Think at your own risk.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Memo to the media

A one percentage point increase in the president's approval ratings, when the margin of error is 4 percentage points, is not a "bump" -- not even a "baby bump." In the reality-based world of statistical analysis, it's called "no change."

Tags: Bush, , Politics,

Today, they debate Iraq

...but tomorrow, it's back to gay marriage and flag burning. WaPo, you're on:

Nearly four years after it authorized the use of force in Iraq, the House today will embark on its first extended debate on the war, with Republican leaders daring Democrats to vote against a nonbinding resolution to hold firm on Iraq and the war on terrorism.

In the wake of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death and President Bush's surprise trip to Baghdad, Republican leaders are moving quickly to capitalize on good news and trying to force Democrats on the defensive. Bush continued his own campaign with a morning news conference and a White House meeting with congressional leaders from both parties, while House leaders strategized on today's 10-hour debate.

A memo from House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) urged House Republican members Tuesday to make the debate "a portrait of contrasts between Republicans and Democrats." After Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was booed this week by liberal activists for her failure to resolutely oppose the war, Republicans hope to present a united front that highlights the fractures in the Democratic Party.

"As a result of our efforts during this debate, Americans will recognize that on the issue of national security, they have a clear choice between a Republican Party aware of the stakes and dedicated to victory, versus a Democratic Party without a coherent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges America faces in a post-9/11 world," Boehner wrote.

But the day-long debate will also give voice to some GOP lawmakers' misgivings about Bush administration policy -- and years of congressional support for it -- in an election year in which Iraq will be a central issue. The news of recent days has buoyed Republican spirits, but the party is still saddled with a war that remains deeply unpopular and is imperiling its continued control of Congress. Some House Republicans have complained that their party has taken flight from its responsibility to debate and oversee administration policy.

"I can't help but feel through eyes of a combat-wounded Marine in Vietnam, if someone was shot, you tried to save his life. . . . While you were in combat, you had a sense of urgency to end the slaughter, and around here we don't have that sense of urgency," said Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (Md.), a usually soft-spoken Republican who has urged his leaders to challenge the White House on Iraq. "To me, the administration does not act like there's a war going on. The Congress certainly doesn't act like there's a war going on. If you're raising money to keep the majority, if you're thinking about gay marriage, if you're doing all this other peripheral stuff, what does that say to the guy who's about ready to drive over a land mine?"
It's gonna be ugly, ugly, ugly. RINF summarizes Boehner's missive in three points:
1. Exploit 9/11. The two page memo mentions 9/11 seven times. It describes debating Iraq in the context of 9/11 as "imperative."

2. Attack opponents ad hominem. The memo describes those who opposes President Bush’s policies in Iraq as "sheepish," "weak," and "prone to waver endlessly."

3. Create a false choice. The memo says the decision is between supporting President Bush’s policies and hoping terrorist threats will "fade away on their own."

So John Boehner wants a partisan rumble? The Center for American progress responds thusly:

The current debate on Iraq offers progressives an opportunity to keep the Bush administration honest. It is also an opportunity to ensure that the United States has a strategy for completing the military mission at a time of our choosing and getting the Iraq policy on the right track. Progressives need to offer responsible criticisms, outline alternatives, and ready themselves for an onslaught of unfair attacks and half-truths.

The conservative message will focus on simplistic slogans like “cut and run” and “retreat and defeat.” A memorandum sent by House majority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) (PDF) earlier this week encourages Republican members to exploit September 11th and attack opponents of the current Iraq policy as weak on national security. Conservatives will attempt to shift the frame from discussing Iraq to talking about the broader fight against global terrorism. Progressives should welcome this challenge — the Bush administration is vulnerable in its efforts to fight global terrorism, as well as Iraq.

Progressives must respond with clarity, confidence, and fact-based rebuttals. With facts on their side, progressives can make a strong case that the Bush administration and its allies in Congress have cut and run on Iraq for the past three years, and that Iraq is hurting the broader effort to defeat global terror networks.

Though a handful of conservatives may try to distance themselves from the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq, it is vital for progressives to remind Americans that the current Congress has done little more than serve as a rubber stamp for policies that have not made Americans safer. All members of Congress should ask the tough questions and hold the Bush administration accountable for its mistakes in Iraq and the consequences these mistakes have had for U.S. national security.
Let's get ready to rumble...! ... because of course Iraq is all about politics, not national security.

Tags: Iraq, Congress

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

About those raids...

I think this line says it all:

An Associated Press reporter and photographer accompanied a fugitive task force as it made Operation Return to Sender raids Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

The question is, of the 2,000 or so illegal aliens arrested in these highly telegenic and Drudgeworthy raids, exactly how many are going to actually be deported (as upposed to "C&R'd..." and more importantly, how many minutes, exactly, will it be before they sneak right back in?

Just asking.

Tags: , Politics, MEXICO, Bush, Illegal immigration, border, News,

Bushie of Arabia III: Hogan's anti-heroesFlight of the Chickenhawks

Update: Bumped and appropriately renamed...

This is, hands down, the best picture from Bush's press-delighting Iraq photo op today. Hands ... down. That's Tony Snow (looking a bit like a mental patient) on the left, and White House advisor Dan Bartlett on the right, looking like he swallowed Karl Rove. (Please pass the airsickness bag... gurg...) What I wouldn't give for a snapshot of Dubya in one of those helmets... (Photo credit: AP/Yahoo! News)

Tags: Bush, Iraq, News,

Most unusual

Courtesy of ThinkProgress by way of neo-sometimeycon Andrew Sullivan, The National Review's John Derbyshire engages in a little bit of "truthiness":
We are not controlling events in Iraq. Events in Iraq are controlling us. We are the puppet; the street gangs of Baghdad and Basra are the puppet-masters, aided and abetted by an unsavory assortment of confidence men, bazaar traders, scheming clerics, ethnic front men, and Iranian agents. With all our wealth and power and idealism, we have submitted to become the plaything of a rabble, and a Middle Eastern rabble at that. Instead of rubbling, we have ourselves been rabbled. The lazy-minded evangelico-romanticism of George W. Bush, the bureaucratic will to power of Donald Rumsfeld, the avuncular condescension of Dick Cheney, and the reflexive military deference of Colin Powell combined to get us into a situation we never wanted to be in, a situation no self-respecting nation ought to be in, a situation we don't know how to get out of.
Read the rest of Derbyshire's article here.

Tags: Iraq, , Foreign Policy, , Bush, Politics, Cheney, War

Jason Leopold refuses to go down

Since reporting this headline on May 13:

Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators

Jason Leopold of Truthout has taken a lot of hits, none bigger than the punch in the gut that was the Karl Rove apparent exoneration yesterday. So what happened? Was Leopold lied to? Did he jump the gun? So far, he's sticking to his guns.

For a neutral 'Net

We had Kendrick Meek on the radio show this morning to respond to a caller who earlier in the week called him on the carpet for his vote against the Markey Amendment to the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act. The issue -- while a bit complicated -- is net neutrality -- something very near and dear to the hearts of bloggers and anyone else who appreciates the cruiciality of a free and open Internet, not controlled by the cable and phone companies who own the broadband cable lines. Most Republicans opposed Markey, and Meek was one of a handful of Democrats who voted against it:

The amendment was rejected 269-152, with 14 members not voting.

COPE is broadly supported, including by the Congressional Black Caucus and Rainbow/PUSH (though I can't help but wonder whose nephews are getting fat Internet deals in the process.) But the Markey amendment would have put the breaks on the telecoms' plans to control the Internet, then sell it to Netcos like Yahoo! and Google based on their size, bandwith and pocket depth. The idea of a high caste/low caste information superhighway. Scary thought. Let's recall that NOT handing the Internet over to corporate titans, and not hoarding it for the Pentagon, was one of the best decisions made by the tech-savvy Clinton-Gore administration. Keeping the Internet free and open to all comers is what drove the 90s boom, and it's what has made the 'Net the global information warehouse that has empowered ordinary people (and scared the bejeezus out of the Chinese).

More on COPE:
The overall bill, known as the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act (COPE, H.R. 5252), would permit national video franchising for Internet Protocol television (IPTV) providers in hopes of spurring competition in the pay television market.

Unlike the Markey statutory language approach, under the COPE Act the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on a case-by-case basis would deal with allegations of network neutrality violations.

The legislation would also prohibit the FCC from creating additional network neutrality rules beyond the non-binding principles adopted by the agency last year.

"The bill... seeks to strike the right balance between ensuring that the public Internet remains an open, vibrant marketplace and ensuring that Congress does not hand the FCC a blank check to regulate Internet services," House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.), author of the bill, said in introducing the legislation.

"We do need the FCC to stop the cheats without killing honest creativity. We don't need anybody to be the first Secretary of the Internet."

In addition, the legislation mandates Voice over IP providers make E911 services available to consumers and allows state and local governments the option to provide their own telecommunications, cable or information services.

The bill passed on a 321-111 vote, with 215 Republicans and 106 Democrats voting in the affirmative.

Both Verizon and AT&T have combined to invest billions of dollars into building fiber optic IP networks capable of delivering a competitive product to cable systems and millions more to lobby Congress to break from the historical treatment of Internet traffic by carriers.

Currently, all traffic is prioritized, treated and priced the same from the smallest of Web sites to Internet giants such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Amazon.

Under the cable and telco scheme, fees will be imposed for heavy users.

"[The] overwhelming vote brings our nation one critical step closer to TV freedom, where consumers enjoy the benefits of real choice and competition for their video service," Walter McCormick, president and CEO of the U.S. Telecom Association, said in a statement.

"Consumers win when companies are free to invest and compete head-to-head by offering innovative products at attractive prices."

The defeat of the Markey amendment, while not unexpected, still caught technology executives flat-footed.

On Wednesday, House and Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.), author of the COPE Act, said he saw no way the bill could be voted on before Friday. He did nothing during the day Thursday to discourage that notion.

But while TechNet, the influential nationwide political network of IT CEOs and senior executives, lunched at the National Press Club and enjoyed afternoon meetings with top White House executives and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Barton lined up supporters and the House Republican leadership punched through a surprise Thursday night vote.

With TechNet members winging their way home, lawmakers closed the debate on the House side.

"Unfortunately, the House voted today to protect the big phone and cable companies at the expense of preserving an open Internet," the It's Our Net Coalition said in a statement.

"We are not surprised at the outcome, but we are disappointed that the House has abandoned net neutrality."
Now, it's up to the Senate to act to protect the free and open Internet.


Quick take headlines, June 14

The U.S. image around the world takes another plunge...

Sell your stock! Global equities hit the skids, taking $2 trillion with them...

Anti-war activists give right wing bloggers, Newt Gingrich and Fox News a reason to feel sorry for Hillary Clinton...

Bill-O goes to Gitmo ... three detainees commit suicide. Connection? And the U.S. goes off the deep end:
Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, called the suicides an act of "warfare waged against us".

Meanwhile, on the Factor, Bernie Goldberg continues his slide into lonely, irrelevant, diaper-wearing, shut-in insanity...

Israel denies responsibility for killing a Palestinian family who were picnicking on a Gaza beach during one of their frequent shelling raids. But a Palestinian physician and a British journalist beg to differ.

Tags: News, News and politics, , ,

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bushie of Arabia II: Bombs over Baghdad

I wonder what Presiden't Bush's surprise speech in Baghdad would sound like without the expert editing by Karl Rove and the Pentagon, dutifully reproduced by the White House friendly Washington press corps... maybe it would sound something like this...

Tags: Bush, Iraq, News,

Bushie of Arabia

Capitalizing on the incredible momentum of the four years too late and apparently rather useless killing of America-hyped terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and his monumental 2-point bump in the latest Gallup poll, President Bush today takes a surprise victory lap to the Baghdad Green Zone. And he tricked the Washington press corps! Hooray! Oh that sneaky Dubya, telling folks he was just gonna do a Camp David conference call...

Tags: Bush, Iraq, News,

Bush up 2 points in Gallup: media calls it a comeback

You'd think the man had gotten way up into the 40s, rather than tipping the scales at a mind-bending 38 percent approval rating in the latest Gallup poll.

Unfortunately for the prez, all the current polls, including Gallup, CNN and CBS, show that a majority of Americans still believe the Iraq war was a mistake, and just isn't going well.

As E&P writes today, the real results of Bush's supposed Zarqawi bounce is mixed.

Tags: Bush, , Politics,

How the grinch stole Fitzmas

According to AP, Karl Rove's pending indictment is not to be:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Top White House aide Karl Rove has been told by prosecutors he won't be charged with any crimes in the investigation into leak of a CIA officer's identity, his lawyer said Tuesday, lifting a heavy burden from one of President Bush's most trusted advisers.

Attorney Robert Luskin said that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald informed him of the decision on Monday, ending months of speculation about the fate of Rove, the architect of Bush's 2004 re-election now focused on stopping Democrats from capturing the House or Senate in this November's elections.

Good thing all the left wing bloggers are at Yearly Kos, so they have a support system. Here's the statement from Joe and Valerie Wilson's camp:
Statement of Christopher Wolf, Proskauer Rose LLP, Counsel for Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson

"We have become aware of the communication between Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Luskin concerning Karl. Rove's status in the criminal investigation. We have no first-hand knowledge of the reason for the communication or what further developments in the criminal investigation it may signal. While it appears that Mr. Rove will not be called to answer in criminal court for his participation in the wrongful disclosure of Valerie Wilson's classified employment status at the CIA in retaliation against Joe Wilson for questioning the rationale for war in Iraq, that obviously does not end the matter. The day still may come when Mr. Rove and others are called to account in a court of law for their attacks on the Wilsons."
Awaitng reax from Jason Leopold... (Photo credit:

Update: Drudge takes on RawStory, and once again proves to be accuracy challenged.

Tags: , PlameGate, fitzgerald, rove, Karl Rove, Libby, Politics.

Christ on Crist

There he does, talking to folk again. This time, God is telling a prominent, Republican Florida minister who the next governor will be. (Rev. Dozier, an arch-conservative pastor and FOB -- friend of the Bushes -- was on the radio show this morning, btw. Hopefully we'll be podcasting soon!) Apparently it will be the very, very, not gay Charlie Crist. No irony there. By the way, if Charlie Crist is -- I mean isn't -- a homosexual, could this be the reason why?

BTW on the other side of the ledger, looks like Jim Davis had better watch for the Rod Squad in his rear-view mirror...

Tags: , , , Elections, governor, ,

You know, it would kill her, and I think I'm cool with that...

Ad Age's Media Guy serves up TIME, Inc., for that Brangie-baby monstrosity, NBC for hating on YouTube, "Lost," -- hey, don't go there, fella... and Dr. Evil Her..m...self: Ann Coulter:

Would it kill you, Time Inc., to get off your high horse and stop pretending that making donations to charity to secure exclusive celebrity pictures isn't the moral equivalent of paying sources? First, earlier this year, People cut a reported $400,000 check to one of Angelina Jolie's favorite charities to get a cover shot of her pregnant. Then, just over a week ago, in a deal brokered by Getty Images, the magazine reportedly donated more than 10 times that amount to other Jolie-endorsed charities to secure shots of the actual spawn. I'm sorry, but if there's a check being written that benefits a news figure or that news figure's designated beneficiary, it's checkbook journalism, pure and simple. ...

Would it kill you, NBC, to actually think through what you're doing in the viral-video space? Earlier this year, the network started demanding that sites like YouTube take down clips from its shows-even though YouTube's distribution of the Andy Samberg/Chris Parnell digital short "Lazy Sunday" is credited with single-handedly reviving buzz about "Saturday Night Live." Last week, NBC launched a $1.99-a-day Jay Leno monologue-and-sketch iTunes video service. Instead of nickel-and-diming hard-core fans of Leno and other NBC shows (fewer than 200,000 clips from various NBC shows are reportedly sold or given away through iTunes each month), the network could be offering a sampling opportunity to millions of potential viewers. It's pointless and shortsighted to try to put a short leash on viral video. ...

Would it kill you, Britney Spears, to not only stop taking your sweet ol' time dumping Kevin Federline (what's the hold up?), but to issue a blanket apology for inflicting him -- and his upcoming rap record -- on us? ...
There's a bunch more in there, including the "Lost" dish, but let's jump ahead to the big finish:

Would it kill you, "Godless" author Ann Coulter, to do us all a favor and kill yourself? (Oh, well, yeah, I guess it would kill you.)

After her recent rabidly hateful, foaming-at-the-mouth, sub-human "Today" show appearance -- in which she reiterated her assertion that 9/11 widows are "enjoying their husband's deaths" -- even her former supporters began to fantasize about how much nicer the world would be if it were Coulterless.
Oweee. And I mean that in a good way.

Update: Jay Leno will definitely require a shower after this...


Tags: , Politics, Bush, Coulter, Media, conservative, GOP,

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pretty always wins

John Edwards beats Hillary in Iowa...
A new Iowa Poll conducted for The Des Moines Register shows that Edwards, the runner-up in the Iowa Democratic caucuses two years ago and a frequent visitor to the state since then, is the choice of 30 percent of Iowans who say they are likely to take part in the January 2008 caucuses.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York follows on Edwards' heels with 26 percent in the Iowa Poll.

Experts say it's the first poll showing anyone besides Clinton as the preferred Democrat in the race for the White House.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who used his victory in the 2004 caucuses as a springboard to the Democratic presidential nomination that year, is a distant third in the Iowa Poll with 12 percent.

Vilsack, despite getting good marks in previous polls for the job he's done in two terms as governor, receives relatively tepid support from his home state in the Register's new presidential poll, taken May 29 to June 1. Ten percent of likely caucus participants say that if the caucuses were held today, they would vote for him.
Not that this is dispositive, but it does indicate something that has occurred to me before: John Edwards may not be on TV every day, but he is criss-crossing the country spreading a very compelling message -- about abolishing poverty, uncertainty and want, and giving the little guy a fair shake -- while also bringing the pretty. Hillary, just know he's out there.

Tags: , Clinton, HILLARY CLINTON, Politics, Bush, Election 2008, Democrat, ,

Gitmo hangings raise new questions

Europeans are jumping up and down calling for Gitmo to be shuttered after three inmates -- including a 21-year-old, Yassar Talal Al-Zahrani, who had been imprisoned since he was 18, and one, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi, who was slated to be released, unbeknownst to him -- at the U.S. permanent-ish outdoor detention center hanged themselves over the weekend.

LONDON (Reuters) - Europeans seized on the suicides of Guantanamo prisoners as more proof the U.S. camp should be closed, and a top U.S. official on Monday disowned a colleague's comment that the deaths were a "good PR move".

Two Saudis and a Yemeni hanged themselves with clothes and bedsheets in their cells on Saturday, the first prisoners to die at Guantanamo since the United States began sending suspected al Qaeda and Taliban captives there in 2002.

"Guantanamo should be closed. This is an occasion to reiterate that statement," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters on arrival at a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
The prisoners apparently tricked their jailors and secreted themselves in their cells in order to commit suicide, which is leading to questions about just how long they had been left there unsupervised.

Tags: Guantanamo, Detainees, Politics, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq

Is there something fishy about...

The Zarqawi snuffing out? How many times is the military going to change the story? First, he dies in the initial 500 pound bomb blast ... then he died on a stretcher (remarkably intact) ... then he tried to get off the stretcher ... then a witness says he was stomped out, and now he died from the bomb blast again. And the news media has dutifully regurgitated the Pentagon's ever-changing stories, mostly without much analysis, leaving some of us out here wondering what-a-gwan...

From the NY Times on Sunday, via TalkLeft:

The U.S. Military runs another delay ruse by us. Just this morning, the New York Times reported:
With rumors circulating in the Iraqi news media that Mr. Zarqawi had begun to run from the house as the first bomb struck, American officials said Saturday that two military pathologists had arrived in Iraq to perform an autopsy on his body to determine the precise cause of his death. The results from the autopsy, and Mr. Zarqawi's precise location at the time of the airstrike, will be disclosed soon, an American military official said.

And from Reuters today:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Abu Musab al Zarqawi lived for almost an hour after the first U.S. bomb struck his hideout north of Baghdad last Wednesday, a U.S. military spokesman said on Monday.

Major General William Caldwell said Zarqawi, the former al Qaeda leader in Iraq, died 55 minutes after the first of two 500-pound (227-kg) bombs hit the building and 24 minutes after U.S. forces arrived at the scene.

A U.S. medical officer, Steve Jones, told the same briefing that Zarqawi died from blast waves caused by the bombs.

He said DNA testing had confirmed Zarqawi's identify.

Anyway, at least we can all agree that he is, in fact, dead.


Tags: , Iraq, Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Bush, War, Politics, News

Ann Coulter is a very bad man

More reaction to the single worst thing to happen to conservatives since that lady who went down on Newt Gingrich.

RedState has a nice selection of winger reax (wrapped up in a call for a boycott), including something I can actually applaud from AJ Strata! (Good thing Dubya didn't make those comments -- then Strata would have to fall all over himself defending them...)

And of course, there's the obligatory Howie Kurtz.

If Ann Coulter had a soul...
Tags: , ,

Friday, June 09, 2006

Censored News Network

What you won't hear from Wolf Blitzer or the other "intrepid journalists" at CNN. Soledad got it on the air, the execs took it off. And now, Michael Berg, father of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's most famous (in America) victim:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: There is a theory that as they try to form some kind of government that, in fact, it's going to be brutal, it's going to be bloody, there's going to be loss and that's the history of many countries, that that's just a lot of people pay for what they believe will be better than what they had under Saddam Hussein.

BERG: Well, you know, I'm not saying Saddam Hussein was a good man, but he's no worse than George Bush. Saddam Hussein didn't pull the trigger, didn't commit the rapes. Neither did George Bush, but both men are responsible for them under their reigns of terror. I don't buy that.

Iraq did not have al Qaeda in it. Al Qaeda supposedly killed my son. Under Saddam Hussein, no al Qaeda. Under George Bush, al Qaeda. Under Saddam Hussein, relative stability. Under George Bush, instability. Under Saddam Hussein, about 30,000 deaths a year. Under George Bush, about 60,000 deaths a year.

I don't get it. Why is it better to have George Bush be the king of Iraq rather than Saddam Hussein?

Harsh words, but also his words. That CNN doesn't have the stomach to re-air comments that will likely be replayed ad infinitem by right wing Fox News and their fellow travelers in the blogosphere, is telling.

Tags: , War, News, Terrorism, War on Terror, ,

Bush rockets to 33 percent!

The media just won't stop trying to spin Bush's straw into gold. Here's the latest Harris poll. Watch this number: 10 percent. That's the share that think Dubya's doing a heck of a job. And here' s AP-Ipsos. All in all, no statistical bump for the man at 1600 PA Ave. Let's see if the Zarqawi gambit helps him out next week.

Tags: Bush, , Politics

If Ann Coulter had a soul...

... it would burn up on entry to any legitimate church. She/he should start attending services with Marilyn Manson and call it a day.


Tags: , ,

Iraq: Privatization on steroids

Greg Palast tempers the right wing glee over the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:


They got him -- the big, bad, beheading berserker in Iraq. But, something's gone unreported in all the glee over getting Zarqawi … who invited him into Iraq in the first place?

If you prefer your fairy tales unsoiled by facts, read no further. If you want the uncomfortable truth, begin with this: A phone call to Baghdad to Saddam's Palace on the night of April 21, 2003. It was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on a secure line from Washington to General Jay Garner.

The General had arrives in Baghdad just hours before to take charge of the newly occupied nation. The message from Rumsfeld was not a heartwarming welcome. Rummy told Garner, Don't unpack, Jack -- you're fired.

What had Garner done? The many-starred general had been sent by the President himself to take charge of a deeply dangerous mission. Iraq was tense but relatively peaceful. Garner's job was to keep the peace and bring democracy.

Unfortunately for the general, he took the President at his word. But the general was wrong. "Peace" and "Democracy" were the slogans.

"My preference," Garner told me in his understated manner, "was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can and do it in some form of elections."

But elections were not in The Plan.

The Plan was a 101-page document to guide the long-term future of the land we'd just conquered. There was nothing in it about democracy or elections or safety. There was, rather, a detailed schedule for selling off "all [Iraq's] state assets" -- and Iraq, that's just about everything -- "especially," said The Plan, "the oil and supporting industries." Especially the oil.

There was more than oil to sell off. The Plan included the sale of Iraq's banks, and weirdly, changing it's copyright laws and other odd items that made the plan look less like a program for Iraq to get on its feet than a program for corporate looting of the nation's assets. (And indeed, we discovered at BBC, behind many of the odder elements -- copyright and tax code changes -- was the hand of lobbyist Jack Abramoff's associate Grover Norquist.)

But Garner didn't think much of The Plan, he told me when we met a year later in Washington. He had other things on his mind. "You prevent epidemics, you start the food distribution program to prevent famine."

Seizing title and ownership of Iraq's oil fields was not on Garner's must-do list. He let that be known to Washington. "I don't think [Iraqis] need to go by the U.S. plan, I think that what we need to do is set an Iraqi government that represents the freely elected will of the people." He added, "It's their country … their oil."

Apparently, the Secretary of Defense disagreed. So did lobbyist Norquist. And Garner incurred their fury by getting carried away with the "democracy" idea: he called for quick elections -- within 90 days of the taking of Baghdad.

But Garner's 90-days-to-elections commitment ran straight into the oil sell-off program. Annex D of the plan indicated that would take at least 270 days -- at least 9 months.

Worse, Garner was brokering a truce between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. They were about to begin what Garner called a "Big Tent" meeting to hammer out the details and set the election date. He figured he had 90 days to get it done before the factions started slitting each other's throats.

But a quick election would mean the end of the state-asset sell-off plan: An Iraqi-controlled government would never go along with what would certainly amount to foreign corporations swallowing their entire economy. Especially the oil. Garner had spent years in Iraq, in charge of the Northern Kurdish zone and knew Iraqis well. He was certain that an asset-and-oil grab, "privatizations," would cause a sensitive population to take up the gun. "That's just one fight you don't want to take on right now."

But that's just the fight the neo-cons at Defense wanted. And in Rumsfeld's replacement for Garner, they had a man itching for the fight. Paul Bremer III had no experience on the ground in Iraq, but he had one unbeatable credential that Garner lacked: Bremer had served as Managing Director of Kissinger and Associates.

In April 2003, Bremer instituted democracy Bush style: he canceled elections and appointed the entire government himself. Two months later, Bremer ordered a halt to all municipal elections including the crucial vote to Shia seeking to select a mayor in the city of Najaf. The front-runner, moderate Shia Asad Sultan Abu Gilal warned, "If they don't give us freedom, what will we do? We have patience, but not for long." Local Shias formed the "Mahdi Army," and within a year, provoked by Bremer's shutting their paper, attacked and killed 21 U.S. soldiers.

The insurgency had begun. But Bremer's job was hardly over. There were Sunnis to go after. He issued "Order Number One: De-Ba'athification." In effect, this became "De-Sunni-fication."

Saddam's generals, mostly Sunnis, who had, we learned, secretly collaborated with the US invasion and now expected their reward found themselves hunted and arrested. Falah Aljibury, an Iraqi-born US resident who helped with the pre-invasion brokering, told me, "U.S. forces imprisoned all those we named as political leaders," who stopped Iraq's army from firing on U.S. troops.

Aljibury's main concern was that busting Iraqi collaborators and Ba'athist big shots was a gift "to the Wahabis," by which he meant the foreign insurgents, who now gained experienced military commanders, Sunnis, who now had no choice but to fight the US-installed regime or face arrest, ruin or death. They would soon link up with the Sunni-defending Wahabi, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was committed to destroying "Shia snakes."

And the oil fields? It was, Aljibury noted, when word got out about the plans to sell off the oil fields (thanks to loose lips of the US-appointed oil minister) that pipelines began to blow. Although he had been at the center of planning for invasion, Aljibury now saw the greed-crazed grab for the oil fields as the fuel for a civil war that would rip his country to pieces:

"Insurgents," he said, "and those who wanted to destabilize a new Iraq have used this as means of saying, 'Look, you're losing your country. You’re losing your leadership. You're losing all of your resources to a bunch of wealthy people. A bunch of billionaires in the world want to take you over and make your life miserable.' And we saw an increase in the bombing of oil facilities, pipelines, of course, built on -- built on the premise that privatization [of oil] is coming."

General Garner, watching the insurgency unfold from the occupation authority's provocations, told me, in his understated manner, "I'm a believer that you don't want to end the day with more enemies than you started with."

But you can't have a war president without a war. And you can't have a war without enemies. "Bring 'em on," our Commander-in-Chief said. And Zarqawi answered the call.

There's more. As the righties say, here's the rest of the story...

Tags: Iraq, Al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda, Terrorism, Zarqawi, , Bush, Iraq-War, Bush Administration,

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Flashback: P is for "privatization"

Remember when the Nation said this?
IRAQ: Privatization in Disguise

by Naomi Klein, The Nation
April 18th, 2003

On April 6, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz spelled it out: There will be no role for the United Nations in setting up an interim government in Iraq. The US-run regime will last at least six months, "probably...longer than that."

And by the time the Iraqi people have a say in choosing a government, the key economic decisions about their country's future will have been made by their occupiers. "There has got to be an effective administration from day one," Wolfowitz said. "People need water and food and medicine, and the sewers have to work, the electricity has to work. And that's a coalition responsibility."

The process of getting all this infrastructure to work is usually called "reconstruction." But American plans for Iraq's future economy go well beyond that. Rather, the country is being treated as a blank slate on which the most ideological Washington neoliberals can design their dream economy: fully privatized, foreign-owned and open for business.

Some highlights: The $4.8 million management contract for the port in Umm Qasr has already gone to a US company, Stevedoring Services of America, and the airports are on the auction block. The US Agency for International Development has invited US multinationals to bid on everything from rebuilding roads and bridges to printing textbooks. Most of these contracts are for about a year, but some have options that extend up to four. How long before they meld into long-term contracts for privatized water services, transit systems, roads, schools and phones? When does reconstruction turn into privatization in disguise?

California Republican Congressman Darrel Issa has introduced a bill that would require the Defense Department to build a CDMA cell-phone system in postwar Iraq in order to benefit "US patent holders." As Farhad Manjoo noted in Salon, CDMA is the system used in the United States, not Europe, and was developed by Qualcomm, one of Issa's most generous donors.

And then there's oil. The Bush Administration knows it can't talk openly about selling off Iraq's oil resources to ExxonMobil and Shell. It leaves that to Fadhil Chalabi, a former Iraq petroleum ministry official. "We need to have a huge amount of money coming into the country," Chalabi says. "The only way is to partially privatize the industry."

He is part of a group of Iraqi exiles who have been advising the State Department on how to implement that privatization in such a way that it isn't seen to be coming from the United States. Helpfully, the group held a conference on April 4-5 in London, where it called on Iraq to open itself up to oil multinationals after the war. The Administration has shown its gratitude by promising there will be plenty of posts for Iraqi exiles in the interim government.

Some argue that it's too simplistic to say this war is about oil. They're right. It's about oil, water, roads, trains, phones, ports and drugs. And if this process isn't halted, "free Iraq" will be the most sold country on earth.

Too bad for the administration their brilliant plan was upended by the incompetence of their secretary of defense.

Tags: ,

Fight the father, fail the son

According to Salon, via Raw, Poppy Bush tried, and in distinctly Bushian form, failed ... to oust Baron von Rumsfeld earlier this year. From the article by Sidney Blumenthal:
...The elder Bush went so far as to recruit Rumsfeld's potential replacement, personally asking a retired four-star general if he would accept the position, a reliable source close to the general told me. But the former president's effort failed, apparently rebuffed by the current president. When seven retired generals who had been commanders in Iraq demanded Rumsfeld's resignation in April, the younger Bush leapt to his defense. "I'm the decider and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain," he said. His endorsement of Rumsfeld was a rebuke not only to the generals but also to his father.

The elder Bush's intervention was an extraordinary attempt to rescue simultaneously his son, the family legacy and the country. The current president had previously rejected entreaties from party establishment figures to revamp his administration with new appointments. There was no one left to approach him except his father. This effort to pluck George W. from his troubles is the latest episode in a recurrent drama -- from the drunken young man challenging his father to go "mano a mano" on the front lawn of the family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, to the father pulling strings to get the son into the Texas Air National Guard and helping salvage his finances from George W.'s mismanagement of Harken Energy. For the father, parental responsibility never ends. But for the son, rebellion continues. When journalist Bob Woodward asked George W. Bush if he had consulted his father before invading Iraq, he replied, "He is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to."

Poor H.W. To be cursed with such a son.
Tags: Bush,

Specterism of the day

Via the Left Coaster:
Arlen “Single Bullet” Specter once again collapsed like wet toilet paper, when he caved in to Shooter and agreed not to force telecom executives to testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee on their role in the NSA spying programs. And what concession did Cheney’s bitch get out of the deal? The Administration “will consider” legislation putting the NSA programs under the judicial purview of the FISA court. Note the pointed complaint from Patrick Leahy. In response to Specter’s abdication of responsibility, CNN’s Jack Cafferty called him a “gutless Republican worm” this afternoon.
Ah, consistency. By the way, Arlen is supposedly fuming over Dick Cheney's apparent fenagling to undermine Senate hearings on domestic spygate. He even got real, real mad on the Senate floor and fired off a strongly worded letter (don't hurt 'em, Arlen...) I'm sure he'll flit around the committee room with his hair on fire for a few days and then go back home and have a warm glass of milk.

Impolitical has the best line on Specter today:
Arlen bringing his knife to the gun fight
Tags: , , NSA, Bush, Politics, War on Terror, Congress, FISA, Republicans, Cheney,

Goodbye, Al

The Jordanian terror leader who put the psycho in psychotic, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi apparently, is dead at the hands of U.S. forces. I'm not sure this statement is what you'd call ... accurate:
The 3-year-old insurgency has "lost its leader," Gen. George Casey, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, told reporters.
...since the combination insurgency/terror campaign/civil war is such a multi-headed hydra at this point in our little Mess-o-potamian dustbowl, but this is a good day for U.S. forces nonetheless. Maybe we could just go with "good omen..."

Probably good for P.R. purposes that this story comes out just in time to blow away CNN's scoop on 30 photos that apparently support the worst conclusions on Haditha. The administration definitely needs to change the Iraq conversation to one of momentum and progress (where now it's defined by three words: Fallujah, Abu-Ghraib and Haditha.) So for Dubya, finally a bit of good news, and for once, his P.R. interests actually dovetail with the interests of the troops.

BTW, the Arab media are covering the story, and not necessarily with a good look for us.

Best response to the death notice, from a BBC reader:

If he was hoping for his reward in heaven then I think he will be in for a shock.
But back to the bottom line: will this make any difference? For that, we go to the BBC:
If it significantly weakens the al-Qaeda structure in Iraq, it could open the way for easier contacts between the government and other insurgents, who are more Iraqi nationalists than Islamists seeking to set up an Islamic state not only in Iraq but across the region.

It might also lead to a lessening of tension between Sunnis and Shias, whom Zarqawi targeted.

The new government, the first constitutional one, will have to seize this opportunity if it is not to suffer the fate of its predecessor administrations, which came to office with hope and left with disappointment.

However, the death of one man does not necessarily bring a breakthrough. ...

... One recalls the euphoria after the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003.

US President George W Bush declared then: "A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq."

His close ally UK Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed his words: "Let his capture bring about unity, reconciliation and peace between all the people of Iraq."

It did not happen, as we have seen.

And even after Zarqawi's death, neither the al-Qaeda elements nor the nationalists will give up. Indeed, Zarqawi's removal might well bring about an explosion of revenge by his followers.

And getting the nationalists into talks and into politics is going to be a long-drawn out affair since they have their price to exact in the form of demands for an early US withdrawal.

The current Iraqi government and its security forces are not strong enough to stand alone.

It's not all grim, however:
If there is one sign of hope, though, it is that Zarqawi was calling for conflict between the Sunnis, of whom he was one, and the Shias, whom he despised.

Tags: , Iraq, Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Bush, War, Politics, News

No kidding...

Google's co-founder admits the company compromised its principles by bowing to China's draconian censorship rules.

Tags: ,

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dear Mr. Coulter

Most of us long ago figured out that you are a nut job who lacks the common decency God gave a cockroach... (No one with any candle wattage takes you seriously any more, and many of us are having a hard time figuring out why supposedly legitimate news outlets continue to give you air time...) That said, I was, for some reason, surprised to read and watch your latest comments in support of your book, which was appropriately released on your very special day.

My surprise comes not from the fact that you would choose to slime the widows of 9/11 as "witches" and "harpies" who are "enjoying their husbands deaths" because they have committed the sin of not supporting George W. Bush (a thing that so hurts your little Brownshirt heart). That, I would expect. What surprised me is that you would make those comments, of all places, in New York. In fact, you spend a lot of time in New York, making speeches and appearing on Fox News -- the pursuits that for you substitute for actual employment. ... If I were you, Mr. Coulter (or may I call you Ann?) I would begin spending my time somewhere else. New Yorkers probably don't like you very much today.

And by the way, I can understand why you wouldn't be able to relate to women who have had to explain to their children why their dads were immolated alive in terror attacks that turned the simple act of going to work or getting on an airplane into a date with death. You wouldn't understand that, Ann, because, in point of fact, no one actually loves you -- and particularly, no one loves you enough to actually breed with you (provided they could figure out whether you would, in fact, be supplying the sperm, or the egg...)

To put it plainly, you, sir, are a disgrace to men in short, tight skirts -- most of whom at least have the class to put their girl names in "quotes" and follow them with a campy surname like "Galore"... Your comments were not only Nazi-like in their depravity at suggesting both that anyone who criticizes either the president or the administration's preparation for, and response to terrorism should be ridiculed off the public stage, that the very act of loss in the 9/11 attacks makes the widows ineligble to speak on the subject of terrorism or public policy, and that because you disagree with them, you -- whom no sane man or woman would touch without a full course of penicilin and a hermetic body glove -- have a right to question not only their grief and sincerity, but their marriages ... they were unfit for presentation by any credible news outlet. That you were given so much air time to waddle your massive Adam's apple before the cameras yesterday is perhaps the biggest insult of all. For God sakes, even coven of bitter, fake "conservative" malcontents and your bulk-sold "best selling" books with you (pity you can't get on the Times' list one book at a time the way the real authors do...) Because if you choose to stay, I would deem it within the rights of every New Yorker (and by the way, I'm a New Yorker,) to greet you when they see you with the courtesy you deserve. And here's hoping it's laced with garlic and yesterday's hummus.

Good day, sir. Oh, and might I suggest a title for your next book: Ann Coulter -- Man of Godlessness

Update: The Jersey Girls respond, and the Hillary Empire strikes back

Update: left, right and center weigh in on Satan's Chambermanmaid, as the Left Coaster so deftly puts it:

Hugh Hewitt cuts to the chase:

Ann Coulter owes an apology to the widows of 9/11, and she should issue it immediately. This is beyond callous, beyond any notion of decency. It is disgusting.
Right Wing Nut House hits yet another rhetorical home run:

I have pretty much ignored Ann Coulter for the last year or so. As her celebrity has grown – actually since she appeared on the cover of Time Magazine – she has had to make ever more outrageous and off the wall statements in order to maintain her position as a “controversial” commentator. This has often placed her at odds with many of us who, while generally in agreement with much of her critique of American liberalism, nevertheless recoil in horror and disgust at her rhetoric.

She has descended into a black hole of necessity from which there is no escape; where she is forced to please her rabid base of red meat conservatives usually by going beyond the bounds of decency and proper public discourse in order to make a point that could have been made without resorting to the kind of hurtful, hateful, personal attacks that have become a hallmark of her war with liberals.

Make no mistake. Ann Coulter is a brutish lout, a conservative ogre who should be denied a public platform to spout what any conservative with an ounce of integrity and intellectual honesty should be able to see as unacceptable. To descend to the level of your opponents in order to criticize them is not an excuse. And for such a gifted wordsmith, Coulter does not have the excuse of ignorance.
Lew Rockwell sez:

The point Ann Coulter is trying to make is that the experience of the 911 widows, Cindy Sheehan, and other victims of the current wars is not a logical trump card to validate particular arguments against the government and these wars (although they can be rightly used in persuasion). For instance just because the Jersey girls want more Port restrictions and border controls, doesn't mean they're valid and justifiable means. Of course out of sheer idiocy and complete immaturity she goes way beyond this valid point by failing distinguish between the people and their arguments, as such weakening her point.

"These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them."

Here we see Ann the collectivist, socialist at heart. Those husbands working in the WTC don't belong to families in New Jersey, they belong to the collective national will, therefore these women are self-obsessed whinny witches. Maybe Ann's upset that the attack had nothing to do with her, so she feels the need to malign grieving widows and commandeer 911 victims for the national cause. In any case, I guess we shouldn't expect much in the way of fides, spes, or caritas from a book titled Godless by a woman not as nearly bright as most men in a mental institution

Looks like Newsbusters and the FReepers are all you've got left, Mr. Coulter...

And finally, here's one hell of an idea.

Tags: ,

Bring the crazy: Katherine Harris soldiers on

The NYT puts Katherine Harris' plight of Bush abandonment on the front page.
In her insistence on running, Ms. Harris has become something of a pariah among many of the people whose power she indirectly helped ensure five and a half years ago, as overseer of the recount that sealed George W. Bush's victory.

Indirectly??? Whatever, NYT. That said, that lady is crazy. Someone please ship her some medication.


Keep the sleaze, just take the Mexicans

Washington lobbyist Brian Bilbray wins Duke Cunningham's greasy Congressional seat. The Dems learn the hard way that you have to spend money equivalent to your opponent, and know your issue. In the Cunningham seat, the issue wasn't so much corruption as it was illegal immigration.

Sidebar: Republican voters also kept Conrad Burns (which is good for Dems in November) and went with Thomas Kean in New Jersey.

Tags: , , Republicans,