Friday, September 22, 2006

GOP Brains On Display!

“The Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act includes new provisions to further strengthen congressional authority and oversight, and provide clear rules for electronic surveillance if the President notifies the Congress that he has reason to believe that an attack is imminent that would result in death or serious injury or substantial economic damage. The rules will include time limits, written notification, full justification, and clear identification of the groups and their affiliates believed to be about to launch an attack.
We listen to our enemies. Our intelligence community must be able to gather information to protect us, and react rapidly to threats. At the same time, we must ensure that the liberties of Americans are protected. We can do both.” N.M. GOP Rep. Heather Wilson

So according to this proposed Act, if the President doesn’t notify Congress that he has reason to believe that an attack is imminent, just as he didn’t notify Congress of his circumvention of FISA was and is illegal and continues to this day, then Congress in its ignorance has nothing to do. This “Act” would negate FISA and add to Bush’s increasingly imperial powers.

“Our elections are too important to allow the possibility of fraudulent and illegal voting practices and that is why I supported H.R. 4844, the Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006. This bill would ensure that state and local governments have effective means to prevent non-citizen immigrants from illegally registering and voting in federal elections.
The Federal Election Integrity Act would require voters in federal elections to provide a photo ID by 2008. By 2010, voters would be required to provide a photo ID that can only be obtained with proof of citizenship. Federal law already makes it a crime for non-citizens to vote in federal elections and this bill would give state and local governments the tools they need to enforce the law. H.R. 4844 is important legislation and will preserve the democratic integrity of our electoral process.” Texas GOP Rep. John Culberson

Why the hell would non-citizens vote?
And why have a new photo-ID to prove citizenship when we already have one—it’s called a passport.
Oh yeah, and federal law makes it a crime for citizens to manipulate the election process and results. Try starting there.

“Congress must do more to increase access to affordable, quality health insurance and we must work to control the costs in our health care system. I have proposed several common sense interim steps - including expanding and encouraging health savings accounts, allowing individuals and businesses to buy insurance across state lines and over the internet and expanding tax credits to help small businesses provide coverage for their employees.” Vt. GOP Candidate for Congress Martha Rainville

All this was done two years ago and resulted in higher costs. More restricted coverage and a reduction in those insured. And why should small businesses (the Labor Department defines “small business” as a company with up to 500 employees or $12 million p.a. gross income) get a tax credit if individuals, going by this idiotically vague “plan”, would then be able to get “affordable” healthcare on their own due to the benefits of this magical scheme?

"Unfortunately, Hugo Chavez has become a clown. What’s even more unfortunate is his deliberate efforts to intervene and interefere (sic) with the internal politics of his neighbors, jeopardizing democracy and destabilizing many Latin American nations who are struggling to secure a better future for their citizens." Ill. GOP Rep. Jerry Weller

Unfortunately, George Bush has become a clown. What’s even more unfortunate is his deliberate efforts to intervene and interfere with the internal politics of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran, jeopardizing democracy and destabilizing many Middle-Eastern nations.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Iran, Panic and the “Nuclear Option”

Well I’ve read Col. Gardiner’s report that claims US Special Forces have been in Iran for a while in preparation for possible military action.
Whilst they may indeed have been there, are they really there now? Gardiner writes very coherently but he doesn’t provide any kind of corroboration the public can use.

If it’s true, isn’t he tipping the Iranians off and putting SOF and CIA in danger?
Or is he sufficiently convinced the Bush plans to launch a military campaign he thinks would be so disastrous that blowing the whistle now is the lesser of two evils?
Or, is he perhaps the witting or unwitting agent of psy-ops campaign? I have no idea.

Gardiner provides some depressingly clear-eyed reasons why attacking Iran would be a monumentally stupid idea—far, far more disastrous than the Iraq misadventure—and is seeing signs that the Bush administration is keen to stay the course by not listening to sense but to some higher power located between their ass-cheeks. Gardiner hears the same aggressive rhetoric and confused claims from Bush and his supporters in the “think-tanks” and the media that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, being applied to Ahmedinejad and Iran. Combined with whatever scuttlebutt he hears from his military sources he’s probably got some pretty good reasons to be concerned.

But however much the neo-cons and their idiot lackeys in the GOP and the press might want to attack Iran, it doesn’t mean they can or will.

The war-mongers ideal would be to destroy the entire Iranian nuclear program—they can’t just whack one or two “key” sites.
According to Gardiner the target list runs to around 400 and some of those are hardened, naturally.
To get the job done, the attacks would have to be quick and massive—requiring a combination of cruise-missiles launched from stand-off positions and over-the-target attacks from fighter-bombers which would need protection from the Improved Hawk (and other) SAM systems Ronald “we are not trading arms for hostages” Reagan so generously sold to the Ayatollah. That would require a bunch of F-111 Wild Weasels and EA6-B Prowlers for radar suppression and F-117 Nighthawks to knock out the SAM sites. It’s easier and quicker to commit the Air Force and the Navy than it is the Army to military action but it would still take some evident preparation.

On the political front, Bush won’t have any military support from the UK, or from anyone else—except Israel, which has been receiving shiny new F-16I fighter-bombers (I think they have about 50 out of the 102 ordered) fitted with custom, long range fuel tanks ideal for getting them from Israel to Iran and back.
Some Israeli minister today (I forget who) was shouting about Iran being a major threat but then Israel has been embarrassed by the Lebanon screw-up, is being pressed hard on it’s use of cluster-bombs and the Israeli public is none too happy and I suspect he's just trying to divert attention.
The American public isn’t too happy either. The Congress is up for grabs and most importantly there’s already a lot of public pushback from the military to the suggestion that force should be use against Iran.

I may be wrong but apart from the usual suspects, there doesn’t seem to be as much cheerleading for action in the media against Iran as there was for Iraq and less acquiescence to the White House noise-machine amongst the more moderate press this time around. Most of the fear-mongering seemed to occur in the first quarter of this year and with all the other very public misfortunes Bush and his pals have visited upon us and themselves they aren’t getting the traction they need to prosecute this issue.
Gardiner may be sounding the alarm but he seems to be fear-mongering in his own way—but a “good” way.

The only trouble with all this is that this administration (meaning Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez and the most rabid members of the GOP) don’t operate on reason and don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves and their own fantasies of certitude and superiority. Desperate to justify themselves in the face of criticism and opposition they could be tempted to forget the preamble, the propaganda and the pretense and just go for broke and order an attack anyway.

But you know what? If it came to that I think the military would say no. It would be the military’s “nuclear option”, one that wouldn’t destroy anything for once.

I really think there’s no need to panic. Unless I’m wrong in which case panic won’t do you any good any how—it’ll be too late.

Have a nice day--tomorrow could be your last. Enjoy!

Monday, September 18, 2006

IRAN-Don't Panic! (Yet)

Retired Air Force Colonel (and former teacher at the U.S. Army National War College) Sam Gardiner told Wolf Blitzer tonight on CNN: “We are conducting military operations inside Iran right now.”
At various times over the past 18 months he has said that he believed covert surveillance and HUMINT operations were being conducted, focused on Iran’s nuclear disposition and its political dissidents.
Frankly I would expect the US to conduct such operations anywhere at any time in any country.
But now, says Gardiner. “The evidence is overwhelming.” To support this more elevated claim he cites the following:

a) When the House Committee on Emerging Threats recently called on State and Defense officials to testify if U.S. forces were in Iran or not, none showed up.
b) Some U.S. naval forces had been alerted for deployment (according to Time magazine), which Gardiner calls “a major step”
c) Gardiner states that “The plan has gone to the White House. That’s not normal planning. When the plan goes to the White House; that means we’ve gone to a different state.”

ThinkProgress has the full transcript here

Plenty of pundits, politicians and commentators have weighed in on this subject over most of the year—those on the political Right beating the war drums yet again and those on the Left remarking on the similarity to the lead-up of the Iraq invasion.

Now given the orchestration of lies and the colossal cock-up that the Bush administration has wrought and still refuses to acknowledge in Iraq, it is entirely possible that the White House is not only contemplating attacking Iran but is actively involved in the early stages of actually doing so.


Just because Gardiner has respectable military qualifications, it doesn’t mean his expertise extends as far as his words and conclusions imply. Gardiner lays out his analysis presumably more thoroughly in a .PDF titled The End of the “Summer of Diplomacy”: Assessing U.S. Military Options on Iran.

I haven’t read it yet, but I intend to.
The highlighted points above he makes to support his assertion are weak in themselves and not very strong even together ( except perhaps for the first, which is very curious) .
Remember, it was the pursuit of “facts” to fit suspicions that got us into Iraq in the first place.

That’s not to say Gardiner is wrong, it’s just that his apparent conviction needs to be supported by more than a limited collation of fact and supposition as presented in this CNN appearance.

Nor is he wrong to be alarmed by the possibility that he may be correct; there were some indicators of the Iraq invasion that hardly anyone noticed (such as the huge increase in sorties over the no-fly zones for several months prior to the Iraq invasion).

I can think of all sorts of reasons why BushCo would want, and need, to attack Iran in the very near future. So I’m going to read Gardiner’s analysis with a skeptical eye and try and corroborate or refute his arguments with some research.

In Bush’s age of fear, I’d like to keep some semblance of reason. I don’t plan to succumb to panic just yet. Give me a week before I freak.

The Hill Blog- Representin' Our Representatives

As if our politicians don't have enough opportunites and outlets to express their opinions whilst ignoring the citizens', they also have a cozy little spot called "The Hill's Congress Blog" where our elected Representatives tell us what's on their minds.

The public is welcome to comment on the postings but seeing as the comments never appear anywhere I'm not sure what the point is and besides I'm sure the reps. don't have time to engage in a discussion thread (nor indeed should they).

Still as thus utterly pointless as this may seem, the blog is very informative in that it provides many examples from Republicans and Democrats alike--easily copied of course for later reference--of their rhetorical style, the issues they think are important and frankly their mental capacity.

For instance Brian Billbray (R-CA) has posted House Acts to Make Border More Secure which reads like a press release or official statement and sounds all sensible and mature, but his previous post of September 15 seems to be much more personal.

Entitled No Amnesty For Terrorists Billbray leads by quoting Nancy Pelosi; "...and even to capture him[Bin Laden] now, I don’t think makes us any safer.”
From this Billbray concludes that "The American people don’t want amnesty for terrorists."

Right, well, there you go then. That was certainly worth the extra $3000 pay raise.

How about J.D. Hayworth's (R-AZ) Appeasing Iran Does Not Work

"History has proven that the Democrats have a horrible track record when working toward stability in the Middle East and it’s laughable that they would blame President Bush for enabling Iran to become a global menace. It was Democratic President Jimmy Carter who stood by as Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran, ushering in the dangerous, volatile theocracy that is still in existence today. Most importantly, it was Carter, not President Bush, who in 1979 watched as the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun and American citizens were held captive for 444 days."

The last, first: that doesn't make any sense at all! But what about the rest of the "arguments?"

Ah yes! History! That Camp David thing? That was actually from a Dean Koontz novel. And that popular uprising in Iran? Not that popular! And talk about unstable! Remember when they tried to topple Hussein back in the 80's, but couldn't because we provided him with nerve gas which Hussein used on the Iranians? Remember when the US Ambassador gave our good friend Hussein the green light to grab some Kuwaiti oil on the border--but then went and invaded the country instead? Now he was stable!

Oh and remember when Reagan DIDN'T appease the Iranians by selling them missiles for hostages in Lebanon? Or was that the other way around? I guess I'll have to wait for one of Dubya's future historians to decide that for me when we are all dead.

"During the Clinton Administration, it is now clear that the secret Iranian nuclear program was up and running and Iran was providing support for Hezbollah and al Qaeda terrorists."

Of course! It was Clinton's fault that the Russians in 1995 agreed to begin rebuilding the then 20 year-old Bushehr nuclear reactor that had been crippled in the Iran-Iraq war.
And it was his fault that Madeline Albright persuaded the Ukraines not to provide needed turbines in 1998.
And it was Clinton's fault that the reactor was surrounded by Raytheon Improved Hawk SAMs that Reagan sold Iran. Oh, and of course the rebuilding of the reactor was known only to a few thousand journalists over the ten years since reconstruction began and only this year, during Bush's tenure, has the reactor begun to provide a tiny amount of enriched uranium though the plant isn't actually completed yet. (detailed Global Security report here ). Oh and that bit about supporting Al Qaeda? Ummm....not true. False. Made-up.

"After all that’s happened the Democrats still don’t get it. The pattern of unspoken appeasement clearly does not, and never will, work. It didn’t work in the 70’s, didn’t work in the 90’s and especially won’t work now."

So you see this half-assed blog that is paid for by our tax dollars has its uses; between the obvious cut-and-pasted press releases are the telling, personal posts--direct from the source and unfiltered by journalists. So there you have it, in his own words Rep. Hayworth is clearly a deranged, lying sack of shit--not for slamming the Dem's you understand, but for incoherent babbling, rewriting history and lying. See? I'd only assumed that before and now I know for sure--right from the source!