To All You Mothers Out There

(And you know who you are....)

Happy Mother's Day. But don't forget to check out the historical piece mentioned/linked in this post.

Franks: Kill 'Em

From another New York Daily News column (Rush and Malloy):

    Gen. Tommy Franks is hoping for the best, but planning for the worst in Iraq.
    Franks, who retired last year after heading up Operation Iraqi Freedom, is all for bringing in Iraqi troops to root out insurgents in Fallujah.

    But what if those Iraqi troops side with the insurgents?

    "If they aren't true to our cause, we'll kill 'em," Franks told us at a Vanity Fair party the other night.

No Beating Around the Bush

From Lloyd Grove's column in the NY Daily News:

    Nobody needs to tell Kurt Vonnegut to stop beating around the Bush.
    "They're adroit criminals," the 81-year-old literary lion labeled President Bush and his underlings while riding in a taxi with Lowdown's Hudson Morgan to Wednesday night's 27th anniversary party for In These Times, the paleoliberal magazine.

    "They're committing war crimes - attacking a country that hasn't attacked us. Pretending it had. And torturing prisoners and filling countless graves with dead Iraqis. But adroit, sure. Al Capone was adroit."

    The pop-culture icon added dismissively: "I don't care how Bush does, because I don't believe him. He believes himself, and that's what is quite terrifying."

    As for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, they're the ones "who allowed this torture to go on, kept it secret since January. These are war crimes," Vonnegut said. "I dealt with prisoners when I was a soldier. We sure didn't torture them - we were well aware of the Geneva Convention. I myself became a prisoner" of the Germans as an Army corporal in Dresden during World War II.

    "It's my country, not theirs," he continued lashing the Bushies. "And they've trashed the reputation of Americans. ... It's possible to destroy a great civilization. Bush and those people have no love for it at all."

    Vonnegut - the author of "Slaughterhouse-Five," "Cat's Cradle" and "Breakfast of Champions" - has been penning polemics for In These Times and is hoping to produce another novel.

    "I've taken an advance. But now is not the time for a novel, is what Samuel Goldwyn would have said. If you have a message, send a telegram. And it's time to send telegrams right now."

    What he'd really like to do is be an analyst on CNN. "What I want is - they've got all these generals and stuff and military retired consultants to CNN and so forth, I want 'em to have a retired corporal - me!"

    He sure won't mince words.

VA Hospital Reorganization

I find it a tad scary that this administration is "committed" to restructuring the Veterans Administration hospital system. Granted, the system direly needs help, but the Bush Administration has cut GI and vet benefits right and left while waving the flag wildly.

Our vets deserve better than they get. There were promises made that are not being fulfilled.

Army Saves No

Men who jumped into Normandy 60 years ago have had the Army say no to their efforts to make a commemmorative 60th year jump again. The Army says they're too old. Interestingly enough, France does not appear to have been consulted... at least, not referenced in this article.

Hey, if they want to jump and France allows it, let 'em jump. They know the risks. Some of them did it 10 years ago for a 50th anniversary (when some of them purportedly landed on cows). What business is it of the Army's?

Of course, Rumsfeld is looking for more warm bodies to send to Iraq. He's just as apt to refuse this request then turn around and draft them.

The Irony

John Gotti's son, who appeared to be very happy to profit from his "Teflon Don" Dad's income and business connections and last name in the past, is now alleging the federal government is discriminating against him because of his last name by not allowing him to move to a halfway house from prison.

How dare the government keep him in jail for all 6 years and 5 months of his sentence on racketeering? Da nohve a dese people.

Strange Case of Morning-After Pill Rejection

From The Times. The argument offered is that young girls may be more likely to have sex with such a pill available. But - just as the article indicates - we don't stop release of anti-cholesterol drugs on the theory that people may use it as an excuse to eat more cheeseburgers.

Once again, this administration is running roughshod over the bodies of women.

Judge: No More Children

A Rochester couple has been ordered by the court not to have any more children.

If only someone had ordered that for George H.W. and Barbara Bush, we would have been spared Jeb, Neil, and George W., saving hundreds if not thousands of lives, saving the taxpayers billions of dollars, and saving something of our respect throughout the entire world.

Ted Rall

I've avoided this topic because it's been an uncomfortable one, but here goes.

Last week (I believe... you can probably locate the cartoon in his archives at http://www.ucomics.com/rallcom/), Ted Rall published a cartoon about Pat Tillman, the former pro ball player who died recently in the war.

While Ted and I share some similar views on various important points - at least so far as I can tell from his cartoons, columns, and speaking engagements - I found the Tillman cartoon extremely disquieting and felt I could understand why some were outraged. It depicted Tillman less as a hero (and man, that term gets used and abused so much today) than as a pawn in a miserable war where we're fighting civilians with 500-lb bombs and worse.

However, there's some truth in that cartoon. I might not personally feel right in mocking what Tillman felt he could accomplish, but we are conducting a war that is grossly unfair (just in terms of money and fire power, let alone dozens of other points of inequity) and Bush and his cronies have inflated this whole war phenomenon to inspire people like Tillman to join up.

The truth, as they say, sometimes hurts.

About Mother's Day

As we all flock to buy the candy, the flowers, the nice cards, spend a few minutes educating yourself about how Mother's Day began with this piece by Geoff Parrish. Thank you, Julia Howe.

Tomorrow, there will be mothers torn apart either grieving their dead soldiers or worried sick about the ones still in harm's way. Some of them will be American, some British, some Italian, some Russian, some Afghan, some Iraqi.

Oliver Willis Brings a Smile

Oliver Willis has a really cute piece up today about a right-wing singles' dating site:

    SWF, early-40s, are you into rail thin blondes with no conscience? Must enjoy hypocrisy, factual distortions and possess the ability to spew venom on demand. If you don't drink the kool-aid, don't respond.

    SWM, late-40s. I'm a barrel chested commentator who's into domination. Prefer milquetoast liberals without the ability to defend themselves. If you start your sentences with "you've got a point, Sean" then I think that's hot.

    SBM, 30s. So alone. So, so alone. I'm in a lot of Bush/Cheney pictures however.

    SWM, mid-50s. I'm into inaccurate political predictions, fact-free punditry and toe sucking. My idea of the perfect date is bashing Hillary Clinton until the sun comes up. She wants to be president, you know!

    SWM, late-50s. Me: a pill popping gas bag in love with my own voice. You: a narrow minded sheep with a total inability to think for yourself. I'll bring Excellence In Broadcasting, you'll bring an empty mind.

Happy uh.... Anniversary

On this day in 1792, the U.S. passed its first military draft.

And on or about this date in 1968, George W. Bush did everthing possible he could to avoid it. And his little pal, Dick, too. And Tom Delay. And a shitload of these ultra-righteous people always telling us what's good for America (which always translates into what's good for their own pockets and/or re-elections).


People like Kate O'Beirne and Tom DeLay and other mental miscreants have insisted that telling these tales of prisoner abuse will only kill more of our soldiers.

On some points of this, that could be true. But suddenly, we're hearing less of "10 killed here", "6 there", and so on. It's certainly not that US GI deaths have stopped. There have been fatalities in the past 10 days (on all sides). But the facts don't stand behind what the nimbots are saying.

I'm surprised by this. Sure, the US could just be hiding the figures, since there are relatively few journalists in Iraq who are not embedded and heavily vetted through the US military as to what they report. But it would be in the Bush Administration's only screwy self-interest to claim that the reports have driven up attacks on GIs (as a means to get the criticism to die down), while that appears not to be the case.

Not the Work of Renegade GIs

Josh Marshall points us to an article to appear in the U.K. Guardian stating flatly that what we're seeing with the Iraqi detainee abuse has been specifically taught to military intelligence and special forces units. This increases the likelihood that these soldiers weren't just dreaming up abuse on their own and meting it out.

On the same page, Josh reminds us (and it's one I've thought about repeatedly in the last 10 days) of the prisoner abuse right here at home. In fact, we shipped a few people terminated for masterminding prisoner abuse over to Iraq to "help".

You Know it's Bad

When you spent so much of the day hearing about what worse things are yet to be revealed about Iraq that you stay up until 4 AM reading Joseph Campbell's "The Power of Myth" just to try to scrub the brain. I should say rereading, because my Campbell books are usually somewhere I can pick them up quickly.

For those who may not be familiar with the late Joseph Campbell, his work is just delightful, weaving adeptly through a tapestry of symbols and myths and common stories shared by wildy different cultures. And despite what ever horrible tale he might have to tell here or there, he always sounds so damned optimistic, that our power as humans is NOT derived from an ability to prevent the terrible from happening, but from enjoying the power of good and joy when it is witnessed. Those moments may seem slim and far apart, Campbell writes, but they are there to be embraced.


Dick Meyers Makes His Point

From CBS News online:

    There is one proud and satisfied place where the pictures and accounts of the abuse endured by some prisoners at Abu Ghraib cause no consternation and no outrage: Rush Limbaugh's America, pop. 20 million.

    Here's Rush's take, from his Website:

    "I'm sorry, folks. I'm sorry. Somebody has to provide a little levity here. This is not as serious as everybody is making it out to be. My gosh, we're all wringing our hands here. We act like, 'Okay let's just die,' you know? 'Let's just give up. What can we do to make these people feel better? Let's just pull out of there, and let's just go. Let's just become a neutral country. Let's just do that.' I mean, it's ridiculous. It's outrageous what's happening here, and it's not -- and it's not because I'm out of touch; it's because I am in touch, folks, that I can understand. This is a pure, media-generated story. I'm not saying it didn't happen; I'm [not] saying the pictures aren't there, but this is being given more life than the Waco invasion got. This is being given more life than almost -- it's almost become an Oklahoma City-type thing. One more Bush sound bite, and the president continued explaining how real democracy works here."

As Jay Leno said tonight of Rush Limbaugh, "What's the matter? Is this man on drugs?" Heh.

Cooks and Truck Drivers as Iraqi Interrogators

From the UK's ">Guardian yesterday:

    Many of the prisoners abused at the Abu Ghraib prison were innocent Iraqis picked up at random by US troops, and incarcerated by under-qualified intelligence officers, a former US interrogator from the notorious jail told the Guardian.
    Torin Nelson, who served as a military intelligence officer at Guantánamo Bay before moving to Abu Ghraib as a private contractor last year, blamed the abuses on a failure of command in US military intelligence and an over-reliance on private firms. He alleged that those companies were so anxious to meet the demand for their services that they sent "cooks and truck drivers" to work as interrogators.

Can you fathom this? I can't.

Poll at Left

My apologies; I've gotten notes from a few of you that you've had difficulty voting in the poll I added (at left) today.

While it seems to be working well on my end, it doesn't load on another machine. I'll try to check it out over the weekend.

Lynndie England

She's the petite woman we see holding a lit cigarette in the vicinity of a prisoner's privates as well as walking a prone Iraqi detainee on a leash.

Her family came out today to beg the public not to judge her. They say those pictures were posed and don't truly represent her. I feel for the family, I do, just as I feel for other families of the people identified in this mess so far.

I suspect, however, that the families of the detainees she treated this way would also argue to see their loved ones as real humans, and not just someone the US has labeled worthy of detainment.

One of the worst parts of the England story, IMHO, is that her job is strictly administrative. She had no reason to be back there palling around with the guards and interacting thusly with the prisoners, from reports I've heard and read. So we have a woman who chose, for whatever reason, to participate well past her job description, and no good explanation why...unless you happen to be devotees of either the Milgram or Zimbardo experiments on captor-prisoner relationships.

Hearty Recommendation

For those who may not yet have read Paul Krugman's "The Great Unraveling", I'd recommend you beg/buy/borrow a copy. It's not fun reading, but it's an insightful analysis of what's been happening to the U.S. Krugman, for those who don't follow him, is an economist as well as a Times columnist.

What's Worse

Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay may view the current batch of Iraqi photos like nothing more than common garden variety porn and frat party stuff, but according to MSNBC and Rumsfeld's testimony today, what we haven't seen makes these pictures pale in comparison. For example:

    American soldiers looking on while Iraqi soldiers rape young children
    Rapes of adult prisoners by American guards and others
    Beatings to the point of death (and here, just the ones caught by camera)
    Bodies of those who succombed to abuse
    Full blown torture

Ever Helpful CNN

CNN, ever trying to be as helpful as possible to an administration that proves itself again and again no friend of the American people, seems to have a constant theme today: haven't the pictures of Iraqi abuse been overblown by the media?

This joins the many other great CNN suggestions like:

    1) How can this president possibly lose in 2004?
    2) Isn't it time to force Howard Dean out?
    3) Isn't John Kerry as exciting oatmeal?
    4) How can the Iraqi people - even with these stories of abuse - possibly distrust the good intentions of the American people?

And don't forget:

    5) How can our Wolf Blitzer be more of a whore to this White House?

Color-Coded Rumsfeld

Wonkette points us to this color-coded Rumsfeld uh... job future.... chart by the Daily Gusto blog.

A Little Here, a Little There

Over the past week or so, I've been striving to add some additional great resources to the various compilations you'll find at left, including MediaMatters.org (the new David Brock well-funded enterprise to reply to wingnut attacks), The Daily Cookie (oft recommended by the great Skippy and now we see why), the funny Mad Kane, including her infamous Dubya's Dayly Diaries, the Democratic Congressional Caucus Campaign, and a slightly left-of-right Bush2004 site.

If you see glaring omissions, drop me a note. I'm always looking for another good site to visit ... and many of you seem to be as well. Nor do I discriminate against moderate or conservative sites (there are just too few of them, IMHO). However, it seems like everytime I start to add one to my links, they come out with a headline blaming Clinton for teenage pregnancy or Rush's drug problem.

Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Thanks to the ad on Atrios, I've just signed up to volunteer for Bernie Sanders' campaign to win another term as Vermont's sole Rep. Bernie's been good to the people of Vermont, and he's been a clear voice against some of the Patriot Act/Ashcroft/secrecy abuses. The one time I asked Mr. Sanders for help, I got a call almost immediately. That's representative government.

Who's to Blame?

Women, of course.

Forcing the poor military to take women is the root of the problem in Iraq say great minds like Ann Coulter and to a lesser degree, Linda Chavez, and the regular whacko conservabots they send out when they don't want to make it appear that men are saying women are at fault.

One of the stories goes is that the woman most famously pictured in the Iraqi abuse pictures is a young woman who's pregnant by one of the GIs in the photo. Saith the neo-right, this is clear evidence that female hormones have made a mockery of This Man's Army and ruined it for the guys.

I dunno. I've traditionally worked mostly in male-centric industries and, to my knowledge, my hormones have not driven the men involved to torture.

Job Reports

Atrios covers today's job report:

    Employment report out. We'll look at it more detail later. But, so far so good - 288,000 new jobs in April. For those keeping score at home, that's still below the 306,000 average per month the Bush administration predicted would occur if their latest tax cut package passed. And, still below that 320,00 per month they were predicting last December.

    But, all in all it's good news for the job market. Though, we'll open up the box later and see just what those jobs were...

I'd feel more confident about this if every encouraging employment figure set wasn't massively but quietly reforecast downward two or three forgotten months later.

Newsday: Clean the Entire House

Newsday doesn't think we should stop at cleaning the American experience of Mr. Rumsfeld. They've got some additional suggestions:

    The long knives are out for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In the wake of the news about the abuse and torture of Iraqis detained at a notorious prison outside Baghdad, United States senators and even columnists for The New York Times are calling on President George W. Bush to give his defense secretary the heave-ho.

    The reality is that, if Bush is going to clean house, it makes no sense to stop with Rumsfeld. Considering how the Bush administration has made a mess of the situation in Iraq - from the wrong intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to the incredible lack of planning for the post-war situation to the entirely unnecessary alienation of allies - the whole national security team should be fired.

    It's just not Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz - and his deputy, Douglas Feith - it's also the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. They were wrong about the reasons for going to war; they were wrong about the danger of a terrorist attack before Sept. 11, 2001; they were wrong about how easy it would be to rebuild post-war Iraq, and they have been wrong about how Iraqis detained and imprisoned should be treated - not to mention denying U.S. citizens held in terrorism investigations their basic constitutional rights.

    And we're not even talking here about the No. 1 honcho on every aspect of the war: Vice President Dick Cheney. He can't be fired, of course. But why does he have to be on the Republican ticket come November? Then again, the last president to shake up his government in a dramatic fashion was Jimmy Carter, and look where it got him. Once you take the top people out, there is only one person left to blame.

    Bush, who has demonstrated unusual loyalty to his team, made it clear yesterday that, while he had criticized Rumsfeld publicly for not informing him of the pictures of the abused Iraqi detainees, he was not about to get rid of him. Maybe Bush is really angry about how Rumsfeld handled the prison matter. Or maybe he's just making a good show of separating himself from a situation that is not only going to hurt the United States' reputation in the Mideast, but hurt Bush's own re-election chances come November.

    Rumsfeld has plenty to answer for. In the private world he would be out of a job by now. But he's in the world of politics and it's an election year. Then again, we are all members of the board of directors, and we get to vote come November.

True Majority: "He's Got to Go"

To paraphrase an old protest chant, "Hey hey, ho ho. Donny Rumsfeld's got to go."

At least, that's what you may think if you go over to sign True Majority's petition to wave goodbye to The Scarier Donald.

Bushes to Skip Graduation

As a long-standing tradition in the Bush Administration showing a lack of reverence for education, Mr. Bush and his wife will skip the graduations of their twin daughters later this month.

Don't sweat it though: Barbara and Jenna (the daughters) skipped most of their four years at Yale and UofT respectively. Just too many parties, man.

Rumsfeld, Not a Bead of Sweat Showing

I have to grant Rumsfeld that he seems very cool throughout these open hearings on the Hill. From the so-called heckler (I prefer to think of her as a passionate member of the public who sent these dweebs up there) to John McCain's look of consternation, you'd think he was explaining why the Black Hawk helicopter should be black rather than pink.

FDA: No OTC Morning After Pill

In another measure designed to make the president's ultra-nut wingbase happy, CNN via AP reports this:

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government rejected over-the-counter sales of morning-after birth control Thursday, citing concern about young teenagers' use of the pills. But regulators left open the possibility they will reconsider.

    Proponents immediately accused the Food and Drug Administration of bowing to conservative political pressure -- noting that the agency had overruled its own scientific advisers, who had overwhelmingly called easier access to emergency contraception a safe way to prevent thousands of abortions.

Let's be sure that we can't even stop a pregnancy while it's still just a microscopic speck. After all, fat, old, women-chasing, white men are always the best judge of what a woman should do with her uterus.

The Onion on the Other Side of the Atlantic

The intrepid Skippy points us to .The Spoof, Britain's version - so to speak - of The Onion.

I was pleased to see from their breaking news headline that President Nixon is still dead. The last thing we need is him coming back right now. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the following picture with the headline: Rumsfeld Sacked.

More Vote YES

Regarding Mr. Rumseld's possible resignation, namely the cover of London's The Economist - I know, I know, you're thinking was a leftist liberal rag that must be - and this petition by the DCCC asking for your signature.


Did Rumsfeld or Congress Take Over FedEx?

I ask because I notice that the reason my overnight package did not arrive today is that someone at FedEx, in their wisdom, decided the best route between a package sent from New York to Vermont is via Newark, NJ and Memphis, TN. It then took more than a day to make it back up to East Boston to begin its three hour drive over.

Now, if history repeats itself, the package will sit in Williston, located on the other side of Boston from me, until sometime next week. Then they may send it over to St. Johnsbury, slightly closer to me than to East Boston, to have them drive an hour to deliver it.

I'm glad I paid all that extra for next day.

Warning: Truly Terrible Joke

I'm told - I got this second hand - that this is a cleaned up version of one on Colin Quinn tonight:

    Do the Iraqi people really have to choose between Saddam or sodomy?

We Hate Your T-Shirt; Off the Plane

A Southwest Airline pilot objected to a t-shirt (saying "Good Bush, Bad Bush") being worn by a passenger (a Republican passenger, btw), so he had the crew tell the passenger that unless he covered up the t-shirt, he would have to leave the plane. According to the passenger, however, although he offered no argument and buttoned up his overshirt to completely obscure the t-shirt, he and his wife were both removed from the plane once the passenger asked the crew to whom he could write and complain about the treatment.

"Get a Grip"

That's the comment from Neocon ne'er-do-well Frank Gaffney to the country (via Deborah Norville's MSNBC show) re: the Iraqi abuse scandal. He said it would have been worse if we'd actually seen any evidence of torture in these photographs or word of miserable death. The current pictures, he insists, really aren't that bad. Arabs go through this sort of thing every day, he adds.

But we do see torture and we're told from reports of some of the GIs involved that there were deaths. To this, I'd suggest Mr. Gaffney get a grip, and on more than his limp putter. Ahem.

Nope, I Didn't Miss it

No direct apology (Bush) ever happened (hell, we can't even say for sure he actually said it to Abdullah - he just says he said it), according to various news programs (MSNBC) and online news sites I've read. There's also word tonight that Rumsfeld was fully alert to this situation with prisoners more than two months ago (not just the Taguba Report he says is too thick to have read in two months but more) and rejected underlings attempts to get him to make it stop.

"Why Blame America First?"

No kidding, that's what Congressman J.D. Hayworth (R-Porcine) said about the Iraqi abuse scandal. Why should America always be blamed first by these Democrats?

Gee, I dunno, J.D. Should we blame Lithuania? How about Clinton? We can say Clinton made these GIs do this. Would that work for you? This way, no thought (mind you, I didn't say additional thought because it's clear you give as much attention to your work as a great, non-partisan people's representative as you do your svelte figure and your spiffy looking hairpiece) about the situation is required, like "America might be the one to blame because the officers are all identified as American, in a country occupied by America, and because America established itself as the governing and punishing authority under which these people live."

Please, J.D., leave the comedy to others. Go back to doing what you do best: being the poor man's less successful, more weight challenged Rush Limbaugh. Ass.

Rummy and George Don't Let Anything Get in the Way of a Party

While I often find Maureen Dowd a bit up-down, I have to say I agree with this one today:

    Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were swanning around in black tie at the White House Correspondents' dinner on Saturday night, mingling with le hack Washington and a speckling of shiny imports, like John Kerry's former Tinseltown gal-pal Morgan Fairchild, Ben Affleck, a Victoria's Secret model who was not Gisele and several "Apprentice" alumni who were not Omarosa.

    The Pentagon potentates seemed unburdened by the spreading storm kicked up by the torture pictures shown on "60 Minutes II" and about to appear in The New Yorker — the latest example of a dysfunctional and twisted occupation warped by arrogance over experience, ideology over common sense.

    When a beaming Mr. Wolfowitz stopped at my table to greet an admiring Republican, I wanted to snap, "Get back to your desk, Mr. Myopia from Utopia!" Shouldn't these woolly headed warriors burn the midnight Iraqi oil — long enough for Wolfie to learn the body count for dead American troops and for Rummy to read Gen. Antonio Taguba's whole report on "horrific abuses" at Abu Ghraib?

    Sure, the secretary of defense has had two months to read the report, but as he complained to Matt Lauer, it's awfully thick: "When I'm asked a question as to whether I've read the entire report, I answer honestly that I have not. It is a mountain of paper and investigative material." Goodness gracious, where is Evelyn Wood now that we need her?

    Can't the hawks who dragged us into this hideous unholy war at least pay attention to a crisis of American credibility that's exposing Iraq and the world to more dangers every day? For the defense chief and the president to party two nights in a row, Friday at Rummy's house and Saturday at the Washington Hilton, is, to borrow a Rummy line, "unhelpful in a fundamental way."

    President Bush also seemed in a buoyant mood on Saturday. But he might think about getting just a tad more involved so he doesn't have to first see on TV, as he clicks around between innings, the pictures sparking a huge worldwide, American-reputation-shattering military scandal. And so he doesn't keep nattering about how we had to go to war to close Iraq's torture chambers, when they are "really not shut down so much as under new management," as Jon Stewart drily put it.

    Most Republicans seemed in a "party on, Garth" mood, less concerned with Humpty Dumpty Iraq or Unjolly Green Giant John Kerry than with the unfairness of a world where Jeb Bush would probably not be able to succeed his brother. "By 2008," a wistful Republican fund-raiser said, "there'll probably be Bush fatigue."

    ...And Douglas Feith, the defense under secretary who was in charge of Iraqi postwar planning and the secret unit that furnished prêt-à-porter intelligence to back up Dick Cheney's doomsday scenarios, told conservatives that the administration might set up an office to plan postwar operations for future wars.

    Well, on the one hand, it would be refreshing to have a postwar plan. On the other: future wars???

Bush "Sorry"

I must have missed something again. The media is rushing to applaud Bush for saying he's sorry (finally) but I must have missed the apology to the Iraqi people.

What I heard - and granted, I could have missed a few of the president's words - was "sorry for the humiliation" spoken second-hand to King Abdullah of Jordan. This being his FIRST direct mention of a scandal that broke 8 nights ago. Where did he apologize to the Iraqi people directly? Where did he acknowledge torture and abuse?

I'm humiliated when someone says something offensive and patently untrue. But if I'm an elderly woman taken in with no charges filed, then ridden around a room by US soldiers, I'm MORE than humiliated. If I'm sodomized with a broomstick or chemical light stick, I'm MORE than humiliated. What about you?

At this point, I'm not even certain the president sees this as a problem at all. The world, after all, rotates around him.

American VP Idol

It's so nice to see that CNN has turned the choice of a VP candidate for Kerry into an American Idol voting process. Idiots.

Wait. Idiots doesn't even begin to do this justice.

Rumsfeld Stays

That's what the White House is telling us now in response to comments from many - the press points only to Democrats, but that's hardly true; only Tom DeLay and Rush Limbaugh think Abu Ghraib and beyond was less horrible than a fraternity initiation - calling for the consideration of Rumsfeld's resignation.

Personally, Rumsfeld doesn't operate in a vacuum of his own, although I'll freely say I think he operates within the overall vacuum that the entire Bush Administration seems to invoke. And Bush just now, in addressing the Rumsfeld issue, said, "he's been a really, really good secretary of defense." Boy, that's inspiring. Especially considering Rumsfeld's ass should have been grass when he just sat there and let a plane hit the Pentagon on 9/11/01.

But Rumsfeld isn't the only one who should resign over this. Culpability occurs both below and above Rumsfeld. And telling us Bush was really, really, really mad at Rumsfeld yesterday just sounded like teenage girls having a spat.

The Bush-Abdullah Post-Talk Speech

Boy, Bush seems totally out of it during the speech going on now. He's stumbling over every word, and has grimaced a few times when referring to the King of Jordan as "his highness" and "your majesty." Considering Abdullah pulled out of an earlier meeting, you'd think Bush could at least appear more prepared.

While the context is about Palestinians in regard to how much Bush butt-kissed Sharon during his last visit, I certainly would not - were I a Palestinian or Arab - feel any hope as part of this.

Abdullah, however, originally struck me as a poor replacement for his father. But he's so much more focused and organized than Bush (of course, Bush sets an extremely low bar but still--). His words make it clear that he's looking for more than Bush is willing to give in his usual tritisms.

The Colin Powell Story

Through Woodward's new book and this month's article in GQ magazine, we hear a great deal more about the schism between Secretary of State Colin Powell and the rest of the Bush Administration.

While that's useful, I suppose, it would have been perhaps far more helpful if Powell had chosen not to tow the loyal soldier line through some incredibly bad decisions, including that disastrously incorrect presentation before the UN Security Council less than a month before we began to move on Iraq.

Nothing in what I've read so far makes me feel less disappointed in Powell, someone I considered a thoughtful man who was far more centrist than most of this administration. Yet I also accept that I have never walked in his shoes, and I'm willing to believe he thought he could accomplish more from within the administration than outside of it. However, for me, I feel Powell allowed himself to be used too often as a more-credible-than-most pawn in the Bush Administration's bullying of the rest of the world.

The Move into Najaf

I'm not sure what's changed, but we've taken Najaf, with relatively little insurgent fighting according to press reports.

"Stamp Out Hunger" Day

For those of you so inclined, this Saturday is the day to place non-perishable food in bags around your mailbox. Letter carriers will collect this to help feed the hungry. It's one of the most decent programs offered, IMHO.


In the "Not That Size Matters, Of Course" Department

I have to agree with Wonkette: Mr. Kerry does um... uh... how to phrase this.... sport quite a package (and we're not talking about his education funding if he becomes president either). I noticed this in two earlier photographs but felt it was impolitic to say anything. However, since Wonkette said it first... Ahem.

Imagine a president who wouldn't have to pretend to fly a plane, stuff his flight suit with socks, OR claim prematurely that a war that never should have started is over (when... more than 500 deaths later....)?

Vermont and Electronic Voting

If I understand this correctly, Vermont has issued a loud NO to electronic voting for Election 2004 (and really, we do have electricity up here, honestly).

The interesting part is that it happened because one man (not a big important powerful one either) wrote up suggested legislation and took it to Montpelier. So I guess I won't have to ask for an absentee ballot to attempt to be sure that my vote is counted as cast in November.

Fight Nice, Kids

    "Georgie isn't happy and he really, really, really let Donny know it, too."

That's what the White House is telling us about the president and secretary of defense related to the Abu Ghraib debacle.

And this matters how? Of all the people who should be mad about this, Bush should be fairly far down on the list. I can think of 24 million Iraqis, 288 million Americans, and 1.4 billion Arabs who get first dibs.

Worsening Tale

Keith Olbermann is talking about a new abuse report in which the military detained an elderly woman, placed a saddle on her, and rode her around a room while she moved about on her hands and knees.

Once Again

As one of the readers' posts point out, only one person has apologized for Abu Ghraib (and Abu Ghraib isn't the sum total of the abuse experience, according to journalist Sy Hersh and others): this being General Kimmitt, lead spokesman for the Coalitional Provisional Authority.

But why not Rick Sanchez or Gen. Abuzaid, why not Paul Bremer, why not the head of Military Intelligence? And, more importantly, why not Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or US President George Bush (who certainly stopped far short of an apology in his remarks on US-funded Arab TV today)?

The Arab world is supposed to take us on faith. Trust us, Condi told them. This isn't representative of the American people, George Bush said.

But why should they believe that? While I'm certain a majority of Americans do indeed find it abhorrent, watching everyone at the top quibble and point to a few renegade GIs like, "aw, this ain't nothin" does little to inspire my trust.

"Gimme, Gimme"

Bush wants $25 billion more for the Defense budget. Apparently, he's discovered that at least 10 kids in Ohio are still getting a decent public education while 7 elderly people can still afford tuna, so he wants to hurry to correct this situation.

Remember, too, that Mr. Rumsfeld has been allocating money without any oversight. Unlike predecessors, he wants every dollar paid into a general account from which he can then divest funds quietly.

We're also the country who spends the most on defense - and look at what it buys us: 9/11 and sodomized Iraqis, while the GIs don't have proper armor and routinely run out of ammunition during fierce gun battles.

MoveOn Steps Up for Michael Moore

From a MoveOn mail just received:

    Oscar-winning director Michael Moore has finished his latest documentary, but The Walt Disney Company is refusing to let the American public see it.

    The film, "Fahrenheit 911," is critical of President Bush's actions before and after Sept. 11 and describes Bush's relationships with powerful Saudi families, including that of Osama bin Laden.

    According to the New York Times, Moore's agent says embattled Disney chief Michael Eisner feared the documentary could endanger the company's tax breaks in Florida, where Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor.

    We can't let corporate favors for politicians dictate what movies we see. Tell Disney to show us Michael Moore's documentary:

    Robert Iger
    Chief Operating Officer
    The Walt Disney Company
    Phone: (818) 560-1000

    If the line is busy, call a Disney store near you. The salespeople aren't responsible for this decision, but ask them to pass your concerns on to the manager. To find the Disney store nearest you, click here.

    Finally, if you own any Disney stock, call:

    Wendy Webb, Investor Relations
    The Walt Disney Company
    Phone: (818) 560-5758

    The documentary, which heads to the prestigious Cannes film festival next week, was expected to be distributed by Miramax this summer. But Disney, which owns Miramax, blocked the plan. Denying allegations of political favoritism, Disney said it doesn't want to be involved with a partisan film.

    Moore responded, "If this is partisan in any way it is partisan on the side of the poor and working people in this country who provide fodder for this war machine."

    The film details financial connections between the Bush family and powerful Saudi Arabian families over the last thirty years, including the evacuation of Osama bin Laden's relatives from the United States two days after Sept. 11. Also included are American soldiers in Iraq describing their doubts about the justification for war.

    Michael Moore has commented, "At some point the question has to be asked, 'Should this be happening in a free and open society where the monied interests essentially call the shots regarding the information that the public is allowed to see?' "

    Today, we will tell Disney the answer is no:

    Robert Iger
    Chief Operating Officer
    The Walt Disney Company
    Phone: (818) 560-1000

    Let us know you're calling, [here].

    --Noah T. Winer
    May 5th, 2004

Recruiter Spam

I just received my first ever Spam from the Army National Guard trying to get me to join. This is almost amusing.

Have things gotten so bad that they a) need to spam and b) seek out women over 30 and c) solicit those with a bad lung and definite pacifist tendencies?

Paula Jones

CNN reminds us that it was 10 years ago that Paula Jones filed her infamous lawsuit over the then-sitting president of the US, Bill Clinton.

Yet of course, the article is wildly ignorant to many of the ramifications. One huge one is that we spent so many years indulging questions about Clinton's sex life that we did nothing to watch over the terrorist strikes that were to come. While the right loves to blame Clinton for everything, I seriously blame them for blowing up a sham that cost an incredible amount of money (and the prosecutor's clock still ticks) and a diversion of everything.

The article also does not address the fact that most recently, Paula has been whining that she was used and abused by the right wing and then tossed away.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan

Just because the media pays no attention whatsoever to the incredible mess of Afghanistan doesn't mean it's not an incredible mess we simply made worse.

Moore and Moore Controversy

I was looking for more information on this snippet about problems with distributing Michael Moore's upcoming movie that I heard this morning, and Skippy, our favorite Bush kangaroo, offers it with a link to a NY Times article discussing it.

My partner and I, when we learned perhaps last year that Moore's new film would come out near Election 2004, turned to each other and agreed back then, "Oh, there's gonna be trouble." But I was hoping Miramax and Disney would stand firm.

Bush and the French Flag

Ro just wrote in Email asking if I dreamed that up about President Bush leaning casually on the French flag. In a word, "No."

I first saw it on Atrios, but the AP Reuters photo can be found here.

Admittedly, this might be the kind of gaffe I'd make because I'm not big on symbolism for symbolism's sake. But for a man who practically insists he wears American flag underwear cause he's so patriotic, using the French flag for a place to set his hands seem a tad odd.

Senate Says No to Bush Overtime Rules

Very pleased to hear that a slim majority said NO to Mr. Bush's overtime rule overhaul. The change - while it sounded good for certain workers - certainly appeared to have provisions that would make it far easier for an employer to demand more work just by offering a position title change that brought with it no pay raise. The way I read it, everyone at McDonald's would become a manager to avoid cases where someone would need to be paid overtime worked.

I've read too much in the past year about companies either forcing the workers themselves to shave hours off time sheets to meet budget or used payroll people or managers themselves to wipe the hours off.

I also used to work for a company that would take hours away, where we were told how much we could earn in a given period and then told to fictionalize our invoices/time slips to make certain that all the extra hours demanded of us would never appear. As I recall, the Labor Department investigated them about 3 times. Never went anywhere even though several of us provided information.

Duh Moment

For those who can't mind read - and really, anyone who can read my mind today deserves a mental checkup - the immediately previous post refers to the first of two statements Mr. Bush is giving on US funded Arab TV.

Perhaps I Missed it But

CNN's poll says the American people are relatively eager to have Mr. Bush apologize for the Iraqi prisoner abuse, but I never actually caught the words "I'm sorry" in there.

My own apologies if I'm wrong - I'm still nursing a migraine from reading through the Taguba Report (one of the studies on the abuse) - but what CNN is reporting is basically what I heard in sound bytes:

    The people of Iraq "must understand that what took place in that prison does not represent the America that I know," Bush said.

I'm even going to avoid pointing out that the America Mr. Bush knows is usually quite astoundingly different than the one most of us know.


Bus or Plane Tour

For all the talk about Bush's bus tour (and the bus is one of the most lavishly outfitted buses of all time, the mainstream media said today), why is it I've seen four different shots of Bush getting off a plane (different times, different clothes) during the tour, but only one shot of him on the bus (where he's sorta using the French flag to lean on like a towel over the dashboard)?

I take it there are several buses just being moved about to accommodate where the plane lands.

The "Reprimanded" Grunts, Too

Just as I mentioned just now that Bush and Company will take another victory walk around the mess created by the Iraqi prison scandal, I'm sure there will be no serious investigation of whether these soldiers now charged with torture and cruelty actually got pressure to do this from higher up.

Oh, the people in charge will justify it well to themselves. They'll say, "a few people from West Virginia or the whole Arab-Islamic world hates us." But the Arabs and Muslims won't forgive this easily, and this crew (Bush and Company) simply want to escape any hint of connection with what they did.

And we'll let them get away with it.


This administration has gotten away with more terrible acts than any administration in my lifetime (I suspect, perhaps, in the history of the United States). For the last two days, this president was allowed to say, again and again, "Because of us, the torture rooms are closes. Because of us, the rape rooms are closed."

Again and again before, I've thought, no way, he won't get away with this. He always does, however.

This time, perhaps - just perhaps - he'll hand us a high head (probably one not planning to return next term, like Rumsfeld). But it won't be his head. And I'm sure - damn it - that Bush himself will walk away untouched.


[Ed Note:He's got to be back on the drugs for all those back problems he never mentioned for years while he conducted an extremely active golfing life (for a very fat man, that is).] I mean, that's the only possible explanation.

Via Pandagon, World o Crap based at Salon brings us this gem from Rush Limbaugh regarding those pictures of Iraqi prisoner torture:

    Folks, these torture pictures with the women torturers, I mean Marv Albert looking at those pictures would say, "Hey, that doesn't look so bad."...

    You know, if you really look at these pictures, I mean I don't know if it's just me but it looks like anything you'd see Madonna or Britney Spears do on stage. Maybe you can get an NEA grant for something like this. I mean this is something you can see at Lincoln Center from an NEA grant, maybe on Sex in the City: the Movie. I mean, it's just me.


Who's bright idea was it to have President Bush give two 10-minute interviews in the coming days with Arab TV? They say it's for damage control, post the Iraqi prisoner debacle.

But I know I'm not the only person extremely concerned about what this president - knowing the things that come out of his wildly undeft mouth - may say. I'm sure they'll vette it carefully, but...

Oh, good, and I just heard that Condi Rice appeared on Al Jazeera today to ask the Arab world to trust us. I'm sure they feel so much better now. I know I get the warm fuzzies when Condi uses words like that.

The Taguba Report

Here's the overall Taguba Report available on MSNBC, courtesy of the first link I saw for it as Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo.

I warn you: it's NOT easy reading, as you can imagine.

Imagine if someone were to invade our country and do the same to us?

    I should also warn you that I pretty much consider Josh Marshall a brilliant orator... er... blogator? I think we're extremely fortunate to have him providing so much information and insight at such a critical time for our country and world (and I'm not just referring to the 2004 elections here either. Thanks, Josh, for all you do.

Veteran, Go Home

That was the message from Bush's handlers to a World War II veteran who went to try to see him in Dubuque, link via Atrios.

A Better Bush Blog

I happened to run into this in my blog stats and wondered why the heck Bush2004 would link to me. But it's worth a look!

George S. Huh

After talking with Reader CK this morning, I went back to look at the George S. Will column I breezed through this morning. As Josh Marshall says, it's worth a read. Not quite Mr. Will's usual swill.

In responding to these Bush remarks last week:

    "There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern."

Mr. Will responds:
    What does such careless talk say about the mind of this administration? Note that the clearly implied antecedent of the pronoun "ours" is "Americans." So the president seemed to be saying that white is, and brown is not, the color of Americans' skin. He does not mean that. But that is the sort of swamp one wanders into when trying to deflect doubts about policy by caricaturing and discrediting the doubters.

    Scott McClellan, the president's press secretary, later said the president meant only that "there are some in the world that think that some people can't be free" or "can't live in freedom." The president meant that "some Middle Eastern countries -- that the people in those Middle Eastern countries cannot be free."

    Perhaps that, which is problematic enough, is what the president meant. But what he suggested was: Some persons -- perhaps many persons; no names being named, the smear remained tantalizingly vague -- doubt his nation-building project because they are racists.

    That is one way to respond to questions about the wisdom of thinking America can transform the entire Middle East by constructing a liberal democracy in Iraq. But if any Americans want to be governed by politicians who short-circuit complex discussions by recklessly imputing racism to those who differ with them, such Americans do not usually turn to the Republican choice in our two-party system.

    This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts. Thinking is not the reiteration of bromides about how "all people yearn to live in freedom" (McClellan). And about how it is "cultural condescension" to doubt that some cultures have the requisite aptitudes for democracy (Bush). And about how it is a "myth" that "our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture" because "ours are not Western values; they are the universal values of the human spirit" (Tony Blair).

Rhetorical Question But....

Does anyone in Washington DC read? We know Ms. (I'll call her a DR as soon as I see one situation she's ever helped with her knowledge) Rice doesn't, and certainly not Mr. Bush or Rumsfelt or JCoS Myers. Ashcroft is too busy prosecuting glass bhong manufacturers and smut (which offers not enough plot to read).

ADD: Duh. Rumsfeld

Al Gore to Announce?

No, not the presidency: that he completed the sale of that NewsWorld channel away from Vivendi, a deal the press said was dead a month ago.

Our Counterfeit President

This and other gems from Intervention Magazine:

    George W. Bush summed up his qualifications for elected office back in 1989:

    • “…I could run for governor but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business. But that's not the kind of profile you have to have to get elected to public office.”

    George could coast through life because of his family’s money and influence. Someone was always there to help George jump to the front of the line. There was always someone ready to bail him out from his failed business dealings.

    • “[George W. Bush] is probably the least qualified person ever to be nominated by a major party. Yes, he was elected governor of Texas, and before that he ran a baseball team and lost a lot of other people's money in the oil business. But what has happened in the intervening five years to make people believe that George W. Bush would be a good president? What is his accomplishment? That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?”-- Ron Reagan Jr., quoted in Salon.com, 8/7/00

Paul Krugman

From his Times column today:

    Last November the top economist at the Heritage Foundation was very optimistic about Iraq, saying Paul Bremer had just replaced "Saddam's soak-the-rich tax system" with a flat tax. "Few Americans would want to trade places with the people of Iraq," wrote the economist, Daniel Mitchell. "But come tax time next April, they may begin to wonder who's better off." Even when he wrote that, the insurgency in Iraq was visibly boiling over; by "tax time" last month, the situation was truly desperate.

    Much has been written about the damage done by foreign policy ideologues who ignored the realities of Iraq, imagining that they could use the country to prove the truth of their military and political doctrines. Less has been said about how dreams of making Iraq a showpiece for free trade, supply-side tax policy and privatization — dreams that were equally oblivious to the country's realities — undermined the chances for a successful transition to democracy.

    A number of people, including Jay Garner, the first U.S. administrator of Iraq, think that the Bush administration shunned early elections, which might have given legitimacy to a transitional government, so it could impose economic policies that no elected Iraqi government would have approved. Indeed, over the past year the Coalition Provisional Authority has slashed tariffs, flattened taxes and thrown Iraqi industry wide open to foreign investors — reinforcing the sense of many Iraqis that we came as occupiers, not liberators.

    But it's the reliance on private contractors to carry out tasks usually performed by government workers that has really come back to haunt us.

    Conservatives make a fetish out of privatization of government functions; after the 2002 elections, George Bush announced plans to privatize up to 850,000 federal jobs. At home, wary of a public backlash, he has moved slowly on that goal. But in Iraq, where there is little public or Congressional oversight, the administration has privatized everything in sight.

    For example, the Pentagon has a well-established procurement office for gasoline. In Iraq, however, that job was subcontracted to Halliburton. The U.S. government has many experts in economic development and reform. But in Iraq, economic planning has been subcontracted — after a highly questionable bidding procedure — to BearingPoint, a consulting firm with close ties to Jeb Bush...

Regarding Torture

In the wake of 9/11 and the beginning of the war on terror in Afghanistan (my, that's gone well, hasn't it?), we opened a debate in this country in which sometimes 7 or 8 out of 10 respondents to polls agreed that torture would be an acceptable means by which to extract information from people. It seemed to matter little to people that studies suggested information derived from such means was often flat-out wrong (those tortured would invent information to rescue themselves from more pain.

As I lay in bed last night unable to sleep (at least in part because of these Iraqi charges of abuse), that phenomenon came to mind. I was reminded of it again with a CNN poll early this morning asking if torture as part of an interrogation is ever acceptable (right now, 54% say no, meaning 46% say yes).

Thus, sadly, as we sit here shaking our heads and feeling sick over these pictures and while Bush makes certain grunt GIs are punished, perhaps we need to accept some culpability and rethink our sanctimonious positions.

Bush: Everything Depends on the Election

From CNN:

    Peace and freedom depend upon this election. Prosperity for the people depend upon this election," Bush said while wrapping up a campaign stop with about 1,200 supporters in Niles, in the southwest corner of Michigan.

Finally, points on which I can agree with the President. Peace and freedom and prosperity DO depend on this election. Unless we remove Bush, Cheney, and this entire crew from office, we have zero hope for peace, freedom, and prosperity for more than the military industrial complex, as well as renewed respect, honor, and integrity for the American people.

It will take time to accomplish this once Bush is gone. He's dug us perhaps into the worst hole our country has ever known. But we can do it.


Editor Leaving in Disgust

When the editor of a newspaper in Iraq, paid for with our American tax dollars, actually quits in disgust about the way the Americans try to control everything.... Well....

More on Karbinski

This lady is very busy since this has to be the fourth or fifth network I've seen her on today. Again, while she definitely is a veteran of military verbiage, she's certainly consistent on each show saying military intelligence - rather than she herself - was in charge of the operations where the brutality took place.

Funny thing - and I'm sure it must have been there somewhere but I missed it - is that I've heard little from the Pentagon about Karbinski.

On a Personal Note

I'm up to here [pointing to a spot about 11 inches above my head] with Maria Shriver. While I thought it was extremely sad how she insisted all the women who claimed her husband (who was caught on tape, in pictures, and in memory demonstrating some of the most boorish behavior) were wrong.

But now she's just fully embraced the whole politician's wife thing, up to and including the "very touching" book thing. She proves you can be bright, come from a position of money and power, and still be an extremely eager-to-please trophy wife devoid of little more than the world created by her alpha male.

[kicking soap box back under desk]

Janis Karpinski

She's the woman in charge of the group of GIs deemed responsible for the Abu Ghraib situation, and she strikes me as more direct than the others who've chimed in. She keeps appearing with her lawyer, and I get the impression the Pentagon may not be completely thrilled with all she's saying.

Perhaps I'm blind, and she's just out there doing damage control but...

Let Me Get This Straight

Bush could call Rumsfeld personally today to make certain that each and every GI involved in the Abu Ghraib case is punished, but the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff couldn't bother to read the report on it that has been complete for more than two months? Not even two days after the rest of us were reading portions of it in The New Yorker?

And Bush is worried about the front line GIs being reprimanded?


Here's this from The New York Times about David Brock's $2M answer to the right-wing domination of the media.

I was over there and yes, folks are working hard to go through the media (from Rush Limbaugh on up and down through the gene pool) to rebut specific points. I think concerned people will read it - and if it's aimed at them, fine. But clearly, someone who would listen to a Limbaugh wouldn't be reading this.

Chalabi-Iran Scandal

Billmon offers a look at the Newsweek article that claims that some of the Bush Administration knew that Ahmed Chalabi, who we installed with the unseating of Hussein in Iraq, may have been channeling information about US military operations and more to Iran. As you'll recall, Chalabi has been our honored guest many times, including at this past January's State of the Union address by our beloved leader.

The Nightmare at Abu Ghraib

The New York Times has a rather powerful editorial on this today.

Questions About Brit Abuse Pictures

The London Daily Mirror is rebuking charges today that photographs of reported abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British forces are doctored.

More Fallout From Torture Charges

Listening to the BBC and other broadcasts early this morning, you're starting to hear from Fallujah and other places the understanding of civilians regarding those reports of torture at the prison and other facilities holding Iraqis.

I suspect this is not the first time some of the Iraqis have heard it, but I'm sure it may mean more to them that the American press is finally reporting it (remember: Sy Hersh's piece said problems were known at least as early as last summer). And with this knowledge, I expect, will come more venting and frustration.

I've got two personal notes to make about this.

One, let's do something totally unheard of regarding war, and let's actually SEE how far up the chain of command these charges go. Let's not just assume it's a few rogue soldiers. All too often, the grunts bear all the danger both on the battlefield and later, when we analyze the war.

Second, whether the soldiers did this under orders or by themselves, these people (certainly not the Iraqis hurt, but right now, I'm talking about the soldiers) cannot come home the same. That may be said of any troop member in any war. But I think this is exceptionally true with what we've heard from Sy Hersh and others about this particular war.

Maybe, some could argue, these troops went to Iraq with the kind of psyches that could allow them to do this. Possible. But I don't think raping someone anally with a chemical light stick and/or broom handle speaks well for the person inflicting that abuse.

What does the military and the specific circumstances of war do to a person? Just sometime, we ought to consider that before we race into any more messy wars since these are our precious blood - our husbands and wives, sons and daughters, our neighbors and friends and co-workers - we send in to do the dirty work of the politicians.

US Base in Najaf Under Fire

That's what CNN is currently reporting.


Did You Observe?

You may have missed it. I certainly did until Pandagon pointed it out.

Who knew we had a Loyalty Day? BTW, start decorating your tree: the national day of prayer is this week. Tuesday, I think. If you're unsure, I'm certain Mr. Ashcroft to tell you whom to pray to.

Casualty Rate Climbs

Latest reports say now that 11 or 12 US soldiers are dead in that mortar attack in Western Iraq, and that the rate is expected to climb. Still no strong, firm estimates on the number of injured (and the US has chosen not to keep accurate figures of dead civilians and others).

NBC News "Meet the Press" Transcript

I missed/avoided/ran and hid from Tim Russert this morning (I shout less at transcripts) where his guests were Kofi Annan and former Ambassador Joe Wilson (his book came out in the last few days). If you did, too, and want to see the transcript, here it is.

One Big Point from Hersh Today

Sy Hersh is clear when he says that some of what we've learned about the abuse of Iraqis - and he's clear, too, that most of the prisoners cited here are people picked up from the streets rather than known insurgents or fighters - indicates that these young soldiers didn't dream up some of the abuses themselves. Some of them, as reader CK pointed out in an earlier comment, speak to a knowledge of what would be particularly degrading to Iraqis.

Hersh raises another point: why does the chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff say he has still not read a report that Hersh through the New Yorker published in summary on Friday? This "hey, we don't see it so it can't be true" mind set among the Bush Administration and those they promote, like Myers, is just unacceptable.

Hersh's article indicates problems were discovered as early as last summer, nearly one year ago, and that he's largely citing the THIRD such study of such abuse, at least two had come before and perhaps some after. So this isn't new (yes, of course, abuse and torture is not new to war... but we also have a history of passing off as "rogue troop actions" those actions at least silently promoted by the higher-ups, as in "get results at any cost).

The more I consider it - and I slapped myself when I realized it had not occurred to me how particularly and specifically degrading being tortured by a woman would be to Muslim men - the less it seems likely that all or perhaps even most of these abuses are just frustrated or rogue soldiers. This is not just because the studies indicate the phenomenon is widespread, because the frustration and screwiness of this war is widespread.

Six More Dead Troops

CNN's reporting a mortar attack has killed six more US troops, this time in Western Iraq.

For most of this, this represents 740 or more War dead in the US. For Wolfowitz, heck, we might be up to 350 dead.

Another Wolfie Moment

Wolf Blitzer just asked Talabani how the Iraqis could possibly have an unfavorable opinion of us after all we've done for them. I'm just unsure whether to laugh or cry right now. Maybe I'll do both.

Disclaimer: I'm only watching this show to see Seymour Hersh coming up to discuss his New Yorker article. OK, that's a semi-lie. But I do want to see Seymour, and I do sorta want to hear how Wolfie tries to craft this. The Pentagon was so nice to Wolfie that he really, really, really wants to make them happy.

Another Miss

I also must have missed a Windows Update or a trojan/virus warning, because I rebooted my machine to find the network settings changed all over the place. I say virus or trojan rather than simply a problem with the network because a hardware or configuration issue should not have reverted to such specific and odd settings.

Fixed now, however.

Hagel Says No

I must've missed all the discussion Wolfie Blitzer says has gone on the past few days about the possibility of Chuck Hagel becoming the VP candidate for Kerry. Wolfie just asked Hagel, and while Hagel handled the issue of Kerry quite diplomatically, he said no.

Strange... I thought perhaps the Democrats should consider a Democrat or even an Independent over people who choose to be Republicans. Silly me.

Wonkette on The Putz

I caught just part of Wonkette's interview on Howie the Putz's er.. uh... how did I mistype that?... Howard Kurtz' Reliable Sources and my primary impression is that when the giggle to word ratio gets that high, it's not all that useful.

Mind you, I sorta like Wonkette. She can be a bit punishing to both sides (and I happen to like the bits of self depracation there). It's sorta like Valley Girl Goes to Washington to Intern and Writes a Bestselling But Somewhat Lightweight Book About the Experience.


I was coming to post about the situation where suicide gunmen killed a pregnant mother and her four children on their way to a polling place to lobby for voters not to agree to the so-called Palestinian disengagement program, when word came that large explosions (at least two) had sounded in two Palestinian areas in the Strip.

Children. Children on both sides are dying. One side seems just as ready to attack children as the other.

Eye for an eye.

Sorry, I don't pretend to understand that mindset.

Dairy Farmer/Truck Driver Found Safe

The one good thing to happen of late, from CNN:

    American contractor Thomas Hamill, missing since a convoy attack last month in Iraq, was recovered and is in good health after apparently escaping from his captors, U.S. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt announced today.