Friday, May 25, 2007


"We do not have it within our power to make the will of America the law of the land"

[cross-posted at And, yes, I DO take it personally]

a quote that will live in infamy...

a cursory glance at today's home pages of the washington post and the new york times show sparse coverage of the intense feelings of anger and disappointment burning through the liberal/progressive grassroots and blogosphere about the dismal performance of what we thought was "our" democratic congressional leadership, the people we elected to the majority in large part to halt the illegal war in iraq...


After Victory on Hill, President Shifts Tone on Iraq

House, Senate Pass Iraq War Funding Measure


Congress Passes War Funds Bill, Ending Impasse


instead, most of the stories seem to take this tack...

[P]arty leaders vowed it was only a temporary setback in their efforts to bring home American troops.

[...]

[B]ackers said the bill's provisions -- including benchmarks for progress that the Iraqi government must meet to continue receiving reconstruction aid -- represented an assertion of congressional authority over the war that was unthinkable a few months ago.

how many times is it possible to hear statements like that before they cease to have any meaning whatsoever...? before, during and after the 2006 elections, the democratic leaders have consistently failed to demonstrate their understanding that the bush presidency is destroying our country, and it's not just about iraq... the actions taken by bush and his criminal colleagues in the past 6 1/2 years call for responses that reflect the utmost urgency but that is never what we hear... instead, we get this...
"We do not have it within our power to make the will of America the law of the land," [Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.)] said.

and there ya have it... the country we've been assured all of our lives was governed "by the people, for the people, and of the people", is nothing of the kind...

and, oh, yeah, opposition did get a few mentions...

  • Antiwar groups demanded that Democrats continue pressing for withdrawal dates and bombarded congressional offices with angry phone calls and e-mails in the hours before yesterday's votes.
  • Antiwar groups warned lawmakers who supported the spending bill that they could become election targets.
  • "We are moving backward," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), a war opponent.
isn't it interesting how "antiwar" can be made to sound like a disparaging epithet rather than something noble...?

and then the unkindest cut of all...

The votes yesterday marked a rare moment of bipartisanship in an otherwise contentious and emotional debate.

i've grown to truly detest that word... it's become synonomous with "complicit..."




There's more: ""We do not have it within our power to make the will of America the law of the land"" >>

So where do we go from here?

***linked at Salon Blog Report on 25 May 2007


That is the question.

The bill is passed, it will be signed and the war is funded through September.

I am disappointed that the Democrats caved – but for some reason, I keep flashing back to my youth and a saying I first heard all those years ago in Britain…The game isn’t worth the candle.

You have probably never heard that adage, but it basically means “No thanks, I’ll pass on the Pyrrhic victory.” I had not thought of that expression for years, but for some reason, that was the first place my mind went when I saw that the Senate had passed the war funding resolution.

Did the Democrats capitulate; or are they trying to set up the chess board, knowing a checkers man is on the other side? I honestly don’t know what they were thinking. But I can see a couple of plausible reasons for things playing out the way they did.

First of all, we need to remember the hard-fought supplemental should not have even been necessary. That this battle even had to be waged was a final, petulant “fuck you” from the 109th congress that did not pass a budget before their fired asses schlepped out of the Capitol for the last time until their triumphant return as lobbyists.

If they had done their job, this drama would never have played out, and that was a Republican, rubber-stamp congress. They did not do the job we paid them to do, so this whole sorry spectacle is a legacy of failed Republican leadership.

Remember that first and foremost, and remind those who forget – or purposely try to dishonestly gloss over that part.



Now let’s get realistic and take stock. The funding resolution that just passed over our objections covers the near-term. It funds the war through September. We are already planning our Memorial Weekend barbecues. Does anyone reading this honestly think that there is not sufficient money in the pipeline already to muddle through the next 16 weeks? (If so, email me about this bridge I’m trying to unload.)

Sixteen weeks is the blink of an eye – but September is magic for a few reasons – not the least of which is that it is also the end of the fiscal year. That, and sixteen weeks is not a hell of a long time to spend debating the funding for the next entire year.

In September, before the next years funding is finalized, General Petraeus will be back before the congress, reporting on the status of the situation on the ground in Iraq.

Does anyone believe that it is going to get better between now and then? Of course not. Between now and then, the number of American dead is going to cross the 4000 mark. The Congress he will appeal to at that time will have a burr under their collective saddle called an angry electorate. And the more dead they bury the angrier they are going to be. September is only 12 weeks from now on the chronological calendar, but on the electoral calendar, September is light years away from now. By then, even entrenched incumbents will be campaigning…

Please don’t misread that as I am willing to use troops as political pawns. I have personally loved too dearly too many of them to ever go down that path – but on that note, Carl von Clausewitz was indisputably right – war is policy by other means. And frankly, in the final analysis of the cold equation – every American in uniform in the volunteer military knows that to be true. It is accepted. We all have our reasons for signing up and signing on. Some are economic, some are idealistic, some are nebulous. But it all clears up pretty quickly once you are in, or that troop is out before the end of boot camp.

I am not absolving anyone of anything, I am just assessing the knowns, and I can see a scenario or two where the Democrats might have looked at the calendar and decided that the game just wasn’t worth the candle.


[Cross-Posted from Blue Girl, Red State & Watching Those We Chose]




There's more: "So where do we go from here?" >>

Iraq Exit Strategy






I could not be more thoroughly disgusted than I am this morning...




There's more: "Iraq Exit Strategy" >>

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Democrats: Quivering in fear of “Big Bad Bush”


Congressional Democrats are pushing an Iraq funding bill with no timetable teeth because they’re afraid of Big Bad Bush huffing and puffing:

Democrats said they did not relish the prospect of leaving Washington for a Memorial Day break — the second recess since the financing fight began — and leaving themselves vulnerable to White House attacks that they were again on vacation while the troops were wanting. That criticism seemed more politically threatening to them than the anger Democrats knew they would draw from the left by bowing to Mr. Bush.

Ooh, ooh, quiver in fear. Geez, if you haven’t realized now that, especially against this administration, the best defense is a good offense, you probably NEVER will.

Meanwhile, we have bullshit coming from the mouthpiece of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi:
But scores of other Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, say they have no intention of voting for the more than $100 billion sought by the White House for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan because Mr. Bush refused to accede to timelines, readiness standards and other conditions. They have said repeatedly since taking control in January that they will not turn over more money for the war without some movement toward a withdrawal.

In allowing the war money measure to reach the floor with indifferent backing from her own party, Ms. Pelosi is breaking one of the cardinal rules of her predecessor, J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, whose mantra was to legislate with the majority of the majority party.

“She is showing she is the speaker of the whole House,” said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi. “Even though she does not personally support it, she said the money will go to the troops and she is following through on that.”

No, Mr. Daly, she’s showing how much of a squish she is. If she doesn’t get a Democratic primary opponent in 2008, I will personally send money to a Green opponent in the general election, if I can.

Meanwhile, right now, the bottom-line question in the other chamber is if any Senate Democrat, Feingold if not Dodd, will stand up on the floor and do an old-fashioned filibuster, as Keith Olbermann has already starting clamoring for.

Cross-posted atSocraticGadfly.





There's more: "Democrats: Quivering in fear of “Big Bad Bush”" >>

Democrats: Send the original Iraq funding bill, with this message

To riff on Uncle Ronnie, the Dems need to turn to the politics of hope. Send the same damn original funding bill, or something similar, back to Bush with these comments:

“Americans, we, the Democratic Congressional leadership, along with principled Republicans, offer Americans in general, and especially our soldiers and their families, the hope of returning home after a job well done, given the constraints of their operations.

“This Administration, on the other hand, preaches the politics of despair by saying, time after time, it has no idea when it can even get our troops out of Iraq. It preaches the politics of despair by continually trying to redefine what our troops’ mission is. It preaches the politics of despair by continuing to play on Americans’ emotions with these redefinitions.

“We offer the politics of hope. If the President has a better idea of what hope to offer Americans, we encourage him to show it now.”




There's more: "Democrats: Send the original Iraq funding bill, with this message" >>

“Support the troops” a no-win proposition


Over at Washington Monthly, there’s a package of stories from recent war veterans on how Democratic presidential candidates might get their vote.

There’s also an in-depth analysis by Spencer Ackerman as to why those candidates shouldn’t be looking to the troops to guide their decisions, ultimately.

Spencer Ackerman's article is more important than any of the soldiers' stories in the package. He explains why “support the troops” short of “bring ’em home” is a no-win, for one thing:

Democrats have made the decision — rightly, I think — that withdrawing from Iraq is the least bad of many bad options. But they shouldn’t kid themselves into thinking that a majority of the troops doing the fighting agree with them. For soldiers like Lieutenant Wellman, this will be hard to accept. As he told me of war doubters back home, “I don’t want them to just support the troops. I want them to support the mission.”

Ackerman indicates from enlisteds through noncoms into the corps of officers, a clear majority of boots on the ground still feel this way.

He touches on some of the reasons, which I’ll go into more.

First, too many soldiers have, to put it bluntly, some degree of ADDICTION to fighting after multiple tours in Iraq. (Note Ackerman quoting a soldier about having a “hard-on” about the possibility of killing alleged terrorists.

And yes, I do believe it’s a psychological addiction. In many cases, there’s at least the beginnings of post-traumatic stress disorder behind the development.

Plus, as Ackerman also notes, and as I agree, the “boots on the ground” have a narrow, sector-localized understanding of what is “successful.” Throw in the bar of “success” continually being lowered, and to take the addiction metaphor further, Democrats risk becoming “enablers.”

The idea of “support the troops” in any way short of supporting getting them home ASAP, because “the troops” still want to fight, is a losing proposition.

Democrats, already labeled as “out of touch with the military,” may be uncomfortable with what would appear to be a patronizing position, that “the troops don’t always know best.” But, that’s the bottom line. The key, though, as Ackerman notes, is to support the troops psychologically when they get back to America. Beyond adequate funding of Veterans Administration psychological treatment, this includes stressing that they never failed in their mission, but that the mission itself was a failure of design.

Cross-posted at SocraticGadfly.





There's more: "“Support the troops” a no-win proposition" >>

Novak: This “surrender” is it for Congressional Dems on Iraq

And, forget about next year, he says:

President Bush has won a rare showdown victory over Congress simply because Democrats felt they could not afford the risk of letting a war in progress run out of money. The Democrats' problem is that this demonstrates conclusively that they are all talk on the Iraq War — a fact that their base will quickly realize. There is no way for Congress to end the war short of cutting off funds, and to cut off funds without the consent of the President is to invite a repeat of exactly the same showdown the Democrats have now already lost.

Agreed that the bottom line is another showdown. So, fine, let’s have it. More than once, if necessary.

Novak goes on to say that if Democrats won’t do more this year, they certainly won’t next year:
The bottom line is that Democrats have passed on their best chance to end the Iraq War. If they are not willing to take a risk here in a non-election year in order to force Bush to end the war, then they certainly do not have what it takes to cut off war funds in the coming presidential election year.

I totally agree. We need real action, not noise-making and posturing. However, I’m not optimistic about what we will actually get, versus what we need.

Cross-posted at SocraticGadfly.




There's more: "Novak: This “surrender” is it for Congressional Dems on Iraq" >>

Democratic Leadership Betrayal: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet


Dick Cheney Dems Plan to Hide Votes On Iraq TODAY

Today is the day House Democrats are expected to vote on Iraq - except, news out of Washington this morning says the leadership has come up with a nifty little trick to try to prevent the public from seeing who voted for giving Bush a blank check, and who voted against it. If you thought Democrats were behaving like cowards by caving into a President at a three-decade low in presidential polling and giving him the very blank check they explicitly promised not to give him during the 2006 election, you ain't seen nothing yet. We are watching the rise of the Dick Cheney Democrats - that is, the rise of Democrats who endorse governing in secret and hiding the public's business from the public itself.





There's more: "Democratic Leadership Betrayal: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" >>

When Does the Filibuster Start?

David Sirota asks Anyone Know When the Senate Filibuster Starts? WHERE'S THE BEEF? After all Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd are strongly denouncing the Harry Reid Surrender Bill (Er the War Funding Supplemental.) Surely the two of them could tag team an old Mr. Smith goes to Washington style filibuster to at least slow things down a bit. This morning Jerome Armstrong over at MyDD speculates that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will vote against the Harry Reid Surrender Bill. That makes 4 Senators to tag team a filibuster. I suspect that eventually all the Democratic Senators running for President will vote no on the Harry Reid Surrender Bill. That should be sufficient number of Senators to at least put up a fight. Jesus, if Senator Kyl could quietly stop the repeal of the Patriot Act provision at the center of the US Attorney firing scandal for months, then surly a bunch of big name senators wanting our votes and money to help them in their runs for President should be able to at least grab some headlines.

Any bets that they do it? With the exception of Russ Feingold, whose position is principled, the rest will moan and groan and vote a very polite and public "no" in hopes of keeping the support of the majority of folks who are fed up with the war, but in the end they won't do anything that might succeed or even call shame on their colleagues. Surrender monkeys are like that.

Oh you might want to follow that Sirota link. He has found and posted the old "Where's the Beef" commercial. A classic.

Cross posted from Watching Those We Chose




There's more: "When Does the Filibuster Start?" >>

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Body recovered from Euphrates that of missing American soldier

The body clad in American Army BDU’s pulled from the Euphrates River on Wednesday has been identified as Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, California. Spc. Anzarack was one of three Americans captured in a nighttime raid on the position held by a squad of eight Americans on May 12.

That coordinated strike left four soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter dead; and three were taken captive. Intense effort has been applied to retrieving the three Americans alive over the past ten days.

"They told us, 'We're sorry to inform you the body we found has been identified as Joe,'" said the soldier's aunt, Debbie Anzack. "I'm in disbelief."

The abduction and death of Specialist Anzack follows a rumor that he had been killed in combat about a month ago. The rumor circulated that the Army Gunner had died, and a message on the school's MySpace page read "In Loving Memory Joseph Anzack Class of 2005." His father contacted the Red Cross about the rumors, and his commanders were able to get him to a phone so he could call home and assuage his parents worst fears.

Fate is a cruel bitch indeed.

The soldiers still missing are Pvt. Byron Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich. and Spc. Alex Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass. They are/were all members if the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade combat team, home based at Ft. Drum New York. The 10th Mountain has mounted intensive search and rescue operations, and two soldiers have been killed pursuing the rescue of their comrades in arms.

The discovery of the body cast a long shadow over the hometowns of the three missing soldiers. Without bodies, there is hope. With the recovery of Spc. Anzack’s body, it is harder to hold out hope for the safe return of the other soldiers.

But here is hoping for their safe return.


[Cross-Posted from Blue Girl, Red State & Watching Those We Chose]




There's more: "Body recovered from Euphrates that of missing American soldier" >>

President Tarantino on Terrorism



Yeah, I grasp that, Jules. All I'm doing is contemplating the ifs.
I don't wanna hear about no motherfuckin' ifs. All I wanna hear from your ass is, "You ain't got no problem, Jules. I'm on the motherfucker. Go back in there and chill them niggers out and wait for the cavalry, which should be coming directly."
You ain't got no problem, Jules. I'm on the motherfucker. Go back in there and chill them niggers out and wait for the Wolf, who should be coming directly.
You sendin' the Wolf?
Oh, you feel better, motherfucker?
Shit, yeah, negro. That's all you had to say.


News flash: al-Qaida’s in Iraq. Pass it on and tell the Wolfowitz since he‘s free now. He’ll hose us all and save us in the process.

You have to admit it takes a lot of chutzpah for anyone, including President Tarantino, to be playing the terror card in a non-election year. Because, according to him, "In the minds of al-Qaida leaders, 9/11 was just a down payment on violence yet to come." In other words, expect worse and you’d better keep voting Republican in ’08 unless you want another September 11th and then some.

Forget the fact that 9/11 happened on his and the GOP’s sleepy watch, forget the fact that our invasion and endless occupation of Iraq has, according to all 16 of our intelligence agencies, made us more vulnerable to terrorism than ever before. They’ll follow us to our shores like psychotic puppy dogs and strike terror into our hearts only worse!

Oh, and vote Republican in ’08.

And please ignore the fact that bin Laden got away time and again on my watch, that he has unconditional safe haven courtesy of one of our tyrant allies and that we’re letting the Taliban take back key cities and provinces in Afghanistan and that we’ve had going on seven years to help rid the world of terrorism and have only swelled their ranks. All them inconvenient partisan facts make for a slippery slope.

But the fact that al-Qaida is in Iraq, a fact that didn’t exist prior to the invasion, certainly is news to me. Iraq has proven to be flypaper to terrorists and only a psychopath like George W. Bush would use that as a rationale for staying in a country that is slowly supplanting its fleeing population with terrorists.

So let’s indefinitely keep the troops in a country that plainly doesn’t want them, and while we’re at it, let’s extend their tours of duty from twelve to fifteen months, cut their VA funding, send in more and more wounded troops and then deny them a 3.5% pay hike because we’d have to shell out an extra twenty cents a day. Yes, that’s what the difference is between 3% and 3.5%. Six dollars a month or twenty cents a day.

Fortunately, the newly empowered Democratic Congress is only too happy to oblige since they just took even non-binding troop withdrawal timetables off the table. Who’d a thunk it, that the Republican party would ever be right about anything?

The Democrats have stranded the troops.





There's more: "President Tarantino on Terrorism" >>

Keith Olbermann: "The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided... tomorrow. "


The entire government has failed us on Iraq:

Few men or women elected in our history—whether executive or legislative, state or national—have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear:

Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution—half a year gathering the strands of public support; translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, the Democrats have managed only this:
  • The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president—if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history—who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats “give the troops their money”;

  • The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans;

  • The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.

  • The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised, are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave, and doomed, friends, and family, in Iraq.
You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions—Stop The War—have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.
...
The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided... tomorrow.
...
Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to—for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops—denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.






There's more: "Keith Olbermann: "The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided... tomorrow. "" >>

Don’t Think of a U.S. Soldier, Unarmed, Abandoned in Iraq’s Civil War!


By Jeff Cohen, AfterDowningStreet.org

One need not be a linguist like George Lakoff to know that it’s hard to win a debate on the other guy’s assumptions. Or worse, the other guy’s lies.

For years Team Bush has sought to shroud their devastating and deepening Iraq occupation in the myth of troop protection. When they doled out contracts to Halliburton and Blackwater, it was about “funding the troops.” Even as VA health services were threatened, it was about “funding the troops.” Every yearly extension of the Iraq occupation is about “funding the troops.”

As Democratic leaders in Congress moved to hoist the white flag of surrender this week – giving Bush/Cheney billions more for Iraq without any timeline for withdrawal – we heard Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly assuring the media that before Memorial Day, “We will have legislation to fund the troops!”

The shared pretense of the White House and Democratic leaders is that funding the Iraq occupation is somehow a program on behalf of the troops. Like a subsidy for family farmers.

Instead of challenging this misleading rhetoric by saying “The only way to support the troops is by ending an unwinnable occupation and fully funding a safe withdrawal,” Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid proclaims, “We will never abandon our troops in a time of war.” Along with the utterly confused: “No one wants us to succeed in Iraq more than the Democrats.”

What Democrats need to be saying, repeatedly, is that it’s Bush/Cheney who abandoned several thousand U.S. troops to avoidable deaths in a disastrous occupation, and tens of thousands to horrible injuries. And that they’re willing to abandon still more troops to unnecessary death and injury. Democrats also need to talk about polls that consistently show most U.S. troops in Iraq support withdrawal, as do most Iraqis.

As Military Families Speak Out says: “Funding the war is not supporting our troops. The way to support our troops is to bring them home now and take care of them when they get here.”

Yet Democratic leaders are helping Bush/Cheney win the linguistic argument by pledging they won’t “abandon the troops.” The image Republicans want to plant in our head is that of a U.S. solider abandoned, unarmed on an Iraqi mean street. And that’s exactly the image Democratic rhetoric keeps reinforcing. They’re on the “Don’t Think of an Elephant!” defensive.

I’m well aware that recent Congressional proposals to withdraw combat troops did not win a majority (receiving 171 votes in the House and 29 in the Senate) – let alone the 2/3 needed to override a Bush veto. But one reason for their defeats is that Democrats are fighting the Iraq debate on enemy terrain.

Another reason is that dozens of Democrats in Congress, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, seem bent on endless war. With such Democrats, don’t bother challenging their rhetoric. Better to challenge them in next year’s primaries.

* *

Jeff Cohen http://jeffcohen.org is a media critic, recovering TV pundit, and a consultant for Progressive Democrats of America http://pdamerica.org His latest book is Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.





There's more: "Don’t Think of a U.S. Soldier, Unarmed, Abandoned in Iraq’s Civil War!" >>

Impeachment vs. American “violent self-righteousness”


Gary Kamiya at Salon gets right to the point, in my opinion, about why impeachment hasn’t gained Democratic party traction yet:

To impeach Bush would force us to directly confront our national core of violent self-righteousness -- come to terms with it, understand it and reject it. And we're not ready to do that.

To paraphrase, Democrats still want “imperialism lite.” (That was my biggest complaint about Andrew Bacevich’s “The New American Militarism,” is that it left the idea of “imperialism lite” on the table. The second complaint was that it never touched Peak Oil, which of course ties directly to Iraq. But, I digress.)

Kamiya goes on to talk about impeachment as an emotional, not a legal, maneuver. I agree, with the idea that the emotional fragility beneath Bush’s smirky shell can and should be “pushed.”
Read below the fold for more of Kamiya’s article and my comments:


Going beyond the Democratic Party, Kamiya says that Bush’s war crimes cut too close to the American quick for the public to really be ready for impeachment.
To impeach Bush would force us to directly confront our national core of violent self-righteousness — come to terms with it, understand it and reject it. And we're not ready to do that.

He adds that much of the public just isn’t ready to change its minds that much:
The unpleasant truth is that Bush did what a lot of Americans wanted him to. And when it became clear after the fact that Bush had lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, it made no sense for those Americans to turn on him. Truth was never their major concern anyway — revenge was. And if we took revenge on the wrong person, well, better a misplaced revenge than none at all.

For those who did not completely succumb to the desire for primitive vengeance but were convinced by Bush's fraudulent arguments about the threat posed by Saddam, the situation is more ambiguous. Now that his arguments have been exposed and the war has become a disaster, they feel let down, even betrayed — but not enough to motivate them to call for Bush's impeachment.

Kamiya says he thinks this is also why other items, such as the fired district attorneys/vote fraud scandal, have failed to build more steam.

Kamiya goes on to point out that the public’s original carte blanche for Bush’s Iraq invasion means that impeachment as a legal measure will never gain traction, and that it may not, as an emotional issue, gain much more traction.

Because of that, he says this is part of why Bush continues to play the war card. It keeps at least a few emotional props braced in place.

That, in turn, means that “retreat” on war funding bills is not just the wrong option, it’s the wrong option in spades. Why? It fails to further dial up the emotional thermostat. Given the emotional fragility that seems to lurk beneath this president’s smirky shell, as any halfway astute observer knows, the Democratic Congressional leadership’s failure to push harder becomes more incomprehensible all the time.

Cross-posted at SocraticGadfly.





There's more: "Impeachment vs. American “violent self-righteousness”" >>

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Rationalizing Grievous Mistakes


Big Tent Democrat at Talkleft, Tue May 22, 2007

In March of this year, I had many a battle with Netroots leaders on the Iraq Supplemental. Today, I think any fair person would say that I was right and they were wrong.

But the Netroots leaders won't admit their mistakes or even try to learn from their mistakes. Here is an example of the disingenuous rationalizing we are sure to see from them:

For some progressives, there seems to be a desire to pounce on anything negative, compromising, or seemingly right-wing the Democratic Party might do as a means of justifying their wish to keep a distance from the Democratic Party, or even from contemporary electoral politics altogether. This perspective seems to me to be based on having higher expectations for the Democratic Party in the short term than I do, and a general unwillingness to associate with the Democratic Party until it reaches those expectations, rather than working within the party to help it reach those expectations.
What a crock. No one wants to distance themselves from the Democratic Party. But we understand that politicians understand PRESSURE, and very little else. Indeed, the writer and his web site was pressuring the Out of Iraq caucus members in the House to vote for the horrible Iraq supplemental bill. His expectations were not the problem, rather his poor judgment on the matter. One could read this type of sophistry from the DLC. I repeat, what a crock.

But there is more:
By way of contrast, from my perspective, the negative, right-wing compromises people point out in the Democratic Party are simply a given, as they are reflective of long-standing power imbalances that have gone unchecked by those who wish to withdrawal from the Democratic Party and electoral politics.
More rationalizing nonsense. Instead of just admitting his and his web site's mistakes, this writer chooses to be a mindreader, and a bad one at that. Those who wish to withdrawal from Iraq DO NOT want to withdraw from the Democratic Party. They want to shape it up. The writer screwed up in his approach and now those who got it right are subject to false smears from him. How low will he go? Lower:
From this vantage point, anything the Democratic Party accomplishes beyond negative, right-wing compromises is a positive sign of the improving situation within the Democratic Party caused by increasing and more effective progressive involvement within the party.
Nonsense. The writer and his web site were part of the sit down and shut up shouting that the progressive elements got from him, and Meyerson and Move On and many, many others. He and his web site said their way was the best way to end the war. Well, it wasn't. And now he writes this? What a crock.

And listen to the self congratulation for prior successes:
I never thought we would, for example, manage to kick Joe Lieberman out of the party, force Democrats to run against the Iraq war, and then send a bill with a withdrawal timeline to Bush's desk. Just eighteen months before Bush vetoed the Iraq Accountability Act, Rahm Emanuel refused to even mention Iraq in televised interviews, Joe Lieberman was penning Iraq op-eds in the Wall Street Journal on behalf of Democrats, and fewer than a dozen Senators supported a timeline for withdrawal. When placed in the broad context of the American political struggle over war in Iraq, starting in early 2002 with the drumbeat and continuing straight through to the fight over the Iraq supplemental, progressives clearly have the momentum, and the Democratic Party is moving in a progressive direction.
And how did that happen? By not letting hometeamism overcome our judgment. The writer and his web site failed miserably in March of this year precisely because they FORGOT how all those things were accomplished. I have made that point many times and precisely what I feared about Netroots cooptation happened on the most important issue of the day.

Finally, the congitive dissonance takes over:
It is important to have regular discussion between progressives whose first inclination is to defend the Democratic Party on the grounds of pragmatic, long-term progress, and those progressive whose first inclination is to attack it for failure to reach lofty expectations in the short-term. Without perspective both on what lefty progressives are aiming for, and on how that can be achieved, both the Realpolitk and Sturm und Dang groups can quickly lose their way.
There are no such groupings. See, this writer simply will not take accountability for HIS and his web site's mistakes. He tries to make it some broader question. It is not a broader question. He and many others screwed up. Those of us who opposed his approach did so because we thought the situation through, not because of kneejerk anti-Dem Partyism. This outrageous apologia show us what is wrong with the Netroots - selfish, self absorbed, unthinking and unwilling to admit mistakes.
If things end up going badly in the Iraq supplemental fight this week . . I hope this is something everyone in the progressive movement remembers.
If? Will the writer remember what he and his web site did in March to help lead to this failure? Will he admit their mistakes and remember not to repeat them?

And the final self-congratulation:
While a watered down bill that funds the war through September . . . we have still made tremendous progress by working within the party these past few years. At the same time, it would be wrong to declare total victory and reserve any criticism of our performance to date.
Don't worry, I'll remember to criticize. And I'll do it in earnest, not this little disingenuous piece that this writer delivered.





There's more: "Rationalizing Grievous Mistakes" >>

My favorite columnist, officially spied upon over Iraq


Ted Rall says it is so.

THIS, my dear Bush-lickers, is why I oppose warrantless domestic wiretapping. If I had a bigger name and circulation, it could have been me, not Ted Rall. Read below the break for more about what the government has been doing to him:

The Republican Party held its 2004 convention at Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan, a few miles north of Ground Zero. The 9/11 attacks had occurred less than three years earlier. If you'd been running the New York Police Department, what would have been your top concern? Terrorism. Mine too. Obviously.

The NYPD, however, wasn't worried about Al Qaeda. For them, the real threat to law and order were anti-Bush protesters. Of course, it's a given that demonstrations occur at every party convention. After 9/11, however, First Amendment-protected activism was anathema to our government. Officials sought to suppress all dissent, no matter how peaceful or innocuous. So they spied on celebs scheduled to participate in anti-RNC protests, including the rappers Jay-Z and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, and on R&B singer Alicia Keys.

And Ted Rall.

According to The New York Times, “hundreds of pages of documents relating to [the NYPD’s] security preparations” released in response to a federal judge’s order show that “undercover officers attended meetings of political groups, posing as sympathizers or fellow activists, and infiltrated chat rooms. Although they identified a few people who talked about disrupting the convention, they also monitored many more people who showed no intention of breaking the law.” The Times identifies me as one of the three “highlights from the police intelligence digests”:

"A November 13, 2003 digest noting the Web site of the editorial cartoonist and activist Ted Rall. 'Activists are talking, some with barely hidden glee, about the possibility of violence', an officer wrote, describing the postings on Mr. Rall’s site.” ...
More baffling, the security “experts” totally missed the point. I didn't call for violence; I suggested avoiding the possibility of mayhem at a time that politics had turned poisonous, by moving the Republican National Convention to another, less liberal city. (The NYPD dossier repeatedly attributes quotes to me that are actually me quoting others, a glaring error that the Times repeats, presumably because the paper doesn't have access to Google.)

My original October 28, 2003 column couldn't have been more clearly opposed to violence. “As a Manhattanite,” I wrote, “I hope that the Republicans will seriously consider moving their convention somewhere else...The risk of convention-related terrorist attacks should be reason enough to not hold it in a city that paid the highest price on 9/11. A revival of 1968, with cops fouling their batons with the blood of young people, wouldn't do anyone — left or right — any good.”

Government agencies began spying on me shortly after 9/11. I have repeatedly suffered service interruptions — loud static, whispered voices, even outages — at the hands of a government whose laughably inept phone-tapping skills match its inability to respond to a hurricane or tornado. Finally, a security official at Verizon confirmed that my telephone had been tapped. “That’s already more than I should have told you,” he explained, requesting anonymity. “Under the Patriot Act we're not allowed to inform our customers about intercepts.”

Eventually I was seeing my local Verizon repair guy, who was repeatedly being summoned to my home to restore service, more often than my best friend. So I was naturally suspicious when I caught an unfamiliar man, no uniform or badge, fiddling with the posts in my building’s phone box. “Who are you and what are you doing?” I demanded. The dude knocked me down and bolted out a door into an alley. Giving chase, I watched him drive off an unmarked white van with U.S. government plates.

Why, why, does this not at all shock me?

And, what I said by way of intro? I wrote against the war staring in the summer of 2002, in print, in my small suburban Dallas newspaper chain of weeklies columns. I wrote against a “Patriot Act” three weeks after 9/11. Were I in New York, with a bigger media footprint, like Rall’s, I don’t doubt the government would have spied on me, too.





There's more: "My favorite columnist, officially spied upon over Iraq" >>

Reid Surrenders

Doug Mills/The New York Times

“Congressional Democrats relented today on their insistence that a war spending measure sought by President Bush also set a date for withdrawing troops from Iraq. The decision to back down, described by senior lawmakers and aides, was a wrenching reversal for some Democrats, who saw their election triumph as a call to force an end to the war.”
“We don’t have a veto-proof Congress,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the House Democratic majority leader, said the new bill was still being assembled, but he acknowledged the political reality facing Democrats. “The president has made it very clear that he is not going to sign timelines,” said Mr. Hoyer. “We can’t pass timelines over his veto.”
So what? The American people want the troops home. NOW.

The American people want timelines. NOW. Let aWol keep vetoing the bill. It's HIS FRICKING WAR! Let him OWN IT!!! If aWol refuses to accept the will of the American people, you know...the people he and Congress WORK FOR...then aWol is not supporting the troops. Democrats should continue to pass appropriation bills with timelines. Over and over and over, if necessary. aWol would take the political heat, not Democrats. Why is that so difficult to understand?

At least
Russ Feingold contines to get it:
“Under the President’s Iraq policies, our military has been over-burdened, our national security has been jeopardized, and thousands of Americans have been killed or injured. Despite these realities, and the support of a majority of Americans for ending the President’s open-ended mission in Iraq, congressional leaders now propose a supplemental appropriations bill that does nothing to end this disastrous war. I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks and that allows the President to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history. There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action. Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq.”
Emphasis mine. And Paul Krugman states the case more eloquently than I--"Confronting Mr. Bush on Iraq has become a patriotic duty":
Since the beginning, the administration has refused to put funding for the war in its regular budgets. Instead, it keeps saying, in effect: “Whoops! Whaddya know, we’re running out of money. Give us another $87 billion.” ...

What I haven’t seen sufficiently emphasized, however, is the disdain this practice shows for the welfare of the troops, whom the administration puts in harm’s way without first ensuring that they’ll have the necessary resources.

As long as a G.O.P.-controlled Congress could be counted on to rubber-stamp the administration’s requests, you could say that this wasn’t a real problem, ... just part of its usual reliance on fiscal smoke and mirrors. But this time Mr. Bush decided to surge additional troops into Iraq after an election in which the public overwhelmingly rejected his war — and then dared Congress to deny him the necessary funds. As I said, it’s an act of hostage-taking.

Actually, it’s even worse than that. According to reports, the final version of the funding bill ... won’t even set a hard deadline for withdrawal..., only an “advisory,” nonbinding date. Yet Mr. Bush plans to veto the bill all the same — and will then accuse Congress of failing to support the troops.

The whole situation brings to mind what Abraham Lincoln said ... in 1860, about secessionists who blamed the critics of slavery for the looming civil war: “A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, ‘Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!’ ”

So how should Congress respond to Mr. Bush’s threats? ... Confronting Mr. Bush on Iraq has become a patriotic duty.
Democrats won control of both Houses of Congress with a mandate to change things. The Republican-controlled Congress did nothing against aWol's wishes. The Dems should make the changes. It's their patriotic duty.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., co-founder of the liberal Out of Iraq Caucus, said she will vote against the new measure and predicted that many of colleagues will join her.

"Every time we negotiate, it (the bill) becomes weaker," said Woolsey, D-Calif. "This is a Republican bill, so it better be Republican votes that pass it."
Woolsey's right, no one should vote for this thing. It's a Republican bill, let them pass it.

I'm with Blue Girl.
If this passes the House, there will be an electoral bloodbath in November of 2008, and the carcasses of Republican and Democrat alike will litter the landscape.
Damn straight.




There's more: "Reid Surrenders" >>

Surrender Should Have Consequences

We didn't hire Pelosi, Reid and the rest to surrender. I say anybody who votes for this Iraq War Funding bill should not receive a dime from any Democrat, anywhere. I don't care if the congresscritter who votes for the bill is your mother, or you husband, not a dime.

We, the people, elected the Democratic Congress to stand tall. We didn't elect them to surrender. We could have done that with the Republicans we had. If millions of Americans stand up and tell their congress members that they won't get a dime if they vote for the bill, at least they will have been warned. It is time for us to exercise the power of the purse-ours. Pass it on. Pass it on to everybody in the Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus. Pass it on to everybody you know.

Maybe I will calm down, but I don't think so. It is time to act now.




There's more: "Surrender Should Have Consequences" >>

An Open Letter to Congressman Cleaver (and every sitting congresscritter, for that fact)

Congressman Cleaver;


I know I am a pain-in-the-ass constituent. I admit that freely - wear it as a badge of honor, in fact.

I am also fed up with this feckless president that has brought our country low. I simply will not abide a congress that enables him. He needs to be impeached, not placated for fucks sake.

I am just a humble-blogger – but I am getting less humble about it every day.

The hell with the press – they are all bought and paid for. We are actually watching you, We are actually reading the policy papers and We are actually writing about your records from the public record. We are unconcerned with “access” because we don’t have any; and for the record - veracity doesn't need a bio (or a byline for that fact).

I issue a friendly warning now – any Representative that backs this apostasy of a funding bill with no timelines – especially in light of the Iraqi parliament backing withdrawal plans with timelines – will face the wrath of the blogs. And any Representative that does not take that seriously is in for a rude awakening.

If this passes the House, there will be an electoral bloodbath in November of 2008, and the carcasses of Republican and Democrat alike will litter the landscape. The way the system is gamed, we are a two-party system, and only a perfect storm of feckless perfidy will change that.


Say hello to Unity 08 and the Progressives.


Check the calendar. It’s storm season.



[Cross-Posted from Blue Girl, Red State & Watching Those We Chose]




There's more: "An Open Letter to Congressman Cleaver (and every sitting congresscritter, for that fact)" >>

Democratic leadership DID cave


And, without any Bush guarantees.

That’s the worst part. It’s not compromise, it’s retreat:

White House spokesman Tony Snow declined to comment on items that might be in the proposed bill.

“I don’t want to say yes or no to any of these things. I’m just going to say, ‘No comment,’ “ Snow said.


Democrats may claim they’ve added a minimum-wage rider (still no COLA for that, but that’s yet another story) and other domestic programs, but what if this gets vetoed, too? How much further do you fall back?

And, “benchmarks with consequences,” as the CNN story says? What consequences? Hand-slaps? What teeth do they have?

People like Reid and Pelosi knew they were backpedaling when the rumors started coming out yesterday.

That’s the sad part. They expect people to believe they’re really, really trying hard. It’s kind of like somebody at TPM said: Send Bush the same damn bill, or something close to it, at least, and let him keep vetoing it.




Update: Feingold is calling them out.




There's more: "Democratic leadership DID cave" >>

The Shell-Game is Afoot



At the rate things are going, we may well see a doubling of combat troops in Iraq by Christmas, regardless of what General Petraeus reports in September.

By stepping up deployments and extending tours, the number of combat troops will nearly double, from 52,500 to 98,000 - and total troops in the theater of operations will rise to over 200,000. That is more troops than have been deployed to the war in Iraq since the invasion in March of 2003.

"It doesn't surprise me that they're not talking about it," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William Nash, a former U.S. commander of NATO troops in Bosnia, referring to the Bush administration. "I think they would be very happy not to have any more attention paid to this."

And just in time for Congress to roll over and tell him the lube won't be necessary.


[Cross-posted from Blue Girl, Red State & Watching Those We Chose]




There's more: "The Shell-Game is Afoot" >>

Shenanigans!!!


You pretty much know that this story is bullshit because it came from the Guardian, and I was all set to give it a proper fisking, but why bother?

Juan Cole already did – and he is way smarter than I am, so through the miracle of Copy-Paste-I present it to you:

I suppose I have to link to this silly article by poor Simon Tisdall in of all places, The Guardian, whom someone is using to push a sinister agenda. Yes, its sources are looney in positing a coming offensive jointly sponsored by Iran, the Mahdi Army and al-Qaeda. Anyone who reads IC regularly will see immediately holes in this story. At a time when Sunni Arab guerrillas are said to be opposing "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia" for its indiscriminate violence against Iraqis, including Shiites, we are now expected to believe that Shiite Iran is allying with it. And, it claims that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are shelling the Green Zone. The parliament building that was hit to day by such shelling is dominated by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and its paramilitary, the Badr Organization. Who trained Badr? The Iranian Revolutionary Guards. And they are trying to hit their own guys . . . why? By the way, the US has 16,000 suspected insurgents in custody. Tisdall should ask how many of them are Iranian. (Hint: close to none. What, do they just run faster than the others?) The article even traffics in the ridiculous assertion that Iran is backing hyper-Sunni, Shiite-killing Taliban in Afghanistan. Why not just cut to the quick and openly say that Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei is in reality . . . Satan! It really is discouraging that Tisdall didn't report instead on what crazy things the US military spokesmen in Iraq told him. US military spokesmen have been trying to push implausible articles about Shiite Iran supporting Sunni insurgents for a couple of years now, and with virtually the sole exception of the New York Times, no one in the journalistic community has taken these wild charges seriously. But The Guardian?

Does anyone else see a reprise of the Cheneyesque “Office of Special Plans” that cooked up the lies to launch the Iraq War? Seriously – Cheney makes a visit to the Middle East, and a week later a British rag drops scurrilous and totally outrageous allegations to try to whip up American war fervor?


I call shenanigans.



And oh, yeah...

ITMFA!!!




There's more: "Shenanigans!!!" >>

More WaPo crap on Iraq

[cross-posted at And, yes, I DO take it personally]

yesterday it was fred hiatt, today it's david ignatius...

President Bush and his senior military and foreign policy advisers are beginning to discuss a "post-surge" strategy for Iraq that they hope could gain bipartisan political support. The new policy would focus on training and advising Iraqi troops rather than the broader goal of achieving a political reconciliation in Iraq, which senior officials recognize may be unachievable within the time available.

The revamped policy, as outlined by senior administration officials, would be premised on the idea that, as the current surge of U.S. troops succeeds in reducing sectarian violence, America's role will be increasingly to help prepare the Iraqi military to take greater responsibility for securing the country.

ok, one more time... let's look at the wording...

  • "post-surge" strategy
  • gain bipartisan political support
  • new policy would focus on training and advising
  • unachievable political reconciliation
  • time available
  • revamped policy
  • current surge succeeds in reducing sectarian violence
  • Iraqi military to take greater responsibility
and this is all in ONLY THE FIRST TWO PARAGRAPHS...! if you read further, it only gets worse...
  • "Sectarian violence is not a problem we can fix"
  • the administration is talking with Iran and Syria
  • the post-surge policy would track the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton report which the president now supports
  • policy adjustments must be made
  • an approach that would have sufficient bipartisan support so it could be sustained even after the Bush administration leaves office
  • build bipartisan support from Congress and the American public
and, yes, it goes on (and on and on and on) but i don't have the stomach for the rest, so let me just cut to the chase...

if you were an average schmoe, moderately but not exhaustively well-informed, who happened to read ignatius' op-ed piece, here is what i believe you would come away with...

  • the "surge" (not an escalation) that is taking place in iraq is not only temporary, it has a definite time limit, and its conclusion is close enough to begin detailed planning for what takes place afterward
  • the u.s. will still be in iraq after the surge is over
  • there is a serious desire on the part of the bush administration to craft a plan that would appeal to both political parties
  • focusing on training and advising is a "new" policy
  • the surge will succeed in reducing sectarian violence but political reconciliation cannot be achieved and the problem of sectarian violence cannot be fixed (huh...?)
  • the u.s. is in active discussions with iran and syria
  • george bush has changed his mind and now supports the recommendations of the iraq study group
  • george bush is flexible enough to see that his policies in iraq need to be changed
  • a plan can be crafted that will have the support of congress, the american people, and both political parties
  • the u.s. will still be in iraq when george bush leaves office
yes, i added comments to two of those conclusions... i can't help myself... but do you see how insidious this kind of journalism really is...? the washington post is in the best position of any newspaper in the world, with the possible exceptions of the new york times, the independent, the financial times, and the wall street journal, to influence and shape public opinion, and it is seriously abusing that power... a REAL opinion piece would clearly point out the following...

  • george bush has stonewalled all advice and input from other than his most loyal, bubble-protected, ideologically correct colleagues for six and one-half years
  • george bush chose to interpret the 2006 elections as a call for victory in iraq when it was precisely the opposite
  • george bush rejected the conclusions of the iraq study group out of hand immediately after it was issued, preferring instead to escalate the number of troops and exacerbate the violence of an already-violent situation
  • george bush has chosen to ignore the will of the american people to disengage from iraq as expressed in the 2006 elections, national polls, and congressional efforts
  • george bush wanted everyone to believe that the troop increase in iraq was both limited in numbers and in time when, in fact, it was neither
  • all efforts at "bipartisanship" have been rebuffed
  • george bush has consistently labeled the two countries that could potentially be the most helpful in stabilizing iraq, iran and syria, as part of the "axis of evil," has refused to engage in dialog with either, is covertly fostering a regime change strategy in both, and has repeatedly threatened to attack one of them
  • a plan that has the support of everyone (congress, democrats, republicans and the american people) that will be sustainable after the bush administration leaves office not only ignores the fact that formulating such a plan is impossible, but also that "the american people" have clearly said, in multiple forums, that remaining in iraq is not an option
as long as this is the kind of journalism our major media prefer to engage in, the opportunity for the american people to get an accurate picture of events and, as a result, to make the right choices as responsible citizens, is seriously diminished...





There's more: "More WaPo crap on Iraq" >>

Are The Democrats Going To Cave To The Commander Guy Or What?

On my way to the office this morning, I heard a story on NPR that Democrats were about to give the President a no strings Iraq funding bill. TPM and The New York Times are strongly denying the story. Apparently the Democratic leadership was ready to throw in the towel, but decided to pull back.

OK, Nancy, and all the rest of you fair weather Democrats in the Democratic leadership, here is the deal. We, the people, elected you guys in November, 2006, to stand up to the commander guy and get our asses out of Iraq. If you surrender to Bush on the war you can probably kiss the 60% to 70% of your support goodbye. Triangulate that.

John Edwards is right, send the President the same bill over and over again until he signs it. Right now he is making you look like fools.

Cross Posted from Watching Those We Chose




There's more: "Are The Democrats Going To Cave To The Commander Guy Or What?" >>

Monday, May 21, 2007


Dragon Skin Body Armor Part III

The other day I filed a couple of posts on body armor. People around WTWC wondered why. Well, I am all against optional war, but I am all for our war fighters. If we send people to fight, they deserve the very best in the way of equipment. "Not invented here" isn't an excuse.

NBC's May 20, 2007 report isn't out on YouTube yet. Well Part I is but it is mostly a reprise of the report originally posted at WTWC with a couple of interesting revelations. First, the Army's expert on Dragon Skin was not permitted to participate in the testing. Second, the Colonel who actually tested it has left the Army to go to work for the manufacturer of Interceptor Body Armor. As I said Part II of NBC Dateline report isn't up on YouTube yet. The transcript of NBC's test results show both systems are damn good, but the body armor that ultimately suffered catastrophic failure was the Interceptor Body Armor. You can see and read the May 20, 2007, story by Adam Ciralsky and Lisa Myers here.

Cross/Posted from Watching Those We Chose -- May 21, 2007 Video After the Break.
Searching around the net I found some pretty convincing video from the cable show FutureWeapons.

Part I

and

Part II



Maybe this is all hype, but considering the date problem, where the colonel went, the test results and what we have seen on these videos, I think it fair to say there is something goofy going on. Webb and Clinton's demand deserves real consideration.




There's more: "Dragon Skin Body Armor Part III" >>

Dems set war bill without Iraq timeline


Dems set war bill without Iraq timeline

In grudging concessions to President Bush, Democrats intend to draft an Iraq war-funding bill without a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and shorn of billions of dollars in spending on domestic programs, officials said Monday. While details remain subject to change, the measure is designed to close the books by Friday on a bruising veto fight between Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress over the war. It would provide funds for military operations in Iraq through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
A Measure of Morality in Congress
by David Swanson, March 22, 2007, when the current battle over supplemental funding for the Iraq Occupation began.
If you could secretly tell a magic genie "Yes" and suffer horribly and die but save the lives of a million people you've never met, would you say No? This one they don't even ask in philosophy school, much less Congress. But let's think about it for a minute. What's the worst fate a Congress Member could face as a result of voting against funding the war? For most it must be the loss of their seat. How horrible is that? Some of these congress members are freshmen, first elected last November campaigning on promises to end the war. Now they're prepared to vote $100 billion for the war in hopes of getting elected again in 2008. What in the hell did they want to get elected for in the first place? What district is going to receive less money if we end the war and redirect our spending to useful projects than if we continue the war but fund special pieces of pork here and there?





There's more: "Dems set war bill without Iraq timeline" >>

Parsing more WaPo/White House Iraq propaganda

[cross-posted at And, yes, I DO take it personally]

(i've taken to posting on how our media sucks us in to accepting things as fact that are anything but, and looking how words are used to take us there... today's wapo article on the highly dubious re-birth of the iraq study group, is a case in point...)

here we go... pushing the totally fallacious myth that bushco is in the least bit interested in a "bipartisan solution" in iraq... there are potential solutions aplenty floating around out there, and virtually the only ones that have the slightest chance of working involve GETTING THE HELL OUT...

After an initially tepid reception from policymakers, the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group are getting a second look from the White House and Congress, as officials continue to scour for bipartisan solutions to salvage the American engagement in Iraq.

With negotiations continuing this week on a new war funding bill, the administration is strongly signaling that it would accept the idea of requiring the Iraqi government to meet political benchmarks or else risk losing some assistance from the United States. That was one of the key proposals from the group headed by former secretary of state James A. Baker III and former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton, but it was initially dismissed by the White House when first proposed last December.

does anyone think for one single minute that bush is going to do a 180 and suddenly embrace the isg...? the disingenuousness is mind-boggling...

here's something else that musn't go unchallenged...

...scour for bipartisan solutions to salvage the American engagement...

where to start...? first of all, the word "scour" strongly implies that "solutions" are in short supply and that "bipartisan" solutions are desirable or even possible... uh, no... the only solutions that are in short supply are solutions that make sense AND totally meet the demands of the white house, not exactly the definition of bipartisanship, and the reason those are in short supply is because THERE AREN'T ANY... reasonable solutions and meeting the demands of the white house is a pure oxymoron, a contradiction in terms of the highest magnitude...

the second part of the snippet, "salvage the american engagement" clearly leads one to believe that the "engagement" is "salvageable," which it's not, that it must continue, which it shouldn't, and that the accomplishment of both is the most reasonable way to proceed, which is just plain crazy...




There's more: "Parsing more WaPo/White House Iraq propaganda" >>

Iraq parliament going on vacation? Leaders are mostly gone now


As Juan Cole notes, this can only add to the power vacuum. And, an expanded power vacuum is not good news for Iraq, nor an American military presence. Nor for an increasingly self-impotentizing Democratic Party leadership.

As Cole notes:

Nothing is likely to get done in their absence. Even under the best of circumstances, getting Talabani, Barzani, al-Hakim, al-Maliki and al-Hashimi all on the same page is nearly a miracle. But for the next few weeks it won't be possible at all.

By the way, Talabani and al-Hakim were among the closest allies of the US Neoconservatives, who Sarah Baxter says are in their twilight.

Will al-Maliki take advantage of this vacuum to grab more powers for the office of prime minister? So far he has not shown that kind of political savvy. But his predecessor, Ibrahim Jaafari, did try to make Talabani a merely ceremonial president. And, the weaker Da'wa Party may want to try to come up in the world now that the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council leadership is weakened.

Or, is it time for Moqtada al-Sadr to make his next move?

In any case, the draft oil law will continue to go nowhere (fortunately) in this vacuum. But, so too will the idea of an Iraqi government taking seriously ever more vapid and defanged Democratic Party “benchmarks for progress.”

Is it any wonder that, after a good starting point, Congress’ polling points continue to sink?




There's more: "Iraq parliament going on vacation? Leaders are mostly gone now" >>

Consider Iraqis' peace plans? Perish the thought!

[cross-posted at And, yes, I DO take it personally]

i mean, get real... oil is why we're in iraq, oil is why we're building up those giant permanent military bases, and oil is why we're constructing an embassy complex the size of vatican city to the tune of a half billion dollars... and it's not just iraqi oil we're after... iraq will serve as the principal base for efforts to destabilize iran so we can access it's oil resources too, and don't forget the caspian basin with all it's oil and gas resources, just a short flight away... why would we want to give all that up just to bring peace to iraq...?

from alternet...

[T]he Al Fadhila party, a Shi'ite party considered moderate by the (often arbitrary) standards of the commercial media, held a press conference, in which they offered a 23-point plan for stabilizing Iraq.

The plan addressed not only the current situation in Iraq -- acknowledging the legitimacy of Iraqi resistance, setting a timetable for a complete withdrawal of occupation troops and rebuilding the Iraqi government and security forces in a non-sectarian fashion -- but also the challenging mission of post-occupation peace-building and national reconciliation. It included provisions for disbanding militias, protecting Iraq's unity, managing Iraq's natural resources, building relationships with other countries based on mutual interest and the principle of non-intervention in domestic issues, and healing the wounds of more than 30 years of dictatorship, war, sanctions, and foreign occupation.

An online search shows that the peace plan was largely ignored by the Western commercial media.

[...]

Al Fadhila's peace plan was not the first one offered by Iraqi actors, nor the first to be ignored by the Anglo-American Coalition. More significant even than proposals made by Iraqi political parties are those put forth by the country's armed resistance groups --- the very groups that have the ability to bring a halt to the cycle of violence. [...] The plans vary on a number of points, but all of them shared a few items in common: the occupation forces must recognize them as legitimate resistance groups and negotiate with them, and the U.S. must agree to set a timetable for a complete withdrawal from Iraq.

[...]

But these plans are unacceptable to the Coalition because they A) affirm the legitimacy of Iraq's armed resistance groups and acknowledge that the U.S.-led coalition is, in fact, an occupying army, and B) return Iraq to the Iraqis, which means no permanent bases, no oil law that gives foreign firms super-sweet deals and no radical restructuring of the Iraqi economy.

the fact is, the u.s. isn't even INTERESTED in achieving peace... our government is merely going through the motions, trying to play out its lie of bringing democracy to the region... the only reason the bush administration is making ANY efforts toward stabilization is to insure the money keeps flowing... other than that, they simply don't care...




There's more: "Consider Iraqis' peace plans? Perish the thought!" >>

Another new voice

i've also been invited to lend my voice to this blog, and i'm pleased to be in such fine company... i won't promise daily posts, but, as things pop up (and they will), i'll try to remember to stick them up over here too... we're all struggling for the same ends, so every contribution matters... even if we reach only one reader and have an impact, i would consider my energy well-spent...

my own blog is called And, yes, I DO take it personally, and i know that several of you stop by from time to time... for those of you who haven't yet, feel free...

- profmarcus




There's more: "Another new voice" >>

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Chicago Sun-Times Op Ed: Dems Letting The Country Down On Iraq


Hat tip to Big Tent Democrat at Talkleft today for this.

Bring troops home now
Monroe Anderson, Chicago Sun-Times, May 20, 2007

We're waist-deep in George W. Bush's nightmarish Middle East misadventure as the new, theoretically empowered Democrats are difficult to distinguish from the old, hamstrung Dems of a year ago. They're still too timid.

Rather than deftly acting to bring the troops home, the Democrats continue their eye-shifting and throat-clearing while the killing and dying go on and on. Last week, the new majority party yielded to the oxymoron argument that we have to support the troops by keeping them in the line of fire. The Feingold-Reid Iraq Bill that would have cut the funding and thereby forced the president to bring the troops home was defeated Wednesday in the Senate. On a procedural vote, the proposal that would have cut off money for combat operations in Iraq after March 31 of next year fell 31 votes short of the number needed to advance, losing 29-67.

The bill was defeated even as three U.S. soldiers remain missing and the death toll in Iraq is rising. The bill was defeated even as our puppet Iraqi government continues with its plans for a two-month vacation while the American men and women serving in their country are getting three months added to their yearlong tours of duty. The bill was defeated even as reports of poor care at Walter Reed Hospital for the mounting number of wounded troops is barely yesterday's news.

The Americans who voted the Democrats into power have been let down. Instead of counting on the Democrats to deliver on their implicit promise to end the occupation, we continue to count the costs of not correcting Bush's calamitous course.
Read the whole thing...




There's more: "Chicago Sun-Times Op Ed: Dems Letting The Country Down On Iraq" >>

Seven More,,,,,,,





,,,,,,,

The Pentagon on Sunday confirmed the deaths of seven more soldiers. They were killed in two separate roadside bombing incidents, and raised to 71 the total number of Americans killed this month – 21 just since Thursday – as occupation forces move into neighborhoods and violence increases, and soldiers die, and the press continues, and the bombs explode and the violence spirals still upward and the bombs explode and soldiers die and blood runs in the streets.

,,,,,,,

From the Washington Post:



Military deaths have been rising since last fall, and the first half of this year has already been deadlier than any six-month period since the war began more than four years ago. According to iCasualties.org, 531 U.S. service members have been killed since Dec. 1, an average of more than three deaths a day, while 3,422 have died since the war began in March 2003.

The troops killed Saturday in Baghdad were part of an operation searching for weapons caches and bomb-making materials in the western part of the city over the past week "to aid in providing a more secure and safe environment for the Iraqi people," the military said in a statement.

,,,,,,,

Seven more.
,,,,,,,

Too many have died, and the reasons remain lies.
,,,,,,,

The time is long past to stop Bush's vanity war. Bring the troops home now.
,,,,,,,

They are not just ,,,,,,,





There's more: "Seven More,,,,,,," >>

Iraq Daily War Grief



I’m a bad liberal blogger. I forgot all about Armed Forces Day yesterday. I forgot that it was on the third Saturday of every May. Save for some bloggers this holiday also went mostly unobserved in the MSM. We as a nation, however regrettably, should’ve dropped our coverage of Paris Hilton’s 45 day sentence, Paul Wolfowitz’s shaming in Washington, DC not for getting over 3400 troops killed but for greed and cronyism. We should’ve started by commemorating the deaths of seven troops and a translator killed in Iraq on, with the hideous irony that stalks this administration like Henry Waxman, on Armed Forces Day.

I’m glad that some of us had mentioned that George W. Bush, our war preznit who’s trying to divest himself of whatever responsibilities he ever took on for Iraq by nominating a war lord, nixed a measly 3.5% pay hike for the troops as Armed Forces Day approached. Which isn’t surprising when one recalls that he’d actually proposed cutting their pay even as he was dropping them into Iraq’s meat grinder and has systematically cut VA funding and outsourced their patient care to the point of scandal.

Now, in case no one’s mentioned it yet, I’ll throw in my belated two cents by adding that in his weekly Saturday radio address to the nation, George W. Bush commemorated Armed Forces Day in the grand old style of the Grand Old Party by talking about… immigration. He never once mentioned Armed Forces Day, never mentioned Iraq, never mentioned Afghanistan. In fact, if you use the White House’s own search engine using the keywords “Armed Forces Day, 2007” the results will show two hits for National Day of Prayer, 2007 and nothing for yesterday’s holiday.

And that seems to approach the problem with this administration, if not actually get to the rotten heart of it, the role that religion plays in this government and in this war like a bad, hammy actor who isn’t talented enough for dinner theater in the Adirondacks. It’s the typical Appalachian type of Christianity that subscribes to Alexander Pope’s purely Republican dictum of “Whatever is, is right”, the type of Christianity in which blind faith supplants flexible, independent thinking.

It’s this blind faith in an unprovable deity that, perhaps more than anything else save for oil wealth, served as the rationale for dropping our pursuit of the Taliban and al Qaida in Afghanistan to run roughshod over one of the few Middle Eastern countries that had nothing to do with 9/11.

And despite being proved wrong time and again, despite his support being shaved down to the rock-hard, bare kernel of the 27% dead-enders that favor the Rapture and an Apocalypse over peace, our Crusader in Chief still cannot bring himself to admit that he was even wrong in the slightest on March 19, 2003 and every single day thereafter.





George W. Bush may be loath to mention the troops on Armed Forces Day and farm out the presidential duties of Veteran’s Day to Dick Cheney as he did in 2005 and even commemorating our troops both past and present has become at the very least an affair tinged with sadness.

But some people, in particular 3408 families, don’t have the luxury of selective memory and, as much as it hurts, still have to go to the burgeoning Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery and remember.




There's more: "Iraq Daily War Grief" >>

Better Than Sex?

Well, okay, nothing is better than sex, but this comes close.

I have been invited to add my voice to the chorus at the Out Of Iraq Bloggers Causus, joining such forces for good as Blue Girl, Jurassic Pork, Skippy, and Strannix.

I think it behooves all of us -- Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Independents, even Lieberman -- to figure out some way to get out of the quicksand in which Dear Leader bush has mired us.

It's all well and good to say "support the troops", but only if that support is more constructive than putting some magnet on your SUV. The best way to support our troops -- in fact, the only way -- is to bring them home in one piece, while providing the maximum protection we can until they are home.


bush, Cheney, Wolfie, "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth"(little Dougie Feith, of course), Condisleeza Ricearoni, and the rest of the neocon thugs dragged us into an unnecessary, illegal, and immoral war, based on dubious intelligence and outright lies, with the primary purpose of enriching themselves and their corrupt corporate puppet-masters.

I hope that I might add some useful insight to the discourse.




There's more: "Better Than Sex?" >>

Misguided Melanie



Poor, misguided Melanie.

Maybe Mel thought that she was back in her broadcast booth at KSFO instead of the soundstage at PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer, where typical Republican tactics such as talking over the other guest are acceptable methods of debate. Perhaps Mel thinks that supporting the troops is indistinguishable from supporting a war against an easily-defeated nation for which we had no legal, moral or tactical reason to invade and occupy in the first place.

Just like Morgan’s Move America Forward thinks that supporting the troops means insulting France, Democrats and Chuck Hagel for good measure by exploiting primates in nearly ignored rallies.




(The 70 person turnout was such a success, even George W. Bush pedaled on over to San Francisco to see what the fuss was about. Thank God Melanie didn’t borrow the LA Angels’ Rally Monkey or else her pro-war get-together might’ve actually attracted people in three digit numbers.)

Perhaps Melanie thought that her hubristic Republican-ness in some arcane way gave her at least as high a moral ground to play “I’m Spartacus!” with a former veteran who’d actually fought in Kosovo and Iraq, someone who also represents an organization that’s dedicated to the troops.

And it could be posited that PBS was as equally misguided as Morgan for putting Mel on The News Hour in order to establish some political balance to an issue that the Republican mouse circus is accusing Democrats of politicizing. One can understand the post-Kenneth Tomlinson PBS for wanting a more conservative viewpoint (although Mr. Solzer’s own organization can hardly be said to be pro-Democratic or partisan as it is pro-military). One, however, is at a loss to understand why they’d chosen to represent the Dark Side someone who screeches hatred from her San Francisco radio booth like a harpie with its tit caught in a wringer.

The outcomes were predictable: The bereted, cheese-eating monkeys she’d recently exploited in her hamfisted attempt to “support the troops” showed more panache and restraint than she did and she was kicked off the show for good after PBS received several furious emails protesting Morgan’s conduct.

If nothing else, this is yet another small indication that Robert A. Heinlein’s acronym TNSTAAFL (There’s No Such Thing As a Free Lunch) is coming true when it comes to psychological side shows like Melanie Morgan, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Opie and Anthony, Don Imus and other red-toothed maniacs.

When people turn on their radios to listen to political talk shows, they ought to offer up a silent prayer of gratitude to people like Spocko’s Brain for successfully pushing back against the tsunami of bile that’s been streaming across America as effortlessly as flood waters through New Orleans’ 9th ward. Whatever television and radio executives’ reasons for finally holding these people accountable, whether it be their bottom line or a legitimate dedication for doing the right thing, we’ll take it. In the end, it doesn’t matter how solipsistic or profit-driven their reasons are for throwing these people off the air, or barring them and their accounts or taking their columns out of their papers. It's just important that they at long last do it.

Motives do matter, however, when one attempts to take one side or the other in issues such as Iraq. Morgan, if she was truly interested in supporting the troops would be spending less time wrangling primates for ultimately failed rallies, posting bogus photos of a peaceful Iraq that weren’t even taken in Iraq and wishing death and maiming on war protesters and lobbying for better outpatient care for our wounded troops.

She’d be lobbying the White House to unpry a few bucks for the measly 3.5% pay hike that George Bush, another troops supporter, claims is completely unnecessary. She’d be yelling from the rooftop of KSFO about how, after well over four years, all of our troops still haven’t received adequate body armor or steel plating for their vehicles. And she’d be asking why, after exactly 50 months, the more people we send to Iraq, the further we sink into the quicksand.

She wouldn’t be shrieking about victory at all costs (weren’t the victors, in the beginning, supposed to be the Iraqis?) and insisting on playing right into the hands of bin Laden and al-Zawahiri who openly tell us in one video after another what exactly we’re doing wrong and getting the results they’re gleefully expecting because we happen to have leading our nation the stupidest carbon-based life form in the solar system in George W. Bush.

But that’s not what Republican dirtbags, these 27% dead-enders like Morgan want to hear. They don’t want to hear what we’re doing wrong and that the troops and the Iraqi people in general are suffering from these massive mistakes. They only want to focus on the right things that we’re not doing and haven’t done since day one.

But the free lunches are over, Mel. The counter’s been wiped down and disinfected and your kind is no longer welcome.

(Crossposted at Welome to Pottersville.)




There's more: "Misguided Melanie" >>