Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pardoners In Crime

If the RESTORE Act arrives on Bush’s desk without an immunity clause for the telecom companies that enabled his impeachable, illegal (under FISA) and unconstitutional (4th Amendment) warrant-less “wiretapping” program, he will have to veto it not so much because of the telecom’s investment in him but more because if he doesn’t he will expose himself to the same kind of lawsuits and criminal charges that the telecom companies fear.

The telecoms are complaining that without immunity they risk bankruptcy from lawsuits. This argument is stupid. For a start they’d be subject to a class-action suit, (and possibly half a dozen individual suits at best) so they wouldn’t be sunk by lawyer’s fees and court costs. Secondly there’s no way a court would allow the total bankruptcy of any one of the telecom companies—it would be too disruptive.

If he hasn’t already done-so, Bush will likely write-up a pardon for the telecoms. It won’t matter to him that a pardon is supposed to apply only after a guilty verdict and time served. His father “pardoned” Caspar Weinberger for his indictment in Iran-Contra, thus averting a trial and exposure of G.W. Bush’s own important role in the affair, thus allowing Bush to effectively pardon himself--and he got away with it!
(The sub-headings of the NYT article—Bush Diary at Issue and 6 Year Inquiry into Deal of Arms for Hostages Swept Away)

The power to pardon falls under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution:
"The President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment."
That’s all there is to it. It can be applied to a corporation as to an individual, and no standard of justification is required.

"Should I decide to grant pardons, I will do so in a fair way. I will have the highest of high standards." (George W. Bush, Feb 22nd 2001)

Ri-iight, George!

If history is any guide, George Junior is going to get away with it, just like his old Dad, though just to be sure he’s going to have to pardon is entire administration, and with all those pardons there’ll be just enough room in his presidential Library for “The Pet Goat” and a torture memo.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Who Is Burying Ciara Durkin ?

On Thursday, September 27th Massachusetts National Guard Spc. Ciara Durkin, 30, was found with a single gunshot wound to her head behind a building--apparently a “church”--in a “secure area” at Bagram Airbase.

On Friday, September 28th, The Washington Post recorded in their simple Faces of the Fallen roster that Ciara Durkin: “Died of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.”

By Monday October 1st, ‘everyone’ had received the AP “wire” report on Iraq/Afghanistan casualties, which included Ciara Durkin, listed as having died from a non-combat related incident”

On October 1st, RTE (Radio-Television Eire) reported:

"Ciara Durkin, 30, originally from Eanach Mheáin in Connemara, died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head within the Bagram airbase, according to information the military has released to the Durkin Family. Speaking on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta this morning Pádraig Ó Conghaile, Ms Durkin's brother-in-law, appealed to the [Irish] Department of Foreign Affairs to participate in the investigation into her death."

On Tuesday, October 2nd the Boston Globe reported:

"The Department of Defense said in a statement yesterday that Ciara Durkin's injuries came from a "non-combat related incident" that is under investigation. The statement contradicts a Sunday statement from the Massachusetts Army National Guard that said Durkin, an Army specialist, was killed in action. A guard spokesman said the term was meant to imply that Durkin was deployed in Afghanistan at the time of her death".

On Wednesday, October 3rd The Boston Herald reported:

"The Quincy soldier mysteriously slain by a bullet to the head on a secure Afghanistan airbase feared something might happen to her after discovering “something she didn’t like,” her devastated family revealed."
At this point the story was being spread through the US liberal blogosphere. There was nothing on the right-wing blogs.

On Thursday, Oct 4th ABCNews/GMA reported the story, as did CBS News, and the Washington Post and the New York Times amongst others.

On Friday, October 5th FOX News reported that "Marion Jones admitted using steroids before the 2000 Olympics in a recent letter to close family and friends" ---which Greta Van Susteren (champion of dead blondes everywhere except Afghanistan) blogged about, and about which Bill O’Really opined too.

On Monday, October 8th on, underThe Big Story w/Gibson and Nauert” (which you have to carefully click-on, otherwise you just get the only obvious content—Gibson’s 'My Word') and then underHeather’s Big Headline” there is this:

"Unfortunately, on Friday night we had to cut Douglas Kennedy's story about a U.S. soldier who mysteriously died in Afghanistan short. News on Olympic medalist Marion Jones' use of steroids broke just as Douglas's story was airing and we needed to break away to cover it. We are posting the entire story here:
We sincerely hope that Spc. Ciara Durkin's family will soon learn what led to the death of the 30-year-old woman, daughter and sister who had eight siblings. Spc. Durkin and the many other brave men and women give up a great deal to serve our country in remote and often dangerous places. Her family deserves answers soon."

So, just as FOX News finally gets around to reporting on what looks like a murder of a US National Guard soldier on a US base, one of Fox’s worst-rated feature shows (Gibson) HAD to cut away to live coverage of an Olympic athlete admitting steroid use and lying about it. And then, they buried the video report on Durkin (which does actually cover most of the salient points in a minute and a half) beneath a generic link, THREE DAYS later, along with an unctuous note of “sympathy”.

The only reason I found this story was because I already knew about Durkin from the blogosphere and I searched FOX to see what coverage they’d given it. But just to make my outrage complete I decided to see how much coverage FOX’s closest competitor, CNN had provided.

NOTHING! Here’s the search result string:

There is much to be drawn from all this, but for whatever reason Ciara Durkin died, the likes of CNN and FOX and those they enabled buried her and thousands of others years ago, and they are burying her once again whilst avoiding the customary respect of soiling their hands to toss dirt into the grave they reserved for her.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

There's No Cancer Like Snow Cancer Like No Cancer I Know!

Tony Snow is planning to write a book on how to deal with cancer.

Finally! Why didn’t anyone think of that before?!

[Google Results 1 - 10 of about 2,140,000 for dealing with cancer]

One way to deal with cancer is to write a book about how to deal with cancer.

You know, a lot of people think cancer can happen to just anybody, but they’re wrong! It can happen to important media-personalities as well, and when it does, their cancer is important too!

So how do important well-paid people deal with their important cancer? They write a book about it! It makes them feel just a whole lot better.

If YOU have cancer you may have thought about writing a book about how to deal with cancer, but don’t bother because you probably aren’t dealing with cancer as well as Tony Snow does so you really should buy his book instead of writing your own, because if you don’t, well then you’re just a heartless bastard who doesn’t care about people who have cancer.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sobriety Test

Who would you rather have a beer with?

That was how the competition for the Presidency was summed-up by our press in 2004 and the electorate supposedly chose to have a beer with an un-recovered alcoholic who wouldn’t shut-up, never made a lick of sense, never bought a round, lost every bar-bet and refused to pay up and then challenged everyone to a fight.
Now, as the bell for last-orders is being rung, our drinking buddy is preparing to piss on the juke-box and throw-up by the front door just before catching a stretch limousine home whilst we have to pay the tab and clean-up.

It’s weird; he seemed like such a decent, regular guy when we first met him. And as we stagger home feeling the onset of a massive hangover, we swear, on three-thousand eight-hundred and something graves, that we’re never going to do that again!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Home Improvement

I've been dead-slow to post lately--just a weltschmertz phase I guess.
After two years of blogging I thought it time to re-decorate.
The new-look may not be exciting, but it's easier to read.
I have to re-establish the blogroll now and then really get back into it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monk-y Business

(Photo: AP)

As mass demonstrations spread through Myanamar a good deal of the media’s focus has been on the Buddhists monks who have joined the regular citizens in their protests against new government policies.

The monks provide a great image, identically dressed in bright red robes, and their peaceful philosophy and manner serves as a dramatic counterpoint to the aggressiveness and oppressiveness of the ruling Junta.

The situation looks likely to result in a classic battle of democratic people-power versus despotism, peace and humility of the monks versus the arrogance and aggression of the military. Anyone with a soul will be rooting for the monks and the public to prevail.

But the monks notable participation isn't about freedom of expression and democracy or morality or social justice--it's about a change in economics that is going to hurt the monks directly.

"The protests, sparked by a doubling of petrol and diesel prices, and a fivefold rise in the price of cooking gas on August 15, tapped a deep well of anger in a country in economic crisis. Inflation runs at 40% and most people suffer economic hardship." ( The Guardian )

If the citizens can’t afford the essentials, how are they going to afford the alms that the monks rely-on to survive? Monks contribute next-to nothing to the general economy and the general economic welfare—what they get they keep to themselves--and they are supported in that by the general population.

So don't imagine that the monks are championing democracy, they've got a significant economic interest to protect.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Death and Taxes (and Profits)

This job ad has now been removed from Serco's site.

The position is for a "Personal Effects Specialist" (67 openings available!) who;

“...receives, inventories, sorts, cleans, photographs, packages, and ships to family members (next of kin) all personal effects belonging to military service members and others, including defense contractors, who are killed or severely injured worldwide, especially incident to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In other words not only do contractors get a guaranteed profit from their "cost-plus" deals with the Pentagon whilst their employees are alive, they charge the expenses of their deaths to the taxpayer too--and make a profit on that!

( hat-tip to Wonkette! for finding the ad--but rather missing the point of the story).

I wrote a lengthier post on this at NEWSHOGGERS, where Marcie Hascall Clark left a comment with this highly pertinent information...

The Defense Base Act Insurance coverage that each contract company must provide relieves the company of any responsibility of any kind to the employee or their family.The premiums are 10% or more of the employees salary and are included in the contract (taxpayer pays). When an employee is injured or killed the DBA insurance company is reimbursed all medical, repatriation, lost wages, and death benefits they pay out by the Federal Government (taxpayer) plus a 15% admin fee under the War Hazards Act.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Blog Factor

It’s been two years since I started my blog, and in that time oil prices, the uninsured, the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan and the number of Republicans in jail and under investigation have all gone up. The genocide in Darfur continues and ‘freedomocracy’, once thought to be on the march is actually face down in an alley somewhere being eaten by rats. (None of this is my fault; it is mere coincidence I assure you.)

So why blog, or continue to blog? Simple: Because it matters. The effort of writing a serious post forces me to think, to research, to justify my arguments and opinions. For the few who read my blog, my arguments may inform them. Their comments and their own blogs in turn inform me. And the whole informed conversation that results percolates through an engaged society.

TV news-shows now report-on and reference blogs (to a limited degree); not because they want to but because they have to—some even have their own blogs. But most of them still don’t “get-it” –their posts are either copies of existing print articles or transcripts from their shows that fail to properly exploit the medium, and where original content is offered it is often as dumb as their traditional products—poorly researched, poorly written and condescending (and offering little in the way of discussion as having posted the author often disengages from the comments and in some cases disallows comments altogether).

There’s no question that a few blogs have had an effect on public discourse and current affairs. Several prominent right–wing blogs have done a fine job in rumor-mongering, character-assassination, and in manufacturing pointless “controversy”. A few left-wing blogs have broken important stories of corruption and drawn attention to important issues the traditional media has ignored.
But such blogs are well organized and focused. What purpose then do small personal blogs such as mine, and the hundreds of thousands like it, serve? Are we all just a bunch of whining egotists, yelling at strangers in the hope we’ll get the attention we crave, demanding to be taken seriously? Do our blogs serve anyone (or anything) but ourselves?

As far as I know, no one has bothered to find out, but I suspect that individual bloggers, by virtue of the hypertext link, form a collective that does serve the community and affect change.
Consider the results of the 2000, 2004 and 2006 elections.
In 2000 e-blogger was just getting started. The political dialog was still shaped by the oligarchy of TV, Talk-Radio and the major newspapers. At that time any mention of blogs was relegated to computer columns and “tech” segments and was discussed in terms of personal entertainment or as a new-fangled marketing tool or consumer resource.
By 2004 the media oligarchy had begun to reference particular blogs as news sources on occasion (most notably the Drudge Report). Some current-affairs shows set aside air time to highlight what was “on the blogs”, though the selections varied widely in what was deemed noteworthy.
Iraq was the dominant topic and discontent was brewing, but the narrative in the traditional media remained the same and Bush returned to the White House.

From 2004 to 2006 the media oligarchy continued to parrot and promote the administration’s and the GOP’s positions. The Republicans and right-wing pundits continued to dominate in air-time and column inches and the message was always the same—tax cuts helped the economy, the economy is strong, jobs are being created, global warming is a myth, we’re winning in Iraq, if we don’t fight them over there, if the Democrats were in control there’ll be more terror attacks and higher taxes, gays threaten marriage, immigrants threaten America and on and on.

But from early 2005 opinion polls showed that the general public was becoming increasingly skeptical of the messages they were receiving. First, opposition to the war in Iraq edged into a slight majority. Then confidence in the economic outlook for workers and the middle class began to wane. Bush’s popularity began to decline as did the assessment of how well he was conducting the war. The administration’s messages were no longer molding the masses’ opinions. What had changed?

Several surveys found that the public was now more reliant on the internet for their news and information, than on TV, radio and the paper Press. But if the transition from TV, radio and newspapers as sources of information was simply a matter of convenience, and as all the big players had a long established web-presence, wouldn’t their audience simply have migrated from the traditional medium to the new medium, from Fox News to Fox, for example? If the information remained the same, and the sources remained the same, opinions shouldn’t have changed. But they did. Why?

Personal experiences at odds with the optimistic assessments of the government and the pundits wouldn’t necessarily reverse an individual’s opinion of the larger picture—particularly as there was no shortage of pundits spouting grand statistics and telling the public that their problems were their own fault and not the fault of policy makers. Those reliant on the traditional media might not have believed everything they were being told, but they had little or no alternative sources of information.
The internet however provides unlimited sources of information which take little effort to discover. Furthermore the internet user can concentrate on a specific issue without distraction, observe discussions and actually participate in them. The passive news consumer becomes an engaged news user and through blog-commenting and blogging itself the ordinary citizen can disseminate news and information as well.

Between 2005 and 2006 opinion polls showed increasing dissatisfaction with not just Iraq, but with domestic policy issues as well—employment, health, environment, security, justice, corruption, energy, immigration, education and civil rights. As the mid term elections loomed, the GOP’s policy priorities were the exact opposite of the public’s priorities. Clearly the Republicans dominance in the mass media and their infamous message discipline had lost its effectiveness. The public was rejecting their message, because in their gradual rejection of the traditional media in favor of the internet, the public had the option to be better informed, and I believe even the small blogs played their part.

A blog such as mine has an irregular readership of perhaps three-dozen people. My readers tend to have their own readerships, and we all have our own blogrolls where some of the links are common but many others unique. The shared interests we have and the unique links we have create networks of exponential scale. New and useful information is disseminated quite easily, new contacts made, new communities, though mutable, established. News and ideas are transferred very quickly, far and wide. Small blogs that discuss large issues can create a “collective conscious” by virtue of their accessibility. Again, I ask; if the move from traditional media to the internet was just a change in the medium, but not the “message”, why does the message no longer hold sway over public opinion?---because the source of information is different, and because the audience is no longer passive. The public doesn’t have to put-up with being spoken-to, they can speak to each other and they can talk back—and that’s what blogs provide.

I think blogs have made a difference, and that’s why I will keep on blogging. And I hope everyone else does too.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bush’s New Excuse?—If We Leave Iraq, Iran Will Threaten World Peace!

Bush’s recent speech to the American Legion in which he said that allowing Iran to pursue “technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust” sounds mighty familiar of course.

Now whilst a majority of Americans have finally wised-up to Bush’s crap, the fact that his year-long campaign to push Iran as the next great “threat” has had no takers beyond the usual suspects doesn’t mean a damn. He's still keen on bombing Iran.

As everything Bush has EVER done or said clearly demonstrates, he doesn’t give a shit about what the majority public thinks or needs; manufacturing support for the Iraq invasion was merely useful but now with his established “executive powers” he’s perfectly capable of doing whatever he wants without public support—all he needs is his “Beltway” enablers, of which he has many, too attack Iran.

Interestingly (and scarily) he may have an accidental ally in Iranian President Ahmadinejad:

"The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly," Ahmadinejad said at a press conference apparently after Bush’s American Legion speech, referring to US troops in Iraq. "Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation."

This quote may serve Bush well—not in reality, but in his mind and the minds of his warmongering supporters: in addition to the threat of Iran as a nuclear power, Bush could now parse these words to argue even more forcefully for the continued occupation of Iraq; the reasoning would be that an Iran with nuclear ambitions intends to “fill the gap” that would be left by a US withdrawal, take over Iraq and its oil and finance yet more global terrorism!

I’ll go out on what may be a very short limb here and predict that Bush will publicly make this connection in the next two weeks.

Such a connection would actually make no sense to the well-informed, but then that’s never been the US’s nor George’s strong point, has it?

UPDATE (8/30) :

"To a person, they said there would be genocide, gas prices in the U.S. would rise to eight or nine dollars a gallon, al-Qaida would continue its expansion, and Iran would take over that portion of the world if we leave," [John]Porter (R-Nevada) said Wednesday in a phone interview from Las Vegas.

That's one ( not from the WH though)...we'll see if this progresses

Monday, August 27, 2007

Who's The Bimbo?

When Miss Teen South Carolina was asked why she thought one fifth of Americans can’t locate the USA on a world map the very pretty young woman couldn’t locate a coherent sentence:

“I personally believe the U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh...people out there in our nation don’t have maps, and, uh, I believe that our education like such as South Africa and, uh, the Iraq everywhere like, such as and... I believe that they should, our education over here in the US should help the US, err, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future… for it.”

The YouTube clip of her response has now been sniggered-at by millions, and blogged by hundreds (and aired as entertaining filler on ABC News this pm precisely because it’s zooming around the intertubes.)

Magpie notes:

“While it's easy to laugh at [Lauren Caitlin] Upton, I'd submit that she's practicing the same craft that's used by US business leaders and politicians every day: that of saying a whole bunch of meaningless stuff to try to hide the fact that a statement is wrong, incoherent, or nonexistent.”

I had a similar thought before I read Magpie’s perspective which reinforces much of what’s she’s written. Consider these words and ponder who it is who deserves laughter and ridicule:

"I was raised in the West. The West of Texas. It's pretty close to California. In more ways than Washington, D.C., is close to California." -George W. Bush, in Los Angeles as quoted by the Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2000

"Border relations between Canada and Mexico have never been better." —George W. Bush, in a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Sept. 24, 2001

"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." —George W. Bush, at a news conference in Europe, June 14, 2001

"This very week in 1989, there were protests in East Berlin and in Leipzig. By the end of that year, every communist dictatorship in Central America had collapsed." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Nov. 6, 2003

"It's the Afghan national army that went into Najaf and did the work there." --George W. Bush, referring to Iraqi troops during a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2004

"Wow! Brazil is big." --George W. Bush, after being shown a map of Brazil by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 6, 2005

"After all, Europe is America's closest ally." --George W. Bush, Mainz, Germany, Feb. 23, 2005

Going Gonzo

" I need to spend more time with....ehhh..Morgan Fairchild...yeah, that's it...Morgan Fairchild...yeah."

"The unfair treatment that he's been on the receiving end of has been a distraction for the department," the official said.

This Friday Alberto Gonzalez handed George Bush his resignation and with his characteristic smirk asked the President to “spot” him his share of their burrito lunch, explaining that he was now unemployed and he wouldn’t be getting his social security check for another three weeks.

Gonzalez said that the weeks of interrogation by various congressional committees had been “torture”.

He went on to say that he believed he may have resigned to “give someone else a chance” but he was sure his ouster wasn’t politically motivated.
Asked when he had made the decision to fire himself he said he couldn’t recall, nor was he certain of the criteria he used in his decision but he was certain that incompetence wasn’t a factor.


“I’m not going to resign. I’m going to stay focused on protecting our kids.. The department is responsible for protecting our kids, for making our neighborhoods safe, for protecting our country against attacks of terrorism, to going after gangs, going after drug dealers. I’m staying focussed on that”Alberto Gonzalez (March 22, 2007)

Without Alberto Gonzalez to protect them, millions of children across the nation broke down in tears and clutched their dollies in fear of gangs of drug dealing terrorist immigrants.

President Bush, after accepting Gonzalez’s resignation finished his burrito, read Plato’s Republic, went cycling, cleared some brush and stared at a cow before exercising his recess powers to appoint Marvin Monroe as Psychologist General.

Asked why it had taken him 36 hours to act, the President explained that he didn’t want to scare the kids “and besides”, he added, “Gonzo’s always joking around. When he gave me his resignation I thought he was just trying to get out of paying for lunch. Look…if I listened to everything everyone
told me, Iraq wouldn’t have been freedomized—in other words, oceans don’t protect us and that’s why we’re over there! And that's why I'm doing a heck of a job—it’s called leadership!”

Thursday, August 23, 2007

George Will Links Republicans, Neo-Cons, to Nazis

“Come September, America might slip closer toward a Weimar moment. It would be milder than the original but significantly disagreeable.
After the First World War, politics in Germany's new Weimar Republic were poisoned by the belief that the army had been poised for victory in 1918 and that one more surge could have turned the tide. Many Germans bitterly concluded that the political class, having lost its nerve and will to win, capitulated. The fact that fanciful analysis fed this rancor did not diminish its power”.

So writes George Will in his latest Washington Post Op-Ed.

Will is referring to the myth used by military leaders to explain Germany’s surrender which was negotiated by the civilian politicians.
The German military claimed they had never been defeated and would have “won" WWI if not for their betrayal by the civilian government suing for peace, which the generals termed a “stab-in the back” (or Dolchstosslegende)

The facts were that the Germans simply reached the limit of their resources and could fight no longer. The British Navy blockaded German ports preventing supplies from their small empire and outmaneuvered and out-gunned the Kriegsmarine. The Tank broke through the trench defenses, forcing German retreat. The British Army was able to deploy troops from all over the empire (and the Irish served in large numbers and with distinction) and the US provided a very useful replenishment.

Thanks to the blockade the greatest priority was given to the military; the civilian Germans lost fuel, transportation and eventually food to the war effort, and began to starve whilst inflation took hold. The war was simply unsustainable.

But rather than blame the policy that had created the war, the generals blamed the policy that ended itfocusing particularly on liberal intellectuals (which included many Jews of course). Hitler made much use of the “stab-n-the-back” myth to rise to and maintain his power.
This same argument is being used by Bush now in his nonsensical comparison of the “lessons” of Vietnam with the current state of Iraq; and by the Republican and neocon cheerleaders insisting on yet more Friedman units else America will lose--thanks to the liberal intellectuals defeatist policies, not the original flawed policy and gross mismanagement that has led us to this pass.

I’m not sure George Will really meant to compare Bush and his “advisers” and the GOP to the warmongering, racist, authoritarian, militaristic, intolerant and vainglorious Nazis (otherwise I'm sure he'd have included 'Nazi in the title), but when you try to draw parallels, sometimes you end up with a "equals" sign.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Our Surge Robots WIll Be Greeted With Nuts and Bolts!

"The demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply," said Army chief of staff, Gen. George Casey last week, referring to Bush’s “surge”.

Shit-for-brains Bush butt-buddy AEI “analyst" and “Surge-On! General” Fred Kagan insists “the longer that you keep American forces there, the longer you give this process to solidify and to make sure that it's not going to slide back."

So how is the Pentagon going to keep the surge going when they don’t have any troops left?


It turns out that the Pentagon is about to award a contract for 1,000 reconnaissance robots (on August 24) to be delivered by the end of the year.

And how is the Pentagon going to decide which company’s robot has the right heavy-metal poly-alloy stuff to serve in what is rapidly really becoming the "Army of Whoever W've Got Left"?

Sadly, the decision will not be made by 'hot' metal-on-metal death-match action, but by whichever company promises to deliver 1,000 robots the fastest by year's end, using the most most convincing PowerPoint presentation.

It seems the hot favorite is iRobot--best known for its cat-terrifying, housemaid-unemploying Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner (the company does however already supply the Army with “Packbot” recon and bomb-disposal robots).

And though the company is doing pretty well these days, no doubt they’ll be very happy to rack up around $160 million in sales for four months of work (assuming of course that they aren’t lying about their production capacity).

Now the troops know damn well they aren’t leaving anytime soon, so the delivery of more robots will be at least somewhat welcome news for the extra-dangerous jobs of recon and bomb disposal.

On the other hand the order that suggests they’ll be doing more close-quarter house-to-house reconnaissance in the upcoming months and encountering more IEDs. The robots will provide a valuable assist in tactical operations, but it’s not going to make a blind bit of difference to the strategic, political situation.

Maybe the Pentagon should invest in a few protocol droids as well?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pentagon Censors Milbloggers, Media and Self but Still Loses to Media, Blogger

“There are plenty of good reasons for the military to be concerned about inadvertent release of "intel". But the fact is the US military as a whole is as guilty of providing such "intel" to a far greater degree than any single military blogger, or indeed of all of them.”

I’m quoting myself here from a post entitled Entire Army Shoots Self In Foot , in which I took the DoD’s arguments and suppositions (as reported in NewYork Newsday ) behind their ‘crackdown’ on "security-risk” milblogs (and their authors) to task.

That was written back in January 2006. Now in August 2007 comes this from

"For years, the military has been warning that soldiers' blogs could pose a security threat by leaking sensitive wartime information. But a series of online audits, conducted by the Army, suggests that official Defense Department websites post material far more potentially harmful than anything found on a individual's blog.

The audits, performed by the Army Web Risk Assesment Cell (AWRAC) between January 2006 and January 2007, found at least 1,813 violations of operational security policy on 878 official military websites. In contrast, the 10-man, Manassas, Virginia, unit discovered 28 breaches, at most, on 594 individual blogs during the same period.

It took a FOIA request to get this information, which is also mighty interesting because I concluded my January 2006 post with this:

It's hard to draw any other conclusion than that the gagging of milblogs is nothing more than an exercise in political propaganda which does nothing to serve the soldier, the mission or the nation. The Pentagon itself has done far more to provide the "enemy" with the Intel it seeks, and to undermine morale in theater and at home though its incapacity to provide the troops with supplies and listen to their real-time field experience, than any milblog ever has.”

Note that the DoD was all too willing to publicly argue its case at the outset, and the fact that it took a FOIA request to publicly reveal the subsequent research that refutes their suppositions.

Now as gratified as I am at this validation of my arguments and conclusions, this doesn’t suddenly make me an expert, nor provide me with another opportunity to criticize the traditional media (which I and many other have often done and still do).

What it does show, is that an ordinary citizen with no “officially recognized” expertise and limited resources can, with a little thought thrown-in, determine actual reality on their own rather than relying solely on being spoon-fed the versions of self-perpetuating “experts” and “authorities”.

Score another one for the hate-filled, loony, lefty hippie bloggers!

(P.S. On the subject of US military meddling in the truth, here’s an old satirical post about Rumsfeld that might amuse; The Iraqi Free Press (a $100-million value!),
with the bonus of some actual Arabic phrases you can learn!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bush Baby?

Not my usual type of subject, but Jenna “The Wild One” Bush just got engaged to one Henry Hager who, as an aide to recently expunged Bush-brain Karl Rove, would now seem to be unemployed (just like Jenna herself) and thus eligible for government handouts.

Wedding plans have yet to be announced. Also yet to be announced is why she’s gained so much weight over the past few months when “the other one” is still quite trim, as are her parents. (pictorial timeline of Jenna’s form here at the egregiously gossipy but entertaining Wonkette).

But I should stop right there.
Who am I to pry and poke at the adult First Daughter’s appearance? Why, such a thing would surely breach the bounds of decency!

And to insinuate that she, the daughter of a firm advocate of abstinence before marriage, might be pregnant out of wedlock would be quite beyond the pale. No doubt the proof that Jenna has simply been overindulging in Hamburgers and potato salad whilst vacationing with Sarkozy will be made evident in the next few months.

Indeed on the day of her wedding we should all be able to look forward to Jenna looking radiant and at her very best, as every bride and every groom and every witness desires.

I wonder when the wedding will be. October? I'm just guessing.

True Detective Stories! Cult of the Unremarkable Islamists!

(h/t to Red Tory for bringing this to my attention. He casts a wide net and always has lively comments, so pay a visit.)

We are well into summer, and you know what that means: Major League Soccer, barbecues, brush-clearing and of course, TERRAH!

“…the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have begun focusing on what they say is a greater threat -- small, anonymous groups of disaffected men who radicalize one another and turn to violence.”

Apparently the FBI is totally on the case, having identified these would-be terrorists with the totally awesome and highly scientific descriptors ‘BOGs, for "bunch of guys," or ‘GOGs’, for "group of guys”---and thanks to the FBI’s mad skillz “the cells may offer greater opportunities for detection and infiltration than the lone-wolf threat because they are more numerous and most members are amateurs.”

So have no fear citizens! The ‘G-men’ have got the ‘B-men’s number!

Well almost, anyway...

Though the FBI has now detected this new and significant threat to our mothers and their apple-pies, it seems that “they are difficult to detect because most lack formal structure or prominent leaders and have little or no contact with Al Qaeda or other known terrorist organizations.”

Because if they'd only have the decency to call themselves Al Qaeda in Oklahoma or something it would really help!! But if that weren’t alarming enough consider this:

"There is no useful profile to assist law enforcement or intelligence to predict who will follow this trajectory of radicalization. Rather, the individuals who take this course begin as 'unremarkable' from various walks of life," the NYPD said in a report released Wednesday.

So have fear, citizens! The ‘G-men’ haven’t got the ‘B-men’s' number!!!

And it gets worse! Apparently a “BOG” can “plan multiple attacks, use varied weapons and tactics, and draw on a wider range of resources than an individual could, officials say.”

Holy Mary Mother of God!
Never would I have imagined that a group of people could draw upon a wider range of resources than an individual could! Do you realize what this MEANS?!!

Why they might organize themselves, establish hierarchies, assign responsibilities, meet regularly, coordinate activities, canvas for support, seek out alliances, develop strategies and who knows, one day they might create a geo-political entity based on common interests, establish a collective identity and possibly even dominate the world!

Thank-God we have officials who are prepared to say things!

Law enforcement officials say BOGs present unique challenges."If we don't bump into them directly or have someone involved in some form of interaction with them, we'll have a difficult time finding them," said Arthur M. Cummings II, the FBI's deputy assistant director for counter-terrorism.

Well there’s only one thing for it then! A mass deployment of FBI agents to round up every single group of disaffected men! It’s the only way to save America!

I’ve written at length and seriously about many of the previous US terror plots and warnings (Idiots Thwart Other Idiots , DHS and the Three F's , Politics, Plots and Paranoia ) and found them to be lacking in credibility and undeserving of the dramatic coverage they were given.

But the article excerpted here (there’s plenty more to it) is the most ludicrous twaddle I have ever seen, in its own contradictions, hyperbole and the absolutely moronic utterances of the featured officials.

It’s been said that “it takes a thief to catch a thief”. It might follow then that it would take delusional incompetents to catch delusional incompetents. In which case, have no fear citizens; the FBI is clearly up to the task!

But just in case, stay terrified (or 'terrorfied'),--it's your duty as an American!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Polling the Surge: Mass-Debating, O’Handjob and Bollocks

Note: this post is a 'three-pager'

A CBS News poll released on Monday this week shows that 29 percent of respondents now believe that the surge is having a positive impact, an increase of 10 percentage points from last month” (emphasis added).

Hmmm! What’s happened that has prompted this pretty significant shift in opinion?

Has sectarian violence dropped-off significantly? No.
Are any parts of Baghdad now safe for correspondents to walk around without body armor and massive military escort? No.
Is electricity now available from the grid for more than 1-hour a day? No.
Has the Iraqi “government” finally been able to accomplish something, anything? No.

These were the goals of the “surge” that began in February and that was supposed to show a positive impact almost immediately, but soon thereafter the White House claimed that results wouldn’t be forthcoming until after June when the full “surge” force would be wholly deployed.

It seems sectarian violence has dropped off a bit in Baghdad (which is supposed to be a major aim of the surge) but some of that has to be attributed to the established summertime cycle of such activity.
Of all its intended goals, the “surge” has had only a marginal impact on just this one aspect of the situation, which clearly illustrates that it is in fact a tactic and not a strategy as Bush and his mouthpieces try to claim.

So, why the significant increase in the perception amongst some that “the surge is having a positive impact”?

Well, Bush’s clueless mass-media echo-machine might have something to do with it:

(Time Cover Dec. 11, 2006)

The usual suspects have all been trotting-out to Iraq on carefully orchestrated DoD junkets and returning with boilerplate reports of progress without providing anything more than anonymous anecdotal “evidence” from “the troops” and “the commanders”.

But what may have driven this change in perception more than anything else has been the significant promotion of the Brookings Institute’s “scholars” Michael O’Hanlon/Ken Pollack recent (July 30) New York Times Op-Ed entitled: “A War We Might Just Win.”

From Media Matters:

“On July 30, Pollack appeared live during the 9 a.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom and the 5 p.m. ET hour of CNN's The Situation Room, as well as MSNBC's Tucker and National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation. O'Hanlon appeared on the July 30 edition of MSNBC's Hardball and the July 31 edition of CBS' Early Show.”

In almost every appearance in this media blitz O’Hanlon (and Pollack) were introduced by the presenters/interviewers as “skeptics of the war”, without any evidence--because there is none.

The only skepticism these two have ever expressed has been with regards to the “management” of the war, not the war itself. (A summary of their public record that refutes their “skeptic" status is available here).

Over the next two weeks the usual suspects have done the media rounds, trumpeting the same “skeptic” reference without challenge except perhaps from John Stewart (a comedian it should be noted, NOT a journalist or ‘expert’) in an interview with Bill Kristol who was particular in referencing O’Hanlon/Pollack and the invented “skeptic” qualification as proof of their veracity and thus proof that the “surge” was making progress.

The key to this media blitz of course is the combination of claiming that O’Hanlon/Pollack are “critics” of the war, and the publication of their optimistic Op-Ed in the supposedly “liberal” New York Times---thus the implication of an impartial view (one has to disregard the fact that the NYT gave full uncritical reign to Judith Miller’s White House-directed WMD propaganda and the fact that O’Hanlon/Pollack “criticisms” have been limited to complaints that the occupation force could have used more troops and more bombs should have been dropped for Bush’s “strategy” to have succeeded—which would have stopped all the liberal-Democrat whining).

(Interestingly after all the media appearances, Glenn Greenwald asked O’Hanlon directly about his “war skeptic” credentials, which O’Hanlon directly refuted:

“As you rightly (emph.) reported -- I was not a critic of this war. In the final analysis, I was a supporter.”

O’Hanlon has since countered this confession on NPR’s On Point by saying “I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time rebutting Mr. Greenwald because he’s had frankly more time and more readership than he deserves” which of course is a rebuttal that might sway a six-year old desperate to pee in the middle of an argument about cooties, but surely wouldn't convince an adult--excepting adult journalists, of course!.)

In contrast there has been no significant coverage of Anthony Cordesman’s assessment of the surge--try "cordesman surge" on Google(Web) and on the first page there' are no hits from any major media outlets, nor on the second page either (or the third).

Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic Studies and International Studies was on the exact same trip as O’Hanlon/Pollack, yet arrived at an entirely different conclusion! There has been no consequent invitation of other “talking heads” appearing in the mass media expressing analyses that run contrary-to, or even being partially questioning-of, the rosy views of those being so heavily promoted (all two of them).

It is small wonder then that the “surge” has enjoyed its own surge in the perception of its success. But this improvement seems to have occurred amongst the apparently perennial ‘29-per-centers.’

If Bush’s surge ishaving a positive impact” why then hasn’t Bush’s overall performance figures or his “handling of the campaign against terrorismincreased? After all, hasn’t Bush constantly connected each to the other?

On the subject of the surge, it seems clear to me that a carefully orchestrated media campaign specific to the “surge” has had a positive domestic effect on the GOP’s hardcore base in terms of this singular issue, but not enough to persuade the overall majority in this or other related issues.

This ‘bump’ on a singular issue speaks volumes about media manipulation and media compliance with the administration’s message, and also about the desperation of the GOP and their most ardent supporters in trying to find some positive amongst all the negatives.

With one day left in the month, American casualties in July are the lowest since the troop surge began in February", reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin, "and civilian casualties are down by a third.”

I would remind David Martin that a reduction in American casualties was not supposed to be a measure for “progress” in the surge—in fact the DoD cautioned that they were expected to rise somewhat--but God-forbid that the CBS National Security Correspondent would actually remember that (and in this report he cites no figures, military OR civilian presumably because he's been told they don’t really matter-- "we don't 'do' body counts"--official!).

U.S. officials attribute that to the dismantling of networks which make roadside bombs and to American soldiers protecting the local population. It would only take a few spectacular attacks to reverse those trends, but even critics of the war strategy are encouraged.”

So although ‘networks” make and use IEDs they have been apparently “dismantled”, BUT if they show up again well then… ummmm…I guess the ‘networks’ won’t have been dismantled, would they?

Still, the important thing is that “critics of the war strategy are encouraged”—based in the fact that they proclaim themselves “encouraged”. And who are these “war critics”? Why none other than O’Handjob and Bollocks!

"For me, gut instinct, just piecing all of the information together subjectively, I thought we should give it a few more months into 2008," O'Hanlon says.”

How telling! “Gut instinct” and “subjective” analysis from a longtime proponent and supporter of the disastrous and illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq has been dutifully given pride of place in the CBS article entitled U.S. Observers Note Progress in Iraq”—and it is but one of many simlilar by other serious news organizations.

Quite accidentally, David Martin partially gives the game away when he finishes with:

That is exactly what the American commander Gen. David Petraeus wants — continue the surge into next spring and then start a gradual withdrawal back to the pre-surge troop level of 130,000 by the end of 2008”.

What Petraeus wants is to become a four-star general with all the benefits. He serves “at the pleasure” of the President and does what Bush wants.

What the GOP Administration wants is to stall and then use the inevitable policy change that will come from the 2008 elections—no matter how slight those changes might actually be---to claim that “progress” was undermined and their certain “victory “ thwarted, if only those meddling kids hadn’t interfered!.

So it is small wonder then that the CBS poll has shown its own surge in the perception of the “surge’s” supposedly “positive impact.” Certainly CBS has done nothing to provide any counterpoint or context, nor have any of the other major media outlets done anything to impartially inform the public before asking their opinions.

This is yet another very clear example of why media matters, and how by not just re-iterating but actually building from the party propaganda, mass media influences public opinion in a way that serves private political agendas and polices.

Fortunately in this case only the most intransigent one-third has been persuaded to reverse their perceptions—not with facts, mind you, but through a campaign of propaganda. But it certainly substantiates the methods of Karl Rove and Frank Luntz, whose only purpose and justification is to manipulate whoever they can for their own and their paymasters’ benefit.

This one-third may once again change their opinion as time drags on, but in this latest propaganda initiative abetted by the mass media there must be reasonable hope in GOP circles that all is not lost and that they can still shape “reality”—at least enough to mitigate their current losses and who knows, perhaps even turn the tide that currently runs against them.

Although the majority of the public has certainly changed and acquired a healthy skepticism, it is evident that the mass-media is still as blatantly partisan or as willfully blind as ever. They are still providing hand-jobs to a corrupt administration, and still presenting complete bollocks to the public.

Note: “Bollocks” is an Old English term (from around the 15th Century) that originally referred to the irrelevant bloviating of priests from the pulpit.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dun Rovin'

It is an old British pun and play on words, that for instance when a fisherman retires he might name his abode “Dunfishin” (as in “I’m done fishing”). The use of “Dun” implies rest or comfortable retirement; from the Danish/Swedish/Norwegian word “dun” for feather “down”, as used in pillows.

Anyway, the BIG news of course is that Karl Rove is quitting at the end of August and much chewing of the fat is now ensuing.

“…he wouldn't be going if he wasn't sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son" said Dana Perino, undoubtedly the cutest liar I ever did see. His 18-year old son is of course is in college, not in Iraq, but at least he’s getting a college education (unlike his dad) and doesn’t have to dodge the draft as his father did (at least twice, despite never being a full–time student).

But never mind all that, what does Karl Rove’s departure mean?

Well, he delays the subpoena already against him, probably forcing a re-issue for him to appear as a private citizen, but ‘sadly’ then minus personal access to government records. And of course with “Bush’s brain” now “disconnected”, everyone left in the Whitehouse will claim mass confusion and memory-loss, as will Rove of course should he have to testify. That’s basically it.
As a newly private citizen I think he’s in a much more powerful position, personally, than if he completes Bush’s term. That in turn helps Bush and Gonzalez. And if Rove still intends to stay involved in GOP politics, he can keep a low profile as a less public figure.

I’m sure some pundit will express the startlingly insight that Rove’s departure reinforces Bush;s “lame-duck” status (in fact ABC7 News reporter just said that). Duh!

I’m not saying my brief analysis is brilliant, and it may well be totally wrong and others might have keener and more informed and better substantiated opinions. But I’m not counting on the usual MSM suspects to illuminate the consequences of Rove’s departure.

And I'm certainly not cheering his official departure--the sob deserves trial and jail.

Guns And Money

NOTE: This post is is rather ad-hoc as the subject sources are still quite confusing.

(All following emphases added)

According to the AP this week

The U.S. training command had already reported it would arm all Interior Ministry police by the end of 2006 through its own three-year-old program, which as of July 26 has bought 701,000 weapons for the Iraqi army and police with $237 million in U.S. government funds.”

According to the Washington Post last week

“The GAO reached the estimate of 190,000 missing arms -- 110,000 AK-47s and 80,000 pistols -- by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq [MNSCT-I] against records Petraeus maintained of the arms and equipment he had ordered. Petraeus's figures were compared with classified data and other records to ensure that they were accurate enough to compare against the property books.

Petraeus reported that about 185,000 AK-47 rifles, 170,000 pistols, 215,000 pieces of body armor and 140,000 helmets were issued to Iraqi security forces from June 2004 through September 2005.
But the property books contained records for 75,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80,000 pieces of body armor and 25,000 helmets.”

Add the rifles and pistols together and we get 350,000 weapons “issued” over 15 months, according to Petraeus. That leaves another 351,000 weapons purchased over the last 22 months to reach 701,000.
According to the US DoD the Iraqi Army will in the end state be an approximately 137,500-person force based around an Army with 9 infantry divisions and 1 mechanized infantry division consisting of 36 brigades and 112 battalions.

Battalions consist of approximately 800 soldiers; 112 battalions would equal 89,600 troops. Now let’s assume spare weaponry at 50% and another 50% for possible reserve units. That gives us 179,200 assorted AK-47s and pistols.

According to Global Security there are intended to be 65,000 police.
It seems up to 91,000 have applied and received some training, possibly uniforms and pay, but its functional size appears to be anyone’s guess—perhaps 10,000 of inconsistent quality and allegiance.
Even so given the intended gross figures for police (65,000) and army (137,500) we arrive at a total of 202,000 requiring weapons.

Assuming all are armed with either AK-47 or pistol and doubling the figure for spares, attrition and contingencies we arrive at 404,000---still 297,000 weapons short of the 701,000 the US has supposedly bought and distributed: If we subtract the 190,000 “missing weapons” that still leaves 107,000 presumably unnecessary weapons unaccounted-for (a $36 million value!).

But wait...there’s more!

Italian officials are now pursuing arms dealers who apparently had illegally struck a ‘back-channel’ deal with the Iraqi Interior Ministry:

“Investigators say the prospect of an Iraq deal was raised last November[2006], when an Iraqi-owned trading firm e-mailed Massimo Bettinotti, 39, owner of the Malta-based MIR Ltd., about whether MIR could supply 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 10,000 machine guns “ to the Iraqi Interior Ministry,'' adding that "this deal is approved by America and Iraq.''

“… 'most' of the 105,000 weapons were meant for police in Iraq's western province of Anbar. That statement raised questions, however, since Pentagon reports list only 161,000 trained police across all 18 of Iraq's provinces, and say the ministry has been issued 169,280 AK-47s, 167,789 pistols and 16,398 machine guns for them and 28,000 border police.”

161,000 police now? These figures are getting crazy. There are supposed to be as many trained police in Iraq as there are US troops? And they are all supposed to be armed? None of this makes any sense. Well, anyway…

The Iraqis had already (supposedly) been provided with at least 350,000 weapons in addition to whatever the ex-army and ex-police already personally held (which the US never bothered, and was incapable of, accounting-for.

“Iraqi officials did not make MNSTC-I aware that they were making purchases,'' Lt. Col. Daniel Williams of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), which oversees arming and training of the Iraqi police and army, told the AP.

That’s a very circumspect choice of words. Anywhoo, we still aren’t done yet:

“In a report last year, Amnesty International said that in 2004 and 2005 more than 350,000 AK-47 rifles and similar weapons were taken out of Bosnia and Serbia, for use in Iraq, by private contractors working for the Pentagon and with the approval of NATO and European security forces in Bosnia.”

Now that would match Petraeus’s reported “issuing” of arms for Iraqi forces between 2004 and 2005. But there are just a few teeny multi-million dollar problems here:

At best, by my rough calculations, assuming an army of 137,000 and a police force of 160,000, all armed, we arrive at 297,000 personnel and 297,000 guns. Doubling that figure for contingencies, wear and tear etc we get 594,000 guns needed in total.

That still leaves 105,000 guns “missing”—and the GAO reports 190,000 “missing” which makes sense because there is no way the Iraq police or the Army are at their supposed full strengths, and they obviously haven’t all been issued all the guns apparently purchased.
Interestingly though the figures for the police are greater now by close to 100,000 compared to my previous calculation we still end up with a kind of magic number297,000 (or 295,000), with an estimated value of $103 million.

Oh and one other thing; the Bosnian-sourced weapons “were taken out of Bosnia and Serbia, for use in Iraq, by private contractors working for the Pentagon”.

Does that mean that contractors simply supervised the process, or does it mean that contractors were the recipients, or both? Why would they be subsidized by US taxpayer money? And would they then also be additionally billing for this “service” and then keeping the weapons?

It appears to me then that either far too-many weapons have been bought (suggesting unnecessary profits for the suppliers and the possibility of kickbacks to the purchaser), or that far fewer weapons were actually bought than were paid-for (providing a $36- to $100-million bonus to the purchaser), or that anywhere from 105,000 to 297,000 weapons are now available on the black market, perhaps at more than $338 per gun (thus providing even greater potential profit), or finally, that anywhere from 105,000 to 297,000 weapons have simply been stolen and/or distributed.

All of these guns would require bullets, of course. I’ve seen nothing yet to indicate whether these arms deals included bullets or not, but 100 million rounds at 18-cents each would cost $18 million and equip 300,000 guns with over 300 bullets each (or 900-plus bullets each for 100,000 guns) and from a $36 million profit that still leaves $18-million to fool around with.

What the precise figures are and who exactly is profiting in money or equipment is as yet unclear, but US citizens at least are obviously getting rooked, US troops are obviously being endangered for profit and/or twisted policy, ordinary Iraqis certainly aren’t benefiting and certain Iraqi and US officials and their friends are benefiting from a collective conspiracy or at least a larger collective incompetence.

Bear in mind this is all US taxpayer money being spent and siphoned here. Note also that during the Bosnian conflict, the United States provided about $100 million in defense equipment to the Bosnian Federation Army, and the GAO found no problems in accounting for those weapons.

I intend to revisit this subject and hopefully make more explcit sense of it. But meantime, even though Bremer "lost" over $8-billion in just one year and a possible $100-million having been mislaid seems small by comparison, this isn't just about mere graft, but lethal corruption and what's more it is just a fraction of the larger Iraqi arms bazaar and boom.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Suffering Fools

Yesterday when Giuliani said “I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers” he was immediately and roundly criticized.

Looking at the larger quote it seems to me his subsequent clarification—that he was trying to express empathy for the 9-11 workers whose health is suffering--rings true:

“This is not a mayor or a governor or a president who's sitting in an ivory tower. I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. I was there working with them. I was there guiding things. I was there bringing people there. But I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them."

So have Giuliani’s words been taken out of context? Are his detractors being unfair? No.

Even without the offending line, his words are self-aggrandizing and his attempt at empathy politically calculated and patently false. The one line that has been seized-upon is in fact entirely in-context. Giuliani has convinced himself (with a little help from his friends) that he is the one and only hero of 9-11.

By not providing for the rescue workers, by setting himself up as a “terrorism expert” (despite having placed his anti-terrorism center against other advice, in a known target), by claiming his first thought in the attack was “thank God George Bush is our president” (at the 2004 RNC convention, when the content of the 2001 August 6 PDB that Bush ignored was well known), and certainly by his utter lack of support for rescue-workers subsequent health claims, his newly expressed “empathy” is obviously complete bullshit.

The actual meaning behind his words is that as he’s not suffering the health effects of the rescue workers their complaints must be exaggerated. Giuliani didn’t actually “misspeak” nor are his words being taken out of context or being purposely misconstrued. He’s fooled himself into thinking he can fool everyone else, and oh, how he thinks he suffers!

Well he isn’t suffering, and those who truly are suffering refuse to suffer fools any more.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

David Petraeus and the Prisoners of the Goblet of Shit of Iraqistan

Hardcore fans of G. W. Bush will be lined-up around the Capitol this September when David Petraeus reads excerpts of the latest episode in this seemingly unstoppable fantasy of a boy who accidentally discovers his magical powers and with the help of newly-found and instantly loyal friends, embarks on a seminal quest to combat evil---a story which has captured the imaginations of whole nations.

Unlike J.K. Rowling however, the security surrounding Bush’s fiction has been by comparison remarkably lax. Indeed it is almost as though the ‘actors’ are somehow being paid to reveal the story before official publication!


If you’d prefer to be totally ignorant until the official publication READ NO FURTHER!
But if you just can’t stand the excitement, read-on.


Hundreds die, but nothing else happens…until the next episode, due out in about six months when… hundreds more die and still nothing happens.

Obviously there isn’t much point in buying the book now, is there? Well there’s one more spoiler—you already paid for it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Define Humanitarian Crisis

After four years of fuck-all, the UN has decided that with thousands murdered and hundreds of thousands displaced, in a parched land with a corrupt government that provides no public services but that supports a murderous militia, Darfur consiitutes a "huminatarian crisis" about which something must be done!

Meanhile , after four years of fuck-all, the UN has decided that with hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced, in a parched land with a corrupt government that provides no public services but that supports a murderous militia, Iraq doesn't consiitute an "humanitarian crisis" about which nothing will be done.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Left, RIght and Wrong

Sometime "you just feel like a nut", hence this:

Two wrongs make a Right, and three wrongs make an even-more Right, whereas one Left makes a Wrong and two Lefts make two Wrongs.

This is why the Rights have to be more wrong more often than the Left ( who have to be wrong only once) so that the Right, by being more Right through being more wrong than the Left (who have to be wrong only once) can properly counter the Left who are inherently wrong and thus don't have to work as hard at being wrong--which is just typical of the slacker Left.

So you see, you just can't even begin to compare Left with Right because no matter how hard you try (and I know you don't because you are Left) the Right will always be right because they work harder at being wrong, and therefore are simply superior and incomparable to the Left.

Of course, if you were to admit that you were wrong and agreed to the Right's extraordinary rightness (acquired by multiple wrongness), you'd still be wrong, because you are Left. It's like the opposite of being gay--you are born Left and wrong and there's nothing you can do about it so just accept what's Right.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Forever Blowing Billions

Last week’s very shallow NIE Key Findings were reported-on for the most part in the now familiar cut and paste style; the Bush administration’s essential message that Al Qaeda is a present and growing threat was dutifully delivered just as the Democrats were trying to force the GOP to commit to a time frame to begin withdrawal from Iraq.

Absent from most of the coverage is the irony in that one of the purported justifications of the Iraq occupation was the “flypaper strategy” that would draw AQ to Iraq for US forces to then apprehend and destroy, thus making the world and the US a safer place, and yet after all the “leadership”, time, blood and treasure expended the situation is now apparently as bad (and rather, worse) than it was before.

Perhaps the MSM decided not to insult our intelligence by providing some damning critical context on account of it being too obvious, or perhaps they just forgot—for the millionth time.

But having put the same amount of effort into their reporting and analysis of the Key Findings as the Administration had in writing them the NIE received its two minutes of fame before the ADD kicked in once again,

You might be surprised to learn that another report came out last week, one just as important to national security and the pressing issue of Iraq, but which received even less attention than the NIE—that is to say practically none at all—despite it involving facts rather than conjecture, expenditure of huge amounts of money rather than broad opinions, and that this ignored report is considerably more substantial than the two-page Key Findings of the NIE and deserves some serious attention.

I am referring to the Congressional Research Services The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan and Other GWOT Operations Since 9/11.

Now the good people at the CRS note that this report is not a formal audit of the DoD's financial records, but is instead a record and analysis based on whatever they could find and/or were provided-with by a variety of official sources (and they recommend a formal audit should be conducted).

The report provides quite an insight into some of the accounting practices of the DoD and the considerations that affect the management, measurement and reporting of their actions which are not particularly obvious to the lay person such as myself, so I’d recommend reading it yourself for its educational value and the informed perspective it provides.

But to whet your appetite here are some excerpts and observations:

“Of the $610 billion appropriated thus far [including the May 25 FY2007 Supplemental], CRS estimates that Iraq will receive about $450 billion (74%), OEF [Afghanistan and GWOT] about $127 billion (21%), and enhanced base security about $28 billion (5%), with about $5 billion that CRS cannot allocate (1%).
Of this total funding, 93% of the funds is for DOD, 7% for foreign aid programs and
embassy operations, and less than 1% for medical care for veterans."
[emphasis added]

By “cannot allocate” the CRS means that $5 billion is unaccounted-for or missing. Granted that’s chump-change compared to the overall expenditures—it may well be all stuck between the sofa cushionsin Rumsfeld's now vacated office---but that’s five times more than is being spent on veteran’s care which, it so happens, is apparently going to be reduced by $200 million next year (and, one could add that $5 billion to the $8 billion that Bremer of the CPA has still to account for).

“As of November 2006, DOD estimated that war-related obligations total $372 billion and average monthly obligations were about $10 billion including $8.6 billion for Iraq and $1.4 billion for Afghanistan. Although these figures capture DOD’s contractual obligations for pay, goods, and services, they do not give a complete picture because they do not capture all appropriated funds or all funds obligated. DOD acknowledges that these figures do not capture over $30 billion in classified activities.”

The budget of the clandestine services (CIA, NSA, SRO etc.) has, through some smart investigative work and the occasional slip-up by the government, been generally estimated at $30-40 billion a year coming out of the overall Defense budget for the past 25 years. But this paragraph suggests that the clandestine budget has been practically doubled, in a supplement under the cover of war-related obligations. Whilst I can appreciate that operational expenses would increase in this situation, it doesn’t seem like a doubling of the budget could be justified—especially given the non-existent results thus far.

“Based largely on DOD accounting reports, average monthly obligations grew from $6.2 billion to $8.8 billion, an increase of about 40% with the most rapid increase in Iraq. Monthly obligations for OEF have hovered around $1 billion a month while Iraq costs
increased from $4.4 billion to $7.4 billion in four years.”
“As of October and November 2006, obligations are running about $10 billion
a month with Iraq at $8.6 billion and Afghanistan at $1.4 billion”

Although the self-inflicted increase in oil-costs are obviously a factor, these figures also point in part to the attrition of expensive equipment which point to the fact that not only is the US making no headway, it is being bled to death—just as the Russians were in Afghanistan.
The report does note that the 2007 figure is now $12 billion a month for Iraq, which might be attributable to the “surge” though that would take the rough metric of the “cost per deployed soldier” of $390,000 per year for those already there to $685,704 per “surge” soldier (assuming $2 billion divided by 35,000 troops).
NOTE: I’d caution that my calculation here is simplistic and nothing to hang a really serious argument on, but as a generality based on a concomitant (and official) generality it makes the point of significant cost increases without any obvious return on investment.

“Although DOD has testified frequently and submitted various reports on Iraq
and the global war on terror, information and explanations of changes in the cost of
OIF and OEF have been limited, incomplete, and sometimes inconsistent.”
“CBO [Congressional Budget Office] pointed out that DOD’s justification materials have been sparse — for example, DOD provided five pages to justify $33 billion in operation and maintenance spending, about half of the FY2006 supplemental request.41”

Apparently the standards of justification for spending $33 billion federal dollars are less than those required to renew a driver’s license (5-6 pieces of documentation required).

Indeed the report provides numerous examples of the DoD’s inability to properly account for possibly up to $100 billion in funds, as well as its apparent utter lack of interest in even attempting to do so, since, it should be noted, September 11 2001.

“For FY2008, the Administration is requesting $141.7 billion for war
costs, somewhat less than in FY2007 but about 20% more than in FY2006.
Although the Administration classified both requests as emergency funds, much
of the funding would not seem to meet the traditional definition of emergency — as
an urgent and “unforeseen, unpredictable, and unanticipated” need — though defense
requests in the past have not been held to that standard.”57

But none of this apparently is of much interest to our MSM---the $400 haircuts of prospective presidential candidates grooming to look their best in front of television cameras are so much more interesting and relevant to the great unwashed than the largest government department’s atrocious accounting for multiple billions of taxpayer dollars being spent on causes they have no desire to support and from which they not only derive no benefit but by which they are impoverished and actually harmed.

I accept that some of the DoD's spending is bound to be discretionary and however well- intentioned some of it will lead to a dead-end. But it is pretty clear that that the DoD is taking as much advantage of the "state of war", and using the 'fog of war' to excuse itself when called to account by those who entrust their money to military management and national security.

This report, though mild in its criticism. illustrates how appaliingly badly run the US military really is in its finances and does nothing to promote the idea that despite its faults it is in any way the "finest in the world", let alone a servant of the public need and the public purse. It is above and beyond such rational and prosaic concerns. Nothing justifies a department of Defense so much as war, and nothing justifies its continuity and profligacy so much as the continuitin of war, regardless of the public's opposition.