Monthly Archives: January 2007

Send In The Bicycle Brigades!

Turns out the US Army does not have the up-armored vehicles needed to properly equip Chimpy’s surge.

Dutch bicycle infantry during the Battle of the Netherlands in 1940

Boosting U.S. troop levels in Iraq by 21,500 would create major logistical hurdles for the Army and Marine Corps, which are short thousands of vehicles, armor kits and other equipment needed to supply the extra forces, U.S. officials said.

The increase would also further degrade the readiness of U.S.-based ground forces, hampering their ability to respond quickly, fully trained and well equipped in the case of other military contingencies around the world and increasing the risk of U.S. casualties, according to Army and Marine Corps leaders.

[snip]

President Bush’s plan to send five additional U.S. combat brigades into Iraq has left the Army and Marines scrambling to ensure that the troops could be supported with the necessary armored vehicles, jamming devices, radios and other gear, as well as lodging and other logistics.

Trucks are in particularly short supply. For example, the Army would need 1,500 specially outfitted — known as “up-armored” — 2 1/2 -ton and five-ton trucks in Iraq for the incoming units, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for force development.

“We don’t have the [armor] kits, and we don’t have the trucks,” Speakes said in an interview. He said it will take the Army months, probably until summer, to supply and outfit the additional trucks. As a result, he said, combat units flowing into Iraq would have to share the trucks assigned to units now there, leading to increased use and maintenance.

[snip]

U.S. commanders privately expressed doubts that Iraq-bound units would receive a full complement of Humvees. “It’s inevitable that that has to happen, unless five brigades of up-armored Humvees fall out of the sky,” one senior Army official said of the feared shortfall. He expects that some units would have to rely more heavily on Bradley Fighting Vehicles and tanks that, although highly protective, are intimidating and therefore less effective for many counterinsurgency missions.

Adding to the crunch, the U.S. government has agreed to sell 600 up-armored Humvees to Iraq this year for its security forces. Such sales “better not be at the expense of the American soldier or Marine,” Speakes told defense reporters recently, saying U.S. military needs must take priority.

Living facilities in Iraq are another concern for the additional troops, who would be concentrated in Baghdad, Army officials said. The U.S. military has closed or handed over to Iraqi forces about half of the 110 bases established there after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Decisions are being made on where to base incoming units in Baghdad, but it is likely that, at least in the short term, they would be placed in existing facilities, officials said.

Your President Speaks! Again!

Just a quickie, from his meeting today with members of Securing America’s Future Energy

And I’m going to continue to call upon citizens’ groups and concerned citizens to work with members of Congress so we can — I can sign a comprehensive plan that will assure the American people that as we look forward into the 21st century that we’ll be more energy dependentand good stewards of the environment.

Ari’s Turn

This should be a nice start to an interesting week in the Plame case.

Into The Beautiful Sea: Galactica Thread

With thanks to the people who e-mailed this to me (spoilers for Season Three therein):

Jacob:

So no, I don’t “mourn the loss” of the Cylons’ mystery and menace: that’s evolution. Heaven for everybody. I think any story that wants to responsibly talk about war and genocide had better get its shit together about this, and I think this show is clearly doing so. Frankly, jihad and terrorism could stand to lose a fuckload of mystery and menace, we could all stand to read up on the Quran, because that’s how you move forward. Other people don’t need your mystery and menace, they need your strength. How you draw the line between that and saying the show’s jumped the shark, or I’m a bad American or a shitty writer for loving the Cylons, is your business.

But really go read the whole page linked there.

Spoilers after the cut.

Continue reading

Your President Speaks!

Here, interviewed by NPR’s Juan Williams.

Do In Some Extremists

I will tell you, though, that this fight is an indication of what is taking place, and that is the Iraqis are beginning to take the lead, whether it be this fight that you’ve just reported on where the Iraqis went in with American help to do in some extremists that were trying to stop the advance of their democracy, or the report that there was militant Shi’a had been captured or killed.

Half-Ass Full

Oh, I don’t think so. I think that the vice president is a person reflecting a half-glass-full mentality, and that is he’s been able to look at – as have and I hope other Americans have – the fact that the tyrant was removed, 12 million people voted, there is an Iraqi constitution in place that is the model for – and unique for the Middle East.

How Reassuring

And I have said that the progress is not good enough. In other words, people have asked me about whether or not I approve of the situation in Iraq and my answer is no.

Lis-ten!

In other words, there’s a lot of things politically that can happen, Juan, and – you know, I made a decision that – and, listen, I listen to a lot of folks here in Washington. I listen to the military people, I listen to people who are critical of the policy, I listen to Republicans, I listen to Democrats, and I listen carefully for which strategy would yield – would most likely yield success, and the one I picked is the one I believe will.

Rewriting The History Of The Past

We’re just deeply concerned about a government that is insisting upon having a nuclear weapon, and at the same time, rewriting history – the history of the past, and regards, for example, the Holocaust.

Your President Speaks! Bonus Edition:Blame It On Texas

Juan Williams: By the way, in the [State of the Union] speech, you spoke about the Democrats. You said, you congratulated the “Democrat” majority, and I noticed your prepared text said the “Democratic” majority. I surely think that you know that for the Democrats, they think when you say “Democrat,” it’s like fingernails on the black board. They don’t like it. They like you to say “Democratic.”

President Bush: That was an oversight then, I’m not trying to needle. Look, I went into the hall saying, “We can work together,” and I was very sincere about it. I didn’t even know I did it. And if I did, I didn’t mean to put fingernails on the board. I meant to be saying, “Why don’t we show the American people we can actually work together?”

[snip]

So the idea that somehow I was trying to needle the Democrats is just, you know…it’s probably Texas. Who knows what it is? I’m not that good at pronouncing words anyway, Juan.

Bigots Go Home

Buh-bye, bigots.

In past sessions, Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave were conservative champions of a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the last Congress, both sponsoring legislation to do just that.

Not this year.

The two Republicans said last week they have no plans to re-introduce their legislation in the new Congress – another sign that Democrats are now in the majority.

I swear to God I’ve never seen people’s convictions unravel so fast. Three months ago there was a grave threat to marriage and all us married straight folk were going to be forced into gay re-education camps or something. I mean it was going to be disaster and the generous folks at Focus on the Food on Your Family or whatever the fuck it’s called needed the president and Congress to save us from that. Activist judges were going to kill us all in our beds. Help us, President Bush!

Today, feh. Not that big a deal.

There’s a few things about this that are interesting.

One, that anybody who’s not already a religious bigot who was taken in by the whole “STATE OF EMERGENCY GAYS ARE COMING OMG!!!11!” rhetoric got utterly hosed and should think twice before believing these people the next time they come up with some measure designed to make a crisis out of some stuff that’s going on.

Two, that this is proof that once again the Religious Right is nothing more than the Republicans’ perpetual Political Booty Call. Wise up, Dobson and friends. They’re just not that into you.

Three, would everybody who was whining on about how there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans so why bother doom gloom kill me now please bite me? This is why it’s important to fight. This is why it’s important not to give up. This is why it’s important to keep electing Democrats from school board on up, and this is why it’s important to get back up off the couch when we lose a couple. Because with Democrats in power, you don’t have this kind of crap making its way to the floor. Or if you do, it doesn’t go anywhere. It certainly doesn’t go to the president’s desk. I know sometimes supporting a conservative Dem versus a liberal Republican can seem like a six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other choice, but this is why it’s important. When a majority’s on the line, do you want the people who hang out with Musgrave and Allard or do you want the people who will raise the minimum wage?

Four: When Musgrave runs again, I want that bunny up there following her around bellowing about this, either from the inconsistency angle, the bigot angle, or the angle of “look how quick she folded when she knew it was gonna look bad on TV.” Mostly because the mental picture of Marilyn Musgrave being chased by a loud angry bunny has been cracking me up all morning.

A.

ps. Apologies to Steve Gilliard for stealing his schtick but I couldn’t resist the bunny photo.

I Know You Are But What Am I

Dick Cheney – also a childish prick.

Q One other question. Bob Woodward reported that President Ford thought you had justified the war wrongly, and that he agreed with Colin Powell that you developed a fever, I think was the word, about Saddam Hussein, about terrorism. Did you feel that was accurate? Did it surprise you?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I’ve never heard that from anybody but Bob Woodward.

Q And other comments that — criticism from Scowcroft about not knowing you anymore — people have got quite personal, people you worked with before. You wouldn’t be human if it didn’t have some reaction.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m Vice President and they’re not.

Weekend Recipe Thread

During the SOTU crack van chat last Tuesday, somebody — was it you, SatsGrandma? — kept bringing up nummy food. But with 80 people all making kitten sounds at once, it was hard to keep up with the recipes.

So here’s a recipe thread. Teach us how to make something delicious.

A.

Contractor Deaths

Nearly 800? Holy crap!

Laboring in a war with no discernible front line, more than 770 civilian contractors have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003.

Statistics kept by the Labor Department indicate fatalities among civilian contractors working for American firms escalated rapidly late last year, with at least 301 dying in Iraq in 2006 — including 124 in the final three months.

U.S. military deaths totaled 818 during the year, the Defense Department has reported.

[snip]

[T]he Pentagon estimates… [that] 100,000 civilians [are] working for U.S.-based contractors in Iraq.

Supplementing the 130,000 American troops serving in the country, these civilians provide a wide variety of functions, including serving up chow and interrogating prisoners.

The 100,000 figure is an estimate because, nearly four years into the war, the Pentagon is just now conducting its first survey to determine how many civilian contractors are working in Iraq.

And Pentagon officials, citing military regulations, don’t track contractor deaths.

[snip]

Civilian contractors killed in Iraq are often eligible — and many have received — the defense secretary’s Medal for the Defense of Freedom, the so-called Purple Heart for civilians working on behalf of the military.

But their names are left off the Pentagon’s Iraq casualty rolls.

If they were counted, the U.S. military’s official casualty figures — 3,063 as of Friday — would be 25 percent higher.

“Since Day 1, the administration has been very, very comfortable artificially deflating the human cost of our effort in Iraq,” said Steven Schooner, co-director of the government-procurement law program at George Washington University Law School.

The Pentagon’s failure to report contractor deaths angers some family members whose loved ones died working in Iraq.

[snip]

The 770 tally — representing fatalities (including deaths by natural causes) between March 2003 and Dec. 31, 2006 — was tabulated by the Labor Department’s Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation.

Last year’s contractor fatalities represent 39 percent of the deaths reported by the Labor Department.

Besides those killed, another 7,761 civilian contractors had been injured in Iraq as of Dec. 31, the Labor Department said.

It’s those little things Timmeh does…

…that has helped to make Meet the Press the administration’s best format.

While interviewing Sen. Vitter today Timmeh stated

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Vitter, you live in New
Orleans. The president was down a few days after Katrina and gave a
speech about what he was going to do. Let’s listen. (emphasis mine)

He then showed the videotape of Bush in Jackson Square on September 15, 2005. That would be WEEKS not DAYS after Katrina.

Timmeh to refresh your memory here is what the rest of us remember of Bush a few DAYS after Katrina hit on August 29…

Tuesday August 30 in California

Bushguitar

Wednesday August 31

Bushplane

Thursday Sept 1

Bush_sawyer_levees_quote_in_paint

And on Friday September 2

Brownbushheckjob

BONUS 8 seconds: And who could forget Timmeh’s #1 fan on Sept 8 during his first trip to the Gulf Coast…


–scout

Katrina Hearing Tomorrow…Lieberman gives assurance panel has full authority to do whatever it takes

Lieberman, Obama and Landrieu will be holding a Senate Committee hearing on Katrina in New Orleans tomorrow. Also Lieberman has named Landrieu head of the new Disaster Recovery subcommittee…

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said
he added two subcommittees, the Disaster Recovery
Subcommittee and State, Local and Private Sector
Preparedness and Integration Subcommittee, to concentrate on
areas that he thinks need more attention from Congress.

Landrieu said Lieberman has assured her that the new
panel “will have the full authority to do whatever it
takes” to examine the mistakes made during Katrina and
Rita
and look for ways to avoid them in the future.

“Rest assured, I will use this authority responsibly
as we seek answers and work to craft solutions,”
Landrieu said.

On Monday, Lieberman and Landrieu will be joined by
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee member
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., a Democratic presidential
candidate, for a field hearing on Katrina at the Supreme
Court in New Orleans.

File that away (for future reference)… Joe has given his word.

HOW TO WATCH: The committee hearings can be seen on the Web at http://hsgac.senate.gov, beginning at 9 a.m. Monday. CNN is expected to cover some of the hearing live.

–scout

Lady Justice Pushes Back

The Bush Justice Department seems to think it can make whatever rules it chooses in the various civil suits filed in response to Chimpy’s warrantless eavesdropping. The judges presiding in these cases disagree.

The Bush administration has employed extraordinary secrecy in defending the National Security Agency’s highly classified domestic surveillance program from civil lawsuits. Plaintiffs and judges’ clerks cannot see its secret filings. Judges have to make appointments to review them and are not allowed to keep copies.

Judges have even been instructed to use computers provided by the Justice Department to compose their decisions.

But now the procedures have started to meet resistance. At a private meeting with the lawyers in one of the cases this month, the judges who will hear the first appeal next week expressed uneasiness about the procedures, said a lawyer who attended, Ann Beeson of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Lawyers suing the government and some legal scholars say the procedures threaten the separation of powers, the adversary system and the lawyer-client privilege.

[snip]

In ordinary civil suits, the parties’ submissions are sent to their adversaries and are available to the public in open court files. But in several cases challenging the eavesdropping, Justice Department lawyers have been submitting legal papers not by filing them in court but by placing them in a room at the department. They have filed papers, in other words, with themselves.

At the meeting this month, judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit asked how the procedures might affect the integrity of the files and the appellate records.

[snip]

“The court raised questions about the procedures the government had used to file classified submissions in the case and the propriety and integrity of those procedures,” said Ms. Beeson, associate legal director of the A.C.L.U., which represents the plaintiffs in the appeal.

“They were also concerned about the independence of the judiciary,” given that “the Justice Department retains custody and total control over the court filings.” Ms. Beeson said.

Nancy S. Marder, a law professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and an authority on secrecy in litigation, said the tactics were really extreme and deeply, deeply troubling.

“These are the basics that we take for granted in our court system,” Professor Marder said. “You have two parties. You exchange documents. The documents you’ve seen don’t disappear.”

The Road Home to New Orleans: Uncertainty in life…Certainty in death

The Times Picayune has 2 articles today which taken together show the paradox of the bitter and bittersweet twists of the Road Home for New Orleanians…the living and the deceased.

The first is a long article which chronicles the continuing problems of the “understaffed and overwhelmed” Road Home program impeding the homecoming…of the living:

So far, more than 100,000 homeowners in Louisiana have
applied for a Road Home grant, but the vast majority of
those applications are stuck in the pipeline.

Though ICF originally claimed many applicants would
receive their money six to eight weeks after an initial
meeting with a housing adviser, some homeowners have been
waiting six months. At least one applicant died before the
process was completed.

According to its most recent report, ICF has sent nearly
30,000 award letters worth up to $2.2 billion in grants and
loans, but the money that has actually reached the hands of
the lucky 215 applicants amounts to a paltry total
disbursement of $11.8 million. Altogether, the program has
$7.5 billion to dole out to homeowners. On average,
they’ve been offered $78,740 per settlement, though the
215 awards now finalized have come in substantially lower,
at $54,932 per household.

Then there is the second article which chronicles the daily movement of once displaced and now deceased residents coming home…for burial in New Orleans:

Those scattered by Katrina may be unsure about whether
they will return. But many are certain about one thing —
when they die, they are going home.

Before Katrina, New Orleans area funeral directors
typically drove around the corner or down the street to pick
up bodies.Now they drive to the airport nearly every day to
retrieve “ship-ins” from aircraft cargo holds.

Duane Cruse remembers feeling unsettled as he drove from
Atlanta to New Orleans, knowing that his wife’s body
was being returned by air. “The idea that she was
traveling without me felt strange,” he said.

But burial in New Orleans is what Ramona Cruse, 44, had
said she wanted, as she lay dying in an Atlanta hospital
bed.

“Her spirit is at rest,” Cruse said. “New
Orleans may be a mess. But this is where she wanted to
be.”

Louisiana Undertaking Co. funeral director Renard
Boissiere has become accustomed since Katrina to the sight
of caskets — sometimes seven or eight at a time —
being pulled out of the hold of jets parked at Louis
Armstrong International. “I know that large long
container — it’s bodies.” (all emphasis mine)

–scout

TDS on Cheney

This was funny…


Part 1

 


Part 2

 

Jonah’s an Idiot

Jonah had a column yesterday complaining how Democrats Love to Use The Children.He cites Hillary, Pelosi and Boxer as using kids. He then goes on about the evil genius of Dems’ policies to help children such as this example…

By making The Children the beneficiaries of welfare rather than the adults, the left could portray any attempt to curb the welfare state as “anti-child.”

He concludes with…

Children are hugely important. But they shouldn’t be a Trojan horse for policies you can’t sell fair and square.

Imagine using the needs of children to sell policies for children!

Republicans would never use children in this way!

No they use them for photo ops when they lack policies for children.
Here is Laura in New Orleans recently…at the same time that 300 children in that city have been turned away from schools because there is no room or teachers for them.

Laura_kids_nola

Oh and Easter with Katrina Kids at the time that studies showed 100,000 children of Katrina would develop PTSD. The mental health care crisis continues to this day.

Kat_kids666

And a few more Katrina kids with the Prez…who didn’t even mention the Gulf Coast in the State of the Union

Kids_bush_nola_1

And Republicans would never use children to save their ass in a scandal.

Allen just happened to be at an Ethnic Rally and met…
“What’s your name son? Macaca?”

Kids_allen_ethnic_rally

Then there is Rep Reynolds using children as human shields at a press conference to deflect questions on his role in the Foley scandal

Kids_reynolds_1

Speaking of which, there are even worse Republican Uses of kids

Kids_foley

–scout

Friday Ferretblogging: Action Ferret Edition

I have THE MOST INCREDIBLY AWESOME video of Joey playing in the two inches of snow we got the other night. But it’s trapped on a hard drive in Mr. A’s office and alas, it will have to wait until next week’s ferretblogging. But trust me, it’s epic. It’ll tear a new asshole into the Friday Petblogging scene.

This week you get a photo of Joey asserting his supremacy over Mr. A’s Christmas present, while Fox hangs out in the background all bored, like, “Dude, I chewed on that thing weeks ago, you’re so far out of style you can’t even see it from there.”

A.

Your President Speaks!

Today, at the White House.

Tell Me What Your Instructions Is

My instructions to the General is, get over to the zone as quickly as possible and implement a plan that we believe will yield our goals.

Must Be A Box-And-One

One of the amazing things about our country is that we’ve got military folks who volunteer to go into a tough zone to protect the American people from future harm, and they’ve got families who stand by them. Whether you be a general or a private in the military, there is a U.S. — there’s a family member saying, I love you and I support you.

Its People?

And so, General, I congratulate you and I congratulate the volunteers and their families for making the hard decisions necessary to protect its people from a grave danger.

We’re Fresh Out Of Deciders, But We Have An Implementor

And in that I’m the decision maker, I had to come up with a way forward that precluded disaster. In other words, I had to think about what’s likely to work. And so I worked with our military and I worked with Secretary Gates to come up with a plan that is likely to succeed. And the implementor of that plan is going to be General Petraeus.

Bless This Mess

And they have an obligation and a serious responsibility, therefore, to put up their own plan as to what would work.

Help Yourself!

Now some are trying to say that because we’re enforcing — helping ourselves in Iraq by stopping outside influence from killing our soldiers or hurting Iraqi people that we want to expand this beyond the borders — that’s a presumption that simply is not accurate.

NIE Is Anti-Surge

Via ThinkProgress, the long-delayed new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq will undermine the surge.

“It’s my understanding that the National Intelligence Estimate…is going to suggest that adding troops is the wrong way to go, that it’s not going to improve the situation.”

Rove Subpoenaed

Hey indeedy…
From Newsweek

Both Rove and Bartlett have already received trial subpoenas from
Libby’s defense lawyers, according to lawyers close to the case who
asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters. While that
is no guarantee they will be called, the odds increased this week after
Libby’s lawyer, Ted Wells, laid out a defense resting on the idea that
his client, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, had
been made a “scapegoat” to protect Rove.