Terraformed April 4-10, 2008

Operation Enduring

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Petraeus Plays Defense in Testimony

Part of staving off the anti-war tide involved convincing members of Congress that the sacrifices entailed in an open-ended Iraq presence are worth the cost. And therein lay two problems. First, the security successes that Petraeus presented are, politically, a mixed blessing. After all, if the surge has worked so well, why not pull up stakes and go home? Petraeus’s response was to emphasize the “fragility” of the security situation. But that made the security gains Petraeus championed appear illusory — and damaging to Petraeus’s credibility.

“It clearly is in our national interest to help Iraq prevent the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world,” he argued. But in response to questioning from Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the about-to-be GOP nominee for president, Petraeus said that Al Qaeda was significantly weaker than it was pre-surge.

It was an awkward moment: the two men represent the best political hopes for the war to continue. Yet McCain was trying to get Petraeus to say that Al Qaeda in Iraq remained a powerful foe, and Petraeus, sensitive to the implication that his strategy might not have been a smashing success, was trying to say that it had been badly beaten. (Just not too badly to claim victory.) If ever there was an example of the strategic fog of the pro-war crowd, it was that exchange.

Well There We Have It

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

CNN’s Jamie McIntyre is reporting that Defense Secretary and the CJCS have said there will be more troop draw downs before the end of the year.*When Levin asked Gates why he would use the term “pause” when Petraeus refused, Gates responded: “One of the benefits of being the secretary of defense, I suppose, is that I’m allowed more to hope than the field commander is.”

Apparently Bush can’t even get his own cabinet on the same page.

On further thought maybe the administrations position is to send out so much noise that it can decide which is the signal later on, depending on the outcome of events, down the road. It is the only explanation that makes any sense.

Of course reporters in the neocon bag are left spewing whatever in the hell the soft shoe shuffle du jour of the day is to their public, and act surprised and hurt when people start to notice that they are tools.

*Actually the two statements aren’t that contradictory if one takes the July reassesment, as a jumping off point.

But given Patraeus’ near insubordination and Gates flippant response to Congress, one would think that a Democratic President would at least give the Republicans in Congress some balls when dealing with the administration.

edited for accuracy.

Maybe Patraeus Can Answer Us That Too

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

If you read the previous posts update then you will know what I mean.

President Conflates Factors, Actors In Iraq

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

It really is as simple as that. Listening to him one may as well be listening to a stump.

I am really impressed with the work of so many journalists to actually get the American public on the same page, given the administrations inability to even get us into the same book.

Decent Outcome, Say Twenty Years

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Real ChangeAt about 3:25 in Rose interupts Dexter Filkins as he says a decent outcome could be had in 20 years.

At 6:04 failure in Basra is an improved failure since only 1K of Iraqi forces booked, as opposed to two years ago when they all did.
6:32- 7:30 John Burns notes the more realistic political debate in America over Iraq, but oddly fails to cite this blog as one of the reasons.
8:37 -8:54 Filkins articulates a little more on the military achievements, but Rose draws out that it is tenuous and reversible. But it remains the necessary ingredient to political advances. accomodations without reconcilliation.
In short, no matter how far downthe field you thing Patraeus has moved the ball, it is critical that we not move backward in the military situation.
10:36 Burns reminds us of the Asian soccer championship and the Iraqi national pride, which has been given short shrift in the ensuing years and at 11:02 notes a significant reduction in violence by any metric.
I think that the partitioning of Baghdad with concrete walls and the SOI effects are very much a part of the reason for the reduction of violence, and yet get the feeling that the thrust is on US military tactical advances. Given the current events in DC that isn’t surprising either, but it should be noted.
14:30 Burns reminds Rose of the necessity of having the United States as a viable military force in the eyes of the world.
15:15 Filkins notes the improvement in startling terms but that there is a window of opportunity that can close.
21:00 We need to make the Iraqis do what we are inclined, as Americans, to do for them.
23:19 Basra offensive under consideration, which is that it is quite a big deal for Malaki to do, perhaps with urging all the way up to Sistani, but questions remain if Iraqis are willing to die and kill other Iraqis.
25:00 Burns notes how wonderfull Americans are for reinventing this blog. YMMV
29:30 Sectarian violence is the essence of the current struggle, AQI having been thumped. 31:30 970 suicide bombers since 2003, mostly foreigners, which may have some impact on AQI numbers if you can do the math.

Michael Ware’s interview with Patraeus will air at 10 PM Eastern on CNN.

Worth A Read

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Washington diary: China’s crisis

But the Beijing Olympics were never just about the pride of a city or the sporting prowess of Chinese athletes, or indeed the tourist board’s desire to introduce the globe to Dim Sum, Sichuan folk dresses and the Terracotta Army.

For China, the Games are a coming-out party for an emerging super-power, a chance to prove to the world that it deserves to be respected, that it has finally shaken off the yoke of Communist isolation or colonial occupation.

IMHO

After The Shredder

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Not a “Shred of Evidence” in Those Docs

Here at TPM we were honored this year to receive The Week magazine’s “Blogger of the Year” award for our reporting on the US Attorneys scandal. One thing I wanted to make clear: I very much wanted to be at the awards ceremony in DC Tuesday night. But my wife is due to give birth to our second child in just a few weeks. And I didn’t feel comfortable going out of town so close to the big day. In any case, I was reading this item in Mary Ann Akers The Sleuth blog in the Post. And apparently there was a funny, awkward moment at the ceremony since Karl Rove was there to appear on a panel. I’ll pick it up from Akers …

Gerald Ford And The Nixon Precedent

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Journalmalism

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

The McEconomic Wizard

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

More Evidence of John McCain’s Naiveté on the Economy

But what’s particularly dangerous about McCain is that he doesn’t seem to understand his own voodoo economics.

When Senator John McCain was asked here this afternoon how he plans to balance the budget, he said that he hoped to do so by stimulating economic growth – and approvingly cited the example of President Ronald Reagan.

There was one thing he did not mention during his response: the deficit nearly tripled during the Reagan presidency, partly due to tax cuts and increases in military spending.

Too Stupid To Be President 2.0

Global Insolvency

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

The dominoes keep falling, Under a debt weight

According to latest figures from Statistics SA, personal insolvencies increased by 58% last month compared with a year ago and civil debt judgements against companies jumped 41,2%. Liquidations for the first two months of the year increased by 6%.

This is the first time since February 2002 that liquidations have increased in the first two months of the year. These figures do not come as a surprise considering the current levels of household debt. The ratio of household debt to disposable income rose to 77,6% at the end of last year compared to 72,8% at the end of 2006.

Upgrade That Flash Player

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Adobe upgrades Flash Player

The update fixed a flaw that security researcher Shane Macaulay used in the PWN2OWN contest at the CanSecWest conference to compromise a fully-patched Windows Vista laptop. The update also revamps the security of the Flash Player to solve several major issues that could serve as a vector of attack, including a DNS rebinding attack that has worried browser makers.

“This is the update we’ve referred to in a couple of earlier posts,” the company stated on its blog. “These potential vulnerabilities could allow someone who successfully exploits them to take control of the affected system, so we recommend users update to the latest version of Flash Player.”

The linked article references a hole in Safari, so you may wish to read that if you use a Mac.

Hamas And The Two State Solution

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

You don’t even need the GRID to connect to this very informative post, it is on the old intertubes.

Ignoring Meshaal is a mistake, especially given developments I’ll describe in a moment. So I asked Palestinian journalist Ata Qaymari to translate some key excerpts of the Al-Ayyam interview. They appear below. Pay particular attention to the last paragraph. First, though a bit of context. (For more context, see my new American Prospect piece, for which I’ll add a link as soon as it’s up on the site.)

Next Weeks News, Today

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

THE OLYMPIC TORCH IN S.F.

Thousands of supporters were already there, unloaded from dozens of buses parked across from the ball park. (One torch relay insider told me some in the crowd had been bused from as far away as Los Angeles.) During the day Chronicle reporters were told by some supporters that they had been bused into San Francisco from the South Bay, the East Bay and Sacramento by the Chinese Consulate and Chinese American groups.

…But mayoral spokesman Nathan Ballard might have been closer to the truth when he said that the new route let people “enjoy the torch rather than political kabuki theater.”

More here,

Mr. Bush’s War

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

And your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore…

Khalil regrets toppling statue of Saddam Baghdad – Ibrahim Khalil, who five years ago took part in the iconic toppling of a giant statue of Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad, said on Wednesday he now regrets taking part in the hugely symbolic event.

“If history can take me back, I will kiss the statue of Saddam Hussein which I helped pull down,” Khalil told reporters on the fifth anniversary of the statue’s toppling.

“I will protect the statue more than my own self,” Khalil said in Firdoos Square alongside a monument erected where Saddam’s statue once stood before US marines and Iraqis strung a chain around its neck and brought it crashing down.

“Now I realise that the day Baghdad fell was in fact a black day. Saddam’s days were better,” said Khalil, who along with his brother runs a car repair shop.

“I ask Bush: ‘Where are your promises of making Iraq a better country?’

“These days when we go out we have to carry a pistol. In Saddam’s regime, we were safe. We got rid of one Saddam, but today we have 50 Saddams.”

The Whole World Is Watching

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

WRAPUP 7-Baghdad violence spirals higher despite clampdown

The upsurge in fighting comes as the top U.S. officials in Iraq testified in Washington that they opposed setting a timetable to withdraw troops from the 5-year-old war.

“The floor of the hospital is covered with the blood of children,” said Dr Qasim al-Mudalla, manager of the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City, where he said four children and two women were among 11 dead bodies brought in Wednesday.

“What is the world doing? They have seen the blood of our children and are doing nothing.”

If anyone comes to you supporting this war, and says they are Christians, do not believe them.

The Real McKool-Aid

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

John McNeoStupids’ staffing

The concerns have emerged in the weeks since McCain became his party’s presumptive nominee and began more formally assembling a list of foreign policy advisers. Among those on the list are several prominent neoconservatives, including Robert Kagan, an author who helped write much of the foreign policy speech that McCain delivered in Los Angeles on March 26, in which he described himself as “a realistic idealist.” Others include the security analyst Max Boot and a former United Nations ambassador, John Bolton.

Prominent members of the pragmatist group, often called realists, say they are also wary of the McCain campaign’s chief foreign policy aide, Randy Scheunemann, who was a foreign policy adviser to former Senators Trent Lott and Bob Dole and who has longtime ties to neoconservatives. In 2002, Scheunemann was a founder of the hawkish Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraqi exile and Pentagon favorite, Ahmad Chalabi.

Another reason he isn’t tooting his common sense.

Will The Real General Petraeus Please Stand Up?

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Petraeus Shifts Sharply On Basra, Aligns With White House Spin

Perhaps sensing that his testimony on Tuesday was undermining the official White House version of events in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus today offered a dramatically different interpretation of the recent violent unrest in Basra.

Tell me the general isn’t in the tank.

Armchair general Kagan’s “street” analysis is grossly oversimplified. Maliki’s government in fact traveled to Iran to “win the support of the commander of Iran’s Qods brigades” for a cease-fire (revealing his dependence on Iran), to which Sadr agreed. Maliki’s government then issued a statement praising Sadr, after the PM insisted days earlier there would be “no negotiation.”

Republicans Highlight Christian Nation Agenda

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

ABC Report: Bush’s ‘Principal’ Advisers OK’d Torture

ABC News reported tonight that President Bush’s most senior and trusted advisers met in “dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House” beginning in 2002 to approve the use of “combined” interrogation techniques (the joint use of harsh interrogation techniques). Those tactics included whether detainees “would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.”

Members of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee — Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft — approved the use of these techniques. “Sources said that at each discussion, all the Principals present approved.” According to ABC’s report, Ashcroft indicated he was troubled by the meetings:

Iraq Celebrates Republican War

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Curfews, Clashes, Protests and Mortars;
Five Years after Fall of Saddam;
5 US Troops Die;
23 Iraqis Wounded in Sadr City

GRAHAM: The point that you’re making is a good point. They should do more militarily, and they should pay the bill in larger measure. And they are, and they will.

But my point is very simple. It’s in our national security interests that Iraq become a stable, functioning government, saying no to al Qaeda, a buffer to Iranian ambitions.

US Showtrials Hit Snag

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

New Roadblocks Delay Tribunals at Guantánamo

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — When military officials announced war crimes charges against six detainees for the Sept. 11 attacks two months ago, the move was part of an effort to accelerate the Bush administration’s sluggish military commission system, which has yet to hold a single trial.

But the Sept. 11 case immediately hit a snag. Military defense lawyers were in short supply, and even now, two months later, not one of the six detainees has met his military lawyer.

Afghans Hold Secret Trials for Men That U.S. Detained

KABUL, Afghanistan — Dozens of Afghan men who were previously held by the United States at Bagram Air Base and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are now being tried here in secretive Afghan criminal proceedings based mainly on allegations forwarded by the American military.

The prisoners are being convicted and sentenced to as much as 20 years’ confinement in trials that typically run between half an hour and an hour, said human rights investigators who have observed them. One early trial was reported to have lasted barely 10 minutes, an investigator said.

The Republicans New American Way.

Sketchy News Reported As Fact

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

China makes sketchy claim of Olympic kidnap plot

China says it has uncovered a criminal ring planning to kidnap Beijing Olympic athletes and visitors, the Associated Press has reported. The sketchy claim was immediately questioned as an attempt to divert attention from the country’s human rights records, which has been the subject of world protests this week.

Unfortunately it has been observed,

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International say Beijing often uses alleged terrorism as an excuse to violently repress any activism for independence in the region, whether violent or peaceful.

Andrew Fischer, a fellow at the London School of Economics and an expert on western China, said: “I can’t imagine why Uighur activists would want to attack athletes in the Olympics.

“What do the Uighurs have against Olympic athletes? How would that serve their cause?

The Civilized World

April 10, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

SFO wrong to drop BAE inquiry, court rules

The high court today ruled that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was wrong to drop an investigation into alleged bribery in a massive arms deal between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia.

The decision represents a stunning victory for Campaign Against Arms Trade and Corner House Research, which campaigns against corruption in international trade, as well as a major embarrassment for the government.

The two groups sought a review of the decision by the SFO director, Robert Wardle, to drop the investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption in contracts between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia. BAE and a Saudi national security adviser, Prince Bandar, deny the accusations.

This won’t stay on that side of the pond for long.

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Republicans Come To Grips With Iraq Reality

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

http://Terraformed3_files/ZaSSK09_mBcrel0.swf

The greatest strategic blunder in American history sits on the doorsteps of these modern brainiacs. If I were they, I would be very smug and self assured that those who opposed the war couldn’t figure a way out of the quagmire. If I were they. But I’m not.

There is no way to do a do over in Iraq, and the only way forward is to have a regional peace conference that includes Syria, Iran, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia at a minimum. Without Arab and Iranian input there will be no through put.

It really is that simple. Simple isn’t so easy, is it? It doesn’t matter that the right will never be able to wash the blood off of their hands either, since to the world we are all bloody, imagine that. That broad brush we paint each other with works on us too. Who woulda thunk? Who woulda thunk?

We will therefore have to overcome our own superior attitudes toward one another and get to work on a viable, comprehensive framework for peace in the Middle East, which brings us into a situation that those who have been unwilling to compromise must do so, or face their own destruction from powers and events that are beyond their control.

So if I were a Republican I would keep my smug assed comments to myself, since you are in fact the sources of this current crisis, and you and I unfortunately will need each other in the coming years to do this thing. I won’t remind you you are a fuck up if you don’t remind me that you are a fuck up.

Red State, Stupid To The Bone

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Occupying Iraq Is Just Like Occupying … Alabama?

Today, RedState sent an email alert to readers to further push the point … making a, shall we say, novel argument (emphasis added):

Clearly McCain was talking about a peace time standing presence … Someone should ask the Democrats if they think we’re still at war with the confederacy, the Germans, and the Japanese given all the standing American armies in the South, Germany, and Japan.

How can I compete with this stuff? ht

Olympic Torch Disappears

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

San Francisco police report that the Olympic torch has disappeared in San Francisco. Bystanders report seeing a junk yard dog chasing a runner in short pants down a tin pan alley, but they refused to be interviewed.

Update: One person on the streets of San Francisco has reported seeing the runner and torch through the police protection. We were unable to confirm this sighting from the ground, although it is reportedly being shown on television from helicopters not named Ben.

Update II: Digital footage repeatedly showing various people in states of disassembly, adding to the normal confusion one expects to expect from San Francisco.

Update III: Protesters continue to disrupt the torch run, some yelling at the torch bearer for being a capitalist running dog, others reportedly yelling at the dog.

Catapulting The Propaganda

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Petraeus and Crocker, less convincing this time

The endless repetition of these two propaganda “themes;”

– Maliki’s legitimacy above all other contenders

– direct Iranian intervention as the cause of Shia infighting,

have been the music of the Petraeus/Crocker show before Congress.

This propaganda technique of the endless repetition of truth, half truth or outright lies is the essence of the propaganda trade.

This is how we were sold the war. pl

Pardon the appeal to higher authority, but I understand that some people actually think you need college degrees and years of experience to make legitimate statements like this.

But, if that’s what you need, there you go.

Who’s On First?

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Media Ignore Bipartisan Criticism Of Iraq Policies, Claim ‘A Parade Of Democrats’ ‘Pounced’ On Petraeus

A number of media outlets characterized yesterday’s Senate hearings on the situation in Iraq and the future of U.S. policy there as a confrontation between Democrats and Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

I am so glad that my MSM weren’t listed,

However, statements from a number of Republican senators during yesterday’s hearings undermine these characterizations. For example:

– Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH): “The American people have had it up to here” with the war. The U.S. should tell its allies in the Middle East: “Hey guys, we’re on our way out.”

– Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE): “What are we doing? I don’t see Secretary Rice doing any Kissinger-esque flying around. Where is the diplomatic surge?”

– Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN): “Simply appealing for more time to make progress is insufficient.”

– Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “I’m looking for an articulation as to how we get to the end” […] “We’re at a point in the conflict where an articulation of the endgame needs to be made.”

– Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME):”We’re continuing to pay for the training and equipping of Iraqi forces. I’m told that we’re even continuing to pay for fuel within Iraq. Isn’t it time for the Iraqis to start bearing more of those expenses?”

– Sen. John Warner (R-VA): “Is all this sacrifice bringing about a more secure America?”

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t note that Republicans haven’t been voting the way they are speaking, and just add that to the remarks of Senator Graham noted previously.

Update: Another media related observation

You Mean, Like, Saddam?

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

I got side tracked yesterday right in the middle of all of this, but it’s such an obtuse thing to say,

BLITZER: They had zero — they had zero money. The Iraqis have billions of dollars, including $30 billion sitting in U.S. banks right now.

GRAHAM: The point that you’re making is a good point. They should do more militarily, and they should pay the bill in larger measure. And they are, and they will.

But my point is very simple. It’s in our national security interests that Iraq become a stable, functioning government, saying no to al Qaeda, a buffer to Iranian ambitions. What is it worth to the American people to have an ally in the Mideast, a country in the middle of the Mideast that aligns themselves with us against al Qaeda, that will say no to Iranian desires?

We have got a long way to go in Iraq. It’s going to cost money, and it’s going to cost more injuries and more lives. But, in my opinion, it’s worth it. And isn’t that really your question? “Senator Graham, is it worth it?”

Yes, it’s worth it to me to win in Iraq, because losing in Iraq will cost us more.

These guys all seem to forget where we started from. It would have served our national security interest better to let the UN finish its’ inspections.

These are the same idiots who find it sensible not to talk to Iran or Cuba.

Still Dead

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

U.S. Official: Al Qaeda terrorist dead of natural causes

WASHINGTON – A U.S. counterterrorism officials says that Abu Obeida al-Masri (Ah-boo oh-BAY-duh ahl-MAHZ’-ree), an Egyptian al-Qaida chief who was responsible for attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan, is dead.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said Wednesday that Al-Masri died of natural causes, apparently hepatitis. The official said al-Masri died within the last several months.

The Pakistani government originally had believed he was killed a CIA Predator strike in 2006.

Given his situation, a bullet in the head would pass for today’s natural causes.

Aussie With Cajones

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Rudd confronts China on human rights

KEVIN Rudd, defying official protests from Beijing, has used the first day of his China trip to highlight human rights abuses in Tibet and to vow to pursue the issue with Chinese leaders.

The Prime Minister surprised and wowed students at Peking University as he addressed them in Mandarin, at some points cracking jokes and at others criticising their Government and its human rights record.

“Australia, like most other countries, recognises China sovereignty over Tibet but we also believe it is necessary to recognise there are significant human rights problems in Tibet,” Mr Rudd said. “We recognise the need for all parties to avoid violence and find a solution through dialogue. As a long-standing friend of China, I intend to have a straightforward discussion with China’s leaders on this.”

I’m glad I learned rephrasing and a smattering of espanol.

I Would Have Phrased It Differently

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Somethings just shouldn’t be phrased like that though.

And this is where it starts to get interesting in terms of U.S. domestic politics. One of the notable differences between Obama and Clinton on whether or not Iran’s Suleimani should be seen as a terrorist. Last year 75 U.S. senators (including Clinton) voted to accept the Bush administration’s claim that the general’s organization, the Revolutionary Guards, was a “specially designated global terrorist.” Obama did not vote for that.

But this also gets interesting for the Republican champion, Sen. John McCain. He stressed Sunday, ahead of the Petraeus-Crocker testimony, that even though he knew the two men would warn about Iran’s arming and training of America’s enemies in Iraq, this did not mean necessarily that the United States should do anything about it.

“Let me say categorically, because I’m worried about Iranian influence doesn’t mean that I’m ready to go to war with Iran,” McCain said. “Please, I’m not.”

McCain, who argues that the only thing worse than bombing Iran would be sanding by as Iran developed a nuclear weapon, is now realizing just how complex the Iran-Iraq equation has become. On the one hand, he sees Iran as a dangerous enemy. On the other, he knows Iran now decides whether Iraq goes up in flames or it doesn’t.

McCain has staked his presidential campaign on his support for the U.S. military “surge” and the reduction in Iraqi and U.S. casualties it has brought about. But if Iraq falls apart before November, so does McCain’s campaign. It begins to look as if Iran’s Revolutionary Guard leader has McCain’s presidential campaign in the palm of his hand.

Mr Hagee’s World

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

‘Allying with Christian Zionists is bad for Israel’

NEW YORK – “No, we cannot.” We cannot cooperate with the Christian Zionists, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, told the annual conference of the movement’s rabbis Wednesday night in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to copies of the speech distributed ahead of time to the press.

Evangelist to Yoffie: ‘I’m not trying to undermine peace’

Televangelist John Hagee sounded a bit irate when he read his response to the accusations leveled at him and the organization he founded, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Hagee, who is currently in Jerusalem with 1,000 Christian pilgrims, delivered his response via conference call to U.S. reporters. He said that had Yoffie and his followers asked him directly about his opinions, they could have avoided many of their alleged mistakes. Hagee said, for example, that he has not called the Catholic Church a “great whore,” nor is he trying to dictate Israel’s security and political policies. Hagee will support Israel whether or not it carries out withdrawals, he repeatedly said, adding that this is something its citizens will decide.

For what it is worth, Hagee is a theological descendant from the millenialist movements in America of the 19th century. Not much has really changed in their prophetic interpretations except when one of them makes a definitive statement about events that subsequently fail to pan out. Men plan, God laughs, but that doesn’t stop men from planning. Hagee has a problem with tactics and strategy too, it seems.

Iraq’d

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Congressional hearing intrudes in Sadr City, if power lasts

The troops generally agreed with Edwards, who said it would be foolish to withdraw American troops at this time. But some also bemoaned the lack of progress on the Iraqi side.

Lieutenant Matthew Apostol, 25, from Mililani, Hawaii, and the platoon leader, summed up both concerns.

“There should not be a quick timeline for reducing troops,” he said. “That would not a good thing for Iraq right now. But the Iraqi government is pretty inept. They are not meeting their end of the bargain. The Iraqi Army is not getting the support it needs from its government. They come and ask us for food, water and ammunition, basic things that soldiers need.”

As was previously noted in the article,

Sergeant Derek Arnold, 23, from Springfield, Oregon, said he was annoyed to learn in the opening statement of the senior Democrat, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, that the Iraqi government was not spending all of its oil proceeds. “It ticked me off to hear how our tax money is going into this when they are just stockpiling the money,” he said.

The question is less should it be saved, but rather can it be saved?

Boombust

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

NY Times: The Boom That Wasn’t

David Loenhardt writes at the NY Times: For Many, a Boom That Wasn’t

It’s not just the apparent recession. Recessions happen. …

The bigger problem is that the now-finished boom was, for most Americans, nothing of the sort. In 2000, at the end of the previous economic expansion, the median American family made about $61,000, according to the Census Bureau’s inflation-adjusted numbers. In 2007, in what looks to have been the final year of the most recent expansion, the median family, amazingly, seems to have made less — about $60,500.

IMF makes gloomy forecast for UK economy

With the US already sliding into what the IMF predicts will be a “mild recession”, there is mounting pessimism about the ability of the rest of the world to escape unscathed. In its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook, the IMF warns that America’s mortgage crisis has spiralled into “the largest financial shock since the Great Depression”, and there is now a one-in-four chance of a full-blown global recession over the next twelve months.

First they said it wouldn’t come to this, then it came to this. Now they are saying the world will decouple from this, then it will be the caboose that is the last car off of the track. Most Americans will have missed the train, although they are very much paying for all the tickets for the free loaders.

Update: ‘She’ll be right’, IMF says of Australia

AUSTRALIA is set to escape the slump facing other Western countries in 2008 and 2009, but its inflation rate will stay above the Reserve Bank’s target zone, the International Monetary Fund has forecast.

The IMF’s half-yearly World Economic Outlook, released overnight, cuts its forecast of global growth in 2008 for the fourth time in nine months. It now tips the world’s output to grow by 3.7% this year and 3.8% in 2009, down from 4.9% last year.

Well, there we have it.

Graham: The Surge Is Strategic

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Sorry sir, but that is a tactic. It may be a change in strategy, but it is a tactical change in strategy.

So for the American public to grasp what’s going on here, they need to listen to people who speak English.

The strategy for going into Iraq has never been articulated, it has continuously been changed from one thing or another, but what the strategic goals of the war on Iraq are are still a mystery. First it WMDs, and 911, now it is Al-Whoda, later it will be democracy in the Mid East, but those are smoke screens for Mr. Grenspan’s oil, which may itself be a smokescreen, because the simple fact is this Republican government, and these Republican members of Congress simply cannot tell the truth about the strategic goals of the war on Iraq.

War Is Their Drug

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Five years of addiction;

We Tried To Say No

And on it goes.

Five years of Friedman Units, of politicians insisting that Iraq wouldn’t be an issue in the next election, of pundits assuring us that Bush would have to withdraw troops any day now, of anti-war voices even now completely excluding from the media, and of course the sage advice of the Wise Old Men of Washington…

Same Charts

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Petraeus apparently is in his own greener zone, putting the debunked BS back up for the House.

Hypothetically, Iraq spending for the year will reach the level of American spending for a month, with implementation of the Iraqi budget passed two months ago.

I too support the troops.

Here We Go AgainLive blogging the dead enders.

More Here Like I said…

Hypothetically Wanking

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Via Balloon Juice;

CROCKER/PETRAEUS WRAPUP….Various tidbits from Democracy Arsenal’s liveblogging of the Crocker/Petraeus hearings on Tuesday:

  • Ambassador Crocker again refuses to engage in hypotheticals with Senator Biden. Unless we hypothetically talk about leaving Iraq, in which case he is absolutely sure that everything would fall apart and the world would end.

Crimes and Punishments

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

A Tale of Three Lawyers

On Thursday in the National Press Club in Washington, a crowd gathered to witness the presentation of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling to Lieutenant Commander Matthew Diaz. The story of Matthew Diaz was chronicled in this space repeatedly (also here and here). It is a story of courage, fortitude, conviction and suffering. Joe Margulies introduced the honoree with clarity:

Some other needs to reads

Someone To Dry Spencer’s Balls

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Iraq Report Redux

Gen. Petraeus and Mr. Crocker have gotten more confident about calling the surge a success, and rightly so. “It’s worth it,” said the general. “We have seen a significant degradation of al-Qaeda’s presence and its abilities,” said the ambassador. “Al-Qaeda is our mortal and strategic enemy. So to the extent that al-Qaeda’s capacities have been lessened in Iraq — and they have been significantly lessened — I do believe that makes America safer.”

What hasn’t much changed is the partisan debate over Iraq, which as Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) lamented, remains resistant even to established facts.

twinkletoes, you’re breaking my heart:

Forgive me, but this post is for the dudes. You know how you come out of the shower — at the gym, say — and you’re toweling off, and you feel all dry, but then you put on your underwear and you realize: Dammit, I forgot to dry under my balls.

Joe Lieberman’s world.

via the usual suspects.

No Fly Zone

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Oasis budget airline stops flying

KPMG, appointed as liquidator, advised ticket holders to call 00852 3628 0628 or 0844 482 2323 for more information.

Oasis operated daily flights between London and Hong Kong and six services a week between Hong Kong and Vancouver.

For those of you who are stuck, I take care of my readers.

Things Go Boom

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

7 die in explosion in Sadr City; Green Zone shelled

BAGHDAD — Seven people died in Baghdad’s Sadr City as clashes between security forces and Shiite militiamen continued in the capital today, a day after top U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus called for a suspension of U.S. troop withdrawals because of the renewed combat.

The city’s Green Zone, which houses diplomatic missions and much of Iraq’s government, also came under renewed attack by rockets or mortars early today. The U.S. embassy confirmed the shelling, but said there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Know Your Muqtada

April 9, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Life Imitates Bullshit

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Baghdad Lockdown During Petraeus Testimony Says it all.

Heh

Michael Ware seems as clueless about Congress as they appear to be about Iraq. I think the hearings where facinating.

And as an added thought I think Obama tried to start some metrical analysis, and as a whole the Democrats proved to be kicking ass on some important political points that needed to be made, because if the Republicans are going to remain dead centered on substansive issues for political reasons then they have to be pointed out for doing so.

You Heard It Here First

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

In Passing

April 1, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Sailor killed in Iraq awarded Medal of Honor

Michael A. Monsoor, who grew up in Garden Grove, has been selected to receive the medal posthumously for his efforts to save fellow SEALs during a firefight in 2006.

Republicain’t Governmen

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

FISA Fight: Republicans and the Protect AT&T Act

This was the law, the Protect America Act, that Republicans told us was necessary for preventing the end of the world. Until Democrats said “bullpuckey” and let it expire, after which the world did not end. Now that bill isn’t enough, because the gaps in intelligence they insisted would cripple us if the law expired are not nearly as important as letting AT&T off the hook for illegally spying on us.

Note To Lindsay Graham

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

In acknowledging that General Patreaus inherited chaos in Iraq, does that mean you are willing to admit that you were completely wrong previous to the surge? If so, why didn’t you say so?

The Republicans want to focus on a single year and say they were right about the surge, but to do so they have to admit that the war policy was a failure previous to that surge, and they did nothing to redirect the military policy.

Update: Tenuous at best

Under pointed questioning earlier from Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Gen. Petraeus painted a much more somber picture of Iraq than many of his Republican cheerleaders:

It’s why I’ve repeatedly noted that we haven’t turned any corners, we haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel. The champagne bottle has been pushed to the back of the refrigerator. And the progress, while real, is fragile and is reversible.

As Tom Foreman has noted, a lot of the debate is in interpreting the facts.

One of those facts is that things can go downhill a lot quicker than they can go up.

Basically, all of our progress is dependent on other actors, other forces, than those under our own control. We may be a player in Iraq, but we are not in control of Iraq. That is four years plus the surge.

Updated: I wonder if Wolf will ask him?

Graham: It’s Saddass’s fault that the infrastructure is all torn up.

Update II: The Lord works in mysterious ways, as dday says,

That was a very significant moment at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings with Amb. Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus. Joe Biden asked Amb. Crocker where it would be better for American national security interests to eliminate Al Qaeda in Iraq or Al Qaeda along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Crocker had nowhere to hide with that question. Spencer Ackerman describes the outcome.

Crocker, in an impossible political position — give the correct answer and humiliate the Bush administration; give the administration’s answer and look like a fool — dodged as much as he could. Then Biden forced him down. Crocker: “I would therefore pick Al Qaeda on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.”

Maybe The FBI Should Do It Then

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Al-Qaida could be beaten in a few years, says head of FBI

The head of the FBI predicted yesterday that al-Qaida could be defeated within a few years, far more quickly than senior counterterrorism officials and government ministers in Britain suggest. “I think we’ll see victory on my watch,” Robert Mueller said on a visit to London.

Hmmmm. Treat terrorism as a law enforcement matter?

This idea isn’t exactly a new concept, so it shouldn’t really be news, except some boneheads wanted to blow up rocks and there weren’t any in Afghanistan. So we went and made some rubble to bounce in Iraq.

Now we are where we are.

Ignorance Is Chambliss

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

AQI was first formed in what year sir?

Petraues Fudges The Chart

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

The Number’s Simply Don’t Match Up…

A graph (which is pasted below) Petraeus presented today seems to paint a diametrically opposite picture for March in terms of Iraqi civilian casualty numbers than what has been broadly reported. The graph suggests that civilian casualties in Iraq stayed somewhat level during March, and in fact the coalition numbers seem to demonstrate a dip in overall civilian deaths. This clearly doesn’t jive with what has been broadly reported. The Washington Post, for instance, reported on the deadly month that was March as thus.

Update: Petraeus: ‘We Don’t Arm’ The Sunnis

CNN: Another graphic blows.

McBomb Bomb YA

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

McCain seems confused about al Qaeda again, suggests it’s a ’sect of Shi’ites.’

MCCAIN: Do you still view al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?

PETRAEUS: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.

MCCAIN: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shi’ites overall?

PETREAUS: No.

MCCAIN: Or Sunnis or anybody else

On accident of course.You know this isn’t just misspeaking. The man has a mental inability to distinquish the differences between the various players in Iraq,

I think that there is a pattern developing here, and it points to a fatal flaw in the neo-con reasoning(?), that everyone in the world thinks along the same lines as we do, and wish to live as we do.

Uber Whine

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Lieberwhat?

Joe Lieberman is probably beyond shark-jumping at this point, but his statement that Iraqis have made more progress on political reconciliation since September than have Americans is really pretty appalling.

One trick loser.

More here, Cheerleader Tryouts on Capitol Hill

Sen. Joe Lieberman: “[T]here’s a kind of hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, and most of all, speak of no progress in Iraq.”

Conveniently forgetting the monkey with its’ hand wrapped around a banana in a mason jar and unable to withdraw it’s hand through the opening. Joe forgot the “monkey stuck”, monkey.

Live Blogging The Hearings

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Here ya go.

Yeah, It’s All The Democratic Left

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Except when it isn’t.

The considerable buzz in conservative circles about Barack Obama, best exemplified by Andrew Bacevich’s article “The Case for Obama” in The American Conservative, has largely focused on his potential as the only candidate who might actually end the war in Iraq. Maybe he would or maybe he wouldn’t, but it is dead certain that neither John McCain or Hillary Clinton would rush out of Baghdad, nor would they put an end to the neocon-derived globalism that threatens to involve the U.S. in still more wars of choice in places like Iran. Obama might be better on both counts, hence his appeal to some conservatives, most particularly the ones who believe that the war in Iraq is a truly existential issue for the United States and must be ended at all costs.

This is one of the most under reported aspects of American political thinking, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy against the war.

Josh points out this petition, which follows what is is basically pandering by Cornyn, that I can’t imagine not signing, with of course a signing statement noting Cornyn’s pandering.

The Colbert Effect Repor

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Pssst! Rahm, Nancy…

Far from hurting the careers of the Democrats who go on his show, as both Speaker Pelosi and powerhouse Congressman Emanuel feared, a new study has found that donations to Democratic lawmakers appearing in his “Better Know a District” segment spike upwards rather dramatically:

Other Rumors

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Slashdot informs me, Rumors of a ‘Whisper Campaign’ Forming Against Fair Use

An anonymous reader writes “Ars Technica reports that a group of companies and organizations it calls ‘big content’ is currently engaged in a worldwide ‘whisper campaign’ against Fair Use.

Shave Off Buzz

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Maliki’s Threat and the Ayatollahs

Why would the Maliki/Hakim/US forces want that? Application of Occam’s Razor to this issue yields the solution that those forces fear that Sadr would become stronger in the elections if allowed to contest them on an “even playing field.”

Sadr is the most nationalistic of the movements, most likely to resist Iranian influence and we get this?

There seems to be a disjunct between our stated goals and our policy goals in Iraq which the MSM could, you know, investigate a lttle more in depth, instead of catapulting the propaganda to show their patriotic showmanship.

Update: More here,

Bill Roggio has some good analysis over at the Long War Journal on Maliki’s latest gambit designed to sideline Moqtada al Sadr and his Jaish al Mahdi [Mahdi Army] ahead of the upcoming elections. Having failed to knock the Sadrists off-balance militarily during the recent engagement in Basra, Maliki is trying a political manoeuvre, passing a parliamentary resolution to ban all political parties that maintain an armed militia from participating in the election. While it is too early to say how it will pan out, early signs suggest that in his latest face-off with al Sadr, Maliki is playing his cards a little better.

See, if a blogger can do it

In reality, Iran maintains ties with all of the major Shia actors in Iraq, and, as the main beneficiary of the Iraq invasion, stands to gain however the current political struggle is resolved. Because of ISCI’s acceptance (for the moment) of U.S. goals in Iraq, credulous American analysts have ignored overwhelming evidence of ISCI’s continuing ties to Iran in order to portray them as friendly to U.S. interests. Senators should beware ideologically-motivated attempts to portray the current power struggle in Iraq as simply “the Iraqi government versus Iranian-supported bad guys.”

The Petraeus and Crocker Show

The neocon lacky Petraeus has had his script written for him by Cheney, and Petraeus together with neocon warmonger Ryan Crocker, the US governor of the Green Zone in Baghdad, will present Congress next Tuesday and Wednesday with the lies, for which the road has been well paved by neocon propagandists such as Kimberly Kagan, that “the US must recognize that Iran is engaged in a full-up proxy war against it in Iraq.”

Crocker alleges that the rockets dropping on the Green Zone during the Basra fighting were made in 2007 in Iran. As should be obvious even to disengaged Americans, if Iran were to arm the Iraqi insurgency, the insurgents would have modern weapons to counter US helicopter gunships and heavy tanks. The insurgents have no such weapons. The neocon lie that Iran is the cause of the Iraqi insurgency is just another Bush regime lie like the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and connections to al Qaeda and the lie that the Taliban in Afghanistan attacked the US.

I think I should be clear that I don’t think that Petraeus is a neo-con lakey, but I think his objectives as a general in Iraq can only be met by keeping it contained within the confines of the current CiC’s rhetoric. He is too smart to be a neo-con, but that is MHO. YMMV.

Update: Crocker, not so much.

via Atrios,

BAGHDAD – Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened Tuesday to lift a seven-month freeze on his Mahdi Army militia if the Iraqi government does not halt attacks on his followers or set a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal.

The statement came from his office hours before the top two U.S. officials in Iraq — Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker — planned to brief Congress on the situation in Iraq and prospects for drawing down American troops.

Update: YA

As Juan Cole, a regular Salon contributor, told me, “The Americans are doing propaganda.” I called Cole, a nationally recognized expert on Shiite Islam, because I wanted to get a reality check not just on Petraeus and Crocker’s expected Iran-is-to-blame spin, but to hear what Cole thinks the United States should do to extricate itself from Iraq. As it turns out, the two questions are inseparable. Cole makes a disturbing case that the Bush administration’s hard-line position on Iran and Sadr could end up wrecking our chances of getting out of Iraq without leaving chaos in our wake.

via

Act Two

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

David Corn reminds us that he is a nerd,

COUNTDOWN TO PETRAEUS: On Tuesday, General David Petraeus will again try to take Capitol Hill. I’ve already done a set-up (here and here). But I was thinking about last year’s Petraeus show and remembered that he had a pretty easy time snowing Congress. Read this posting (of mine) from September:

Citing General David Petraeus, George W. Bush, in his so-called “wayforward in Iraq” speech declared on Thursday night, “The Iraqi army is becoming more capable.”

For days, I’ve been carrying around with me page 13 of the 14-page slideshow Petraeus showed during his multiple appearances on Capitol Hill. (That’s how nerdy I am!) And to anyone unfortunate to get stuck in an elevator with me, I’ve flashed this chart to show that according to Petraeus’ own numbers, there has been no progress in the past year in fielding Iraqi security forces that can function on their own. Yes, I said no progress.

The chart–titled “Iraqi Security Forces Capabilities”–divides Iraqi troops into four groups: units that are fully independent (Level I); that can stage operations with support of U.S. forces (Level II); that can fight side by side with U.S. forces (Level III); that are still forming (Level IV). If you look at September 2006, you will see that there were 11,000 Level I troops and 86,000 Level II troops. Fast forward to September 2007, and the numbers are, Level I, 12,000 and Level II, 84,000. That’s a slight drop in capabilities, if you combine Levels I and II.

I Don’t Understand Them

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

You would think after bombing civilian populations for five years they would want to be our buddies.

Silly foreigners, just don’t understand us.

Get Your War On

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

American Grand Delusions Why the Testimony of General Petraeus Will Be Delusional

In the U.S., the administration’s lack of planning for the occupation of Iraq — starting with the wholesale looting of Baghdad after American troops had taken the capital — has been the subject of much debate and discussion in Congress and the media. While it’s usually noted in passing that, amid the chaos, orders had in fact been issued to American troops to guard the Oil Ministry, little is made of that. In fact, orders for U.S. troops to guard that ministry and the Interior Ministry, and nothing else, were indeed given, which simply indicates that administration planning was extremely focused — on oil and the secret police (and perhaps Saddam Hussein’s secret archives).

In addition, we know that the administration ignored the 13-volume “Future of Iraq” project put together by the State Department to guide an occupation — largely because its neocon officials were so intent on sidelining the State Department more generally. On the other hand, the Pentagon did plan for what it thought would matter. Specifically, from a front-page April 19, 2003 New York Times article, we know that, by the time the invasion began, the Pentagon already had on the drawing boards plans for building four permanent mega-bases in Iraq. (They were meant to replace our bases in Saudi Arabia.) And these were indeed built (along with others and the largest embassy on the planet) in more or less the locations originally described. From the beginning, whatever planning it didn’t do, the Bush administration was certainly planning to make itself at home in Iraq in a big way for a long, long time.

Hillary’s Hospital Hoax Splained

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Clinton’s Tale Part Truth, Part Errors

Clinton erred in telling audiences that the Ohio woman lacked insurance when seeking help for her troubled pregnancy. But according to Casto’s account, Bachtel’s medical tragedy began with circumstances very close to the essence of Clinton’s now-abandoned account: the lack of insurance created a $100 barrier to needed medical attention close to home.

Just don’t expect me to be fair all the time, until my demands are met on the bumper sticker issue.

No Bloggers Allowed

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Meanwhile Back At The Ranch

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Informed Comment notes,

The Sadrists have no intention of dissolving the Mahdi Army, according to this Arabic source, quoting Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi. They point out, pace that great Iraq expert Lowry, that there are 28 militias in Iraq. The Badr Corps of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) still exists as a stand alone organization. In fact it ran as a political party in the elections and holds both provincial and federal seats. It hasn’t been complete merged into the state security forces as Lowry alleged. And anyway, painting a sign on a militia saying ‘this one is legitimate because its party won the last election’ is not going to convince any real Iraqis.

and the NY Times informs McBush

Figures compiled by the American military showed that attacks specifically on military targets in Baghdad more than tripled in March, one of many indications that violence has begun to rise again after months of gains in the wake of an American troop increase. Overall attacks on Baghdad more than doubled, to 631 in March from 239 in February, reflecting new strikes against the Green Zone, the fortified headquarters for Iraqi and American officials, as well as renewed fighting in Sadr City between the Mahdi Army and American and Iraqi forces.

All of which goes to prove that we are a long way from actually having a grip on the situation.

Voting Locations Fer Houston

April 8, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Runoff Sekula-Gibbs is now calling herself Doctor Sekula-Gibbs for gravitas, I suppose.

Secret, Sensitive US Iraq Plans Here

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Secret US plan for military future in Iraq

A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.

The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked “secret” and “sensitive”, is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to “conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security” without time limit.

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

The Way We Heard

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Can anyone spot the influence and reaction to this story,

The Way Clinton Heard the Hospital Story

Did a hospital turn Bachtel away for lack of funds? Nothing we’ve heard so far says that this wasn’t the case. Did she eventually get treatment at another hospital? That’s exactly what both Deputy Holman and Senator Clinton say happened. Maybe Holman got it wrong. But Clinton told the story the way she heard it.

with this one,

But It Almost Worked!

There are definitely ways that the Clinton campaign has annoyed me, but the “win Super Tuesday and it’s over” strategy really was a pretty good one and it almost worked. Politics is binary and there’s big tendency to overstate the genius of the winners and lament the bumbling of the losers. Now the basic Clinton campaign strategy wasn’t necessarily one which spoke to me, but the point of the campaign isn’t to win me over it’s to… win.

and then this one?

Chief Goof

TPM Reader JM laments how Penn destroyed Hillary’s campaign …

There’s no good reason why Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be cruising to the nomination right now. She very easily could have been the candidate of fresh ideas, the tireless worker who would finally deliver on the promise of Bill’s administration. For most of 2007 I expected her to roll out a killer argument that would finally convince me that she was a better pick than Obama.

After the super Tuesday failure the negativity went up and Hillary lost half of her would be defenders. That is strategic, and the error, IMO.

Who Is That Bear In My Stearn?

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Time to Buy Gold Bars?

One bright spot in this dismal account is that it is no longer possible to brush such shameful episodes aside with a day or two of anodyne testimony. The blogosphere has changed the rules. A legion of dedicated, and knowledgeable finance bloggers has been diligently digging up all the details available to be dug. Readers who would like to plunge deeper into swamp should check out Yves Smith, Felix Salmon, Steve Waldman and Alea.

No, I’m not going there with you.

Oh What A Tangling Of Webb’s

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

when first we seek to be stubborn horses arses.I am awaiting the prevarication and re-verification of these issues from Michael O’Hanlon point of view, who should be very very familiar with horses arses, having been one all these years.

What Does “Time” Know

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

You would have thought Cafferty and Wolf’s blogs would have made the first annual MSM surveys the competition and rates them accordingly.

CNN, Portland Oregonian & Denver Post Cover the Race Chasm

My article for In These Times about the Race Chasm has generated a lot of discussion and feedback about race in America – which I’m thrilled about. Race and class are the two issues that the Establishment is least interested in discussing – despite their prominence in our politics. And so if an article I write generates some ferment, that’s a good thing – especially if it can also promote the work of a great progressive magazine like In These Times.

They should have called me, serious blog ass kissing doesn’t work. Well, maybe it does.

Let’s experiment, you kiss my ass and we’ll see if that gets you a link.

Terraformed is seeking a young ambitious public relations guru. qualifications…

A Fairly Uncommon Minor Incident

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Earthquake reported south of San Antonio

The epicenter of the quake was pegged at 10 miles south of Poth in Wilson County, and 12 miles west-northwest of Kenedy in Karnes County, the center reported on its Web site.

If We Wish A Free And Stable Iraq McMac

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Independent of Iranian influence, then shouldn’t we be more inclined to support the Sadrists?

How come poor foriegn policy advocates always bring the generals in when they are talking about strategic political blunders?

Update:Angel Duss versus Fred Kagan. An unfair fight.

Must Ssuccumb

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Second Cousins Twice Removed

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Meanwhile Back At El Rancho Iraquero

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

The F.U. Era is Over

Update: U.S. and Iraqis Battle Militias to End Attacks

BAGHDAD — Sharp fighting broke out in the Sadr City district of Baghdad on Sunday as American and Iraqi troops sought to control neighborhoods used by Shiite militias to fire rockets and mortars into the nearby Green Zone.

But the operation failed to stop the attacks on the heavily fortified zone, headquarters for Iraq’s central government and the American Embassy here. By day’s end, at least two American soldiers had been killed and 17 wounded in the zone, one of the worst daily tolls for the American military in the most heavily protected part of Baghdad. Altogether, at least three American soldiers were killed and 31 wounded in attacks in Baghdad on Sunday, and at least 20 Iraqis were killed, mostly in Sadr City.

Good Morning

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Be It Therefore Declared And Affirmed Also Too:

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Barack Obama is forthwith, (as well,) acknowledged to be responsible for any and all disparaging remarks I make about anyone else, I mean, why not?

Bloggers Dying In Droves

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

The death rate amonst living things has been reaffirmed as one per.

War, Hawk, Monger

April 7, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

A difference without distinction.

The modern versions are off their clocks. I don’t think anyone is advocating a weak national defense, but McHawk and the Potomac Moons think a good defense is a good offense, which they have neither of.

Another Inconvenient Inconvenience

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

The missed part of our national defense outlook is where do we want to be five or fifteen years, and the strategic impact of a military and industrial offshoring, on the financial and industrial capabilities of the United States to fight an invasion of our own shores.

If we cannot produce the necessary then we are at mercy of those who can. We can no longer offshore excessive unemployment to foriegn lands in unnecessary wars, and must find a new and different diplomatic, economic and political approach to the modern world.

Update: I lost the linkage, so I deleted the reference. My bad.

A Ponzi Scheme Done Right

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Eight Steps to a Trillion-Dollar Meltdown

But what about the homeowners who are stuck with mortgages they can no longer pay? Helping them will be simpler once their problems are untangled from the banks’ goal of protecting overpriced assets. A change in the bankruptcy laws, for example, could empower judges to convert excessive mortgages into market-rate rentals, which are usually much cheaper.

All current rescue proposals being floated in the U.S. Congress have the taxpayer buying up the loans the banks no longer want, absorbing the losses just as taxpayers did in the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s. As an equity investor, however, the U.S. government would get the same terms as other private investors, leaving the losses to fall on the shareholders and executives who either caused the debacle or allowed it to happen. Concerns about the government’s holding bank stock directly could be allayed by depositing the shares in the Social Security trust funds. As the banks return to normal operations, they would become quite valuable securities and probably greatly improve the system’s returns.

Bank shareholders and executives made extraordinary financial gains during the 2000s. Now that their Ponzi scheme has been exposed, they are demanding that the public absorb much of their losses, and the Federal government has been responding with huge showers of money. The Bear Stearns rescue demonstrates the need to draw a line. From now on, the banks, their shareholders, and their executives should eat their own losses. If that wipes out the capital of essential depositary institutions, the federal government should step in. Save the banks and help struggling homeowners, yes. But no more largesse for bank executives and shareholders.

via This seems too comprehensive and balanced, to me, for it to ever fly in DC. It actually tries to solve problems instead of stockholders and politicians woes.

Pesky Illegal Immigrants

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Finance Minister to Expel Workers, Escape in Flying Saucer

Finance Minister Roni Bar-On is preparing a plan to rid Israel of all illegal immigrants within five years, Ha’aretz reports. The story did not state that Bar-On will then escape Israel in a flying saucer piloted by three-eyed green men, but it could have. Bar-On has about as much chance of ending illegal economic immigration to Israel as he does of the flying-saucer get-away.

As the excellent Hebrew blog Laissez Passer, devoted to immigration and refugee issues, notes today, 8.5% of the Israeli workforce now consists either of labor immigrants and Palestinians from the occupied territories. With drastic efforts, the government may reduce that number temporarily, and then it will bounce back.

The unmistakable reach of Lou Dobbs, I suppose.

Update:

*I would like to make one thing perfectly clear, I do not in any way wish anyone to think that Mr. Dobbs or his staff may have anything more in common than general direction of thinking with Bar-On, on a singular issue, but within a far different nation, in the midst of what to us seem existential circumstances, and Mr. Dobbs’ populism is divergent in an American patriotic populist way as Bar-On’s is to his own.

My apologies to one and all if I impugned or incited anyone to impugn the good name of Mr. Dobbs. I do hope however they were good ones for historical purposes in the vaults of high hope, and low expectations.

De Love Bugging The Windshield

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

The Pentagon’s battle bugs

Biological weapons delivered by cyborg insects. It sounds like a nightmare scenario straight out of the wilder realms of science fiction, but it could be a reality if a current Pentagon project comes to fruition.

Right now, researchers are already growing insects with electronics inside them. They’re creating cyborg moths and flying beetles that can be remotely controlled. One day, the US military may field squadrons of winged insect/machine hybrids with on-board audio, video or chemical sensors. These cyborg insects could conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions on distant battlefields, in far-off caves, or maybe even in cities closer to home, and transmit detailed data back to their handlers at US military bases.

I thought they were showing up early this year.

This Blog Sucks?

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Some Say

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Another lad who needs to get around a little more notes in a post entitled, (emboldened for Republicans,) Cain & Abel, LLC

Mike Flugennock passed this along, from the Washington Times of all places:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080403/NATION/153270729/1002

Blog bickering called poison to Democrats

Some say acrimony is rampant among liberal and progressive bloggers who debate the merits of the Democratic presidential candidates…. the divisiveness potentially exacting a toll on the party itself.

Much more fun is Moulitsas’ po-faced comment that “us [sic] progressive bloggers have no problem… disagreeing with each other.” Having been purged from the Kos web site under half a dozen different aliases, I can testify that this is a whopping lie. The relentless tyranny of groupthink on Kos and the other “progressive” blogs makes the Gulag look like Liberty Hall. Debate, such as it is, occurs out at the fifth or sixth decimal place.

That’s why I like my criticism, as it always warranted, accurate, and devoid of hyperbole.

And why I didn’t say anything about his criticism of the Washington Times.

Lindsay Graham Reminds Me

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Iraq is part of the war on Terra. Yeah, it wasn’t before you boneheads invaded and occupied it, but that is distinction with difference.

Now Iraq is part of the war on Iran too.

It’s Dumsfields fault.

John wants to win it. Iran already has, hence bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb … who’d we say we were bombing?

Second verse same as the first.

I’m Bushco the next I yam I yam. (purposely broken pentameter)

McCain is most highly qualified to be commander in chief.

He\'ll make a most qualified commander in chief

Operation, “Braking Knucklehead,” graphic pinched liberally from DKos

Pesky Persians

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Iran joined militias in battle for Basra

IRANIAN forces were involved in the recent battle for Basra, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, is expected to tell Congress this week.

Military and intelligence sources believe Iranians were operating at a tactical command level with the Shi’ite militias fighting Iraqi security forces; some were directing operations on the ground, they think.

Petraeus intends to use the evidence of Iranian involvement to argue against any reductions in US forces.

The story doesn’t detail whether the Iranians were woking with Mahdi or Badr Brigade militias.

I’m sure the Kagans and Kristols hadn’t planned on this. Heckofa job Billy!

This has been another edition of “If they were half as smart as they think they are, they would be twice as smart as they really are.”

Reality Check For McCain

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

McCain says he’ll take Secret Service protection

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. John McCain has made it very clear he doesn’t want Secret Service protection, but Friday bowed to reality and said he will take it

One observer says Sen. John McCain doesn’t want to be restricted by a security detail.

McCain told Fox News Friday that he will meet with Secret Service officials next week to arrange for protection.

“I think that it’s important as we get more and more visibility, that we recognize the inevitable…we will be talking with them early to arrange for very soon, some Secret Service protection,” McCain told Fox News.

This highlights how irresponsible McCain can really be. You have to wonder sometimes what in the hell is going through his head.

Speed Kills, Kristol’s Math and the Kagans Don’t Add Up

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

It isn’t brought out in the article, but the Kristols and Kagans are just as isolated from the American public as they are from the Iraqi one.

Dave at Small Wars Journal encouraged everyone to read the article by Richard Kohn on the coming crisis in civil-military relations, and Abu Muqawama seconds Dave’s recommendation for this passage alone:

In the civil-military arena, the consequences of even a slowly unraveling debacle in Iraq could be quite ugly. Already, politicians and generals have been pointing fingers at one another; the Democrats and some officers excoriating the administration for incompetence, while the administration and a parade of generals fire back at the press and anti-war Democrats. The truly embittered, like retired Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded in Iraq in 2003­­–04, blame everyone and everything: Bush and his underlings, the civilian bureaucracy, Congress, partisanship, the press, allies, even the American people. Last November, Sanchez went so far as to deliver the Democrats’ weekly radio address—and, with it, more bile and invective. Thomas Ricks, chief military correspondent of the Washington Post, detects a “stab in the back narrative . . . now emerging in the U.S. military in Iraq. . . . [T]he U.S. military did everything it was supposed to do in Iraq, the rest of the U.S. government didn’t show up, the Congress betrayed us, the media undercut us, and the American public lacked the stomach, the nerve, and the will to see it through.” Ricks thinks this “account is wrong in every respect; nonetheless, I am seeing more and more adherents of it in the military.”

It should also be noted IMO that those who have lead the charge into Iraq, and loudly proclaim their patriotism are the very ones who are advancing the stabbed in the back scenario just to cover their sorry asses for being completely and utterly wrong about this war.

It is my fault that Saddass had no WMDs, no connection to 911, and the cake walkers still can’t afford to pay the piper, much less figure out how to stop the music, so that they can sit down and STFU.

These people are hoping to do to internal American affairs what they have accomplished in international affairs, and the MSM appears willing and ready to help them do it. I do not question their patriotism, just their common sense and humanity.

Naval Roviator Demands Apology

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Barbed Remark on McCain Sets Off Campaign Dispute

MISSOULA, Mont. — The campaigns of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama sparred Saturday after Ed Schultz, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who is known for his blunt criticisms of the Bush administration and the Republican Party, called Mr. McCain a “warmonger” at a fund-raiser.

Later, Mr. McCain, speaking to reporters in Prescott, Ariz., said, “Mr. Schultz is entitled to his views.” But he added, “I would hope that in keeping with his commitment, that Senator Obama would condemn such language, since it was part of his campaign.”

Bomb bomb Iran sound familiar to you John?

We have entered into the age of political whining it would appear, with the bonehead extrodinaire demanding that kind retraction. I will apologize to Senator Obama then for telling John McCainanite to please face me and blow it out his arse.

NY Times Discovers Click Troughs

April 6, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

The Already Big Thing on the Internet: Spying on Users

In 1993, the dawn of the Internet age, the liberating anonymity of the online world was captured in a well-known New Yorker cartoon. One dog, sitting at a computer, tells another: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Fifteen years later, that anonymity is gone.

It’s not paranoia: they really are spying on you.

Technology companies have long used “cookies,” little bits of tracking software slipped onto your computer, and other means, to record the Web sites you visit, the ads you click on, even the words you enter in search engines — information that some hold onto forever. They’re not telling you they’re doing it, and they’re not asking permission. Internet service providers are now getting into the act. Because they control your connection, they can keep track of everything you do online, and there have been reports that I.S.P.’s may have started to sell the information they collect.

Now you can too.

A thing to be noted is that government can purchase this stuff just like CNN. (or anyone else for that matter)

UpdateII? More here from slashdot. Deep Packet.

Forget The Tax Returns, Splain This

April 5, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Meanwhile, as if all of this was not enough, Clinton’s credibility problem is going to re-emerge next week as a full-time story with this example of truthiness: Ohio Hospital Contests a Story Clinton Tells

It seems like calling the hospital would have been an easy first step, and in fact, let’s compare and contrast. When your average right-wing blogger wants to prove or disprove something, generally the first thing they do is CONTACT the people in the middle of the situation. Think about that. Either the Clinton campaign didn’t care if the story was true or not, and just wanted to keep telling it, or they are less equipped to get at the truth than your average citizen journalist.

Ouch.

New Faces

April 5, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

General Propaganda Replaces Petraeus In Iraq

April 5, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

There he goes again It seems like only last year we were hearing the party line from the general on the success of the 15 really equals 6 month surge.

British officials gave warning yesterday that America’s commander in Iraq will declare that Iran is waging war against the US-backed Baghdad government.

“Petraeus is going to go very hard on Iran as the source of attacks on the American effort in Iraq,” a British official said. “Iran is waging a war in Iraq. The idea that America can’t fight a war on two fronts is wrong, there can be airstrikes and other moves,” he said.

In remarks interpreted as signalling a change in his approach to Iran, Gen Petraeus last week hit out at the Iranian leadership. “The rockets that were launched at the Green Zone were Iranian-provided, Iranian-made rockets,” he said. “All of this in complete violation of promises made by President Ahmadinejad and the other most senior Iranian leaders to their Iraqi counterparts.”

The are of course some problems with this assessment, one being that the rockets probably haven’t been time stamped and could have been in the hands of the Mahdi militia for years, and the militia’s probably don’t need Iranian permission to shoot them.

The other problem is that the US has steadfastly refused to present any evidence to third parties to verify their claims of Iranian manufacture.

One has to wonder as well at the general’s general obtuseness of American public opinion on the veracity of anything this administration is saying, and its’ motivation for anything that it is doing.

Most of us are aware of Iranian influence in Iraq, given the latest out break of violence and their role in the cease fire, and most of us are aware of US and British involvement in saving the Iraqi army’s bacon in that offense.

Finally all of this ignores Iran’s own self interest. It is never in a third rate military power’s interest to attack a first rate one, or provoke it into one.

The question then is in whose interest would a war with Iran be? We don’t like to go there either, do we?

Olympic Discretion

April 5, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Alway On The Wrong Side Of History

April 4, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

and apparently fairly influential, which is beyond me. Such is life.

As per my previous two posts, it is always incumbent on us to forgive those who are on the wrong side of history. That is our obligation to our God. But God does not require us to be fools, to wait until the obvious is obvious even to those ones.

We are compelled to hear them out, because their wealthy enablers have also been wrong, about the policies, about the framing of the conversation, and about the outcomes and repercussions of those policies. Greed is only good so long as we all agree that disasters are good. I dissent.

Hope Still Lives, The Dream Is Still Alive

April 4, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Amid the tragedy of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, April 4, 1968, an extraordinary moment in U.S. political history occurred as Robert F. Kennedy, younger brother of slain President John F. Kennedy, broke the news of King’s death to a large gathering of African Americans in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The gathering was actually a planned campaign rally for Robert Kennedy in his bid to get the 1968 Democratic nomination for President. Just after he arrived by plane at Indianapolis, Kennedy was told of King’s death. He was advised by police against making the campaign stop which was in a part of the city considered to be a dangerous ghetto. But Kennedy insisted on going.

He arrived to find the people in an upbeat mood, anticipating the excitement of a Kennedy appearance. He climbed onto the platform, and realizing they did not know, broke the news.

Ladies and Gentlemen – I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening. Because…

I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

For those of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

(Interrupted by applause)

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

(Interrupted by applause)

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Robert F. Kennedy – April 4, 1968

McCain Gets This Wrong Too

April 4, 2008 by EZSmirkzz

Maybe in 25 years he can tell us all he didn’t mean it.

John McCain, wrong for America then, wrong for America now.

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