Wednesday, February 28, 2007

So, how does it end?

Front paged at My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

House Democrats now think that a smack on the wrist is the way to go with respect to Iraq. Lieberman talks out of his ass, yet again. Senator Ben Nelson says that they will “take up the Iraq war again and again and again”

Ever the voice of sanity, Senator Feingold will not vote for anything that the President could read as an authorization for continuing with a large military campaign in Iraq. Senator Byrd thinks that putting restrictions on the war is an “untenable position” and does not support Murtha’s plan.

The military chiefs responsible for implementing Bush’s half assed plan think that if we don’t “win” in six months then we face a Vietnam style collapse:

The main obstacles confronting Gen Petraeus's team are:

* Insufficent numbers of troops on the ground

* A "disintegrating" international coalition

* An anticipated upsurge in violence in the south as the British leave

* Morale problems as casualties rise

* A failure of political will in Washington and/or Baghdad

"The scene is very tense. They are working round the clock. Endless cups of tea with the Iraqis," the former senior administration official said. "But they're still trying to figure out what's the plan. The president is expecting progress. But they're thinking, what does he mean? The plan is changing every minute, as all plans do."

The biggest hurdle? Not enough troops:
According to the US military's revised counter-insurgency field manual, FM 3-24, authored by Gen Petraeus, the optimum "troop-to-task" ratio for Baghdad requires 120,000 US and allied troops in the city alone. Current totals, even including often unreliable Iraqi units, fall short of that number. The deficit is even greater in conflict areas outside Baghdad.

I’ll take this moment to point out, yet again, that both General Shinseki and Secretary of State Powell wanted hundreds of thousands of more troops at the outset of the invasion. And even McCain and Frederick Kagan wanted more than 20,000 troops for this escalation.

Violence is getting worse and worse in Iraq every day. Another $100 billion in funding requests sits before the Senate Appropriations Committee as we speak. An interesting idea that could restart all of Iraq’s state run businesses (and put around 150,000 Iraqis back to work almost immediately) would only cost $100 million – which is less money than will be spent by the time I get to my office tomorrow AM – is apparently being held up because of politics here in Washington.

republican Senators, Congressmen and women, talking meatsticks are basically DARING the Democrats to repeal the AUMF or cut funding – they know that the public wants it, but that the Democrats don’t have the guts votes. And guess who looks bad here?

People like Speaker Pelosi are put in a bad position here, because she has to deal with the attacks from republicans while trying to do the right thing:

"We're listening to our colleagues about what form they want that supplemental to take," Pelosi said. But, sensitive to the GOP attacks, the speaker said: "We will fund the troops as long as they are in harm's way."

And as long as more and more funding is approved – without conditions (real conditions), the troops will continue to be in harm’s way.

The new Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell said yesterday that the violence in Iraq is now “self sustaining”. There is dissent in the Senate on what to do about the AUMF, and now debate has been postponed until a debate on the 9/11 Commission recommendations will be held:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reiterated yesterday that his members have not settled on an approach to reining in the raging conflict in Iraq, despite Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) openly pursuing a plan to replace the 2002 congressional authorization of force with a narrower mission.

Being against the war is great. Being outspoken about it is better. Being honest about it is also better. But drawing a line in the sand is what Americans want. Every day brings worse news. More death. More destruction. More breakdown of the political process.

We can’t stay there much longer. That much is pretty much agreed on. But with the breakdown of the “coalition of the willing”, the saber rattling about Iran, the growing dissatisfaction with the civil war-turning-to-genocide in Iraq, the resurgence of the Taliban and al Qaeda, the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan – something has to give.

The only question is – how does it end?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What the hell is this crap?

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

Excuse me, but file this one under “are you fucking kidding me?” Is Iran targeting New York City for terrorist attacks? Is that the crap that we are now going to be subjected to?

Forget the fact that al Qaeda – the goddamn group that attacked the US on 9/11 – is regrouping. In fucking Pakistan – a country that is supposed to be our bestest buddies. And is working with the Taliban (also regrouping in Pakistan) to launch attacks in Afghanistan against US and NATO troops. AND, if that isn’t enough, launching specific attacks targeting Vice President Cheney just yesterday.

So since we didn’t do the job by completely dismantling and hunting down these terrorists and terrorist enablers when the Bush administration decided to cut and run from Afghanistan, shouldn’t we be focusing our efforts on them?

As for the laughable diversion about Iran targeting NYC (which, by the way, is being reported now even though this “concern” was raised six months ago) I just have to ask – is this the best that our sorry ass neocon Iran war drum bangers can come up with? Besides the fact that this story wasn’t even picked up anywhere other than the NY Post and reported on Fox 5 News last night (but nowhere on its’ website) there are just so many things to doubt and (if it weren’t so scary) laugh at here.

It has gotten so bad for Ahmadinejad that another senior cleric blasted him for his persistence in giving the UN the finger about Iran’s nuclear program. The country doesn’t want war with the US. They are more concerned with, you know, food, inflation, and other basic necessities. And yes, Iran may not have our best intentions in mind (and may be a bit antagonistic) but they did reach out to the US multiple times for some level of diplomatic relations.

But the $64,000 question is - why the hell would Iran want to attack the US? And the $32,000 follow up would be, what do they have to gain by attacking the US, and what do they have to lose by attacking the US? Plus, if they have so much control over Hezbollah (as the Bush administration likes to say when it is convenient for them), then why would they want Hezbollah to launch attacks inside the US?

This makes less sense than the Chewbacca Defense.

The obvious answers to these questions are (1) they wouldn’t, (2) nothing, and (3) pretty much everything. If Iran really wanted to attack the US, they can do it to our troops in Iraq (oh wait, I thought they already were doing it in Iraq with all of that “evidence”). If not themselves, then certainly by proxy. Of course, they would have a lot of catching up to do in order to cause as much harm as Pakistan is with its harboring of al Qaeda and the Taliban (remember, you are either “with us or against us”, right?) and Saudi Arabia with its de facto funding of Sunni insurgents. Hell, it could do it there with limited or no repercussions.

What do they have to gain here? I’ll wait for an answer (cue the Jeopardy music)……

Still waiting…..

And what do they have to lose? Well, just about everything. Right now, Iran isn’t looked upon as the aggressor. They aren’t the ones who are invading other countries based on fabricated evidence. They aren’t the ones who are looked at as the laughingstock of the international community. They aren’t the ones who are nearly universally thought of as the biggest menace and threat to world peace. And they aren’t fucking stupid.

One attack and all that gets thrown away.

But we should drudge up years old information (the “videotaping of the subways” that is cited in the Newsweek piece of crap is from 2003) and stir up a big ole helping of fear with months old concerns which have not led to anything credible.

I’ll say it here now – if there is an attack on US soil, and there is always a good chance that it can happen especially since this administration hasn’t done anything to actually make us safer here – it won’t be by Iran. Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that an attack on the US would be done by the Bushies, or by this government (before we go down that road). And if there is an attack – most likely by al Qaeda (if not some homegrown McVeigh-like terrorist), then it will be a direct result of this administration once again not doing its job.

And will only piss more people off – NOT rally them around this administration (maybe around the country, but certainly not around our so called leaders). But I do know that there is no reason why Iran would do something like this.

It has no benefit and is all downside.

Only this administration does shit like that.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lieberman declares war on Congress, America and reality. Again.

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

Yeah, yeah, I know....lather, rinse repeat. But just when you think that he has gone too far, even he can surprise you. The cover of today’s Wall Street Journal has a heading called “Sen. Lieberman On a Truce – In Washington”, which is laughable enough, but the OpEd itself is called “The Choice On Iraq” and you can guess where this is heading.

Now it may be behind a firewall, but I will post a few of the more batshit insane paragraphs here. As we have seen Holy Joe insult his constituents with insults, lies and power hungry greed, we have also seen him do the same to his Democratic Senate colleagues. But this latest post of his is no mere “call for a truce” or for civility. It is chock full of lies and not-so-subtle digs at not only Congressional Democrats and republicans who are for a true change of course, but it shows a reckless disregard for (1) the truth about Iraq, (2) what an overwhelming majority of the American people want and more importantly (3) doesn’t even consider what those who were in favor of the escalation wanted either.

The fun kicks off with the third paragraph – which is meant as a dig against those who “don’t want victory” but is most applicable to Joe himself:

Congress thus faces a choice in the weeks and months ahead. Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq -- or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? What ultimately matters more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?

If we stopped the legislative maneuvering and looked to Baghdad, we would see what the new security strategy actually entails and how dramatically it differs from previous efforts. For the first time in the Iraqi capital, the focus of the U.S. military is not just training indigenous forces or chasing down insurgents, but ensuring basic security -- meaning an end, at last, to the large-scale sectarian slaughter and ethnic cleansing that has paralyzed Iraq for the past year.

Um, Joe---republican Senators like Hagel, Warner and at least five others, not to mention the republican congressmen and women who voted against the escalation certainly are changing their views based on the conditions on the ground. As did the American people who were pretty much in favor of this debacle back in 2003, only to change their minds when they realized that they had been lied to, or that there was no real consideration given to any post-invasion planning.

And correct me if I am wrong here, but didn’t both Secretary of State Powell and General Shinseki want to use hundreds of thousands of additional troops, so that there WOULD be security from the very beginning?

There is of course a direct and straightforward way that Congress could end the war, consistent with its authority under the Constitution: by cutting off funds. Yet this option is not being proposed. Critics of the war instead are planning to constrain and squeeze the current strategy and troops by a thousand cuts and conditions.

Among the specific ideas under consideration are to tangle up the deployment of requested reinforcements by imposing certain "readiness" standards, and to redraft the congressional authorization for the war, apparently in such a way that Congress will assume the role of commander in chief and dictate when, where and against whom U.S. troops can fight.

Well, considering that there are proposals in Congress that would cut off funds, I think that qualifies as “an option that is being proposed”. However, when the obstructionist republican Senators won’t even vote on a non-binding resolution against the escalation, how is a bill going to get voted on for defunding? As for those pesky “readiness” standards, well I guess we should disregard a war veteran like John Murtha and send our troops into Iraq without the proper armor, equipment or training. What a pompous ass.

In fact, halting the current security operation at midpoint, as virtually all of the congressional proposals seek to do, would have devastating consequences. It would put thousands of American troops already deployed in the heart of Baghdad in even greater danger -- forced to choose between trying to hold their position without the required reinforcements or, more likely, abandoning them outright. A precipitous pullout would leave a gaping security vacuum in its wake, which terrorists, insurgents, militias and Iran would rush to fill -- probably resulting in a spiral of ethnic cleansing and slaughter on a scale as yet unseen in Iraq.

Um, Joe—I hate to break it to you, but there truly isn’t one accurate statement in this paragraph. The thousands of troops already deployed in Baghdad are in great danger – they are without equipment, without armor, being bombarded by all sides. The vaunted Baghdad offensive was nothing short of, well, offensive. To the troops, that is. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were against the escalation. Even the chickenhawks brilliant military planners such as Frederick Kagan wanted at least double, if not more troops in this escalation. So talk about going halfway – not enough to make a difference, but just enough to piss off everyone.

As for the gaping security hole – you must be referring to the gaping whole in your conscience, um, sanity, um, attachment to reality, um memory. There has been a gaping security hole since Rumsfeld didn’t feel the need for a post invasion security plan and Bremer disbanded the Iraqi army (which General Zinni called “the worst mistake” in postwar Iraq). Terrorists, insurgents and militia (”oh my!!”) have been there since 2003. And Iran has been trying to influence the country since before Rumsfeld and Reagan armed Saddam with the very weapons that Bush and Cheney overthrew him for having.

He closes the OpEd with a bang as well (actually it is the 2nd to last paragraph:

Gen. Petraeus says he will be able to see whether progress is occurring by the end of the summer, so let us declare a truce in the Washington political war over Iraq until then. Let us come together around a constructive legislative agenda for our security: authorizing an increase in the size of the Army and Marines, funding the equipment and protection our troops need, monitoring progress on the ground in Iraq with oversight hearings, investigating contract procedures, and guaranteeing Iraq war veterans the first-class treatment and care they deserve when they come home.

About that constructive legislative agenda-- then-candidate John Kerry wanted to increase the military by 40,000, to which Bush responded that the country would be “less safe”. Less safe with more military. More troops that you are now proposing. Wouldn’t they have been real helpful back in 2004, 2005 and 2006? Funding for the equipment would be a good idea too. Of course, both Senators Landrieu and Dodd proposed just that back in 2003 but both proposals were tabled. Interestingly, not a single republican voted against tabling these proposals.

What about the treatment for veterans? Well, besides the way this administration has treated the facilities at Walter Reed hospital, you also have a 2006 budget from Bush that gives a LOWER funding level to the VA. There is also instance after instance after instance where this administration has given veterans the royal shaft.

So please, Joe – spare us the pleas for sanity or requests that we all just clap louder. It is insulting beyond belief at this point. Not only to Democrats and your fellow congressmen and women. Not only to Americans. But most importantly, to the troops.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing

On the heels of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s announcement that the UK would start to withdraw its’ troops from Iraq, leaving the United States as a “coalition of one”, Dick Cheney said that this was good news:
"Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well," Cheney told ABC News' Jonathan Karl.

"In fact, I talked to a friend just the other day who had driven to Baghdad down to Basra, seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved from a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view they had made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore reduce their force levels," Cheney said.

Too bad he was once again totally full of shit.

According to Juan Cole:

This is a rout, there should be no mistake. The fractious Shiite militias and tribes of Iraq's South have made it impossible for the British to stay. They already left Dhi Qar province, as well as sleepy Muthanna. They moved the British consulate to the airport because they couldn't protect it in Basra. They are taking mortar and rocket fire at their bases every night. Raiding militia HQs has not resulted in any permanent change in the situation. Basra is dominated by 4 paramilitaries, who are fighting turf wars with one another and with the Iraqi government over oil smuggling rights.

Blair is not leaving Basra because the British mission has been accomplished. He is leaving because he has concluded that it cannot be, and that if he tries any further it will completely sink the Labor Party, perhaps for decades to come.

Don’t trust Juan Cole? OK, how about LA Times:
The British military is approaching "operational failure," former defense staff chief Charles Guthrie warned this week.

"Because the British army is in essence fighting a far more intensive counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan, there's been a realization that there has to be some sort of transfer of resources from Iraq to Afghanistan," said Clive Jones, a senior lecturer in Middle East politics at the University of Leeds, who has closely followed Britain's Iraq deployment.

"It's either that, or you risk in some ways losing both," he said.

It has been four days since the UK announcement, and things just look like they are going swimmingly. Just look at all of the progress over the four days since the UK decided to declare victory save face and withdraw from Iraq.

Over 40 dead in a suicide bombing of a college campus near Baghdad earlier today. Close to 50 more were injured and most of the ones killed were college students.p>

Twenty two US troops killed in the seven day period ending yesterday in at least 18 attacks.

Suicide bombers on February 21 killed nearly 30 people and injured 38 more in a number of incidents in Najaf and Baghdad. Of the 28 killed, at least 16 were construction workers.

Two separate attacks that exploded trucks carrying chlorine occurred on back to back days, and the third time in under a month:

In Baghdad, a pickup truck carrying chlorine gas cylinders was blown apart, killing at least five people and sending more than 55 to hospitals gasping for breath and rubbing stinging eyes, police said.

On Tuesday, a bomb planted on a chlorine tanker left more than 150 villagers stricken north of the capital. More than 60 were still under medical care on Wednesday. Chlorine causes respiratory trouble and skin irritation in low levels and possible death with heavy exposure.

In Washington, two Pentagon officials said the tactic has been used at least three times since Jan. 28, when a truck carrying explosives and a chlorine tank blew up in Anbar province. More than a dozen people were reported killed.

An attack on a Sunni mosque yesterday killed 45, including 17 women and 5 children. Another 110 were injured in the blast. Additionally, other violence in Baghdad killed at least 20, including 8 Iraqi police officers.

Nearly 30 bodies were found in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul on Friday. Also, a 12 year old by was killed when he was caught in the crossfire as US troops were pursuing 2 suspects in southern Baghdad.

Thousands of Shiites protested the latest boneheaded move when the US detained Amar al-Hakim, the elder son of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Republic in Iraq, or SCIRI, a Shiite party with close ties to both Iran and the United States. This resulted in an embarrassing apology from U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Needless to say, it didn’t go over too well with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

One of the “crucial” reforms that the Iraqi government was supposed to comply with under the terms of the escalation plan is, in the words of a US official, “moving backwards and dead in the water”:

In spite of a commitment by Iraq's prime minister to its passage, legislation that would ease rules barring former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from government service has been blocked by the country's Shiite-dominated parliament.

And guess who is heading up the Iraqi panel on de-Baathification? One Ahmad Chalabi – the same man who “duped the US into war and was accused of working with Iran.

Looks like lots of progress has been made over the past week. Let’s recap because there is so much to point to:

  • Main provisions and conditions of the escalation in danger of falling apart;

  • 30 bodies found in a single day;

  • Over 250 people injured in a four day period (at least);

  • 22 US troops killed in the past week;

  • At least 139 killed in attacks over a four day period.

With great news like this, I would hate to see what would constitute a “lack of progress”...

Friday, February 23, 2007

The World According to clammyc - in Haiku

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

OK so I am a little hung over and tired this morning, but over at Blue Jersey, there was a bit of Friday morning haiku fun about NJ political happenings. And since it is a Friday, I figured that the day was ripe for some change of pace from the usual.

So, since I was already in the “haiku” mode, I thought that I would bring the mood over to Big Orange and give you my take on what has been going on lately – but not in my typical ranty-linky format.

If you think it is stupid, then kindly piss off click off this diary, but if you are in “that kinda mood”, then hopefully you will enjoy it a bit.Joe Lieberman’s threats to switch parties

A “D” through and through?
We all watched “Say Anything”
And know that Joe lies.

The latest wave of Meta fights

Enough is enough.
MetaJesus needs a break
We’re on the same team.

The UK withdrawal of troops from Iraq

We are now down to
A “coalition of one”
NOT a good sign, Dick.

The Libby Trial

Ari leaked Plame’s name
Dick Armitage leaked it too
Cheney’s in knee deep.

Hillary vs. Obama

Early ‘07
And they’re at each other’s throats
Where are Gore and Clark?


Is he crazier than Bush?
War talk is crazy


Are they helping us?
If so, why won’t they do more
To stop al Qaeda?

Saudi Arabia

Funding the Sunnis
Aren’t they the “insurgents”?
BushCo doesn’t care

Global Warming

Fundies ignore it
It is a reality
We will all be fucked

Walter Reed Hospital

Bush talks a big game
Those who defend the US
Are treated like shit

Iraq Debate in Congress

Both sides do agree
That things are not going well
So bring our troops home

Republican Senators

They want 60 votes
At the rate they are going
We’ll gain 10 next year.

Cheney’s warning to China

Lecturing China
About military stuff
They laugh in your face

Health Insurance

Bush in Tennessee
He laughs when people tell him
That they’re not covered

And one for the road……

The weekend is here
So happy that it’s Friday
I really need sleep.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wanted: strong leader who can turn this country around

Front paged at Booman Tribune. Recommended at Daily Kos

It certainly is nice to see that there are a number of pretty strong Democratic candidates for the 2008 election. Even more so since this country is going to hell in a bucket (and I am not enjoying the ride nearly as much as the Grateful Dead made it out to be). And while I have no illusions that we are not going to find someone who can become a hero and save the day – I do expect a number of things from our President.

Of course, with the last six-plus years of the Bush administration and the last twelve years of the rubber stamp republican Congress, there are so many things that have gone unaddressed, and so many ways that this country is headed in the wrong direction. All of this, however, makes it even more imperative that our next President be a strong leader who can make significant strides towards righting this ship – both nationally and in the global community.

I will preface by saying that the two people who I think would be the best leaders for this country at this time in history have not thrown their hats in the ring, and the one who I am leaning towards supporting at this point may not even exhibit the most traits which I think would make the strongest leader. That all being said, I think that there are many traits that we must demand from our next President – or at least our next Democratic candidate. And while it is too early to focus on anyone in particular, I don’t think it is too early to formulate what we need in our next President.

I will keep this as objective as possible, and there will be some traits which will obviously lead to the thought that a particular candidate does not, can not or will not exhibit – but I don’t want to make this a “pro” or “anti” anyone diary. I would rather see what people’s thoughts on what we need and expect from our next President.

This is in no particular order, other than what comes to mind.

We need a leader who will be able to put forth a plan that will minimize the ongoing disaster that is occurring in Iraq. I think that there will not be 150,000 troops in Iraq by November 2008, however, even if there isn’t, there will be a humanitarian issue which could be a full blown genocide by then. We need someone who will be able to push a reasonable and manageable plan that will meet the approval of Congress as well as the international community.

A leader that isn’t afraid to put out a strong and concrete plan for Iraq. To redeploy our troops. To incorporate the other countries in the region. To be vocal about what is smart and what is right.

We need a leader who will be able to bridge the huge chasm that is the partisan divide in Congress as well as this country. This leader must be able to work with both sides of the aisle in order to do what is best for this country, and what is best for We the People. This is probably the most important trait – as it would apply to Iraq, the Middle East in general, Iran’s nuclear program, the global economy, the national economy, healthcare, the environment and the shrinking middle class.

We need a leader that will command the respect of the international community. Someone who doesn’t necessarily need to have decades of foreign policy experience, but someone who other countries will trust – or at least trust enough to want to negotiate with. This would be in areas such as trade agreements, international humanitarian issues (whether it be tsunami, earthquake, genocide, AIDS, or hunger).

We need a leader that will take a smart but tough approach to national security and “keeping us safer”. This should address our deteriorating infrastructure – power grid, power plants, railways, airports, ports, and other areas where we are vulnerable. This should also address sharing of international intelligence and smart law enforcement in order to reduce terrorism – in whatever form. Someone who knows that homeland security does not consist of torture, rendition, warrantless wiretapping, changing or breaking any of the FISA laws.

We need a leader that wants to be the President of the United States, not be “called the President of the United States”. A leader who works to earn the job – not one who thinks they deserve the job. Someone who, unlike our current President, is able to admit a mistake and adapt to changing circumstances.

We need a leader who will work to help the lower and middle class. Whether it is social security, Medicare, the AMT, tax relief, health insurance or just the cost of living. Someone who will take real action towards rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Someone who will be able to lower the tax burden while rolling back the most egregious of the Bush tax cuts.

Someone who can connect with the American people, and not in a “have a beer with” kind of way. Someone who understands that the average American deals with on an everyday basis. Someone who thinks of “We the People” instead of their high net worth supporters or corporate lobbyists.

Someone who will show over the next two years that he or she is willing to take a strong leadership role in fighting the administration and putting forth concrete ideas to move this country forward. This can be by introducing or sponsoring legislation in the House, the Senate, or by making high profile appearances in his or her home state.

Now, I know that none of the candidates will exhibit all of these traits. But it is something that we should expect from our President. There are nearly two years until the election. But since the campaigning is already underway, we should be holding our candidates’ feet to the fire.

Nobody “deserves” to be President – it is earned. And these traits and actions are even more warranted now with the extremely precarious situation that our country is in. This country demands strong leadership. It is screaming for such leadership.

So, candidates – show us what you got.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Invoking "9/11" is so pre-November 7

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

I would have said that invoking 9/11 has jumped the shark, but frankly, the term “jump the shark” has jumped the shark already.

That being said, once again and right on cue, President Bush used the swearing in of Mike McConnell as National Intelligence Director to show off his own lack of intelligence. In his “remarks”, Bush once again pulled out the “9/11 card”, not realizing that his mere mentioning of the worst attack on American soil either gets people angry at the blatant pandering and fearmongering, makes them shake their head in annoyance or reinforces the complete ineptitude of what is already known as the worst presidency ever.

Yet, here is our on-the-verge-of-public-meltdown President trying as hard as he can to not find a way not to remind us all of how his administration failed to heed every warning while reminding us that is if we don’t watch it, the terrorists will get us again.

Mike's long experience gives him a unique understanding of the threats we face in this new century. He knows that the terrorists who struck America on September the 11th, 2001 are determined to strike our nation again. He understands that the enemy uses the tools of our modern economy -- from rapid transportation, to instant communications, to global finance -- to spread their extremist ideology, and facilitate new attacks.

Ugh....please. Spare me the histrionics (and to take a page out of Dear Leader’s book, that means “dramatic or hysterical behavior”). All that was missing was the revelation that Saddam and Osama watched the towers fall while enjoying a hearty lunch together.

And just as “9/11 changed everything” so did November 7. We all remember what happened on 9/11. And even if we forgot, we can’t watch one speech by either Bush or Cheney without being reminded – that is if we can even stomach watching another speech in general.

Americans woke up on November 7. Maybe not as much as some of us would have liked, but they woke up. And they are continuing to slowly wake from the 6 year trance that this country has been in. They feel less safe than five years ago. Nearly half knew back in 2003 that Iraq was making us less safe. Over half knew it by July 2005.

Americans haven’t trusted the administration on Iran for nearly a year now. They know that there was no link between Saddam and the 9/11 attacks. Americans are finding out that by the administration’s cutting and running from Afghanistan, it allowed al Qaeda to have a banner year in 2006, whether it was in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or, well, everywhere else.

How overplayed is the “9/11 card”? Now, FauxNooz is downplaying the damage al Qaeda and a nuclear attack. Of course, it is in comparison to the millions of lives that would be destroyed by.......teachers unions. Yes, invoking the 9/11 attacks has even worn thin on foaming at the mouth talking meatsicks like Sean Hannity:

SEAN HANNITY: Alright, let me ask you. Because, you — when you said about the Department of Education — you want to abolish it — when you said that the teachers unions is more dangerous to this country in the long term –

NEAL BOORTZ: In the long term, yeah.

HANNITY: Than al Qaeda.

BOORTZ: Right. Look, Al Qaeda, they could bring in a nuke into this country and kill 100,000 people with a well-placed nuke somewhere. Ok. We would recover from that. It would be a terrible tragedy, but the teachers unions in this country can destroy a generation.

HANNITY: They are.

BOORTZ: Well, they are destroying a generation.

HANNITY: They are ruining our school system.

BOORTZ: They’re much more dangerous. We worry about al Qaeda and we should. But at the same time let’s not let the teachers union skate.

HANNITY: They destroyed our school system, and we don’t do anything. The parents — why there aren’t people rising up against it is unbelievable.

Congratulations, Preznit. You have managed to turn a national tragedy into a “SOTU drinking game”. Hell, when nearly 6 out of 10 just want you to pack up and go back to clearing fake brush on your fake ranch, it is time to stop to ponder your tremendous slide into irrelevancy from the days just know, 9/11.

So, please. For the sake of us all – just stop invoking 9/11 every chance you get. We know it happened. On your watch. And we want a new direction in Iraq – out, not deeper in over our heads. Just like what the voters wanted with your policies when they voted on November 7. Out.

Just like your invoking 9/11, your administration is so pre-November 7.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dare I say the Democrats are playing this smartly?

Front paged at Booman Tribune. Recommended at Daily Kos

Disclaimer: I want us out of Iraq as of yesterday. I want funding to be approved only for a smart and sane redeployment plan. This should include and address humanitarian issues to avoid full on genocide. I know the rest of the country is headed in that direction as well.

That all being said, Congress doesn’t move that fast. And there are tremendous forces against the Democrats with respect to getting us out of Iraq. This includes the right wing noise machine, the drumbeat about Iran, and even some Democrats who aren’t, shall we say, as “helpful” to the cause as can be. And in an age where there is so much information available immediately, we tend to want things to happen just as immediately.

However, it was only three months ago since the Democrats won the election – just over one month since the new Congress started. Sure, the country wants out of Iraq. Sure they want a withdrawal or redeployment by next year. And sure, the republicans aren’t going to go quietly, and are going to be kicking and screaming all the way through the 2008 elections (and quite possibly beyond). But a few relatively major things have happened since the New Year. And while some isn’t directly because of the Democrats, they should be given credit for playing their hand as smartly as they could be, given all that they are up against (that being the demands to get out of Iraq, the pushing of policy, the investigations, the pushback from the republicans, etc.)

Now, I think that Pelosi is doing a much better job than Reid, and a much better job than I originally thought she could. Not for any other reason than she is swimming against nasty media coverage, a stupid label of “San Francisco liberal”, a republican party that is gunning to do anything to under cut her and an absolute disaster that the prior 6 Congresses have left for her to clean up.

A few months ago, nobody (other than us) were talking about cutting funding for Iraq. Now, not only are the republicans in danger of being labeled with the dreaded “obstructionist” label on Iraq (in fact, now that I think about it I will start to use that label myself), but the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell is talking about the need to address the funding for troops. Regardless of whether he is trying to force a vote on Judd Gregg’s bill (which was the reason for both votes for cloture failed in the Senate), the important thing is that this is now being discussed.

I’ll walk over to the Overton Window now and give it a little shove to the left – by forcing debates, even on non-binding bills, the Democrats have accomplished a few very important things, which we should give them credit for.

For starters, they now have republicans on record as being in favor of the escalation. They also have republicans on record as talking about being in favor of “staying the course”. They have made the republicans look like obstructionists who won’t even vote on their own non-binding resolutions. They have kept the debate moving in Congress with respect to Iraq. They are looking as good as they can be – passing a resolution in the House, introducing a few others – while having the Senate be held up by republicans. And most importantly, they have gotten the idea of cutting funding out in the mainstream.

Just remember how huge this is – this would have been “unacceptable” or “radical” a few months ago, and now FOX News polls are (1) including a question about funding the escalation, and (2) 54% of the respondents are in favor of NOT funding the escalation .

It gets better – news coverage has the Democrats talking about seeking limits on Iraq. This is what We the People want, regardless of what some morans (heh) on the talking meatstick shows think. At first, I wasn’t for the non-binding resolution as I though that it would be the end of the line and a “moral victory”.

I no longer feel that way. I think that Pelosi has a plan. I think that she is playing this very smart. I think that it is tougher for Reid, given the makeup and the rules of the Senate. But you can bet that if the republicans are playing the “you need 60 votes” card, then it will be that much easier for the Dems to gain close to the magic number come 2008. They may not get there, but there will be republicans at that point who see the writing on the wall. Hell, there already are some that see it with respect to Iraq.

They can’t let up though, and they still have to play it smart. They can’t be painted as “anti war” because of this. And while I don’t think they will be painted as such, they need to be careful to avoid the labeling – because there will be many who try to label them this way. Here is where Obama can really stand out as a leader – here is where Democrats can take his speech opposing the Iraq invasion and adopt it as their own.

Not anti-war. Anti-dumb war. Anti-“this” war. Anti-“war without planning”.

If they really wanted to hit one out, they can tie energy independence to an Iraq exit strategy. Wouldn’t that be something.....

Since we are so quick to point fingers when things aren’t going the way we want, or as fast as we want, let’s stop and at least recognize that major strides have been made over the past few weeks. Even though too many troops have died or been injured over this time period. Even though many more bombs have gone off. Even though they are not home or redeployed yet.

They will be. And while we are still very far from that goal, we are a hell of a lot closer to that goal than we were just two months ago. And we can thank Pelosi and many of the Congressional Democrats for that.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Is thinking and planning too much to ask?

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

Remember al Qaeda? You know, the ones who took out the USS Cole, took down the World Trade Center and the ones who have a leader named Osama bin Laden. The ones we supposedly had “on the run” in Afghanistan. Well, they’re back (although they never really “left”), and are back with a vengeance.

Today’s New York Times has an article about the recent attacks on the US helicopters in Iraq. The article mentions a “carefully planned strategy” to focus on aircraft and documents which are purported to have been drafted by al Qaeda. At the same time, a CNN article from earlier this week references an “apparent al Qaeda video” posted on Islamic web sites that shows careful and meticulous planning for an attack on US and Afghan forces at a checkpoint in Afghanistan.

With respect to the planning that went into the effort to target and attack US helicopters in Iraq, Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons, a deputy commander of the American-led multinational force in Iraq and an Army aviator, had the following to say:

“We are engaged with a thinking enemy,” he added. “This enemy understands based on the reporting and everything else that we are in the process of executing the prime minister’s new plan for the security of Baghdad. And they understand the strategic implications of shooting down an aircraft.”

Too bad the same can’t be said for those who got the US and our troops into this disaster to begin with.

Antiaircraft attacks are up tremendously. More attacks have happened since late January than for all of 2006. A variety of weapons have been used – machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, surface to air missiles, etc. The documents recovered indicate that al Qaeda had been studying flight patterns in certain areas as part of the planning.

The video referenced in the CNN article talks about planning, reconnaissance, and the purported carrying out of an attack on a NATO post last year by upwards of 150 fighters. While the authenticity of the video was not yet confirmed (possibly because of the embarrassment that its authenticity would cause), the following passage from the article is worth pointing out:

The video is significant, said CNN Senior Arab Affairs Editor Octavia Nasr, because it is largely in Arabic -- the language of al Qaeda -- with only comments from local villagers in other languages.

While we are on the subject of al Qaeda, it is worth pointing out a few things while the “let’s kill Iran” drum keeps beating. For starters, both Cheney and Porter Goss have been saying since 2005 that bin Laden is presumed to be in Pakistan. During late 2006, John Negroponte basically accused Pakistan of not doing its part to crack down on al Qaeda and Taliban forces who were being allowed to cross in and out of Pakistan in order to plan and launch attacks against US forces in Afghanistan. Not to be outdone, an article in the Toronto Star from last December quoted an ultimatum to Pakistan with respect to the Taliban and al Qaeda:
"The sanctuary that Pakistan offers to the Taliban and the support they offer are both critical to the more robust nature of the insurgency this year, and its continued success," said Larry Goodson, who heads the U.S. Army War College's department of national security and strategy.


And an independent Canadian military analyst, Sunil Ram, says "an endless flow of Taliban is being generated by an underground spring in Pakistan," adding the insurgents' buildup of weapons will lead to a massive spring offensive against Canadian and other NATO troops unless action is taken soon.

What about the Sunni al Qaeda attacks on helicopters? We all remember the threat made to Cheney by Saudi King Abdullah last year that Saudi Arabia would be “forced to” back the Sunnis (who, by the way, have committed most of the attacks on US forces) if the US were to withdraw from Iraq. We also remember page 29 of the Iraq Study Group report (warning: .pdf) that indicated the following:
Funding for the Sunni insurgency comes from private individuals within Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, even as those governments help facilitate U.S. military operations in Iraq by providing basing and overflight rights and by cooperating on intelligence issues.

And of course, there was the report that the funding was going for weapons including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles.

Sounds like a lot of thinking and planning going on with respect to targeting and killing our troops. But it is going on (1) by Sunnis, (2) in Pakistan, (3) by the Taliban, and (4) funded by wealthy Saudis without the government cracking down. Hmmmmm....somehow I don’t see the word “Iran” or “Shiite” in there at all.

What about the planning and thinking going on from the US top brass? Sadly, that has been lacking since the very beginning. And it isn’t like many alarms didn’t go off immediately. In late 2003, the very conservative (to say the least) Washington Times ran an article titled US rushed post-Saddam planning, which cited a State Department report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that indicated:

Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) elimination and exploitation planning efforts did not occur early enough in the process to allow CentCom to effectively execute the mission. The extent of the planning required was underestimated. Insufficient U.S. government assets existed to accomplish the mission.


WMD elimination/exploitation on a large scale was a new mission area. Division of responsibility for planning and execution was not clear. As a result planning occurred on an ad hoc basis and late in the process. Additionally, there were insufficient assets available to accomplish the mission. Existing assets were tasked to perform multiple, competing missions

A Congressional Budget Office report issued that same week raised concerns about the cost, feasibility and sustainability of an occupation in Iraq from a troop level standpoint. A State Department memorandum from February 2003 (warning: .pdf) indicated that there could be “serious planning gaps for post-conflict public security and humanitarian assistance”. The memo went on to indicate that these issues were also raised with “top CentCom officials”.

Just this past week, original Iraq war plan documents were declassified which projected only 5,000 troops in Iraq by December 2006. While we think this is scary but laughable, it was called “completely unrealistic” and “delusional” by the Executive Director of the National Security Archives:

"Completely unrealistic assumptions about a post-Saddam Iraq permeate these war plans," said National Security Archive Executive Director Thomas Blanton. "First, they assumed that a provisional government would be in place by 'D-Day', then that the Iraqis would stay in their garrisons and be reliable partners, and finally that the post-hostilities phase would be a matter of mere 'months'. All of these were delusions."

I will say, you gotta hand it to the Decider – he did get something right. When he signed the Defense Bill in mid 2004, he had tremendous foresight:
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

Maybe a little planning and thinking would have done us good.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fund the escalation? Even a Fox News poll says "NO"

So much for taking the day off from posting....But I will keep this relatively short. I only do so because I consider this little nugget extremely important as we move closer to our goal of getting our troops out of Iraq (but NOT into Iran) and hopefully moving towards a phase of international humanitarian efforts and true reconstruction.

As much as the debate or passing of a non-binding resolution against the escalation is a very good start (even if it is mocked mercilessly), this is only a first step towards ending this occupation in Iraq. We know that Feingold has a bill ready to go in the Senate that will redeploy our troops, and we know that Murtha is ready to introduce a new bill in the House that will set realistic (but not likely reachable due to their realistic nature) goals for training and equipping the troops before deployment.

What is shocking here are the results of a (warning, .pdf) just released Fox News poll that touches on many of the usual issues, but has a few surprises regarding the escalation plan for Iraq.

Why is this important? Well if 54% of those polled by Fox News say that if they were in Congress, they would vote against funding the escalation, does that make them hate the troops? What if you also knew that 55% of respondents, including nearly 45% of republicans, indicated that it is not indicative of a “lack of courage” for members of Congress to vote against the escalation but still vote to fund the escalation.

I’ll say that again – 54% of FOX poll respondents would not vote to fund the escalation and 55% think that it isn’t “un-American™” to fund the troops but oppose the escalation. Chew on that Hannity. Choke on that, Rush. Stick that in your loofah and smoke it, O’Reilly.

And for those Democrats in Congress – ESPECIALLY those with Presidential aspirations – listen up and listen good: America wants out of Iraq. America would vote to cut funds for Bush’s escalation plan. And they told Fox News they would do it NOW.

While we are at it, a 42%-31% spread is IN FAVOR of a binding resolution. So please, no more “emboldening the terrorists”. No more, “demoralize the troops”. By doing the right thing, we are EMBOLDENING THE TROOPS.

Take a stand against the ill-fated escalation. You owe it to the troops. America wants it. Hell, even people that would take a call and answer nearly 50 questions from FOX News want it. It is the next step towards bringing our troops home.

And this is how you can support the troops.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Unhinged and unfit for office

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

It’s time to start talking seriously about the imminent and immediate danger that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other prominent members of this administration pose to the future of this country, as well as the already-disastrous Middle East. Yes, we talk about it here, and yes we all wish that they would just up and leave. But the fact is, not only is that not gonna happen, but every new day brings another example of how delusional, unhinged, aggressive and detached from reality these people are.

Now, I’m not going to try and debate the merits or feasibility of impeaching Cheney (yes, it should be done) or removing Bush either via impeachment or via the 25th Amendment (which won’t be done but his ability to perform his duties as President and Commander in Chief is eroding on a daily basis). However, a serious discussion as to the relative fitness that these people have for the offices they hold – at a time in history where we need strong, honest, bold, decisive (and not in a “Decider” kind of way) and forward looking leaders - needs to be initiated and make its way into public consciousness.

These people have already shown that they will lie, cheat, steal, and threaten national security – even under oath. They have repeatedly shown a horrific lack of judgment, morals, compassion for their fellow Americans and for other countries whose citizens have sacrificed lives and dollars for a cause that was falsely billed as “just and right”.

Whether it is justifying or authorizing torture, conspiring to leak classified information and destroying out ability to track proliferation nuclear weapons, threatening and bullying others around the world, turning down offer after offer by Iran to negotiate (and then lying about it as Condoleezza Rice did), bankrupting our economy, dumbing down our schools, willfully neglecting hundreds of thousands of people stranded in the Gulf Coast or using illegal and banned chemical weapons – it just keeps getting worse.

I refused to watch Bush’s press conference from yesterday, but the snippets I read about and the comments from fellow kossacks made me even more concerned. Yes, Bush is a dolt. Yes, he is impatient. Yes, he is a stubborn prick. But he is now talking in circles – repeating points that don’t make sense and barely constitute coherent sentences.

Yes, I know that is not new. But when we have an ever increasing civil war which is getting bloodier by the minute in Iraq and the President is still in relative (if not out-and-out) denial about the situation, there is a big fucking problem. When the same fake evidence is produced by the same liars that lied to us about Iraq and nobody has actually seen proof, there is a big fucking problem. When the evidence - even if true is not even close to being worth pursuing military action, there is a big fucking problem. When even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Advisor don’t think the evidence links Iran’s government – there is a big fucking problem.

Our troops are stuck in a horrible situation which is only going to become miserable in a short time. There is a lack of the proper armor. There is no strategy other than “to win”, which is as big a disservice to the troops as the lies that sent them there in the first place. This country’s infrastructure is being ignored. Roads, railways, power grids, power plants, airports are all being ignored as far as safety and upkeep goes. Millions are without jobs. Millions more are without healthcare.

Iran’s people and their powerful are NOT happy with Ahmadinejad. Bush knows this. Cheney knows this. Rice knows this. Iran could be on the cusp of reform – as it was before Ahmadinejad took office. But any military action will likely radicalize the masses and will ensure another generation – if not more – of hostility and another “Cold War” type situation. At every turn, these so-called “leaders” of ours have led us to the brink of disaster – even over the line into “disaster territory” on more than one occasion.

A few things are true:

Iran is NOT an imminent threat to our national security. Yet, even if they were, this administrations stunning lack of foresight (even if their goal was to implement the PNAC plan, it would take more planning than they did) has put us in a position where we can’t even deal with Iran.

The complete lack of credibility that America has as a result of lie after lie after lie has resulted in a situation where, even if there was evidence of Iran pointing nukes directly at the United States, nobody would believe it. The trust and goodwill that the US had in the international community has been willfully squandered. We have become a laughingstock to the world – the punch line of a bad joke.

This country is in a very precarious situation – in Iraq, from an economic and debt standpoint, its policies on the environment, on healthcare, on national security, on homeland security, education, jobs, housing and scores of other areas. Pretty much all of this deterioration has occurred over the past six years. Pretty much all of it was from the active policies of this administration.

A house of cards can only stand for so long. This is the case for the Bush administration. The Libby trial has shed a light on the depth and extent that these criminals would go to cover up their lies and intimidate those who dare criticize. It also showed the depth of the evil that is Vice President Cheney. More recently, Congressional hearings and testimony have shed a light on the stovepiping of bad intelligence to sell a war. This same stovepiping - by the same people is happening right now. Lies are being exposed. Fingers are being pointed.

And we are watching the very high profile, very public meltdown of a United States President. A so-called “Commander in Chief” who can’t even handle a few pointed and necessary questions from a compliant and deferential press corps. We are watching our Vice President present as “absolute” statements that are long on innuendo, threats and manipulation but even shorter on truth and evidence. We are watching a combative Secretary of State outright lie about negotiation proposals from Iran. The same Secretary of State that nobody in the Middle East wants to talk to.

The administration has become the Land of the Broken Toys. Except for the fact that we all felt sorry for those toys. We shouldn’t feel sorry for these people. They are willfully endangering our country and future every single day. They are unfit for office. They are unhinged, angry, delusional, out of the mainstream.

They are a threat to all of us and to the world at large. They must be removed. And this country deserves nothing less than a debate on their fitness for office, especially at this time in history.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Everyone is calling bullshit on Iran "evidence"

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

Coincidentally, my internet radio is playing “Won’t get fooled again” as I write this. As it is also in my sig, I think more and more people are starting to realize that if enough of us don’t speak up and vociferously call bullshit on this all-hat-no-cattle bloviating about Iran’s “meddling” in Iraq then the psychotic lunatics who have hijacked our foreign policy and crashed it into Iraq are going to back that car up and head straight for Iran.

And maybe, just maybe, we are seeing a forceful enough pushback that, if kept up, we can actually avoid having Iran replace Iraq as the “ most dangerous foreign policy blunder” in nearly half a century.

Sure, there are some who are the cheerleaders, since war sells. But since there is no shortage of dumb war decisions over the past five years, how many more are needed anyway? With a growing number of high level military officials, and even some in the Bush administration who had orgasmic fantasies about making Saddam the United States’ bitch (disclaimer: please don’t take that as a personal attack against female dogs or anything other than a colorful description of the asininity of the US Iraq policy. And yes, asininity is a word) speaking out on this Iran “evidence”, we may not be hurtling towards Armageddon after all.

Talk about a potential Constitutional crisis – what would happen if Cheney and his minions continue to press for military action on Iran based on evidence that is simply not believable, or even if it is, doesn’t warrant air strikes or mass bombings? And what happens if the military doesn’t believe this evidence is credible or warranted? And what happens if US opinion is overwhelmingly against such action (or doesn’t necessarily believe the validity of such evidence)? Would the top military finally refuse to follow the insane orders of the unhinged Executive Branch? What if they don’t refuse, even though they don’t think it is credible or justified?

We know that earlier in the week, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace expressed his concern over this evidence:

"We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government per se knows about this," Pace replied. "It is clear that Iranians are involved and it is clear that materials from Iran are involved. But I would not say based on what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit."

Not exactly a vote of confidence in this evidence. And we know that while Tony Snow is stumbling and fumbling his way around these comments, a member of Pace’s staff has indicated that Pace stands by his comments.

We also heard National Security Advisor (whose fingers were all over the Iraq disaster) Stephen Hadley call the evidence “overstated”.

Just today, Pace was joined by CentCom Commander William Fallon joined in on the “bullshit calling”:

Today on CNN, CentCom Commander William Fallon, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, was asked about the administration’s claim. Fallon said, “I have no idea who may be actually with hands-on in this stuff.”

A late January article from the LA Times not only indicated that the evidence is “scant” but also alluded to a “grasping at straws” by the Bush administration:
Some U.S. officials have also suggested that Iran, a Shiite theocracy, has provided aid to the Sunni insurgents, who have led most of the attacks against U.S. forces. Private analysts and other U.S. officials doubt that.

Iran helping the Sunnis. Yeah, right. But we do know who is financing the Sunnis and it ain’t Iran.

Even the ultra-conservative (or ultra-neoconish) US News & World Report is reporting this with the headline Another Blow to Bush’s Credibility? The article cites NBC Nightly News, CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, McClatchy, the Washington Post and even Fox News as reporting about the lack of credibility of this Administration.

Even Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s office (who should be at least a bit of an ally to the US) is doubting the evidence. According to this week’s TIME:

But an official in the Prime Minister's office questioned the credibility of U.S. intelligence, pointing to recent reports of evidence-fudging at the Pentagon in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. "They need a scapegoat, so they conveniently point to their old enemy, Iran," said the official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to talk to the media. "But these days American intelligence is a discredited commodity. Who can believe them?"

No doubt that as the push to beat the war drum grows louder, more people will start to focus on Iran and this supposed “evidence”. But this time, many more are starting to ask questions. Even some in the press are calling bullshit on these assertions.

We know that Cheney and his insane followers aren’t going to let up. And we can’t either. We are pushing the Overton Window back into sanity range. We need to keep pushing, and keep pushing hard. It is working.

Nobody thinks this is a good idea. That is, nobody except the lunatics that gave us the Iraq disaster. We aren’t getting fooled again.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

How do we know?

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

So now the “evidence” of Iran’s supposed meddling in Iraq has been “presented” to a select number of people and is being used as further reason to bomb the country back to the Stone Age. Well, sorry for not being whipped into a feverish bloodthirsty frenzy, but it seems an awful lot like “been there, done that”.

And since this “evidence” was only presented to certain people in the military and we are supposed to trust those who are telling us “no really, this time we are serious, there really is evidence”, I still have a few questions. Excuse me for being the skeptic, but I think We the People are owed an explanation and just a wee bit more detail.

How do we know that this evidence actually exists? If all we are seeing are pictures of purported evidence, how do we know that these pictures aren’t the same “cheap forgeries” that related to another country a few short years ago?

How do we know that this information has anything at all to do with Iran’s government when even General Pace doesn’t think there is a link? How do we know that the source of this evidence is any more credible than my sister’s husband’s cousin’s uncle’s grandchild’s babysitter? How do we know that, even if this “weapons cache” was used in Iraq that it wasn’t specifically planted by Sunni insurgents as a false flag?

How do we know that the US isn’t being played (just as it was by Ahmad Chalabi) by Sunnis in order to divert attention towards Iran and the Shiites in Iraq? How do we know that the intelligence community is in agreement about this supposed evidence, especially when National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley recently called it “overstated”? How do we know that this evidence, which was also recently called “scant” actually even exists?

How do we know that this evidence didn’t come from sources other than the ever-credible “sources” like discredited arms dealers who were involved with Iran-Contra? How do we know that this evidence isn’t being “stovepiped” like the evidence on Iraq? How do we know that Office of Special Plans evidence manipulator Abram Shulsky isn’t manipulating evidence again?

How do we know that, even if this “evidence” is accurate, that it is being used in attacks against our troops? How do we know that Saudi Arabia ISN’T at least as involved or even more involved in the financing for weapons that are shooting down our helicopters? How do we know that Pakistan isn’t harboring terrorists and turning a blind eye towards attacks by the Taliban against our troops in Afghanistan?

How do we know that you aren’t lying once again? How do we know that you aren’t going to lie this country into war again? How do we know that the pre-dawn raid in December that led to the detaining of Iranian diplomats wasn’t specifically meant as an act of aggression? How do we know that your intentions are any different you’re your intentions on Iraq, where war was predetermined regardless of the facts?

Sorry to burst your bubble here, but this world already got suckered once. You fooled us once. And before you fool us twice, just know that, um, you can’t get fooled again.

Monday, February 12, 2007

We've ignited a regional holy war in Iraq

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing

Chalk it up to the law of unintended consequences. I would say to chalk it up to the law of "intended" consequences, except for the fact that there were many in our government, including Bush himself who didn't know the difference between Shiites and Sunnis.

Over the past few months, the United States is finally realizing that Iraq is in the midst of a bloody civil war. One that was predicted by many for years now. And more recently, the talk is being ratcheted up about the scant, um, "overstated", um, "pretty good" evidence of Iran's "meddling" in Iraq.

What is being missed here, is that we shouldn't even be talking about a "civil war" in Iraq - but rather a regional holy war between Sunnis and Shiites. And oh-by-the-way, while this battle was previously largely confined to Lebanon and some other areas, and whose face was mainly terrorist groups such as Hizbullah or Hamas, Iraq is rapidly becoming "ground zero" for this holy war for dominance in the region.

Not to say that this outcome wasn't something that could have been predicted, given the volatile state of the region in general, as well as the numerous wars and conflicts that have been fought over the past, oh, countless number of years. Up until now, however, the US troops were not in the midst of this holy war. And up until the ill-fated invasion of Iraq, the US had little hand (other than its role as background aggressor) in these battles.

However, the US invasion and occupation of Iraq has done way more damage than "creating a haven for terrorists". The bigger horrific long term impact is that Iraq, with its largely Shiite population but formerly Sunni government is now viewed as "up for grabs" in a battle to shift the regional power to Shiite-dominated.

In doing research over the past few weeks for my book, I have been gathering a lot of information on Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. And in piecing together the mess that has been made in or by each of these countries over the past few years, I came across an excellent article from last December's UK Guardian, titled Iran v Saudis in battle of Beirut. While it relates to the struggle in Lebanon, developments over the past two months not only supplement this article, but also put the entire region into context.

And let me tell you, it isn't pretty.

Before I get into the context as it relates to Iraq, I'll at least lay out who is on whose side.


Most Muslims are Sunni. While Iraq was overwhelmingly Shiite, Saddam's regime was a Sunni regime. Therefore, while the country itself was majority Shiite, the Sunni government (and Saddam's heavy hand) kept the Shiites from exerting its authority in the country. The combination of the Shiite majority and the Sunni minority rulers made the potential for an exploding powder keg if the Sunnis were driven from power. Another way to say this is that anyone with even a cursory amount of knowledge knew that a civil war in Iraq was not only possible but likely if Saddam's regime were to be toppled.

On the "Sunni side" are countries that are our "friends" in the WarOnTerrah™. Countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt as well as countries like Jordan and much of the Palestinian Muslims are Sunni, or largely identify themselves with the Sunnis. While there may be Shiite elements or struggles for power in these countries (like the one in Pakistan), by and large, they are and have been Sunni.

Additionally, our enemies such as the Taliban (who the US and Pakistan had a large hand in helping form), Hamas and Osama himself are Sunni.


On the "Shiite team" are our sworn enemies such as the card-carrying "Axis of Evil" member Iran, Syria as well as Lebanon. Terrorist group Hezbollah is also a Shiite organization.


So what is going on now? Well, if you remember, we helped Saddam's Sunni regime against Iran in the Iran/Iraq war. We have always been aligned with Saudi Arabia and, when it suits our cause, Pakistan. Iran and Syria have generally been "evil" in the eyes of the United States. So, it would seem that historically, we would be more sympathetic to the countries that are Sunni over those who are Shiite.

The problem here? Well, in Iraq, the "insurgency" has historically been Sunni. And from 2004 - 2005, there were roughly 60,000 attacks against US and coalition forces in Iraq. Since this was the period before a full blown civil war was occurring, it is safe to say that these attacks were largely by the Sunni "insurgency".

Makes sense so far. However, when you look at the events of the past two months, we are in a situation where we are supporting countries who are backing (1) Sunni insurgents against American troops (Saudi Arabia), (2) countries that are looking the other way while the Taliban are launching attacks against US troops in Afghanistan (Pakistan) and (3) are not doing enough to capture bin Laden, who is assumed to be hiding in the country (Pakistan).

We know that there have been a number of instances over the past three weeks where US helicopters have been shot down in Iraq. The week after the UK Guardian article was released, there were wealthy Saudis funding the Sunni insurgents. What was the funding being used for?

Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.

We also know that Vice President Cheney was "summoned" to Saudi Arabia around the same time. According to a top Saudi official, the meeting wasn't too pleasant:

sked about the meeting, a senior Saudi official -- who spoke on condition he not be named -- ruled out using terminology such as "warning" or "threatening." He said, "I believe the Saudi position was clear, that things might deteriorate or drift in Iraq, and then the kingdom will find itself forced to interfere."

The official also added: "This is not only expected from Saudi Arabia, but also Jordan and a lot of other Arab countries can't stand still and see things going that direction."

Over recent months, there has also been much finger pointing between Afghan President Karzai and Pakistan regarding the Taliban. Even John Negroponte pointed the finger at Pakistan last month, alleging that it a refuge for top terror leaders and is not doing enough to stop al Qaeda and the Taliban from launching attacks on US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

At the same time, we are refusing to talk to countries like Iran and Syria, whose influence will only grow if Iraq falls to the Shiite majority and its leaders such as al Sadr. Not only that, but we are threatening action against Iran for tenuous links to IED parts that were used to in attacks on US troops in Iraq.

The article cited above from the UK Guardian notes the following with respect to the fighting in Labanon over the past year:

A Hizbullah political success would plainly complement the group's self-proclaimed military successes of August. And like Israel, the US and Britain see the potential "loss" of Lebanon as a direct gain not only for Syria and its favourite militia, but more worryingly, for Iran. This places the battle for Beirut squarely in the wider context of a regional power struggle with an increasingly confident Tehran.

While Lebanon may have seemed like the place where this regional struggle was taking place by proxy, the past two months have seen some significant developments in Iraq. Not just in the civil war - not just with the "supposed" evidence about Iran. But about the battle for regional domination among countries that back Sunnis and countries that back Shiites.

This battle is now actively being waged in Iraq. And not only did the United States ignite this with the invasion and occupation, but now appears to be taking sides.

And it is worth mentioning that we are taking sides with countries that have been funding the Sunni insurgency, as well as countries that are backing the Taliban, al Qaeda and those who attacked us back in 2001.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Is it worth it?

Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing

Every Congressman, Congresswoman, talking meatstick, member of the press and American should be asking this question. Certainly, we can look back at the complete disaster that is Iraq and ask “WAS it worth it?”. In fact, many people have asked themselves that question, and even NewsMax reported last year that nearly 60% of Americans think the answer to that is “No”.

This time, as the drumbeat for raining fire and brimstone over Iran is getting louder and louder, the question should be asked as to whether an attack on Iran will be worth it. Worth the cost. Worth the consequences. Worth the casualties. Worth the complete decimation of our already strained military.

LithiumCola has one of the best comments that I have read as it relates to the “evidence” about Iran’s supposed meddling in Iraq. And it should be used as a litmus test for any potential military action. It is a simple question. Even if all of the supposed evidence (whose most favorable description was “pretty good”) is true, is it worth bombing Iran over?

The whole “nuclear bomb is imminent” meme has been thoroughly shot down on so many occasions that even this crew of lying liars can’t sell that one to the most gullible of Yellow Elephants (add this to your blogroll…). However, the Bush administration is hell bent on using its own catastrophic failures in Iraq as a means to try and provoke Iran into war.

Thing is, Iran isn’t stupid. Despite the fact that they are the ones with UN sanctions, and despite the fact that the IAEA has indicated that Iran is running afoul of their obligations, it is Iran that will come out looking better in a battle with the US. It is Iran that will be defending itself. It is Iran that has the upper hand.

As far back as two years ago, Iran was preparing for a US or Israeli attack. Over two years ago, Iran was already winning the war of words – indicating that it would retaliate if attacked but never mentioning that it would be an aggressor.

As recently as this past December, Iran was talking – not about “pre-emptive strikes” but about “retaliation”:

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi: "The Americans are sunk in the quagmire of Afghanistan and Iraq, and there is no way for them [to move either] forward or backward. Assuming they attack Iran, [then] their 200,000 troops, in their 33 bases, are highly vulnerable. American politicians and military commanders both know this.

"They can start a war, but [the decision to] end [the war] will not be in their hands.


Iranian Navy Commander: American Warships Are Heavy... And Easily Sunk: On November 27, 2006, the Iranian news agency Mehr reported that IRGC Navy Commander Admiral Sejad Kouchaki had said, "We are fully monitoring the route taken by the American [warships in the Gulf], and because American warships are heavy, they have no maneuverability, and are easily sunk."


Iranian Suicide Bomber Organization Threatens Suicide Operations Against U.S. Targets in Gulf: On November 20, 2006, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai reported: "An extremist Iranian group is threatening to carry out suicide operations in the Gulf countries that are allies of the U.S., in the event that the U.S. uses its own bases in these countries to attack Iran."

This is what we will be looking at if we attack Iran. Hell, Vice President Cheney has been saying that bin Laden is in Pakistan for two years now. There are new allegations by John Negroponte that Pakistan is harboring terrorists and is assisting the Taliban in its attacks against forces in Afghanistan. Yet, here is evidence which is questionable at best about Iran being trumpeted using the same liars that strong-armed their way into an invasion of Iraq.

The United States is hardly in a good position here. We barely have the resources to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan, let alone Iran. The repercussions will be swift. They will be strong. If anyone thinks this country and its economy are in bad shape now, just wait until an attack on Iran.

For those who say that “we haven’t been attacked again here in the US”, get ready for a few attacks if we start bombing Iran. For those who think that Iran will just roll over and give us that cheap oil we were promised by the neocon war criminals before “Shock and Awe”, you got another thing coming.

There are so many things that will backfire from an attack on Iran. There will be such a strong backlash from the international community. In a word, this country will be fucked. Even more than now.

Even if the supposed evidence against Iran is true, is it worth the ramifications of bombing the country?

I think you will be hard pressed to find anyone that will say yes to this question. Unless they are lying, delusional or criminal.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Front paged at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing. Recommended at Daily Kos

We are now being told that Iran is meddling in Iraq and is “helping insurgents”. While the government doesn’t know whether it should release the information, it wants us to trust them. Trust them about evidence that National Security Advisor Steven Hadley said is “overstated”. That we should trust new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, because he says the evidence is “pretty good”.

This, from the same man who was under investigation for lying about the Iran-contra crimes.

We are being told that there is solid and credible evidence against Iran. Vice President Cheney says that he has seen proof. But the “proof” is coming from private briefings by the Pentagon’s Iranian directorate. A man named Abram Shulksy. Shulksy was the former head of the Office of Special Plans. The same Office of Special Plans that this week was found to have manipulated evidence about Iraq.

This, from the same men who lied about Iraq. From the same Vice President that was right in the center of the leaking of classified information for revenge. Classified information that led to the end of a counterproliferation program investigating Iran.

We are supposed to trust that the evidence being presented to the Vice President’s office by Iranian exiles and a discredited arms dealer who was involved in the Iran-contra scandal. Just like we were supposed to trust evidence from an Iraqi defector who was widely discredited as unreliable and a drunk. Evidence that was also refuted directly by Germany and other sources. Evidence that the Vice President’s office knew was unreliable but didn’t disclose that the evidence was dubious.

Just like Ahmad Chalabi, whose relationship with this administration provided the information that would lead this country to invade Iraq. The same man who was later deemed to be passing information along to Iran.

We were told to trust you then. To trust that the evidence was a slam-dunk. Only that it wasn’t. But it was worse. The evidence was already known to be manufactured and false. Not the “slam-dunk”. Just lies.

Yet, here we – second verse, same as the first. We are supposed to trust you that the evidence is there. Evidence that was described as “scant” just two weeks ago. Evidence that last week was described as something that “can’t be proven”. Evidence of a link that just one week ago, Secretary of Defense Gates said was “something he didn’t know the answer to”.

The Bush administration says that there is evidence and that it merits us to drop bombs all throughout Iran. Evidence whose release to the public is still being delayed. Evidence that Congress hasn’t even seen. But we should trust them that it is there.

Just like we trusted when we were told that that Iraq had WMDs. Just like we trusted when we were told that we don’t want to wait for the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

Just like we were told to trust that New Orleans would be rebuilt. Or that we should be trusted that the bankruptcy bill would make things fairer and strengthen the economy. But things aren’t getting better in New Orleans. And article after article after article after article show increases in bankruptcies over the past few years.

We trusted you when you said that no one could have anticipated an increase in violence in Iraq. Or when you said that no one could have anticipated a breach of the levees. Or when you said that nobody could have predicted that they would fly planes into our buildings. But all of those happened. And you knew that all of those could or would happen, yet we were still told to trust you.

But we should trust you now. With no evidence. And the same lies and liars that were used before. The thing is – trust is earned, betrayed and lost.

We gave our trust. You betrayed our trust, and therefore lost it. A long time ago. “Trust us” just doesn’t cut it.