Archive for March 6th, 2008

Is Our Generals Learning?

Yet another brilliant idea from Dubya’s military geniuses:

The [completely destroyed by the Taliban] outpost’s defenders belonged to Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, an 85,000-member tribal militia that, according to the latest Pentagon budget, is set to receive up to $75 million in training and equipment this year, the first injection of what could be more than $400 million to be delivered over the next several years. Beyond this, little is known about the plan, the details of which remain classified. As reported by the New York Times, a 40-page secret document called “Plan for Training the Frontier Corps” is currently being circulated at the U.S. Central Command, awaiting final approval by its commander, Admiral William J. Fallon, and other senior defense officials. The use of the Frontier Corps in the fight against Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan augurs a new approach to dealing with rising Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan’s tribal region. Like U.S. plans to fund it, the Frontier Corps has largely escaped scrutiny, but there are questions about its allegiances, competence, and suitability to the proposed mission. Support for tribal militias has become a centerpiece of the U.S. strategy in Iraq, one that carries with it inherent risks in terms of inadvertently backing potential enemies in the pursuit of short-term security goals. Supporting the Frontier Corps is similarly dicey.

(…)

The idea of arming local tribesmen to fight Al Qaeda has been used to great effect in Iraq, but whether the same approach will work in Pakistan is an open question. “There’s been some talk in FATA about imposing an Anbar-style model in the tribal areas,” said Nicholas Schmidle, an American journalist expelled from Pakistan in January for his reporting on the Taliban, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations event. “The problem is the senior tribal leaders have all been killed, so if you’re going to consider imposing this model, you really have to face the fact that you’re going to take good Taliban to fight against bad Taliban.“…

(…)

…The Frontier Corps—like the Taliban—is comprised largely of Pashtun tribesmen whose politics are likely closer to their would-be adversaries than to America’s. “Look, they’re no more sympathetic toward the United States and our agenda there than any of the other tribal people in that region,” says Weinbaum. Indeed, the notion that the Frontier Corps will become a U.S. ally in the war on terror is thrown into doubt by recent incidents. Take the remarkably brief siege of Fort Sararogha. “We don’t know that there were a great many casualties out of that,” cautions Weinbaum. “And if there weren’t a great many casualties, it suggests that there really wasn’t a lot of heavy fighting. I mean, that probably speaks for itself.” Combine this with “significant numbers of reports of the Frontier Corps providing direct fire support to Taliban offensive operations in the border area,” says Jones, and you get the impression that we’re preparing to provide significant military support “to an organization that is sometimes our friend and sometimes is not.”

Arming a new Taliban to go after our first one – what could possibly go wrong?

1 comment March 6th, 2008 at 09:43pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,War

The Italians Know How To Party

Er, so to speak…

From the “No Garbage” party, to the “Don’t row against the tide” party, to “Dr. Cirillo’s party of existentialist impotents”, there will be something for everyone in Italy’s general election in April.

Nearly 180 symbols of political parties, movements, lists, sub-lists, sub-parties and a myriad of other groupings were presented to the Interior Ministry by Sunday’s deadline.

(…)

The symbol for “Dr. Cirillo’s party of existentialist impotents” — black lettering on a plain white background — gives no hint of whether the good doctor is referring to political or sexual impotence. It is symbol number 132.

Dr. Cirillo appears to be a budding political mover and shaker in constant evolution. In past elections, he led the “Good Manners Party” and the “Free Condoms Party”.

(…)

Those who feel that Italy is in dire economic straits and mired in social stagnation may be drawn to the “S.O.S. Italy Party,” which has aligned itself with the centre right headed by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The name of Beppe Grillo, a popular comic-cum-crusader who has urged Italians to say “F— off” to traditional politics, appears on six symbols, including one saying he should be prime minister and not frontrunners Berlusconi and Walter Veltroni.

Amid all the noise and haste of large parties, tiny parties, Sicilian and Sardinian separatists, rightists, leftists, and middle-of-the-roaders, perhaps one party will sound seductive to many.

Its symbol merely says: “I don’t vote”.

Awesome. All we have are a couple of animals which are looking rather long in the tooth. Or tusk.

I also feel obliged to point out that existentialist impotents wouldn’t need free condoms.

March 6th, 2008 at 08:07pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Elections,Politics,Weirdness

They Must Have Put Neil In Charge…

D’oh!

Carlyle Capital Corp. failed to meet four margin calls yesterday for $37 million, and has received notice of default from its lenders. The fund is the publicly traded arm of the Carlyle Group, the Washington D.C. equity and leveraged buyout firm that lies at the nexus of corporate and governmental power in the U.S. The Carlyle Group is the modern day source of enormous wealth for the Bush family. George H.W. Bush is a shareholder and former board member, as are key members of his administration such as Frank Carlucci, former head of the CIA, and James A. Baker, former Secretary of State. Carlucci ran the Carlyle Group for many years and Baker served as legal counsel. The Carlyle Group is noted for its substantial contacts with governments around the world, especially in the military and intelligence areas….

Carlyle Capital Corp. was formed in July of 2007 with $300 million in publicly-raised capital. It proceeded to borrow $22 billion and invest in Aaa rated agency securities, which are bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These securities have generally been considered tantamount to no-risk U.S. Treasuries, because the agencies are chartered by the U.S. Congress. It is a sign of the increasing depth of the global credit crisis that a fund like Carlyle Capital Corp. is unable to find buyers for such securities to raise cash for margin calls. Similarly, a year ago it would have been unlikely that the fund’s lenders – mostly Wall Street banks – would have been issuing any margin calls against a fund holding such highly rated securities. But Wall Street brokers are now applying steep haircuts against even Aaa rate securities in an attempt to preserve their own liquidity.

(…)

It is now clear that the credit crisis is striking at the very epicenter of business and governmental power in America, and potentially threatening the fortune of the Bush family. For a long time it was assumed that a board seat was being left open for President George W. Bush upon his retirement in 2009, but in recent years that speculation has been dampened since the Carlyle Group requires from its board members a minimum of useful international contacts and some basic business competence.

Heartbreaking news all around. Simply heartbreaking. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like this really has a whole lot of impact on the Carlyle Group itself, which is where the real money is… unless it’s liable for that $22 billion that CCC borrowed, in which case, hoo boy.

March 6th, 2008 at 07:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Economy

Quote Of The Day

I think it works best completely out of context:

I have been asked to give blood for sausage-making and I want to know if this is against regulations.

The context is exactly what it sounds like, actually.

(h/t OFF/beat)

March 6th, 2008 at 05:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Quotes

The Magical AUMF

Oh, AUMF – is there anything you can’t do?

The Bush administration yesterday advanced a new argument for why it does not require congressional approval to strike a long-term security agreement with Iraq, stating that Congress had already endorsed such an initiative through its 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein.

The 2002 measure, along with the congressional resolution passed one week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks authorizing military action “to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States,” permits indefinite combat operations in Iraq, according to a statement by the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs.

The statement came in response to lawmakers’ demands that the administration submit to Congress for approval any agreement with Iraq. U.S. officials are traveling to Baghdad this week with drafts of two documents — a status-of-forces agreement and a separate “strategic framework” — that they expect to sign with the Iraqi government by the end of July. It is to go into effect when the current U.N. mandate expires Dec. 31.

Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.), whose questions at a House hearing Tuesday elicited the administration statement, described it as an “open-ended, never-ending authority for the administration to be at war in Iraq forever with no limitations.” The conditions of 2002 no longer exist, he said.

“I don’t think anybody argues today that Saddam Hussein is a threat,” he said. “Is it the government of Iraq that’s a threat?”

(…)

According to yesterday’s statement, the administration’s interpretation of the 2002 resolution is that “Congress expressly authorized the use of force to ‘defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.’ ”

In a letter to Ackerman, Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey T. Bergner said that authority exists with or without a U.N. mandate. In addition to the resolutions, he wrote, “Congress has repeatedly provided funding for the Iraq war.” Democrats have failed in several attempts to curtail funding for the Iraq war.

Okay, that last paragraph isn’t even an argument – it’s just the administration talking smack. I don’t see where they make the case that Iraq is a continuing threat to our national security, and that it will remain so indefinitely. Are they admitting that Teh Surge is a failure?

(h/t TeddySanFran)

1 comment March 6th, 2008 at 11:22am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Iraq,War

Signs And Light Photoblogging

Today’s photo selection is kind of an overlap of the two categories, as you shall see:

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First, it’s the back of a sign…

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Then it’s a sign with a light in it…

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And then it’s just some light. Mmm… Light…

March 6th, 2008 at 07:37am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh


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