On The Rule of Law in a Democracy

August 31, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Posted in American politics, Democracy | Leave a comment

Steve Clemons writes:

The norms of a nation aren’t really “knowable” unless observed under stress. Our recent history has tarnished our ability to motivate and animate others on everything from human rights to transparent and just government.
It’s easy to be for the rights of victims when there is no crime to consider. It’s easy to wax on about democracy, the rights of minorities, and checks and balances in government — but unless America itself demonstrates these when shocked and challenged, then the rest of the world won’t believe them when we are out “promoting democracy”.

Well said.

On Iraq, Scrap It and Let’s Start Over

August 31, 2007 at 5:35 am | Posted in America, American politics, conservatives, Iraq, Military, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

That’s what one panel says we should do about Iraq and the police.

The commission, headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe, concludes that the rampant sectarianism that has existed since the formation of the police force requires that its current units “be scrapped” and reshaped into a smaller, more elite organization, according to one senior official familiar with the findings. The recommendation is that “we should start over,” the official said.

….However, a new attempt to disband an Iraqi force would also be risky, given the armed backlash that followed the American decision to dissolve the Iraqi Army soon after the invasion of 2003.

As Kevin Drum notes:

This is becoming a comedy of the absurd. Scrap the Iraqi police force? Start over from scratch? Is this a joke? Even if we could do it, it means (a) putting 26,000 armed and pissed off Iraqis back on the street, (b) running the country without a police force until a new one is recruited and trained, and (c) spending two or three years building a replacement. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that there’s no reason to think the shiny new police force would be any better than the old one. It didn’t improve after all our efforts in 2006, after all. The unpleasant truth is that there’s a reason the police force acts essentially as an extension of the Shiite militias — namely that that’s exactly how the Shiite government wants it — and no reason to think that’s going to change anytime in the near future.

So let’s take stock. Pretty much everyone has lost confidence in Nouri al-Maliki, though there’s no replacement in sight who seems like a better bet. The police force is so corrupt that the best advice the Jones commission can offer is to disband it completely and start over from scratch. And the Iraqi army, after three years of intensive training designed by one Gen. David Petraeus, has a grand total of six battalions capable of operating on their own.

In other words, except for the fact that Iraq has a disfunctional government, a disfunctional police force, and a barely functional army, things are going great. I can’t wait to see how Crocker and Petraeus spin this into an argument for staying another four years.

So Much For Democracy in Iraq

August 30, 2007 at 7:12 pm | Posted in American politics, corruption, Democracy, Iraq, Republicans, secret combinations | 5 Comments

Looks like the Bush administration is going to contract out to Allawi to instigate a coup and overthrow a democratically elected government in Iraq.

Of course this is no surprise. Republicans have a long history of overthrowing democratically elected governments that don’t do what they are told by their American masters. (see Eisenhower’s support of Operation Ajax – the 1953 Iranian coup d’etat and Nixon’s support of the Chilean coup of 1973.).

But, well…just what are our American soldiers dying for if it wasn’t to bring democracy to Iraq?

A Must Read

August 30, 2007 at 8:40 am | Posted in American politics, Democracy, Voter Suppression | Leave a comment

on voter suppression in the United States. Very important, that is if you believe in democracy.

Republicans Wish To Be a Permanent Minority Party

August 29, 2007 at 9:25 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, family values, homosexuality, Larry Craig | 5 Comments

In light of Senator Larry Craig’s bathroom homosexual scandal, we get the Idaho Values Alliance wanting the following. Purge dastardly homosexuals and other sinners from the ideologically pure Republican party!

One larger issue must be addressed. The Republican Party platform clearly rejects the agenda of homosexual activists. The Party, in the wake of the Mark Foley incident in particular, can no longer straddle the fence on the issue of homosexual behavior. Even setting Senator Craig’s situation aside, the Party should regard participation in the self-destructive homosexual lifestyle as incompatible with public service on behalf of the GOP.

No member of the Republican Party in the 1860s could represent his party and be a slaveholder at the same time. Nor can the Republican Party of today speak with authority and clarity to the moral issues that confront our society and at the same time send ambivalent messages about sexual behavior. It is time for the Republican Party to be the party that defends the American family in word, deed, and by personal example.

Of course this will never happen. As Dale Carpenter wrote in the Volokh Conspiracy in a masterful piece, Republicans will never be able to purge homosexuals from their midst. There are too many of them, closeted and unstable. It’s their lot in life. They believe in the principles of conservatism, but have no party where they feel at home. They have to pretend they are someone they are not in order to fit in. It’s pretty sad and I really feel sorry for them. I do hope Republicans will wake up someday and try to understand the plight of a conservative homosexual. How does one who believes in “family values,” “small government,” “low taxes,” etc. reconcile feelings for someone of the same sex. Must be tough.

Man, I really am a bleeding heart liberal. I really feel empathy for closeted conservative homosexuals and what they have to go through.

Senator Larry Craig Is NOT A Mormon

August 29, 2007 at 8:12 am | Posted in American politics, conservatives, corruption, Larry Craig, Republicans | 7 Comments

I’ve seen comments galore across the blogs that seem to confuse this, but let’s be clear. Senator Larry Craig of Idaho is NOT a Mormon. He is a Methodist. You can see it on his wikipedia citation. This is not to say that there aren’t gay closeted Republican Mormons out there, nor to dispel the rumor that Republican Mormons try to abuse their positions of power (plenty do). But just to be factual. That’s all.

Hallelujiah Gonzales Resigns!!!

August 27, 2007 at 8:53 am | Posted in Alberto Gonzales, American politics, conservatives, corruption, Republicans | Leave a comment

This is about the best political news of the summer and a great step forward for America. Alberto Gonzales has resigned as the Attorney General. I guess the White House saw the writing on the wall, that this man was a complete liar who totally brought down this administration to depths not seen before. And also they probably realized that Congress was quite serious about impeaching the idiotic Gonzales.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done. The cleanup from the mess Gonzales made will take quite a while to fix. And I don’t think Chertoff is the man to do it. (then again, I do think that as long as Republicans are in power, there is no fixing of the mess this administration has left in its wake).

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald rightly calls on Democrats to force Bush to call someone truly independent to the position, and not someone like Michael Chertoff. It is time for the Democrats to really make a stand. Com’on guys, show some courage!

Mitt Romney, Six Months Ago, On Iraq

August 26, 2007 at 2:52 pm | Posted in friedman units, Iraq, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney | 3 Comments

Here, to show how ridiculous Republicans and war supporters are, is an example from Mitt Romney, who six months ago said:

We’ll Know in Five or Six Months if Bush Iraq Plan Working. “I think that should have been done a lot earlier and should have been part of the initial plan. But, be that as it may, it’s now being added to the mission. And when you add a mission to our military that means you need to add troop strength to carry it out. We’ll see how well that plan is working. It will probably play out over a matter of five to six months, or more. But it’s months, not years.

Romney Today:

MILFORD, N.H. — Mitt Romney says he wants to encourage a “surge of support” for the troop surge in Iraq this summer.

To that end, Romney announced at a business here that he is contributing $25,000 of his own money to seven organizations aiding the troops and their families. He also placed the names and contact information for the organizations on his campaign’s website to encourage supporters to give.

“I would like to show a surge of public support that can communicate to our troops over there that we care, we appreciate what you are doing, we want you to come home as soon as you can safe and sound,” said Romney.

Atrios also notes interestingly, that Mitt Romney is worth $250 million some odd, contribues $9 million to his campaign, but only $25,000 to support the troops in Iraq. What is more important, Mitt? That you become president, or that our soldiers get what they need?

An Excellent Article on China

August 25, 2007 at 9:50 pm | Posted in China | Leave a comment

This is an excellent article on the growth of China and its inexorable effects on the environment. Amazing.

Some Numbers Regarding Detainees in Iraq

August 25, 2007 at 2:21 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iran, Iraq, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

(Courtesy of New York Times)

Look at these numbers carefully from Iraq. This tells you about detainees in Iraq since the start of the surge. Note the significance of what they say:

Nearly 85 percent of the detainees in custody are Sunni Arabs, the minority faction in Iraq that ruled the country under the government of Saddam Hussein; the other detainees are Shiites, the officers say.

Got that? 85% of detainees are Sunni Arabs. Not Shi’ite Iranians.

Military officers said that of the Sunni detainees, about 1,800 claim allegiance to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign-led. About 6,000 more identify themselves as takfiris, or Muslims who believe some other Muslims are not true believers. Such believers view Shiite Muslims as heretics.

Got that, they hate Shi’ite Muslims. There are no Sunnis in Iran (except for a really tiny minority—but not the ones in power—or the Iranians we accuse of messing around in Iraq)

“Interestingly, we’ve found that the vast majority are not inspired by jihad or hate for the coalition or Iraqi government — the vast majority are inspired by money,” said Capt. John Fleming of the Navy, a spokesman for the multinational forces’ detainee operations. The men are paid by insurgent leaders. “The primary motivator is economic — they’re angry men because they don’t have jobs,” he said. “The detainee population is overwhelmingly illiterate and unemployed. Extremists have been very successful at spreading their ideology to economically strapped Iraqis with little to no formal education.”

They don’t attack us because they hate us. Got that? They attack us because they get paid.

Now, are you ready for the most significant numbers?

According to statistics supplied by the headquarters of Task Force 134, the American military unit in charge of detention operations in Iraq, there are about 280 detainees from countries other than Iraq. Of those, 55 are identified as Egyptian, 53 as Syrian, 37 as Saudi, 28 as Jordanian and 24 as Sudanese.

Look at those numbers carefully. Notice something strange? Let’s see. I see 55 Egyptians. I see 53 Syrians. I see 37 Saudis. I see 28 Jordanians. I see 24 Sudanese. Who is missing? Isn’t it interesting that the one nation we consider the scourge of the Middle East has absolutely zero of its people detained by Americans in Iraq? Where are the Iranians?

When it comes to the hard facts, the Bush administration is proven wrong again and again and again. They really do live in an alternate reality where the bad guy continuously shifts to whoever they choose, and not what the facts on the ground tell them.

Iran is not our enemy. However, if we are not careful, we may end up being theirs.

Don’t Whistleblow American Corruption In Iraq Or You Will Be Tortured

August 25, 2007 at 11:48 am | Posted in American politics, corruption, Iraq, secret combinations, Turkey, War | Leave a comment

This is really damn sad and so shameful for Americans to do this to their own. Have we really fallen this low?

Cartoon of the Day – George W. Bush and Vietnam

August 24, 2007 at 1:53 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, corruption, Iraq, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, Vietnam, War | 2 Comments

He opened the floodgates.

Yeah, he likens our fight today to that of Vietnam back then. But, well, just where was he in Vietnam? Did he ever step foot there as a soldier? Did he ever do his duty to his country? After all that fight was so noble, why didn’t he go over there like so many other brave Americans? How about Dick “Other Priorities” Cheney? He claims deferments for college, but interestingly, never got his degrees…hmmm…nah, he couldn’t have taken advantage of the deferments to avoid going to combat. Not Dick Cheney! Not the man who loves to start conflicts. No, he’s a WARRIOR! He wouldn’t get his wife pregnant just to get another deferment:

On Oct. 6, 1965, the Selective Service lifted its ban against drafting married men who had no children. Nine months and two days later, Mr. Cheney’s first daughter, Elizabeth, was born. On Jan. 19, 1966, when his wife was about 10 weeks pregnant, Mr. Cheney applied for 3-A status, the “hardship” exemption, which excluded men with children or dependent parents. It was granted.

Nine months and two days later. Wow. “Other priorities” indeed.

You want to talk about Vietnam, Mr. President. No worries. We’ll talk about Vietnam.

The Surge Is Not Working

August 24, 2007 at 8:52 am | Posted in American politics, Iraq | 3 Comments

Kevin Drum has the details with a nifty table comparing vital numbers from June/July of 2006 and June/July of 2007. If the Surge is supposed to reduce violence to allow a political solution to come to fruition, then there should be less violence in June/July of 2007 compared to that of the same period in 2006. Furthermore, if the point of the Surge is to give Iraqis more economic results, then things like electricity and gas should be going up in 2007 compared to 2006. But look at the numbers, from the Brookings Institution, the same think tank run by Michael O’Hanlon, the coward who has tried to straddle both sides so when this is all over, he can claim to be on the side of the victorious. Unfortunately for him, his own think tank’s numbers are showing what a folly it is to support this war any further.

Thomas Friedman Explains Why We Went Into Iraq

August 24, 2007 at 6:13 am | Posted in corruption, Iraq, War | 1 Comment

From 2003, just after the war started. “Because we could.”

Can you say, deranged!

So Let’s Talk About Vietnam in the Context of Iraq

August 24, 2007 at 6:12 am | Posted in America, American politics, Iraq, Vietnam | Leave a comment

Watch this video

Okay, President Bush. You opened the floodgates. You want to talk about Vietnam, let’s do it.

George Bush on Vietnam

August 23, 2007 at 8:20 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, corruption, Democrats, George W Bush, Iraq, Vietnam | 1 Comment

all the gory details. Apparently comparisons to Vietnam only work when they are politically convenient for you.

The really sad part is that Senate and House Democrats will cower to this idiot. Com’on boys and girls, show some guts! Stand up to the Boy Emperor and let the world know just what a weak idiot is running our country these days. Or forever be remembered in history as enablers of this madman.

You Ready For War With Iran? Our Crusade in the Middle East Has a New Target

August 23, 2007 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Foxnews, Iran, Iraq, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, violence, War | 3 Comments

Are you ready America? Because it is coming. See how it is being spun by Fox News.

And be ready, because you just might be called to serve. You also might have the Pentagon proselytize you into the “Christian faith” if you are not careful. hilzoy quotes the LA Times:

“Last week, after an investigation spurred by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Pentagon abruptly announced that it would not be delivering “freedom packages” to our soldiers in Iraq, as it had originally intended.

What were the packages to contain? Not body armor or home-baked cookies. Rather, they held Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which “soldiers for Christ” hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.

The packages were put together by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up, or OSU. Headed by former kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU is an official member of the Defense Department’s “America Supports You” program. The group has staged a number of Christian-themed shows at military bases, featuring athletes, strongmen and actor-turned-evangelist Stephen Baldwin. But thanks in part to the support of the Pentagon, Operation Straight Up has now begun focusing on Iraq, where, according to its website (on pages taken down last week), it planned an entertainment tour called the “Military Crusade.”

Apparently the wonks at the Pentagon forgot that Muslims tend to bristle at the word “crusade” and thought that what the Iraq war lacked was a dose of end-times theology.”

What the hell is a “freedom package?”

New NIE Reports Increasing Violence Over Next Year in Iraq

August 23, 2007 at 12:14 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq | Leave a comment

Well well well, surprise surprise. Looks like the violence will only be increasing these next six months to one year. And of course it won’t just magically end next August either. Com’on America. Don’t let Bush fool you anymore. Look carefully. This is absolutely wrong. We must get out. Let the Iraqis now control their own destiny. Why are we shedding our soldiers’ blood over there anymore?

Austria Breaks With the West

August 23, 2007 at 5:57 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Foreign Policy, Iran, Russia | 3 Comments

Well done, Austria. They are asking the United States to stop recreating the Cold War by setting up a missile shield over Eastern Europe. Bush may say whatever he wants to about this shield being a protection of Europe from Iranian missiles, but really, please, we all know it really is a way to take advantage of the peace with Russia to reposition ourselves against an emerging Russian strength.

Why are many Americans so afraid of the Russians?

Mitt Romney Is Attacking New York City

August 21, 2007 at 10:35 am | Posted in American politics, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, New York City | Leave a comment

His new ad attacks the city for being a “sanctuary city” for “illegals.” What a dope!

Remember this, America, when it comes to the general election next fall. Romney is these days playing to the hardcore base. Remember, come next fall, when he shifts back to the center to get the real votes, the ones he will actually need. Remember how he attacks places like New York City, instead of works with them to make things better. This is not the kind of man you want leading you.

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