Archive for March 28th, 2007

So?

I suppose I should be impressed…

Since taking over the Department of Defense at the end of last year, Robert Gates has gotten kudos for what he has done, demanding responsibility for mistakes like the Walter Reed debacle and the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s death.  He is also known to have wanted to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo as a way of helping the United States recover some of its lost credibility in the Muslim world.

But Gates has also been getting quiet credit for something he hasn’t done: push hard on Iran, not raising the temperature in a time of crisis. In particular, Gates has distanced himself from some of the harshest criticism of Iranian operations in Iraq and pushed back on rhetoric calling for military solutions to U.S. problems in the Persian Gulf. Most prominently, on the supply of explosives technology, Gates has declined to point the finger of responsibility at the Iranian government, something his own Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey, has done.

(…)

Gates is also on the record as being opposed to those in the White House and elsewhere in Washington who think the Iranian issue can best be resolved by working with Iranian dissidents to overthrow the current regime.

(…)

NBC News military analyst Bill Arkin also pointed to Gates’ appointment of Admiral William Fallon as the head of Central Command as evidence that the new secretary of defense is not going to be calling for extreme measures. Appointment of a Navy admiral, the first for Centcom, indicated to some a readiness to go to war with Iran. Fallon himself has disputed such a characterization.

Arkin said the reverse is true.

“Fallon is a détente-ist,” Arkin says. “Like Gates, he believes more in diplomacy. That is the story here, not his being a Navy admiral.”

This is all well and good, and Gates is certainly a refreshing change of pace from his insane predecessor, but ultimately it’s just not his call. If Dubya wants war with Iran, which I think he does, then it really doesn’t matter where Gates stands on the subject. He might resign in protest, but I’m sure Frederick Kagan or John Bolton would be happy to take his place…

March 28th, 2007 at 10:45pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iran,Republicans,War

Heh.

The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin has a bit of fun while quoting the preznit’s latest wankery:

“Some Democrats believe that by delaying funding for our troops, they can force me to accept restrictions on our commanders that I believe would make withdrawal and defeat more likely,” Bush said in a belligerent speech to a boisterous bunch of beef barons this morning. “That’s not going to happen. . . .

“The clock is ticking for our troops in the field,” he added. “If Congress fails to pass a bill to fund our troops on the front lines, the American people will know who to hold responsible.”

Granted, I’m no political expert, but I could have sworn that bothhouses of Congress passed funding bills – Dubya is the one who promised to veto them.

I have to wonder if Dubya might be having an “Oh shit” moment, or if he still expects to lie and brazen his way out of this one. Probably the latter – kinda reminds me of someone…

3 comments March 28th, 2007 at 05:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Iraq,Politics,War

Creative Solutions For The Modern Age

Didn’t see this one coming…

It wasn’t your typical fire. When police responded to a report that something smelled of smoke in the middle of the night, they found an old school bus that had been converted into a supersized oven for Passover matzos _ complete with a smokestack, exhaust fans and working fire.

A building inspector said that while the bakery bus wasn’t nearly up to code, it was “very creative.”

The derelict red-and-white bus, connected by a plywood passageway to a single-family house, was out of sight of casual passers-by in a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood and had apparently escaped the notice of authorities.

Its owner, Rabbi Aaron Winternitz, said Monday he had been making the unleavened bread there for three Passovers and was eager to do the same this year, with Passover coming up in a week.

(…)

He said that the oven-in-a-bus was his invention, and that he purposely bought an old school bus because “school buses are made strong and safe.”

I have nothing to add to this.

March 28th, 2007 at 05:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Weirdness

Let’s Do The Time Warp Again…

Harold Meyerson wonders just WTF the Republicans are thinking:

The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli.

(…)

During last year’s congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal of time and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would become one big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. The Republicans’ message didn’t really impress the public, and apparently it didn’t reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election, they have continued merrily along with their mission to politicize every governmental function and agency as if their allies still controlled Congress, as if the election hadn’t happened.

Clearly, they had grown accustomed to the Congress of the past six years, whose oversight policy towards the administration was “Anything Goes.” But their total and apparently ongoing inability to shift gears once the Democrats had taken control — with an oversight policy that could be summarized as “You Did WHAT?” — is mind-boggling.

Democrats such as Waxman clearly had planned to hold hearings on the administration’s hitherto-unexamined follies of the past six years. Instead, the most high-profile investigations they’re conducting concern administration follies of the past five months, since they won the election.

(…)

[C]ongressional Republicans were knocked into the minority last November because voters had sickened of their lockstep support for Bush’s war. Clearly, they will be knocked a good deal further into the minority if that support continues.

So what are they doing to respond to this dire state of affairs? They’re continuing their support. And they’re continuing, in the Senate, to obstruct popular and overdue domestic measures such as a raise in the minimum wage, though polling confirms not just overwhelming support for that particular measure but also growing concern over the rise of economic inequality and a growing repudiation of the Republican positions on both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Meyerson then offers four possible explanations for why the Republicans are so staggeringly out of touch: They’re hoping for a clean-handed outsider presidential candidate like Rudy to save them; they plan to obstruct everything and then blame Democrats for the lack of progress; they’ve come to believe their own hype; and/or they’re simply incapable of good government.

I’m not sold on that first one, but the other three all sound very plausible. Some other possibilities that came to mind:

Desperation. The Republicans need all the extra help they can get in 2008, so they’re taking more risks to stack the deck in their favor. Or maybe it’s a calculated strategy to distract the Mean Oversight People away from much, much worse offenses committed when they thought their oversight-free majority would be eternal.

Arrogance. The media has been so tame, and so willing to ignore, softpedal, or spin damaging storylines that the Republicans think they can get away with murder. And if not for the blogosphere (and Pat Leahy), they would have.

Meanness. In-your-face bullying is just What They Do.

Fear. Maybe it’s not so much that they believe the extremist right-wing hype, as that they’re afraid their own hypers will turn on them if they try to move to the center.

Rep Van Winkle. They just can’t accept that it’s not late 2001/early 2002 anymore, and that Dubya no longer has a 90%, blank check approval rating.

They’re just stupid.

7 comments March 28th, 2007 at 11:51am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Elections,Iraq,Politics,Republicans,Uncategorized

Running Out Of Friends

Looks like the Saudis aren’t Dubya’s BFF anymore:

[Bush’s] decision to schedule a mid-April White House gala for Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah signified the president’s high regard for an Arab monarch who is also a Bush family friend.

Now the White House ponders what Abdullah’s sudden and sparsely explained cancellation of the dinner signifies. Nothing good — especially for Condoleezza Rice’s most important Middle East initiatives — is the clearest available answer.

(…)

Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security adviser, flew to Washington last week to explain to Bush that April 17 posed a scheduling problem. ” ‘It is not convenient’ was the way it was put,” says one official.

But administration sources report that Bush and his senior advisers were not convinced by Bandar’s vagueness — especially since it followed Saudi decisions to seek common ground with Iran and the radicals of Hezbollah and Hamas instead of confronting them as part of Rice’s proposed “realignment” of the Middle East into moderates and extremists.

(…)

Abdullah gave a warm welcome to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Riyadh in early March, not long after the Saudis pressured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas into accepting a political accord that entrenches Hamas in an unwieldy coalition government with Abbas’s Fatah movement.

“The Saudis surprised us by going that far,” explained one White House official in a comment that reached — and irritated — Saudi officials. So don’t count on Abdullah to put new force behind his long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative at the Arab summit scheduled this week in Riyadh.

(…)[T]he Saudis, too, know how to read election returns. They see Bush swimming against a tide of scandal and stench that engulfs his most trusted aides. In the traditional Saudi worldview, this is a moment to hedge, not to indulge in the kind of leadership needed to break the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock or the deadly morass of Iraq.

In other words, the Saudis are not going to stick their necks out for a very lame duck, and they clearly want no part of Bush’s desire to provoke a war with Iran, which is understandable.

The lesson here is a simple one, and it applies to more than just foreign policy: If you’re going to be an asshole all the time, don’t expect anyone to have your back unless it’s convenient for them. The Saudis are frantically waving their hands in front of them and saying, “No no no, we’re not with the crazy guy! He’s our buddy’s kid!”

March 28th, 2007 at 11:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iran,Iraq,War

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

New frontiers in medicine:

BALTIMORE, Md. — According to holistic anesthesiologist Biff Swarmer, patients would be better off with a little ‘rap’ music.

“Under traditional anesthesia, patients can’t even breathe on their own,” Dr. Swarmer explained. “My method — pummeling them into unconsciousness — is safer and much more empowering.

“For me,” he laughed, “‘out patient’ has a very different meaning.

Dr. Swarmer perfected his new pain-management method on the rough streets of Baltimore.

“The first application of my ‘Healing Fists’ technique was actually in dentistry,” he said. “My patients appreciated the efficiency of removing consciousness and teeth simultaneously.”

The technique proved so successful that mainstream surgeons began asking for Dr. Swarmer’s help with major procedures from heart bypasses to neurosurgery.

“That presented a new challenge,” Dr. Swarmer said. “These operations required patients to be out for much longer than a count of ten.”

The two-fisted anesthesiologist was forced to create new blows to accomplish longer periods of stupor. He developed and employed techniques ranging from the Vulcanized Nerve Pinch, which is rendered with a rubber blackjack to the base of the skull, to the more elegant ‘LIFE’ — Left Index Finger Extension.

“I simply point at something,” Dr. Swarmer said. “When the patient looks, I clock them in the snot box with a roundhouse right.”

However, Dr. Swarmer’s partnership with conventional doctors hasn’t entirely relieved him of a reliance on traditional tools of the trade.

“I do keep an IV drip in my office,” he admitted, “but that’s so I can work the bag to warm up for surgery.”

It certainly sounds cheaper…

March 28th, 2007 at 06:46am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News


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