Friday, March 30, 2007

if it’s sweeps, why are we seeing reruns?

BAGHDAD, Wednesday, March 28 — Hundreds of Iraqis detained in the Baghdad security crackdown have been crammed into two detention centers run by the Defense Ministry that were designed to hold only dozens of people, a government monitoring group said Tuesday.

The numbers suggested that the security plan’s emphasis on aggressive block-by-block sweeps of troubled neighborhoods in the capital had flooded Iraq’s frail detention system, and appeared to confirm the fears of some human rights advocates who have been predicting that the new plan would aggravate already poor conditions.

. . . .

In one of the detention centers, in the town of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, 705 people were packed into an area built for 75, according to Maan Zeki Khadum, an official with the monitoring group. The other center, on Muthana Air Base, held 272 people in a space designed to hold about 50, he said, and included two women and four boys who were being held in violation of regulations that require juveniles to be separated from adults and males from females.

In an interview, Mr. Khadum said a majority of the detainees at the two detention centers had been picked up while the security plan, which began in mid-February, was being put into effect.

He said the detention system had been suffering from a problem of “fast detention and very slow release, especially for those who are not guilty.” His group includes 17 lawyers and is working under a government committee run by the Shiite politician Ahmad Chalabi.

Back in 2003, broad and indiscriminate "coalition" sweeps caused massive overcrowding at Abu Ghraib. The situation back then, it has since been reported, contributed to the nasty environment that allowed, tolerated, even encouraged, the infamous prisoner abuse, at the very least (though no small thing), and, by some estimations, the wholesale roundups, the shoe-horning together of Ba’athists, common criminals, Republican Guard, “jihadis,” and innocent bystanders served as an incubator for the insurgency.

So add another brewing disaster to already disastrous escalation “strategy.”

And Chalabi? Chalabi!?! This is the man in charge of oversight for this catch and hold. . . and hold. . . and hold detention policy? Has the “coalition” run out of sleazebag wannabe strongmen?

Are lessons ever learned? Ever?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

getting a jump on poetry month

April is officially national poetry month, I know, but I was thumbing through a book tonight, and I came across this poem by the 18th Century Vietnamese poet Hô Xuân Hu’o’ng (“Spring Essence”). This translation is by John Balaban.

Trân Quôc Temple

Weeds sprout outside the royal chapel.
I ache thinking of this country’s past.

No incense swirls the Lotus Seat
curling across the king’s robes

rising and falling wave upon wave.
A bell tolls. The past fades further.

Old heroes, old deeds, where are they?
One sees only this flock of shaved heads.

The endnotes on this poem explain that Trân Quôc Temple is a 1,400 year-old temple—the oldest in Hanoi. It commemorates the struggle to drive out the Chinese and establish an independent Vietnam. By the time Hô Xuân Hu’o’ng was writing, Balaban says, the country was struggling with “fratricidal clan wars, corruption, and religious hypocrisy.”

[Spring Essence: the poetry of Hô Xuân Hu’o’ng. Translated by John Balaban. Copper Canyon Press. Those endnotes, by the way, were published in 2000.]

Monday, March 26, 2007

As documents continue to get dumped as a result of investigations into purge-gate, it has become increasingly clear that large amounts of Bush administration business has been (and likely is still being) done via e-mail accounts hosted outside of the official servers.

For instance, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Political Director (in other words, Karl Rove’s deputy) Scott Jennings used “” to conduct correspondence with recently repurposed DoJ chief of staff Kyle Sampson (specifically about putting a Rove protégé into a US attorney’s slot recently purged open). is owned by the Republican National Committee.

Karl Rove, who is reported to do 95% of his e-mailing using RNC accounts, is suspected of having a gwb43 address; he is known to have a address. is owned by Bush-Cheney ’04, Inc. It is also said that Rove “prefers” his RNC-issued BlackBerry. . . “for convenience.”

So all of this has got me to thinking:

If Rove (or anyone else, for that matter) forwards executive office e-mails to his RNC account. . . for convenience. . . would the forwards show up on a subpoena of White House e-mails?

Additionally, the administration is refusing to turn over internal White House-to-White House e-mails, but an e-mail forwarded to an RNC account is, by definition, instantly not internal.

Further, as Alexis Simendinger of the National Journal (quoted by WaPo’s Dan Froomkin) notes,

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove may have forfeited potential claims of executive privilege over the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys if he communicated about the latter outside the White House e-mail system, using his Republican National Committee e-mail account or RNC equipment.

Ah, but that’s not all. The way I see it, If Rove (or Bush, or Cheney, or their staffs) is using for official business, then it is a violation of the Presidential Records Act. But (or, should I say, “And”?), if Rove (or Bush, or Cheney, or their staffs) is doing political, party, campaign, or fundraising business through an RNC server, but is using a computer or mobile device inside the White House or the OEOB, or if anyone is using an mobile device for party business anywhere, then it is a violation of federal elections law.

Quite an interesting conundrum (or, perhaps I should say, conundrums), don’t you think?

Friday, March 23, 2007

it is so on

The US House of Representatives just passed the Democratic Leadership-endorsed supplemental appropriations bill by a vote of 218 to 212. A sample of headlines and leads shows us why this not a hollow victory.

House Passes Timetable for Troop Pullout in Iraq
Bill Promptly Draws Veto Threat from President Bush

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 23, 2007; 2:24 PM

The House of Representatives today passed a $124 billion emergency spending bill that sets binding benchmarks for progress in Iraq, establishes tough readiness standards for deploying U.S. troops abroad and requires the withdrawal of American combat forces from Iraq by the end of August 2008.

The bill promptly drew a veto threat from President Bush.
. . . .

Bush Slams Democrats Over Iraq Timetable

The Associated Press
Friday, March 23, 2007; 2:10 PM

WASHINGTON -- A sharply divided House voted Friday to order President Bush to bring combat troops home from Iraq next year, a victory for Democrats in an epic war-powers struggle and Congress' boldest challenge yet to the administration's policy.
. . . .

House seeks to force Iraq troop withdrawal
By Johanna Neuman, LA Times Staff Writer
10:07 AM PDT, March 23, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives took the historic step today of passing a bill that seeks to force the White House to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by August 2008.
. . . .

US House votes for Iraq deadline

The House of Representatives has voted in favour of ordering President George W Bush to pull US troops out of Iraq.

The bill links $124bn (£62bn) funding for the war to a 31 August 2008 deadline for the withdrawal of all US combat troops.

It was passed by 218 votes to 212 by the Democratic-controlled House. Correspondents say it is the boldest challenge yet to Mr Bush's strategy.

Would I have liked a tougher bill with real deadlines? Sure. Do I want this war over a lot sooner than 18 months from now? You bet! But, if I may paraphrase a famous idiot, you stop a war with the Congress you have, not the Congress you wish you had.

Yes, I think the leadership should have whipped the Blue Dogs and gone for a real and present drawdown, but the fact is that bill would have been vetoed by the President just like this one will be, and the danger was that if the tougher bill failed to pass, the establishment media would have screamed, “Democrats in Disarray!”

With this bill, we have reports of a Democratic victory, and the firming up of a crucial dialectic: Democrats want to end this war—Republicans do not.

‘Nuff said—but I’ll say one more thing: doesn’t it feel good to play offense again?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

ferengi vs. romulan

And I’m not just talking about the obvious physical similarities.

Watch as the fawning, Bush apologist Specter again backpedals—this time with regard to subpoenas—while the passionate Leahy grows increasingly emotional and assertive.

And , yeah, the physical similarities are pretty fun, too.

(A little googling seems to indicate that Sen. Leahy is Star Trek fan, so, all the more fun. And, Senator, I do not mean to disparage your position on oversight by comparing you to a Romulan. Rather, I applaud the passion.)

I agree with the Times. . . because they are wrong

The House of Representatives now has a chance to lead the nation toward a wiser, more responsible Iraq policy. It is scheduled to vote this week on whether to impose benchmarks for much-needed political progress on the Iraqi government — and link them to the continued presence of American combat forces. The bill also seeks to lessen the intolerable strains on American forces, requiring President Bush to certify that units are fit for battle before sending any troops to Iraq. Both of these requirements are long overdue. The House should vote yes, by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin.

Well, of course they should vote yes, but not because the bill actually does what the NYT says it does. . . (more over at capitoilette).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

it ain’t the crime

Is it just me, or is anyone else baffled by the utter lack of historical awareness now being exhibited by the cabal in power and the kids that cover them?

Maybe I’m just showing my age, but I know I’m not as old as almost every one of the folks we would call senior White House staff; nor am I as “experienced” as many of the White House press corps. So, though it is still “early days,” as our Brit brethren would say, I am a little struck by the lack of analogies being drawn between the current “-gate” and the original.

Markos, a younger man than I, had the very same thought that I did the second I read about a “document gap” in the files that Justice sent to the House Judiciary Committee—a gap from mid-November to early December in the e-mails and memos concerning the purging and replacing of US attorneys. I’ll put it this way: When does three weeks seem like 18 1/2 minutes?

Back in the summer of 1973, when the special prosecutor (that would be Leon Jaworski, Archibald Cox having been fired during the Saturday Night Massacre), finally gained access to secret tapes that Nixon had made of conversations in the Oval Office, there was a conspicuous gap in the recording—an 18 1/2 minute portion of what might likely have been important evidence had been erased.

Back then, Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, claimed to have accidentally erased the audiotape. Now, however, we are talking about electronic files—e-mails and documents generated on computers and almost certainly archived (almost certainly with backup archives). It would take an army of extremely brain-dead Rose Mary Woods’s to make all of that go away.

It looks like arrogance more than idiocy (are they mutually exclusive?), but whatever the reason, I have to ask, why invite the scrutiny? I tend to believe, based on the lack of tenacity exhibited by the contemporary establishment media and the number of infinitely more telegenic outrages currently extant, that if the White House had offered up a cursory set of documents with the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales a couple of weeks back, this whole scandal—as scandalous as it is—would have died a relatively quiet death.

But now, with the stonewalling and the stubbornness, with the missing documents (not just from that three week period, but also absent are any of the internal, White House staff to White House staff communications) and the invocations of “executive privilege” (a phrase mighty reminiscent of the Nixon years all by itself), it seems increasingly clear even to the mere transcribers in the media that these guys (and gals) in the Bush Administration have something to hide.

The crime—crimes, really—are plenty bad enough, but they might have been a little complicated to explain (“inside the beltway” stuff, don’t you know). The cover-up however, is as plain as the pre-cancerous nose on Bush’s smirking face.

Like we all learned to say 34 years ago. “It ain’t the crime, it’s the cover-up.”

(cross-posted to Daily Kos)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

shake shack—you bastards!

What does this say? What does this say!

It says that the Shake Shack will open at 11am on Wednesday, March 21. And am I excited about? Well, hells yeah!

Or, should I say, was I excited about that. . . .

I had planned to be at the shack soon after it opened on Wednesday to celebrate the first batch of burgers of the season, but now I see that those no good, insiderie, hipper than thou, shacknoscenti did a sneak opening on Monday. Yeah, yesterday!

Tell me, would the Mets have a sneak opening day two days before most of thought the season was going to begin? No! I find this sneak opening such a buzz kill. Take a life-long (life of the Shake Shack, that is) shack lover and make him feel like some average, run of the mill, B&T, Johnny come lately. I mean, am I going to feel special to be there on Wednesday now? No, I am not. . . I may not even bother to go. . . . I’ll just wait till it’s actually nice out—I mean, what’s the point of eating a burger in a snowdrift if it’s not really the first burger of the season?

So, next time you want to have a sneak opening, at least have some sort of e-mail list I can be on, so I can feel a little special. . . . And, while I’m at it, I want the Usinger’s Brats back on the menu. . . and the Shake’s Pear in the Park concrete. . . and the Chicago dogs would be better if they were grilled. . . and stop letting people get to the front of the line without knowing what they want. . . and if they walk up and ask “What’s a shack burger?” when it’s written on like five different signs right in front of them, send them to the end of the line. . . and. . . .

Monday, March 19, 2007

what was the mission, again?

. . . and what was accomplished?

As we look back on four years of war—four more years than we should ever have to commemorate—this pair of questions is meant as more than just a rhetorical joke at the Commander in Chief’s expense.

Why did we start this war? No, not to look for WMD’s—the government, and anyone else paying attention, knew there were none. No, not to attack al Qaeda—there was never a scintilla of even circumstantial evidence to link Saddam Hussein with the OBL gang (not to mention that such a link was completely counter intuitive). No, not to spread democracy—the administration scrapped the State Department plans for post-invasion nation building at the start of the war, and has since flailed chaotically (if not quixotically) in a variety of half-assed attempts to prop up a string of less than strong strongmen.

Was it to secure a forward base in the region to replace Saudi Arabia? Was it to gain greater control of the region’s oil? Was it to provide new markets for big money friends of Bush and Cheney? Was it to distract the country from the poor performance of the Bush administration in other matters, both foreign and domestic, or to galvanize political support and help build a permanent Republican majority? Was it simply to avenge a perceived insult to the Bush family or resolve some oedipal conflict?

I cannot write off any of those possibilities as easily as I did the “official” reasons.

And what has been accomplished?

Over 3,200 American’s have been killed, tens of thousands have been wounded, countless others have suffered life-changing emotional trauma. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead or maimed as a result of this “liberation.” US troops are attacked, on average, 1,000 times every week—a number that seems to steadily increase each year.

Half of Iraqis think they are worse off now than they were before the invasion. Over 80% expect to die or have a family member die in the violence. A majority of Iraqis say attacks on foreign forces are justified.

And what of the money? What could have been done, here and all over the world, with the $1 Billion the government spends each week for this war? And what of the future? How long will it take to rebuild America’s image around the world? What could we have done with the money we must spend down the line to clean up the mess made by this war abroad—and what must be done, and how much must be spent, domestically, to clean up the mess that will befall our society when so many wounded and damaged servicemen and women return to civilian life (or whatever rude approximation of such our country can offer them)?

The size of the disaster that this folly has wrought redefines “disaster.”

I guess that’s some kind of accomplishment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

great moments in advertising

From the name Dickmann’s, to the twin tag lines, “Dickmann’s is the chocolate foam kiss,” and “What a mouthful: get into a party mood for fun with Dickmann’s,” you’ve got to wonder what these guys are thinking.

Is it really possible to write it all off by saying, well, they’re German?

Friday, March 16, 2007

just a coincidence?

  • It was revealed this week that in conversations between the White House and the Attorney General’s office, it was proposed that they fire all 93 United States attorneys.
  • United 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field on 9/11/01.
  • The USA Patriot Act—the renewal of which contained the provision that made it easy to replace US Attorneys without Senate confirmation—was passed soon after the 9/11 attacks.
  • Arlen Specter is the senior senator from Pennsylvania.
  • Specter was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when the provision about the US attorneys was inserted into the USA Patriot act.
  • “Enemy Combatant” Khalid Sheikh Muhammed is reported to have confessed to planning the 9/11 hijackings (along with more than thirty other attacks or planned attacks)—and a transcript of this confession just happens to be released during the height of the firestorm over the purge of the US attorneys.

Seriously. . .

Does anyone think that the timing of the release of what is said to be KSM’s testimony is just a coincidence?

Does anyone actually believe that this is the unadulterated testimony of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed (unadulterated by either torture or the editorial pen of the Bush propaganda machine)?

KSM has reportedly “confessed” to everything from masterminding the 9/11 attacks, to planning to blow up the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Panama Canal, Heathrow Airport, Big Ben, and the flume ride at Bush Gardens. He also “claims” to have worked to assassinate Presidents Carter and Clinton, and Pope John Paul II. In addition, it is assumed that KSM had designs to remove the Bop from the bop-she-bop-she-bop and steal the Ram from the ramalamadingdong.

(One day later, the administration has also added that Muhammed took credit for killing reporter Daniel Pearl, stating that they withheld that part of the confession until they notified Pearl’s family. This gives the impression that the administration is working with or on behalf of the Pearls, something likely very far from the truth. And, in fact, it is disgusting that the Bush bunch has appropriated the memory of Pearl’s grisly death as part of their mass distraction.)

Doesn’t this all sound just a little too pat? Doesn’t it sound a little like the plot of about twenty different TV crime shows, and about ten times that many movies? After a long, twisted, bloody chase, the lone mastermind of the whole shooting match is cornered and confesses with a smirk and mad laugh.

And then the good guys have no choice but to kill him.

As I see it, we can look for Khalid Sheikh Muhammed’s execution sometime just before the next election. . . but, of course, that timing would be just a coincidence.

little boy lost. . .

. . . or dead man walking?

My bet is on the latter. . . which would be a shame—I was so looking forward to a practice impeachment.

Sen. Harry Reid has labeled Gonzo “gone”—and that was before one two three prominent Republicans also called for the “president’s lawyer” to step down.

(photo: Doug Mills/NYT)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

truth will out

God, it seems like a year ago—but was only eleven months—when I blogged with a bit of dark glee that the Bush Administration scandal parade had finally managed to work a little sex in with their patronage jobs and no-bid contracts. I thought that when the San Diego Union Tribune and other sources started reporting on a DHS paid limo service ferrying hookers to a long-standing card game at the Watergate regularly attended by top lobbyists, government officials like Porter Goss and Dusty Foggo, and elected representatives such as “Duke” Cunningham—well, I thought that all the corruption and influence peddling that had been the stock and trade of Republican Dominated DC since the start of the right-wing reign would finally be deemed spicy and salacious enough to attract the attention of the “respectable” establishment media.

Sure, you laughed at me then. . . but how about now? Well, how about it?

thank god for Pete Stark

How happy can you really be when there is only one. . . but still, this makes me happy.

WASHINGTON (March 14) - The American Humanist Association applauded Rep. Pete Stark for publicly acknowledging he does not believe in a supreme being. The declaration, it said, makes him the highest-ranking elected official -- and first congressman -- to proclaim to be an atheist.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

can you hear me now?

On Friday, I called for the impeachment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and added that it just might help greater America warm to the idea of removing Cheney and Bush next.

Sure, some (typical understatement) were initially skeptical. . . but things are, as they say, developing.

On Sunday, The New York Times and Senator Chuck Schumer got part of the way there. And, on Monday, Times columnist Paul Krugman explicitly used the “i” word (good for him!).

Tuesday’s papers move the ball quite a bit further down field.

Administration officials did a document dump last night (not on a Friday, but on a Monday! A sign of panic?), Gonzales’s chief of staff has resigned, and papers like The Washington Post and The New York Times are just beginning to sort through it all.

So am I. But give a read to the second paragraph in the NYT article:

Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official.

Maybe it’s just me, but I see the name Bush in there. Not just “an administration official” or “a Bush aide” or even some now cold body, like Harriet Miers—it says “President Bush spoke with” Gonzales. And, as the article points out, a couple of weeks after that, seven US attorneys were fired without cause.

So, now who’s with me?

(And, by the way, note that Bush was talking about “voter fraud” and not “voter suppression.” As the last five years have shown us, “addressing” the former seems to pretty much imply committing the latter. Sounds like another article of impeachment to me.)

thanks for letting us know, Martha

ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz has, in my opinion, been one of the better US television journalists covering the Bush Administration and their war in Iraq. One of the better of a pretty sorry lot, I know, but let that take nothing away from much of the good work that has been done by Raddatz.

That said, however, I am gravely disappointed in her.

Raddatz has written a book, and is now—just now—telling tales of conversations dating back three-and-a-half-years. . . and I am wondering, what took her so long?

Some might say, “better late than never,” but I doubt that would be the position of many of the families of the thousands who have died in the interim.

More at capitoilette.

Monday, March 12, 2007

the post where I congratulate Sen. Schumer and the NYT for (almost) following my lead

Last Friday, over on capitoilette, I called on the Democratic leadership to get the ball rolling on rolling back the Bush agenda by moving toward impeachment of AG Alberto Gonzales. Well, it’s nice to see that the Gray Lady and New York’s senior Senator were paying attention.

In their lead Sunday editorial, the New York Times called Gonzales the
consigliere to Mr. Bush’s imperial presidency,” and then lists more than a half-dozen instances where the Attorney General has failed in his duties or abused his power.

The editorial concludes, “Mr. Bush should dismiss Mr. Gonzales and finally appoint an attorney general who will use the job to enforce the law and defend the Constitution.”

Then, appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, Senator Chuck Schumer reiterated many of the points spelled out by the Times editorial, and added, “For the sake of the nation, Attorney General Gonzales should step down.”

With all respect to the Times editorial board and Senator Schumer, Gonzales is not likely close to stepping down, and President Bush is probably lacking the decency and/or foresight needed to dismiss him. If we want to begin to see the end of the abuses of our Constitution and the violations of our laws perpetrated by the Bush Justice Department, then it is the Congress that will have to act to remove Gonzales.

Calling for his resignation or dismissal is nice, but calling for, and moving toward, his impeachment is necessary.

Frank Rich should know better

Let it be known straight away that I am a big fan of Frank Rich’s weekly column in the New York Times—Rich almost always either has a fresh perspective on the week’s events, or just says what we’ve all been thinking, but in a succinct and elegant manner.

I certainly can heap similar praise upon yesterday’s OpEd, Why Libby’s Pardon is a Slam Dunk, but I do so this time with a wag of the finger. In the penultimate paragraph, Rich makes the surprising mistake of perpetuating a generation-old falsehood:

As is often noted, any parallels between Iraq and Vietnam do not extend to America's treatment of its troops. No one spits at those serving in Iraq. But our "support" for the troops has often been as hypocritical as that of an administration that still fails to provide them with sufficient armor. Health care indignities, among other betrayals of returning veterans, have been reported by countless news organizations since the war began, not just this year. Many in Congress did nothing, and we as a people have often looked the other way, supporting the troops with car decals and donated phone cards while the same history repeats itself again and again.

(emph. added)

Frank Rich is hardly the only member of the establishment press to make this error. Indeed, the last two-dozen years of journalistic and dramatic retellings of the Vietnam era are filled with stories—or, rather, the story—of returning Viet vets, fresh from fighting the Vietcong, having to wage war against the flying saliva of anti-war protestors.

The problem is, it never happened.

Or likely never happened. Let’s just say this: yes, it’s hard to prove a negative, but as Jack Shafer wrote in Slate back in 2000, there is no documented proof of this spitting having ever happened.

Shafer tells of work by sociologist Jerry Lembcke, who, in his 1998 book, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, looked at hundreds of newspaper accounts of protestors spitting on soldiers and found that none of them withstood scrutiny—none of them. All the stories seem to spring from one archetype—unsubstantiated and uncorroborated. In short, the story of war protestors spitting on Vietnam veterans is an urban myth.

(In fact, Lembcke finds several documented stories of war protestors being spat upon by counter-protestors—a point that seems to confirm that if spitting had been going on in the other direction, it would have been reported and would thus show up in Nexis searches of that period.)

While I am always outraged by the lazy repetition of unsubstantiated stories by the establishment media, I am not always surprised. But what gets me writing here is indeed surprise, because I usually don’t count Frank Rich among the usual sloths of the fourth estate. I would have thought Rich would have known already that the spitting story is a myth, but, at the minimum, I would think the longtime journalist/skeptic would have known not to just accept and repeat the trope without giving it a cursory google.

I would have thought that Frank Rich would have known better.

Friday, March 09, 2007

practice makes perfect

I have been floating an idea with a few friends lately: how about we get America used to the idea of impeaching Bush and Deep Veep by first going after Mr. Moto?

I expand on the idea over at capitoilette.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

ladies and gentlemen, I give you fox “news”

Yes, this is the same Fox News that Harry Reid, the Nevada Democratic Party, and some of the Democratic presidential hopefuls want to legitimize as a neutral news source by allowing them to host and spin a candidates’ forum in August.

Few are opposed to letting Fox broadcast a Democratic debate, but to let them host—with a panel made up of their journalists personalities—and then own and spin the content is just giving them too much credit. . . and too much rope.

There will be plenty of other televised candidate forums in Nevada before their caucuses; no one needs to reach anyone through the filter of Fox News. John Edwards, to his credit, has pulled out of this event. How about you give your favorite candidate(s) a call, and ask them not to lend their esteem and credibility to the Fox News Channel. And give the most powerful Democrat in Nevada—that would be Harry Reid—a call, too, while you are at it. Though he doesn’t seem to want to admit it, Reid has a lot of say in this matter.

The Senator’s numbers: (phone) 202-224-3542 / (fax) 202-224-7327.

Thank you. Goodnight and good news.

(screen grab hat tips: Think Progress & dKos; numbers hat tip: Matt Stoller)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"so lacking in courage as to be worthy of contempt"

That would be the dictionary definition of “craven.”

You see, when I cross-posted yesterday’s piece, not incompetence—ideology, to Daily Kos, I garnered a few comments, several of which are quite interesting, and I encourage everyone to take a look (let this serve as a reminder to all of you here—I really like comments). One response took issue with my use of the word “craven” to describe Bush, Cheney, and the assorted other administration bigwigs with a hand on the steering wheel of our ship of state.

I don't think the neocon leaders are notably craven, although they do seem to see extreme danger everywhere they look. Their followers, on the other hand, seem to me quite cowardly.

Perhaps mike101, who posted the comment, thought I had meant to use another word. Well, I chose the word “craven” very much on purpose, and I stand by my labeling the likes of Bush and Cheney as cowards—in fact, I think it is a point we need to stress more often. Here is my response to mike (reposted from dKos):

So lacking in courage as to be worthy of contempt

I think these neo-conmen are quite craven/cowardly. None have seen combat first hand—many actively dodged service—yet they are all too willing to send others to take a bullet for them. And for what?

From 9/11 onward, this administration has been willing to throw away everything we hold dear because a few thousand people across the entire globe might have the wherewithal and dedication to launch a terrorist attack. They see a boogeyman in every closet. They scream bloody murder every time a tinhorn goes “boo.” It’s dogs and cats living together—mass hysteria!

A few zealots against the full military, economic, and cultural might of the United States—c’mon! I’m not afraid. I’m afraid for the world if the US continues to throw this weight around the way it has the last half-dozen years, but I am not that afraid of what al Qaeda can do to the whole of my country.

But Bush is terrified! You can see it in his beady little eyes. And Cheney? Wake him wearing a turban and I can almost guarantee the fifth heart attack. And all of their half-pint, half-wit supporters—Gonzales, Feith, Kristol—chickenshits, every one! We are lead by a bunch of scared children whose instinctual reaction is to scream and hit at the slightest provocation.

I know it’s also in their “ideology,” but it is an ideology rooted in fear.

FDR was right, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—and these men are chock-full of fear. I appreciate your comment, but I stand by “craven.”

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

not incompetence—ideology

There was plenty of coverage Monday of the hearings before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (except, of course, on Nightline. They chose to tell a feel good story—I’m not kidding—about a day in March 2004 when US troops were ambushed in Sadr City. . . if you can imagine such a thing. . . to promote a new book by ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz. . . and, no doubt, to counter the overwhelming bad press that the US military got today)—plenty of coverage of injured soldiers and their families telling harrowing tales of bad care and filthy conditions at the Army’s premiere medical facility. But as appropriate as it was to show what has happened to the people who were asked to sacrifice life and limb, by stopping the story there, the coverage really missed the point.

That point, as noticed by Oversight Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA), and noted on Monday by Paul Krugman, is that the scandalous conditions at Walter Reed (and no doubt other military or veterans’ facilities) are not the result of snafus, fuck-ups, or oversights (other use of the word, of course)—the entire horrible mess is a direct result of the reckless policies of the Bush Administration. It is not a testament to their incompetence—it is a test case for their ideology.

As Krugman observes, comparisons with the failures at FEMA after Hurricane Katrina are apt. The administration pinched pennies and privatized with abandon. They replaced competence with cronyism, all in pursuit of some sham dogma and the lining of each other’s pockets—the lives of the people they so easily put in harm’s way be damned.

The redoubtable Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, points out that IAP Worldwide Services, a company run by two former Halliburton executives, received a large contract to run Walter Reed under suspicious circumstances: the Army reversed the results of an audit concluding that government employees could do the job more cheaply.

The results of such “ideological” pursuits, predictable to the reality-based community, are made literally flesh by the testimony of veterans, just as they were by the pictures from New Orleans in 2005. This is not the failure of government, this is the failure of those who now govern.

I applaud most of the establishment media for finally coming around to the stories of neglect (though years, I’m afraid, after they were originally reported), but I am not content with the traditional Grand Guignol approach that they have taken. This is not just the heroic story of brave soldiers who have struggled against the system any more than it is the story of a few bad actors at the administrative level. Unfortunately (and unfortunately under-covered), this—like Katrina and Iraq as a whole—is the story of greedy, ideologically driven, and, at their core, craven leaders.

Do not let them off the hook by calling them incompetent.

(Cross-posted to capitoilette and Daily Kos.)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

2,000 days

Today marks 2,000 days since the attacks of 9/11/01. What have we accomplished?

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri:
Still Wanted.

Port security, pandemic preparedness, and gulf coast recovery:
Still Wanting.

George Bush and Dick Cheney:
Still Wanton.

And, I must note, as of this writing, Bush and Cheney’s Iraq distraction has killed 196 more Americans than did the 9/11 hijackers.

coffin photo: The Memory Hole

Friday, March 02, 2007

in other news. . .

I have been trying to get other work done, and have had a bit of trouble of late maintaining a regular posting schedule over here, but I wanted to steer you to a few noteworthy items from the past few days:

North Korea now has nuclear weapons BECAUSE of the Bush administration.

Yet another reason to doubt admin intel on Iran’s support for Shiite militias: those copper lined EFP’s we trotted out last month—maybe made in Iraq, definitely not from Iran.

Yet another reason to impeach Mr. Moto.

Fired US attorney David Iglesias told NPR’s Melissa Block that he lost his job because he resisted the pressure of two Republican members of the New Mexico congressional delegation to speed up indictments of a local Democrat to possibly influence the November elections. Iglesias and Block also make it pretty clear which two Republicans.

Tell me again how the Democrats don’t have alternatives to the Bush escalation. . . go ahead, I dare you.

Let’s hope they are really big, waterproof flags.

Surprise, surprise. . . Joe lies. . . and Mike Bloomberg is just the man stupid enough to have fallen for it.

Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani on the war in Iraq:

I ran a hospital system, the second- or third-largest in the country. . . . We were paying out $500 million in claims, and settling claims that we just had to settle for amounts of money I would never thought you should give, and I'm a lawyer. That's what I really know about, even more than foreign policy.

Seriously, that was his answer to a question on Iraq.

It’s not the crime—it’s the cover-up. Um, well, no, the way this administration has treated wounded veterans is pretty much a crime—one that they have been aware of for years, and one that we all now know about thanks to the Washington Post—but that don’t stop them from still trying to cover it up. . .

. . . and replace one criminal with another. . .

. . . and cut money from veterans’ healthcare.

Once again, Americans have affirmed their desire to see government guaranteed universal access to healthcare. This should not come as a surprise—most Americans have felt this way for decades. What is a surprise is that our aspiring national leaders still feel the need to pussyfoot and incrementalize around this issue.

And, finally, yes, John McCain is still such an asshole.