Lies And Damned Lies: DOD Gates Says Iraq Surge Begins In February

I see the new Defense Secretary is making up for lost time lying while Mr. Bush pretended to "deliberate" his new (same ol') Iraq plan: Robert Gates says the Iraq surge begins in February.

But we know from multiple sources that the call-up began in early December, that some of the surge troops were already on the ground before the New Year and that more arrived there in at least two batches this past week.

For all the talk, too, that the very first unit to ever get its third deployment to Iraq was shipping this week, I heard sometime last year of units already on their fourth deployment.

They changed rules of length of service for "citizen soldiers" this past week, but these rules had already been broken for years and that we had many guardsmen and others who had long ago passed the 24-month service mark.

I won't even touch their claims - Bush and Gates - that money for the surge is already in the budget because we know damned well that Bush has NEVER added any of the Iraq war costs to the budget where it might get hit. For the $550 Billion price tag currently attributed to the Iraq war so far, I read a lot that indicates the current price tag closer to $2.5 Trillion which does NOT cover the surge, does NOT cover the costs needed for the troops as they come home and deal with the physical/psychological fallout, and does not include the money we flushed into Halliburton, Bechtel, et al for "rebuilding" and other services in Iraq where we paid and these Bush-buddy corporations did not perform.

I'm really, really tired of the fairy tales. You?

In The Pot Calling The Kettle Names Department

Bush is calling us "irresponsible" - meaning anyone critical of his "new" plan which sounds just like the old plan only worse.


Spiffy System The Bushies Got Going: Top Pentagon Official Threatens Lawyers Who Defend Gitmo Detainees

It really just kills the Bush Administration and the far right wingers that any attempt is made to uphold the system of justice laid out by our forefathers, that everyone deserves adequate representation and that a government of any kind, including our own, is NOT supposed to simply pick people up and keep them forever without any charges filed or, where charged, should be defended.

Now the Pentagon is going after public defenders assigned to the people languishing in Guantanamo Bay again.

Even if Bush & Cheney & Company are brought up on charges of treason - as I very much feel they should be (and should have been long ago - I wish for them a better time than they have given these people who may be a damned sight more innocent.

James Zogby On Bush's Surge Speech And Two Iraq-Related Timebombs Ticking Down

Writes James Zogby:

There are two Iraq-related time bombs ticking downward, each of which will determine the fate of millions caught in the war's cross-hairs. The first is the U.S. public's growing dissatisfaction not only with the war, but with the president himself. The second involves the internal Iraqi dynamic, which all signs suggest is moving in the direction of an expanded civil war.

If either of the two, or both, reach their zero point, the U.S. adventure in Iraq is all but doomed.

The problem with President George W. Bush's most recent "new" plan to the win the war is that he has ignored the reality of both of these potentially explosive situations - at great risk. In deciding to escalate the U.S. military presence in order to strengthen what has been shown to be a decidedly sectarian Iraqi government, the President appears to be shortening the fuse on both bombs.

Bush's Wednesday night speech was billed as "the most important of his presidency." This was, at least, the third most important Iraq speech of his tenure - each of which was designed, at the time, to salvage his undertaking in Iraq. However, his long record of failure - in the war, in response to Katrina and elsewhere - has taken a toll. He has increasingly lost the trust of the American people - trust he must have - if they are to support his leadership in what has become an increasingly unpopular war.

If the President's approval rating were in the 60% range and support for the war were severely divided, he might have been able to succeed in pulling off this plan for a surge in troops. But with his approval rating at 35% and support for his leadership in the war at 25%, he appears more like a failed salesman offering rejected goods.
When hasn't Bush seemed like a failed salesman with rejected goods? But this just gets worse.

On A Less Serious Note: "Bunny", The My Box In a Box For You Girl Revealed

If you caught Keith Olbermann's Countdown on MSNBC last night, you saw this story of "Bunny" (the girl singing is actually lip syncing, naturally) who did the parody of the parody of the "Bleep (Cock's?) in the Box" from Justin Timberlake's Saturday Night Light guest spot in December. If you didn't, read here at Huffington Post.

The only part of the piece I really like is where they show Spurious George and she sings, "My bush would never lie."

Better Brains For Longer: Knowing More Than One Language Helps Stave Off Dementia

More and more, we're seeing growing evidence that the more active we can keep our brains, the longer we will be able to live without dementia or perhaps even Alzheimer's. The latest evidence of this is a report that knowing and using at least two languages (bilingualism) seems to make a difference here.

Of course, this won't help Mr. Bush who can't speak a single language. And people like Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and Bill O'Reilly clearly are demented far earlier than normal.

While Bush Tantrums That People Don't Like His Plan, He Makes Matters Worse, Sends Rice

I forget who it was this week who said that Bush was about to send - along with far more troops and tons more money to be spent badly - two of America's least effective weapons into Iraq: Patriot missiles and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

Well, Rice is on her way to Baghdad; the results are apt to be substantially less funny than the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby vehicle, "The Road to Baghdad".

God help us and God help the Iraqis. As I have noted too many times before, her notion of diplomacy is to make mean faces at anyone who questions her president.

WaPo On "No Child Left Behind"

Citing its wording as vague and its standard quite open to interpretation, the Post discusses various "flaws" in a Bush-advanced program that I happen to believe is about only two things, neither pretty and neither to be condoned:

  • To get access to kids to drum them into the military for Bush's endless wars, and
  • To begin the elimination of public education in the U.S. as we now - or rather, once - knew it

"Is Bush Calling For Genocide?"

What Bush is willing to sink to always amazes me. Gordon at Alternate Brain asks, "Is Bush Calling for Genocide?" He follows it with this:

This may be a little tinfoil-hattish, but that's never stopped me. From xymphora:
    The 'surge' is itself another Bush lie. The Pentagon doesn't have the troops, so the 'increase' will just be Pentagon crooked bookkeeping (crooked bookkeeping is something the Pentagon is good at). The real plan is much worse. It is a covert change in the rules of engagement. [...]

    This is coded language, but not difficult to read. Bush is calling for genocide against the Sunnis. He is following the recommendation of John Podhoretz in the New York Post (note that Uruknet misattributes this to John Podhoretz's almost equally vile father; the most infamous line is in red [bold]):

        "What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?

        If you can't imagine George W. Bush issuing such an order, is there any American leader you could imagine doing so?"

      "Now we can imagine Bush issuing such an order. We will also see the Americans go medieval on the Sunnis in Anbar (who are called 'al Qaeda'). Just to confirm who is running things, there is a tiny reference in Bush's speech to more for Israel:

        "We will expand intelligence sharing - and deploy Patriot air defence systems to reassure our friends and allies."
I think we have to monitor this situation very, very closely and be most careful what we allow the Bush Administration to serve us to drink.

Oh, That Mythical Global Warming Weather - Tsunami Warning

MSNBC just broke in with news that a tsunami warning has been issued for Japan and Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Not good.

Then they reported that waves could reach 3.3 feet.

3.3 feet?

Gee, it almost sounds like Japan's taller buildings could withstand that, eh? So could my dog.

I suspect maybe they got a decimal point wrong somewhere but ... uh.... good luck to Japan and the Aleutians. Doesn't sound too good.


Maureen Dowd: "A Risky Game of Risk"

Having played - and lost, as I always do - Risk over the holidays*** (see note below) I can extra appreciate this MoDo column which you can read in its entirety here (I give you snippies, only):

I feel good about the new war with Iran.

How can you not have confidence in the crackerjack team that brought you Operation Iraqi Freedom, which foundered and led to Operation Together Forward, which stumbled and led to Operation Together Forward II, which collapsed and was replaced by The New Way Forward, the Surge now being launched even though nobody’s together and everything’s going backward?

I say, bring it on. If a pre-emptive war in Iraq doesn’t work, why not try a pre-emptive war on Iran in Iraq?

Although Tony Snow dismissed the idea of war with Iran as an “urban legend” yesterday, Condi Rice revealed to New York Times reporters that President Bush acted months ago to parry Iran’s ambitions, issuing orders for a military campaign against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces sneaking into Iraq. Using diplomatic passports, the agents have been smuggling in sophisticated bomb-making components and infrared trigger devices, which could be used to blow up American soldiers.

The move against Iran allows the president and Dick Cheney — who was, natch, militating for the Surge — to blow off, once more, the Iraq Study Group and Congress, to push back rather than make up.

James Baker and Lee Hamilton had recommended playing nice with the mad mullahs, which even they acknowledged was a long shot, given that the Bush administration can offer them little except acquiescence in their nuclear weapons program, which is not going to happen.

Joe Biden, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned Condi on Thursday that Mr. Bush did not have the authority to pursue the networks over the border into Iran or Syria. On Friday, Bob Gates assured the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Iranians they target won’t be in Iran.

We’re trying to stanch a self-inflicted wound: our failed occupation gave Iran the opening in Iraq we’re now trying to shut down.

The White House had to admit this week what has been obvious to everybody else for eons, including a list of lame assumptions they embraced during the first few years of the occupation: “Majority of Iraqis will support the coalition and Iraqi efforts to build a democratic state” has now been supplanted by “Iraqis increasingly disillusioned with coalition efforts.”

It’s a remarkable moment, W. standing nearly alone, deserted by more and more Republicans, generals and Americans, risking it all on a weak reed like Prime Minister Maliki.

It’s impossible to know what W. was really thinking as he stiffly delivered his fantasy scheme in the White House library. The whole capital was fraught, but the president may simply have been musing to himself: “I’m hungry and I wonder what time the game starts on ESPN?" And, "Has anybody read all these books?”

W. always acts like he’s upping the ante in a board game where you roll the dice and bet your plastic army divisions on the outcome. This doesn’t surprise some of his old classmates at Yale, who remember Junior as the riskiest Risk player of them all, known for dropping by the rooms of friends, especially when they were trying to study for exams, for extended bouts of “The Game of Global Domination.”

Junior was known as an extremely aggressive player in the venerable Parker Brothers board game, a brutal contest that requires bluster and bluffing as you invade countries, all the while betraying alliances. Notably, it’s almost impossible to win Risk and conquer the world if you start the game in the Middle East, because you’re surrounded by enemies.
If you want to be unbound to read it all, visit Rozius.

[Ed. note: While playing Risk and fighting for countries and continents, I felt a little like George Bush except that I felt no need to stuff my crotch with socks, lie about every single thing I did, or snort coke and smirk and swagger while I ordered moves that would no doubt result in the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of additional people.]

Maybe ABC Should Lose Its License: They Just Flashed A Death Image of Saddam Hussein As a Comedy Bit For Jimmy Kimmel

You are not apt to find me screaming for the FCC too often. I think people are better arbiters of what they should read and hear and see than another fool federal agency. If I knew of a better agency to contact, I would go that route instead.

Yet what I just saw on TV just now both enraged and sickened me so completely that I am now filing a complaint with the FCC.

I turned on the TV to catch the local news at 11; the satellite was already tuned into an ABC affiliate station in Vermont with "20/20" wrapping up (which is good because John Stossel makes me ill). Obviously, however, this was part of a national promo rather than something local.

Immediately comes a promo for Jimmy Kimmel's crappy show which, as part of it, displays for several seconds a post-execution image of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein lying on a stretcher, his head (of course) cocked at an odd angle. There was really no question what it was or that Hussein was dead.

When the hell did a post-hanging photograph of a dead human being become something used so lightly, for comic relief, with no advance warning?

I believe obscenity is in the eye of the beholder, but I can't quite imagine any sane person failing to find the use of such a photograph in such an utterly tasteless manner as completely and revoltingly obscene.

There is no possible excuse for this.

I want someone's ass for this and no, not the ass of some 20-year-old nobody production assistant. And yes, I am quite serious about the FCC. Nor do I intend to stop there.


Check This Out: Database of Bush Administration Statements on Iraq

From Alternate Brain, a blog I believe I visited for the first time tonight (go, read, say hi to Gordon, the blogmaster), I found a link entitled Iraq On The Record. This is a searchable database of Bush Administration statements (on the record) on everything Iraq.

Might come in handy and dandy. Yes, it is a Democrat reform tool. (My, I phrased that awkwardly.)

Gordon also offers some other first-time-for-me links like:

Thanks, Gordon!

Failed Drug War Policy Hurts New Jersey Farmers

From huntsu at Blue Jersey, I found this quite interesting, even the more incidental note about how coca (as in cocaine) yields in places like Peru are at record levels despite the money we might as well snort for all the good it does in the "drug" war:

No, it's not that they won't let farmers grow marijuana for medicinal purposes, though Governor Jon Corzine reiterated his support for medicinal marijuana yesterday.

It's that a 1990 law passed by the Democratic Congress at the time to pressure drug-producing -- specifically cocaine -- countries to grow other crops provides for preferential trade treatment.

Peru has taken advantage of this tariff-free to expand it's asparagus production and exports to the United States. As a result of lower production costs in Peru and no import duties, Peruvian asparagus costs less than American asparagus.

New Jersey is either the fourth or fifth largest producer of asparagus in the United States. As such, our farmers -- largely in southern New Jersey where there is good loamy, sandy soil asparagus loves -- are being hurt by this policy. Fortunately, production is up over five years but limited by policies like this.

Does it work? Ummmmm, no.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Web site currently notes that the Peruvian coca acreage, mostly in the highlands, is the highest it has been in eight years.
While about the only drugs I've done in a long time come from the pharmacy and as much as I'd hate to see the entire world stoned on a daily basis, it's so far past time to end this disastrous "war on drugs."

What's Behind The Dead Birds of Texas? Whatever The Reason, It Pretty Much Has To Be Dire

Regular (well, I assume she's regular in a rather bizarrely irregular sorta way, but it's very possible she's constipated as well) reader Sharon happened to mention Texas is having a problem with dead birds. However, I wasn't quite prepared for what I just read at Preemptive Karma.

After last week's sudden, inexplicable die-off of scores of birds in Austin, Texas, reports yesterday of a massive die-off of song birds around the town of Esperance in Western Australia are getting people rather spooked. Hundreds of carcasses have been found over the past three weeks and now every bird in the area appears to be dead. Autopsies have found no infectious cause. All over the world it seems that people who are already traumatized by unusual weather and unsettling world events are taking an acute interest in the phenomenon.

Several bloggers have posted the story, and the comments being received are both conspiratorial and hilariously funny. Fishgrease at the Daily Kos asks whether the birds are the proverbial canary in the coal mine and notes that around his own home he has noticed a conspicuous absence of birds this winter. So he's asking readers to participate in a survey telling where they live and whether they have noticed any change in bird population.

On Atlas Shrugs, several readers are subscribing to the notion that the bird kills are the result of terrorism:
    Maybe the terrorists are doing some dry runs. This could be a result of the "peace dividend" that our new congress brings to the fore.

    If the Islamic terrorists think we're going to wimp out in Iraq (they may not be wrong in this), of course they'll see it as weakness and move to his the U.S. for appeasing the Islamic terrorists themselves.

    When it comes to the diabolical devious plans of those Islamofacists who want us dead, nothing should be taken for granted.

    We should react as if it's intentional.
Ideas anyone?

This can't be good, regardless of the explanation. Notice I'm not even tendering one of my rather nasty comments about Texas, that's how much shit I think we may be in with this.

Felonious Senators To Lose Lucrative Pensions

Waaaaay past time:

Senate votes to deny convicts pensions.

“Members of Congress convicted of serious crimes would lose their taxpayer-paid pensions, sometimes totaling more than $100,000 a year, under a measure unanimously approved by the Senate Friday.”

Corruption Doesn't Run Through the Bush Administration; It Races At Warp Speed

Offered by Think Progress, a piece that left me completely unable to eat another bite of the sumptuous spring roll before me. ::sigh::

Stephen G. Rademaker, U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control, is leaving the State Department for a lucrative lobbying job at the firm of Barbour Griffith & Rogers.
While assistant secretary of state, Rademaker negotiated a controversial deal allowing the United States to sell nuclear technology to India, which is not a member of the important nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Critics argued that the Bush administration “abandoned the one incentive states have to stay in the NPT, without providing an alternative framework to sustain the effort to control proliferation.”

Less than a month after that deal was ratified by Congress during its lame duck session in December, Rademaker is leaving the State Department to join Barbour — which lobbied on behalf of the Indian government for the nuclear pact.

In Sept. 2005, Barbour signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with India to work on “developing, refining and expanding relationships between Indian officials and the U.S. foreign policy-making apparatus in the Executive and Legislative Branches.” Mainly though, Barbour was one of two firms hired by the Indian government with the aim of “pushing the [nuclear] deal through Congress.”

The Sunlight Foundation has more on the Bush administration and the revolving door.
This is like the GOP doing the Medicare deal that screwed seniors and taxpayers and then took fatcat jobs with PHrMA, the mammoth pharmaceutical lobbying organization. So they take our money while collecting much bigger money to screw us over like few have ever been screwed before.

I know this kind of shit has gone on with both Dems and the GOP, but the proportions with which it has happened on the Bush watch (and I use that term ever so loosely) is so far past astronomical - not to mention abusive, and a few other a words which come to mind - that it's impossible to laugh at it.

A Patriot Missile Up Donald Trump's Ass Doesn't Seem Like A Bad Idea Either

Donald Trump: Let’s bomb Iran.
Trump today on Bush’s speech: “You know, the one thing I sorta liked was what they were saying about Iran. I believe you have to go in and strike Iran — not with soldiers. You know, it’s not a world of soldiers anymore. It’s a world of air. It’s a world of different kinds of, you know, we’ve changed.”

While Bush Warned To Expect More U.S. Casualties In Iraq, He Failed to Mention He's Removing (The Precious Few) Current Troop Safeguards

Keith Olbermann on Countdown on MSNBC just now reminds me of something I wanted to write about earlier based on some material I read yesterday and today. Specifically, this has to do with the warnings Bush put forth Wednesday night to expect more troop casualties.

What Bush (undoubtedly deliberately) failed to indicate at that time, however, is that the reasons for the possible increase in casualties is not just the larger numbers of targets (troops) he's putting in there. No, it's because Bush has decided to remove some of the precious few protections at least some of our troops stationed there currently enjoy (not in the Saturday night dinner in a movie sense, of course).

A big part of this increased danger comes from Bush's plan to divide Baghdad into nine (9) different districts - effectively gated communities, which comes straight from the Vietnam War playbook in a measure that was not only a massive failure but cost LOTS of lives, both among U.S. troops and innocent civilians. In fact, if you go back and read military experts who discuss how this "divisioning" (failed to) work in Vietnam, you almost invariably read that it was such a terrible plan that it should never be repeated. Bush, of course, is ignoring that in the proof that Santayana was right, that those who do not understand history are condemned - not to mention, condemn everyone else - to repeat it.

American soldiers will then be divvied up between those nine districts. As part of this, these servicemen and women will NOT return to their protected, fortified bases at night (and we haven't yet had an episode of a major barracks attack there wiping out our troops) but stay instead at Iraqi police barracks in each district. Now Iraqi police barracks have been major targets. The only entities that have been destroyed faster in Iraq than our supposed "dreams of a democratic Iraq" are Iraqi policemen and their facilities.

So yeah, expect some serious bloodshed. Although Iraqi cops have died in massive numbers, this plan is guaranteed to kill them at a greatly accelerated rate, and take our soldiers with them. And expect lots of collateral damage too as civilians get caught more and more (and they're dying fast already) in the Bush-ordered escalation because these police barracks are often located in civilian residential neighborhoods and civilians must interact with the cops.

Tragically, there's more. Heretofore, it's been verboten to have American soldiers riding around with Iraqi Army soldiers for many reasons. Bush has zapped this, too. Wait! It gets worse.

After Iraqi cops, Iraqi Army soldiers are the second biggest local native target. Coupling U.S. soldiers with them just increases the target and the likely deaths, likely exponentially. Ah, but Bush still isn't done yet!

Not only with American troops be embedded within the Iraqi Army groups, but they will act as secondaries while the Iraqi Army soldiers lead them as well as give the orders (and mind you, for all the brave and honorable Iraqis who have tried to defend their country, there have also been numerous, non-stop reports of both Iraqi soldiers and cops who are part of these death squads, torture teams, etc. wreaking havoc on the civilian populace, on contractors, on American troops).

Worse - if possible - is the fact that NO Iraqi military vehicles are armored. So our Armyites and Marines will go from moving about in at least SOME protected vehicles to being transported in vehicles that have as their only protection (::cough::) a gigantic bullseye painted on them.

Says Bush's handpicked military yes-men of this change, "the rewards outweigh the dangers."

Oh, really?

GITMO: "FIVE YEARS LATER.... But Who's Counting?"

The magnificent MissM points us to a piece published at Michael Moore's site (you don't have to agree with him to use his resources, dearie) by Candace Gorman, an attorney for a non-enemy combatant, one of the men left to languish without any charges or any day in court at the hell we call Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo). It's compelling. Go read.

MissM also highlight's Ms. Gorman's blog about Gitmo which should be required reading for any patriot (hint: there are few of them in Washington but many of them in home towns across this nation).

And then join the call to close Gitmo down and with it, any other of the Bush "secret" detention centers.

Then bring the right people to trial on charges of treason, starting with George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Filibuster This, Mitch McConnell

Speaking of flaming turds, Senator Mitch McConnell fits (actually, so does his wife, the Labor secretary who has never met a corporate business practice she didn't like!). I'll let Steve at The Carpetbagger Report tell you how this flaming turd is trying to burn a little redder for his Bushies:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on the Hill yesterday that he planned to launch a filibuster against any Democratic attempt to pass a non-binding resolution expressing disapproval of Bush’s escalation plan.

Note to McConnell: bring it on. First, from a political perspective, Dems would like nothing more than to see Republicans going to the wall to defend a tragic policy that Americans already hate. Second, after yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, I don’t think Dems will have much trouble getting 60 votes to break McConnell’s filibuster.
    The senators went right back to attacking Rice, the only proxy they had handy for an unpopular president and his unpopular plan. “I have to say, Madam Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam,” announced Hagel, who earned two Purple Hearts as an infantryman in that war.

    “I’ve gone along with the president on this, and I bought into his dream,” Ohio Sen. George Voinovich added a few minutes later. “At this stage of the game, I don’t think it’s going to happen.” Minnesota’s Norm Coleman seemed to agree: “The cost is too high,” he said of the plan for more troops. New Hampshire’s John Sununu expressed mild disappointment. Added Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski: “I’m not convinced, as I look to the plan that the president presented yesterday, that what we are seeing is that much different than what we have been doing in the past.”
And those were just the Republicans. Committee Dems, even some of the more conservative Dems who’ve backed the war up until now, hammered Rice for the administration’s heartbreaking misjudgments.
Emphasis mine.

Indeed, Mitchy, bring it on! Flaming turds break up less messily than wet ones.

They're Watching Us: Not The Bushies; The Rest Of The World

As I said, I'm not talking about the Bush Administration. They know when we pee even if they couldn't pick Osama bin Laden out of a crowd at a Munchkin reunion.

No, I've noticed myself and in talking with other bloggers today that this week, the world is coming more and more to American blogs, big and small. In the last several days, this little blog has had visitors from Turkey and India, Mexico (fairly rare for so close), Wales, Kazakhstan (I'm not spelling it right and no, they didn't come here for Borat!), strange bedfellows like Iran and Israel, China and Korea, plus other countries I have never seen come in here.

What most seem to be looking for is what Americans are prepared to do in light of Bush's renewed surge of empire.

At this point, watching what we have already allowed, I imagine most expect us to piss and moan a bit but simply let the Boy King George have his way again. Perhaps they laugh, too, at how many of us like to talk about our revolutionary roots while we sink back in our comfy chairs in our homes heated by Middle East oil - and blood.

Arise. Say no to empire. Say no to a perpetuation of Bush's ego through the bloodshed of our soldiers and the world.


OK, I'm blasting my ears out to Leonard Cohen right now - I'd already done my Vivaldi thing this morning - and, of course, with this trying week, I had to listen to Cohen's marvelous, "Democracy (is comin' to the USA)".

It's comin from the sorrow in the streets...
from the wells of disappointment...

Paul Krugman: "Golden State Gamble"

We're back on the very necessary subject of health care and more. Let me also refer you back to Krugman's earlier column, "First, Do No Harm." Read it all at Rozius Unbound or take the snippet that I offer:

A few days ago. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled an ambitious plan to bring universal health insurance to California. And I’m of two minds about it.

On one side, it’s very encouraging to see another Republican governor endorse the principle that all Americans are entitled to essential health care... And if California — America’s biggest state, with a higher-than-average percentage of uninsured residents — can achieve universal coverage, so can the nation as a whole.On the other side, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan has serious flaws. Maybe those flaws could be fixed once the principle of universal coverage was established — but there’s also the chance that we would end up stuck with those flaws...

Furthermore, in the end health care should be a federal responsibility. State-level plans should be seen as pilot projects, not substitutes for a national system. Otherwise, some states just won’t do the right thing. Remember, almost 25 percent of Texans are uninsured.

To understand both what’s right and what’s wrong with Mr. Schwarzenegger’s plan, let’s compare what he’s proposing with ... a single-payer health insurance system for the state ... similar to Medicare...

[T]he governor ... appears to sincerely want universal coverage, but he also wants to keep insurance companies in the loop. As a result, he came up with a plan that, like the failed Clinton health care plan of the early 1990s, is best described as a Rube Goldberg device — a complicated, indirect way of achieving what a single-payer system would accomplish simply and directly.

There are three main reasons why many Americans lack health insurance. Some healthy people decide to save money and take their chances (and end up being treated in emergency rooms, at the public’s expense...); some people are too poor to afford coverage; some people can’t get coverage ... because of pre-existing conditions.

Single-payer insurance solves all three problems at a stroke. The Schwarzenegger plan, by contrast, is a series of patches. It forces everyone to buy health insurance...; it provides financial aid to low-income families...; and it ... basically [requires insurance companies] to sell insurance to everyone at the same price.
Go here for the rest.

I agree with Krugman here. Vermont also has this "force people to buy" plan that has yet to go into operation. But if people can't afford to buy - and the state doesn't make it affordable enough so the many barely-minimum wage folks can pay it - what the heck do they do?

We know what they do. They die early or they get treatment that ultimately costs them a hell of of a lot more than everyone else and often turns into a problem for the health care facility or state.

While Only 12% of Americans Favor Iraq Escalation, Those Who Sold The War On Lies Demand Bush's Surge

Check out both Ari Berman's Nation piece on the nutty (yet ball-less) neocons demanding escalation AND the CBS poll showing only 12% of Americans feel an escalation - or as Condi Rice now calls it "augmentation" (sorta like a bigger boob job, I suppose) - is warranted or wise.

Oh yeah, and if I didn't mention it before, I hate Bill Kristol AND the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Yes, that sounds petulant.


Wal-Mart: Saving You Money While Insuring Their Workers? Oh, Puh-Leeze

The only thing that made me laugh harder and more sadly than the recent spate of pro Wal-Mart commercials where they tell us the average family saves $2,300 year by shopping at its stores is this new "health care" report from the whack jobs at Wal-Mart telling us that they'd LOVE to insure all their workers but those damned, thoughtless workers just won't take their craptastic plan (the one that on TV insists that every Wal-Mart sales associate can get coverage for about $1 a day).

Before we get to health care, let's discuss that "saving you $2,300" bit. OK. But how much has your Wal-Mart cost you? I've seen estimates that indicate that for every dollar consumers save at Wal-Mart, they spend that much if not far more in the kinds of crap Wal-Mart brings along: failure of downtown businesses, unemployment (in part because Wal-Mart demands cheap shit and cheap shit gets made in China by political prisoners and by 8-year-olds in Malaysia rather than unionized garment workers in Indiana, etc.), health care for the associates Wal-Mart won't cover, etc.

Now here's some of this Wal-Mart health insurance coverage fantasy from WaPo:

About 90 percent of Wal-Mart employees have health-care coverage, but 43 percent do not get it from the mammoth retailer, relying instead on benefits from a spouse, federal programs or even their parents, according to an internal survey the company made public yesterday.

Wal-Mart employs more than 1.3 million people in the United States, making it one of the country's largest employers. The company surveyed more than 200,000 workers during the fall open-enrollment period for health benefits, the retailer's first effort to capture such data as it faces criticism from labor unions that accuse it of paying low wages and skimping on health benefits.

..."I don't believe that our goal is ever to convince someone to move off of Medicare or their retirement plan . . . to Wal-Mart health-care coverage," said Linda M. Dillman, who oversees risk management and benefits for the retailer. "Our goal is to ensure our associates have access to health care and that it's affordable."

Wal-Mart said about 47 percent of its employees have enrolled in the company's health plans. About 10 percent have no insurance.

The company has been accused of not offering enough coverage for employees and of shifting health-care costs to the government. In Maryland, labor unions helped pass a bill last year that would have required Wal-Mart to spend at least 8 percent of its payroll on health care or pay into a state fund for the poor. A state court struck down the law over the summer.

Anti-Wal-Mart groups yesterday criticized the health-care survey, saying it highlighted the undesirability of the company's plans.

"Rather than be embarrassed at health-care failures, Wal-Mart is trying to brag that leaving over half of their employees and families without Wal-Mart health care is an improvement," said Chris Kofinis, spokesman for Wake-Up Wal-Mart, which is funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Oh, Ms. Dillman's right alright: Wal-Mart sure doesn't WANT its workers using its health care. Better that every American taxpayer funds what little Wal-Mart workers DO get so stupid people can buy toilet paper three cents off.

Shopped at Wal-Mart just once. Never again. I'll go without the products before I buy from scum that suck the blood from the marrow of not only this country but the world.

High Profile First: Bloggers Get Seats Alongside Press for Scooter Libby/CIA Leak/Valerie PlameGate Trial

Story here although many blog readers already know one of the Fire Dog Lake ladies got court credentials for the trial a few weeks ago.

Me? I wanna hear Dick Cheney testify. I envision the Bible they use to swear him in upon - as a Christian who strongly feels Church and State must be kept separate, I abhor the use of a specific religious text for such things - will burst into flames when he promises to tell the truth.

Or maybe Darth Dick will spontaneously self-combust instead! Wait. I like that idea.


PBS Is "God Fearing"?

That's what Judy Woodruff just told Stephen Colbert on "The Colbert Report" just now.

I dunno.

I don't:

  • want God to be feared
  • want public-sponsored TV to espouse itself as God fearing
  • want Judy Woodruff on PBS

Try This: Surge Homeward!

Surge Homeward! That's what The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel recommends.

Sounds right to me.

Stop Them Now: Bush And Threats Of War Against Iran And Syria

We MUST know what this numbskull president has planned for Iran and Syria before he takes us over yet another very dark and shaky threshold. This is the obligation and responsibility of every American citizen.

Two pieces here, one from Discourse and the other from Glenn Greenwald. We'll start with Discourse:

We're in big trouble.

Have a look at The Washington Note, whose latest begins like this:
    Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.
If this is true, we're in very big trouble. Or, if the rumor was sparked by an order 'only' authorizing clandestine operations (or, worse, bombardment) as a form of provocation, this is serious stuff. But even if it's not at all true in any way, we're in pretty big trouble, as the spread of this rumor means we've reached a point in our politics when sober, quite moderate, people like Steve Clemons are starting at shadows.

I can only remember one time that felt like this: when Nixon was in the last weeks of his Presidency, and people -- including the then-Secretary of Defense-- got worried that Nixon might try to start a war to distract the country from his troubles, or even stage some sort of coup. People in DC even began to speculate as to what military forces could be assembled as a counterweight in the event that Nixon, rumored to be drunk and unstable, chose to subvert the Constitution.
And now from Glenn, entitled, "The President's Intentions Toward Iran Need More Attention":
As Think Progress notes, the White House took multiple steps yesterday to elevate dramatically the threat rhetoric against Iran. Bush included what The New York Times described as “some of his sharpest words of warning to Iran” yet. But those words could really be described more accurately not as “threats” but as a declaration of war.

He accused the Iranian government of “providing material support for attacks on American troops” and vowed to “seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies.” But those networks are located in Iran, which means that search and destroy missions on such networks would necessarily include some incursion into Iranian territory, whether by air or ground.

Hours before the speech, the White House released a Powerpoint presentation with details about the president’s new policy. “Increase operations against Iranian actors” was listed in the “Key Tactical Shifts” section. As The New York Times reported: “One senior administration official said this evening that the omission of the usual wording about seeking a diplomatic solution [to the Iranian nuclear stand-off] ‘was not accidental.’”

But these were merely the latest in a series of plainly significant events over the last several weeks that, taken alone, are each noteworthy themselves, but when viewed as a whole unmistakably signal a deliberate escalation of tensions with Iran by both the U.S. and Israel
Keep reading Glenn here to see the MANY ways in which Bush is forcing us into a crisis with Iran and then check out Tim at Balloon-Juice for more information about Iran and the war it had with Iraq.

Chuck Hagel's Prescient Words on Bush's Surge

Also from Think Progress:

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) passionately argued against President Bush’s escalation plan during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today.

During questioning of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Hagel called the new strategy “morally wrong” and “tactically, strategically, militarily wrong,” and declared, “I have to say, Madam Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.” Audience members in the hearing room clapped as Hagel concluded, “I will resist it.”
Hagel MUST be encouraged NOT to leave the Senate. We need at least a few sane Republicans.

None Of The Troops Can Catch a Break

From Think Progress:

How to escalate a war when your military is already overstretched: “The Pentagon has abandoned its limit on the time a citizen-soldier can be required to serve on active duty, officials said Thursday, a major change that reflects an Army stretched thin by longer-than-expected combat in Iraq. … Until now, the Pentagon’s policy on the Guard or Reserve was that members’ cumulative time on active duty for the Iraq or Afghan wars could not exceed 24 months. That cumulative limit is now lifted; the remaining limit is on the length of any single mobilization, which may not exceed 24 consecutive months.”

While Condi Rice Indulges Her Love Affair With Fox News, Her Cohorts Rename Her Secretary of Suck

And this after they demote Negroponte from "intelligence czar" to Rice's lackey; available from many sources today but this is from Welcome to Pottersville's noting both Bob Novak's commentary and that of Jurassic Pork, blogmaster of WtP:

It’s kind of frightening to see Robert Novak on the warpath and speaking the truth for a change (the good kind of truth, the kind that doesn’t involve outing secret agent mothers of young children). Here are the two most revealing paragraphs, I feel, of Novak’s article in today’s Chicago Sun-Times:
    Just what career diplomat Negroponte was doing as the new intelligence czar in the first place was puzzling. But to pull him out just as his on-the-job training as director had been completed reflects a panicky desire to fill the deputy secretary's post that had been unfilled for an unprecedented six months. Five other key State Department positions are either vacant or soon to be vacant.

    Republicans in Congress, who do not want to be quoted, tell me the State Department under Secretary Condoleezza Rice is a mess. That comes at a time when the U.S. global position is precarious. While attention focuses on Iraq, American diplomacy is being tested worldwide -- in Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Korea and Sudan. The judgment by thoughtful Republicans is that Rice has failed to manage that endeavor.
Well, according to Novak and his sources, if more posts at Foggy Bottom keep getting vacated (not that anyone but the most perspicacious insider would notice), we may be welcoming the return of John “The Shining” Bolton, arms outstretched like an Abu Ghraib inmate, throwing flowers, nylons and chocolates at his Moustacheness.

Indeed, it’s hard to argue with Novak’s point: Rice had been George W. Bush’s Chief National Security advisor and was not what you’d call a career administrator or diplomat. Simply put, she doesn’t know how to manage a massive diplomatic bureaucracy such as the State Department, at least as capably as it was managed by Colin Powell and especially Bush’s ultimate Dollar a Year Man, Henry Kissinger.

Does This Remind You Of Anyone? Bush Perhaps? Man Dies From Do-It-Yourself-Mole-Killer Kit

I'm sadly NOT joking; the big difference is that Bush would take millions with him and shut down the electrical grid for half the world. Please, someone send the president some chubby pretzels!

A German retiree who wired up a high-voltage cable to try to wipe out the moles digging up his garden killed himself instead, police said Thursday.

Uwe Werner, police spokesman in Stralsund north of Berlin, said the 63-year-old retired construction foreman was found dead in the garden of his weekend house in Zingst next to a 380-volt cable and metal spikes rammed into the ground.

"The moles survived," Werner said, noting the voltage was enough to run a cement mixer or heavy-duty power saw. "It was in any event an unorthodox method to try to get rid of moles."
Yup, he's electrocuted, but the moles are just fine.

Take THAT, Osama bin Laden.

Listen to Ike: "Preventive War Was An Invention of Hitler"

One Pissed Off Liberal writing at My Left Wing just nails it with this President/General Dwight D. Eisenhower quote:

"Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing."
Yet preventive wars are ALL Mr. Bush has handed us:

  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq
  • Global War on "Terror"
  • Somalia
And coming soon, Bush says:

  • Iran
  • Syria

Unlike Bush, Eisenhower served rather than hid from his remedial guard program so he could drink and drug his way through his 20s.

Keith Olbermann's Special Comments: On Sacrifice, Bush, and Iraq

Olbermann on Countdown just gets better and better with these, and tonight's is so damned moving I really want to copy it all here. I'll resist the temptation but you can find the transcript here and the video there, plus Crooks and Liars will no doubt post both before the night is out.

If in your presence an individual tried to sacrifice an American serviceman or woman, would you intervene?

Would you at least protest?

What if he had already sacrificed 3,003 of them?

What if he had already sacrificed 3,003 of them — and was then to announce his intention to sacrifice hundreds, maybe thousands, more?

This is where we stand tonight with the BBC report of President Bush’s “new Iraq strategy,” and his impending speech to the nation, which, according to a quoted senior American official, will be about troop increases and “sacrifice.”

The president has delayed, dawdled and deferred for the month since the release of the Iraq Study Group.

He has seemingly heard out everybody, and listened to none of them.

If the BBC is right — and we can only pray it is not — he has settled on the only solution all the true experts agree cannot possibly work: more American personnel in Iraq, not as trainers for Iraqi troops, but as part of some flabby plan for “sacrifice.”

More American servicemen and women will have their lives risked.

More American servicemen and women will have their lives ended.

More American families will have to bear the unbearable and rationalize the unforgivable —“sacrifice” — sacrifice now, sacrifice tomorrow, sacrifice forever.

And more Americans — more even than the two-thirds who already believe we need fewer troops in Iraq, not more — will have to conclude the president does not have any idea what he’s doing — and that other Americans will have to die for that reason.

It must now be branded as propaganda — for even the president cannot truly feel that very many people still believe him to be competent in this area, let alone “the decider.”

...You have already fomented new terrorism and new terrorists.

You have already stoked paranoia.

You have already pitted Americans, one against the other.

We ... will have to live with it.

We ... will have to live with what — of the fabric of our nation — you have already “sacrificed.”

The only object still admissible in this debate is the quickest and safest exit for our people there.

But you — and soon, Mr. Bush, it will be you and you alone — still insist otherwise.

And our sons and daughters and fathers and mothers will be sacrificed there tonight, sir, so that you can say you did not “lose in Iraq.”...
Thank you, Keith!

Dilemmas Arise As Filmmakers Follow U.S. Troops Into Raids in Iraq

Kevin Sites writes passionately (in Operation: Dreamland, Part II) of his experience following along filmmakers who "rode shotgun" with American soldiers in Iraq and wonders if their presence did not simply add to the humiliation and fear experienced by Iraqi civilians in the moment.

Imagine if troops like that entered your home.

Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo): Of Hundreds of Prisoners Kept There For Years, Only 10 Have Ever Been Charged

This powerful piece by Helena Cobban in the Christian Science Monitor reminds us that Guantanamo Bay represents the worst possible picture of what America is supposed to be and how unjust Bush's so-called "War on Terror" is as well as that we really MUST shut down this facility - not build a court complex costing hundreds of millions - and make sure nothing like Gitmo ever stands on our watch again.

Thursday marks the fifth anniversary of the day the US military flew the first of some 700 battlefield detainees from Afghanistan to Guantánamo. Some of those same men are among the 395 still held at Guantánamo today. None of the detainees has ever had anything approaching a fair trial. Only 10 have ever had formal charges laid against them. Many are reportedly held in near-total isolation, and over the years both camp staff and released detainees have reported highly abusive treatment at the camp.

Guantánamo is a stain on America's honor. Like the episodes of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Guantánamo (rightly) affects the standing of the US around the world. Even President Bush recognizes the problem: He has expressed a desire eventually to shut Guantánamo down. He and Congress should work speedily together to achieve this goal.
Emphasis mine.

Bush Calls Iraq Study Group Report "Flaming Turd"

Posted by Jon Ponder at The Pensito Review, clear evidence that Bush never had even a nanosecond of belief he should do anything that the special Baker-Hamilton Commission recommended in its Iraq Study Group report and merely pretended to "weigh the options."

Scatman: What is it with our fratboy-in-chief’s obession with scatalogical slang:
    Informed correspondents of the Washington Post and New York Times related in conversation that Bush furiously called the [Iraq Study Group] report “a flaming turd,” but his colorful remark was not published. Perhaps it was apocryphal. Nonetheless, it conveyed the intensity of his hostile rejection.
This is from the same class act whose term of endearment for Karl Rove is “turd blossom.”

Update: EvilPoet reminds us that the president is obsessed with fart jokes.

“He loves to cuss, gets a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him, and now we’re learning that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes. A top insider let that slip when explaining why President Bush is paranoid around women, always worried about his behavior. But he’s still a funny, earthy guy who, for example, can’t get enough of fart jokes. He’s also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides, but forget about getting people to gas about that.”

Bush’s flaming feces quote underscores the fact that he has been planning to escalate the war for months. Nothing — not the elections, not the Iraq Study Group report or anything else — could have stopped him.

Condi Rice And a Warning That You May Want To Vomit (Like a Fox Newscaster)

From Steve at the most excellent The Carpetbagger Report:

There were a variety of insightful, important exchanges during Secretary of State Condi Rice’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, but one of the pre-hearing comments, overhead on an open mic, raised eyebrows.
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice let slip her news media preferences Thursday, saying, “I love every single one” of Fox News network’s correspondents and also favors CBS anchor Harry Smith.

    In comments overheard on an open microphone between morning television interviews, including one with Fox, the top U.S. diplomat said: “My Fox guys, I love every single one of them.”
Wait! Fox News HAS personalities? I thought it was only staffed by Karl Rove not-quite-top-dungeon sex slaves.

Who knew?

Also Nailed

As Ole Blue (the Heretic of blog fame) notes in comments here on Bush's "new way forward" plan for U.S. troop escalation in Iraq:

It is like watching someone drive over a cliff in a car. The car crashes and the person dies.

They try it again and hope that everything goes OK. Of course the second driver dies and the second car is smashed.

Yet, they try it again.
You nailed that one, Blue.

Check Out Bush's Ultimate Exit Strategy For Troop Reduction In Iraq

Courtesy of the talented folks at Wrapped In The Flag comes this cartoon - entitled Operation Enduring Debacle - that positively nails exactly how President George W. Bush (with just 739 days, 3 hours, 21 minutes and 18 seconds left to destroy the world- not that I'm counting, of course) will reduce U.S. soldiers in Iraq:

By sending American troops into neighbors Iran and Syria.

Oy! (and from a goy! or am I a shiksa? I forget: I got so little Yiddish in school)

As Keith Olbermann pointed out tonight, Iran would just love to fight Bush while al Qaeda aches for us to attack Syria to destabilize that nation to make it more amenable to radical extremist Islamic forces.

"The Flawed And Dangerous Theory of Bush As Unitary President"

From (former) Senator Gary Hart, Chairman of Council for a Liveable World on Iraq, courtesy of Iraq Insider:

Chairman, Council for a Livable World

Sen. Hart’s initial take on Bush’s troop escalation, from “A Surge of Constitutionalism,” published January 9, 2007, on The Huffington Post:
    President Bush's decision to escalate the war, and to further Americanize it, is based on his flawed and dangerous theory of the "unitary presidency," a theory under which, once war is declared, the president as commander-in-chief can ignore constitutional checks and balances, disregard the bill of rights, suspend accountability, and concentrate dictatorial power in his own hands.

CSM: How Congress May Block The Bush Iraq Surge

The Christian Science Monitor discusses how Congress could - should any of them, girls included, have balls and spine enough - block Bush's boneheaded, lie-filled, war escalation into Iraq.

[Ed. note: Yes, girls have balls. OK, not by anatomical design, but we borrow them from those who do - sometimes nicely, sometimes not so nicely. If you have any questions about this, I will be very happy not to answer them. Have a nice day!]

Canada Is Issuing Spy Coins? Targeting U.S. Contractors? Why?

OK, here's a strange story. That the U.S. government is so upset about it simply makes me wonder if they're pissed they didn't get to implement it first because if there's anything the Bush Administration doesn't like is some foreign Johnny-Come-Lately (and especially if they parlez vous Francais!) breaching the civil rights and privacy of U.S. citizens before Bush & Cheney do.

From AP:

Money talks, but can it also follow your movements?

In a U.S. government warning high on the creepiness scale, the Defense Department cautioned its American contractors over what it described as a new espionage threat: Canadian coins with tiny radio frequency transmitters hidden inside.

The government said the mysterious coins were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances on at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006 as the contractors traveled through Canada.

Intelligence and technology experts said such transmitters, if they exist, could be used to surreptitiously track the movements of people carrying the spy coins.

The U.S. report doesn't suggest who might be tracking American defense contractors or why. It also doesn't describe how the Pentagon discovered the ruse, how the transmitters might function or even which Canadian currency contained them.

Further details were secret, according to the U.S. Defense Security Service, which issued the warning to the Pentagon's classified contractors. The government insists the incidents happened, and the risk was genuine.
We should keep our ears to the wall on this one. A lot of crap is going down. From Canada, I expected better but since it's now completely impossible to believe the U.S. government on anything, I don't know whether this may be just another way to point fingers and punish our northern neighbors.

[Ed. note: And yes, we have ways of tracking American currency now, too. Except we usually don't need to because we know it all flows into the Bush-Cheney-MegaCorp pockets anyway.]

Join The People's Surge To Stop the Bush Iraq Surge!

Today, as I noted last night, is the national day of protest against the president's planned surge which, we know now, actually began back when we were barely Christmas and other holiday shopping.

But although the day is getting late, your opportunity to stand up and say, "No Sir! No Surge!" is not.

First, you can join the many thousands who have already viewed and acted upon one of YouTube's most sought videos of the day (and hell, there isn't even nudity or sexual content within it!), the Get Out of Iraq Campaign. Watch it here at Iraq Insider.

You can also sign any number of petitions online available now, including this one from the Council for a Livable World in conjunction with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Your Cost for Iraq So Far? $18 Thousand Per Home (Please Pay in Blood and Sweat; No Checks Please)

Reader Sharon points us to one of the rare articles (by Gary Dorrien, "Grand Illusion") that summarizes the cost of war and empire under Bush & Cheney - with the war in Iraq and more - so succinctly.

And no, don't let the title of the site, The Christian Century, give you pause.

"Failure In Iraq Would Be a Disaster For Our Future"

As I listen to Bush sell his troop surge today at Fort Benning (where the applause is rather lukewarm for a handpicked audience of supporters only) - which we know began in December, long before he informed us or got authorization or even DOD Secretary Robert Gates' signature" - he keeps talking about how bad foreigners (fur-rin-ners) are for Iraq because they help spread radical extremism around the world.

Well, hell, I'd agree. Bush and those who carry his Koolaid are the worst possible foreigners for Iraq. Their radical extremism DOES threaten Iraq, the United States, and the entire rest of the world.

But Bush just keeps spinning it as "to save America, we gotta win in Iraq."

At what costs? Those to the Iraqis have been untold and way beyond endless nightmare. To us, it's bankruptcy in a war that, were a true accounting taken, no doubt has cost multiple trillions already, along with the deaths and debilitation of thousands of soldiers.

The other day, I read that one of the military's consultants estimated that if the war ended now, the cost of caring for U.S. soldiers only from here on out - their medical and psychological and other benefits - would run $300 to 600 Billion (that's a B).

We owe them, no question.

But Bush wants to squander even that on making sure that oil companies get to keep record profits on Iraq, because that is also built into Bush's "surge" plan. We're selling Iraq's fuel to energy companies who get to keep the profits rather than the Iraqi people.

So don't buy any bullshit about this being about democracy, or our troops, or the freedom and democracy of the American people.

It's - beyond Bush's ego and his "legacy" - all about two oil men, Bush and Cheney, serving their own masters: Shell, BP, Exxon-Mobil, et al.

The headlines right now say that opposition to Bush's plan does nothing but grows. As well it should.

Bush "Channels" Lyndon Johnson's (LBJ) Call for More Troops In The Abyss of Vietnam

As Attytood tells us, Bush "borrowed" (hey, he never borrows - he outright steals and then insists his was the original idea - like he has those) heavily from LBJ's speeches to justify rising troop numbers in a Vietnam we had never come close to winning as the basis for Bush's "surge" to conquer the Middle East.


Somalia Claims Most of Dead From U.S. Bombing Muslim Leaders, NOT Al Qaeda

This isn't very good either.

Today: National Day of Protest Against Escalation of U.S. Troop Presence in Iraq

Join the actions going on TODAY.

Find out here.

And yes, it's slightly more involved than saying, "No, Sir! No Surge!"

The Saddam Hussein Post-Snuff Film Video Hits the 'Net

Democracy Now in its TV feed today said that the video appears to be shot with a mobile phone immediately after the execution (death by hanging) of Saddam Hussein on December 30th but was far too graphic to show. They have it posted on their site, however.

No, I have not seen it. I have refused to look at any of it.

I do not defend anything Saddam did, but what I need more than a U.S.-pushed snuff film is the truth about how much the U.S. propped up Saddam under Bush I and Reagan, et al.

"When The Media Gags Itself"

Not good. Not a bit good.

(For Sadists, Masochists, And The Rest Of America): Full Text of Bush's Speech On Iraq War Surge

AmericaBlog offers it here. However, I suspect most of S&M-dom does not hurt so badly as another halting, lie-filled Bush speech.

Keith Olbermann On Bush's "(In)Credibility" As Commander in Chief

Courtesy of John Amato at Crooks & Liars (snow on my satellite - and no, this is NOT a euphemism for maturity - kept me from Countdown on MSNBC tonight):

Keith: We would be greeted as liberators, with flowers. As they stood up–we would stand down, we would stay the course, we were never 'stay the course',The enemy was al Qaeda, was foreigners, terrorists, Baathists. The war would pay for itself, it would cost 1-point-7 billion dollars, 100 billion, 400 billion, half a trillion dollars.

And after all of that, today it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Republicans, Democrats, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November, and the majority of the American people.

War With Iran & Syria, Too? Yes, Actually, Bush Is Criminally Insane

From John in DC at AmericaBlog - and who are we to argue, especially after Bush threatened war with two more countries - Iran and Syria - tonight?

The man is categorically insane. From Bill Arkin at the Washington Post.
    If there's anything in the President Bush's remarks tonight that we didn't already know or didn't anticipate him saying militarily about Iraq, it is his evident willingness to go to war with Syria and Iran to seek peace.

    Speaking about the two countries tonight, the president said that the United States will "seek out and destroy" those who are providing material support to our enemies.

    It is only a threat. But it is a far cry from the diplomatic proposals floated just last month for making Syria and Iran part of the solution. Can the president really be saying that we are willing to risk war with the two countries, and even attack elements inside them, to achieve peace in Iraq?....And how will Syria and Iran react? President Bush implicitly accused the two of providing sanctuary and material support for violent elements in Iraq. There is an ominous element here: When the President pledged to "seek out and destroy the networks supporting our enemies in Iraq," to me, that means the threat of strikes on targets in those two countries.

Donate to the Adrienne Shelly Foundation

As I mentioned in the previous post, Andy Ostroy is back blogging at The Ostroy Report.

However, as you may also know, Andy lost his wife - actress and film maker Adrienne Shelly - in a vicious murder discovered on November 1st. He asks for anyone wishing to contribute to the foundation set up in her honor to help new filmmakers visit the Adrienne Shelly Foundation Web site.


Andy Ostroy Is Back With "How Many Soldiers Have to Die...?"

[Ed. note: Welcome back, Andy. You were missed. Your wife, Adrienne Shelly, from all I knew of/about her was extremely talented and I am so sorry for your loss.]

Despite his great loss with the terribly senseless murder of his wife, Andy Ostroy of The Ostroy Report is back in blogtopia (a/k/a the blogosphere according to Skippy) with his reaction to Bush's "surge" plans that began last month (we now know):

Does this maniacal war-monger really think that by sending 20,000 more troops we'll be getting any closer to achieving our long-range goals in that country (whatever the hell those goals are)? That we'll secure Baghdad? That we'll regain control of the Sunni Triangle and send a strong message to Muqtada Al Sadr's al Mahdi army and other Shiite militia that Democracy will prevail? Of course not. Just like every other time the U.S. intensified its military efforts. This is a country that mocks the U.S. A country led by a defiant Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who's made it clear he's running the country, not Bush. A country that punished it's former torturous dictator by hastily hanging him and taunting him. They've clearly come a long way, huh? Un-Curious George should be proud of the thriving Democracy he's created.

With Iraq already mired in large-scale civil war, the last thing we should be doing is sending more young men and women to die in Bush's quagmire. It's pathetic the level of denial our president is in. And if it's not denial, it's something worse: intentionally ignoring the facts on the ground, choosing to send soldiers to die because he can't stomach the thought of losing. Well, some battles are won and some are lost. And this one's over. Someone needs to stop this maniac before he kills again and again and again.

Can You Build A Democracy By Lying And Cheating (And Incredible Senseless Violence)?

OK, the phrase in parentheses in the headline is mine, but the rest is from Mark Goldman in a piece entitled, "To Surge Or Not To Surge", and IMHO, it's worth a read on the subject of Iraq and America's involvement there:

None of the talking heads in the US media or government are addressing the central issue, which is this: can you build, keep, and/or inspire democracy in a first world country, or in a third world country, by lying to and cheating its people or by undermining its Constitution and the rule of law?

Is That Stink In New York And Along the Atlantic Innocent Or A Nasty Potent of Global Warming?

It's possible perhaps that New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was wrong when he said, in light of the supposed "natural gas" stink in Manhattan the other day, that "the gas will pass" and that it simply comes from Jersey.

This is from Wayne Madsen by way of OpEd News, true, but I've read this about increased reports of methane venting for sometime now, and this is very bad news since such venting means global warming isn't coming; it would mean it's here and it's accelerated at a phenomenal rate:

According to U.S. maritime industry sources, tanker captains are reporting an increase in onboard alarms from hazard sensors designed to detect hydrocarbon gas leaks and, specifically, methane leaks. However, the leaks are not emanating from cargo holds or pump rooms but from continental shelves venting increasing amounts of trapped methane into the atmosphere. With rising ocean temperatures, methane is increasingly escaping from deep ocean floors. Methane is also 21 more times capable of trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

In fact, one of the major sources for increased methane venting is the Hudson Submarine Canyon, which extends 400 miles into the Atlantic from the New York-New Jersey harbor. Another location experiencing increased venting is the Santa Barbara Channel on the California coast.

Meanwhile, a strong natural gas odor was reported this morning in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Weehawken, and Newark. The strong odor was also detected in Union City, Secaucus, and Hoboken. Last August, a similar unexplained gas odor sent people to the hospital in Staten Island and Queens. Although methane is odorless, natural methane venting is often accompanied by the venting of acrid hydrogen sulfide, a byproduct of bacterial decomposition.

The US Coast Guard sent a message to ships and tugs in the bay and ocean south of New York requesting any reports of the odor being detected at sea. There were also an unconfirmed report of a similar strong odor being detected this morning on the Delaware coast near Lewes. This morning, the prevailing winds in New York and New Jersey were southerly at 5 to 10 miles per hour.

In other global warming news, the warm temperatures on the U.S. East Coast are resulting in early blooming of the cherry trees and azaleas in Washington, DC and New York City, apple and peach trees in Maryland, and roses, forsythias, and crocuses in Connecticut. A number of people along the East Coast are suffering from allergies usually experienced in April. Monk parakeets from South America have invaded the Chicago area.

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OpEd News

More Bush Smoke and Mirrors: While He Spoke Tonight, The Surge Was Already Progressing

From ABC:

President Bush's speech may be scheduled for tonight, but the troop surge in Iraq is already under way. ABC News has learned that the "surge" Bush is expected to announce in a prime time speech tonight has already begun. Ninety advance troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Baghdad today.

An additional battalion of roughly 800 troops from the same division are expected to arrive in Baghdad Thursday.

Countdown to Numb Nuts' Departure

Note, stage... er... the sidebar at right.

Thank you to the good folks at OpEdNews who pointed this out and to George Dorn and Positronic Design for providing it.

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Stop Neocons Journal.

God knows I'd like to stop neocons.

Bush Ignores Advice of Generals In His Surge

From Chris in Paris at AmericaBlog:

He knows more, of course.
    Pentagon insiders say members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have long opposed the increase in troops and are only grudgingly going along with the plan because they have been promised that the military escalation will be matched by renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq. Gen. John P. Abizaid, the outgoing head of Central Command, said less than two months ago that adding U.S. troops was not the answer for Iraq.
For thirty some years, the Republicans - including Bush until recently - have been telling everyone who will listen that the US lost Vietnam because Washington took over the war and made a mess of it. As we live in a democracy and not a Pinochet-style military dictatorship, I've never liked that argument and found it to be a cheap excuse for the US failures in Southeast Asia. So now that we are three and a half years into the Iraq fiasco, where Bush has told the public over and over that the military will decide, now he is telling us that he will override their decisions. Bush has been forcing policy on them for some time but to date has made every effort to avoid it looking that way.

So now that he is officially ramming change down there throats and with a Congress and public who has no faith in his ability to lead, why should anyone give him the freedom to make an even bigger mess? The reverse-Midas touch president has struck out too often and created too many problems, so why should we let him screw up again? If this was "three strikes and you're out" he would be back in the locker room, if not on the bus, gone long ago.

Good Night, Yvonne De Carlo

Yes, poor, pale, lovely Lily Munster has died.

White House Reaches Out to Conservative Chickenhawk Bloggers For Bush "Surge"

From The Blue State:

The White House is going to hold a conference call with conservative bloggers today in order to get their support for the U.S. troop surge in Iraq.
But Glenn Greenwald tells us all about the "credibility" of the right-wing blogosphere here.

Maureen Dowd: "Love Among The Ruins"

Rozius does the complete MoDo, but here's a snip:

It isn’t really a romance turned sour, because it was never sweet.

The American military’s cocky heroes were supposed to sweep in and carry off a poor, grateful Iraq to security and bliss, like Richard Gere did Debra Winger in the finale of “An Officer and a Gentleman.” The strategy was: Love lift us up where we belong/Where the eagles cry/On a mountain high.

Didn’t happen. Yet the search goes on, in this country obsessed with hookups and breakups, for the right relationship metaphor to describe our deadly embrace of Iraq.

My colleague Tom Friedman wrote last week: “Whenever I hear this surge idea, I think of a couple who recently got married but the marriage was never very solid. Then one day they say to each other, ‘Hey, let’s have a baby, that will bring us together.’ It never works. If the underlying union is not there, adding a baby won’t help.”

Juan Williams repeated Tom’s metaphor on Fox News, agreeing that “a bad relationship” cannot afford the “pressure” of a newborn.

One reporter who writes about the war told me he thinks of the American entrenchment in Iraq more like a marriage that’s run out of gas, but you decide to stay together because of the kids.

Bill Maher used a bawdier metaphor of a man who promises his date a glorious romp, doesn’t deliver, and then just refuses to admit it and get out.

Some women say that the Surge will not work because it’s like starting over with an old boyfriend: you think you’ve learned the pitfalls and can resume with more success — you can set benchmarks! — but instead you’re swiftly ensnared by the same old failures. And the most maddening romances, of course, are those in which you think you have the power, you should have the power, but somehow in the end, you don’t have the power.

Many Bush officials and lawmakers now talk about the Iraqis with impatience, as though they are deadbeat relatives who have got to stop putting the pinch on us for a billion a week and try harder, in the immortal words of Rummy, “to pull up their socks.”

They may still speak diplomatically, but in body language, Condoleezza Rice and her chosen new deputy, John Negroponte, radiate irritation with the Iraqis, as though they are the most irksome of cousins or in-laws who have long overstayed their welcome, or children who not only don’t thank you for presents but also leave the playroom a mess.

The favorite analogy of Rummy and others who pushed the war was parent-child. “If you never take the training wheels off a kid’s bicycle,” Paul Wolfowitz would say, “he’ll never learn to ride without them.”

But that is too Norman Rockwell for a scene straight out of Hieronymus Bosch.

...In other words, the president will ask us to the prom once he reserves the hotel room.
In other words, you're gonna get fucked by whatever Bush does: so will you go gladly or will you fight?

As The Country Prepares For Bush's Speech On Iraqi Surge (a/k/a The Most Expensive Game of Whack-a-Mole in Global History)

Here's the Jeff Danziger cartoon from January 7th, 2007:

Remember this as Bush tonight tells us that we need to wreak more violence to "stop the cycle of violence".

Frank Rich: "The Timely Death of Gerald Ford"

You know, Watergate is nothing, it's pissy kidstuff compared to what the Bushies have perpetrated. Read all of this Rich column there, but here's a big snip:

What the Ford obsequies were most about was the Beltway establishment’s grim verdict on George W. Bush and his war in Iraq. Every Ford attribute, big and small, was trotted out by Washington eulogists with a wink, as an implicit rebuke of the White House’s current occupant. Mr. Ford was a healer, not a partisan divider. He was an all-American football star, not a cheerleader. He didn’t fritter away time on pranks at his college fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, because he had to work his way through school as a dishwasher. He was in the top third of his class at Yale Law. He fought his way into dangerous combat service during World War II rather than accept his cushy original posting. He was pals with reporters and Democrats. He encouraged dissent in his inner circle. He had no enemies, no ego, no agenda, no ideology, no concern for his image. He described himself as “a Ford, not a Lincoln,” rather than likening himself to, say, Truman.

Under the guise of not speaking ill of a dead president, the bevy of bloviators so relentlessly trashed the living incumbent that it bordered on farce. No wonder President Bush, who once hustled from Crawford to Washington to sign a bill interfering in Terri Schiavo’s medical treatment, remained at his ranch last weekend rather than join Betty Ford and Dick Cheney for the state ceremony in the Capitol rotunda.

Yet for all the media acreage bestowed on the funeral, the day in Mr. Ford’s presidency that most stalks Mr. Bush was given surprisingly short shrift — perhaps because it was the most painful. That day was not Sept. 8, 1974, when Mr. Ford pardoned his predecessor, but April 30, 1975, when the last American helicopters hightailed it out of Saigon, ending our involvement in a catastrophic war.

Mr. Ford had been a consistent Vietnam hawk, but upon inheriting the final throes of the fiasco, he recognized reality when he saw it.Just how much so can be found in a prescient speech that Mr. Ford gave a week before our clamorous Saigon exit. (And a speech prescient on other fronts, too: he called making “America independent of foreign energy sources by 1985” an urgent priority.) Speaking at Tulane University, Mr. Ford said, “America can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam” but not “by refighting a war that is finished as far as America is concerned.” He added: “We, of course, are saddened indeed by the events in Indochina. But these events, tragic as they are, portend neither the end of the world nor of America’s leadership in the world.”

All of this proved correct, and though Mr. Ford made a doomed last-ditch effort to secure more financial aid for Saigon, he could and did do nothing to stop the inevitable. He knew it was way too late to make the symbolic gesture of trying to toss fresh American troops on the pyre. “We can and we should help others to help themselves,” he said in New Orleans. “But the fate of responsible men and women everywhere, in the final decision, rests in their own hands, not in ours.”

Though Mr. Ford was hardly the unalloyed saint of last week’s pageantry, his words and actions in 1975 should weigh heavily upon us even as our current president remains oblivious. As Mr. Ford’s presidential history is hard to separate from the Bush inversion of it, so it is difficult to separate that indelible melee in Saigon from the Hussein video. Both are terrifying, and for the same reason.

The awful power of the Hussein snuff film derives not just from its illustration of the barbarity of capital punishment, even in a case where the condemned is a mass murderer undeserving of pity. What really makes the video terrifying is its glimpse into the abyss of an irreversible and lethal breakdown in civic order. It sends the same message as those images of helicopters fleeing our embassy in April 1975: Iraq, like Vietnam before it, is in chaos, beyond the control of our government or the regime we’re desperately trying to prop up. The security apparatus of Iraq’s “unity government” was powerless to prevent the video, let alone the chaos, and can’t even get its story straight about what happened and why.

Shitty Rick Santorum: A Turd Too Big For American Voters to Flush

He's baaaaccckkk. Or, rather, he's not leaving.

Rick Santorum has become a lobbyist (which is basically all he did during his time in the Senate).

We really need lobbyist laws that make it impossible for these cretins - doesn't matter the party - to jump into lobbying for years (at least six (6), I would say) - after they're flushed out of office.

Thanks to The Blue State and TPM Muckraker for bringing this turd to light.

John McCain Fights New Battle: Now He Wages War Against Reality

Hey, what can I say? From Glenn Greenwald:

John McCain was interviewed by Bill Bennett yesterday and this is the claim McCain made about American public opinion on the Iraq war:
    [McCain]: I reject the notion that all Americans, or the majority of Americans just want us out of Iraq. Joe Lieberman would not have been re-elected in a very liberal state if that were the case.BB: Right.
This "reasoning" has become a standard line for McCain and his dwindling band of war supporting comrades in order to argue that Americans really do, deep down, support their pro-war views. It is hard to overstate just how dishonest and incoherent it is.

Let's leave to the side the utterly inane notion -- advanced now by McCain -- that public opinion should be discerned not by looking at polls which are scientifically designed to gauge public opinion on specific issues, but instead, by trying to mystically interpret isolated election results from a single state. McCain obviously wants to find a murkier and inference-dependent method for assessing public opinion because the scientific poll method conclusively demonstrates that his views on the war are rejected by Americans with such overwhelming force that it renders him a fringe extremist.

But let's indulge McCain's alternative method of divining the meaning of election results in order to determine Americans' views on the war. Last November, four Republican incumbent Senators, all of whom were steadfast supporters of the Iraq war, were booted out of office in red states -- George Allen in Virginia, Conrad Burns in Montana, Jim Talent in Missouri, and Mike DeWine in Ohio. Those states are red to varying degrees, but they are all red enough to have each voted twice for George Bush for President.