A Sign of The Times, As Seen in Vicinity of Federal Courthouse in Burlington (Vermont)

[Ed. note: Cross-posted on our sister blog, Vermont, Now & Zen.]

I had occasion to be in Burlington on Wednesday and happened to notice that all along the parking meters and public signs lining the street on which the U.S. federal courthouse is located, someone had placed Impeach! and other signs wherever there was room.

Good for them!

As it was, I thought I might be denied entrance into the courthouse by the security people who work the screening system after the older one looked ready to choke at the sight of my "Bush, War Criminal" button (with an ever foolishly grinning Dubya) affixed to my shoulder bag. He looked toward his colleague but said nothing, nor did I.

Bush's "Surge" Politically Motivated Rather Than Strategic Militarily

Gee, what a surprise. From Stranger at Blah3:

People should be jumping all over Bush for this. ThinkProgress reports that the White House is, as always, thinking of the political rather than the strategic. Sad, but true..
    Interestingly enough, one administration official admitted to us today that this surge option is more of a political decision than a military one because the American people have run out of patience and President Bush is running out of time to achieve some kind of success in Iraq. Way to honor the troops.
Cynical bastards.

John McCain's Truthiness: When You Get It Wrong On Iraq, Just Pretend You Got It Right

As far as I'm concerned, John McCain's great Mob-like embrace of the Bush plan to "surge" more troops into Iraq when McCain knows it will do no good and can only result in both increased deaths among Iraqi civilians and among American soldiers completely invalidates any of his former "hero" status for surviving a Vietnamese P.O.W. camp. I will no longer acknowledge McCain's former service and what he went through because he is so eager to consign others to a fate he himself should have been spared at there been more noble, honest men in Washington in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Just as some politicians were willing to go with the Vietnam war when they knew it was a trumped up tragedy that would only consume innocent lives, McCain is willing to send more U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians to their death simply for the purpose of trying to get elected as president in 2008, a measure even Bob Novak says is backfiring badly.

So imagine my great ...uh... surprise when I see McCain revising his own history with Iraq. The same man who said "bringing freedom and democracy" to Iraq would be a "piece of cake" now claims he always said it would be a long, arduous, and most dangerous war. From Nico at Think Progress:

Today on MSNBC, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) claimed that he knew the Iraq war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough,” and that he was “sorry” for those who voted for the war believing it would be “some kind of an easy task.” “Maybe they didn’t know what they were voting for,” McCain said.

In fact, during the run-up to war in 2002 and 2003, McCain repeatedly described the prospects of war in the rosiest terms, declaring the U.S. would “win easily”:
    “Because I know that as successful as I believe we will be, and I believe that the success will be fairly easy, we will still lose some American young men or women.” [CNN, 9/24/02]

    “We’re not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. We may have to take out buildings, but we’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies.” [CNN, 9/29/02]

    “But the point is that, one, we will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” [MSNBC, 1/22/03]

The Bush Method of Political Process

I see that Attaturk of Rising Hegemon has become a Bush Administration "scholar". I'd say he has the "Bush method of political process" pretty much sewn up. Don't you?

Step One: Say you intend to fuck up.

Step Two: Have people tell you, "hey you know, if you do this, it's fucked up."

Step Three: Tell the people in Step Two that they are truly fucked up if they do not allow you to fuck up.

Step Four: Fuck up.

Step Five: Watch as it turns out you fucked up even worse then people thought possible. I mean, you fucked up fucking up for fuck's sake!

Step Six: Deny Fucking Up.

Step Seven: State that no one could have anticipated such a fuck up.

Step Eight: Tell your critics it is too soon to talk about the last fuck up, because you have a whole slew of fuck ups to fuck up at the present so they can "go fuck themselves".

Step Nine: Appoint fucked up internal review of the fuck up by the folks that fucked up the fuck up in the first fucking place.

Step Ten: Announce findings five or six other fuck ups later. Hoping no one gives a fuck.

Digby And The Face of True Progress in America

Digby just put this too beautifully not to note re: the convening of the 110th Congress on Wednesday, January 4th:

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress.

This is what freedom, equality and progress look like [see picture]:

Congratulations America.

It may have taken 230 years, but you finally got here. By hook or by crook, and the prodding and pushing of liberals and progressives, you always do.

By the way --- Nancy Pelosi wore purple today for a specific reason. It's the color of the suffragettes:
    "This is an historic moment - for the Congress, and for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited more than 200 years. Never losing faith, we waited through the many years of struggle to achieve our rights. But women weren't just waiting; women were working. Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling." Nancy Pelosi
All those purple wearing women who came before would be proud today.

Way Past Time: Cracking Down on the Bush Contractors

Posted at the Political Animal blog at Washington Monthly, and it's both scary and way past time this situation for the lucrative free ride for contractors committing war crimes and other abuses is addressed:

CRACKING DOWN ON CONTRACTORS....Over at Defense Tech, P.W. Singer makes an interesting observation:
    Not one contractor of the entire military industry in Iraq has been charged with any crime over the last 3 and a half years, let alone prosecuted or punished. Given the raw numbers of contractors, let alone the incidents we know about, it boggles the mind.
The problem, Singer says, is that contractors are the human equivalent of Guantanamo Bay: they aren't subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but prosecutors back in the states aren't really interested in spending time bringing civilian cases against them. So they fall between the cracks, able to do just about anything without fear of being held to account.

But that's all about to change:
    Amidst all the add-ins, pork spending, and excitement of the budget process, it has now come out that a tiny clause was slipped into the Pentagon's fiscal year 2007 budget legislation. The one sentence section...[states that the UCMJ] "is amended by striking 'war' and inserting 'declared war or a contingency operation'." The measure passed without much notice or any debate.


Reading Your Mail: Takes Presidential Powers Way Past Anything Ever Known in America Before

If you haven't heard about yet another Bush "mandate" to spy on every aspect of your existence (this time, your private mail), you're in for a shocker, even from this criminal crew. From the New York Daily News:

President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

Bush's move came during the winter congressional recess and a year after his secret domestic electronic eavesdropping program was first revealed. It caught Capitol Hill by surprise.

"Despite the President's statement that he may be able to circumvent a basic privacy protection, the new postal law continues to prohibit the government from snooping into people's mail without a warrant," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the incoming House Government Reform Committee chairman, who co-sponsored the bill.

Experts said the new powers could be easily abused and used to vacuum up large amounts of mail.

"The [Bush] signing statement claims authority to open domestic mail without a warrant, and that would be new and quite alarming," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies in Washington.

"The danger is they're reading Americans' mail," she said.

"You have to be concerned," agreed a career senior U.S. official who reviewed the legal underpinnings of Bush's claim. "It takes Executive Branch authority beyond anything we've ever known."
This is in addition to the new powers Bush claimed to spy very freely on Europeans, which has the Europeans saying they will turn around and do it to us.

Bush: bad for America, bad for the world.

Good Night, Jasmine

On a more personal (rather than political) note, condolences go out to Kevin Drum and his wife; Kevin reported that Jasmine, a feline regularly featured in his "cat blogging", died tonight.

As someone who very much considers every animal I've ever had a major part of my family, I know it's damned painful to lose a precious dog, cat, or other critter.

When You Go To War With The Leaders You Have, Instead of the Leaders You Want!

(Thanks to Donald Rumsfeld for coming up with such a spiffy turn of phrase that can be reworked to apply to other arenas of dissatisfaction!)

Constant at Constant's Pations has several notable pieces of information guaranteed to annoy, inspire, or make you wheeze. Here are a few:

  • Affiliated Computer Systems, Lockheed Martin allegedly complicit in war crimes and abuse of prisoners.
  • FBI has evidence John Bolton intimidated witnesses.
  • The Department of (In)Justice can't get its stories straight against supposed terrorist, Jose Padilla.
  • World leaders are pissed over new Bush edict to open and read mail.
  • Harriet Miers - the Bush fan Bush II tried to push onto the Supreme Court - resigns:
  • Miers resigned because the President has too many legal problems, and not enough talent or experience in the White House Counsel's office.The staff changes are part of a larger legal effort to beef up the President's legal team who has a disaster on his hands: Alleged war crimes, investigations, and no credible legal defenses.

"Folly's Antidote"

Wealthy Frenchman brings us this relatively rare op/ed by noted historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. which offers some insights I have not read elsewhere recently about history's power to check delusions of omnipotence and omniscience, something I find the Bush Administration in particular likes to tout of itself. Here's a bit:

MANY signs point to a growing historical consciousness among the American people. I trust that this is so. It is useful to remember that history is to the nation as memory is to the individual. As persons deprived of memory become disoriented and lost, not knowing where they have been and where they are going, so a nation denied a conception of the past will be disabled in dealing with its present and its future. “The longer you look back,” said Winston Churchill, “the farther you can look forward.”

But all historians are prisoners of their own experience. We bring to history the preconceptions of our personalities and of our age. We cannot seize on ultimate and absolute truths. So the historian is committed to a doomed enterprise — the quest for an unattainable objectivity.

Conceptions of the past are far from stable. They are perennially revised by the urgencies of the present. When new urgencies arise in our own times and lives, the historian’s spotlight shifts, probing at last into the darkness, throwing into sharp relief things that were always there but that earlier historians had carelessly excised from the collective memory. New voices ring out of the historical dark and demand to be heard.

One has only to note how in the last half-century the movements for women’s rights and civil rights have reformulated and renewed American history. Thus the present incessantly reinvents the past. In this sense, all history, as Benedetto Croce said, is contemporary history. It is these permutations of consciousness that make history so endlessly fascinating an intellectual adventure. “The one duty we owe to history,” said Oscar Wilde, “is to rewrite it.”

We are the world’s dominant military power, and I believe a consciousness of history is a moral necessity for a nation possessed of overweening power. History verifies John F. Kennedy’s proposition, stated in the first year of his thousand days: “We must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent or omniscient — that we are only 6 percent of the world’s population; that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind; that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity; and therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.”

History is the best antidote to delusions of omnipotence and omniscience. Self-knowledge is the indispensable prelude to self-control, for the nation as well as for the individual, and history should forever remind us of the limits of our passing perspectives. It should strengthen us to resist the pressure to convert momentary impulses into moral absolutes. It should lead us to acknowledge our profound and chastening frailty as human beings — to a recognition of the fact, so often and so sadly displayed, that the future outwits all our certitudes and that the possibilities of the future are more various than the human intellect is designed to conceive.

...The great strength of history in a free society is its capacity for self-correction. This is the endless excitement of historical writing — the search to reconstruct what went before, a quest illuminated by those ever-changing prisms that continually place old questions in a new light.
To read the rest, you know what to click.

Maureen Dowd: "Stained Glass and Strained Egos"

Sorry, no, we're not quite done with poor Mr. Ford yet (and Dubya still wants to use his corpse on which to mount his new "stay the new way forward course" Iraq War escalation platform). Read it all here but I offer you this generous snippet:

It was a scene that Mary McCarthy could have written the devil out of: a funeral for a fine, bland fellow that filled everybody with unfine, unbland thoughts. The formal serenity of the service, disguised, but only barely, the virulent rivalries and envies and grudges and grievances that have roiled this group for many decades.

None of the eulogists noted the irony that the man who ushered out one long national nightmare had ushered in another, the one we’re living in now. It was Gerald Ford, after all, who gave America the gift of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — the gift that keeps on taking.

The two former Ford officials, who doomed Iraq to civil war and despoiled American values, were honorary pallbearers yesterday, as was that other slippery and solipsistic courtier, Henry Kissinger.

The Group was even more on edge because of a remarkable trellis of peppery opinions that had tumbled out of the man in the coffin, posthumously. The late president, hailed as the most understated and decent guy in the world, had given a series of interviews on the condition they be held until his death — a belated but bracing smackdown of many of his distinguished mourners.

It was impossible not to wonder what the luminaries were truly thinking, as they sat listening to fugues of Bach and Brahms and encomiums to the ordinary-guy leader.

Nancy Reagan’s imperturbable expression behind her big square sunglasses did not disguise the gloating words visible in the bubble over her head: “And they call this a funeral?”

It could not compare, of course, to the incredible Princess of Wales treatment that her husband had for his state funeral. And Nancy, hypersensitive to any slights to her Ronnie, would not have been pleased with Mr. Ford’s interview with Michael Beschloss published in Newsweek, in which he blamed Ronald Reagan for costing him the 1976 election by challenging his nomination and then failing to hit the trail for him.

It was good of Mr. Ford to bring 41 and 43 together in a solemn respite from their uneasy competition over Iraq.

“Told you so, you sons of guns — we were right to stop at Safwan and stay out of Baghdad,” the father’s bubble read, as he watched Rummy and Henry the K, both of whom had treated Poppy with such veiled contempt, as though he were a feather duster. “Those vicious Moktada-loving Shiites dancing around Saddam’s dead body prove that Brent and I were right.”

Lynne Cheney glared at Poppy as he gave his eulogy, knowing that he privately thinks that the vice president has destroyed not only Iraq and American foreign policy, but the Bush family name. Her storm cloud of a bubble is expurgated.Hillary’s bubble was full of mockery for another New Yorker in the National Cathedral: “You think you’re so smart, Rudy, but you leave your entire presidential battle plan in a hotel room for your rivals to find? The victim role doesn’t suit you.” Condi’s bubble was as opaquely dark as Hillary’s was risibly light — drooping with the inchoate fear that her nearby erstwhile mentor, Brent Scowcroft, had been right about Iraq after all.

As Poppy spoke from the altar, praising Mr. Ford’s generosity, he must have been mulling that his predecessor was ungenerous in spitting on him from the grave. Mr. Ford told Mr. Beschloss that Bush Sr. had sold out the party to the hard right and had taken a phony, pandering position on abortion.
Go here for the rest of the delicious dish, best served cold, which includes the classic Dick Cheney quote, "I'm surging. I'm surging."

Happy Bennett Day!

Only one person reading this blog will understand the reference - unless, that is, his mother has started reading blogs but I doubt it - but a very merry Ruthie Gifford Bennett College Day to you, Mr. Judd.

A Conscientious Rejector or American Patriot of Good Conscience?

Kevin Sites blogs about First Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned American officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq based on his strong belief (shared by very many) that the Iraq War is illegal.

About The New Toyota That Won't Operate If You're Drunk?

While I applaud Toyota for coming up with a car that won't allow a drunken or otherwise impaired person to operate it (uh.. aren't there products - perhaps even after-market ones - out that do this already), I have just one question:

When the [expletive deleted] will someone come up with hardware that will prevent a president who has no sense of what he's doing
(whether drunk, on cocaine or other drugs, or just a complete and utter egomaniacal moron) from having any of his orders or mandates acted upon?

We sure could have used that the last six years, and I can certainly think of someone (who shall go nameless but there might be a visual clue in this posting: it's late and I can't tell) for whom this would be useful, and a whole PLANET full of people (anyone not named Bush or Cheney or Halliburton, actually) whom this might save.


What's More Important? The Entire Safety and Future of The World? Or Bush's Ego?

Well, as usual, the answer is, "Bush's ego."

Posted at Skippy by Carnacki, an interesting exchange about the White House press corps and the "truthiness" of what passes for journalism in Bush's America:

An anonymous emailer to Dan Froomkin of the WashingtonPost.com's White House Briefing nails aWol's motives better than the reporters and pundits that normally cover the White House:
    "It seems that you, and many others who comment on the President, have a difficult time understanding his motivation regarding Iraq. It seems irrational if viewed in the context of what appears to be the indisputable facts on the ground. Why would a President deliberately ignore sound advice based on rational investigation? . . .

    "He's not stupid, and he has shown in the past that when defeat looks him in the eye he can do a 180 without a blink. So what's up? I don't have any more insight than the next person, but one thought that keeps rattling around in my head is this."

    Early on, when things started to go south in Iraq, Bush said something along the lines of solving Iraq would be left up to the next President. I know it wasn't that blatant, but it gave the impression that he was perfectly willing to leave his successor with the whole mess if things didn't 'work out' for him. Ever since that comment, I get the distinct impression that Bush is just trying to run out the clock in order to avoid facing an acknowledgment of the worst foreign policy disaster in this nation's history.

    "I fully expect for him to continue to assert that we can have success in Iraq, in spite of any evidence to the contrary, until the day he leaves office. He will stall, patch things together, anything to avoid the appearance of an acknowledgment of failure. He knows that Iraq is a failure, but if he leaves office still maintaining that we can 'win' or 'succeed' there then history will not judge him so harshly.

    "Obviously we will have to change course, but he's not going to be the guy to do it. He will then maintain that someone else 'lost' Iraq because they didn't have the courage and determination to stick it out. As with everything in his life, from his National Guard service to his serial failures in business and life in general, it's all about him - not the country, not the job, not our reputation in the world or our hard won and universally admired heritage of concern for basic human rights. He's not trying to save this country or Iraq, he's trying to save himself and his 'place in history'. He's completely wrong of course, but given his history of privilege and never having to suffer the consequences of his long record of bad decisions, it does kind of make sense.

    "We assume that, like most Presidents, he connects his self-image with actual success or failure in the real world. I increasingly am drawn to the conclusion that, regardless of the facts on the ground, he will consider himself a success as long as he never admits that his ill-fated adventure in Iraq can't succeed."

Another Top Bush Administration War Criminal ::cough:: Official, John Negroponte, To Leave National Intel Job

Well, I believe I had it right when I said war criminal; just ask the people of Honduras, et al about Negroponte.

I would like it better if Negroponte was leaving for a cell in a federal prison or perhaps Gitmo. Maybe that can still happen.

Hope springs eternal (sort of like frozen Vermont pipes in January).

Iraq #6: Speaking Of How The Bushies Expected Iraq To Cheer At Saddam's Execution

Also from Juan Cole of Informed Comment, two parts; here (and CNN is calling the outrage growing exponentially by the hour in Iraq):

CBS/AP report that an angry crowd of Sunni Arab demonstrators in the northern city of Samarra, protesting Saddam's execution, broke "broke the locks off the badly damaged Shiite Golden Dome mosque and marched through carrying a mock coffin and photo of the executed former leader."

Folks, this is very bad news. The Askariyah Shrine (it isn't just a mosque) is associated with the Hidden Twelfth Imam, who is expected by Shiites to appear at the end of time to restore the world to justice. (For them, the Imam Mahdi is sort of like the second coming of Christ for Christians). The Muqtada al-Sadr movement is millenarian and believes he will reveal himself at any moment...

For Sunni Arabs to parade a symbolic coffin of Saddam through the ruins of the Askariya shrine won't be exactly good for social peace in Iraq. Can't that site be properly guarded or something?

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that hundreds of demonstrators marched in Dur, near Tikrit on Monday, protesting the execution of Saddam Hussein. Young men carried machine guns and fired them in the air, chanting "Muqtada, you coward," and "Hakim! Yellow-belly! Agent of the Americans!" They unveiled an enormous mosaic of Saddam Hussein inscribed, "The Martry-Hero."
and here:
MENA, the Egyptian news agency, reports a demonstration of hundreds of persons on Tuesday in Habhab near Baquba, protesting Saddam's execution. The demonstrators denounced the Iraqi and American governments.

An Iraqi observer at Saddam's execution, prosecutor Munqidh Faraon, maintains that two senior Iraqi government officials took the footage with their cell phones. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has launched an investigation. But national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Ruba'i admits that the footage, which includes Shiite sectarian chanting and taunting, is extremely damaging to the government.

An Iranian wire service reports that the parties making up the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance (the leading bloc in parliament) met with young Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in hopes of convincing him to ask the 32 parliamentarians who follow him to return to the alliance. The effort is being guided by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who spearheaded the formation of the UIA in fall, 2004. This Iranian interpretation of the meetings suggests that they are intended to forestall an alliance of the Sadrists with Sunni Arab parties, which would have the effect of dividing the Shiites. Mehr also explains Muqtada's prerequisites for rejoining the UIA, which his deputies left when Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki met with US President George W. Bush in Amman. Muqtada, the report says,
    ' has said that his supporters will return to parliament and cabinet sessions if a timetable is set for the withdrawal of foreign troops. He also totally rejected the proposals to merge the Mahdi Army with Iraq’s armed forces, saying that would only be possible after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.'

Iraq #5: Don't Miss Juan Cole's "Top 10 Ways U.S. Enabled Saddam Hussein"

You really should read Juan's list detailing just some of the most important ways the U.S. government supported and catered to "the great tyrant", Saddam Hussein, many of them involving the exact same incidents for which the U.S. proclaimed we had to attack Iraq (again), we had to depose Saddam, and then we had to kill Saddam.

For those who don't know this professor, Juan Cole, he's probably one of the top dozen or so experts on Iraq and the Middle East with the United States. And no, he's nothing like the people the Bushies call experts on Iraq - the ones who call it "Eye-rack" and don't seem to know there are individual sects like Sunnis and Shiites, let alone anything more useful.

Iraq #4: Riverbend On The Execution of Saddam Hussein

And the Bushies were sure that:

  1. killing Saddam would make Dubya feel even more really really really important than he already feels, and
  2. the Iraqis would just LOVE it
Well, I guess one out of two isn't too bad - especially since the needs of the many (just 25 million a year minus the million plus who have fled plus the estimated 1-2 million that may have died since we invaded) Iraqis certainly aren't anywhere near as important as the needs of the spoiled boy Bush king.

Again, from Baghdad Burning, a/k/a Riverbend blog, in a post entitled, "A Lynching":
It's official. Maliki and his people are psychopaths. This really is a new low. It's outrageous- an execution during Eid. Muslims all over the world (with the exception of Iran) are outraged. Eid is a time of peace, of putting aside quarrels and anger- at least for the duration of Eid.

This does not bode well for the coming year. No one imagined the madmen would actually do it during a religious holiday. It is religiously unacceptable and before, it was constitutionally illegal. We thought we'd at least get a few days of peace and some time to enjoy the Eid holiday, which coincides with the New Year this year. We've spent the first two days of a holy holiday watching bits and pieces of a sordid lynching.

America the savior… After nearly four years and Bush's biggest achievement in Iraq has been a lynching. Bravo Americans.

Maliki has made the mistake of his life. His signature and unhidden glee at the whole execution, especially on the first day of Eid Al Adha (the Eid where millions of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca), will only do more to damage his already tattered reputation. He's like a vulture in a suit (or a balding weasel). It's almost embarrassing. I kept expecting Muwafaq Al Rubaii to run over and wipe the drool from the corner of his mouth as he signed for the execution. Are these the people who represent the New Iraq? We're in so much more trouble than I ever thought.

And no- not the celebrations BBC are claiming. With the exception of a few areas, the streets are empty.

Now we come to CNN. Shame on you CNN journalists- you're getting lazy. The least you can do is get the last words correct when you write a story about an execution. Your articles are read the world over and will go down in history as references. You people are the biggest news network in the world- the least you can do is spend some money on a decent translator. Saddam's last words were NOT "Muqtada Al Sadr" as Munir Haddad claimed, according to the article below. If anyone had seen at least part of the video they showed on TV, you'd know that.
    "A witness, Iraqi Judge Munir Haddad, said that one of the executioners told Hussein that the former dictator had destroyed Iraq, which sparked an argument that was joined by several government officials in the room.

    As a noose was tightened around Hussein's neck, one of the executioners yelled "long live Muqtada al-Sadr," Haddad said, referring to the powerful anti-American Shiite religious leader.

    Hussein, a Sunni, uttered one last phrase before he died, saying "Muqtada al-Sadr" in a mocking tone, according to Haddad's account."
From the video that was leaked, it was not an executioner who yelled "long live Muqtada al-Sadr". See, this is another low the Maliki government sunk to- they had some hecklers conveniently standing by during the execution. Maliki claimed they were "some witnesses from the trial", but they were, very obviously, hecklers. The moment the noose was around Saddam's neck, they began chanting, in unison, "God's prayers be on Mohamed and on Mohamed's family…" Something else I didn't quite catch (but it was very coordinated), and then "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada!" One of them called out to Saddam, "Go to hell…" (in Arabic). Saddam looked down disdainfully and answered "Heya hay il marjala…?" which is basically saying, "Is this your manhood…?".

Someone half-heartedly called out to the hecklers, "I beg you, I beg you- the man is being executed!" They were slightly quieter and then Saddam stood and said, "Ashadu an la ilaha ila Allah, wa ashhadu ana Mohammedun rasool Allah…" Which means, "I witness there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger." These are the words a Muslim (Sunnis and Shia alike) should say on their deathbed. He repeated this one more time, very clearly, but before he could finish it, he was lynched.

So, no, CNN, his last words were not "Muqtada Al Sadr" in a mocking tone- just thought someone should clear that up. (Really people, six of you contributed to that article!)

Iraq #3: The View of 2006 From An Iraqi's Eyes

From Baghdad Burning, aka Riverbend Blog; it's both devastating and heartbreaking and oh, so very likely fully accurate:

You know your country is in trouble when:
  1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
  2. Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
  3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
  4. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
  5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.
  6. Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
  7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.
  8. Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.
  9. People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.
A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.

2006 has been, decidedly, the worst year yet. No- really. The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It's like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form.

Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there.

That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

Iraq #2: "Iraqis Learn The Art of Legal Workarounds

Glenn Greenwald always draws our attention to what I also found to be a very depressing (and thus, perhaps reality-based) piece in Monday's Times by John Burns & company:

This depressing New York Times article by John Burns and Marc Santora details the frantic, reckless manner in which Saddam Hussein was shoved into the noose in clear violation of Iraqi law. We can't even get a hanging right. With all of the world watching, we yet again were the primary authors of a violent, uncivilized, and primitive act which -- no matter how justified in some ultimate moral sense -- was carried out in the most thuggish, wretched, inept, and (we now learn) patently illegal manner.

It really is striking, and a potent sign of just how absurd is our ongoing occupation, that the "Iraqi Government" which we are fighting to empower could not even conduct this execution with a pretense of legality or concern for civilized norms -- the executioners were not wearing uniforms but leather jackets and murderers' masks, conducting themselves not as disciplined law enforcement officers but as what they are (death squad members and sectarian street thugs).

And the most revealing, and most disturbing, detail is that Saddam's executioners -- in between playground insults spat at a tied-up Saddam -- chanted their religious-like allegiance to Moktada Al Sadr, the Shiite militia leader whom we are told is the Great Enemy of the U.S., the One We Now Must Kill. This noble and just event for which we are responsible was carried out by a brutal, murderous, lawless militia. Freedom is on the march.

Despite all of these grim events, it must at least be encouraging to the Bush administration that the Maliki government is quickly learning some of the most important tools for governing.

Iraq #1: "Iraq In A Nutshell" With Bush, Of Course, As Rancid Nut in Chief (Or As He Would Spell It, In Cheif)

The next several posts all cover the just delightful changes for the ... oh fuck, I can't even be sarcastic about how this nightmare just continues to worsen as the president insists on doing the same bad things just on a larger and larger scale while calling them by ever more nonsensical names like the "new way forward."

Let's start with Anon. Liberal at Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory, but let's start with the corker: the final paragraph of the "Iraq In a Nutshell" post that nails it:

It's time to stop proposing magical plans that Bush will never implement. It's time to stop coming up with ways of providing Bush "political cover" for leaving Iraq; he doesn't want it. It's time to start playing hardball. It's time to start holding hearings and exerting whatever leverage is available to put pressure on the White House. The only way significant change will occur is if Bush finds himself so politically isolated that those around him feel it necessary to stage some sort of intervention.
Now for the rest:

Tuesday's New York Times has a long article which summarizes a year's worth of developments in the Iraq War, both on the ground in Iraq and behind the scenes in Washington. There's not a lot of new information there, but the article does a good job of charting the evolution (however slow and incomplete it has been) of the Bush administration's thinking on Iraq. If you don't have the time to read through it, though, I'd suggest skipping to the very last paragraph. It tells you all you need to know:

    Mr. Bush still insists on talking about victory, even if his own advisers differ about how to define it. “It’s a word the American people understand,” he told members of the Iraq Study Group who came to see him at the White House in November, according to two commission members who attended. “And if I start to change it, it will look like I’m beginning to change my policy.”
Nevermind that a change in policy is exactly what the American people are looking for, by overwhelming margins. Bush knows that this is his war. He started it. He signed off on every key decision along the way. He knows that his historical legacy is on the line, and he cannot/will not bring himself to endorse anything less than "victory" in Iraq:
    Mr. Bush came to worry that it was not just his critics and Democrats in Congress who were looking for what he dismissed last month as a strategy of “graceful exit.” Visiting the Pentagon a few weeks ago for a classified briefing on Iraq with his generals, Mr. Bush made it clear that he was not interested in any ideas that would simply allow American forces to stabilize the violence. Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine commandant, later told marines about the president’s message.“What I want to hear from you is how we’re going to win,” he quoted the president as warning his commanders, “not how we’re going to leave.”
As you've heard far too often now, one of the frequently cited markers for mental illness is when you keep doing the exact same things and yet, each time, expect a better result. The Bushies, of course, take this to a whole new level. They not only claim to expect a better result, they are purely incensed that neither we nor the people of Iraq believe them. Go figure!

Was Saddam Rushed To Execution to Silence Him?

If you've read my postings in the last few days, you know I've wondered this. Saddam knew a lot of dirt about the Bushies and the Middle East. Some of it dates back to the Reagan-Bush I years with more of it more contemporaneous.

Nor is this just idle speculation; Iraq law requires 30 days post affirmation of death sentence for an appeal. When the review board affirmed Saddam Hussein's sentence, there were less than two weeks left before he was hanged - meaning that more than two weeks were shaved off the law-provided appeals process. The appeal had been filed and not yet heard when he was executed early Saturday morning Iraq time.

Here's what Robert Scheer has to say (at Alternet) about what Saddam might have told us had the Bushies not rushed him to the gallows and why the Bushies may have very much wanted him silenced for good as quickly as possible.


How Appropriate: Ford Family Snubs Bush's Attempt At Gerald's Funeral Photo Op

I find this all very appropriate (all except the part where Bush II used Ford's death to try to make political points for his assinine Iraq War policy); brought to us by News from the Left:

The children of late President Gerald Ford spent every hour of public viewing in the United States Capitol to greet tens of thousands of everyday Americans who came to pay tribute to their father. When President George W. Bush showed up, the Ford children were nowhere to be seen.

According to a Capitol Hill source, Bush is the only person to have the Rotunda cleared for his visit, bringing a screeching halt to the public's visit to the casket. Other former Presidents and political VIP's went to the front of the line, but nonetheless greeted fellow mourners while paying their condolences. Further, Bush reportedly spent only seven seconds at the casket and promptly left the building.

While the nation, including Democrats and Republicans alike, joins together in honoring the service and life of a former President, Dubya doesn't seem to get it. Instead, he seems to just be going through the motions.In his New Year's message to America, wherein he offered scant comments on the passing of Ford, he launched into a defense of his failed Iraq Policy.
    "Defeating terrorists and extremists is the challenge of our time, and we will answer history's call with confidence and fight for liberty without wavering," he said.
Perhaps that he is so politically tone deaf is the reason the Ford children decided not to welcome the President during his visit to the casket. I don't blame them one bit.

Paul Krugman: "A Failed Revolution"

Oh dear, I'm reading about the Republican Revolution (a/k/a The Contract on America) right after I've eaten my spanakopita quiche. Whoa is curdled quiche! But here's Krugman anyway with the rest here.

After first attempting to deny the scale of last month’s defeat, the apologists have settled on a story line that sounds just like Marxist explanations for the failure of the Soviet Union. What happened, you see, was that the noble ideals of the Republican revolution of 1994 were undermined by Washington’s corrupting ways. And the recent defeat was a good thing, because it will force a return to the true conservative path.But the truth is that the movement that took power in 1994 — a movement that had little to do with true conservatism — was always based on a lie.

The lie is right there in “The Freedom Revolution,” the book that Dick Armey, who had just become the House majority leader, published in 1995. He declares that most government programs don’t do anything “to help American families with the needs of everyday life,” and that “very few American families would notice their disappearance.” He goes on to assert that “there is no reason we cannot, by the time our children come of age, reduce the federal government by half as a percentage of gross domestic product.”

Right. Somehow, I think more than a few families would notice the disappearance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — and those three programs alone account for a majority of nondefense, noninterest spending. The truth is that the government delivers services and security that people want. Yes, there’s some waste — just as there is in any large organization. But there are no big programs that are easy to cut.

As long as people like Mr. Armey, Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay were out of power, they could run on promises to eliminate vast government waste that existed only in the public’s imagination — all those welfare queens driving Cadillacs. But once in power, they couldn’t deliver.

That’s why government by the radical right has been an utter failure even on its own terms: the government hasn’t shrunk. Federal outlays other than interest payments and defense spending are a higher percentage of G.D.P. today than they were when Mr. Armey wrote his book: 14.8 percent in fiscal 2006, compared with 13.8 percent in fiscal 1995.

Unable to make good on its promises, the G.O.P., like other failed revolutionary movements, tried to maintain its grip by exploiting its position of power. Friends were rewarded with patronage: Jack Abramoff began building his web of corruption almost as soon as Republicans took control. Adversaries were harassed with smear campaigns and witch hunts: Congress spent six years and many millions of dollars investigating a failed land deal, and Bill Clinton was impeached over a consensual affair.

But it wasn’t enough. Without 9/11, the Republican revolution would probably have petered out quietly, with the loss of Congress in 2002 and the White House in 2004. Instead, the atrocity created a window of opportunity: four extra years gained by drowning out unfavorable news with terror alerts, starting a gratuitous war, and accusing Democrats of being weak on national security.
Emphasis the color of much-shed blood entirely mine.

Five Things You Don't Know About Me

As a silly aside, I occasionally play these "meme" games that go 'round blogtopia. Ole Blue the Heretic posted one of these in the last few days, where he answers the one concerning "five things you don't know about me."

So, for shits and giggles (what a phrase!), here's mine, unsolicited (you already know some of my deepest, darkest secrets, like belonging to the Young Republicans in college and once believing that the biggest sin Richard Nixon committed was getting caught):

  1. I've been drunk (and then, not very) just once in my life: the early morning of the final of my final exams senior year in college. The final was James Joyce, a course in which I was not pulling the straight As I usually made. Since Joyce wrote so much of his work "under the influence", I figured that if I drank lots of cheap wine in the empty office of the student newspaper where I was on the editorial board, I'd do better on the test. I aced it, in fact (oddly enough).
  2. I spent several years in college and beyond as the director of religious education at my church and for an ecumenical summer Bible school; I was flirting with becoming a priest until I found out that, because I was a woman, I was not allowed.
  3. I was a high school dropout. Oh yes, I went back within months and went on to be the first in my family to go to college and then to grad school twice.
  4. I don't particularly like many of the "greats" of American music, including The Beatles, Elvis, Led Zeppelin, etc.
  5. I once took a Polaroid picture of my brain taken during a brain scan back home to show my mother to "prove" her wrong that I had no brain. She told me that showing just a picture of the outside of the brain did nothing to prove there was anything inside it.

Pitiful, ain't it?

The American Dollar: Countries Running, Not Walking, Away From It

The New York Times has a piece up today detailing how many countries along with central banks are tiptoeing away from the U.S. dollar, which was in enough trouble before but during the Bush years has been in rather sustained free fall (not a good thing).

I think it's more like nations and banks are fleeing from the American dollar and it's happening for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Mr. Bush's disastrous fiscal policy and the way he has completely dessimated what little good was left of the American image throughout the world.

Joe Lieberman: Even As He Declares War On Iran, He's Also Been One Of That Nation's Best FiendsFriends

[Ed. note: I tried numerous times to post this last night but Blogger ate them faster than my dog devoured my last batch of Christmas cookies.]

Both Anonymous Liberal and Glenn Greenwald, posting at Glenn's Unclaimed Territory, make some excellent points re: Republicrat Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman's editorial in the Washington Post effectively declaring war on Iran. Joe, being President Bush's favorite "beanie-wearin', Jesus-challenged" friend, is not only ardently supporting Bush's planned "surge" (most of us would call it a monstrously disastrous escalation of the Iraq War) but can't wait to get into Iran and destroy that country as well.

And that's a big part of the points tendered by Glenn and A.L.: that men like Lieberman have helped tremendously in making Iran what it is today just as assuredly as men like Lieberman want to tear Iran down in a move that mixes "Christian" and Israeli zealotry with too many other tragically misguided notions, including the neocons desire to wipe out the Middle East and reshape it in their image. Yet, a bigger true slice of this is Lieberman's blind ambition to become president; something he will likely never see come to fruition, regardless of how many rigged Diebold voting machines are out there. Like John McCain - except that McCain actually served in a time of war - Lieberman is willing to spare countless lives in service of his campaign.

Imagine This... Would You Really Want This Cast Of Crooks and War Criminals Eulogizing You?

You're at the funeral of someone you most dearly love - or perhaps you're the dead-ee and you get to peek in and hear what's being said at the service.

At first blush, you feel very honored because the church - or other facility - is chuck full with what appears to be a slew of dignitaries. The money spent on floral arrangements alone could pay off the house.

But then you realize just who it is up there saying all these flowery things: men (and I use the term loosely) like Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, the ever-sobbing George H.W. Bush [hey, if you had kids like his, you'd sob, too], Donny "Stud Muffin" Rumsfeld, and others of that ilk.

Look, if I died and people like that wanted to say wonderful things about me, I'd be really pissed. I'd be thinking, "I really fucked up my life to have such friends!"

Thus, forgive me if I figure that having these men eulogize the late president Gerald Ford is karmic as well as cosmic payback for pardoning Dicky Nixon.

“To know Jerry Ford was to know a Norman Rockwell painting come to life,” said Bush I. ::retch::


This Psychiatrist Says We Need To Impeach Bush & Cheney For Our Mental Health

Hey, who am I to disagree with the good doctor (Carol Wolman)? Lifted ruthlessly from Raw Story, where you can read it in its entirety:

"We the people" have been and are being badly abused by the Bush administration. We've been disenfranchised by Diebold, a major Bush donor. Our Congress, our elected Representatives, have been corrupted, intimidated into going along with shredding of the Constitution. The incoming Democrats, whom we elected in protest, plan to play ball with Bush.

We've been lied into Iraq and our taxes are being used to support all kinds of atrocities there. Our reputation as an honorable nation has been destroyed, and hatred has been stirred up against us all over the world.

Our treasury is being drained, the public sector, on which we rely for essential services and infrastructure, is being starved. Rampant cronyism and ripoffs go unchecked.

Our land is being defiled with pollutants, clearcutting, exploitation of pristine areas. Standards of cleanliness and safety have been lowered or ignored. Public utilities are being "privatized", including the health care system, the prison system, the energy system, so that the public welfare is subordinated to profit. The commons is being destroyed.

We are being systematically stripped of our freedoms. Freedom of the press has all but vanished, and the TV networks and major newspapers have become propaganda organs. Freedom of assembly and speech are being threatened. Individual privacy has disappeared. Habeas corpus is no more.

Our future is being mortgaged. We are leaving our kids an overheating planet, since the Bushies won't acknowledge global warming, let alone do anything about it. We are leaving them an enormous debt, and a set of laws that allows fascism to be imposed at will.

Our emotions are being manipulated by the constant fake terror alerts. Meanwhile we are being terrorized into submission to Bush, with reports of concentration camps under construction by Halliburton, warrantless tapping of our phone calls and emails, scary legislation like the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Act, and the Military Commissions Act.

I could go on and on- you, reader, can add your own outrages to the list. The point is, "we the people" are being abused by the members of the Executive Branch, whose job it is to carry out OUR will, the will of "we the people".

As a people, we are now depressed. We feel helpless to stop the depredations. Our massive repudiation of the Iraq occupation and the Bush administration at the polls seems to have been pointless. The Iraq occupation is escalating again- more troops, more money for Halliburton and Carlyle. The Democrats has said that "impeachment is not on the table". A feeling of hopelessness and dread of what the future will bring is hanging over us.

We are like a wife trapped in an abusive marriage, who feels that duty and economics prevent her from leaving. Perhaps she still feels some love and loyalty to the husband who mistreats her. Perhaps she feels she deserves ill treatment, or that she's too weak and pitiful to do anything about it. She becomes depressed and resigned to a dismal life.

...We the people need to separate from Bush and Cheney. The mechanism for this is impeachment. Pelosi's plan to "work with" Bush is co-dependence, allowing the perpetrator to continue his abuse. In this case, enabling the criminals to continue their ripoff of the public amounts to co-conspiracy, opening the Congresspeople who go along to criminal charges.

A statement by House leaders of intention to investigate for impeachment, and a REFUSAL to cooperate with Bush plans to escalate in Iraq, etc, etc, would amount to a restraining order, preventing further harm to "we the people". Safety first.

This should be followed by a thorough investigation and impeachment by the House, which acts as the "district attorney"- the attorney for "we the people". Impeachment = indictment. The evidence will surely be strong enough to warrant conviction by the Senate, even if the Democrats do lack a 2/3 majority there. Public airing of Bush and Cheney's high crimes through the House investigation will force the Senate to convict, and eject them from office. They can then be tried as ordinary citizens in a regular criminal court. We the people will become empowered, as we are supposed to be under our Constitution. We will be able to restore paper ballots and ensure fair elections. We will be able to address the pressing problems of global warming, budgetary crisis, nuclear pollution, and all the other ills which we will inherit from 6 years of Bush's plundering. Our self-esteem as a nation, and our reputation among nations, will be restored.

Impeachment is the only way this can happen. Impeachment is peaceful, legal and democratic.

Power to the people!
Peace out!

Nick Kristof: Ten (10) Ways to Rescue Bush

[Ed. note: Cross-posted you know where. Also, I really tire of always hearing Mr. Bush portrayed as a victim of circumstances, when he's almost invariably the perpetrator. It's never a piece that talks about how Americans or others have been harmed by Bush but of how poor Mr. Bush is being abashed and abused. Please!]

(Who says we want him rescued?)

The excellent Steve at The Carpetbagger Report summarizes Nick Kristof's column beautifully (so I don't need to do so):

If you missed the NYT’s Nick Kristof’s year-end piece yesterday, it was a sight to behold.

Kristof noted that the president’s legacy “doesn’t look good right now,” and imagined a future obituary that described Bush leaving office “vilified and disgraced.” Kristof proceeded to offer 10 suggestions for the president to pursue in 2007 that might help him “rescue” his legacy. It’s quite a list.

* Negotiate with Iran and Syria, and “renounce permanent military bases in Iraq.”
* Start working on an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
* Confront the genocide in Darfur.
* Dump Dick Cheney and get a new VP.
* Expand the government’s efforts to combat AIDS.
* Address climate change.
* Give up on the idea of attacking Iran.
* Give up on privatization and embrace a Clinton-like approach to Social Security reform.
* Address our disgraceful inequities in health care and pursue Carter’s idea of comprehensive coverage for children up to age 5.
* “Steal [policy ideas] from your critics and rivals.”

It’s enough to make me wonder if Kristof has been watching the same president as the rest of us the last six years.
Me, too, Steve. Me too! Yet, as I wrote above, I have no desire to rescue him.

Evict, yes.
Impeach, fine and dandy.
Put on trial for war crimes and treason, absolutely! It's our moral and global responsibility.

But rescue? Not one of my top 3,917 priorities for this year (I'd paint my toe nails pink first and I abhor the color pink - I'm not crazy about toe nail polish either).

You can also find a piece about this at Raw Story.

Politically Supported - And Financially Underwritten - Blogging?

You might want to catch the link and preliminary discussion from the Weekend Link Dump at Green Mountain Daily re: whether it's a big issue or not to have politicians support and underwrite political blogs re a now-slightly-elderly piece from The Times' OpEd back on December 3rd. This concern should not be limited to bloggers either. Anyone who uses a blog as an information resource probably needs to consider it.

Although we're not talking about substantial amounts of money (on the more progressive side, the money being handed out tends to be relatively slight compared to some big bucks aimed at the far right - selling one's soul, of course, should not be cheap ::cough::choke::), I'm not at all certain I think this is a smart. However, I also believe this is an individual decision.

Yet, when a blogger does take either a large sum once or a recurring amount in regular sponsorship, I do believe this should be noted upfront.

Your opinions?

Tip of The (Virtual) Hat to Dan DeWalt, Named One of 2006's Most Valuable Progressives

[Ed. note: Cross-posted at Vermont: Now and Zen.]

Reported by Odum at Green Mountain Daily and, I believe, well deserved (congratulations, Dan!):

From The Nation Online's John Nichols, author of The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism (emphasis added):
    Nancy Pelosi may have tried to take impeachment off the table, but the AfterDowningStreet.org crew, led by the indomitable David Swanson, kept forcing it back on. Their coalition's website remains the "go-to" place for the latest on investigations, inquiries, subpoenas, legal actions and every other move to hold this president and vice president to account. And their passion for empowering citizens to promote "impeachment from below" and other accountability initiatives has forged a loose-knit but very real national movement. Watch for this movement to get a lot more attention in March, when a drive organized by Newfane, Vermont, town selectman and impeachment impresario Dan DeWalt and others will see dozens of town meetings endorse articles of impeachment.
Dan proved that a single person can make a substantial difference and help drive a movement.

This is a lesson we all should take to heart to remind us that you don't need a huge budget or other massive resources to get people to think and to move in a more evolved direction.

Despite The Fact That They Always Get The Intelligence Wrong, The Bushies Find New People To Spy Upon

Now we're going to invade Europeans' privacy because - well - because President Bush figures he's king of the world and he has the right ("so there, nyah-nyah," as Spurious George would say it). Story goes that we've done some deal so we can snoop in the email and credit card records of Europeans visiting the U.S.

That should help our declining tourism industry, eh?

With no joke intended, I really can't imagine why anyone bothers to visit the U.S. anymore. We make everyone's life hell and, with the way the Bush Administration murdered habeas corpus even faster and more effectively than they hung Saddam Hussein, we can just disappear any European we want, without saying we're holding them, much less why.

Lee Harvet Oswald Hussein?

Here's one you definitely haven't seen before (and if you have, well... one of us should be worried about you).

Courtesy of the good folks at Wrapped In The Flag.

Oh, That Global Warming Myth: Prepare For The Hottest Year Ever

Again, we're very fortunate the scientific geniuses of the Bush Administration and his biggest fans, the energy/oil corporations, have determined global warming is just a Democratic conspiracy theory; otherwise, we might be slightly concerned. Some like it H-O-T!

A combination of global warming and the El Niño weather system is set to make 2007 the warmest year on record with far-reaching consequences for the planet, one of Britain's leading climate experts has warned.

As the new year was ushered in with stormy conditions across the UK, the forecast for the next 12 months is of extreme global weather patterns which could bring drought to Indonesia and leave California under a deluge.

The warning, from Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, was one of four sobering predictions from senior scientists and forecasters that 2007 will be a crucial year for determining the response to global warming and its effect on humanity.

Professor Jones said the long-term trend of global warming - already blamed for bringing drought to the Horn of Africa and melting the Arctic ice shelf - is set to be exacerbated by the arrival of El Niño, the phenomenon caused by above-average sea temperatures in the Pacific.
Combined, they are set to bring extreme conditions across the globe and make 2007 warmer than 1998, the hottest year on record. It is likely temperatures will also exceed 2006, which was declared in December the hottest in Britain since 1659 and the sixth warmest in global records.
[Also so kind, the Bushies' people remind us that the Rapture will arrive before we have to worry about being even mildly inconvenienced, a great way to justify Texans love of cars even bigger than their mouths and cranking up the air conditioning full blast whenever the outside temp gets warmer than 68 degrees.]

(More Of Just What We DON'T Need) The Pentagon Goes Hollywood

From the Christian Science Monitor, just another way the Pentagon reshapes the facts to fit their fantasy and fables:

LOS ANGELES – If it were up to Martin Gundersen, Robert Barker, and Alex Singer, the next Hollywood blockbuster script would read something like this: INTERIOR LAB - DAY OR NIGHT (WHO CAN EVER TELL IN THESE PLACES?)

Strains of Chopin float through a science lab. An intense woman in a white smock - let's call her something heroic like DIANA CURIE (picture Beyoncé or Penelope Cruz) - is about to fire a round of argon from her nanoparticle gun. Suddenly, her beeping phone pierces the calm. She flips it open - a red "S" flashes on the screen. She drops the gun and dashes to the door.


Curie glances around furtively. She takes off her glasses and quickly unbuttons her lab coat to reveal blue tights emblazoned with a giant red "S" ... followed by the letters "c-i-e-n-c-e."
Now in her superhero costume, she goes to the window, dons an antigravity pack, and flies off to save the world - once again - for Truth, Justice, and the American Scientific Way....

We'll leave the rest of the screenplay to William Goldman because you're probably getting the point by now. However exaggerated the above confection may be, the triumvirate of Messrs. Gundersen, Barker, and Singer is serious about getting science - and scientific heroes - into the movies. In fact, they see it as vital to the health of American technological prowess, to say nothing of national security.

So what they've done for the past three years is convene a three-to-five-day screenwriting class at the venerated American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Called the Catalyst Workshop, it's a lot like other screenwriting classes that have become a cottage industry across the nation. But here's the twist - all participants in this one are actually scientists. Hardcore, PhD-laden, lab-certified scientists. Here's the second twist - the training was all paid for by the Pentagon.

These screenwriting classes are indeed your Department of Defense tax dollars at work. Egregious example of DOD waste? Some bizarre recruiting promise? The cinematic equivalent of $700 toilet seats? Actually, it's the Pentagon's way of trying to enhance the nation's science-and-technology adroitness.

America, it turns out, is suffering from a science and engineering shortage. Students are bypassing the sciences for sexier and more lucrative jobs in law, venture capital, and competitions to be on "American Idol." That means, in addition to national deficits in sleep, fitness, and the federal budget, we have a dearth of particle physicists and electromechanical engineers.

This creates something of a national security problem: Labs that perform classified research are required to hire US citizens. According to Dr. Barker, who works in the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, those who manage the national labs and others who conduct sensitive research have been saying for years "how hard it is to find qualified graduate students who are US citizens."

Then there's the challenge of remaining competitive in the world. Barker notes that 50 percent of America's scientific-and-engineering workforce will be eligible to retire in the next five years. Who's going to replace them?

Finally, there's the issue of science illiteracy. One of the participants in the Catalyst Worshop, Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, a materials physicist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, cites a recent survey showing that 30 percent of the American public is still under the impression that the sun orbits around the earth.

::rolling eyes:: ::belching nausea and fire::

Open Thread: Thoughts On Year Past And The New Year Just Begun

[Ed. note: Cross-posted to Vermont: Now and Zen.]

For those of us who are thoughtful - and who are not suffering with the effects of any potential excess indulged in at midnight - New Year's Eve and Day are often a time of serious reflection.

So let's start off today's posting with your observations, thoughts, hopes and dreams, disappointments and disasters (both real and perceived).

  • What were your great and worst moments of 2006, personally or otherwise?
  • What was the worst/best thing that happened (to you, your community, your country, your world)?
  • What do you want out of 2007?
  • Can you identify and share three events/changes/miracles you want to see this year?

Please add your comments here. I'll even jump start this:

Q: Great and worst moments of 2006?
A: Great:

1) Meeting and getting to know some extraordinary people, including some of you.

2) Having some people I respect extend themselves to me, including some of you as well as neighbors who had the occasion to tell me this year what a good neighbor I was and how much they appreciated me.

3) Discovering singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen and his hauntingly beautiful, "Hallelujah".

4) Reading some exceptional books (use links to read more or to order from Powells, a union bookstore), including:

* Jimmy Carter's "Peace, Not Apartheid"
* Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed"
* Marc Estrin's "Insect Dreams: The Half Life of Gregor Samsa"
* Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way"
* John Perkins' "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man"
* David Mamet's "South of The Northeast Kingdom" (about life where I live in Vermont where Mamet is my neighbor)
* John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience"
* Thom Hartmann's "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against The Middle Class"
* Eckhardt Tolle's "The Power of Now".

5) Being able to share with people who have less than I.

6) Finally hearing someone on network TV news (Keith Olbermann of "Countdown" on MSNBC) state some truths so much of the rest of the media cowers and hides from; Olbermann's many "Special Comments" have been powerful and extraordinary.

1) Having the world as I knew it personally shatter around me, despite my best efforts to prevent it.
2) Feeling powerless to help people as much as I wanted.
3) Not getting a couple of jobs that just seemed perfect for me.
4) Losing a friend.
5) Suffering with a chemical depression that defies any form or combination of treatment.

Another Unhappy Milestone: 3,000 U.S. Soldiers Dead Now In Iraq War

Well, Mr. Bush, you certainly know how to ring in a new year, with the official Pentagon-admitted figure of 3,000 U.S. soldiers dead in your cooked Iraq War.

But, of course, it's not just our young men and women dying. British and other soldiers die there, too, but in nowhere near the numbers of Iraqi civilians.

In fact, you have the rather audacious "honor" of killing more Iraqis - directly and indirectly - than Saddam Hussein did in crimes for which he was hanged until he was dead early Saturday morning.

I often wonder what Saddam might have been able to tell us about the Ronald Reagan-George Bush I years, when these highly questionable American presidents were propping up Saddam, arming him with the very weapons he used to torture and murder.

I also wonder what Saddam might have been able to say about the late 1990s and 2000 when Dick Cheney, then CEO of Halliburton, appeared before the Senate to insist sanctions be ended against Saddam and Iraq so Halliburton could sell even more weaponry and other goods there than it had already sold, illegally, under the table, in the decade since those sanctions were put in place. Once you got into office, however, Cheney couldn't wait to call Saddam the "evil enemy" and pretend like he'd never called the man a friend, which indeed he had before.

What a legacy, George. Only you and your parents can be proud of this.

Happy New Year!


Last Post of 2006!

I have much to post, but wanted to sneak one last in before the stroke of midnight!