Friday, June 23, 2006

Plushy after dark

A little bonus lion kitty to start the weekend off right.

How's that progress going?

AP/Hadi Mizban
Someone in the new unity government apparently didn't get the WH talking points. Today, the Iraqi government imposed a curfew on pedestrian and vehicular traffic in Baghdad. This is after declaring a "state of emergency" yesterday.
BAGHDAD, June 23 -- Adding a new layer of confusion to the security crackdown gripping Baghdad, the Iraqi government today imposed a last-minute ban on pedestrian as well as vehicular traffic throughout the city.

The 2 p.m. curfew was announced late in the morning, after many people were already traveling to work or to mosques for weekly Friday prayers. Originally, it was supposed to last all night. But hours later, a bulletin on Iraqi television announced the curfew would end at 5 p.m. (9 a.m. in Washington).

Under a security crackdown launched last week, vehicle traffic already was banned in the capital from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays, the Muslim Sabbath, when midday mosque attendance -- and the potential for violence -- is especially high.

The government gave no explanation for the additional restrictive measures, but they followed violent clashes reported in several Baghdad neighborhoods this morning. Three insurgents were killed and six wounded in fighting near the Haifa Street neighborhood, according to Ahmed Al-Nuaimi, an interior ministry official.

That doesn't sound like "last throes" to me. I'm glad the new government is trying to get a handle on the deteriorating state of affairs there. I wonder, how long until they publicly say what anyone with sense knows, that our presence is fueling the insurrgency?

And how long until they politely ask us to get the hell out? What will the Cheney administration do then?

With his world view, I'd be surprised if they didn't just say, "sorry, but it's not in American interests for us to withdraw at this time." Hey, you didn't think they were building those permanent bases just to turn them over to the Iraqis, did you?

Friday morning plushy

Kind of an "awwwwww" picture. Mr. Plushy, sleeping on my desk with his peep.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mr. Plushy isn't pleased

Maxx is irritated with the barking corgi next store too.

In Iraq Permanently

Like Josh and Atrios, I'm a little baffled at why the republicans think endless war in Iraq is a good thing. Josh sez:
I'm a bit confused. I'm hearing a lot of reports about Republicans chanting about staying in Iraq forever, the danger of ever withdrawing our troops. There's Cheney. There's Frist. I can't say I've done a systematic scan of all media. I'm just saying what I've happened across during a day of work. And I'm not seeing any Dems. Not hearing any clear message.

What Republicans want is More of the Same.

That's the motto. More of the Same.

The president says he wants to stay in Iraq for at least three more years. Virtually every Republican agrees. Three more years. They approve the course the president has set.

They're for More of the Same. They don't have a plan. They just want to stay indefinitely.

They're just for More of the Same.

Then again, just what do we think those permanent bases are for?

I agree with Josh though- dems need to get on TV, radio, a soap box, fucking WHATEVER, and scream about this at the top of their lungs.

Republicans want endless war. Want us out of Iraq? then start by throwing the bums out.

The persistence of delusion

Go read Billmon's post "Kabul Follies" about how we're managing to lose two wars simultaneously on the same continent. He links to William S. Lind's latest post at Defense and the National Interest:
At present, the bombing is largely tied to the latest Somme-like “Big Push,” Operation Mountain Thrust, in which more than 10,000 U.S.-led troops are trying another failed approach to guerrilla war, the sweep. I have no doubt it would break the Mullah Omar Line, if it existed, which it doesn’t. Even the Brits seem to have drunk the Kool-Aid this time, with the June 19 Washington Times reporting that “British commanders declared for the first time yesterday that their troops were enjoying success in the restive south of Afghanistan after pushing faster than expected into rebel territory.” Should be in Berlin by September, old chap.

For those of you who don't know him, Lind is director of The Free Congress Foundation, a very conservative think tank. Uh, oh.

Lind offers a short refresher course in Guerilla Warfare 101:
• Air power works against you, not for you. It kills lots of people who weren’t your enemy, recruiting their relatives, friends and fellow tribesmen to become your enemies. In this kind of war, bombers are as useful as 42 cm. siege mortars.

• Big, noisy, offensives, launched with lots of warning, achieve nothing. The enemy just goes to ground while you pass on through, and he’s still there when you leave. Big Pushes are the opposite of the “ink blot” strategy, which is the only thing that works, when anything can.

• Putting the Big Push together with lots of bombing in Afghanistan’s Pashtun country means we end up fighting most if not all of the Pashtun. In Afghan wars, the Pashtun always win in the end.

• Quisling governments fail because they cannot achieve legitimacy.

• You need closure, but your guerilla enemy doesn’t. He not only can fight until Doomsday, he intends to do just that—if not you, then someone else.

• The bigger the operations you have to undertake, the more surely your enemy is winning.

Of course the geniuses at the WH haven't a clue about warfare or any kind, guerilla or not.

Billmon draws the obvious parallel to Vietnam, when US generals would regularly trot out and give glowing reports of the "progress" complete with body counts. (I'm old enough to remember them). I watched "The Fog of War" again this weekend, the excellent, if chilling, documentary about Robert McNamara.

I was struck all over about how history repeats itself, and how stupidity appears to always win out. In LBJ's time, we had a war against "tyranny" and "aggression." These days we have a war against "terror."

The only thing that's changed is the style of uniform the dead soldiers are wearing.

Suskind's new book, The One Percent Doctrine, is #1 on again today.

Buy it here: The One Percent Doctrine

Help it debut at number on on the NY Times bestseller list on Sunday. Make evil hag Ann Coulter cry.

Happy Birthday Yesterday Uncle Jeffraham!!

Maxx sends you belated purrrrrrrs.

War Hags

AFP/Mark Wilson

The GOP, or the war hag party, is having a grand old time this week painting the democrats as the party of "retreat and defeat." Really, have you ever seen a bunch of old geezers that enjoys the thought of death and destruction more? I wish they could all look at this photograph and try to remember that every headstone represents one family who has been shattered by the death of a soldier. As Atrios says this morning, it's all about using the soldiers as props in an election year.

How cynical. How utterly appalling. The NY Times has the details of the GOP's rush to embrace the clusterfuck resulting from Bush's disastrous war in Iraq;
But people who attended a series of high-level meetings this month between White House and Congressional officials say President Bush's aides argued that it could be a politically fatal mistake for Republicans to walk away from the war in an election year.

White House officials including the national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, outlined ways in which Republican lawmakers could speak more forcefully about the war. Participants also included Mr. Bush's top political and communications advisers: his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove; his political director, Sara Taylor; and the White House counselor, Dan Bartlett. Mr. Rove is newly freed from the threat of indictment in the C.I.A. leak case, and leaders of both parties see his reinvigorated hand in the strategy.

The meetings were followed by the distribution of a 74-page briefing book to Congressional offices from the Pentagon to provide ammunition for what White House officials say will be a central line of attack against Democrats from now through the midterm elections: that the withdrawal being advocated by Democrats would mean thousands of troops would have died for nothing, would give extremists a launching pad from which to build an Islamo-fascist empire and would hand the United States its must humiliating defeat since Vietnam.

Two points. First, we're going to hand the US a defeat? Bush has done that with his astoundingly incompetent handling of the war. Second point, what the fuck is the pentagon doing using our tax dollars to produce what's essentially a political document?

Instead of running from this issue, democrats should embrace it and hang it around every republican running for office like a two-ton anchor. The argument should be, "do you really want to keep spending $8 billion a month and killing american soldiers in this endless mis-adventure? The president says the troops are never coming home as long as they're in charge. Do you want the troops home? Then you must vote these incompetent and delusional clowns out of office."

They are standing with the president to a man.

Let's make them pay for it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mid-evening plushy

Lion kitty and I are pretty bored with the whole Kos brou-ha-ha.

Gratuitous mid-day plush

Just because sometimes I need a plushy fix too.

Pony Blow gets smacked

Josh at Talking Points Memo properly smacks Pony Blow about the head and shoulders for his assine statements about the Battle of the Bulge last week:
"Okay, back on Monday we discussed Tony Snow's comments about how if polls had been taken during World War II's Bulge of the Bulge people would probably have been pushing for a change in the course of the war as they are now in Iraq.

That's actually an insult to the American people generally, as well as the men who fought World War II and those who supported them on the homefront.

In any case, Snow clearly believes he can get away with this malarkey because he thinks polls weren't taken at the time.

But he's wrong. They were taking them. And they pretty clearly belie Snow's whole point.

My great friend and former graduate student colleague James Sparrow dropped me a line last night to tell me that "Hadley Cantril, at Princeton, did secret polling for FDR throughout the war on public support for the war, and specifically focused on trendlines, noting shifts from event to event."

Read the whole post here. Okay, I'm not going to fault Tony Snow for not knowing that there actually was polling done during WWII, but the idea that the American people didn't support the war in 1944 is beyond ludicrous.

The WH should quit pulling garbage out of their collective asses to defend this disastrous and unpopular war. And they should stop making ridiculous and insulting references to try to paint democrats as the bad guys. I mean, what's next? "If democrats had been present at the big bang, they'd have prevented it from happening, causing all of the universe to fail to form!"?

I suspect that part of this is a willful effort on the WH's part to both conflate chimpy with a great president AND to paint the democrats as cowardly traitors.

But I also think part of the story is that Pony Blow is dumb as a fucking rock.

Who me?

AP Rudi Blaha

"Torture? I don't actually run the US government. That's my boy Cheney."

"Yes, it's true...

AP/Charles Dharapak

... my dick really is that little. Why do you think I'm such an asshole?"

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What Billmon says....

Billmon comments on the shameless republican congress who, less that a week after giving themselves a pay raise, voted today to kill legislation to raise the minimum wage for the first time in ten years. The Wages of Sin.
The piglets must assume that no matter how bad the juxtaposition of the two items above may look in June, by November it will just be another half-remembered trivia question -- like the infamous Dubai ports deal, which is being quietly resurrected now that all the fuss has died down.

They're probably right: There no longer seems to be any limit on what the devious and the dishonest can get away with in this country, as long as they're willing to be patient about it.

Sadly, I'm afraid he's probably right.

Your tuesday plush

Mr. Plushy and I are watching Frontline, "The Dark Side"

It's not making us happy, precious, no, not happy at all.

Bush Knew about Torture

And don't you let his flunkeys tell you he didn't. Hell, he encouraged it. Via Froomkin, in today's White House Briefing, more Suskind:
Bush 'was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,' Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, 'Do some of these harsh methods really work?' Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning.

So let's not hear any more of this nonsense that interrogators "got out of hand."

The Hague. He should go directly to, without passing GO.

Ntodd's pipples

That's Mex on the left, and Kayla, newly adopted, on the right. May she bring much joy and laughter to Ntodd's life- god knows he could use a little joy this year.

Best wishes to all the critters at chez Ntodd from lion kitty Maxx and fourlegsgood.

The Money Quote

There is is, the quote that any dem running for office in the next few years should use to hang about the neck of any republican running for re-election. Via the NYTIMES:
President Bush spoke similarly at a Republican fund-raiser here Monday night. "An early withdrawal would embolden the terrorists — an early withdrawal would embolden Al Qaeda and bin Laden," Mr. Bush said. "There will be no early withdrawal so long as we run the Congress and occupy the White House."

Article here: Senators Debating Iraq Measure

Do you want the troops home? You cannot vote for a republican. As long as they're in charge, the war goes on.

It's as simple as that.

I just hope someone got audio.


Who didn't see this coming? The two missing GI's have been found, apparently tortured and then brutally killed. Missing G.I.'s Are Found Dead in Iraq
BAGHDAD, June 20 — The Iraqi military said today that the bodies of two American soldiers missing since Friday were found this morning outside the town where they were captured and that the two bodies had marks showing that they had been brutally tortured.

The two bodies were found in the village of Jarf as-Sakhr, which is on the outskirts of Yusufiya.
An American military spokesman, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, said that the remains believed to be those of the missing soldiers were spotted last night in the vicinity of an electrical plant in Yusufiya, but due to the "unstable condition" of the area they were not retrieved until this morning.

While General Caldwell provided few specifics about the conditions of the remains, an Iraqi military official, Major General Abdul Aziz Mohammed, said that they had been "killed in a brutal way and tortured.

My deepest sympathies to the families of these young soldiers. And my deepest contempt to the architects of this illegal clusterfuck and the policies that have made it open season on american soldiers.

There's a reason we signed the Geneva Conventions. It's not just to protect enemy POWs, it's to shield our own soldiers from torture and inhumane treatment should they be captured. The responsibility for this lies directly with Bush.

Oh, and a big fuck you to assrocket for trashing the uncle of one of the soldiers. I know it's tough for you, but try to show a little respect. I'll bet that dead soldier would like to kick your chickenhawk ass from beyond the grave for dissing his uncle.

Rare Rainbow

Via National Geographic, this photo is of a rare rainbow photographed on June 3rd in Idaho.
June 19, 2006—It looks like a rainbow that's been set on fire, but this phenomenon is as cold as ice.

Known in the weather world as a circumhorizontal arc, this rare sight was caught on film on June 3 as it hung over northern Idaho near the Washington State border (map of Idaho).

The arc isn't a rainbow in the traditional sense—it is caused by light passing through wispy, high-altitude cirrus clouds. The sight occurs only when the sun is very high in the sky (more than 58° above the horizon). What's more, the hexagonal ice crystals that make up cirrus clouds must be shaped like thick plates with their faces parallel to the ground.

When light enters through a vertical side face of such an ice crystal and leaves from the bottom face, it refracts, or bends, in the same way that light passes through a prism. If a cirrus's crystals are aligned just right, the whole cloud lights up in a spectrum of colors.

This particular arc spanned several hundred square miles of sky and lasted for about an hour, according to the London Daily Mail.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Plushy pic of the day

The plushy one cavorts with his peep.

The One Percent Solution, er, Doctrine

Froomkin, in today's White House Briefing discusses Ron Suskind's new book "The One Percent Doctrine" and how Cheney is running the foreign policy show:
But the longer-term significance of Suskind's new book -- his second major expose of the Bush White House in three years -- will likely be how it documents Vice President Cheney's singularly dominant role in the foreign policy and national security decisions typically attributed to President Bush.

Where other journalists smarmily imply that Cheney is in charge, or credulously relate White House assurances that he's not, Suskind appears to have gotten people with first-hand experience to actually describe how Cheney operates -- and what he has wrought.


Writes Suskind on his Web site : "What is the guiding principle of the world's most powerful nation as it searches for enemies at home and abroad? The One Percent Doctrine is the deeply secretive core of America's real playbook: a default strategy, designed by Dick Cheney, that separates America from its moorings, and has driven everything -- from war in Afghanistan to war in Iraq to the global search for jihadists."


"Absorbing the possibility that al-Qaeda was trying to acquire a nuclear weapon, Cheney remarked that America had to deal with a new type of threat -- what he called a 'low-probability, high-impact event' -- and the U.S. had to do it 'in a way we haven't yet defined,' writes author Ron Suskind in his new book, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11.

"And then Cheney defined it: 'If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis . . . It's about our response.' Suskind writes, 'So, now spoken, it stood: a standard of action that would frame events and responses from the Administration for years to come.' "

Allow me to point out that this idea is crack-head crazy. And yet this crack-pot idea has shaped foreign policy for the past few years. Why doesn't our media find this the least bit controversial? We've apparently made the calculation that american lives are so much more precious than the rest of the world's, that we reserve the right to respond even if there's only a 1% chance that we're right.

That's appalling. The reason to be judicious and careful is that military responses kill people. And as we've seen the past several years, military responses frequently kill innocent people.

I watched the news this evening, and Froomkin is correct, all the attention is on the aborted cyanide plot. The news that Cheney is dictating foreign policy with crack-head ideas? It barely caused a ripple.

Buy Suskind's book here: The One Percent Doctrine

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hell Cracked Open

Oh, god. Wolcott links to the Sunday TIme's story by Hala Jaber on the horror that is Baghdad today. Horror Shows Iraq's Descent.
The single-storey Al-Tub al-Adli morgue, whose nondescript appearance belies the horrors within, has become synonymous with the seemingly unstoppable violence that has turned Baghdad into the most frightening city on earth.

It is here that bodies from the nightly slaughter are dumped each morning. The stench of decaying flesh, mingled with disinfectant, hits you at the checkpoint 100 yards away.

Each corpse tells a different story about the terrors of Iraq. Some bodies are pocked with holes inflicted by torturers with power drills. Some show signs of strangulation; others, with hands tied behind the back, bear bullet wounds. Many are charred and dismembered.

So far this year, according to health ministry figures, the mortuary has processed the bodies of about 6,000 people, most of whom died violently. Some were killed in American military action but many more were the victims of the sectarian violence that US and Iraqi forces are struggling to contain.

For all the coalition’s recent successes in securing elections that brought a new government to power and in killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the commander of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the morgue remains a chilling reminder of the scale of the challenge ahead.

It receives 20 to 30 bodies on a quiet day. Last month it processed a record 1,384. Most autopsies have been cancelled; there are simply not enough doctors or officials to cope.

For Iraqis who suffer the loss of a family member, a dreaded ritual ensues. Everyone knows there is no point in reporting a missing person to the police — no action will be taken. The first stop is always the morgue. The lucky ones find a body straight away. For others, the morning walk past the coffins has to be repeated. Their search can last for days.

As a former trauma specialist in a hospital casualty department, Dr Baker Siddique, 29, thought he was inured to scenes of carnage. But nothing he had witnessed prepared him for a visit to a pathologist friend working at the mortuary.

“I saw a street packed with people and coffins standing up vertically,” he said. “There wasn’t enough room to lie them horizontally.”

His voice faltered and his eyes filled with tears as he recounted the agony of a woman in black who discovered the bodies of her four sons that day.

“I have never heard screams of pain like that,” he said. The woman collapsed on the floor, throwing dirt over her head — a gesture of grief and helplessness that has become tragically commonplace in Iraq.

I wonder if that woman thinks the price is worth it? I'm going to guess no.

Reality sucks, so we must ignore it

So sayeth the beltway crowd. The Washington Post obtained a cable from the US ambassador in Iraq, detailing the deteriorating and frightening conditions in Iraq. Via Editor and Publisher, 'Wash Post' Obtains Shocking Memo from U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Details Increasing Danger and Hardship:
NEW YORK The Washington Post has obtained a cable, marked "sensitive," that it says show that just before President Bush left on a surprise trip last Monday to the Green Zone in Baghdad for an upbeat assessment of the situation there, "the U.S. Embassy in Iraq painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship faced by its Iraqi employees."

This cable outlines, the Post reported Sunday, "the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees' constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government."

It's actually far worse than that, as the details published below indicate, which include references to abductions, threats to women's rights, and "ethnic cleansing."

A PDF copy of the cable shows that it was sent to the SecState in Washington, D.C. from "AMEmbassy Baghdad" on June 6. The typed name at the very bottom is Khalilzad -- the name of the U.S. Ambassador, though it is not known if this means he wrote the memo or merely approved it.

The subject of the memo is: "Snapshots from the Office -- Public Affairs Staff Show Strains of Social Discord."

As a footnote in one of the 23 sections, the embassy relates, "An Arab newspaper editor told us he is preparing an extensive survey of ethnic cleansing, which he said is taking place in almost every Iraqi province, as political parties and their militiast are seemingly engaged in tit-for-tat reprisals all over Iraq."

Ethnic cleansing. Women losing their rights. Charming.

The Bush administration has had the memo since June 6th, but that didn't stop them from staging Bush's little photo-op in Baghdad. Or from pretending that al-Zarqawi was more important than he actually was. It hasn't stopped them from marching out in public everyday and citing the "progress" occuring in Iraq. Everything, and I mean everything, is PR to them.

And yet this shocking report is getting very little play. I guess it interferes with their narrative that Bush is rebounding. Can't let a little reality get in the way of a good story.