Okay, sure, I can sort of buy Krugman and Lemieux’s premise that horrible ideas like austerity, torture, and endless war all stem from the same macho impulse to to prove oneself a Manly Serious Man Of Action Who Can Make The Hard Choices, but why is it that it always seems to be someone else who pays the price for those “hard choices”?
It’s kinda hard to respect the machismo and courage of a pundit or politician who calls upon complete strangers to make sacrifices instead of themselves or their family, friends, or peers. If I saw Cheney and Dubya personally ducking bullets in Baghdad, or Paul Ryan urging tax increases for himself and his wealthy benefactors as the first step to shrink the deficit, then I would be impressed.
Maybe Atrios has it right after all, and they really are sadists.
From a HuffPo story about how the peculiar Mormon practice of retroactively “baptizing” dead people (often Jews) as Mormons might affect the Florida GOP primary:
Any Mormon may baptize any person posthumously. Church members have performed the ritual on Buddha, Catholic popes, 9/11 hijackers, William Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, Elvis Presley, President Obama’s mother and even reportedly Jesus Christ.
So… That means that it was Mormons who attacked the United States on 9/11. I can only assume Dubya didn’t know about this, otherwise he might have tried to invade Catholicism.
1 commentJanuary 26th, 2012 at 07:19amPosted by Eli
Because, after all, without Dubya’s decision to use military force against terrorism, we never would have killed bin Laden… with a small strike force in a heavily-fortified compound in a military town in a country we didn’t invade.
Why is it that the Cheney Doctrine dictates that “If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response”, yet we need a 99.99% level of certainty that climate change will completely disrupt the world as we know it before we can take even the most modest and incremental steps to reduce carbon emissions?
2 commentsFebruary 2nd, 2011 at 11:32amPosted by Eli
LIEBERMAN: …the evidence is very clear that [Saddam] was developing weapons of mass destruction…Charles Duelfer conducted the most comprehensive report on behalf of our government…he found, and proved I think, that Saddam…was developing chemical and biological weapons.
Lieberman followed up this embarrassing performance with snide condescension toward Arianna Huffington, who was also on the program:
HUFFINGTON: Well, based on this completely unfounded assumption, I sincerely hope for the sake of the country that you do not become Secretary of Defense.LIEBERMAN: Now Arianna, these are not unfounded. Go read the Duelfer Report.
HUFFINGTON: There is nothing in the report that proves anything that you have said.
LIEBERMAN: I don’t think you’ve read it, sweetheart.
Wow. That is a virtuoso performance right there. Good fucking riddance to this evil tool. (Click through for more detail on just how dishonest Lieberman is about WMDs and the Duelfer report)
Floyd Abrams, comparing the WikiLeaks cables to the Pentagon Papers:
In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg decided to make available to the New York Times (and then to other newspapers) 43 volumes of the Pentagon Papers, the top- secret study prepared for the Department of Defense examining how and why the United States had become embroiled in the Vietnam conflict. But he made another critical decision as well. That was to keep confidential the remaining four volumes of the study describing the diplomatic efforts of the United States to resolve the war.
Not at all coincidentally, those were the volumes that the government most feared would be disclosed. In a secret brief filed with the Supreme Court, the U.S. government described the diplomatic volumes as including information about negotiations secretly conducted on its behalf by foreign nations including Canada, Poland, Italy and Norway. Included as well, according to the government, were “derogatory comments about the perfidiousness of specific persons involved, and statements which might be offensive to nations or governments.”
The diplomatic volumes were not published, even in part, for another dozen years. Mr. Ellsberg later explained his decision to keep them secret, according to Sanford Ungar’s 1972 book “The Papers & The Papers,” by saying, “I didn’t want to get in the way of the diplomacy.”
Julian Assange sure does. Can anyone doubt that he would have made those four volumes public on WikiLeaks regardless of their sensitivity? Or that he would have paid not even the slightest heed to the possibility that they might seriously compromise efforts to bring a speedier end to the war?
Can anyone tell me which war Assange has delayed the end of? Was there anything in the diplomatic cables he released that will prolong our occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan?
1 commentDecember 30th, 2010 at 07:07amPosted by Eli
Swanson also reminds us how very much more Europeans get in return for their supposedly crushing tax burden, and how much we’re being hurt by our politicians’ stubborn refusal to even contemplate cutting our massive defense budget instead of Social Security.
General James Mattis, the current head of the US Joint Forces Command and who previously led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, had widely been tipped as the next head of Central Command. President Barack Obama must formalise the nomination, which then goes to Congress for approval.
“You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”
Centcom, as it is known, oversees operations in a volatile swathe of the world that covers 20 countries and stretches from Egypt across the Middle East and into south and central Asia.
Robert Gates, the defence secretary, praised the four-star general as “one of the military’s most innovative and iconoclastic thinkers.”
Mr Gates also dismissed concerns about his 2005 comments, saying Mattis had learned his lesson.
Gen Mattis was reprimanded at the time by the Marine Corps for telling a conference in San Diego, California: “It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you, I like brawling.”
During a discussion panel he said: “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil.
Fantastic. So out gays can’t serve in the military at all, but out sociopaths can become four-star generals and be put in charge of two simultaneous wars.
If I had to guess at the turning point at which Glenn Beck began to have serious doubts about war and out-of-control military spending, I would bet that it was the inauguration of Barack Obama. And as soon as we get a Republican warmonger back in the White House, I expect he will suddenly be okay with it again.
3 commentsApril 20th, 2010 at 11:22amPosted by Eli
If the Catholic Church were as tolerant and protective toward gays as they are toward pedophiles, same-sex marriage would be legal in every state by now.
And if it were as committed to peace and compassion as it is to outlawing abortions, we probably wouldn’t have invaded Iraq, and the healthcare reform bill would have contained a public option at the very least.
While defending the administration’s handling of Iraq, Rove concedes that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction damaged the administration’s credibility. And he blames himself for failing to set the record straight.
“When the pattern of the Democratic attacks became apparent in July 2003, we should have countered in a forceful and overwhelming way,” he writes. “We should have seen this for what it was: a poison-tipped dagger aimed at the heart of the Bush presidency.”
If only he had done more to convince America that Iraq really did have WMDs. Maybe he should have given Dubya’s little “Where are the WMDs?” sketch a happy ending or something.
Hey, remember all those no-bid contracts to reconstruct Iraq, and all the shoddy work by connected profiteers like Halliburton & KBR? The Iraqis do.
Iraq’s Baghdad Trade Fair ended Tuesday, six years and a trillion dollars after the American invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, and one country was conspicuously absent.
That would be the country that spent a trillion dollars — on the invasion and occupation, but also on training and equipping Iraqi security forces, and on ambitious reconstruction projects in every province aimed at rebuilding the country and restarting the economy.
Yet when the post-Saddam Iraqi government swept out its old commercial fairgrounds and invited companies from around the world, the United States was not much in evidence among the 32 nations represented. Of the 396 companies that exhibited their wares, “there are two or three American participants, but I can’t remember their names,” said Hashem Mohammed Haten, director general of Iraq’s state fair company….
American companies are not seeing much lasting benefit from their country’s investment in Iraq. Some American businesses have calculated that the high security costs and fear of violence make Iraq a business no-go area. Even those who are interested and want to come are hampered by American companies’ reputation here for overcharging and shoddy workmanship, an outgrowth of the first years of the occupation, and a lasting and widespread anti-Americanism.
Apparently the Iraqis are not stupid. Who knew?
1 commentNovember 13th, 2009 at 07:01amPosted by Eli
The Obama administration has objected to a provision in the 2010 defense funding bill currently before the Senate that would bar the military’s use of contractors to interrogate detainees.
The provision, strongly backed by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), describes interrogations as an “inherently governmental function” that “cannot be transferred to contractor personnel.” It would give the Defense Department one year from the bill’s enactment to ensure that the military had the resources to comply with it.
Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “are as serious as a heart attack on this,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.
Fantastic. Because that whole contract interrogators idea worked out sooo well.
This moment, in which the Attorney General of the United States claims to be considering the possibility of allowing our laws against torture to be enforced seems a good one in which to reveal that I have seen over 1,200 torture photos and a dozen videos that are in the possession of the United States military. These are photographs depicting torture, the victims of torture, and other inhuman and degrading treatment. Several videos show a prisoner intentionally slamming his head face-first very hard into a metal door. Guards filmed this from several angles rather than stopping it.
Were these Abu Ghraib photos all made public, but those from other times and places kept hidden, and were we unaware of the executive orders, Justice Department memos, presidential signing statements, congressional reports, Red Cross reports, presidential and vice presidential televised confessions, and so forth, the military could still claim this was the isolated work of a few “bad apples”. But we would have a better understanding of what that work was. And making these images available to the public, or merely to a special prosecutor, would suggest an interest in seeking accountability for those responsible but not present in the photographs. On the other hand, hiding the evidence while prosecuting the soldiers who posed in some of the photos looks increasingly like scapegoating for the benefit of the Military Intelligence, CIA, and contractors who instructed the soldiers, as well as the commanders all the way up to the Secretary of Defense who encouraged torture, the lawyers who sought to provide immunity, and the president and vice president who gave the authorizations….
I very much hope that AG Holder is allowed to pursue his investigation into this, but given the administration’s stance on contractors, it’s pretty hard to imagine that he won’t find some excuse to avoid it, or else just quietly drop it or turn it into a whitewash.
Obama is doing a really piss-poor job of earning my trust. In fact, at this point it would be more accurate to say that he’s earning my distrust.
1) The Coleman campaign kinda reminds me of the invasion of Iraq. They declared victory prematurely, pissed off the natives, and poured massive quantities of money and resources down a black hole rather than admit defeat. Of course, in this case the only fatalities were Norm’s political career, and maybe Tim Pawlenty’s.
2) Looking forward to the Republicans caterwauling about how the MN Supreme Court engaged in judicial activism by declaring the candidate with the most votes to be the winner.
3) Looking foward to Harry Reid explaining why you just can’t get anything done without 67 votes in the Senate.
Democrats plan a July 4th ad campaign to punish House Republicans who voted against the $100-plus billion Iraq and Afghanistan war supplemental — emulating GOP attacks against John Kerry and other Dems who voted against Bush war bills.
A series of 60-second radio ads will run during drive time from July 1 through July 8, according to a script provided to POLITICO — and they have the support-our-troops ring of GOP spots.
They’ll target seven Republicans seen as vulnerable in ’10, including Reps. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa..), Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), Mike McCaul (R-Texas), Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.).
The Terry script:
Around here, we recognize Independence Day with parades … and picnics … maybe a few fireworks. But July Fourth is about more than that.
It’s about remembering those who fought for our freedoms. And those still fighting today.
Congressman Lee Terry used to understand that.
When George Bush asked, Congressman Terry voted to fully fund our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And, last year he said, quote, “We must give our military every resource it needs.”
Seems like Congressman Terry is playing politics now …
Last month Congressman Terry voted AGAINST funding for those same troops.
It’s true: vote No. 348 – you can look it up.
“Republicans never hesitated to criticize those who voted against the previous supplemental bills that included funding for the troops, but now that they are trying to score political points, Republicans’ votes have conveniently changed,” said DCCC executive director Jon Vogel.
Yes, I appreciate the “Were you lying then or are you lying now” gotcha here, but do the Democrats really want to brand themselves as the Stay-In-Iraq-Forever Party? They could have easily circumvented that pitfall – and secured a lot more progressive Democrat votes – by simply including a withdrawal timeline, but they didn’t, and I still don’t understand why. After all, Obama did provide such a timeline during his presidential campaign, is it no longer operative now? Why raise doubts about his stated commitment to get us out of Iraq, especially when it came so close to making the supplemental unpassable?
Of course, even if the supplemental hadn’t been written by morons ($108 billion to bail out the IMF? WTF?), we’re still left with the Democratic Party embracing the GOP’s voting-against-war-funding/war-prolonging-is-like-personally-shooting-the-troops-in-the-head framing. And while there is some poetic justice to seeing Republicans hoist by their own petard, it’s really not an argument our side should be validating. I can’t wait to see the 2010 campaigns against Terry et al. where the Democratic challengers make a big deal about how the Republicans refused to vote to prolong the war. I’m sure that’ll go over well.
1) Considering that Iran’s presidency is rather circumscribed and the Ayatollahs are the ones calling the shots, why are they letting a contested election stir up revolutionary fervor like this? The religious rulers used to allow toothless ineffectual moderates and “reformers” to be president to keep the people happy, why not now? Do they like Ahmadinejad that much? Do they want to send a message that their people haven’t gone soft over Obama? Or is there something else at stake that I’m completely missing? I just can’t believe that Ahmadinejad’s upside is worth the fire they’re playing with.
2) I know it’s kind of a moot point now, but since so many progressive representatives pledged not to vote for any Iraq supplemental that didn’t include a timeline for withdrawal… why didn’t Obama include one? He already presented a 16-month timeframe for withdrawal during his campaign, so why not put it in the supplemental to make it easier for progressives to vote Yea?
3) How is it that the same Republicans who wailed about how the Democrats weren’t supporting our troops every time they voted against a supplemental are doing the exact same thing now that it’s a Democratic president asking for the money. They’re still the same troops, right?
4) How is it that the possibility of 50-100 million people fleeing to a public healthcare plan the first chance they got is a flaw in the public option and not an indictment of the crapitude of our health insurance industry?
From its inception, the TARP never made much sense. Forcing banks that did not need money to accept government bailouts was simply irrational.
The basis for the TARP went through several differing rationales — it began as a recapitalization of the major money center banks, then came the explanation of removing toxic assets, then it moved to freeing up credit and making banks lend again.
Its was $700 billion dollar pile of money in search of a justification for its existence.
So, in other words, it was a lot like the Iraqupation, only cheaper.
(Ritholtz’s theory, by the way, is that the whole thing was a smokescreen to bail out Citigroup. Which I think is kinda paranoid – I think the goal was simply to give lots of money to the banking industry, but some of the recipients later decided that they didn’t need it, and that it was more trouble than it was worth.)
If only there were some way to reduce suicides among our combat troops – but how?
For more than two hours, Chiarelli, Army personnel chief Lt. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle and a roomful of other generals combed through the facts surrounding a dozen of the Army’s latest suicides, with commanders from Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa and bases throughout the United States participating in a video teleconference.
Such meetings are one piece of a broader effort to arrest the Army’s rising suicide rate, which has surged to record levels in the past year. In 2008, 140 soldiers on active duty took their own lives, continuing a trend in which the number of suicides has increased more than 60 percent since 2003, surpassing the rate for the general U.S. population.
To deal with the problem, the Army has added to the ranks of mental health and substance abuse counselors. The service also required all units to cease operations for two to four hours to talk about suicide prevention in February and March.
Chiarelli’s monthly meetings are the Army’s way of sleuthing out patterns and identifying new policies to deal with the trend. In the most recent meeting, conducted last week, commanders were brutally candid about what went wrong — a mental health screener who missed signs of distress; the failure to take notice when a normally reliable infantryman with three combat tours didn’t show up for an Army school; the dangerous interactions of drugs, dispensed to help soldiers deal with combat stress, with caffeine and alcohol.
It’s too bad there isn’t some easily identifiable root cause behind this alarming trend…
Many soldiers are now in the midst of their third or fourth combat tour, and Army surveys show that mental health deteriorates with each one. Senior Army officials said they are focusing more resources, including extra mental health counselors, where troops are returning from multiple deployments. This year, Fort Campbell, Ky., which is home to the frequently deployed 101st Airborne Division, has had 14 suicides.
“We probably don’t know how many mental health care providers we need after eight years of war and three and four deployments,” Chiarelli said.
I guess it’ll always be a mystery.
(Am I the only one who thinks this is like reading about managers at an unshielded nuclear power plant trying to figure out how to reduce the incidences of cancer among their staff?)
The U.S. Army paid “tens of millions of dollars in bonuses” to KBR Inc, its biggest contractor in Iraq, even after it concluded the firm’s electrical work had put U.S. soldiers at risk, according to a source close to a U.S. congressional investigation.
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee plans to hold a hearing on Wednesday to examine KBR’s operations in Iraq, and question why the Army rewarded the Houston-based company.
The panel says KBR has been linked to at least two, and as many as five, electrocution deaths of U.S. soldiers and contractors in Iraq due to “shoddy work.”
Investigators believe hundreds of other soldiers may have received electrical shocks, the source added. The Army is investigating.
Military reports have criticized KBR’s work in Iraq in recent years. Yet afterward, the company received “tens of millions of dollars in bonuses,” said the source, who declined to be identified.
“We want to know why,” the source said.
Um… bonuses are supposed to be a reward for exemplary work, right? Perhaps the military has adopted the same standards as the corporate world applies to executives. Electrocute some troops, run a company into the ground, good job, here’s your bonus.
I hope the committee invites some family members of troops who were electrocuted – I’m sure they’ll be very interested in hearing why that warranted a financial reward.
And all this time, I thought suffering was a bad thing:
Suffering is a gift, not a problem. It’s temporal happiness that’s a curse. When life is easy and unthreatened, the cancer of self-centered contentment can take over our spiritual life. When that happens, suffering is the greatest gift that God can impart to us.
Isn’t it ironic that our happiness-seeking American culture is doing all in its power to avoid suffering–the true source of blessing? We even do it through bailouts, and printing endless streams of fiat money. We want happiness without difficulty, the good life without pain. But that pursuit will also mean life without God, character, heaven, or true peace. Self-centered worldly avoidance of pain is killing our spiritual and corporate life. Only the gift of suffering can awaken us and point us to the true source of blessedness.
Okay, I’m sold: Suffering is Teh Awesome. But why should its benefits be limited to ordinary citizens and those lucky duckies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Hellraiser movies? Shouldn’t the upper classes be allowed to share in its blessings too? Surely we owe them some tax increases at the very least. True, it might deprive the lower and middle classes of some of their suffering, but they’ve had so much that they can afford to sacrifice a little for the sake of fairness.
And what about those noble heroes who have selflessly spread so much suffering to so many? They’re entitled to a better reward than the curse of wealth, power, and permanent comfort. Surely we can give the Masters Of The Universe who crashed the economy the gift of unemployment or at least steep pay cuts – maybe even jail time for the truly worthy. And it would be churlish not to offer the torturers and war architects of the Bush administration prolonged prison sentences as a token of appreciation for all the concentrated suffering they’ve bestowed upon the world.
Of course, their natural modesty and humility will require them to protest this largesse as simply too generous, but we really must insist. It’s the least we can do for them after all they’ve done for us.
As I’ve said before, the fact that torture does not provide actionable intelligence was never a deterrent for the Bush administration, since they were a lot more interested in propagandizable intelligence. False confessions are what torture gets you, and that’s just exactly what BushCo. wanted:
“There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used,” the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.
“The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”
It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubeida at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Mohammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document.
Amazingly enough, Zubeida and KSM were able to resist – possibly because they had no idea what their torturers were talking about. And in the end, it didn’t really matter, since we ended up invading Iraq anyway.
In an interview set to air over the weekend on CNN’s D. L. Hughley Breaks the News, Ari Fleischer admits that the Bush administration was wrong to claim that Saddam Hussein had WMD in the lead up to the Iraq war, but still insists that Saddam was at fault for the war. “Saddam was the big liar here,” Fleischer concludes:
FLEISCHER: We were wrong about weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq. […]
HUGHLEY: When you found out that you were wrong, how did that make you feel?
FLEISCHER: You just scratch your head and say, “How could we be wrong?” It wasn’t just us that thought he had weapons of mass destruction. The Egyptians thought it, the French thought it, the Germans thought it the United Nations thought it, Bill Clinton’s CIA though it. We all thought it. Saddam was the big liar here.
Yeah, Saddam was a big fat liar who cunningly tricked the US into invading his country and executing him by saying that he didn’t have WMDs when, in reality… he didn’t have WMDs. Brilliant.
Funny how when they passed an Iraq funding bill that mandated a withdrawal timetable, Democrats were troop-hating obstructionists for passing a bill they knew Bush wouldn’t sign, but now Obama and the Democrats will be unreasonable failures if they can’t craft a workable stimulus bill that Republicans will vote for (which is probably an oxymoron). In other words, regardless of who’s in power, Democrats’ responsibility is to give Republicans what they want.
This really is an ideal situation for the Republicans. Their skillset is best suited to running the country into the ground, which is a political negative when they’re in control of the government, but a political positive when they aren’t. As long as the media can sustain the narrative that everything that goes wrong is due to Obama’s failure of leadership and unwillingness to reach across the aisle to compromise with those oh-so-reasonable Republicans, the GOP could score big in 2010 and 2012, assuming that there’s still a United States left to regain control of.