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Lets's talk about democracy
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Monday, 29 August 2005
Bush and Jefferson's constitution.
Topic: Iraq

Things don't seem to be going according to plan in Iraq. The draft constitution is what is it is, and the Sunnis aren't playing along. There was no vote in the Assembly, yet the draft is on its way to the "people." President Jalal Talibani said reassuringly that "We are optimistic...For sure there is no book that is perfect and cannot be amended except the holy Koran." That's the Jeffersonian spirit!

In Saturday radio address Bush said,"Like our own nation's founders over two centuries ago, the Iraqis are grappling with difficult issues, such as the role of the federal government." What an apt analogy! Except for the "founding fathers" part.

What seems to be happening rather, is that the Kurds and Shiites are codifying Iraq's secular divide. I mean, Connecticut didn't agree to join the Union only on the stipulation that the Pope would adjudicate all constitutional questions.

But what di I know? W. has Condi telling him what's going on. "What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion — not at the barrel of a gun." Except, that we're enforcing our will with the barrel of a gun. This is why the Sunnis tend to think this "constitution" is really an "American" Constitution.

I was only being facetious when I said the Sunnis were the "sane ones." They're as crazy as all the rest of them. Their insistence on keeping the Ba'ath party in the mix, just makes them look like Saddamists. Come up with a new name!

[Out of time. More later.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:11 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005 2:57 PM EDT
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Friday, 26 August 2005
Strike three, you're not out.
Topic: Iraq

For the third time the Iraqis have missed a self imposed deadline to seal the deal on a constitution. (According to some, they really haven’t because they turned in the draft on time on Monday.) Yesterday, the Assembly didn’t even bother to meet. It appears the Shiites have decided they’re done dealing with the Sunnis and with the National Assembly and are now talking about sending the document directly to the “people” for a vote. (Like Ahmad Chalabi said of the Sunnis, “how many votes do they have?”) The question as to whether any of this is legal hasn’t come up.

I still don’t understand why the National Assembly is involved in brokering a deal on the various disagreements that have brought this “process” to a standstill. I thought, they only voted up or down on this thing, now they’re negotiating, too?

No worries, Laith Kuba said yesterday, "By the end of the day, we should have a completed version of the draft, it will not please everybody, but there's an amendment to those three articles. The assembly will then rubber-stamp it." [KR]

Interesting choice of wording there, by the way, I don’t know whether that was a Freudian slip or he just doesn’t care, but basically, this is what has been going on all along. They’ve just shut the Sunnis out. The Shiites are going to get their Iranian backed theocracy in the south and the Kurds will retain their autonomy in the north and the Sunnis can eat dust. It’s agreed! Is this what W. meant by saying the Iraqi people were “working hard to reach a consensus on their constitution?”

It really shows you how seriously out of control W.’s handlers think things in Iraq really are, that he roused himself from his vacation to make a call to Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of Sciri, to try to get him to make a deal with the Sunnis. Hakim was the one who started this mess by insisting the Shiites wanted their own autonomous region at the 11th hour, so why are we talking to him? No word on whether Bush will be talking to the Sunnis.

The Sunnis are the only sane ones.

Unbeknownst to W., the Sunnis are the only ones who are actually saying anything about the co-opting of the entire process by the Shiite clerics. The Kurds want a secular government, too, but they feel the US isn’t doing anything to stop the Shiites, so they’re happy to let the US handle things.

Dexter Filkins in the NYT writes that, “Mahmood Othman, a Kurdish legislator, said Kurdish leaders did not vigorously oppose Islamist language [In the constitution] in part because American diplomats often did not object either.

For instance, Mr. Othman said, American diplomats had acquiesced to the language that would clear the way for clerical adjudication of family and personal disputes. ‘The Kurds thought, as long as the Americans don't object, why should we object?’ Mr. Othman said. ‘It's American policy to show that it is not opposed to Islam.’”

Ironically, the Ba’athist political ideology of “unity, freedom, and socialism,” is actually closer to what the Americans say they want for a “democratic” Iraq than what Hakim and ayatollah ali-Sistani are pushing for. Except for the “socialim” part, of course. Women had more rights under Saddam than they’re going to be left with after this is all over.

Filkins writes that, despite what W. was saying about what Condi told him about women’s rights, ‘Language reserving a quarter of the Assembly's seats for women has been relegated to a section of the constitution labeled transitional, which is of uncertain legal force and duration. Another phrase declares that education is mandatory only through elementary school. Women's rights groups, which expressed concern about lower levels of literacy among women here, wanted middle school to be declared mandatory as well, but were defeated.

‘This is the future of the new Iraqi government - it will be in the hands of the clerics,’ said Dr. Raja Kuzai, a secular Shiite member of the Assembly. ‘I wanted Iraqi women to be free, to be able to talk freely and to able to move around…I am not going to stay here,’ said Dr. Kuzai, an obstetrician and women's leader who met President Bush in the White House in November 2003.”

So, there you go. This is what is going to be hailed as a great victory for democracy and a victory for the US?

Cindy Sheehan is a mother:

You think the White House is worried about Cindy Sheehan? Yes. In his speech to the Idaho National Guard W. very cynically pointed out a mother in the crowd, named Tammy Pruett, who has four sons in Iraq and who very much supports the war. “America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts” he declared. Absolutely shameless! I guess, just losing one son isn’t sufficiently patriotic enough for Bush. Of course, it isn’t just Sheehan who is protesting this war.

Everywhere W. has gone, mothers who have either lost sons, or have sons currently serving in Iraq, have dogged him. AP reported on “Laura McCarthy of Eagle, Idaho, whose son, Gavin, 21, is in Iraq with the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th brigade, [Who] said Bush ‘'probably breathed a sigh of relief’' when he got to Idaho, a state he won easily in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. 'Guess what?’ McCarthy said. ‘'He's going to find a Cindy Sheehan in every community across the U.S.’ She might be right. Also in attendance was Brenda Mansell, from Boise, who protested about a zillion miles away from the speech in a “freedom zone.” [AP]

Mansell has just sent her Marine son off to Iraq. “This has to stop. Maybe if it starts with mothers, the rest of world will follow.” That’s what Bush is afraid of.

Of course, it’s not just the White House spin-meisters trying to neutralize the Sheehan effect. There are the rabid right wing bloggers and other assorted Neanderthals and goof balls, who don’t even know the difference between Sheehan’s group “Gold Star Families for Peace” and the older non-profit organization “American Gold Star Mothers.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer writes about the case of Judith Young who runs AGSM. She lost her son Jeff in the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut. She’s been getting death threats from these bozo Bush supporters! She says, “’I had someone call me at our Washington headquarters, call me a bitch, and hang up. We are slimeballs, lowlifes,’ she said. Another caller threatened to kick me in the butt, and someone else was going to slap me in the face. I said, “I’ll take that slap for all the Gold Star mothers.’”

Real nice! Again, I can’t imagine why all these Bush supporters who spend all their time blogging and making crank calls don’t sign up. We’re running out of soldiers. W. needs you! Go, go, go!

Rick Santorum is a mother too.

Here’s how bad things are getting for the Republicans. Chuck Hagal has invoked the “V” word to describe Iraq and now Rick Santorum has his staff looking for evidence that he’s ever actually questioned the war. This in response to his democratic challenger, Robert P. Casey’s, charges that he hasn’t asked the “tough questions” about Iraq. Santorum’s spokesman, Robert Traynham, says he’s checked Nexis and the office’s press clippings but has come up empty.

Santorum explains, “I do a lot of interviews on TV, on radio, with print reporters who don’t happen to write everything I say. The fact that it hasn’t turned up in print doesn’t mean I haven’t said it.” Ok, that makes a lot of sense. He has yet to say what it was he said about the war. Man, if the democrats could ever get their act together, this could be a really interesting mid term election. [PI]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:47 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005 3:20 PM EDT
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Thursday, 25 August 2005
Troops will withdraw.
Topic: Iraq

On the front page of the FT today there’s a story about a planed withdrawal of most US troops from Iraq by the end of next year. This seems to contradict Bush’s repeated vows of staying the course at his hand-picked military rallies over the past three days. Any withdrawal before the mission is accomplished in Iraq would “only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground for more attacks against America and free nations.” Scott McClellan, the oracle of truth, says, “Any suggestion that there is disagreement between our president and the military command is absurd.”

No, what’s absurd is the contention that us declaring victory and departing now would leave the Iraqis to the terrorists. This is very unlikely. Just think about what the Sunnis have to contend with. Between the Badr Brigade, the Peshmergas, and the Madhi Army, I doubt the insurgents would have much of a chance.

The real question is, where would all the foreign insurgents go? Since most of them are coming from Saudi Arabia, the Royal Saud family must be hoping we stay for a long, long time.

General Douglas Lute, the director of operations at Centcom, is quoted in FT as saying, “you have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It’s very difficult to so that when you have 150,000 plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country.” The plan is to withdraw most troops by handing over security to Iraqi forces, who ever they may be, in 14 of the 18 provinces considered to be mainly peaceful. (Of course, this has nothing to do with the mid-terms coming up in '06.)

Lute says, "We believe at some point, in order to break this dependence on the . . . coalition, you simply have to back off and let the Iraqis step forward." Looks like they're stepping forward all right." But what about General Schoomaker's worst case scenario of 100,000 troops remaing for another four years? "I will tell you this, as the operation officer of Centcom, if a year from now I've got to call on all those army troops that Gen Schoomaker is prepared to provide, I won't feel real good about myself."

But W. is felling good about himself. He's been on vacation for almost a month now and he's getting rave reveiws from his hand picked war fests. Do his adivsors actually think these staged events are really going to win over the two-thirds of Americans who think this war is pointless? Or is it just to make him fell better?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:36 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 25 August 2005 4:43 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 24 August 2005
The threat of the homeless:
Topic: General News.

The AP reports an e-mail from the US Attorney’s Office warned federal employees in Washington DC that extremists might be posing as “vagrants” in order to conduct surveillance on buildings and mass transit stations to plot attacks. “The e-mail stresses that there is no threat of an attack and that it is intended to be ‘informative, not alarming.’”

Well, if the homeless in DC are possible terrorists, federal employees should be alarmed. If you’ve ever been to Union Station you might have noticed there’s about 2 “vagrants” to every pinstripe suit. Most of them, by the way, are veterans. Up until now there hasn’t been any recognition that they were even there, but there’s a “threat,” all of a sudden, so we’d better keep an eye on them! Don’t help them; just watch them!

Pat Robertson strikes again:

If this guy was a Muslim “holy man” in a Virginia mosque, I think he’d be rotting away at Guantanamo, right now. But since he’s one of W.’s friends, he just gets to keep shooting his mouth off. Last time he was in the news it was the comments about the federal judiciary. We all remember; Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a communist; bearded jihads flying planes into the WTC weren’t as dangerous as the Supreme Court, etc.

Then there was his outrage over the “good Christian” Charles Taylor being chased out of Liberia and before that it was his great idea to put a nuke in the State Dept.

Now, he thinks the US should assassinate Hugo Chavez. He’s “a terrific danger.” He’s making Venezuela a “launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.” That’s quite a combo! I didn’t know the two ideologies were compatible, but I’m not the foreign policy expert he is.

When is W. going to come out and disavow this guy? Never is the answer. Not that Howard Dean was right or anything, but AP writes, "About nine of 10 white evangelicals voted for Bush in the 2004 election — about as high as his support from any group of voters, according to exit polls." So, it seems the man who stands tall against Muslim extremism, turns into "cringer" when it comes to christian extremists.

The entire government does. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "This is not the policy of the United States government, we do not share his views."

Wow! What a slap down!

Even Rummy is running scared. "He's a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time." They sure do Rummy, crazy things like you're a war criminal and you ought to be fired. But none of them have a world wide broadcasting empire.

And when are the right wing bloggers, especially the ones who hate Castro and Chavez so much, going to get a clue? You just know there are hundreds of blogs out there called, “I hate the beast” or “Castro’s a pimp” just frothing at the mouth, over this. If Adolph Hitler were here today and said Castro was a bad guy, all these anti-Castro types would be frantically cutting and pasting “Mein Kampf” on to their blogs, bumping Ann Coulter right out of the way. Losers!

“Able Danger” in danger of becoming old news:

Curt Weldon’s Navy officer, Capt. Scott Phillpott, has now come out publicly to say, “My story is consistent…Atta was identified by Able Danger by January-February of 2000.” Pentagon Spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said, however, the military was unable to validate the story of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer about the identification of Atta. Even though Di Rita said the two men making these claims were respected officers, “thus far we have not be able to uncover what these people said they saw---memory is a complicated thing.”

I kind of thought this might be the pentagon’s response. Able Danger was “mining” information and this is a very sore subject in the pentagon after the public beating they took over the revelation of the existence of John Poindexter’s “Total Information Awareness” office. Weldon and Shaffer are very much into pushing congress to put more money into personal data mining, but the public isn’t quite so sure. Shaffer actually said, before he revealed his identify, that he wanted to remain anonymous so as not to jeopardize the future funding for more data mining.

I think the idea behind this whole thing is to prove that if the pentagon lawyers hadn’t been so damn concerned about American’s privacy rights and the damned law, we could have caught Mohamed Att and the rest before they attacked on 9/11. All we need to do now is get other Able Danger type data mining operations going, to mine all kinds of information to prevent the next attack. Of course, that might involve the military spying on Americans, but we have to be secure from those vagrants!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:02 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005 2:04 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 23 August 2005
Iraqi constitution get's an "incomplete."
Topic: Iraq

So the Shiites and the Kurds have bypassed the Sunnis and at the very last moment delivered to the Iraq National Assembly an incomplete draft. The outstanding issues according to US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, include federalism, the fate of former Baathists in government and whether members of the Assembly should be elected by a majority vote or a two-thirds vote.

One Sunni member says there are more than twenty issues still unresolved. The Assembly will have three days to hammer out these remaining sticking points and then, presumably, Iraq will have a constitution to vote on in October. The three-day deadline is very tenuous, however, something tells me it might take longer.

The Sunni members of the drafting committee have said they will urge their people to vote “no” in the referendum, if it ever gets to that point, unless their concerns are addressed. Tom Lasseter in the Philadelphia Inquirer quotes Sami al-Askeri, a Shiite member of the drafting committee saying, “There is no concern. Some of the Sunnis are, of course, unhappy with the draft.” Ahmad Chalabi is slightly less charitable in his estimation of the Sunni opposition. “How many votes have they got? The majority of Iraqis want federalism.” NYT

W., of course, is firmly in the loop. Condi is keeping him up to date between bike rides with Lance Armstrong. "This talk about Sunnis rising up, I mean the Sunnis have got to make a choice. Do they want to live in a society that's free, or do they want to live in violence?" [Reuters]

One might ask what difference it will make if they're left with a bunch of desert with no revenue from the oil wells.

So much for democracy! I thought, the idea was to get the Sunnis on board with the whole democracy thing, which would then theoretically neutralize the insurgency. The Shiites and the Kurds have basically jettisoned the Sunnis from the process with the backing of the US. It’s difficult to know what is really going on over there, but it would seem by leaving the Sunnis out in the cold, or out in the desert in this case, this entire constitution thing is pretty much a pointless exercise.

No worries there, W. says he's been told the constitution will protect, "minority rights, women rights, [and] freedom to worship." Yes, the new language says Islam is "a main source" of legislation, not "the" main source. That's reassuring. If I were an Iraqi woman I'd sleep better.

So what is the strategy here anyway?

Bush’s two main justifications for keeping the troops in Iraq, is the political process, the constitution, and the training of the security forces. (And of course, the lessons of 9/11.)

The first one is obviously seriously off track and the second one is equally problematic. A new essay by Maj. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of the First Cavalry Division called “Winning the Peace: The requirement for full spectrum operations,” says “A gun on every street corner, although visually appealing, provides only a short term solution” but, “does not equate to long term security grounded on a democratic process. If there is nothing else done other than kill bad guys and train others to kill bad guys, the only thing accomplished is moving more people from the fence to the insurgent category.” [NYT] (And leaving 20% of the polity out of the political process might tend to knock of few off the fence too.)

Obviously, as has been reported before, the mess we’re in today is a direct result of "planning gaps" for the post-war Iraq. It is highly unlikely we will be able to provide enough services and jobs in any thing resembling a near term scenario that would point to us withdrawing any time soon.

Meanwhile Bush’s vacation continues:

After ten days at the ranch W. decided he needed to go talk to the 27% of Americans that still think he’s got a clue about Iraq. Yesterday he spoke at a VFW hall in Salt Lake City, and today he spoke to an Idaho National Guard base in Boise. He says Cindy Sheehan doesn’t represent most military families, so he doesn’t need to talk to her. Then it’s on to the Tamarack Resort in Donnelly Idaho for some fishing and bike riding.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:37 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 August 2005 3:05 PM EDT
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Monday, 22 August 2005
Rush to Sharia.
Topic: Iraq

In its desperate rush to get a draft constitution to the Iraqi National Assembly by the Monday’s 12 midnight deadline, (About three hours from this post.) the US is apparently willing to endorse an Islamic government in Baghdad, this according to Dexter Filkins in the NYT.

He writes that US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has brokered a tentative agreement on designating Islam as “a main source of legislation.” The agreement would “prohibit the passing of any legislation that contradicted Islam’s fixed principles.”

Another Shiite provision, backed by Khalilzad, would “relegate marriage and family matters to adjudication by clerics.” These Shiite demands for religious authority trumping the government are the same sticking points that lead to the delay in delivering the draft in the first place.

Last Tuesday, Filkins reported that Shiite negotiators at the last moment had renewed their call for their “religious leadership, called the Marjariya…[to] be declared independent of the Iraqi government. ‘The government should not interfere in our affairs,’ Sheik Khalid al-Atiyya, [said] a prominent Shiite member of the constitutional committee. It appears the US now agrees with him.

[Last week, the FT reported Iraq’s tribal leaders within the Assembly were also trying to enshrine Iraqi tribal law in the constitution, which, besides severely limiting the rights of women, would also bring back the 14th century.]

No worries, at least woman will still have the right to vote.

On Face the Nation on Sunday, Reuel Marc Gerecht brushed off worries about these developments.

"Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote.

I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled.

I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy."

Certainly not!

Is this the kind of spin we can expect in the coming weeks as the news sinks in that we caved to the Shiites, again? Wait until the American people find out we sacrificed 2000 plus American troops for the noble cause of giving birth to the Islamic Republic of Iraq!

What was this war about again?

The Kurds, who are our closest allies in this process and adamant in their opposition to an Islamic Republic, are dumbfounded. Filkins quotes a Kurdish leader involved in the writing of the constitution as saying; “your American ambassador is giving an Islamic character to the state. You spent all this money and all this blood to bring an Islamic republic here? We are very worried.” We ought to be, too. What exactly is going on over there?

The Sunnis are calling on the international community to intervene to prevent the Shiites from bypassing them to get the document done. This leads one to believe Khalilzad is about to pull a “Munich,” on the Sunnis.

In other words, selling the Sunnis down the river in order to appease ayatollah ali-Sistani and the Iranian backed Sciri. The possibility of the Assembly voting for yet another delay is remote. If they don’t decide to delay again, the dissolution of the parliament and new elections, which would then follow, would be a big time disaster for the brains trust at the “Lazy W. Ranch.”

Again, I ask why is such a premium being put on the passage of this constitution? The elections, hailed as a great victory against the insurgency, didn’t slow the insurgency down in the least. Since April when the “government” was formed, 5000 Iraqi civilians have been killed and we have lost 300 US troops. Every “corner” we turn, every turning point and bench-mark reached is portrayed as a great “success,” but he result is always more violence and disaster.

Even if the Kurds get Kirkuk and the Shiites get their carbon copy of Iran, and the Sunnis go along with it, Abu Zarqawi will still be blowing up civilians and soldiers at will. More than likely, the Sunnis will find the constitution unpalatable and Zarqawi will have no difficulty in recruiting more jihadis, especially when one considers Iraq’s Sunni neighbors who are not about to allow a “Shiite triangle” to become a reality on their door-step.

The Iranian problem:

Then there’s the foreign interference from Iran. The mullahs are determined to have a Tehran friendly government in Baghdad. According to Michael Ware in Time magazine, our new enemy is an Iranian called Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani.

Ware writes that documents obtained by Time reveal, “al-Sheibani heads a network of insurgents created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps with the express purpose of committing violence against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq… the U.S. believes al-Sheibani's team consists of 280 members, divided into 17 bombmaking teams and death squads. The U.S. believes they train in Lebanon, in Baghdad's predominantly Shi'ite Sadr City district and "in another country" and have detonated at least 37 bombs against U.S. forces this year in Baghdad alone.”

It is believed the Iranians have provided the deadlier “shaped explosive” being used recently to such devastating effect against our armored vehicles. (And now in Afghanistan too.) At the moment, the US feels they can control the Iranian angle, but if the Iranians decide they can’t live with what’s going on in Iraq, that might change.

What is this all costing us?

Regardless of what happens in Iraq the fairy tale being peddled by the administration that we’ll be out of there just as soon as the Iraqis get their political and security house in order, is a crock. The pentagon’s new “worse case scenario” now envisions the presence of 100,000 troops remaining in Iraq until at least 2009. How much has this disaster cost us so far and how much is it likely to cost in the next four years?

Linda Bilmes, a teacher of budgeting and public finance at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, has crunched the numbers in an Op-Ed in the NYT. She estimates running the war for another five years will cost the American tax-payer $460 billion dollars. This is not counting the $260 billion already spent. The price tag for providing medical care for the 525,000 troops already deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq is $7 billion a year for the next 45 years, assuming the twenty year olds of today live to the age of 70 or so.

Bilmes writes that if the US stays in Iraq for another five years, “the total outlay for the war could stretch to more than 1.3 trillion, or $11,300 for every household in the United States.”

They’re not buying what your selling anymore W.!

A pretty steep bill for “staying the course!” W. will be long out of office and his presidential library will have moss growing on its walls before we’re done paying for the disastrous repercussions of this historic debacle.

In the dim recesses of W.’s brain, the message is getting through that he has a public support problem when it comes to “staying the course” in Iraq. Chuck Hagel, the senator from Nebraska, a well-known liberal and fellow traveler, said on ABC’s This Week that keeping 100,000 troops in Iraq for the next four years was a non-starter. When you’ve lost Hagel, no amount of “major policy” speeches on Iraq in front of hand picked audiences, this week in Boise and Salt Lake City, is going to make a difference. Try coming to heavily democratic, but until recently pro-Iraq war, Port Richmond Pennsylvania.

On Saturday morning, I passed the funeral of Fishtown police officer and National Guardsman Gennaro Pellegrinni who died in Beiji along with two other Pennsylvania guardsmen on August 10th. I’ve got to say the support for the war in this very blue-collar union town has defiantly gone south. In just four days this area lost 7 locals and the natives are restless. Common’ down here W. and convince these people the creation of an Islamic republic in Iraq is worth these deaths.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:59 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 August 2005 3:05 PM EDT
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Friday, 19 August 2005
Able Danger: the story that wouldn't die.
Topic: General News.

This Able Danger story just won’t go away because the right wing conspiracy nuts won’t let it go. I thought the statement last week by both 9/11 commission leaders that there was nothing to these allegations would pretty much do it, but no.

9/11 commissioner Thomas Kean’s solution to this ongoing non-story is to put the Able Danger ball into the pentagon’s court. Kean says the pentagon should investigate the credibility of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and the unnamed Navy officer who Curt Weldon says told him about Able Danger and report back to the commission. Up to now the pentagon has been reluctant to even admit Able Danger existed.

It will be interesting to see whether they come out with the real poop on Able Danger, which might also lead to more information about what these guys were really up to and what kind of data they were actually mining and who’s.

The AIPAC story:

The second highest-ranking US diplomat in Iraq has been named in an indictment against two former AIPAC employees accused of spying for Israel. David Satterfield has been identified as a US government official, or USGO-2, who revealed national security secrets to Steven Rosen who was a top lobbyist for AIPAC at the time. Even though Satterfield is not charged with anything, yet, he did give away secrets at two meetings with Rosen in 2002.

The NYT says, “Their meetings are listed as overt acts in a conspiracy to illegally communicate national defense secrets to a foreign government.” After a meeting on January 8, 2002 Rosen communicated what he had heard from USGO-2 to another official at AIPAC which the indictment says was “classified information.” Again on March 12, they talked about al-Qaeda. On March the 14th, Rosen “disclosed to an unidentified foreign official, FO-2,” the information he heard from USGO-2”

The indictment says besides Satterfield and Larry Franklin, already indicted, there were two other US officials that Rosen got secret information from. No one knows who these people are but one is called “DOD-B” (Feith? Wolfowitz?), and the other is USGO-1, who supposedly no longer works for the government.

More progress in Iraq:

This week, the US killed a number of Iraqis in a helicopter attack in Baghdad, 43 Iraqis waiting for buses to mainly Shiite destinations were killed in a triple car bombing at a bus terminal and at a hospital also in Baghdad, and four US soldiers were killed in an IED bombing yesterday in Samarra. More than 60 US troops have been killed in only 19 days of this month.

There still isn’t any sign that the delay in submitting the draft constitution to the National Assembly is going to make any difference in coming to an agreement on all the apparently intractable issues that have stymied the process thus far. The Kurds are sticking to their guns on their demand for autonomy and the de-Arabization of Kirkuk, and keeping their oil money. As for the Shiites, Ehsan Ahrari writes in the Asia Times Online that, “The leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Abdul Aziz Hakim, declared on Friday that, if the Kurds were to get their own federal state in the north, the Shi'ites should get theirs in the south.”

The Shiites fear the Sunnis and the Kurds teaming up to insist on a secular constitution. Ayatollah Ali Sistani is now behind the southern autonomy move because he wants the Koran to be not just a source of the law, but the actual law. “By having an autonomous region of their own, the Shi'ites are making sure that the primacy of Islam is guaranteed, at least in their region.”

All sides are playing a non sum game, which apparently hasn’t got through to W. who still thinks what he’s seeing here is “an example that difficult problems can be solved peacefully through debate.”

Judith S. Yaphe, a former CIA Iraq analyst at the National Defense University, is quoted in the WaPo as saying of this mess that, “We didn't calculate the depths of feeling in both the Kurdish and Shiite communities for a winner-take-all attitude.” A government official who wished to remain anonymous said, “We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic."

What’s the hurry?

What I don’t get is what the rush is to get this constitution done now. There is a raging insurgency going on inside the country, which neither the Iraqi “government” nor the US military can get a handle on and now there’s a developing sectarian war being waged by Shiite elements being armed and funded by Iran.

The theory is that as soon as the country has a constitution and there is another election in December, the insurgents will put down their weapons and we can pack up and leave. None of this is going to happen. The US is putting the horse before the cart, I think, because usually these sorts of political agreements are made after hostilities cease. How can any constitution be viable while the Kurds and Shiites are trying to carve up the country into their own little fiefdoms and several foreign armies are roaming around blowing things up?

Republicans feeling queasy about ‘06

The NYT writes that the Republicans are getting a little worried that all the bad news coming out of Iraq might have an impact on the ’06 elections here. It sure would be nice if Bush could trumpet the success of another “turning point” in Iraq, declare victory and draw down our presence over there before the mid-terms. Grover Norquist says, “If Iraq is in the rear view mirror in the ’06 election, the republicans will do fine. But if it’s still in the windshield, there are problems.”

In analyzing the situation Adam Nagourney and David Kirkpatrick write that some Republicans “suggested that the White House was not handling the issue adroitly, saying its insistence that the war was going well was counterproductive. ‘Any effort to explain Iraq as ‘we are on track and making progress,’ is nonsense,’ Newt Gingrich said. The left has a constant drumbeat that this is Vietnam and a bottomless pit. The daily and weekly casualties leave people feeling that things aren’t going well.”

Of course, his answer is that Bush should push the “blood, seat and toil” angle against “the irreconcilable wing of Islam.” (You mean, the “go out and shop” strategy hasn’t worked?)

Right wing shrews getting desperate.

This may be the Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin way of thinking, but its not going to wash this time. People are seeing a mother, Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son to this pointless war express her grief and outrage by camping outside the “Lazy W. Ranch” and demanding answers from the one who sent him to his death. The majority of Americans are getting sick and tired of the mounting casualties and even the bozos who supported the war because they thought gas for their Humvees would get cheaper are starting to say enough is enough.

The vicious attacks coming from the likes of Coulter on a woman who lost her son and then lost her marriage and now has to rush to her mother’s hospital bed after she suffered a stroke, is just beyond the pale to most people. The tide is turning on this issue and the tipping point is happening right on W.’s doorstep.

Early pull out is politically inevitable.
I predict no matter what happens with the Iraqi constitution the calls for withdrawal will soon become too loud for Bush to do anything else but pull out. Republican congressmen are already running away from W. as fast as they can because they’re afraid he’s going to drag them out of office.

There are notable exceptions, like Rick Santorum for instance. He apparently didn’t get the memo on the 7 Pennsylvania Guardsmen being killed in Iraq over the past week and the effect it’s having on politics in the state. Santorum’s token gay spokesman RobertTraynham read a statement by Santorum to the press responding to his likely opponent’s charge that he hasn’t taken the lead on raising questions about the war, “Doing what is best for this country is always good politics in terms of protecting us from evil dictators like Saddam Hussein.”

I hope he keeps that sort of rhetoric up because that’s just the sort of BS people are sick of hearing. Bringing up Saddam as a rationale for the war just reminds every one that there were no WMD.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:59 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 19 August 2005 4:24 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 17 August 2005
The polls have spoken.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

The FT reports a new poll conducted by Public Agenda, a nonprofit research group, to be released next month in Foreign Policy, says six in ten Americans believe the US “may not be meeting its goals in Iraq, and they hold the Bush Administration responsible."

The war is “the foreign policy issue that most clearly appears to have reached a tipping point,” says Daniel Yankelovich, the pollster and chairman of Public Agenda. “If the war in Iraq lingers, the stand off with Tehran lasts, and relations with Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria remain troubled, the next reading of [the index] could well reveal that the public now feels has crystallized into a demand for change in US foreign policy.”

Of course, as one would expect, the poll also found that among democrats, 77% were worried about the mounting casualties compared to only 33% of republicans, who apparently don’t care, as long as it’s not one of their kids getting killed.

Yankelovich attributes this lopsided result to the “concentration of white religious Protestants in the republican party.” [Howard Dean was right!] ‘After George Bush characterized the perpetrators as evil, his leadership began to look like a moral mission. His response resonated with the public at large, but particularly with its most religious segments.’ Or was that zealots?

Another example of our failed foreign policy and our new bastards in Mauritania:

Our foreign policy does seem to have some inconsistencies these days. Whereas we condemned the overthrow of Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya, our old bastard, by a coup last month, we’re now in talks with the new bastards, because State Department spokesman Adam Erili says, “The guys running the country right now are the guys we are dealing with.”

We’ve suspended our $500 million project to train and equip the Mauritanian military, but the FT says, “The gesture is seen as symbolic, as the government is made up of former officials under Mr. Taya, including the foreign minister who established ties with Israel in 1999.”

In other words, we can do business with these guys. So much for our outrage over the overthrow of the constitutional order! Is this what Condi means by supporting “democracy” over stability?

The real reason the Bush administration isn’t so keen to go too hard on this new “government” is because of our anti-terror campaign in the Saharan area, oh yeah, and oil. The FT says, “ Analysts say US interests in sparsely populated Mauritania, which links the Arab Maghreb world to sub-Saharan west Africa, is partly motivated by strategic interests in the Gulf of Guinea, which is expected to supply about 25% of US oil imports in a decade.”

Some think our policies in this area are radicalizing the local population by providing money and high tech equipment and weapons which the autocratic governments we prop up then use crush their “Islamic” elements under the name of the war on terro.

Jeremy Keenan, an expert on Saharan affairs says,” The net effect is that the Sahara is a tinderbox, with new cross-cutting alliances being forged from Chad to the Atlantic, on the back of anti-American sentiment.”

More on religious zealots:

Camp Casey, Cindy Sheehan’s encampment outside of Bush’s ranch, was attacked by one of W.’s neighbors yesterday. Larry Northern was arrested for driving his pickup truck over the little white crosses baring the names of fallen soldiers that Sheehan had put up along the road to the ranch. Sheehan says he also fired a shotgun across the road from the camp. Now, that’s the way to honor our heroes!

Sheehan says she’ll be moving her show to the property of Fred Mattlage where there’s more parking and is a mile closer to Bush’s Ranch. You just knew the lunatics were going to start coming out of the woodwork sooner or later. It is Texas, for Christ sake!

I’m still trying to figure out which state is the most idiotic. Who will win: Florida or Texas?

Right now, they’re running neck and neck. Texas Rep. John Culbertson is calling for Americans from all over the US top come to Texas to join his proposed "Border Protection Corps," with their guns Unless you don’t have a gun, in which case one will be provided.), to protect our borders, where apparently there’s all out war going on.

He is particularly pissed off at Bush for not defending the country from terrorists who, according to him, are coming into the country every day disguised as Mexicans! I say the next step is to round up all the Mexicans just in case!

Culbertson is not the only republican frustrated with the White House and its lack of action. A lot of republican congressmen are mad at Bush for doing nothing about this infiltration of Arab-Mexicans. Bush has got a problem, though, because the party is trying to lure Latino voters away from the democrats, but they can’t do that while these lunatics are trying to seal off the border with armed vigilantes.

The Dumbshine state: Upcoming campaigns point to a big win for Florida.

Cruella De Vil, (A.k.a. Katherine Harris) is apparently determined to challenge Bill Nelson in 2006 for his senate seat. Harris says Nelson is a member of the “hard left” and has one of the most liberal voting records in congress. Yeah right, he’s a real Ted Kennedy! More like a typical Florida cracker who never saw a defense appropriation he didn’t like. Harris describes herself as “conservative but progressive” and “pro-business, pro-economy and pro-business.” Boy, she’s all over the place.

Recent polls show she’d lose to Nelson 38% to 50%. That’s even with Nelson’s 46% approval rating. Rest assured if she really does get the nomination, which the Republican Party is trying to prevent, there would be truck-loads of democratic money flowing into Florida to defeat her.

Also, running for governor is Charlie Crist, Florida's Attorney General, who is a born again, dyed in the wool, religious-nut. Now, if either one of these losers gets elected Florida will defiantly win the dumbest state award, hands down!

More on Able Danger.

We are just going round and round on this one. Now, Curt Weldon’s Navy officer has come out of the closet. Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, is insisting that the Able Danger team was told by pentagon lawyers not to tell the FBI about the information they had gleaned from “data mining” about the 9/11 hijackers in 2000. “It was because the chain of command saying we’re not going to pass on information ---if something wrong, we’ll get blamed,” Shaffer says. Interestingly, the DOD hasn’t disputed what he’s saying. At this point, the 9/11 commission hasn’t commented on Shaffer’s latest move to identify himself in public. Stay tuned.

[Note: I conflated the Russian mini-sub crisis with the joint Chinese-Russian military exercises, which actually begin today. The sub had nothing to do with the exercises. Boy, check out Putin in the sailor's outfit. W. isn't the only one who wants to play big bully dress up.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:51 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 18 August 2005 11:51 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 16 August 2005
Moral Purity to return, Garrison Keillor to be burned at the stake.
Topic: General News.

The AP reports WUKY-FM, based in Lexington, KY has reversed its decision to cancel Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac." Seems there was some concern about his having used words such as, "breast," and using the term "get high." The outpouring of support for Keillor derailed the radio station's plans.

"General Manager Tom Goddell, said there were no listener complaints, but station officials had worried about recent moves by the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on language it considered obscene." Great, talk about self censorship run amok!

Yes, now that the FCC has hired renouned concerned mother Penny Nance, I'd be worried too. Media Week reports, that she has been a "special advisor in the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis," but the FCC won't say for how long. Its news to us.

Apparently, the FCC has hired Ms. Nance to help the governement "bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy."

Maybe Nance and her compariots in the White House would feel more comfortable in Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to bring back "Moral Purity" to Iran, after all. Sounds like there's no wardrobe malfunctions going on over there. No ankle or elbow showing over there either.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:04 PM EDT
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Monday, 15 August 2005
General told to knock it off.
Topic: General News.

A few days ago there was news that a four star general had been cashiered. I thought, gosh, this probably has something to do with some sort of prisoner abuse scandal, right? Forget that, no general officer ever gets fired for that. No, what we have here a case of adultery!

General Kevin P. Byrnes has been relieved of his duties at the Army Training and Doctrine Command because he was having an affair with a civilian, even though he’s been separated from his wife since 2004. (His mistake was taking so long to get divorced.) “He was told to knock it off, and he ignored it and continued the affair,” says a senior army official. Byrnes is a highly decorated officer and was about to retire.

Obviously, having a consensual, adult relationship is an offence sufficiently egregious enough that it must be dealt with severely. Byrnes might even face a court martial. Marching boldly into the 19th century, the Army’s Manual on Court Martial describes adultery as “unacceptable conduct” and----this is the best part---the Uniform Code of Military Justice considers those who do it to be “bringing discredit on the military.” [NYT]

In contrast to Byrnes, General John Abizaid, who let troops under his command get out of control at Abu Ghraib, gets a pass.

So what that his soldiers stacked naked prisoners into pyramids, walked them around on leashes, and attacked them with police dogs? At least he wasn’t sticking his pen in the company ink. Some people actually think he should be held responsible. Poppycock! It’s not like Abu Ghraib has damaged the Muslim world’s impression of the US Army or brought dishonor upon the Institution. Heaven’s to Betsy, no! How was he supposed to what was going on? He was only in command!

I worked with a reservist MP, who was in Iraq from the beginning of the war up to 2004 just before the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. He said everybody he knew was taking pictures of Iraqis in various degrading poses under their control and bragging about hitting prisoners with rifle butts etc. A lowly sergeant in a Virginia reserve unit knew about this, but the commanding general didn’t. That’s pretty impressive.

You know, it was just a bunch of young recruits running amok, their officers were oblivious. The military, after all, is pretty much a group of individuals free-lancing. Haven’t you heard the slogan, “Army Of One?” No one is accountable. If this is really what’s going on over there, we’ve got bigger problems than just degraded equipment and inadequate armor.

Speaking of the Guard and Reserve:

32 Guardsmen have died in Iraq in the first ten days of this month. There is a mounting concern among communities around the country that their local firemen and police officers and husbands and fathers are being sacrificed because units of the active service are getting better training and equipment.

My friend in the reserve said he got his flak jacket at the beginning of the war but didn’t receive the armor plates that go inside the jacket for almost six months into his deployment. That’s just one case, right?

Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, questions pentagon spokesperson Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke’s contention that the military will “not deploy a soldier, sailor, or Marine who is not fully trained and prepared for the mission.” (My friend must have the one who fell through the cracks.) O’Hanlon says, “It is hard to believe that most reservists in Iraq are really as strong as active duty troops, especially when they first arrive in country.”

But, you can believe the pentagon, they’ve been absolutely correct about every aspect of the Iraq war so far. Don’t believe some academic egghead. Remember, Rummy said before the war that it would “last six days, six weeks, I doubt six months.” He was right on, except for the six days, six weeks, no more than six months part. Of course, he also knew exactly were the WMD was, south, west, east and north somewhat of Baghdad. Need I say more?

By the way, Rummy is hosting a parade to honor those who died on 9/11. The marchers will go from the Pentagon to the National Mall where they will rock out to Clint Black, to show their support for the war in Iraq, which has nothing to do with 9/11, but has more targets to bomb than Afghanistan does. Next is the plan to reenact the battle of Kolberg using 20,000 US troops as extras!

We don’t the read polls. The president is busy doing the people’s business. (Because the business of America; is business.)

In any case, a new poll finds 59% of Americans think Bush is doing a rotten job of handling the war. Only 38% now support the W.’s handling of the situation. 50% think all that “progress” we’re making over there is just a desert mirage. Considering the fact that 2/3s of Americans think the war is making us less safe, only 12% think we should just pull out right now. The common opinion seems to be that we just can’t leave now, because all these deaths will have been for nothing.

The truth is, this war is and has been totally meaningless. It was conceived in a lie, it never had anything to do with 9/11 and it hasn’t made us any less vulnerable to another attack. No matter how long we continue to bang our heads against this brick wall, it won’t justify the 1,846 deaths that it has caused. The only way to honor those who have sacrificed everything for their country is to save the soldiers still over there by bringing them back here and holding those responsible for all this death and misery accountable.

Another turning point:

As I write this, the Iraqi constitution is still up in the air. Even if the Iraqis actually do present a draft version today, there is no guarantee that either the Sunnis, or the Kurds won’t kill it in a referendum in October over disputes about religion and regional concerns. Among all the hot button issues like federalism and oil money is another very important concern that hasn’t made it into the mainstream media here. Tribalism. Along with religion, the tribal aspect of Iraqi society is crucial.

This important getting-to-know-you moment happened for the Army in Fallujah in April 2003 when soldiers fired on a group of unarmed protesters, killing 19 of them. The Army soon found themselves having to pay blood money to keep Fallujah’s tribes from trying to kill our soldiers in revenge, which is obligatory when another tribe kills one of its members.

Two years later, powerful tribal leaders, who are also in the national assembly, are trying to get tribal codes enshrined in the constitution. The FT writes this would mean the “legitimizing of a traditional system of dispute resolution.”

Such anachronisms as: ‘nahi in which a woman’s paternal cousin can marry her, and kill anyone else who does so—or fasl settlements, in which transgressing tribes offer their daughters to aggrieved tribes, who can either marry them or take them as servant girls,” would become the law of the land. [Maybe, Bush could make the insurgents sweet by giving up the twins?]

Tribes also take an indulgent view on ‘honor killings,’ which is what I thought we were fighting to get rid of in Afghanistan. It’ll be interesting to see if this gets into the final version of the constitution and how the Bush administration will spin it if it does. [Note: the delivery of the constitution has been delayed.]

Another reason Bush should fire Karl Rove:

Not for the obvious reasons, the Plame leak, but for the tone-deaf handling Cindy Sheehan’s Crawford vigil. Here’s a forty something mother who’s son was killed in Iraq asking the president who sent him there to explain his death to her. Instead of just talking to her and defusing the situation, he speaks to her through the press and then zips past her in his tinted windowed SUV on the way to a $2 million fundraiser!

Oh, and by the way, he has now become the most rested president in history, surpassing even Ronald Reagan for vacation time. Is the Turd Blossom on vacation, too? (Where’s Karen Hughes when you need her?) Meanwhile, six more US troops were killed in Iraq over the weekend. Every day he ignores the grieving mother camped out on his doorstep, is another day the American people are reminded he’s on vacation as the casualties continue to mount.

Curt Weldon dissed by 9/11 commission:

WaPo:: 9/11 “Commission leaders Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton said in a joint statement that panel staff members has found no documents or other witnesses to back up claims by a US Navy officer, who told the commission staff in July 2004 that he recalled seeing Atta’s name and photograph on a chart prepared by another officer…’none of the documents turned over to the commission mention Mohmad Atta or any of the future hijackers.’”

Curt Weldon, despite this embarrassing rebuff, says, “I will continue to push for a full accounting of the historical record,” even if doesn’t exist. The “Able Danger” data mining project, run out of the Army’s Special Operations command, according to Weldon’s “source, ‘ identified three of the 9/11 hijackers as living in Brooklyn in 1999 or 2000.

Unfortunately, Atta didn’t enter the country until 2001. Weldon arguing for his full accounting of the historical record says, “Able Danger isn’t about dates and times “ (What do dates and times have to do with history?), it’s about, “linkages and associations of individuals identified with direct links to al-Qaeda.”

Right, but he wasn’t in the US, never mind Brooklyn; so, what the hell are you talking about Curt? The commission statement went on to say that the Navy officer’s “account was not sufficiently reliable to warrant revising the report [On 9/11] or further investigation.” The same might be said Weldon’s super Sybil Manchir Ghobanifar.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:32 PM EDT
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