Saturday, December 30, 2006

December 31, 2006

December 19, 2006


Enough. Enough, enough, enough! Enough with the spin and re-spin. Enough with slandering those who question this abortion of a war. And enough with the war itself. The time to put a stop to this madness was long ago. But we didn't. Instead we allowed a clutch of half-mad fundamentalists unleash a bloody, unless, un-winnable war that's killed maybe hundreds of thousands. A war that has become an insatiable black hole that sucks in more lives every day.

Now the President, and his shrinking circle of fellow travelers, want to send up to 35,000 additional US troops into that black hole. He will also ask Congress for a couple of hundred billion more dollars (we don't have) to pay for two more years of war.

Enough! We should have said enough, meant it, and forced it long ago. But today is all we have, and today is a far better day than tomorrow, to say it, “enough already!”

To Democrats, like Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid, I say, get with it or get the hell out of the way. You've hidden behind your triangulated, mealy-mouthed, obfuscated, do-nothing, take-no-risks, non-positions for too long. And, to our shame, we have allowed you to get away with it. Enough of that too.

The time has come for Democrats to do something for change, to stand for something, for a change. We are onto your dodge, you excuses, which can be summarized something like this:

“Sure I voted to give the President permission to attack Iraq. But I did so only to give him negotiating power. I didn't think he would really do it. And I sure didn't vote for the kind of incompetence we've seen in conducting the war.”

Oh, how tidy. How minced. How nauseatingly weaselly. That vote was four years ago. Where the hell have you been since? That vote was 2951 dead US GI's ago. Since Democrats and Republicans in congress has voted over $350 billion in funding to facilitate that deadly incompetence. So shut up with that crap, Hillary. You and Democrats like you, have your own penance to do, your own crow to choke down, your own shame to shoulder. And the best way to begin is to learn how to say, “enough!”

That's what voters said in November, “enough!” Our vote putting Democrats back in control of Congress, was not a vote for anything. It was a vote against this war. It was not a vote for “Hillary for President,” it was a vote against the current occupant of that office.

The time has come for those of you elected to congress last November to act. The day you raise your hands and are sworn into office this January the very first thing you must do – Nancy Pelosi – is to say "enough!" You need to stop this war, stop it dead in its bloody tracks. And, no, Nancy, that can't wait 100 hours until you raise in the minimum wage. In fact, we can wait for every item on your first 100 hours to-do list, Ms. Pelosi. What we can't wait one day longer for is for congress to say, “enough” to this war. No more continuing resolutions. No additional funds for a “surge” of troops to Iraq. Enough! The only money the administration should get for Iraq is just enough to pay for a safe and orderly extraction of US troops out of Mad Max Iraq.

Below is a chart every member of congress should have stapled to their forehead until they get it. It shows that, when it comes to fighting an indigenous insurgency, sending more troops is simply feeding the beast. As you can see in January 1965 Lyndon Johnson was at precisely the same juncture as George W. Bush finds himself today. The US had 180,000 troops fighting Communist Viet Cong insurgents in Vietnam, and we were losing. Johnson's choices, like Bush's now, were limited; withdraw or add troops. To Johnson, Texan like Bush, withdrawal meant defeat and he was not about to stand for that on his watch. So he added troops – a lot of troops – another 360,000 troops. (See chart below.)

We all know how that turned out. Still, even to this day, die-hard right-wingers will tell you that we didn't lose that war, but forfeited it. That politicians in Washington “tied the hands of our military.”

Excuse me. Tied whose hands? We had B-52's carpet bombing North Vietnam, air tankers defoliating thousands of square miles of rain forest, free-fire zones in which anything that moved, man, woman, child or water buffalo, was shot dead, entire villages were napalmed. I'd hate to see what those right-wingers consider “unhindered” warfare.

I only mention that because that's what we will hear from those now in favor of sending more troops to Iraq. They will argue that we have not fought in Iraq as though it was a real war, and that's precisely what we must do now. And, that if we do send more troops, we can still “succeed.”

Hello. Earth to morons. Vietnam is a smaller country than Iraq -- 325,360 sq km compared to Iraq's 432,162 sq km. We poured over half a million troops into that smaller country -- far more troops than we could muster today -- and we still couldn't gain the upper hand over those insurgents. Nevertheless we are about to be asked by this an administration -- an administration with a unbroken record of failure -- to give them one more crack at it. They want us to accept the unlikely premise that, if we just let them increase US troop strength in Iraq to something around 165,000, we could still “succeed.”

Do the math. Vietnam, 325,360 sq km/560,000 US troops - and we lost. Iraq, 100,000 sq km bigger, 165,000 US troops -- and they say we can "succeed." What nonsense. Utter, nonsense. Deadly nonsense.

So, members of congress, “enough,” okay? It's arrived -- the time to put a end to the madness now – right now. Not two years from now, not four months from now, not 100 hours from now. But now. We want it stopped and stopped immediately.

Clue to Harry Reid: Harry, Harry, Harry. After all that's happened, and with all that's happening, what were you thinking last Sunday when you said on Face The Nation, “Yes, I could support a surge, if it's for a short period....” Harry, when we hear you say things like that, at this point, we want to just reach right through our TV screens and give you the mother of all dope slaps. Jeezus man. Talk about a flat learning curve. What were you thinking?

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the ball in Congress' court now. It's simple and you in congress will no longer be able to sidestep it. "He who pays the piper calls the tune.” Congress pays the piper. And what additional proof does congress need that this piper is mad as a hatter?

Which is why we demand begin the new year by calling an entirely new, and long overdue, tune. “Enough!” No more. Not one more dime. Not one more bullet. Not one more US soldier. Not one more life of an American's precious son, daughter, mother or father for Iraqis who can't kill one another fast enough, or with enough brutality.

Oh, one more thing. If you in congress fail us – again --- we will remember when we see your name on the ballot in less than two years. Last November we told you what we wanted with our vote. Stop the madness now, or come November '08 it'll to you we say, “basta!”

December 18, 2006

Bucks for Bodies

Reader George Piter emailed me the little ditty below over the weekend. When I read it I did what I do so often these days. I shook my head, first in disbelief, then in disgust and moved on.

But there was, still in my email box this morning. And I just couldn't bring myself to delete it. I don't know why. After all, like you I'm a veteran of three years worth of Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and water-boarding stories. Maybe it was because this particular story showed just how cold and desensitized we've become. Maybe because it epitomizes everything that's wrong with this administration's lassie fair attitude towards the war they started, the harm they've caused and death itself.

Air Force looks to outsource casket duty

By Bruce Rolfsen
Staff writer/Air Force Times

The Air Force is looking for a private contractor to fly caskets out of Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Dover is the air hub where most troops who die overseas are brought before being returned to their families ... According to the request issued in late November, Air Mobility Command is looking for a firm that can provide crews and four aircraft able to carry two caskets each and their military escorts. The planes could make up to 110 flights a month...The initial contract would last until the end of January; however, it could be extended for up to six months. (Full Story)

Ike could never have imagined that the “military-industrial complex,” of which he warned, would extend to profiting from the very bodies their products, lobbying and campaign contributions help create. Talk about a vicious, vicious circle!

The accounting industry has a term for this. They call it a “moral hazard,” and they warn against creating them. A moral hazard is when someone can legally profit by doing the wrong thing. For example, the savings and loan crisis was the product of congress creating a moral hazard by deregulating S&Ls and letting them risk taxpayer-insured deposits on their own investment schemes. If their scheme paid off the S&L guys got to keep it. If they lost money on bad investments and the S&L went belly up, the government had to pay back the depositor's money. It was a classic "heads the S&L owners won. Tails, taxpayers lost. And lost we did -- $165 billon that time around.

We now have the military-industrial complex eqivalent of a moral hazard that's encouraged risky-- and often just plain wrong behavior.

How's this for a moral hazard? When a company can make money transporting dead soldiers it's in the interest of that company that there be as many dead soldiers as possible.

I'm not saying that there are a bunch a folks sitting in a boardroom trying to figure out how to get more US troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am just saying that, come the next election cycle those folks will be supporting those running for office who support military solutions to the foriegn policy problem(s) de jour. (Can you say, "Iran?")

Today's army still marches on its stomach. The only difference is --and it's no small difference -- that those stomachs are kept full by Halliburton's subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root. And the farther those soldiers are from home, and the more difficult/dangerous their posting, the more money KBR rakes in. It's a simple and entirely documentable formula -- and moral hazard if there ever was one. A host of other privated companys now provide services and supplies that were once entirely the perview of the military's own H&S (headquarters and supply) companies.

Neo-cons will roll their eyes this, I know. The whole military-industrial complex rant is -- to them -- a liberal horse we drag out at times like this to blame and beat. But even they have to admit, this is a new low, even for this administration. Outsourcing the return of our dead US soldiers to their grieving families simply turns the stomach.

They might as well just box them up ans ship them home via UPS.


You Want MORE Troops?

The trial balloons were released over the weekend. The White House is preparing us for Bush's announcement in January that he's going to send more troops to Iraq. His cover story will be that we need to make one final push to stabilize Baghdad so the Iraqi government can govern.

And who are the biggest backers of this very bad idea? Iraq's Sunnis, that's who. Iraq's Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi was at the White House just last week and he found George W. Bush a man he could deal with. They are two drowning men clinging to the other. Both men made serious mistakes, mistakes that directly led to the mess in Iraq today.

Bush's mistakes began with the invasion itself, but then were compounded by his decision to disband the largely Sunni-controlled Iraq Army Those soldiers went home without paychecks but with a grudge, rifles, RPGs and all kinds of things that go "bang."

The Sunnis' mistake was to think that the way back to power in Iraq was to destablize the Shiite-dominated government. It did, but it also has provoked a civil war. For months the Shiites put up with Sunni-death squads, until they decided it was time to fight back with their own death squads.

How's this for Irony? Bush invades Iraq and unseats its Sunni dictator, empowers the Shiite majority which is now busily massacring as many Sunnis as they can get their hands on. Now Bush has to send in more US troops, for what purpose – to fight Shiite dead squads and protect Sunnis, even though it was the Sunnis that created the unrest now killing most US troops. (Makes my head hurt to just think write that sentence.)

At this point both Bush and Hashemi find themselves on the losing end of developments. The Shiites are Iraq's majority -- by a long shot. If the US doesn't fight Shiite death squads, the Sunnis are toast. And, if the US can't get control in Baghdad, the Iraqi government is toast. And if that happens George W. Bush's legacy is toast.

It's just that simple folks. Don't believe the nonsense that “it's complicated,” and that there are “no good solutions.” True, there may be no good solutions for the Iraqis, and only they can sort that out. But there is a good solution for the US – get our young men and women out of that dysfunctional, backward, religiously-crippled, animal house of a nation - now.

But the two men who met last week are desperate, and primed for desperate solutions to their mutual problems. For Hashemi it's all about survival – in his case both political and physical. They say there are no second acts in American politics. Maybe, maybe not. But there are certainly no second acts in Iraqi politics. Just a short trip, blindfolded, a bit of electric drill action for good measure, and shot to the back of the head -- the Iraqi equivalent of impeachment.

For George W. Bush the entire mess has come down to buying time – 24 months to be precise. Enough time to get out of Washington so that the inevitable collapse in Iraq does not occur on his watch.

The best way for him to buy that time is feed more US troops into the maul. Because, it takes longer to extract troops from an active combat zone than it does to send them in. Another 20,000 troops means Bush has Iraq in the bag until he leaves office. After that he can blame his successor for failing.

The price of another 24 months will be high. Bush will pay for this getaway time with the blood of more US troops and Iraqi civilians. And it's a price he's willing and ready to pay, if we let him.

Of course there is a bright side to sending more troops to Iraq. Some company is going have more paying passengers heading home -- in boxes.


Hey Steve:
Yeah, how much lower can these turds sink?

I know how we treated guys who died when I was in Nam. You looked out for them almost as if they were still there, at least until the medevac came and removed the bodies. Over there a wounded Marine was designated as a “routine” medevac; a DOA was designated a “permanent routine.”

I can’t picture any company that gets the contract for this treating the bodies of fallen soldiers and marines with the dignity they deserve. I mean, look at the disgust that registers when you remember that some lowlife bastards shipped heroin back in dead bodies from Nam.

Nothing will ever be the same here, I’m afraid and we have anyone who ever voted for a Bush, or Reagan, or Nixon to thank for that. What a shame.

You wanna get a look at the future of how our soldiers will be treated by these mercenary bastards? Read Anna Politkovskaya’s A Dirty War. The Americans in Iraq have already suffered through the rotten food provided by Halliburton.

And wouldn’t it be ironic if the company that gets the contract has ties to the rendition planes?


I propose that we transport the remains of dead American troops from Iraq ALL the way to the family's destination of choice using ONLY military aircraft. Further, I propose that each coffin be escorted by a member of Congress representing the dead soldier's home of record.

If Congress can send the troops into battle they can sure as hell give them the honor of accompanying them back to their final resting place. In addition, I propose that a member of Congress from a wounded soldier's home or record personally visit such soldier at least once while hospitalized or within 30 days of discharge from the hospital.

AND I propose that each soldier or family of a soldier who has died or been wounded while on active duty in a combat zone receive a letter of thanks and commendation personally signed by the President, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of the specific military department. No ghost signers or automatic signature machines, please! Let them see how it feels to be up close and personal with the death and destruction they cause with the stroke of their pens.

Jeff M.

Monday, December 18, 2006

December 13-14-15, 2006

December 15, 2006

The Late, Great
US of A?

I'm beginning to understand how folks in Britain must of felt as their vassals began to shrug off the yoke of empire. That process was sometimes violent, sometimes a passive aggressive refusal to comply. But year by year, decade by decade the sun set on the British empire as its one-time royal subjects -- including us -- went their own way.

Not to beat an analogy to death -- especially such an obvious one – but the same thing is now happening to America's place in the international pecking order. We are no longer the best at everything, top dog, numero uno, a shinning example to the slackers and savages of the world.

I was musing about that this morning. It came to mind as I pondered what it was that made right wing conservatives so impervious to facts. Whether it's Iraq, free trade, climate change and universal health care, facts can't budge them. You can beat them over the head with the hardest of hard facts and not make a dent in their certainty that America, and everything about America, is still not only the best, but better than anything our nearest competitors have going for them by light years.

While that might have been a hard position to disprove just a few short decades ago, it no longer is. America is demonstrably not the leader any longer, at least in for the kinds of things that really matter to a civil society. For example, we are no longer the leader in educating our young – we're not even in the top ten. We are no longer the leader in providing advanced, affordable health care to all our citizens. We are no longer the leader in quality jobs, pay, benefits or retirement security.

And where we do still lead, we shouldn't. We are among the worlds leaders in incarceration rates and executions.

WASHINGTON – More than 5.6 million Americans are in prison or have served time there, according to a new report by the Justice Department released Sunday. That's 1 in 37 adults living in the United States, the highest incarceration level in the world. (More)

We are the world leader in military spending. We are among the leaders of the shrinking number of global warming deniers, and one the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

Right wingers deny more than global warming though. If that were all they were in denial of we'd have a fighting chance of reaching them even on that issue. But no, they are in complete denial. They believe they live in a country that began to fade sometime during the Nixon years. Right wingers sleep with a corpse. They remind me of Norman Bates in the classic movie, “Psycho.” They have their beloved, mummified memories of post World War II America propped up in their mental attic. For them, it still lives.

I only wish they were right. I'd love nothing better to wake up every morning secure in the knowledge that my country is, if not always right, at least trying to be. I'd love to be sure that my government was still looking out for the wellbeing of the majority, not just those with the means to return the favor. I'd love to live each day with the knowledge that the number of Americans unable to afford health care were counted in the thousands, rather than the tens of millions. I'd love to know that our children were still getting world class educations, rather than falling further and further behind.

|That was the country I was raised in, but it's gone now. Whether or not we ever see it again depends on convincing those right wingers that not all things they consider “liberal,” are bad. Some liberal ideas were bad, and liberals need to admit those mistakes. Lyndon Johnson's well-meaning “Great Society” became a smothering welfare bureaucracy. If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, that one led an entire generation of black Americans straight to dependency-hell. It broke up families, discouraged work and virtually obliterated an emerging black business/middle class that was surviving despite segregation and discrimination.

But not all things liberal are bad. Universal health care, for example. My European friends just shake their heads in disbelief -- and pity -- when they hear me talk about my annual scramble to a private health plan that's not a complete rip off. Oh sure the my British and Canadian friends bitch and complain about their government-run systems. Nothing is perfect and you can't please everyone, all the time. But when I ask them if they'd trade their troubles for mine, and they just laugh. Forget about it.

The only way America can rejoin the top rank of industrialized nations in health care is to embrace single-payer -- a system that leverages the kinds of things the private sector does well with with the cost-savings and bargaining power of a single payer. I'm a capitalist to my marrow. I love the stuff. It's been good to me. Freewheeling capitalism is a powerful, dynamic and creative dynamo. Having said that, we need to realize, it's not a societal Swiss Army knife. It does some things very, very well – and other things very, very, VERY poorly. And one of the things it does poorest is assuring that all god's children have access to affordable health care -- especially those who need it the most.

Reducing greenhouse emissions is another thing business can't do well, or fast enough if left to their own devices. Right wingers are not convinced it's caused by humans in the first place, and therefore don't understand what the big hurry is all about. Why saddle industry with the added cost of cleaning up their acts? But, to silent critics they offer “free market solutions,” such as creating and selling pollution credits. Unfortunately the rate of warming is beating the rate pollution credits can possibly address the problem.

This year will be the 3rd warmest on record for the US, and the 6th warmest on record worldwide. What's needed is a good dose of (liberal) government intervention – strict greenhouse gas emission limits. Would that be expensive? You bet!. But expense hasn't lessened right wing support for the war in Iraq, where we're now pissing away a staggering $9 billion a month. And just how expensive do right wingers think a global ecological collapse might be, should it occur? They're not sure that's going to happen, they say. But are they really ready to gamble their grand children's lives for a few more bull stock market years on that guess? And if they are, what's that say about them?

Allow me one final riff on the theme of America's slide from first place. We are, I am sure you've heard, “the world's last remaining super-power.” To which I say, so what? We live in a age of asymmetric threats, like terrorism and guerrilla insurgencies. Neither give a fig about how many megatons we can drop on them. Nor are our enemies today about to spend themselves into bankruptcy trying to match our nuclear submarines, stealth bombers or missile defense systems. To them we are a lumbering, muscle-bound, sitting duck. They can hear and see us coming a thousand miles away. And when we arrive, they disrupt our best laid plans with weapons that would have been familiar to WW II French resistance fighters.

America's best defense from such enemies is to leave them to stew in their own clueless worlds of ideological isolation and social dysfunction. Rather than spending hundreds of billions chasing them through rabbit warren-like medieval cities, we should spend a few billion making sure they can't get into the US.

But America's conservatives believe the US can still call shots far from home. In reality, the days when we really could are long gone and not likely to return in our life times, if ever.

It's a lesson the British had to learn the hard way. Once an empire begins to crumble, all the military force in the world can't hold it together. Empires are an inherently unstable element. They have a bright, but incredibly short half-life. And when change begins, it's a sea change.

History is filled with cautionary tales on the subject of crumbling empires. Reading some Rudyard Kipling would be instructive for conservatives who continue to believe the US can democratize Arab nations of the Middle East. Kipling wrote at a time when cracks began to show in the British empire. And there are useful lessons in his poetry and prose, lessons we seem determined to learn the hard way too. It's useful to understand that our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are fighting on the graves of thousands of imperial British soldiers whose lives and deaths Kipling chronicled nearly a century ago.

The British ultimately fled Afghanistan and Iraq. They put some locals in charge, gave them a "good old clap" slap on the back and high tailed for home. And so what? Did the UK collapse? No. Did “terrorists” follow to fight them in the streets of London and Southampton? No, -- at least not those terrorists anyway. Instead domestic terrorists, the IRA, proved to be their real problem.

True, today Britain is no longer an imperial power, she's just a power. Her citizens go about their days in relative peace and security – and that's a good thing.

What of the “victors,” that chased Brits out of Afghanistan and Iraq? Well, their lives changed little – and that's not a good thing – for them anyway. Societies change when they're ready to change, and that part of the world still isn't ready to change.

Simply put, the choice Americans must make in the weeks ahead is as simple as it is stark:

Continue feeding American soldiers into the meat grinder Kipling describes in the stanzas below. That's what right wingers are suggesting, in direct contradiction of the findings of the Iraq Study Group.


Try an enlightened – dare I say -- liberal approach, such as that proposed by John Murtha. Withdraw our troops and allow the natural social-evolutionary process in that backward region to proceed at its own pace and with its own means – no matter how bloody those means may be.

Because, either way, bloody it shall be.

Young Soldier, (st. 13)
Rudyard Kipling - 1918

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

By Rudyard Kipling, 1917

They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour:
When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their
To conform and re-establish each career?

Their lives cannot repay us--their death could not undo--
The shame that they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
Shall we leave it unabated in its place?

December 13, 2006

Hillary Must Not Run

A recent poll of registered Democrats showed that 37% say they would vote for Hillary Clinton should she run for President.

What are those people thinking? More to the point, are they thinking at all? Is that number an indication of genuine support or simply celebrity reflex?

I believe it's the latter. Because there's no there, there, with Hillary Clinton. Hillary wants to be President for the simple and singular reason that Hillary wants to be President. That's it -- the whole enchilada.

Should Hillary succeed in sleepwalking her party to the nomination, Democrats will almost certainly lose the White House in 2008. Because Republicans are not stupid. They learn. (They even evolve, though they would not want their base to know that.) Come next election I guarantee you Republicans will run a candidate for President selected so as not to scare the begebbers out of sane voters. They will run a moderate, even a centrist. They will run someone people trust, even if they may not agree entirely with every one of his positions.

For example, imagine how far Hillary/Anybody ticket would get against, say, a McCain/Giuliani ticket? Not far. Hillary's 37% would not be nearly enough to make up for the millions of centrist voters, including conservative Reagan Democrats, who would be attracted to a McCain/Giuliani ticket, especially if Hillary was the alternative choice.

So, I am begging Hillary not to throw her hat into the ring. Just say no, Hillary. Instead let your party leaders know that, in return for not running, you want be the next Senate Majority Leader. Bowing out of the presidential race would allow much needed oxygen into the campaigns of Dems with a real chance to win.

Imagine instead a Edwards/Obama vs. McCain/Giuliani race in 2008! Now that would be a real horse race! And one Dems could win, because both Edwards and Obama speak in ways that resonate with the aching hearts of both America's liberal and centrist voters.

So Hillary, please listen. Here are just a few reasons:

*The more people see you and hear you, the less they like you. I don't say that to be cruel. It's just true. Some people, through no fault of their own, get on other people's nerves. And you're one of them. You not only wear thin, but you wear thin fast. That's a killer of a handicap for any politician, but for someone running for president --- forgetaboutit!

*You stand for nothing most folks can articulate if asked. You have been so careful not to offend any particular constituency that you have failed to endear yourself to any either. What do I get if I vote for you? If you water-boarded me, I couldn't tell.

*While out promoting your book, “It Takes a Village,” you seem oblivious of an obvious – even glaring contradiction ... to wit, that your vote giving Bush the authority to wage war in Iraq has created villages chuck full of Iraqi orphans.

*Your position on that vote, and the war, is transparently dishonest. You say you voted to give the president the authority to wage war, not to wage it poorly. No you didn't. Your vote was part of your plan to run for president. Your advisers told you that you needed to look tough so you would not be painted as a limp-wristed liberal. That's why you voted the way you did, and everyone out here knows it.

*We also know you are lying when you claim you have not decided yet whether you will run for president. Of course you have. That decision was in the bag years ago. It's why you ran for the Senate, because you knew that running as a former First Lady was non-starter. You needed a better launching pad, you pursued it and you got it. Every time you tell a reporter you have not decided yet, you are lying, and we know it.

*You voted for the war for the same reasons you haven't embraced those in your own party, particularly Rep. John Murtha, advocating a rapid unwinding of Bush's military miscarriage in Iraq. You have calculated that it's better that more US troops get killed and maimed than run the risk of being tagged as a “cut and runner.” (Clue for Hillary: We already have a president who thinks like that, and his approval rating is now in the 20s.)

*Remember what the Swift-boater thugs did to John Kerry? Well they can't wait to get their grubby hands on you. They had to work at smearing Kerry. Kerry had a real record of service you'd kill for. He had seen combat, been wounded and been awarded medals for it. Still they were able to smear him. You, on the other hand, provide a virtually unobstructed, target-rich environment for that pack of reputation snipers. By the time the November 2008 election rolls around those guys would have morphed you into Lizzy Borden. (I see ads featuring Kenneth Starr, in which he muses out loud about the charges “I could have brought against Hillary, had she not hidden/destroyed evidence...etc etc etc.. blah blah, bladdy ,blah. And how about that Vince Foster? What was going on there? They will ask... implying much.) Are you really ready to put us, and your party, through all that again? Please don't.

*And then there's Bill. His cheatin' ways aside, Bill was our last good president. No argument there. But we know Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was our friend. And, Hillary, you're no Bill Clinton. So, that's problem One with Bill. The second problem is that, we can't have him back as president but we sure as hell don't want him as the nation's first First Husband. Jeezus woman, imagine that! We have. Bill roaming the White House, unattended, the toast of the town, with folks – female folks – not only hanging on his every word – but his arm. By the time you two left the White House in 2001 you had us totally burned out on the Clinton family soap opera. Reality TV, Ophra and Jerry Springer now provide us with all the dysfunctional domestic life voyeurism we can stomach. We sure as hell don't want to have to sit through 4 years of “Switching Places – The Clinton Show II.”

I could go on. And you can bet your sweet bippy those GOP hit squads will do just that -- go on, and on and on. Why would you want to go through that? Why would you make us go through that, especially at a time like this?

Hillary, just don't go there. Personal ambition is a good thing, until it becomes a selfish quest. And that's what you're on right now – a selfish, it's-my-turn, quest. How much do you want it? Already there are rumors of your opposition researchers digging for slanderous rumors to undercut an Obama candidacy. This is too dangerous a moment in our history for that kind of intramural, sophomoric nonsense.

If you were doing this in a different context, Hillary, a time of peace and prosperity, a time when the Supreme Court were not literally up for grabs, a time when America's standing in the world hadn't hit a rock bottom -- - we probably wouldn't care. The majority opinion might be -- "You want the job, it's yours. You get to be the country's first woman president. You go girl! Have a ball."

Trouble is, Hill, this is not such a time. Not even close. Instead we live at a perilous moment for America, for our check and balances democracy, for the human rights upon which America was founded, for our workers, for our schools, for our health care system and for our foreign policy. Not since the early days of the Great Depression has America held such an critcal election.

Which means that this is the worst possible time for the likes of you, (and I won't mince words) -- a conniving, plotting, polling, shape-shifting, vanity candidate.

But Hillary, this may still be your moment, just not in the way you would like. This could be your moment to display a genuine profile in courage -- by bowing out.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

December 4 - December 12, 2006

December 12, 2006

An Important Story
You Didn't See

I have no idea why this story was not on the front page of every newspaper and at the top of every newscast yesterday, but it wasn't. The story ran on only one front page, that I'm aware of. And that was on the paper that broke the story, the Wall Street Journal.

Whether you are among the growing majority of Americans that think Bush is doing an awful job, or a member of the shrinking minority of those that believe he's doing a the right thing, you have to be bowled by this story. Just when I think I can close the book on the breathtaking incompetence of this administration, hard facts like this cross my bow and I have to reconsider.

Yesterday the WSJ's defense correspondent, Gregg Jaffe, reported that US Army officials have told the White House they are broke. Worse than broke actually. The Army, despite its $168 billion budget, is out of money and being forced to cannibalize operations, here and in the war zone, just to keep the lights on.

Here are just a few of the grim facts from Jaffe's exclusive:
  • According to Maj. Gen Stephen Speakes, the Army was sent to war in Iraq $56 billion short of essential equipment.
  • Army officials told the White House that it needs at least an additional $24 billion, not in the 2007 budget, just to pay its current bills.
  • Cash shortfalls have forced the Army to lay off janitorial staff, close base swimming pools, and even stop mowing lawns on Army bases.
  • But cuts have also hit soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army officials had to cut $3 billion for replacement of weapons in heavy use in Iraq, such as armored Humvees, two-way radios, remote control surveillance aircraft and trucks.
  • National Guard units now lack 40% of their critical readiness gear because it's been sent to Iraq, and the Army lacks the funds to replace it.
This budget crunch comes at a time when running the US Army never cost more, Jaffe reported.
  • To stem the flow of soldiers leaving the Army because of repeated deployments to Iraq the Army was forced to spend $773 million on “retention bonus' this year compared with just $85 million three years ago.
  • The Army had to spend an additional $300 million on recruiting this year than in 2003.
  • The quality of the Army's oft touted all volunteer force has slid with the Army's decision to accept more enlistees that scored in the lower third of aptitude tests.
  • As a result the Army had to issue 8500 “moral waivers” this year compared with just 2260 ten years ago. (Moral waivers are issued for past criminal convictions, drug use and other proven legal/moral violations.)
How much of the Army's budget problems are due to poor budgeting and how much from private sector gouging? You decide.

Here are few more facts from Jaffe's report.
  • The cost of equipping an infantry soldier tripled, from $7000 in 1999 to $24,000 today.
  • The cost of Humvee's went from $32,000 in 2001 to a breathtaking $225,000 each today.
  • The cost of training, feeding and housing Army recruits went from $75,000 per soldier in 2001 to $120,000 today. (The Army uses private contractors, largely Halliburton's Kellogg, Root & Brown, to provide most non-training services, such as food service and base maintenance. )
So, while we await President Bush to unveil his “new way forward,” plan for Iraq, consider the implications of Jaffe's report. The Iraq Study Group undoubtedly heard all about the Army's budget crunch during their closed-door hearings. Which explains why it's recommendations did not include large additional US troop deployments.

“The (Army's) equipment shortages explain why Gen. John Abizaid, the top commander in the middle East, recently told lawmakers that the US couldn't maintain even a relatively small increase of 20,000 soldiers in Iraq. “The ability to sustain that commitment is simply not something we have right now,” he testified in November.” (Jaffe, WSJ)

If you are looking for someone to blame for the wartime Army budget emergency look no further than Ike's “military industrial complex.” Even in peacetime that bunch roots through taxpayer's wallets with reckless abandon. But an actual war sparks a feeding frenzy. Multi-billion dollar weapon systems get approved faster than a Las Vegas hooker can turn a trick, often entirely independent of its relevance to the war at hand.

That fa That fact is reflected in other figure Gregg Jaffe unearthed.

“Of the $1.9 trillion the US spent on weaponry....the Air Force received 36% and the Navy got 33%. The Army got

There you have it. Equipping infantry soldiers at $24,000 a crack ain't bad work, if you can get it. But slamming taxpayers $32 million a copy for a fleet of F-18 fighter jets, now that's a spicy meat-a-ball! Or how about this mouthfull -- $320.5 billion for a ballistic-missile submarine program -- and that's the base price. You want options? They got options. Add $97 billion for the missiles; $46 billion for submarine propulsion research, development, testing, production, and operations; and $220 billion for attack submarine construction, weapons, and related systems. Now you're talkin'!

Ships, subs, planes and all the high-end, high-tech gizmos that go with them, are SO much more profitable for defense contractors than the care and feeding of Army grunts that's it's no contest. And these high-dollar honey pots are also much more "boast-worthy" for politicians in districts where those contractors maintain plants -- and defense contracts make damn sure their facilities are strategically located around the country.

Which explains why the poor grunt on the ground is getting the short end of defense spending. Lockheed can't build and sell infantrymen. And profit margins on rifles, bullets and bulletproof vests is small change compared to the other stuff that can be sold to Uncle Sam. So, why waste a perfectly good war on nickel and dime infantry stuff when they can go for the real gold?

Just keep Jaffe's story in mind the next time you hear the President or your member of Congress heaping praise on our “fighting men and women on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.” When they're done, ask them what Jaffe's report is all about, and how it translates into “supporting our troops.” Ask them just who they are really supporting -- our troops or their favorite defense contributor(s)? Then ask them how many of the nearly 3000 dead US soldiers they figure died ecause they lacked proper gear? Oh, and ask them to let you know right away when one of those $250 billion nuclear subs nails Osama bin Laden or pacifies Fallugia.

Oh my. I'm weary. It's all so tiresome. I am so, so, so, so, SO tired of being jerked around by the folks we send to Washington. I'm tired of watching the good ones go bad, tired of watching the bad ones get worse, then get reelected anyway. I'm tired of feeling insulted by the lame-ass lies -- like Hillary's "I really haven't given running for president any serious thougth." I am tired of the phony patriotism, the cynical, manipulative, moralistic hypocrisy and the revolving-door-financial/political-mutual-back-scratching. And I'm tired of the kind of bullshit bookkeeping that, if you or I tried it, we'd be sharing a prison cell with Jeffery Skilling. Finally I'm tired of being told it's all going to change for the better now, and then watching it just get worse and worse.

The Iraq Study Group says the "situation is grave, and deteriorating." True, but not just in Iraq, but right here in the USA. We were a great nation, once. Not just a great military power, but, thanks to a rule-of-law, we were a great financial force. And thanks to deeply held, genuine convictions we actually lived by, we were once a great moral force on the world stage.

Today we are still a great military force. But the other two treasures have been squandered. Corporate officers loot shareholder equity with abandon, shrug off American workers in favor of cheap overseas serf-labor and share their windfall profits and tax-cuts with the beast of corruption that granted them, guaranteeing more to come.

And then there's America's once glimmering moral authority -- washed away on the water-boards of Gitmo, secret prisons and ruled out of order in military tribunals that only a banana republic could love.

Sorry to be such a downer today. But the drip, drip, drip of the past six years just gets to be too much some days.

Oh, one last thing. You might want to ask your local newspaper editor why he/she didn't pick up Jaffe's story. His disclosures are as important as the Iraq Study Group's report, maybe more so.

Site of the Day
This blogger captured the 111 unscreened comments posted on Tom DeLay's new blog site before DeLay removed them.


December 8, 2006

Call Me Crazy
But Think I've Been Here Before

Remember Watergate? I sure do. I lived through the entire sorted mess. But yesterday a particularly chilling image from those days returned to haunt my imagination. It was at the height of the crisis. Nixon, hunkered down in the Oval Office, buzzed his secretary and asked for his chief of staff, Al Haig.

When Haig walked in Nixon thrust a pill bottle at him. It was Valium. A frustrated Nixon asked Haig to open it for him. The bottle had a child-proof cap Nixon could not dislodge. As Haig went to open the bottle he noticed the cap had been nearly chewed off.

I always considered that moment -- an American president, the most powerful person on earth, in emotional free fall and desperately chewing the cap of tranquiler bottle -- the most frightening image of my life. That is, until this week.

This week I saw that look again. It was the look Richard Nixon had just weeks before the Valium bottle incident. It's hard to describe, but unmistakable -- an unsettling combination of nonsensical defiance, confusion, Captain Queeg-like paranoia with a dash of self-pity.

I saw that look in George W. Bush's face twice this week. The first time was during his Wednesday morning photo-op with the members of the Baker/Hamilton Commission. The best way to describe Bush's manner is that he seemed untethered from what everyone else in the nation considered a momentous moment. He lacked even appropriate voice inflection, delivering disjointed and rambling comments in a monotone. His comments were so bland and generic he might as well have been responding to a report from a local Rotary Club on the importance of good street lighting fighting street crime.

It was at that moment the thought first popped into my mind, “Whoa! This guy – or someone else – must have gotten the Valium bottle open this morning!”

It was just a guess, but the next day I was certain of it. It was during Bush's press conference with Tony Blair. At least Tony Blair looked appropriately concerned. Bush, on the other hand, looked lost. His performance reminded me of a stand-up comedian that suddenly discovers no one is laughing at the only jokes he knows any more. So he desperately tries them all, one after the other. When no one laughs at one joke he moves quickly to the next, then the next.... He tries all his golden oldies, but the audience just sits there. Some snicker, not at the jokes, but at the clueless guy on stage. Some get up and leave. A few actually heckle.

No one was buying Bush's old saws at Thursday's press conference. And he tried them all --- The, “Fight them there so we don't have to fight them here,” .... The , “if we leave before defeating them in Iraq they will follow us home.” .... The, “it's hard. I know it's hard.” ...


Worse than nothing. A British reporter asked him why he seemed to be the only person left not ready to admit things in Iraq are really bad. Bush got a glazed, far away look in his eyes -- the kind of look my dog gets on his fury face when ask if he had anything to do with dog dodo on the living room carpet. The answer was one not part of his usual act. He had to adlib. So it took awhile.

Finally he spoke:
“Okay, It's bad.” Bush responded... followed by another long pause.

There was no laughter – except his own head-bobbing,“heh, heh, heh,” hint to the audience that he had just made a new joke. Only silence.

When no one reacted, he fished, “Is that better?” he pleaded. More silence.
"I know it's hard. I understand that..." (It was an echo of Nixon's “Your president is not a crook,” declaration. Hell, I assumed most politicians are crooks. I wasn't worried that Dick Nixon was a crook. I was worried he was nuts.)

At a Senate hearing yesterday James Baker warned that the commission's report “should not be treated like a fruit salad, picking this, rejecting that.” That missed the point. We are not worried that the commission's report is a fruit salad, but that the guy they wrote it for is.

During Watergate the nation was spared the sad, and potentially dangerous, specter of a sitting president going stark raving mad in office. Adults in Nixon's own party conducted an intervention, leading their emotionally – and increasingly mentally – crippled leader safely off the world stage. It was an act of both statesmanship and patriotism by that handful of sage-like Republicans. It was also an act of kindness and compassion for a mortally wounded leader -- albeit the wounds were self-inflected.

So, is George W. Bush cracked or cracking? Or is what I witnessed this week just more of the uninformed, spoiled, arrogant little putz that 71% of us have come to dislike. Only time will tell -- but time is short.

President Bush hinted he would give a major speech before Christmas during which he plans to show Americans -- and the world – that he really is in touch with reality. But everything I know about George W. Bush argues against any sudden redemption. Because, as Oscar Wilde correctly pointed out, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” And no president in America's history has been less imaginative than George W. Bush.

But if GWB is anything he's stubborn. Consistently so. Trouble is facts are even more stubborn. And it's facts now --- not Democrats, not surrender monkeys, not cut-and-runners, not the French, not the UN, not Michael Moore, not Cindy Sheehan – but the facts confronting George W. Bush. And facts can't be silenced by calling them names or insinuating they are "unpatriotic" facts. Facts are just what they are, nothing more, nothing less. And the facts on the ground in Iraq are ugly and will get even uglier in the weeks and months ahead.

The next few months will be very hard on Bush 43. Maybe too hard. We may see the weight of it all too much for a guy accustomed to getting his own way and never having to acknowledge, much less clean up, his own messes.

While we have not yet seen George the Younger crack in public, his father has. At a recent award ceremony for his other son, Jeb, George-the-Elder broke down sobbing. He said it was out of pride for Jeb. But I suspect it had a lot more to do with his concern for what he knows is in store for his other son, the one in the White House. He tried to warn young George against whacking Saddam, that doing so could spark a full scale mob war in that rough neighborhood. Now it's too late. War – civil war – will consume Iraq, and possibly ignite a full scale Sunni v. Shiite war in the Middle East. And Bush Sr. knows that the resulting mess will go down in history with the Bush family name stamped all over it.

The Baker/Hamilton commission has tried to show Bush Jr. a graceful -- if unavoidably ignoble -- path out of Iraq. But what may really be needed in the weeks ahead is someone ready to, not just crack open the Valium bottle for George W. Bush, but the door leading out of the Oval Office.

"Yes Mr.President. The way forward. It's right through here sir."

December 7, 2006

Heavy Weapons:
Oh Yeah, Just What Iraq Needs

I know everyone is abuzz today about how the Baker/Hamilton commission's bleak report on Iraq represents the beginning of the end for Bush's disastrous blunder. True, there is now light at the end of that bloody gauntlet. But more US kids will have to die before it's over, not for strategic, but for entirely face-saving reasons.

And, if you listened carefully to statements from both administration and Iraqi officials over the the last couple of weeks, you heard the lid on the KY jelly jar being loosened for one last reaming – of you, your kids and your grandkids.

It's a “new plan,” a plan to “beef up Iraqi military” so it can take over from US forces. You heard Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki last week claim that the only reason his forces have not stood up to the insurgents so far is because they don't have any “heavy weapons.” He wants heavy weapons -- tanks, Humvees, artillery, that kind of stuff.

Maliki's request fell on eager – no, desperate -- ears. George W. Bush, now painted into a corner by his own incompetence, is now looking for any way to hold off Iraq's inevitably collapse until after he leaves office. And Maliki's request for more military gear was just the ticket, especially now that the Baker/Hamilton has sanctified the notion of encouraging and enabling the Iraqis to fight for themselves.

Of course, Iraq can't even pay it's own utility bills, so guess who's going to have to borrow a few billion dollars more to pay for those heavy weapons Maliki wants?

Bush's new strategy, which has already begun to emerge, will be a two-pronged ruse: 1) Increase training of Iraqi troops, and 2) Provide them “the means” to function after US forces leave. (“Means” = heavy weapons.)

Bear with me here as I free associate on this “new course forward:”

Let's see -- first let's talk about “heavy weapons.”

Over the past three years the harsh Iraq environment has worn down our own military's stock of heavy weapons to the breaking point. Nearly $8 billion in US heavy weapons, tanks, trucks, Humvees and trucks, are now up on blocks awaiting repairs at US headquarter and supply depots around the world. Our soldiers in Iraq are now so short heavy equipment that the Pentagon has been looting National Guard and Reserve units to make up the shortfall. Gutted reserve units now need their own $7 billion infusion of heavy weapons to replace theirs which are now being degraded in Iraq.

So, just what can we give Mr. Maliki? The heavy weapons and gear now on the ground in Iraq, of course. We could just leave it behind when our own troops split. Forget for moment that we will have to then replace it all for our own armed forces. Let's instead consider what the Iraqis will do with those heavy weapons.

Well let's see. Maliki is a Shiite. So is that little two-legged tumor, al-Sadar. Shiites are to Iraq what racist segregationists were to the US south a century ago – only meaner. Sunnis are Iraq's minority. What does common sense suggest the Shiite-government of Iraq has in mind for those heavy weapons. (You only get one guess.)

Which is precisely why, at such as critical tipping-point moment, al-Maliki is not begging for more US troops. And he's not begging US troops to stay in Iraq either. All Maliki is asking for now are “heavy weapons” for his 350,000 US-trained and supplied Iraqi soldiers.

On top of that al-Sadar has his own 60,000-man Shia militia. These are the folks who have been kidnapping Sunnis off the street. Most are later found shot in the head, but only after militia soldiers amused themselves by making holes in them with electric drills. (Imagine the creative uses those dudes will come up with once they have heavy weapons!)

Meanwhile up north the Kurds, who have been stabbed in the back by the US more than once, will go berserk at the very notion that the US is providing the Shiites the heavy military gear. That's all the Shiites need to reclaim the Kurd's newly acquired oil fields – which of course is another reason al-Maliki wants heavy equipment.

I guess my point here is Bush is about to make things worse in Iraq – again. We should not give Maliki “heavy” anything. We've already armed and trained his new army with the kinds of weapons necessary to bring law and order to Iraq. I suggest he be told to get on with that task because that's all he's getting from Uncle Sap. (Thank goodness it takes too long to train helicopter pilots or we'd be giving them choppers too.)

New York Times – and one-time supporter of the war -- Tom Friedman, said today that the trouble real problem we face in Iraq is that Iraqis living together as a unified nation is our first choice. But for Iraqis that is their second choice. Most Iraqis first choice is that their particular tribe, Sunni, Shia or Kurd, get everything they want. (Which for Sunnis and Shiites is, pretty much, everything.) The Shiites want full control of Iraq. The Sunnis want to return to the good old days when they ran roughshod over Iraq. The Kurds want nothing to do with either of them, just their own country and every drop of oil under it.

“We lost,” Friedman, said today. “It's over. We should no longer sacrifice our first-choice soldiers to further the second choices of the Iraqis.”

Amen. Get out. Sooner rather than later. And take our heavy weapons with us.

A couple of other free-associative observations on all this:

- We all know now that the Bush administration lied to us about WMD in Iraq. Now, thanks to the Baker/Hamilton report we learn they've been lying to us about the true level of violence in Iraq. They looked at one particularly violent day in Iraq during which the administration reported 93 violent incidents. The real number was over 1100 violent attacks. (Not exactly a rounding error.)

- Ever wonder why, from the very start of this mess, the Bush administration made one breathtaking mistake after another? There was a clue in the Baker/Hamilton report. We have 1000 Americans working at the US embassy in Iraq out of which only six of them speak Arabic. There's 4 million Arab-Americans, but the Bush administration could only round up 6 (s-i-x) to work at our embassy in Baghdad.

- On 9/11 3030 Americans were killed, resulting in the Bush administration's “war on terror.” The same year the leading causes of death for Americans was tobacco – which killed 435,000 deaths or 18.1% of total US deaths that year. Rather than declare war on tobacco Bush administration lawyers argued the court should reduce the $135 billion fine against Big Tobacco to $10 billion.

- The same year as terrorist killed 3030 Americans, 17,000 Americans – more than 5 times as died on 9/11 -- died from illicit drug use. Yet just this week I read this dispatch from our war front in Afghanistan:

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon, engaged in a difficult fight to defeat a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, has resisted entreaties from U.S. anti-narcotics officials to play an aggressive role in the faltering campaign to curb the country's opium trade...Military units in Afghanistan largely overlook drug bazaars, rebuff some requests to take U.S. drug agents on raids and do little to counter the organized crime syndicates shipping the drug to Europe, Asia and, increasingly, the United States, according to officials and documents. (Afghanistan now provides upwards of 90% of the heroin coming into the US, and this years crop has been a record. ) (Full Story)

So, let me get this straight. We will go to war against anyone that kills 3030 Americans in one year by flying planes into office buildings, but have no interest in going to war against those that kill 17,000 Americans every year by providing them deadly drugs.

Meanwhile, now self-financed by this booming drug trade, the Taliban is making a strong comeback in Afghanistan.

Maybe it's time for the Baker/Hamilton commission to get to work on an Afghanistan report.

Yes Virginia, George W. Bush is a moron. No need for special commission to verify that. The evidence – and bodies – mount by the hour.

Bush's Secret Plan
For Iraq

As everyone in the Bush Administration seems to be writing and leaking their own CYA memos, one has to wonder what George W. Bush and Karl Rove are thinking. Well, News For Real has gotten our fictional hands on a memo George wrote to Karl just last week. In it Bush voices some disappointment with his long-time partner, indicates that frin here on he's calling the shoots, and reveals his secret plan for dealing with the meltdown in Iraq.


From: POTUS-Minor
To: Turd-Blossom

Re: Getting out of Dodge

Well Karl, fine mess we gotten ourselves into this time! You said this was going to be the easiest gig we ever pulled off. That you'd spend your days doing what you like best -- scaring Democrats -- and that I'd be able to play golf and ride my bike half the year and lay around the ranch the other half.

Now look where we are. I have to stand in front of cameras pretending we're winning that war we started -- which, may I remind you, was your bright idea. After 9/11 you got all worked up and assured me that Americans like nothing better than a president who bombs the holy bagebbers out people they don't like. I agree, it sounded reasonable. I loved sitting home in Texas watching news clips of napalm barbequing those little Viet Cong critters during the Vietnam war. (Reminded me of when I cook ants with a magnifying glass at the ranch. Heh, heh. They go “pop” and then the cutest little whiff of smoke comes out of them. Heh, heh, I love that.)

Anyway, I took your advice. I bombed, I sent troops, I approved roughing up POWs. And what? Now 2/3rds of the America public hate me. And in November we lost the boot-licking Congress that we've led around by the nose for six years. Karl!!! You said we'd win. What happened with the Diebold deal? I thought the election was in the cyber-bag. Hell, Karl, you even blew Florida AND Ohio. If you weren't the last person around this place who still comes when I call, I'd drop an anvil on your head. (And steer clear of Laura -- she is menopausal AND she's piiiiiissssed... at you. I finally had to throw Rummy off a cliff just to get some peace around the house. So don't do anything to remind her that you're still here, or all hell will break loose again.)

And where's that scheming little dwarf Cheney? He sure is making himself scarce around here lately. Is he in his secret place again? Damn him and that screaming witch he's married to -- nurse Ratchet, Eva Braun, Lynn or whatever. (Did know about that lesbian book she wrote? I had a dream one afternoon where Lynn Cheney, Hillary Clinton and Mary Matalin were marooned on a desert island.... heh, heh... pretty good dream. If I still drank I'd tell you about it.)

Oh and how about Don? Remember when the war started, the newsies were gushing about how he was such a smartypants stud? He always had something cutesy to say when asked a serious question about how the war was going. Hey! Why didn't I get his writers? But oh no, I get stuck with reject writers from America's Funniest Home Videos and the old Gong show. (They make me luk sew stewpid!! Can I have his writers when he leaves?)

So Turd, it's just you and me again, like old times. And, as you know, my mind starts really ticking when I'm taking a licking. (Heh, heh.) Once again I gotta a plan to get you and me outta Dodge before someone organizes a pose.

Our biggest problem -- as I see it -- is Iraq. But relax old bean, I have an ironclad plan that will get the entire Iraq mess off our resumes.

In a word: S-T-A-L-L.

That's right. We can't use that “stay the course” thing you came up with last year. Beat that horse to death during the campaign. Anyway, folks are onto it. Except for the retard-right everyone else has figured out that staying the course simply means “keep losing.” Instead we need to say things that make it appear we're changing course, while not doing much of anything at all.

Bottom Line: We have just 24 months left before we can make a clean getaway. All we have to do now is run out that clock. How simple is that?

Don't worry, we'll have plenty of plays to call between now and 2008. In fact our enemies are about to provide us with all kinds of time consuming fodder. We have Daddy's little Mr. Fix-it, Jim Baker and his Commission. And I started my own internal “study” group that will report around the same time. (Well, actually I've got that report right here in my pocket. Wrote it myself over the weekend. Heh, heh. Pop and his preppy pals all think they're so smart. Well Pops,watch MY lips... " No you're not." Heh, heh. Bite me Baker! Heh, heh... Always wanted to say that!)

Of course the Democrats will help us too by throwing even more suggestions on Iraq into the mix. Turd, let me tell ya, if we can't leverage all that blather into two years of stalling, then we don't deserve to call ourselves Texas politicians.

What we gotta do, Turd, is start moving the players around the board over in Iraq – look like we're making changes -- keep the critics off balance -- don't allow ourselves to get into a check, or Gawd-forbid – checkmate -- situation.

Sure that means losing more pawns, but there's plenty more more where they came from. (Anyway, if I'm not mistaken, none of them are related to either of us, right? -- Oh hey, BTW, did you see how well my two girls handled themselves when some jerk stole their purses during their vacation in Argentina? Chips off the old block those two. SOOOO proud of them!)

Anyway, that's my plan... just run the clock out, leave town in January 2009 and drop the whole mess into the laps of our replacements. With any luck at all a Democrat will win the White House next time. And that's the bonus part of my plan. When Iraq -- and probably the rest of that armpit part of the world -- come apart at the seams, we get to blame the "cut-and-run Democrats." We accuse them of giving up before they finished the job. (Heh, heh, heh. Beautiful, huh? Heh, heh, heh. Brings a smile to my face every time I think about sitting there in my Presidential library telling visitors how we were just "this close" to winning in Iraq when the Democrats raised the white flag of surrender. Heh, heh. As my girls would say, "Sweeeeeeeeet.")

They all think I'm a lame duck now. And more and more I hear that "I've lost it." HA! Oh-contrary Turdo. I'm actually at the very top of my game. Admit it -- I create a mess as big as Iraq, then engineer a clean get away, AND finally shift the blame for it all on my enemies!!! Losing it? HA!

One more thing Turdo -- don't go leaking this memo. You're the only person I sent it to and, since I'm not about to leak it, I'll know who done it if it shows up in my morning news briefing.

You, Laura and Barney are the last folks I can trust aroud here, and I'm not entirely sure about Barney. (He humped Cheney's knee on election night and Cheney just sat there with a smirk on his face. I mean, my lesbian-desert-island dream is one thing, but that's just sick! Don't ya think?)

Your pal
George W. Bush
President of the USofA

P.S. Hey, do you still have my copy of Sonic Hedge Hog? If so send it over PDQ. I'll swap it for Madden NFL.

Monday, December 04, 2006

December 3, 2006 et al.

Dance like our future depends on it.

It's one of the oldest truisms in the English language:

“He who pays the piper, calls the tune.”

Do you have a problem with that? If you do you're wasting your time, because the piper has two choices;

1) Play the tune requested and get paid, or
2) Refuse and get nothing.

In January the piper will have new paymasters, congressional Democrats. And that
should be no small matter. After all the machinery of government, all of it, is fueled by money – lots of money. As a machine it's without doubt the most inefficient in the universe. If the US government were a car, it would be getting about 2 GPI (Gallons per inch.) But that's another matter.

My point today is that if Democrats really want to change the course of US policies in Iraq – and maybe Iran as well – all they have to do is slam the purse shut, dial the White House and say, “Can we talk?”

Of course the moment they did anything like that right-winger hit squads would fan out on the talk shows claiming that Democrats were “putting our troops at risk,” and “cutting our fighting men and women off in the middle of battle.” It would be nonsense, of course, but precisely that kind of nonsense has served the right well.

In reality no one would vote to “cut the troops off in the midst of battle.” But, what the Democrats could do -- and should do -- is to begin choking off future funding for combat operations. That would force the administration to begin a slow, orderly withdraw of troops from what has clearly morphed from a failed military operation into an ugly civil war.

With control of the purse, there are no shortage of ways for Democrats to weaken Swift Boater-style attacks. Such as voting to shift funds from the war to departments in the Pentagon charged with the task of keeping the US military and its equipment in fighting form. Right now US military depots around the world resemble auto dismantling yards. Thousands of tanks, Humvees and other rolling stock await repairs and refitting – work that cannot be done now for lack of funds and lack of spare parts. Recent estimates put the amount needed right now just to repair and replace the backlog of military gear ruined in Iraq at $16 billion – and climbing by the hour.

“Operations in Iraq have placed the heaviest burden on the active and reserve components of the U.S. Army. While most attention has rightly focused on the war’s impact on our men and women in uniform, this report examines another, more hidden impact that the war in Iraq has had on the U.S. Army — the stress placed on Army equipment and its implications for U.S. military performance and readiness.” (Full Report)

Democrats should also pass a resolution demanding that the first troops withdrawn from Iraq be reservists and National Guard. Then pass legislation requiring that any such foreign deployments in the future require formal congressional approval. The National Guard in particular should be reserved for domestic emergencies and civil defense.

The Pentagon has expropriated over $7 billion in trucks, tanks and Humvees from Guard and reserve units in the US to send to Iraq -- so far. (Visions of reservists on weekends training with wooden rifles dance in my head.) Congress should demand that either the Pentagon return all the gear and vehicles -- in working order -- or provide replacements.

"WASHINGTON -- The National Guard's scramble to bring aid and order to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is hamstrung by the fact that units across the country have, on average, half their usual amount of equipment -- helicopters, Humvees, trucks, and weapons -- on hand because much of it has been siphoned off to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to military officials and security specialists. " (Full story)

Nothing I've proposed above is radical. None of it would put our troops at risk. Just the opposite. And all of it can be defended by any one with even the shakiest grasp of the English language. Each of the proposals would begin the process of disentangling us from the inevitable disintegration of Iraq, as we know it -- which is what voters clearly said is what they want.

So why are Democrats unlikely to do it – any of it? Because they still don't understand what voters really said in November. Voters didn't really say they wanted Democrats. They said they wanted change. They said they wanted everyone up there to stop playing political Parcheesi with our treasure and our lives and get down to the hard, unglamorous and politically dangerous work of governing. Politics ceased being a game for most of us the second US troops became expendable players on the board. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have gotten that that message, yet. All we want out of them is straight talk – real straight talk - not the McCain variety. And we want practical solutions to the growing number of real problems that have piled up while the two parties busied themsevles plotting game strategy against one another. (Go roll the game dice with your kids lives and see how much fun it is!)

Those who pay the piper, call the tune. True, but only IF they know a tune to call. And then only if they know how to dance, and not slow dance but River Dance, to the tune they call -- to fearlessly and proudly pound it out on the stage of public opinion.

One more thing about calling tunes. Can we get back to calling them by terms that actually describe them, rather by Orwellianisms? You know, civil war is civil war, not “a new phase marked by an increase in sectarian violence.” And hunger is hunger, not “food insecurity.” That kind of crap has stop and stop immediately. It's not only intellectually dishonest, but it's precisely the kind of calculated, hypocritical doublespeak upon which the worst kinds of governments have risen -- and fallen. Words define. Words are important. So let's get back to calling things what they are, not as we'd like to see them.

Regarding Graceful Exits
Just a quick note on George Bush's statement yesterday that he will not be agreeing to any "graceful exit,” for US forces in Iraq. Instead, he said, the US was there for the duration – whatever that means.

Excuse me for finding more than a little irony in Bush refusal to engineer a “graceful exit” from
his mess in Iraq. This from a guy who's entire adult life has been marked by engineered graceful exits. There was the Spectrum Energy graceful exit, followed by the Harken Energy graceful exit, followed by the sweetheart graceful entry into ownership of the Texas Rangers:

In October 1988 Bush used $606,000 he pocketed from the arranged Harken sale to buy 1.8% interest in the Texas Rangers from Bush family friend and Fort Worth oil man Eddie Chiles. Later Bush would be given another another 10% ownership as part of a $12 million “bonus.” (More here)

(See also, Bush Family Values)

So, here we have a fellow whose entire “professional” life has been an unbroken series of arranged graceful entries, which he promptly screwed up, followed by arranged graceful exits. But now this same fellow sniffs with contempt at arranging the same favor for US troops fighting to clean up his latest mess, Iraq.

It's at times like this I regret being an atheist. I'd love to believe there would be an eternal form of punishment for the likes of George W. Bush and his kind.

I just wanted to make that point. You can take it from there.

Have a nice weekend.

November 28, 2006

To: Congressional Democrats
From: The Rest of Us

Re: Howdy

Dear Democrats,
Sorry it took me so long to drop you a note. I've been meaning to do so since the November election but, well lots of other stuff has been going on.

I would congratulate you on your victory, but I didn't vote for you. Well, I voted for you, I just didn't vote for YOU. Like the majority, I voted
against the Republicans.

So, now we have you guys. If I could offer you a piece of advice -- your first job should be to make us glad about that. Then you can go on and try to convince us you are worthy of the White House again.

In other words, you have your work cut out.

I'm 61-years old, and I've been through a lot: the whole Vietnam mess, felonious Richard Nixon, the back-breaking deficits of Reaganonomics, the “watch-my-lips-thousand-points-of-light” guy, Newt's Contract
on America, fellatio Bill and felonious Tom. Whew! It's been one weird trip so far.

But never –
never -- has my country and its government been in as big a mess as it is today.

When your house is on fire you're glad when
any fire department shows up. And that pretty much sums up how we feel about you Democrats. The question now is, can you put out all the fires set by the slash-and-burn bunch that preceded you? Or are you just here to collect on the fire insurance?

That's what we're wondering.

Here's some PR advice – the last thing someone wants to witness while fire consume their home is firemen fighting over who gets to hold the hose. We called you guys to the rescue on November 7 and no sooner did you arrive at the scene than the first thing we see is your leaders fighting over the hose.

Not a good start. We're worried.

You have a lot of convincing to do. For the past 12 years you guys have been about as relevant as tits on a boar. Oh, I know, you "weren't in control." So, you say, none the bad stuff that happened was your fault. Or, as Bart Simpson would put it, “It was broke when I got it.” Yes, we've heard you say that, and say it again, usually just after another horrendous piece of legislation was passed -- more often than not with way too many votes by your own members. Then your leaders would slither before the cameras and whine as though you were innocent bystanders, powerless to stop a crime in progress.

Well, now you're no longer innocent bystanders in the House and Senate. You're in charge. Like a dog that's been chasing the same car for 12 years, now you've caught it. Whatchya gonna do now? Was the whole object of the chase just that – to win and no more? Now that you've caught that car are you going to take us somewhere in it, or just sit back and enjoy the warm glow of ownership?

Or are you guys actually about something. Are you about fixing the things that have been broken, stolen, abused, misused and perverted by the previous owners? We sure hope so. But so far we've seen and heard precious little to indicate that's what you're up to.

As you can see, we have a lot question and more than few worries and doubts. So, if you have the time, would you drop us a line and let us know:

1) What are you going to do about Iraq? Are you going to just wait until the Baker Commission tells you what to do? (I don't recall voting for the Baker Commission. Should I have?) During the campaign you said you'd get us out of that armpit of a country. Were you just kidding us? I hope not because we lost our sense of humor on that issue a long time ago. Either you have no policy of your own, or you do have one, but are afraid to push it for fear the other party will make fun of you. (“Mommy, he's calling me names again!”) "Cut-and-run Democrats" they call you. And that makes you so mad that... that... you'll show them. You won't unveil your plans for Iraq. You'll just let more US troops die, rather than proposing a withdrawal thereby providing the name-calling Swift Boat Party a juicy opening. That'll show those bullies.

2) What are your plans for securing America's borders? The US Chamber of Commerce likes them the way they are right now, wide open. That way their business members can keep wages low and bust unions by pitting American workers against the endless pool of cheap Mexican labor pouring across the border. And, of course, the Hispanic lobby likes it the way it is too, for obvious reasons. So what's your plan? Will the US become the only country in the world that disregards its own borders? How much of America's sovereignty are Democrats willing to trade away for Hispanic votes? Just asking. But here's a clue... if the US Chamber of Commerce thinks something is a good idea, it probably is – for their members – but not for working Americans.

3) What are you going to do about global warming? Will you lean on automakers by doubling CAFE standards over the next ten years -- (What about it Mr. Detroit Dingell?) Will you lean on the oil and gas industry? Will give them the choice – either start to seriously invest in alternative, renewable energy sources or you'll slap a hefty alternative energy surcharge tax on their well-heeled asses? Will ya? Got the balls to go head to head with the oil barons for Mother Earth? I don't know about you but I'm feeling this whole global warming thing is something of a pressing issue. (Who needs ice caps anyway? Maybe there's something useful under them any way, like more oil. And hey, Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch will be worth plenty once it's beach front property.) So, do you Democrats know which way the wind blows on all that? And if so, how soon can we expect to see some action from y'all?

4) Oh then there's the cancer. Oh don't look confused, you know what I'm talking about. The cancer.
Money. What are your plans for a full-blown Congressional intervention? Are you ready yourselves to take the cure? Or do we have to start wearing little green ribbons on our lapels to drum up support for cure? Let me tell ya, we regular voters – (defined as those who cannot afford to fly you off to all-expenses paid golf resort “seminars,”) -- are sick and tired of big money buying what it wants and leaving table scraps for the rest of us.

5) Members of Congress are like sexual predators running a boarding school when it comes to ethics. You guys just can't resist the temptations around you. This has been proven time and again. So admit it -- you need help. And this isn't like AA where you team up with another recovering addict for support. This kind of help can only come from non-politicians – folks no one can pay off. That's why you need to impose upon yourselves a truly independent ethics commission comprised of non-partisan scholars, retired judges and ethicists. You always bristle when anyone suggest that you enact a real cure. You say you can “stop taking the money any time you want.” Trouble is, you never do. So, we know you don't like that idea. But we like it, and that should be all that matters. As Nike would say, “Just do it.”

Well, I could just go on and on. It's been so long since I've had anyone in Washington worth writing to. But I will leave it right there. As I said, you Democrats have your work cut out for you. And there are millions of us out here ready to help if you ask. If we see you roll up your sleeves in an honest and non-triangulated manner and dig in, you'll heard the roar of the crowd – a crowd that has had little to cheer about for very long time.

We've been jerked around for too many years by the right,. and we are in no mood to be jerked around by you guys next. NO MOOD. So, if you guys go back to weaseling around the way you did back when you lost control a dozen years ago, this crowd will file out of the stadium, before half-time, and organize the mother of all tailgate (third) parties in the parking lot.

We are a surly lot. Don't say you weren't warned.

The Rest of Us

Not Even Trying to Win?
Are You Kidding Me?

I have friends – Republican friends – who accuse me and those like me of “not wanting to even try to win in Iraq.”

Not even try? What have we been doing for the nearly 4 years? Congress gave this administration a green light to attack Iraq and has approved every request from the White House and Pentagon and CIA since.

(Editor's note: Since Republicans also tend to dismiss news they don't like by saying the press is biased and that we use too many unsourced facts -- I have provided links to sources.)

So, we don't want to try, they say:
I don't understand what on earth these pro-Iraq war GOP dead-enders mean when they say folks like me “don't even want to try to win in Iraq.”

Did we leave early? I don't think so. As of Sunday, November 26, the war in Iraq has gone on longer than the US involvement in World War II, and counting. Hell, by this time in 1945 our victorious troops were heading home for Christmas after defeating both the Japanese and Nazi empires.

Why haven't we won in Iraq, a nation in shambles? How were we able to defeat the organized and well-armed German and Japanese armies in less than 4 years, yet can't win a war against a rag-tag band of indigenous insurgents in Iraq?

Well, it's not been from a lack of trying, that's for damn sure. The answer can be found in the last war we lost, Vietnam. We kept trying to win that one for even longer, 8 years, before we got the message , that foreign occupiers cannot win against determined, home-grown insurgencies driven by political ideology, religion or both. After all, they live there. We're just on a heavily armed visit.

(Well, actually we learned that lesson 230 years ago, when we gave the British a can full of whoopass. The British tried too. )

So when you run into one of these pro-Iraq war dead-enders over the holidays and they accuse you of “not wanting to even try to win in Iraq,” ask them what we've failed to provide in the pursuit of that goal. Have we denied them:
Partly these GOP dead-enders are engaged in a political redeployment of their own. They are taking a page from the play book of those on the right who, to this day, claim we did not really lose the war in Vietnam, but gave up. They blame the media for eroding public support for the war. They say that if we had just stayed in Vietnam longer, bombed more, defoliated more, burned more villages to the ground to save them, that we would have eventually won. They claim the US loss in Vietnam was not their fault, but our fault, those of us that opposed that war.

I don't doubt that some of those who still want to fight on in Iraq are sincere – dead wrong – but sincere. Yet there are plenty of others on the right that realize this war will go down in the history of military debacles right along side Napoleon and Hitler's foolish and bloody attempts to conquer Russia. And Bush's "bring it on," bravado will be compared to Custer's cavalier disregard for the fighting skills of his chosen enemy.

Therefore, smelling defeat, Neocons are preparing their own historical smoke screen of doubt and deception. They are saying that Iraq was was good war, a righteous war, a war of liberation, a laudable effort that was ultimately undermined by those of us who “did not even want to try to win.”

You'll run into this tortured logic more and more in the months ahead as Iraq decends further into civil war and US troops are forced, first into armed forts and finally out of country entirely. But when the GOP dead-enders try to blame you for it, demand they tell you exactly where they think we let the war effort down? Please, tell those of us who believe we should withdraw, sooner rahter than later, precisely what it was we've denied them up to this point. And just what it was we denied them that, had we provided it, they would have won? Inquiring minds want to know.

And ask them just what it is they want from us now?

Well, let me tell ya my bottom line. I support the troops and I am willing to provide almost anything they need to stay alive while we sort this mess out here at home. But there's one thing I am not willing to provide any more of ---

Because, have no doubt about this -- it's no longer about democratizing Iraq or even stablizing that mess of a nation. It's about time -- time to escape the verdict of history.

Last week George W. Bush proved that when he claimed that, ”the only way we can lose in Iraq, is to leave.” I understand , perfectly. I understand what he really means is that the only way HE can lose is if we leave before he leaves office.

It's really just about buying time now. If George can stall for two more years he hopes to escape blame for the inevitable American retreat from Iraq. And, better yet, be able to shift that blame onto his – hopefully a Democrat. ("See, I told you," Bush will crow from Crawford, "Cut and run Democrats.")

That's why I say I am unwilling to give the GOP dead-enders any more blank checks for time. Time's up.

So, if you're one of those dead-enders, don't even think about trying to shift the blame onto us. Proponents of this war were given everything short of nuclear weapons to fulfill their delusional dream of force-feeding democracy to an Arab nation. They were given over 150,000 US troops, day in and day out since March 19, 2003, of which 2880 were returned to their families as slabs of cold meat in a box -- no photos allowed. Another 46,137 coalition troops have been wounded, about a third of those seriously maimed for life. They tried. And today they are tired of trying. According to a Zogby poll 72% of US troops in Iraq think we should leave.

Those of us who oppose the war have tried as well, in our own way. Opponents of the war tried to convince power-drunk GOP Neocons that sending an invading western army into Iraq was beyond a fools errand. Had the Neocons simply read the history of earlier attempts to round up and coral the tribes of Mesopotamia they would have had good reason for pause. ,After all, every single one of those attempts failed - bloody failure all. T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) wrote plenty about that and his writings would have made worthwhile reading for those who thought they could break that losing streak.

So we've tried. We've all tried. We tried and tried and tried and tried. And, after nearly four years of trying, life is now far worse and far more dangerous in Iraq than it was under the rule of the clinically insane megalomaniac, Saddam Hussein.

So please, war-supporters -- knock off the “you guys don't even want to try,” routine. It's an insult, not only to our intelligence, but an insult to all those who actually went to Iraq and tried, and died for trying, and died for nothing. We tried. We failed. Get over it.

The only pertinent question that needs to addressed now is how many more will have to die before we get over it and get out. From this day forward every American soldier that dies in Iraq is dying for only one thing: to provide George W. Bush time -- time to run out the clock.

Looking into the future, darkly

I am coming to believe that, when historians a century from now write about 9/11, they will not do so in the simplistic terms the Bush administration has. Rather than it being cast as the terrorist version of Pearl Harbor, historieans will cite 9/11 as one of many early stirrings that heralded a new epoch for the Middle East. For centuries the once vibrant civilizations of the Muslim Middle East had been eclipsed by the industrializing West. While hog-tied by unreconstructed Muslim thought, western countries charted a more pragmatic course. Western nations played lip service to religious sensibilities without allowing the metaphycial to trump modernization and commerce. That juggling act heralded in the west's epoch of change.

Future historians will have to parse out exactly what events stirred the ancient ashes of Islam. Maybe it was the west's cynical and self-serving exploitation of their oil resources. Maybe it was the creation of Israel after World War II and the influx of Europeans and all that has followed. I don't pretend to know. What I do know though is that everything that has happened on and since 9/11 -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Iran, right up to the most recent assassination in Beirut -- are part of something big – bigger than 9/11, bigger than Iraq, bigger than Bush and the Neo-con superiority doctrine.

The rest of our lives, and those of our children, will be consumed by what has begun to play out in Middle East. It is folly for the US or Europeans to think they can somehow shape these events. The west will be at once spectator and hostage to these events. Because when history decides it's time for epoch change, only a fools and dead men stand in the way.

Decades from now a new Middle East will coalesce out of the chaos ahead. What that new Middle East will look like no one can say. What will become of the Sunni nations? Will Iran annex Iraq? Will the Shiites exterminate the Kurds with the help of the Turks? Will Israel survive? What will the industrialized west use to fill it's energy needs?

I don't know. I only know it has begun. The good news and the bad news is we will all have front row seats to the show.