into the facts which are deemed to cast Iran in a positive light. Even if the embassy's report does include those details in the original document what are the chances that those tid bits survive the Vice Presidents perusal before being forwarded to the President. I'm not speaking our of any certain knowledge regarding this particular report mind you... this is only based upon what we know about past examples of the flow of information to the President. It may well be the case that Bush has not, or will not, actually read independent news accounts of this meeting and the only information he gets would be filtered to reflect a situation which is not actually true.

Also, how is it that the President seems to accept the premise of the question, yet assures us that he knows Maliki, in his heart of hearts, is actually supportive of Bush's view of the issue? Yet again we can look to past experience to see that Maliki is closely aligned with Iran, and dismissive of American claims against Iran. It would be difficult to imagine that suddenly Maliki is seeing things our way, based solely upon the word of one of the most dishonest and disdained Presidents in American history. Especially when we have the photographic evidence which Bush is careful to avoid seeing himself. We are left with the question: Who do you believe... George Bush, who has demonstrated himself to be dishonest on a repeated basis, or your own freaking eyes?!

Jeremy Falcone For 2009 White House Website Administrator

[H/T Suburban Guerrilla]
Click on the title to this post for a link to a website which reads as follows:

Al Gore is Running for President.
Because it was time to stop begging.

Dear Al,

Can I call you Al? (I'm picturing you saying, "You can call me Al." and then us chuckling over the clever Paul Simon joke).

Al, the love-ins are over.

No more Oscars. No more Leonardo DiCaprio kissing your butt. No more Time Magazine back-scratching. No more pretty, graphically pleasing websites begging you to run.

Clearly, none of this has worked. It's time for a new tactic.

This time, we're just telling you that you're running.

That's right. The option really isn't yours anymore. We've decided.

You're a candidate for President in 2008.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Please start preparing a platform.



Site created by Jeremy Falcone. Not affiliated with Al Gore, Hill-dawg, Sammy Davis, Jr., or anyone else.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Republicans Should Invoke The Sex Scandal Mercy Rule

This weeks Sexual Degenerate Republican Leader Scandal is brought to us by the national leader of the Young Republican National Federation. This is the same group that brought the nation the SDRLS a couple of weeks ago, when the Michigan chair of the group plead guilty to raping a college student he lured to his room. In an especially Republican take on the issue in this particular case, after the victim reported the rape to police the rapist and his followers in the Republican organization publicized the victims name and started a smear campaign against her.

This weeks Republican perv is Glenn Murphy, who was elected the national leader of the Young Republican National Federation only last month. Murphy is charged with... forcing fellatio upon a male acquaintance who was passed out on the floor. When the victim awoke in what must have been one of the most awkward moments imaginable to humankind, his red blooded hetero sense of loathing led him to file charges against his Republican benefactor/antagonist.

Oddly enough, Murphy was accused of precisely the same charge involving another sleeping male victim in 1998!

Just to heap on the embarrassment, Murphy sent an email around which explained his resignation from the Young Republican National Federation as the culmination of a business deal which conflicted with his new found political position. The letter even goes into great detail about Murphy sitting down with his family over the weekend and reaching a heart wrenching decision in a tough choice between the leadership of the Young Republican National Federation (I honestly cant fit that title into this post too many times) or a great business opportunity. So Murphy actually invokes family values in describing how he came to resign his position at the Young Republican National Federation. How freaking typical!

How many perverts in Republican leadership positions have come to light in the last several weeks? Is there even one Democrat who's been caught with his pants around his ankles, or his mouth around inappropriate objects in the last year or two? Just which party is it that stands for family values again?

In many amateur and high schools sports leagues if one side is getting trounced by a big enough score, the game is called on the mercy rule. Right now, by my rough estimate... the Democrats are beating the Republicans by about 10 to 0. Just to quickly run those down: Republicans 10, Murphy as described above, 9, State Representative and Florida McCain campaign co chair Bob Allen for offering to pay to perform fellatio on an undercover cop in a public restroom, 8: Michigan chair of the Young Republican National Federation Michael Flory for pleading guilty to raping a college student, 7, Senator David Vitter for hiring prostitutes, 6, Matt Sanchez for being a gay porn star prior to finding a niche amongst conservative koolaid drinkers as aggrieved college Marine, 5, Ted Klaudt of South Dakota for pedophilia with his own foster kids, 4, this ones a bit outdated, but Jeff Gannon, right wing mouthpiece and soft ball lobber at White House press conferences being a gay escort is one of my personal favorites, 3, Ted Haggard for not walking the talk he preached, 2: Mark Foley, enough said, and 1: Most of the GOP Presidential field with the notable exception of Mitt Romney for marrying mistresses after divorcing wife number one, and in some cases wife two as well.

If you google Republican sex scandal you can find many many topical sites, with links to news stories on minor and major league Republican players around the nation accused of some of the most vile practices imaginable. Google Democrat sex scandal and you inevitably find site after site dedicated to 20 year old scandals with Gary Studs, Barney Frank and... oh yeah... BILL CLINTON!!

The recent and pertinent record is clear. It is too bad the Republicans can not invoke the mercy rule and just have the game declared over so they can try to put this behind them. I know that putting it behind them may be taken for an unfortunate pun, but oh well.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Adding My Pipsqueak Warble To The Choir Of Lefties

Ever since last Saturday the entire lefty blogosphere has been in full cry at the FISA amendments passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. This post is my attempt to add a tiny amount of volume to the chorus of dismay.

I'm not mad at "Democrats". I'm mad at the spineless Democrats who continuously vote for the wrong headed laws which President Bush insists he must have. These are the Democrats who knuckled under when Bush wanted another blank check which funded more troops in Iraq than were there when the Democrats took control of Congress.

I think the Democratic party needs the same shake up that Congress received in 2006. We need to dump the people who have enabled Bush in shepherding this nation into quagmire and looming dictatorship. In the 2006 midterms the targets were Republicans. In 2008 I would love to see Democrats in Congress who routinely vote to support Bush policies challenged by primary opponents who make an issue of those votes.

I frankly do not understand the timidity of these knuckle under Dems. The President's approval rating is in the upper 20's, the Republicans have been booted from office and Congressional approval under Democratic leadership is plummeting BECAUSE they won't stop Bush. Get a clue folks! The Republicans were not washed out of office by a tidal wave of satisfaction with Bush policies. It is your JOB to fight this abomination of a President. That is what you were elected to do!

The FISA fix is one of the worst capitulations in the history of politics. Dealing from a position of enormous strength, with the populace clearly wanting the President checked the Democrats surrendered. Facing down a President with unpopularity that has not been matched by any other President except Richard Nixon in the final week of his Presidency, over a program which is blatantly unconstitutional and illegal, the spineless Democrats caved in! WHY?! Because they were scared that another terrorist attack might happen and they would be tarred. Even though 9/11 happened on Bush's watch, Democrats are scared he will bad mouth them.

What it really comes down to is that a sizable group of Congressional Democrats truly are spineless wimps who can't bear the thought of Republicans smearing them... even though that is what Republicans do time and again regardless of the lack of factual basis in the smear.

Let me wrap this up with the acknowledgement that this does not apply to all Democrats by a long shot. Most Democrats voted against the FISA fix. Most Democrats voted against the blank check for continuing the Iraq war. Most Democrats are doing their best to fight back, but they can't get past the Republicans allied with the spineless Dems.

This is a theme people who see things like me should make a rallying cry in the upcoming primary. Do not vote for a spineless Democrat.

P.S. Oregon Republican Gordon Smith voted to pass the law. Senator Ron Wyden voted nay. Smith may want to portray himself as the maverick Republican by making noise against the Iraq war, but it is votes like this that demonstrate why he needs to be replaced. Smith knows being tied to Bush in 2008 is the death knell for his Senate seat so he desperately would like to be perceived as independent from the Republican machine. But votes like this are the true measure of Smith, and as is typical he has voted to support Bush yet again.

Monday, August 06, 2007

We Never Could Have Imagined ( PDB blogswarm )

August 6 is a date which will not go down in history. There will be no future days of remembrance or solemn occasions designed to mark the passing of a notable anniversary. August 6 is more likely to be remembered for the date that Lyndon Johnson signed the voting rights law into force than nearly any other notable event. Yet August 6 should be a solemn day, set aside for national consderation of obvious yet unrecognized truth as I will propose in due order.

August 6 2001 is the date that President George Bush was given a briefing titled "Bin Laden, Determined To Strike In U.S." When the briefer finished the presentation, this was the reaction of President Bush as reported by Ron Suskind: "All right," he [Bush] said. "You've covered your ass, now."

On May 16 2002, then national security advisor Condoleeza Rice told a congressional panel:
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people . . . would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile,"
In case the reader doesn't know this, the August 6 briefing included many aspects of the 09/11 plot, including hijacking airliners etc... It seems to me that there are many many things that have happened since August 06 2001 that no one could ever have predicted, even if you were given a briefing before the event occurred.

Imagine your reaction if someone gave you a memo in the summer of 2001 titled: George Bush: Determined To Blatantly Break The Law. The memo would detail how the President of the United States was breaking the FISA law. The memo would also detail that if this law breaking were to become public knowledge not only would the President continue doing it, he would be defiant in announcing his intention to continue breaking the law.

In the summer of 2001, such a briefing would have been considered far fetched and not believable to the average voter. Yet, much as the August 6 Bush memo used past experience in accurately picking possible targets and tactics, the voters were given a precursor to President Bush's attitude on the constitution before he even took office. He came to power by insisting that votes not be counted, relying upon a dubious decision by a partisan court to give him legitimacy he did not earn at the ballot box. Bush's very first actions after the election demonstrated a lack of regard for the rule of law. The Supreme court ruled against the state courts in a breathtaking example of judicial activism which relied upon dubious legal principle while insuring that the winner of the popular vote and the rightful winner of the Florida delegates would be sent to private life. We saw the care given by Bush and his team to constitutional principle when those principles stand in the way from the very beginning, yet we never could have imagined coming to the point we are at today if we were told about it in the summer of 2001.

In the summer of 2001, we never could have imagined the time when America would implement a systematic regime of torture for people we suspected of being terrorists. Yet President Bush had a record which demonstrated an extremely callous attitude for prisoners while he was governor of Texas. Bush famously mocked the plight of Karla Faye Tucker in an interview with Tucker Carlson as reported by the New York Review Of Books:
Carlson asked Bush if he had met with any of the petitioners and was surprised when Bush whipped around, stared at him, and snapped, "No, I didn't meet with any of them." Carlson, who until that moment had admired Bush, said that Bush's curt response made him feel as if he had just asked "the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed." Bush went on to tell him that he had also refused to meet Larry King when he came to Texas to interview Tucker but had watched the interview on television. King, Bush said, asked Tucker difficult questions, such as "What would you say to Governor Bush?"

What did Tucker answer? Carlson asked.

"Please," Bush whimpered, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "please, don't kill me."

Carlson was shocked.
The New York Review of Books article linked above also draws the parallel between Alberto Gonzales' systematic neglect of any mitigating circumstance when presenting clemency pleas to Governor Bush and Gonzales' later repudiation of the Geneva conventions as quaint. When the administration made the determination that the Geneva conventions were no longer the guiding principle for our conduct with prisoners that was the first step on a very dark and dishonorable path. The path tred by the monsters of history and the dictators of our time. Gonzales showed his colors in the Texas governors office, yet we would never have believed it in the summer of 2001.

There is a verifiable and repeated history of the most callous and uncaring behavior, both from Governor Bush and Alberto Gonzales for prisoners when Bush ran the Governors office. Yet if the typical voter were told in the summer of 2001 that America would soon institute a systematic program (that's a must read story btw) for torturing people who were suspected of wanting to attack America (not even convicted mind you... simply suspected) that voter would most likely have scoffed at the thought of it.

There are so many other examples of unthinkables pre-911 which have become our norm under this administration. Who could have imagined that the man who would cause the deaths of 3000 Americans would be free six years later, but the dictator of Baghdad who had nothing whatsoever to do with the plot would swing on a rope, largely because of him being connected to the attack? Who would have believed in August of 2001 that the President was being snide to a CIA briefer as he was being warned that Osama Bin Laden wanted to hit America, or that the National Security Advisor would one day very shortly say that no on could have imagined them using planes as missles?

So the signs were there for everybody concerned. The administration ignored the warnings and let disaster befall the nation, and somehow the voters of this nation ignored the warnings and also let disaster befall America.

We should make August 6 a holiday and call it National Awareness Day. Not awareness as in let's spy on each other and be suspicious and hostile. Awareness as in let us as a nation take a moment to try to see that which is obvious and right in front of our noses.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hey Lefty Blogger Folks... I Love You Man!! (Not Y Kos Related)

So I'm doing my typical bopping about the intertubes and I have come across the perfect dichotamy between the vibrant ever changing and highly entertaining lefty blogosphere, and the old, dead, dried and crusty, ho hum MSM.

First, one of the sites the I make a point of regularly visiting is the Huffington Post. To be honest I don't get a lot of news from Huffpo, but I have found them to be a great base from which to launch about other sites of interest to me. Well Huffpo has a headline up reading "Bush Overruled Own Spy Chief To Nix Deal With Dems", which in turn links to Talking Points Memo.

TPM is another site I visit on a regular basis. They have been front and center on the Justice Department scandals since well before the entire affair was a blip on the MSM radar. Now they routinely get inside scoops from great sources and quite often you will see a story splash on TPM one day and be carried by the mainstream news the next. I suspect today will be one such example.

From my perspective this is just a microcosm of the liveliness and vibrancy of the lefty blogosphere. Heres another little bit of an example. I just got a Gmail from Blue Gal trying to help another blogger initiate a blog swarm next Monday, Aug. 6. In case that date doesn't ring a bell, that is the anniversary of the famous Presidential daily briefing titled "Osama Bin Laden, Determined To Strike In U.S".

So you see that my impression of my lefty blogging buds, both bigtime and not so big time (but B/G is breaking out bigtime) is such that I feel motivated. It really is a joy linking around and taking all this in, always wondering what the next link will load... and in an admittedly very small way being a cog in it all.

So then I bop over to MSNBC, and I'm confronted head on by several reminders of exactly why I so dislike the so called mainstream media these days. Their front page at the time was dedicated to losses in the stock market. Ask me which interests me more... The President over riding his own spy chief in order to try to score cheap political points on an issue which both sides agree needs to be resolved for national security... or a set back in the stock market? I think you probably know the answer to that.

Then, just to top it off, I link over to the MSNBC political section and see a banner picture of Senator Ted Stevens, with a large headline in prominent display which reads: "Stevens May Have Violated Law".

Well... DUH! I mean there must have been a reason the freaking FBI searched his residence. I mean judges don't typically just pass out search warrants on U.S. Senators just for no apparent reason. Of COURSE "Stevens May Have Violated Law".

Actually the story goes into yet another aspect of the law which Stevens may have broken: paying a personal employee from Senate funds. The headline should read Stevens May Have Violated Other Laws"!

And the weird part of this is that MSNBC is about the least objectionable MSM outlet going right now! I'm not looking to pick on them. In fact maybe it's because they are the least objectionable that I find cause to object to them more than the other MSM's out there: because I spend more time at MSNBC, and therefore have more occassion to pick on them than the other folks.

But the juxtaposition could not be clearer. TPM has a fresh, hot and very interesting piece of breaking news... and the MSM is breaking out the yawns and making me want to pull my hair out. Blue Gal wants me to write a story on something which I find very interesting, and the MSM wants to put me to sleep. I only check in with the MSM out of a sense of duty... just to see what they are reporting on.

So to my brothers and sisters in arms in the lefty blogosphere who keep me so entertained daily, with informational and motivational post's, I just want to give a big thank you for doing what you do so well. I'll see you at the blogswarm on Monday!

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