Thursday, August 30, 2007

note to congressional dems: start those spine-strengthening exercises before you return

Everybody remember the last fight over an Iraq supplemental. Of course you do—it was only, like, four months ago! Or, maybe you don’t remember. . . because, when all was said and done, it really wasn’t much of a fight—Democratic leadership tapped out after one veto and one additional veto threat.

Well, if I were a member of the leadership, currently wrapping up my summer holiday, I would start practicing how to stand up. . . or, at least, how not to bend over. . . again.

As Thomas Ricks warns us in Wednesday’s WaPo:

President Bush plans to ask Congress next month for up to $50 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq, a White House official said yesterday, a move that appears to reflect increasing administration confidence that it can fend off congressional calls for a rapid drawdown of U.S. forces.

The request -- which would come on top of about $460 billion in the fiscal 2008 defense budget and $147 billion in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- is expected to be announced after congressional hearings scheduled for mid-September featuring the two top U.S. officials in Iraq. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker will assess the state of the war and the effect of the new strategy the U.S. military has pursued this year.

The request is being prepared now in the belief that Congress will be unlikely to balk so soon after hearing the two officials argue that there are promising developments in Iraq but that they need more time to solidify the progress they have made, a congressional aide said.

If I were a Democratic member of Congress, I would also bone up on the facts; like the fact that by any metric you choose—troop deaths, Iraqi deaths, Iraqi government unity—the surge escalation is not working. Not even a little.

So, I would start working out and reading up for a stronger body and a sharper mind. That’s what I would do.

But, of course, I want the occupation to end and the troops to come home. . . .

(Oh, and, note to Ricks, or the unnamed White House official, or whoever is responsible for the term “rapid drawdown”: By using that term, it perpetuates the myth that somehow Democrats are advocating a reckless and precipitous withdrawal. I can’t think of a single member of the majority that has argued for that. Rather, the plan, for those that have a plan in mind, would look like this orderly redeployment—at its most “rapid.”)

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

happy anniversary

This picture (which I’ve posted a couple of times before) was taken two years ago today. This is what President George Bush (and his pal, Sen. John “assholeMcCain, for that matter) was doing while levees were breaking and people were dying in New Orleans.

There’s a guy who knows what his priorities are.

(h/t to BarbinMD for reminding when this photo was taken)

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stop him before he kills again

I know what your thinking. . . if I am talking about George W. Bush and killing, I must be talking about the 3,732 troops that have died in Iraq to protect the president’s ego, or the tens of thousands of Iraqis that had to die for the same cause. Or, perhaps I am talking about the 1,800 to 2,600 that died due to the president’s blatant and callous negligence in the run up to and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (which struck the Gulf Coast two years ago today). Or, maybe I’m looking ahead to all the children who will perish because they have no access to affordable healthcare thanks to the Boy King’s stance on SCHIP.

Good reasons to stop GB43, all—but not the one I’m going to tell you about today. In the face of the thousands killed that I mention above, what I write about here will seem like a small thing, but every life is precious, and when one is wasted in the service nothing more important than cold, hard cash, well, you kind of want to trigger some warrantless surveillance with your detailed fantasies of just retribution.

A New Mexico police officer who was part of President Bush’s motorcade was killed when his motorcycle crashed near the Albuquerque airport. Officer Germaine Casey—a 40-year-old father of two—was riding ahead of the president’s car in a motorcade traveling at what I keep reading was “breakneck” speed.

A rather poor choice of words when you think of it.

Why was the president traveling at breakneck speed? Was there some national emergency? Was he rushing back to Washington? Or maybe he had to get out of New Mexico posthaste due to some threat to his security—could that be the reason behind his need for speed?

No—none of that. George Bush was speeding from a fundraising appearance for Republican New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici on his way to another fundraising appearance in Bellevue, WA, for Republican Rep. Dave Reichert.

Partisan politics. Raising greenbacks for his enablers. Nothing more.

This is not to say that Officer Casey didn’t die in service to his country—he volunteered to protect the president, and, on its face, that is an honorable calling. That the president chose to use his office for partisan gain, however, is anything but honorable.

And this is not the first time this has happened. Just last November, Honolulu officer Steve Favela was killed when his bike skidded out of control while traveling as part of the presidential motorcade on its way to a photo-op breakfast with troops at Hickam AFB (Bush made the stop on his way back from a trip to Indonesia and Vietnam—yes, Vietnam—but that’s another story).

Three other officers who were part of the president’s motorcade were injured during that 14-hour stopover. And, in April of 2006, another New Mexico officer was seriously injured when his bike crashed during another Bush visit. You just have to ask—what for?

Sure, presidents have a right to get out and see the country, and sure, presidents need protecting when they do. And, Bush would not be the first inhabitant of the Oval Office to use his position in the service of his party. But, when his motorcade starts to take casualties for such service—especially when this president has done so little in the service of his country—I think it’s time for the country to reevaluate.

Should a sitting president do this sort of traveling, and, when he does so for photo-ops and fundraisers, should he be traveling with so much and traveling so fast?

This president has repeatedly marshaled the resources of his office—Air Force One, the Secret Service, the armored limo, the motorcades—for purely political appearances. All, of course, at US taxpayer expense. It is disgusting enough that we have to pay with our hard-earned dollars to support George Bush’s partisan lifestyle, but is there any justification for someone paying with his life?

(cross-posted to capitoilette and Daily Kos)

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

not holding my breath

President Bush needs to appoint someone who does not come out of the world of electoral politics or the White House, and is not a “loyal Bushie.” He should consult with leaders of Congress in making the decision and choose someone with bipartisan support.

The above quote is from today’s New York Times editorial, and here is what I had to say just under a month ago in a post titled you don’t take the punching bag out of the gym:

[F]or a well below average president with a well above average number of failures and scandals, his lil’ friend, Alberto Gonzales, is the best thing that could happen.

Instead of focusing on a president’s blatant violations of the Constitution, instead of discussing the administration’s massive domestic spying program—warrantless eavesdropping, wholesale data mining, unsupervised surveillance of US citizens—we are debating whether the country’s chief law enforcement officer perjured himself, or just almost perjured himself.

Instead of screaming from the highest hills that the purge of US attorneys was, at its roots, part of a grand plan by the White House to corrupt the democratic process and steal elections, we instead wonder about how much various Gonzales underlings knew, and who they talked to, and whether the attorney general was directly involved, and who serves at the pleasure of the president, and whether we should hold various officials in contempt of Congress or just threaten to do so.

While Bush and Cheney continue to fail the American people, line the pockets of their friends, and systematically dismantle the Constitution, various members of Congress are threatening to call for a special prosecutor—to investigate Gonzales!

How about, instead of us all doing the Gonzo shuffle, we get a special prosecutor to look into some of the corrupt actions of the Attorney General’s bosses? From sleazy energy deals, to lying us into the Iraq war, to the money gone missing during the reconstruction of Iraq, to the no-bid contracts for cronies, to the failures before and after hurricane Katrina, to the domestic spying, to the politicization of public agencies, to the CIA leak case, to the secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, and torture, to the US attorneys scandal, and so many more, the number of dodgy, disingenuous, dishonest, and downright dastardly dealings that merit an investigation could keep attorneys and prosecutors busy for the next six or seven of the vice president’s defibrillator batteries.

OK, so, now that said punching bag is out of the gym (or will be as of September 17), we can get on with all that, right?

Again, not holding my breath.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

bears repeating

I wrote Friday’s post without the benefit of reading that day’s lead editorial in the New York Times. The editors (in their infinite wisdom) had a remarkably similar take on the whole “Iraq as Vietnam through the beer goggles of President Bush” thing—not to mention the whole Wizard of Oz (please ignore the man behind curtain), it’s al-Maliki’s fault distraction.

Blaming the prime minister of Iraq, rather than the president of the United States, for the spectacular failure of American policy, is cynical politics, pure and simple. It is neither fair nor helpful in figuring out how to end America’s biggest foreign policy fiasco since Vietnam.

. . . .

The problem is not Mr. Maliki’s narrow-mindedness or incompetence. He is the logical product of the system the United States created, one that deliberately empowered the long-persecuted Shiite majority and deliberately marginalized the long-dominant Sunni Arab minority. It was all but sure to produce someone very like Mr. Maliki, a sectarian Shiite far more interested in settling scores than in reconciling all Iraqis to share power in a unified and peaceful democracy.

. . . .

Washington’s failure to face these unpleasant realities opens the door to strange and dangerous fantasies, like Mr. Bush’s surreal take on the Vietnam war.

The real lesson of Vietnam for Iraq is clear enough. America lost that war because a succession of changes in South Vietnamese leadership, many of them inspired by Washington, never produced an effective government in Saigon. None of those changes, beginning with the American-sponsored coup that led to the murder of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963, changed the underlying reality of a South Vietnamese government and army that never won the loyalty and support of large sections of the Vietnamese population.

The short-term sequels of American withdrawal from Indochina were brutal, as the immediate sequels of America’s withdrawal from Iraq will surely be. But the American people rightly concluded that with no way to win a military victory, there could be no justification for allowing thousands more United States troops to die in Vietnam. Those deaths would not have changed the sequels to the war, just as more American deaths will not change the sequel to the war in Iraq. Once the war in Southeast Asia was over, America’s domestic divisions healed, its battered armed forces were rebuilt and the nation was much better positioned to deal with the relentless challenges of global leadership.

If Mr. Bush, whose decision to inject Vietnam into the debate over Iraq was bizarre, took the time to study the real lessons of Vietnam, he would not be so eager to lead America still deeper into the 21st century quagmire he has created in Iraq. Following his path will not rectify the mistakes of Vietnam, it will simply repeat them.

Now, at this point, I was going to write about how remarkable it is that both the Times’ editorial board and myself would focus on Diem, and the dangers of American-influenced, repeated regime change as the real lesson of the Vietnam conflict that comes to mind at the present moment. . .

. . . except that it’s not remarkable at all.

Anyone who lived through the Sixties, or anyone who has read a decent history of the second Indochinese war, should spot the same analogy in a well-reasoned flash.

What is remarkable, rather, is that more people haven’t seized upon this cautionary lesson of history. What is remarkable is that supposedly serious and informed Democrats have jumped on the “blame Maliki” bandwagon. And, even more remarkable, I’ve gotta say, is when one supposedly serious Democrat is seeking the presidency.

Yes, I’m talking about you, Senator Hillary Clinton.

Senator Clinton is supposed to be running for president and against the failed policies of the Bush Administration—the Iraq debacle being exhibit A. To disarm yourself that way, to blame an Iraqi PM (and a Bush-picked one at that) for the problems in this conflict when, frankly, all the blame (yes, all) for this circus of blood lay squarely at the feet of George W. Bush, is strategically inane. . . besides being historically ignorant.

What happens when the corrupt and connected Iyad Allawi replaces a deposed Nouri al-Maliki and things continue to go horribly wrong—as you know, if you had been a good student of the Vietnam War, they inevitably will? You can’t very well go back to a strict “blame the other guy” policy—the other guy being Bush. Hell, Senator Clinton is actually, officially, out ahead of the President on this one. Bush says al-Maliki is a “good guy.”

Memo to Clinton, and Senator Carl Levin, and any of the other Democrats even thinking about blaming al-Maliki, or joining the PR-scripted chorus of “serious” people who think Allawi is just what we need to fix our Iraqi problem: Our Iraqi problem is George Bush—because our Iraqi problem is of George Bush’s making. Plain and simple.

So, repeat after me: It’s Bush’s war. It’s Bush’s war. It’s Bush’s war.

(cross-posted on capitoilette)

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

you want a vietnam analogy? i'll give you a vietnam analogy

Gallons of cyber ink have been spilled about how he who did not learn history, George W. Bush, would now mangle and distort history on his way to repeating it. The idea that the Vietnam war was a noble fight, and one that was winnable (whatever that means) had it not been for those lily-livered Americans who just “gave up” after roughly a dozen years and 60,000 deaths, would be laughable, and not worth a comment, were it not for a concerted effort by a cadre of neocons to rewrite history in just this way.

Of course, we don’t really need a rewrite, we already have Karnow, Sheehan, Halberstam, and Shawcross. . . and, for today, anyway, me.

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it’s too easy being Greene

It was bad enough that NPR’s All Things Considered turned to the likes of Francis Fukuyama and Max Boot to assess whether President Bush’s Iraq-Vietnam analogy made any sense, but at least the network had the good sense to scrap that piece by morning.

No such luck with an analogy made by NPR reporter David Greene. It has to do with a “vexing tightrope,” Bush’s Iraq troop “surge,” and Democratic presidential hopefuls, and it ran on both ATC and Morning Edition (in slightly different pieces). . . and it’s a doozy!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

plan B: the plan A we had before the latest plan A

The AP is reporting that “U.S. military officials are narrowing the range of Iraq strategy options and appear to be focusing on reducing the U.S. combat role in 2008 while increasing training of Iraqi forces,” and likening this “strategy” to recommendations made in the Iraq Study Group Report almost a year ago.

Beyond the quite prevalent belief that things have devolved in Iraq to such an extent as to render the ISG recommendations irrelevant, the AP fails to remark upon the strange similarity this new “strategy option” bears to the prior ones.

I, however, do. . . .

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

what she said. . . Moore or less

I suspect that Kelly Anne Moore and I wouldn’t see exactly eye-to-eye on every issue. . . I mean, I don’t really know, I don’t know her, but. . . Ms. Moore served as chief of the Violent Crimes and Terrorism Section in the Brooklyn US attorney’s office from 2002 to 2006, and that term of service has me wondering if she came in with Bush appointee Roslyn Mauskopf, the USA for that Brooklyn office. Mauskopf was a protégé of former New York Governor George Pataki and a favorite of former New York Senator Al D’Amato who was viewed as unqualified for her post when her nomination was put forward back in 2002. Her current case against the “JFK bomb plot” “suspects” does nothing to convince me otherwise. Mauskopf is one of those US attorneys that Paul Krugman warned us about a while back—you know, one of the ones that weren’t fired by AG AG and his band of partisan White House brothers.

But I digress. . . .

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

up to $50,000—or more!

This is a little late as obits go, but I had completely forgotten about my signature Scooter moment until I was talking with a friend last night. “I’m embarrassed to admit it,” she said, “but growing up, I didn’t even know Phil Rizzuto was a baseball player.”

I knew right away what she was going to say next: “I thought he was just the guy from The Money Store.”

When I first came to the New York City, lo those many years ago, late night TV was filled with ads for Crazy Eddie, the Ritz Fur Shop, and, yes, The Money Store. The Money Store was one of those (is one of those? I think it still exists) sleazy, second mortgage, refi places that prayed upon the desperate with promises of quick cash from “the equity in your own home!” Even to the uninitiated, completely new to the world of credit, it seemed clear, these guys were basically little more than legal loan sharks.

Perhaps to soften their image, perhaps to capitalize on some personal connection to the subject—or perhaps to collect on an outstanding debt—for many years back in the go-go ‘80’s, The Money Store used legendary Yankees shortstop and broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, the Scooter, to, uh, pitch their loan business.

Now, being a lifelong baseball fan, I knew that Rizzuto was a famous Yankee from the 1940’s and ‘50’s, a hall of famer, the 1950 MVP, but I, too, must admit that what left the biggest imprint on my mind was not his playing career, nor his goofy way of calling everyone a “huckleberry” and not always paying attention to the action on the field during his years broadcasting Yankees games. No, for me, like for my friend, when I think of Scooter, I think (well, now I think of Scooter Libby—but before that) of The Money Store.

Rizzuto started every ad with “It’s a hit!” and then would launch into a stilted reading of some typically awful copy that tried way too hard to associate second mortgages with baseball games. But what got me, really got me, every time, was when Scooter promised that I could borrow “Up to $50,000—or more!” I would just lose it. . . every time.

Alas, I shouldn’t have to explain why, but after telling this story on more than one occasion to blank stares and polite nods, I feel the need to point out that the meaning and purpose of “up to” is completely negated by the addition of the phrase “or more.” Can I borrow some amount between one dollar and fifty grand, or is there effectively no limit on what The Money Store might lend me? Which is it Scooter??? Make up your mind!

Philip Francis Rizzuto passed away on Monday night. He was almost 90. . . or more!

24-hour party’s over

I would be remiss if I were not to also note the passing of another man that helped shape my ‘80’s experience: Tony Wilson.

As a 26-year-old reporter for Granada Television in Great Britain, Wilson attended a Sex Pistols concert that, as legend (and the movie, 24 Hour Party People) would have it, was attended by founding members of Joy Division, Buzzcocks (not “the Buzzcocks,” Mr. New York Times guy), the Fall, and the Smiths. Inspired by the music, the scene, the cheap drugs, or the raunchy sex in the men’s room, Wilson soon after formed Factory Records, and released music by the likes of Joy Division (and New Order), A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column, and Happy Mondays.

In spite of that lineup, Factory never made a profit. “You either make money, or you make history,” said Wilson. When faced with the possibility that I might have had to go through the 1980’s hearing Scooter say “up to $50,000—or more!” up to 50,000 or more times, but without hearing a song like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” even once, I am glad Wilson chose the latter.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

talk about your “known knowns!”

You know, I’ve often called him a paranoid, venal, greedy coward, but I’ve never called him stupid.

Thanks to the good folks at MoveOn for showing us once again how wanting the pilot of this administration is for his own moral rudder.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

hark! wrong park!

The headline on Thursday’s Grub Street post was a little misleading: “Hark! New Shake Shack to Open at Shea Stadium.” The short post does correct the misdirection—the new Shake Shack will be part of Citi Field (or, as we are all already calling it, Shitty Field), the new Mets park set to open in April of 2009, but it doesn’t quite get at the heart of the Mets’ concession problems.

I have long been a critic of the food at Shea. Even with the slight upgrade this year (switching park-wide to Nathan’s hotdogs, and instituting smarter line management at some stands), Shea still has some of the worst ballpark food in the major leagues. It’s not so much any one item (though the barely warm hotdogs, assorted disgusting fried items, and chemical-flavored and extremely soft Carvel soft serve are all pretty foul), but rather the complete lack of a sense of place that has always bugged me.

You go to Wrigley in Chicago, and you get a top-flight Chicago-style hotdog with all the appropriate toppings (one of the best hotdogs I ever had was in the bleachers at Wrigley, but maybe the atmosphere had a little to do with that review). You go to the “phone booth” in San Francisco, and you can get a stinking rose—a hot chicken sandwich, heavy on the garlic. You go to Milwaukee, and you not only can get five different kinds of sausage, you get to see the sausages race during the seventh inning stretch!

Come to Shea, and at most stands, you can get a Pepsi, a Budweiser or Bud Light, a hotdog, and an assortment of generic options not uncommon to school cafeterias. Now, like I said, the Nathan’s dogs are a step up, and somewhere in the park there is rumored to be a place to get Jamaican beef patties, but otherwise, there is no real sense of being in New York.

The thing that has always really bugged me is the lack of traditional toppings for the hotdogs. In fact, there is a complete lack of toppings, aside from ketchup and mustard (and thank our stars that they actually went back to real mustard after a couple of years of Dijonaise. . . I still shiver thinking about it), of any kind! In LA, you can get relish and raw onions, in Milwaukee, there’s two kinds of hot sauce, at Wrigley, as I said, there’s the emerald relish and the sport peppers and the half-dozen other ingredients that you need for a classic Chicago dog.

But in New York, where you can’t imagine a hot dog without either warm sauerkraut or taxi onions, imagine them is all you can do once you walk through the Shea Stadium turnstiles. Except in the fancy luxury suites, you ain’t gonna find those kinds of things when you “show up at Shea.”

The concessions at Shea Stadium should celebrate New York food. They should have always been seeking out the great purveyors of hotdogs, pastrami, beef patties, and egg rolls—or maybe pork buns—and maybe even pizza (for some reason, I don’t like the idea of pizza at a ballpark—it just seems out of place). They should have offered up Brooklyn Lager, or some such local brew, and maybe a Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry or Cel-Ray soda. But, instead, they have, as long as anyone can remember, contracted out their food to one of those national catering companies. It used to be Harry M. Stevens, then they were bought by Aramark. These are the same people that do the food in freshman dining halls and corporate cafeterias. There is nothing distinctly regional about what they bring to the table. . . or your lap, as the case may be.

I also should note that speed and service have never been hallmarks of Shea’s concessions. Again, it’s a little better this year, but you will still miss an inning or two if you try to get some fries during the first half of a well-attended game.

So, all of this is not to say that I don’t welcome a future that will include a Shack Burger or a Vienna hotdog, and maybe even a concreation, inside the confines of Shitty Field—I am a big fan of the Shack (even if it has slipped a little this summer. . . and the new fries suck)—but a Shack Burger is, at its core, an LA-style burger. Vienna hotdogs are from Chicago (though, along with the classic windy city toppings, Shake Shack does offer very good sauerkraut or onion relish). The Shack’s frozen custard apparently draws its inspiration from St. Louis.

So, the food might be better, but it won’t be New York.

In the end, I don’t go to a baseball stadium to eat (well, not just to eat), but the ballpark experience should be a total experience. New York’s team with New York’s food.

Plus, I should add, if you think the lines at the Madison Square Park Shake Shack are maddening, let me tell you, if the Flushing Shack is staffed with Aramark employees, instead of Danny Meyer’s well-paid, well-treated Union Square Hospitality Group workers, then you might see America’s first incidences of burger rage. I can easily imagine never getting a Shack Burger at “Shea” because I won’t even wait for more than 20 minutes at the original Shack—and in that case, I’m not missing a live baseball game while I’m waiting.

In the final analysis, I have discovered that if I eat minimally during a Mets game, I can take a short walk after the game to Flushing’s main drag and enjoy some of the best Chinese and Malaysian food this city has to offer. No lines. No inflated ballpark prices.

I hope that this part of my Shea experience survives the Stadium “upgrade.”

Play ball!

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

unhappy trails

Wednesday’s All Things Considered featured a longish story by Alix Spiegel about the residents of Scenic Trails, a trailer park in the middle of nowhere that has been used for the better part of two years to warehouse some poor folks that lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. It was one of the most disturbing and depressing radio pieces I have heard in some time; if you didn’t catch it yesterday, I suggest you gird yourself, clear some time, and then go have a listen.

A couple of days ago, I had started to write a piece reflecting on the response to last week’s bridge collapse in Minnesota and how it compared to what has happened some miles down river in the two years since the levees broke. I got distracted by work, and never polished that piece up for publication. After hearing Spiegel’s segment yesterday, I was compelled to finish the essay, and I’ve posted it over on capitoilette.

It’s not as good as the ATC piece, but it’s depressing in its own way. Reading it, though, should take less time and less girding, so why not take a look. . . .

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Dem agog

As today’s papers trumpet the president’s signing of his asked for and granted blank check to spy without warrant in any way he wants on practically anybody, foreign or domestic, I am still somewhat amazed, aroused, and most certainly horrified by what happened this weekend.

(Oh, yes, there's more. . . so much more. . . .)

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well of course they are. . .

Weapons for Iraqis Are Missing, Study Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 — The Defense Department cannot account for 190,000 weapons, including more than 110,000 AK-47 rifles, issued to Iraqi security forces, a new report by government investigators says.

The study, issued last Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office, also said that because of missing and incomplete records, the United States military cannot confirm that Iraqi security forces received 135,000 pieces of body armor and 115,000 helmets.

The report is not the first to criticize Defense Department procedures for tracking equipment distributed to Iraqi forces by the department. A report last October by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found major discrepancies in American military records involving hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces.

Since 2003, the United States has spent about $19.2 billion to equip and train Iraqi forces, the G.A.O. report said, and recently the Defense Department requested another $2 billion.

Now, that’s the whole story as published in today’s New York Times. I was just alerted to the story by a BBC radio report. But, I notice that the GAO report was released last Tuesday—almost a week ago—so, I gotta ask, why are we just hearing about this?

I also gotta ask: Hey, Congress, you gonna do anything about this? Henry? Nancy? Harry?

And, I’ve also gotta ask: When will we ever learn?

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Friday, August 03, 2007

file under: no shit

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had this to say as he expanded his carbon footprint for reasons no one can seem to explain:

We probably all underestimated the depth of the mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together on legislation, which, let’s face it, is not some kind of secondary issue.

Let’s pretend I’m on that airplane with Gates: After I say, “DUH,” here are my three follow-up questions (you know, the ones that a journalist would ask):

  • And by “we,” you mean. . . ?
  • And why do you think that is that you all underestimated the problem?
  • And how is the Bush Administration military strategy helping change this situation?

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the fault lies not in our stars, but in theirs

Ben Garvin/Associated Press

“A bridge just doesn’t fall for no reason,” remarked Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

She’s right. Everything happens for a reason, and sometimes those reasons are pretty shitty.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

everybody’s out of town

Gosh, if you ever wanted to hear an echo in your own echo chamber, just yell into the left side of the blogosphere Wednesday Afternoon – Thursday Morning. With everybody (but me) seemingly on their way to that “hate fest” known as Yearly Kos, there is scant little posted on many of my favorite sites.

So, nowhere do I see anyone who can provide me with the choice text of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee where I swear I heard Rummy say that he wasn’t going to admit that he knew that Cpl. Pat Tillman was fragged or that his “blue on black” killing was covered up because no one could produce any evidence that said that he (Rumsfeld) knew. . . which to my mind is quite a bit different from actually saying you didn’t know.

Cheney’s appearance on Larry King seems a tad under-covered, too. Though there is this great video on TPM that reveals Cheney’s rather transparent “tell.”

And then there is this matter, which, admittedly does have two big diaries dedicated to it over dKos, but I really wish someone was out there to boil it all down a bit. . . .

The story, which springs from a string of anonymous comments left on TPM since July 27, seemingly from someone with some inside knowledge. The comments, as best I can figure (and there are a lot of comments, so I am seriously reducing this), assert that by getting all wrapped up in Gonzo’s parsing of his parsing about the “TSP” or some “other” program, Congress, and those Americans that care, are sort of barking up the wrong tree.

The comments paint a picture of a much, much bigger program, run out of the NSC (National Security Council)—not the NSA—that is engaged in wholesale domestic surveillance of all kinds, and detentions and abductions, perhaps inside the US, and that all of this started prior to October 1, 2001.

The NSC, of course, does not have to report to the Department of Justice or its Office of Legal Counsel, and operates outside the jurisdiction of the FISA court.

Dick Cheney, naturally, has experience with such a dodge. A little poking around reminds me that then Representative Cheney (WY) helped steer the House Iran-Contra investigation away from George HW Bush, and, as vice president, Cheney had meetings with Iran-Contra felon Elliott Abrams and Iran-Contra player Saudi Prince Bandar where he discussed “lessons learned” from that Regan-era scandal. Iran-Contra was run off the books through the National Security Council.

And, I will add that, with this in mind, I notice that Cheney in his back and forth justification of his fourthbranch role in government, keeps mentioning that he sits on the NSC.

Guess it’s on his mind.

Why, it’s almost as if he’s begging someone to ask the right questions. . . .

So that he can then lie some more when he answers.

If anyone out there has answers to any of this (or, if not answers, ideas will do), please drop me a line.

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does he serve those five-year sentences consecutively or concurrently?

As I previously observed, when President Bush forbade Harriett Miers from testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he likely committed a felony. Don’t remember? Well, here’s a refresher:

18 U.S.C. Sec. 1505 : ... Whoever corruptly ... influences, obstructs, or impedes ... the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress ... [s]hall be fined under this title, [or] imprisoned not more than 5 years ... or both.

18 U.S.C. Sec. 1515(b): As used in section 1505, the term "corruptly" means acting with an improper purpose, personally or by influencing another, including ... withholding, [or] concealing ... information.

OK, with that in mind, read this:

US President George W Bush has ordered close adviser Karl Rove not to testify before a Senate hearing on the sacking of eight federal prosecutors.

Or, if you prefer, this:

Citing executive privilege, President George W. Bush on Wednesday rejected a subpoena for his close adviser Karl Rove to appear before to the Senate Judiciary Committee in a probe over fired federal prosecutors.

Gosh, that sure sounds like the Prez has again violated 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1505. That would be twice, now. So, you tell me, who should be held in contempt? Tell me whom a federal prosecutor should really investigate.

OK, you can tell me, but I’ll admit I want to hear it from a Senator or a major establishment media outlet.

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