Maureen Dowd: "Flunking Our Future"

And then some, writes MoDo (entire column here):

WASHINGTON: The only sects that may be more savage than Shiites and Sunnis are the Democratic feminist lawmakers representing Northern and Southern California.

After Nancy Pelosi and Jane Harman had their final catfight about who would lead the House Intelligence Committee, aptly enough at the Four Seasons’ hair salon in Georgetown, the new speaker passed over the knowledgeable and camera-eager Ms. Harman and mystifyingly gave the consequential job to Silvestre Reyes of Texas.

Mr. Reyes promptly tripped over the most critical theme in the field of intelligence. Jeff Stein, interviewing the incoming chairman for Congressional Quarterly, asked him whether Al Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” the lawmaker guessed.

As Mr. Stein corrected him in the article: “Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an Al Qaeda clubhouse, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.”

Mr. Stein followed up with a Hezbollah question: “What are they?” Again, Mr. Reyes was stumped.

“Hezbollah,” he stammered. “Uh, Hezbollah. Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish?” (O.K. ¿Que es Hezbollah?)

Sounding as naked of essentials as Britney Spears, the new intelligence oversight chief pleaded that it was hard to keep all the categories straight. Thank heavens Mr. Stein never got to Syrian Alawites.

Many Americans, including those in charge of Middle East policy, are befuddled and fed up with the intransigent tribal and religious fevers of the region. As Bill O’Reilly sagely remarked, “I don’t want to ever hear Shia and Sunni again.” But it is beyond the job description of top officials to wish the problems away, especially when the entire region is decomposing before our bleary eyes.

If Mr. Reyes had been reading the newspaper, he might have noticed Mr. Stein’s piece on The Times’s Op-Ed page two months earlier, in which, like a wonkish Ali G, he caught many intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as members of Congress, who did not know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite.

“Too many officials in charge of the war on terrorism just don’t care to learn much, if anything, about the enemy we’re fighting,” he concluded. “And that’s enough to keep anybody up at night.”
I expect righteous stupidity from the Bushies. But we're seeing too damned much of it from those like Pelosi and Harman from whom I expect a great deal more.

Imagine That: The Military Bigwigs Do NOT Like Mr. Bush's BIG Plans For Iraq

Read here, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. You've no doubt heard that on the heels of Bush announcing his new big push as in "New Way Forward", Iraq command honcho Abezaid promptly announced that he's leaving to "spend more time with" his sanity...balls...ego... family.

o/~ I Wish You A Merry o/~

... last night of Hanukkah
...winter solstice
...upcoming Kwanzaa and Boxing Day
...Festivus (for the rest of us, complete with Airing of Grievances - see old Seinfeld episodes for further details)
...long weekend

(What did I miss?)


My Take: America Needs To Worry/Be Ashamed Of Racist Congressmen Like Virgil Goode Than First Muslim Congressman

Gee, what do you think we'll ultimately learn first about Virgil Goode, another good "Macon-Dixon Line Christian" racist moralist congressman?

Based on recent history with these "holier than thou" types, I figure he's a) having sex with his sister or other female family member b) abusing the same drugs illegal for others c) begging a male escort to tie him up while he's dressed like Ru Paul or d) all of the above.

From The Times:

In a letter sent to hundreds of voters this month, Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., Republican of Virginia, warned that the recent election of the first Muslim to Congress posed a serious threat to the nation’s traditional values.

Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., left, said Keith Ellison’s decision to use a Koran in a private swearing in for the House of Representatives was a mistake.

Mr. Goode was referring to Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat and criminal defense lawyer who converted to Islam as a college student and was elected to the House in November. Mr. Ellison’s plan to use the Koran during his private swearing-in ceremony in January had outraged some Virginia voters, prompting Mr. Goode to issue a written response to them, a spokesman for Mr. Goode said.

In his letter, which was dated Dec. 5, Mr. Goode said that Americans needed to “wake up” or else there would “likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.”
This issue is bullshit.

America is supposed to exist with a separation of church and state. As a Christian, I know that just because a man like Goode "pledges" on a Bible doesn't mean a damned thing. Ted Haggard and Jim Bakker and the like pledge on them all the time.

If Goode wants to be able to pledge on a Bible, then he damned well better allow Ellison to take the oath with the Koran just as some Jewish members of Congress have been allowed to use the Torah. If Ellison can't, then we take away ALL the religious books for all these bastards.

Knowing how Congressmen lie, I don't think God is particularly interested in their "pledges" on the "good book" written by men and not God anyway.

And why the fuck should Virginia voters have any say in who Minnesota elects? My God, half of the Virginia voting population would likely happily vote to return to lynching, based on bringing us scum like George Allen.

Reuters: Marine Charged With Thirteen Counts of Murder in Haditha, Iraq

They aren't saying the Marine's name right now, although I've seen it listed before.

Anyone Having A White Christmas?

This is the first time in my history in Vermont that we had a non-white Halloween and Thanksgiving and almost nothing on the ground for Christmas.

Oh, I have no doubt we'll have more snow before Christmas day - or heck, even for the winter solstice which happens early tomorrow/late today depending where you are. We're scheduled for the mess that hit Denver and is now hitting Chicago.

I could almost live without it (uh oh... Sugarbush and Smugglers Notch investors are coming after me even as I speak; I care not for Killington which keeps trying to become part of N.H.).

Say Hello to...

Our good friend Roy's new(er) blog at Blogorahmah.

The U.S. Command: As Bad As It Gets

Lately, with insomnia, I tune into a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. station late at night (one of the few this close to Quebec that doesn't broadcast mostly/entirely in French which I speak in only a piddling way and understand even less in hearing it) which offers European news overnight after the classic music finishes. It's an amazing perspective, too, since it's easier to see how our European neighbors (and we should all consider others in the globe neighbors although we as Americans often do not) tend to have a better, less jaded-by-our-own-lala-land-interests view of things. For example, did you know that France's champagne producers are buying land in Great Britain because they are sure global warming will make it nearly impossible for them to produce champagne in coming years?

But here's what I heard last night from Radio Netherlands - and I've been trying to find a link on the Web to verify this unsuccessfully since my hearing at 3+ AM gets suspect:

That because the U.S. maintains "nominal" control of Afghanistan, although its almost exclusively NATO forces now trying - in futile fashion - to keep control for the U.S., the Netherlands is considering acting against its own parliament if that parliament agrees to send Dutch soldiers into Southern Afghanistan. This is entirely because Afghanistan - a terribly dangerous place before the U.S. landed in October 2001 to "get Osama bin Laden, dead or alive" - has gotten so exponentially worse under U.S. control. This is exactly what we heard several months ago when NATO, about to take over forces there, could not find any volunteers to send troops in because the U.S. maintains "occupier" status and no one wants to get themselves into a role of serving U.S. imperial interests.

What does that say? (Like, what happens if we have a real threat instead of the fake ones the Bush Administration has handed us time and again since before September 11th? We've so abused and bullied our "friends" let alone our enemies that we can't expect anything but the rest of the world to cheer if we get hit.)

And before you say, "What? Is this another barb at U.S. troops?" - Hell no!

Troops have to have a mission and they need supplies. Remember the Utah Olympics a few years back? Where it was bragged that, as soon as we had just arrived in Afghanistan, that we had more U.S. soldiers in Utah protecting the Latvian nose-bobbing team than in Afghanistan.

These troops then MUST be led by strong people who are not at the total control of complete neocon nitwits in Washington.

This isn't the fault of the world. This isn't the fault of NATO. This isn't the fault of our troops.

The fault lies with the persons pictured in this post: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice. Period.


WAIT! The Army Is Waaaay Overstretched So Bush Uses Them To Break A Labor Strike in Kansas?

Gee, I wonder how many other ways Bush can, in his final two years of naps/vacations followed by temper tantrums and tyrannical edicts and creating yet worse dangers in the world, shit on the American worker, posse comitatus (where we're not supposed to use the military for civilian jobs) - not to mention habeus corpus, and the troops in general?

From Leninology and I am dumbstruck (which happens more than it should):

Either show solidarity against the war, or wear a yellow ribbon for the scabs. That's the message of a new report in the Financial Times, which says that the army is being called on to break a strike at a Goodyear plant in Kansas. The company wants to shed unionised jobs and cut future health benefits for workers. The army is "considering measures to force striking workers back to their jobs" because they are facing a potential shortage of tyres for Humvee trucks.

The Bush administration has been very aggressive in dealing with the labour movement, especially since they threatened to use troops against dockworkers in 2002. The administration has been one of the most labour-bashing governments in living memory, blocking strikes in crucial airlines (Forbes magazine and its ilk are always complaining about the strength of airline unions), turning back gains made by workers in the 1990s and devising laws that undermine employer-sponsored healthcare. His administration has overseen sustained cuts to American workers' wages, which - aside from not rising at all from 1973 to 2000 for non-supervisory workers (ie 80% of the working population) - have fallen in real terms for the last six years. The last time real wages sank so dramatically was during the 1980s, and they only recovered the loss in the late 1990s when employment was picking up on the back of a stock market bubble, thus temporarily improving the bargaining power of labour.

Speaking of Afghanistan ---

Word about how badly the country is faring is apparently greatly underestimating just how horrific life in Afghanistan has become since America landed U.S. troops there in October 2001 to "get Osama bin Laden" in those first weeks after September 11th.

Judith Regan: Jewish Cabal Rose Against Me

OK, this story - which supposedly came from HarperCollins (which, despite its ownership by Rupert Murdoch used to be a highly respected publishing house) - where Judith Regan insisted a "Jewish Cabal" brought her down has surprised the hell out of me.

First, I don't think for a moment Regan could tell the truth even if her plastic surgeon threatened to cut off her Botox supply and second, can you imagine Rupert Murdoch allowing a "Jewish Cabal" to get in the way of his profit margin?

Well, there's a third. Why the hell make this a story about Jews period?

"Save Afghanistan, Not Iraq"?

That is what Cynthia Tucker has to say here: that the U.S.'s energy and resources should go to Afghanistan rather than Iraq.

Read it yourself. I usually agree with her, but this time, not so sure.

I feel that we owe both countries huge debts we will apparently never make good upon.

Blame The Conquered, The People of Iraq?

Perhaps military historians can tell me this, but does this new system of "They-a-culpa" (as noted by The Daily Show) on Iraq, where our president, our military leaders, and our "elected" leaders (Republican and Democrat!) blame the people of Iraq for the mess of the Iraq war we orchestrated, have any historic parallels?

I'm completely speechless.

If I go sack my neighbor's house, wipe out the wage earner, irreparably beat the other "parent", take away everything of value in that house, can I really claim that it's my neighbor's fault because they couldn't stop me? Or - more Bushian - because they could not recover from the damage I inflicted?


Maureen Dowd: "Farewell, Dense Prince"

Apparently Maureen Dowd won't miss Rummy either.

James Baker ran after W. with a butterfly net for a while, but it is now clear that the inmates are still running the asylum.

The Defiant Ones came striding from the Pentagon yesterday, the troika of wayward warriors marching abreast in their dark suits and power ties. W., Rummy and Dick Cheney were so full of quick-draw confidence that they might have been sauntering down the main drag of Deadwood.

Far from being run out of town, the defense czar who rivals Robert McNamara for deadly incompetence has been on a victory lap in Baghdad, Mosul and Washington. Yesterday’s tribute had full military honors, a color guard, a 19-gun salute, an Old Guard performance with marching musicians — including piccolo players — in Revolutionary War costumes, John Philip Sousa music and the chuckleheaded neocons and ex-Rummy deputies who helped screw up the occupation, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, cheering in the audience.

It was surreal: the septuagenarian who arrogantly dismissed initial advice to send more troops to secure Iraq, being praised as “the finest secretary of defense this nation has ever had” by his pal, the vice president, even as a desperate White House drafted ways to reinvade Iraq by sending more troops in a grasping-at-straws effort to reverse the chaos caused by Rummy’s mistakes.

Just imagine the send-off a defense secretary would have gotten who hadn’t sabotaged the Army, Iraq, global security, our chance to get Osama, our moral credibility, the deficit and American military confidence.Even Joyce Rumsfeld got a Distinguished Public Service Award ribbon placed around her neck. The grandiose ceremony featured everything but the gold-plated matching set of pistols Tommy Franks, another failed warrior, and his wife, Cathy, recently received from a weapons manufacturer. (His had four stars and diamonds; hers, rubies and their marriage date.)

W. never seems as alarmed about the devastation in Iraq as he should be. He told People magazine “I must tell you, I’m sleeping a lot better than people would assume,” and he told Brit Hume that his presidency was “a joyful experience.”

He slacked off on his slacker effort to form a new Iraq plan. (Can’t these guys ever order pizzas and pull some all-nighters?) Mr. Bush was busy this week hosting Christmas parties for a press corps he disdains; convening a malaria conference at the National Geographic with Dr. Burke of “Grey’s Anatomy” Isaiah Washington; and presiding over a hero’s departure for the defense secretary he actually dumped, not because of incompetence but for political expediency.

The Rummy hoopla was a way for W. to signal his decision to shred the Baker-Hamilton study, after reportedly denouncing it as a flaming cowpie. Condi Rice signaled the same, telling The Washington Post that she did not want to negotiate with Syria and Iran, as the Iraq Study Group had proposed, because “the compensation” might be too high.

Iraq Attacks Reach New Record Levels

Story in today's Times: average of 960 attacks in Iraq every week. Interesting that the Pentagon did not release this information until Rumsfeld exited, stage right, with Dick Cheney calling him "the greatest Secretary of Defense in this nation's history."

Bush and Cheney certainly have exhibited the strangest ways of defining success, greatest, and helluva job.

Bush Signs Nuclear Deal With India

Gee, I'm positive this will help relations with our "great" friends in Pakistan.

Also makes it seem ever so strange that it is the U.S. and the U.S. only - the only country ever to use a full-scale nuclear weapon in an act of war - gets to decide who is nuclear and who is not.