Monthly Archives: December 2006

Resolutions?

I don’t really do them, because for me, the New Year has always started in the fall. I’m on the academic schedule no matter what I do, it seems. If I did do them, they’d probably consist of the usual boring things we all promise ourselves we’ll do: be less lazy, lose ten pounds, call my family more often.

Do you make resolutions? What are they?


A.

3000

From AP

The death of a Texas soldier, announced Sunday by the Pentagon, raised the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq to at least 3,000, according to an Associated Press count, since the war began in March 2003.

Hanged

So they’re popping popcorn over in Freeperville. They’re all just betting on the time of death, posting pictures of Saddam photoshopped under a camel, the usual wingnut parlor tricks and cheap Fark imitations that let them believe they’re part of the great struggle. Goody for them. I’ve never really begrudged anybody the right to do whatever makes them feel good so long as no children or non-consenting adults are harmed, so let them post away in their fury, let them work themselves up. At least it’ll keep them out of our hair.


I’m not going to pretend to feel like Saddam Hussein deserved to live. Or die, for that matter; he wasn’t my leader, I don’t feel qualified to pass judgment on his punishment for his crimes. I wasn’t in the courtroom. I was not his judge; I am not, thank God, his executioner.


For the record, it’s a death in a place filled with thousands of deaths. It may lead to more violence, it may lead to less. It may placate some, it may anger others. If there’s a list somewhere of Truly Horrible People Alive Today, kept by someone who is qualified to keep that list, there’s one more name can be crossed off. If that’s reason to celebrate (I’m not sure it is — are his victims less dead because he joins them? Are his potential victims safer with him dead than with him imprisoned? Are these questions we should even ask?) then I suppose celebration is warranted, but it’s not my party, nor the Freepers’, either, really. Deeply felt interest in an outcome does not equal ownership, and I will not demean the experience of Iraqis by saying I have some right to share whatever their feelings might be tonight.

So.


He hangs, and then.


With this war, it’s always … and then. And then we stand around, having named the execution of Saddam whatever we like, having decided it means whatever we think it means, we stand around and realize the sun still came up this morning. And then. And then. And then.


Atrios has been writing for some time about how nobody wants to take responsibility for defining the endgame in Iraq, or at least that the only people who do are so thoroughly out of power all they can do is argue in circles in college symposium settings, desultorily covered by bored reporters for papers of middling size. The policymakers, those who matter? They keep on pretending, and it’s hard not to see this execution as just one more chapter in their ongoing fiction that someday, somehow, it will all turn up right on its own, ourselves having done nothing to effect it one way or another. As though the war is a runaway train, as though the brake handle broke off in our hands, as though we can’t stop it anymore.

These are the facts, if Saddam is alive or dead:


We went to war on the public pretext that Iraq was a terrorist-supporting state possessing weapons of mass destruction, which it intended to use against us.


No such weapons were found.


There are more terrorists in Iraq now than there ever have been.


Nearly 3,000 American soldiers have died.


And more than 100,000 Iraqis, by the lowest of credible estimates.


The country is devastated, plagued by suicide bombers and other terrors that did not exist before our invasion, and is engulfed in civil war.


The government that led us to war is demoralized, its power curtailed by a populace finally tired of its lies.

We are, as a result of our neglect of actual terrorism prosecutions and diplomatic and/or military opportunities while we squander resources in Iraq, less safe and secure now than we were before 9/11.


If Saddam is alive or dead, these are the facts. And they’re popping popcorn over in Freeperville:


(WONDER HOW LONG BEFORE BITS OF THE ROPE SHOW UP ON EBAY?)


This is one of those few times I wish I had cable.

The suspense is unbelievable, I hope the moment can last just a bit longer.


And then?


A.

What it’s like

Reporter Hannah Allam files a report for McClatchy Newspapers on how Iraq has changed since she was last there in 2005. Here is part but it is worth it to read it all

On one of my first days back, I took a little tour with my Iraqi colleagues to get reacquainted with the capital. We decided to stay on the eastern Shiite side of the Tigris River rather than play Russian roulette in the Sunni west.

Even on the relatively “safe” side of the river, a dizzying assortment of armed men roamed freely. In the space of an hour, we encountered the Badr Organization militia, the Mahdi Army militia, the Kurdish peshmerga militia, the Iraqi police, interior ministry commandos, the Iraqi military, American troops, the Oil Protection Force, the motorcade of a Communist Party official and Central Bank guards escorting an armored van.

We drove through one of my favorite districts in hopes of visiting shopkeepers I knew. But they had fled, leaving behind padlocked doors and faded signs for shops whose names now seem ironic rather than catchy: “Nuts,” “Ghost Music,” “Once Upon a Time.”

I asked my colleagues to arrange meetings with old Iraqi sources – politicians, professors, activists and clerics – only to be told they’d been assassinated, abducted or exiled.

Even Mr. Milk is dead. The grocer we called by the name of his landmark shop in the upscale Mansour district was kidnapped and killed, along with his son, my colleagues said. The owner of a DVD shop where I once purchased a copy of “Napoleon Dynamite” also had been executed.

—–

More Malkin Stupidity…

Malkin is at it again. Groan. In a piece called “The Bipartisan Katrina Boondoggle” she points to Democratic ties to the Shaw group which obtained a huge no bid Katrina contract and concludes “Katrina cronyism comes in equally vibrant shades of red and blue.” However if one looks at the total picture, specifically all four no bid contracts (including Shaw’s) that are under review it would be far more difficult to argue a case for equal opportunity cronyism as Malkin’s does with her selectivity …

1) BECHTEL GROUP INC.

Contributions: More than $1.3 million since 2000, primarily to Republicans

Also: CEO Riley Bechtel served on Bush’s Export Council from 2003-2004

2) CH2M HILL COMPANIES LTD.

Contributions: Nearly $1 million since 1999, primarily to Republican National Committee and other Republicans

3) FLUOR CORP.

Contributions: More than $930,000 since 2000, primarily to Republicans

4) THE SHAW GROUP INC.

Contributions: Roughly $290,000 since 2000, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans

Also: Former FEMA director Joe Allbaugh, a longtime friend of President Bush, is Shaw’s registered lobbyist and business consultant

What is truly worse though in Malkin’s piece is her writing of “disaster socialism”…

Government sucks. It sucks billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain in the name of preventing disasters. It sucks billions more cleaning those disasters up when prevention fails. It sucks millions on top of the billions for investigations and recriminations. And then the cycle begins anew.

The Bush administration, like every administration since Jimmy Carter created the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1979, has failed mightily to break the natural disaster-federal disaster cycle. Next to the systemic breakdown on border security and immigration enforcement, the Hurricane Katrina boondoggle stands as the Republicans’ most disgraceful domestic failure. After years of hawking five-pound fiscal conservative blueprints for downsizing government bureaucracy and reforming federal spending, the GOP blew a monumental opportunity to show liberals how to end disaster socialism.

I don’t know who Malkin thinks ought to clean up the debris of cities wiped away from disasters. Does she truly believe local and state governments overwhelmed by such disasters could do so without federal aid? Or is just up to residents to rebuild homes and city infrastructure?

But more important Malkin displays her ignorance or perhaps willfull disregard of what actually occured in disaster management under George Bush. Michelle it was exactly the occurrance of a Republican push to downsize and outsource disaster management to which you refer that led to the Katrina “domestic failure.” Michelle please read this and you would know that George Bush’s FEMA was not like every other administration’s. In fact the Bush administration attempted to do just what Michelle calls for… decrease government involvement in disaster management…with disasterous results:

From its first months in office, the Bush administration made it clear that emergency programs, like much of the federal government, were in for a major reorientation.[…]The White House quickly launched a government-wide effort to privatize public services, including key elements of disaster management.

In addition, the White House has pushed for privatization of essential government services, including disaster management, and merged FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security — where, critics say, natural disaster programs are often sidelined by counter-terrorism programs. Along the way, morale at FEMA has plummeted, and many of the agency’s most experienced personnel have left for work in other government agencies or private corporations.

The Bush administration also made policy changes which canceled key core programs of FEMA’s disaster management namely mitigation programs. Those programs once had a return of every dollar invested saving two dollars in disaster recovery.

Bush’s FEMA is the poster child for the failed policy of privatizing government services but leave it to Malkin to have it ass backward wrong as usual.

Happy Obama Photo


Credit where it’s due:


In escalating this war with a so-called “surge” of troops, the President would be overriding the expressed concerns of Generals on the ground, Secretary Powell, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and the American people. Colin Powell has said that placing more troops in the crossfire of a civil war simply will not work. General John Abizaid, our top commander in the Middle East, said just last month that, “I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.” Even the Joint Chiefs of Staff have expressed concern, saying that a surge in troop levels “could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda” and “provide more targets for Sunni insurgents.” Once again, the President is defying good counsel and common sense.


A.

Vote!

In the Golden Winger contest.


A.

Nixon – Ford Friendship

Evidently the pardon was not for our healing…

“I looked upon him as my personal friend. And I always treasured our relationship. And I had no hesitancy about granting the pardon, because I felt that we had this relationship and that I didn’t want to see my real friend have the stigma,” Ford said in the interview.

That acknowledgment represents a significant shift from Ford’s previous portrayals of the pardon that absolved Nixon of any Watergate-related crimes. In earlier statements, Ford had emphasized the decision as an effort to move the country beyond the partisan divisions of the Watergate era, playing down the personal dimension.

Woodward’s article in WaPo has more on the long friendship between Nixon and Ford

Riverbend

Riverbend has a new post up

My only conclusion is that the Americans want to withdraw from Iraq, but would like to leave behind a full-fledged civil war because it wouldn’t look good if they withdraw and things actually begin to improve, would it?

Here we come to the end of 2006 and I am sad. Not simply sad for the state of the country, but for the state of our humanity, as Iraqis. We’ve all lost some of the compassion and civility that I felt made us special four years ago. I take myself as an example. Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights. Never mind they crossed oceans to attack the country, I actually felt for them.

Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn’t believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That’s the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.

Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he’s wanted to marry for the last six years? I don’t think so.

Just because Americans die in smaller numbers, it doesn’t make them more significant, does it?

To read it all—–

He’s Lost The Military

The third annual Military Times poll of active-duty personnel, viewed “as a barometer of the professional career military”, proves that Our Troops! hate America.

For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll.

When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83% of poll respondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number has shrunk to 50%.

Only 35% of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way Bush is handling the war, and 42% said they disapprove. While approval of the president’s war leadership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.

Just as telling, in this year’s poll only 41% of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65% in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population — 45% agreed in a recent USA TODAY-Gallup poll.

[snip]

Only about one in five service members said large numbers of American troops can be replaced with Iraqi troops within the next two years. More than one-third think it will take more than five years. And more than half think the U.S. will have to stay in Iraq more than five years to achieve its goals.

Almost half of those responding think the United States needs more troops in Iraq. A surprising 13% said the U.S. should have no troops there.

As for Afghanistan force levels, 39% think we need more troops there. But while they want more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly three-quarters of the respondents think the military is stretched too thin to be effective.

Approval for Bush’s overall performance as president remains high, at 52%. That’s down from his high of 71% in 2004, but still far above the approval ratings of the general population, where that number has fallen into the 30s.

Failure Is Simply Delayed Success

Holy Crap!

[CNN White House correspondent Ed ] HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we’re going to get him. Still don’t have him. I know you are saying there’s successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That’s a failure.

[Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Frances Fragos] TOWNSEND: Well, I’m not sure — it’s a success that hasn’t occurred yet. I don’t know that I view that as a failure.

Friday Ferretblogging: Toyland Edition

The boys got lots of toys for Christmas from their petsitter and their friends. (From us, they got new cage furniture, pet beds and a hammock. Bo-ring.) Their favorite thus far is this giant plushy octopus thing, with legs you can use to crawl into the octopus. Or, as Stripe does, just climb up on top of it and squish it:



Joey’s more a fan of the inside:


A.

Fantasy Congress

White House to Joe Biden:



Well, the President has spoken frequently about the importance of our effort in Iraq, the importance of helping the Iraqi people institute a government and create a society that is stable, can govern itself and be an ally in the war on terror. And he continues to ask questions. He understands that the American people are, rightfully, very concerned about what is going on in Iraq, as is the President.

But the President wants to make sure that he’s taking the appropriate amount of time and giving the appropriate consideration of all the options before making an announcement.

My Fantasy Joe Biden to the White House:


“You know what, Mr. President? I’ll say what I want, when I want, and you can take your patrician expectations of yourself as the Lizard of All He Surveys and fold them four ways, capisce? Jesus. Appropriate time.Appropriate time, this guy says to me. Almost four years into a war he has no idea how to win, a war we lost three and a half years ago by the way, and this guy wants to talk about appropriate times for reacting to plans he has no idea if they’ll work or not. The gang that can’t shoot straight wants to tell me how to aim. Can you believe this shit?

“Mr. President, I’ll tell you about the appropriate time to comment on things you dream up to make yourself look more manly on TV, because such timing is a lesson I’ve learned in the past four years of watching you screw up while I sat back and made other Democrats look like pussies for not praising you highly enough. I’ll tell you, the appropriate time to stop somebody from jumping off a bridge is before he actually jumps, not when he’s halfway down, yelling up to me “so far so good!” with that dumb-assed smirk you — I mean he — has on his face most of the time. The appropriate time to tell you you’ve got your head screwed on backwards this morning and your shoes on on the wrong feet, that’s right now, pal o’mine, so take it from me, this is a rotten idea, it’s not going to salvage anything, people are sick of the dying and I’m not going to back you this time. And you can stuff your ideas about what I can say when I can say it, because despite your best efforts, this is America, and telling you left from right today is far more satisfying than getting nominated to succeed your sorry ass. Now if you don’t mind, there’s a microphone over there, and I’ve got a speech to give. Run along and play with your sock monkey. There’s a good boy.”


My Fantasy Joe Biden is a lot of fun. I got him for Christmas, along with lots of other good presents.


A.

ps. A special thanks to BuggyQ for filling in while I was gone!

Happy Harry Photo: Sweater Edition

Link.

Dads across America had the same expression on Christmas morning. “Oh, man, how do I tell the kids last year’s sweater is still in its box in my closet?”


A.

La-La-La-Loser!

AFP pulls no punches while assession Condi’s first two years as Secretary of State [Of course, they are French. /wingnut]

Condoleezza Rice wraps up her first two years as secretary of state with few diplomatic successes to show for her efforts and fewer signs she plans to change course to improve the record.

[snip]

[S]ince she took over as America’s top diplomat on January 26, 2005 with an agenda to promote freedom and democracy around the globe, Rice has been shadowed by the failure of that plan on its biggest stage: Iraq.

The violence in Iraq, and the Bush administration’s refusal to bring rivals Syria and Iran into efforts to stabilize the country, are widely blamed for the broader failure of US policy in the Middle East — where Lebanon teeters on the brink of civil war and Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts languish.

Elsewhere, Rice’s globe-trotting — 37 overseas trips totalling nearly 500,000 miles (800,000 kilometers) — has yielded little concrete success, with her few diplomatic victories clouded by poor or no follow-up.

[snip]

“Great secretaries of state have compelling views of the world and/or are effective negotiators — Secretary Rice has so far demonstrated neither,” said Aaron Miller, who advised six secretaries of state before joining the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank in Washington.

Even staunch supporters acknowledge that Rice, weighed down by the failed policy in Iraq, has little that is positive to show for her work so far.

“I don’t know that there have been concrete advances” under Rice’s diplomacy, said Joshua Muravchik of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, though he nevertheless went on to give her “high grades” for faithfully implementing Bush’s policy agenda.

Our Troops Say No! To The Surge

You’ll never see these guys on CNN.

Many of the American soldiers trying to quell sectarian killings in Baghdad don’t appear to be looking for reinforcements. They say the temporary surge in troop levels some people are calling for is a bad idea.

[snip]

Spc. Don Roberts, who was stationed in Baghdad in 2004, said the situation had gotten worse because of increasing violence between Shiites and Sunnis.

“I don’t know what could help at this point,” said Roberts, 22, of Paonia, Colo. “What would more guys do? We can’t pick sides. It’s almost like we have to watch them kill each other, then ask questions.”

[snip]

“Nothing’s going to help. It’s a religious war, and we’re caught in the middle of it,” said Sgt. Josh Keim, a native of Canton, Ohio, who is on his second tour in Iraq. “It’s hard to be somewhere where there’s no mission and we just drive around.”

Capt. Matt James, commander of the battalion’s Company B, was careful in how he described the unit’s impact since arriving in Baghdad.

“The idea in calling us in was to make things better here, but it’s very complicated and complex,” he said.

But James said more troops in combat would likely not have the desired effect.

“The more guys we have training the Iraqi army the better,” he said. “I would like to see a surge there.”

[snip]

Pfc. Richard Grieco said it’s hard to see how daily missions in Baghdad make a difference.

“If there’s a plan to sweep through Baghdad and clear it, (more troops) could make a difference,” said the 19-year-old from Slidell, La. “But if we just dump troops in here like we’ve been doing, it’s just going to make for more targets.”

Sgt. James Simons, 24, of Tacoma, Wash., said Baghdad is so dangerous that U.S. forces spend much of their time in combat instead of training Iraqis.

“Baghdad is still like it was at the start of the war. We still have to knock out insurgents because things are too dangerous for us to train the Iraqis,” he said.

[snip]

Sgt. Justin Thompson, a San Antonio native, said he signed up for delayed enlistment before the Sept. 11 terror attacks, then was forced to go to a war he didn’t agree with.

A troop surge is “not going to stop the hatred between Shia and Sunni,” said Thompson, who is especially bitter because his 4-year contract was involuntarily extended in June. “This is a civil war, and we’re just making things worse. We’re losing. I’m not afraid to say it.”

Villain of the Year

It’s The Chimpster.

Bad guy of 2006: President Bush. Good guy of 2006: President Bush. When people were asked in an AP-AOL News poll to name the villains and heroes of the year, Bush topped both lists, in a sign of these polarized times.

[snip]

Bush won the villain sweepstakes by a landslide, with one in four respondents putting him at the top of that bad-guy list. When people were asked to name the candidate for villain that first came to mind, Bush far outdistanced even Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader in hiding; and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who is scheduled for execution.

The president was picked as hero of the year by a much smaller margin. In the poll, 13 percent named him as their favorite while 6 percent cited the troops in Iraq.

[snip]

Bush was the choice of 43 percent of Democrats for villain, and 27 percent of Republicans for hero.

UPDATE: The numbers on Villian of the Year.

George Bush (25%)

Osama Bin Laden (8%)

Saddam Hussein (6%)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (5%)

Kim Jong Il (2%)

Donald Rumsfeld (2%)

Satan (1%)

Hugo Chavez (1%)

Tom Cruise (1%)

Dick Cheney (1%)

Hillary Clinton (1%)

John Kerry (1%)

Rosie O’Donnell (1%)

Your President Speaks!

From his fake ranch in Crawford.

It’s An Idea Of A Scheme Of A Plan For A Strategy

It’s an important part of coming to closure on a way forward in Iraq that will help us achieve our objective, which is a country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself.

Understand the Understanding

I fully understand it’s important to have both Republicans and Democrats understanding the importance of this mission.

Deciderating Is Hard Work

I’m making good progress toward coming up with a plan that we think will help us achieve our objective.

Does Not Plan To Win By The End Of 2007

People always ask me about a New Year’s resolution — my resolution is, is that they’ll be safe and that we’ll come closer to our objective, that we’ll be able to help this young democracy survive and thrive and, therefore, we’ll be writing a chapter of peace.

And That One Woman In The Coast Guard

I can’t thank our families enough for supporting their loved one who wears the uniform, and I can’t thank those who — soldiers and sailors and airmen and Coast Guard men and woman, folks in the Air Force — who represent the United States of America.

—–

Your Dumbass Jonah Post of the Day

Nonuts of the North on polar bears.

If the polar bears need more floating ice to survive, let’s get them some more floating ice! Like artificial reefs, we can build fake floating ice, or make real floating ice, and distribute it across the polar bear habitat. Mightn’t this be expensive? you ask. I dunno maybe. I haven’t priced artificial polar bear ice platforms lately. But I will bet you dollars to doughnuts it would cost a mere fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the cost of a Kyoto regime and it would save vastly more polar bears than Kyoto would — at least in, say, the first couple centuries.

NOPD shooting update…7 officers indicted

A May post has background on the mentally disabled man, Ronald Madison, shot 5 times in the back by NOPD in the days after Katrina hit.Today 7 officers were indicted regarding that case and another shooting …

NEW ORLEANS – Seven police officers were indicted Thursday on murder and attempted murder charges in a pair of shootings that left two people dead during the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The charges cover two separate shootings on bridges. In one case, two young men were killed on the Danziger Bridge connecting two predominantly black neighborhoods. In the other, four people were wounded on a span over the Industrial Canal.

SNIP

The victims were Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally retarded man, and James Barsett, 19. The coroner said Madison was shot seven times, with five wounds in the back.

—–