Bad News Friday

September 14, 2007 at 8:20 am | Posted in American politics, Iraq | Leave a comment

It is Friday, it must be the day the Bush administration releases all detrimental information. This Friday we get a Congressionally mandated report from the White House on Iraq basically saying that Iraq is a failure.

Anybody want to take a guess why this report was not released BEFORE General Petraeus’ testimony to Congress? Anybody want to take a guess why this report was not released BEFORE President Bush’s awful speech last night?

Could It Be Democrats Winning In November 2006…

September 11, 2007 at 2:36 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq | 1 Comment

…that forced Sunnis in Anbar province to turn on Al-Qaeda? As the link shows, the numbers seem to indicate that.

Huh, imagine that, the threat of withdrawal forces players in the field to reconsider their options and actually make something happen. Imagine that.

Remembering 9/11 – Six Years Later

September 11, 2007 at 8:51 am | Posted in 9/11, New York City, Terrorism | Leave a comment

It is a muggy cloudy day with intermittent rain from the remnants of tropical storm Gabrielle. Today is Tuesday, September 11, 2007, six years after 19 men took control of four planes, crashing two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington DC and the fourth, a failed crash in a field in Pennsylvania. It was a very sad day in the history of the world, as nearly 3000 people of many nationalities, though mostly American, died.

I was not in New York City six years ago (I was actually driving through Saskatchewan from Alaska to Massachusetts on that day), but I work close to Ground Zero these days and walk by the site frequently. I took a few pictures on my phone and share them here.

Remembering 9/11

Remembering 9/11

Remembering 9/11

Remembering 9/11

It is very sad to see that hole instead of the World Trade Center. Before 9/11 I had actually looked forward to one day seeing those two towers, such iconic architecture they were. I can only hope the city works things out soon to fill that hole back up with something, to show the world that we pick up and move on, not cowering to terrorism.

I pray for those who lost loved ones and hope that God will heal their pains.

He Gets It

September 11, 2007 at 8:19 am | Posted in American politics, Iraq | Leave a comment

Eugene Robinson, ladies and gentlemen. He gets it. Pay attention to him and not to the propagandistic general.

General Petraeus’ Testimony is Not New – Read General Westmorland’s Testimony About Vietnam

September 10, 2007 at 7:09 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Vietnam | 5 Comments

Eerily similar, aren’t they?

Given the nature of the enemy, it seems to me that the strategy that we are following at this time is the proper one, and that is producing results. While he is obviously is far from quitting, there are signs that his morale and his military structure are beginning to deteriorate. The rate of decline will be in proportion to the pressure directed against him….
As you know, we are fighting a war with no front lines, since the enemy hides among the people, in the jungles and mountains, and uses covertly border areas of neutral countries. One cannot measure progress by lines on a map. We therefore have to use other means to chart progress. Several indices clearly point to steady and encouraging success. As an example:

Two years ago the Republic of Vietnam had fewer than 30 combat-ready battalions. Today it has 154.

Then there were three jet-capable runways in South Vietnam. Today there are 14.

As I have said before, in evaluating the enemy strategy it is evident to me that he elieves our Achilles’ heel is our resolve. Your continued strong support is vital to the success of our mission..
Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coastguardsmen are the finest ever fielded by our Nation….Those men understand the conflict and their complex roles as fighters and as builders. They believe in what they are doing. They are determined to provide the shield of security behind which the Republic of Vietnam can develop and prosper for its own sake and for the future and freedom of all Southeast Asia.

Backed at home by resolve, confidence, patience, determination, and continued support, we will prevail in Vietnam over the Communist aggressor.

So sad.

Is It Worth The Cost?

September 10, 2007 at 1:43 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq | 13 Comments

That’s the real question. As BoB Shieffer says:

The right question would have been: Is it worth the cost?

America eventually concluded it was not, and we left the war.

Let me preempt that question to General Petraeus. We haven’t lost this war, but we’re not winning it. We’re hanging on. Victory would be obvious. Iraqi families would be strolling the streets of Baghdad, and Osama bin Laden would be walking out of a cave somewhere with his hands up.

Instead of that question, let’s hope the general will be asked what we so often forgot during Vietnam: Is this worth the cost in lives and money?

And here’s a follow-up: When the Iraqi parliament went on vacation during August, I gave up on trying to help them find a way to have an effective government. They have to do that. What we need to know now is whether keeping a large American military force in Iraq is the best way to make America safer.

To me, that’s the real question.

You Will Be Bamboozled This Week, America

September 9, 2007 at 3:04 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Iraq, Military, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, United Nations, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | 14 Comments

Let’s just be clear about all the obfuscation you will be hearing, all the muddying of the waters that you will hear this week from General Petraeus and Ambassador Corker. They are Bush loyalists, and will not tell you the truth.

First off is this little nugget in one report out today:

For two hours, President Bush listened to contrasting visions of the U.S. future in Iraq. Gen. David H. Petraeus dominated the conversation by video link from Baghdad, making the case to keep as many troops as long as possible to cement any security progress. Adm. William J. Fallon, his superior, argued instead for accepting more risks in Iraq, officials said, in order to have enough forces available to confront other potential threats in the region.

The polite discussion in the White House Situation Room a week ago masked a sharper clash over the U.S. venture in Iraq, one that has been building since Fallon, chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees Middle East operations, sent a rear admiral to Baghdad this summer to gather information. Soon afterward, officials said, Fallon began developing plans to redefine the U.S. mission and radically draw down troops.

One of those plans, according to a Centcom officer, involved slashing U.S. combat forces in Iraq by three-quarters by 2010.

They’re not planning at all to withdraw, or even reduce the size of our forces in Iraq before 2010. They’re in this for the long haul, whether you like it or not, America. Will you stand for this? They won’t care if a Democrat is in power in 2009. They’ll press on the lie to ensure more Americans are over in Iraq to die for…well, we’re not quite sure what. Some “victory” whatever the hell that means.

The second comes from this fascinating report about a UN report supposed to come out now. But notice what is going on:

The United Nations has delayed the release of a quarterly report on human rights in Iraq to avoid criticizing Washington and Baghdad while they are seeking to rally congressional and international support for the war effort, according to U.N. officials.

The move follows a request by Ryan C. Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, to Ashraf Qazi, the United Nations’ top envoy in Baghdad, saying Iraq needs “several weeks” to study the report, according to an account by a senior U.N. official. The delay will effectively postpone debate over the United Nations’ view of Iraq’s sectarian violence — and U.S. and Iraqi efforts to combat it — until after Crocker and Gen. David H. Petraeus deliver a crucial assessment of conditions in Iraq to Congress this week.

A draft of the U.N. report, which was completed last month, focuses primarily on violence committed by Iraqi militias and insurgents, according to U.N. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. But it also documents abuses by U.S. and Iraqi forces during more than four months of the U.S.-backed military buildup in Baghdad. It faults Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, saying it lacks commitment to improving its rights record.

Gee, why would we want to avoid criticizing Washington and Baghdad while they’re trying to build support? Shouldn’t we know the full picture as they are trying to build support? Why hide? Doesn’t the truth set you free?

So just know America. You will be bamboozled.

Oh, and the political positioning by Republicans now is all about 2012. They’re pretty certain to lose 2008 to the Democrats and are trying to position the war so whatever Democratic leader starts in 2009 has a losing war to end, thereby creating the perfect opportunity for Republicans to come back in 2012 as the “saviors” of America from those dastardly liberals.

Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations?

September 5, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iran, Military, secret combinations | Leave a comment

That is a really good question.

You ready for nuclear war in the Middle East, America? Because it is coming. Sooner than you think.

Bush and Company Move Goalposts on Iraq, Again

September 5, 2007 at 10:38 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Iraq, Military | Leave a comment

Any surprise? As Kevin Drum writes:

There’s an awful lot to say about this beyond the obvious point that this goalpost moving is a pretty desperate attempt to dig up something — anything — positive to say about political reconciliation in Iraq. For starters, there’s the fact that the Anbar strategy is entirely accidental and we don’t truly control it. There’s the fact that one of the underlying goals of arming the Sunni tribes is a veiled desire to create an armed balance of power between Sunni and Shia that can’t possibly be stable. There’s the fact that we’re encouraging a de facto balkanization of the country. There’s the fact that even if this strategy is a good one, we don’t have anywhere near enough troops to make it work on a widespread basis. And finally, there’s the fact that the Shiite militias simply aren’t going to allow this strategy to spread to Baghdad.

All of these things are worth posts of their own, and I might even get around to writing one or two of them sometime this week. In the meantime, just be aware that this is apparently the new talking point: national reconciliation doesn’t matter anymore. Tribal reconciliation is where the action is. We’ll let you know how it’s going six months from now.

Indeed, we’ll chat again come April.

The BEST News of the Week!

September 5, 2007 at 9:42 am | Posted in American politics, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Iraq, Larry Craig, Military, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

Thank you Senator Larry Craig, for deciding not to resign. This means you keep your story in the news, and well keep the Pentagon propaganda machine on the back burner:

TPM Reader KB understands the nexus between imperialism and 24 hour cable …

If Sen. Larry Craig reconsiders and steps all over Gen. Petraeus’ week of surge, Bill Kristol’s head will explode. That Penatagon media war room they set up will be useless in the face of this cable TV zoo.

Support Larry Craig, everbody!

Senator Larry Craig Reconsiders His Resignation

September 4, 2007 at 8:29 pm | Posted in corruption, Larry Craig, Republicans | Leave a comment

Well, that didn’t take long. It looks like Larry Craig no longer wishes to resign. Good for him!

She Stuck Her Tongue Out At Them

September 4, 2007 at 11:40 am | Posted in Alberto Gonzales, Bush Administration, corruption, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

Wow, Mrs. Ashcroft stuck her tongue out at Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales as they left the hospital room. Is there anymore doubt about what the real purpose of Gonzales and Card coming to the hospital to get a signature from a dying John Ashcroft over that of Jim Comey? Read the following account from Jack Goldsmith’s book coming out:

Goldsmith also witnessed perhaps the most well-known confrontation over the administration’s aggressive tactics: the scene at Ashcroft’s hospital bed on March 10, 2004, when Gonzales and Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, visited the hospital to demand that the ailing Ashcroft approve, over Goldsmith and Comey’s objections, a secret program that was about to expire. (Goldsmith refuses to identify the program, but Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director, has publicly indicated it was the terrorist surveillance program.) As he recalled it to me, Goldsmith received a call in the evening from his deputy, Philbin, telling him to go to the George Washington University Hospital immediately, since Gonzales and Card were on the way there. Goldsmith raced to the hospital, double-parked outside and walked into a dark room. Ashcroft lay with a bright light shining on him and tubes and wires coming out of his body.

Suddenly, Gonzales and Card came in the room and announced that they were there in connection with the classified program. “Ashcroft, who looked like he was near death, sort of puffed up his chest,” Goldsmith recalls. “All of a sudden, energy and color came into his face, and he said that he didn’t appreciate them coming to visit him under those circumstances, that he had concerns about the matter they were asking about and that, in any event, he wasn’t the attorney general at the moment; Jim Comey was. He actually gave a two-minute speech, and I was sure at the end of it he was going to die. It was the most amazing scene I’ve ever witnessed.”

After a bit of silence, Goldsmith told me, Gonzales thanked Ashcroft, and he and Card walked out of the room. “At that moment,” Goldsmith recalled, “Mrs. Ashcroft, who obviously couldn’t believe what she saw happening to her sick husband, looked at Gonzales and Card as they walked out of the room and stuck her tongue out at them. She had no idea what we were discussing, but this sweet-looking woman sticking out her tongue was the ultimate expression of disapproval. It captured the feeling in the room perfectly.”

What kind of men go to the hospital to get approval from a dying man who relinquished his position of power to his number two? What kind of morals do those men have? What is their priority? These are the kinds of men that make hardcore conservatives like John Ashcroft look like a perfect angel. These are the kinds of men that have been running our country these past six years. Pray that this ends quickly.

Bush’s Legacy

September 4, 2007 at 10:25 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, Middle East, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations | Leave a comment

If you have paid close attention these past six years to President Bush, you’ll learn one very important thing. He doesn’t like leaving behind a recorded trail that ties him to the bungling mess that was his creation. He wishes to remain accountable-free of all the messes he created. It is the only way he can justify that his actions are “right.” Most importantly, it is the only way he sees that his legacy will not be tarnished by his mistakes. He can’t have a recorded account of him admitting to anything bad. Abu Ghraib? Not his problem—those were the grunts’ fault. Torture? Certainly not his call. That’s the CIA’s baby. Losing Iraq? No way was it his fault. No, that’s the Democrats for not backing him fully. Every mistake is someone else’s fault in Bush’s eyes. Nothing can touch him.

So just this past week, when interviewed for the New York Times, Bush was asked about the policy of letting the Iraqi Army go free and unemployed, probably the worst decision of the war. What was Bush’s reply?

In an interview with Robert Draper, author of the new book, “Dead Certain,” Mr. Bush sounded as if he had been taken aback by the decision, or at least by the need to abandon the original plan to keep the army together.

“The policy had been to keep the army intact; didn’t happen,” Mr. Bush told the interviewer. When Mr. Draper asked the president how he had reacted when he learned that the policy was being reversed, Mr. Bush replied, “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, “This is the policy, what happened?’ ”

He can’t remember? The biggest, most important decision of post-war Iraq and he can’t remember? Or is it that he doesn’t want a recorded account of him actually saying that it really was his decision. Well, Paul Bremer, who is the man who executed that policy doesn’t apparently want to be Bush’s fall guy. He reveals that indeed, Bush KNEW.

A previously undisclosed exchange of letters shows that President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to “dissolve Saddam’s military and intelligence structures,” a plan that the envoy, L. Paul Bremer, said referred to dismantling the Iraqi Army.

Mr. Bremer provided the letters to The New York Times on Monday after reading that Mr. Bush was quoted in a new book as saying that American policy had been “to keep the army intact” but that it “didn’t happen.”

The dismantling of the Iraqi Army in the aftermath of the American invasion is now widely regarded as a mistake that stoked rebellion among hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi soldiers and made it more difficult to reduce sectarian bloodshed and attacks by insurgents. In releasing the letters, Mr. Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush’s comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House.

“We must make it clear to everyone that we mean business: that Saddam and the Baathists are finished,” Mr. Bremer wrote in a letter that was drafted on May 20, 2003, and sent to the president on May 22 through Donald H. Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense.

After recounting American efforts to remove members of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein from civilian agencies, Mr. Bremer told Mr. Bush that he would “parallel this step with an even more robust measure” to dismantle the Iraq military.

One day later, Mr. Bush wrote back a short thank you letter. “Your leadership is apparent,” the president wrote. “You have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence.”

Kinda sucks for Bush when not all his players play the same game. Don’t they all know the rules of chess? The knight is supposed to fall and die for his king!

Let history judge correctly that Bush is at the heart of all the bad policies to have come out of our government these past six years. The buck does indeed stop with him and none other. His legacy is a failed Iraq. His legacy is a failed Afghanistan. His legacy is legalizing torture. His legacy is secret spying on Americans. That is the legacy of George W. Bush. His legacy is not peace. His legacy is not a stabilized Middle East. His legacy is not success. It is failure.

Senator Larry Craig’s Appointment, Jim Risch, is Also NOT Mormon

September 2, 2007 at 8:03 am | Posted in American politics, Christianity, Larry Craig, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

In my previous post on Larry Craig, my main point was to show that he is not a Mormon, because so many were asking that question on the web. Now that he is retiring, and will probably be replaced by Jim Risch, I want to point out that he too is not a Mormon. He is a Roman Catholic.

I also want to point to this great article on what Jim Risch thinks about residents of Louisiana in the wake of the worst natural disaster in our history. Jim Risch says:

“Here in Idaho, we couldn’t understand how people could sit around on the kerbs waiting for the federal government to come and do something. We had a dam break in 1976, but we didn’t whine about it. We got out our backhoes and we rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields and got on with our lives. That’s the culture here. Not waiting for the federal government to bring you drinking water. In Idaho there would have been entrepreneurs selling the drinking water.”

Good ol’ fashioned compassionate conservatism, eh? What’s worse, as Mark Schmitt writes:

Taken on its own terms, this is a cruel and unsympathetic statement, assuming that the deeply impoverished people of a city that had washed away could and should have just taken care of themselves. But if you look at what Risch was talking about, it’s truly astonishing.

The dam that broke in 1976 was the Teton dam, built on the Snake River just a few months earlier, at a cost of $100m. (That’s worth almost $500m today.) Built not by entrepreneurs, but by the federal government’s bureau of reclamation. It was built at the political insistence of a few millionaire ranchers and potato-growers, whose political allies had persuaded the government to build a series of dams that transformed a desert into some of the richest and wettest agricultural land in the country. And it was built despite predictions that it would fail.

And when it did fail, it was not the self-sufficient entrepreneurs of Idaho who “rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields.” It was, once again, the federal government. According to the government’s official history of the incident, federal agencies quickly rebuilt all the irrigation systems, and paid more than $850 million in claims to about 15,000 people who had lost property in the flood.

Seriously, what has happened to today’s conservatives? Where have their hearts gone? Where has their sense of reasoning gone? Is this really the kind of man that Idahoans want representing them? Apparently this is a better man than a closeted homosexual who really didn’t do anything wrong.

Condoleezza Rice Ponders On Her Future and Legacy

September 1, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Posted in American politics, condoleezza rice, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria | 2 Comments

In an interview with the New York Times, Ms. Rice talks about her future (even though she still has 18 months of work), and bemoans that her legacy will forever be tainted by failure. Well, duh, Ms. Rice. It might be because of, well, what you did:

In the Palestinian territories, she engineered a political boycott of the militant Islamist group Hamas after it won legislative elections, which she had pushed for, in 2006. In Pakistan, while continuing to express support for elections, she has scrambled for ways to keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a military dictator who took power in a 1999 coup, in office. And she made little mention of democracy during a visit to Egypt and Saudi Arabia in July, and did not meet with any political dissidents, citing time pressures and a full schedule.

So you tell Palestinians that they must elect leaders and then when the Palestinians do exactly what you tell them, you boycott their chosen leaders. It doesn’t make your legacy look good, Ms. Rice.

What would help your legacy, Ms. Rice, is to talk to those you don’t like, the Iranians, the Syrians, and elected Palestinian officials, including those of Hamas. How do you even expect to make peace between Israel and Palestinians if you totally ignore millions of Palestinians? That just doesn’t make any sense.

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