Posts filed under 'Iraq'

Wait, Which Country Was He Talking About Again?

Dubya gets right to the heart of the problem in his farewell address:

The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God, and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.

I think he might be exaggerating a little bit about conservatives marking unbelievers for murder, but otherwise I think he’s spot on.

January 16th, 2009 at 09:45pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Racism,Religion,Republicans,Sexism,Teh Gay,War

Wait… What?

Amid the usual pathetic attempt at legacy-laundering by – hmm, if it’s Tuesday it must be Condi, there was this bizarre little tidbit that she threw in as some kind of evidence of what a huge success Free Democratic Iraq is:

Arguing that Iraq shows signs of becoming an inclusive state — it even “declared Christmas a national holiday” — Rice said that if the country eventually emerges as a democratic, multiethnic state that has friendly ties with the United States, “that will be more important than what anybody thought in 2002 or 2003.”

Um, is Iraq making Christmas a national holiday really a sign of Super Awesome Democratic Inclusiveness, or is it more of a dead giveaway of the degree to which it is nothing more than a wholly-owned subsidiary client-state of the U.S.?

January 13th, 2009 at 06:55pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Foreign Policy,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers

It’s On.

Holy crap.

Looks like Israel has decided to invade Gaza to try to take out Hamas once and for all, and too bad for anyone else who happens to be living there.  I guess they were inspired by how well our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq went, and how effective they were at neutralizing terrorism.  Because if there’s one thing we’ve proven, it’s that nothing succeeds like unchecked brutality, right?

Israel has fallen into a trap similar to the one the Bush administration fell into with al Qaeda: elevating their enemies into an existential threat.  Of course, in Israel’s case, Hamas is a democratically-elected government which actually showed some willingness to negotiate.  They are not al Qaeda, and they are not the second coming of Nazi Germany.

But if they weren’t implacable enemies of Israel before, I’m pretty sure they are now – and unlike al Qaeda and the U.S., they’re right next door. Violence will only beget more violence, and death will only beget more death.

Today is a sad and tragic day for Palestine, but the future will be sad and tragic for both Palestine and Israel.

3 comments January 3rd, 2009 at 02:15pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Iraq,Terrorism,War

Carrots And Honey

Still more evidence that while torture may be satisfying to sadists and useful to propagandists, it’s as ineffective as it is immoral:

In response to Steve’s probing questions, Naji proudly explained that his father was grooming him to be a mujahedin and a future leader of Al Qaeda. He also said that his father took him to important meetings.

A veteran interrogator the night before had told us we “should show the little punk who’s in charge.” This was the attitude of many of the old guard, the interrogators who had been at Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan and Iraq early in the war, when the “gloves were off.” They mocked those of us who didn’t imitate their methods of interrogation, which were based on fear and control. There was tremendous peer pressure to follow in their footsteps and not appear soft on our enemies.

We ignored the pressure. We believed that, particularly with a child, interviewing rather than interrogation got better results. Steve had been trained in interviewing children, and he used those skills with Naji, gently stroking the child’s ego and noting that he must have been a very important boy to have attended meetings. Soon, Naji started rattling off places where meetings had taken place. He detailed who was at the gatherings, how many guns were stored at the houses, what was discussed and what plans were made. Naji talked because Steve was sympathetic and made him feel good.

From the information he provided, it was clear that Naji’s father had been a mid- to high-level Al Qaeda leader with connections throughout Yousifiya and Al Anbar province. By the time the interview ended after an hour, Steve had filled up pages in his notebook with detailed information about Naji’s father’s network.

Back in our office, Steve and I marveled at all the intelligence Naji had provided — the names, the locations. He’d pinpointed the better part of Al Qaeda’s operations around Yousifiya. In the two weeks that followed, our soldiers put this information to good use and took out a significant portion of Al Qaeda’s suicide-bombing network in the area. For two weeks, violence dropped and many lives were saved.


Good interrogation is not an exercise in domination or control. It’s an opportunity for negotiation and compromise. It’s a common ground where the two sides in this war meet, and it’s a grand stage where words become giants, tears flow like rivers and emotions rage like wildfires. It is a forum in which we should always display America’s strengths — cultural understanding, tolerance, compassion and intellect. But that’s not how all interrogators see their role.

According to a recent report from the bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee, “The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot be attributed to the actions of a ‘few bad apples’ acting on their own.” The effects of the policy that allowed torture to happen at Guantanamo Bay, the report concluded, spread to Iraq through the interrogators who had first been at Guantanamo. The preference for harsh interrogation techniques was extremely counterproductive and harmed our ability to obtain cooperation from Al Qaeda detainees. Even after the old guard interrogators were forced to play by the rules of the Geneva Convention, there was still plenty of leeway for interrogation methods based on fear and control. I believe their continued reliance on such techniques has severely hampered our ability to stop terrorist attacks against U.S. forces and Iraqi civilians.

We will win this war by being smarter, not harsher. For those who would accuse me of being too nice to our enemies, I encourage you to examine our success in hunting down Zarqawi and his network. The drop in suicide bombings in Iraq at two points in the spring and summer of 2006 was a direct result of our smarter interrogation methods.

I used to tell my team in Iraq: “The things that make you a good American are the things that will make you a good interrogator.” We must outlaw torture across every agency of our government, restore our adherence to the American principles passed down to us and, in doing so, better protect Americans from future terrorist attacks.

As Alexander points out, it is not enough simply to outlaw torture.  Until all our interrogators understand that harshness is not the key to intelligence-gathering, they will continue walking up to the edge and being as brutal as they think they can get away with, and they will get nowhere.  Torture is about as effective for intelligence-gathering as invasion and bombing are for winning hearts and minds.  Who knew?

As with politics, the right thing to do is often the smartest thing to do… and also the hardest.

(h/t Brandon Friedman)

December 30th, 2008 at 07:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iraq,Prisoners,Terrorism,Torture

Can’t Wait To Be Rid Of Laura Either…

Ick.  Just… ick:

First Lady Laura Bush “wasn’t amused” by the Iraqi who hurled two shoes at her husband – and said Sunday the jailed man is lucky Saddam Hussein is no longer in power.

“If Saddam Hussein had been there, the man wouldn’t have been released. And he probably, you know, would have been executed,” the First Lady said on “Fox NewsSunday.”

“It was an assault,” she said. “And that’s what it is. And it would be an assault to anyone. The President laughed it off. He wasn’t hurt. He’s very quick. As you know, he’s a natural athlete. And that’s it. But on the other hand, it is an assault, and I think it should be treated that way, and I think people should think of it that way.”

As “bad as the incident is,” she said, it is an indication of progress. “It is a sign that Iraqis feel a lot freer to express themselves,” she said.

Dubya is just sooo dreamy!

And I really don’t see the shoe-throwing as a stirring endorsement of free speech in the post-Saddam era so much as a complaint that it is not much of an improvement… if any.

In any case, the fact that al-Zaidi was “merely” arrested and savagely beaten, and may very well be imprisoned for many years instead of being executed does not exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy all over.  And the swooning over Dubya’s natural athleticism just makes it downright icky.

1 comment December 29th, 2008 at 08:15pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Wankers

Wanker Of The Month

Shorter Frank Gaffney: 4,000 dead American troops is AWESOME!

You probably think I’m exaggerating.

December 16th, 2008 at 11:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers

Support Our Mercs!

Hey, remember those American troops who indiscriminately opened fire on a bunch of innocent Iraqi civilians, killing 14 of them?  Oh, wait, they were Blackwater?  You’d never be able to tell from their defense team’s website:

Take a look at the homepage:

See all the references to Blackwater Worldwide?  Me neither.  All I see are the five seals of America’s Armed Forces and an image of the Marine Corps War Memorial.  Instead of this:

We see this:


See all those signature Blackwater goatees, baseball caps, and side arms?  Me neither.  I’m only seeing the photos of three marines and two soldiers.  So instead of this:

We see this:


What we have here is a move to elicit sympathy for the accused guards by painting them as patriotic soldiers and marines who were only doing their duties in Iraq.  We see their initial entry photos, deliberately intended to make them seem younger than they are, even though they’re now much older.  Even the father of one of the accused said he “can’t believe prosecutors are going after such decorated military veterans.”  In fact, every aspect of the portrayal makes it look as though soldiers and marines are going on trial here.  But they’re not.  Rather, these indictments were handed down to five highly-paid contractors who were working for Blackwater Worldwide on behalf of the U.S. State Department.  But they were in no way associated with the U.S. military.


These guys chose to fight in Iraq for a private company that offered them more money and looser grooming standards.  They left the more disciplined world of the Army or the Corps.  And that’s what they wanted.  That’s fine.  They just need to accept responsibility for the decision.

And they can start by leaving the military and its symbols out of this.  If working for Blackwater is such an honorable endeavor, then they should have no problem providing images of themselves operating in Iraq in the service of the State Department.  Instead of the Marine Corps War Memorial, we should see an image of the Blackwater bear paw.

The problem here is that if these guys are found guilty, because of the way their defense has rolled them out to the public, it’s going to reflect on the military.  And that’s not acceptable.  Because the military had nothing to do with this massacre.

What pisses me off is that by blurring the line, the defense team is trying to include Blackwater in the warm fuzzy glow of “supporting the troops,” even though they’re really highly paid mercenaries who are only in it for the money.

On the other hand, if they get the same kind of support our troops and veterans have been getting, maybe they’ll get what they deserve after all…

December 11th, 2008 at 09:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

Supporting The Troops Fail

Once again, a couple of sterling examples of just how much our Republican government cares about our troops:

The military ignored steps before the invasion of Iraq that could have prevented the staggering number of casualties from roadside bombs, the Pentagon’s acting inspector general charged Tuesday.

The IG’s report says that the military knew years before the war that mines and homemade bombs, which the military calls “improvised explosive devices,” would be a “threat . . . in low-intensity conflicts” and that “mine-resistant vehicles” were available.

“Yet the military did not develop requirements for, fund or acquire” safer vehicles, the report says. The military invaded Iraq in 2003 “without having taken available steps to acquire technology to mitigate the known mine and IED risk to soldiers and Marines.”

Even after the war was under way, as the devices began taking a deadly toll and field commanders pressed for vehicles that were better protected from roadside bombs, the Pentagon was slow to act, the report says.


MRAPS are bigger and heavier than the Humvees that troops have used for patrols in Iraq. They’re higher off the ground and designed to deflect an explosion.

The IG report says that the military “stopped processing” a 2005 request for 1,169 MRAPS from commanders in the field. Another request came a year later, according to a letter from Bond and Biden to Gen. James Conway, the Marine commandant.


Gayl, a former Marine, said that “gross mismanagement” delayed the use of MRAPS in combat. Otherwise, he concluded, “hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented.”

In a 2007 memo from Conway to Gen. Peter Pace, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s top Marine said that MRAPS could cut IED casualties by 80 percent, according to Gayl.

…Or our veterans:

There was nothing dramatic about how Spc. Cristapher Zuetlau’s career in the Army came to an end: he stepped in a hole. But the damage to the tank crewman’s wrenched back was so brutal he can barely walk.

The Army agreed he was no longer fit to serve, but in doing so determined his disability was not severe enough to warrant long-term care by the military. That turned his health care over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which left him with no retirement benefits and cut off his family from government health care.

Thousands of similar stories caused veterans advocates to protest that the military was manipulating disability ratings to save money, and Congress last year ordered the Pentagon to accept appeals from wounded and injured troops.

So far, officials have yet to examine a single case.

“Congress finally took action to give those troops a fair hearing, and now the Department of Defense is dragging its feet,” said Vanessa Williamson, the policy director at New York-based Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a veterans’ advocacy group. “Establishing the review board was clearly not the Department of Defense’s priority. And that’s a real shame.”

That’s our Bush administration: Supporting the troops as long as it’s not, y’know, too much trouble.

(h/t dakine)

December 10th, 2008 at 09:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

Good. Fricking. Riddance.

I suppose there was really no reason to expect that he would bow out gracefully…

President Bush told an interviewer that his presidency may have helped Barack Obama win the White House.

“I think it was a repudiation of Republicans,” he told Charlie Gibson of ABC News, according to a transcript released by the network Monday. “And I’m sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me. I think most people voted for Barack Obama because they decided they wanted him to be in their living room for the next four years explaining policy.”

Okay, so far so good.  I can’t very well ding him for narcissism when he’s right, now can I?

Bush would not say whether or not he would still have pushed for war with Iraq if he had known there were no weapon of mass destruction in that country.

“A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein,” Bush said. “It wasn’t just people in my administration. A lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence.

“I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess,” he said, but would not say whether he would have pressed forward with the decision to invade Iraq if he had known otherwise: “That is a do-over that I can’t do.”

Poor George, misled by the bad intel that he demanded, to support the invasion he wanted.  What a terrible tragedy for him.  Incidentally, I think that’s why he ducked the question of whether he would have still invaded Iraq if he had known Saddam didn’t have WMDs: He did know Saddam didn’t have WMDs.  The question is already answered.

(h/t dakine)

December 1st, 2008 at 07:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq


Does it make me a bad person that I find this kinda hilarious?

It would be easy to dismiss today’s rant (however spot-on it might be) by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as yet another ideological tirade against the U.S. automobile industry. But based on the bad news coming out of shopping-mall owner General Growth Properties [GGP], it is no wonder Friedman is feeling crankier than usual. That’s because the author’s wife, Ann (née Bucksbaum), is an heir to the General Growth fortune. In the past year, the couple—who live in an 11,400-square-foot mansion in Bethesda, Maryland—have watched helplessly as General Growth stock has fallen 99 percent, from a high of $51 to a recent 35 cents a share. The assorted Bucksbaum family trusts, once worth a combined $3.6 billion, are now worth less than $25 million.

How will Tom ever get by on only $25 million?  Will his $50,000 speaking engagements and million-dollar book deals be enough to sustain him?  Should we take up a collection?

If he hadn’t been an advocate of invading Iraq for no good reason, I might be a little more sympathetic… but he was, so screw him.

(h/t Stoller)

2 comments November 15th, 2008 at 01:44pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Iraq,Media,Wankers

Obama And The Arab Blogosphere

The NYT op-ed page has a fascinating selection of Arab blog reactions to Obama’s victory, ranging from Hooray for America to Big deal, America will still treat us like dirt:

Tamem, Egypt (

The victory of Barack Hussein Obama that we, along with the rest of the world, are witnessing today is another historic moment, not just for America but for the whole world by virtue of America’s huge influence, whether we like it or not. Personally I, like others, doubted Americans’ ability to overcome racism, but in electing “Abu Hussein,” they created a historic moment by accepting the first black president to govern not just America but the white West as a whole. With this, they removed all such doubts and the impossible dream of Martin Luther King became possible.

Syrian Dream, Syria (

The world arose today to welcome Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States, and Africa danced with joy.

The whole world is optimistic about what he offers but doubts remain about him, a great question mark.

What will Syria’s fate be under him? Will he give the green light to bombing us?


Esra’a, Bahrain (

I can honestly say that we can finally wave goodbye to the overwhelming anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry that we have suffered with for the past eight years under the Bush administration. We can expect less wars, less corruption, less political abuse. It won’t be perfect, but it will get better. I am so happy and proud of all the Americans who worked extremely hard for Obama, understanding fully well the importance of change in every sense of the word. This moment is not just historical but crucial to us here in the Middle East.

This is a win for all of us, not just America.

This is a win for civil rights and justice.

For all the pessimists out there, allow us to enjoy this moment. If you learned anything from this campaign, you would learn that it starts with hope — not cynicism. And hope is what I have right now, for America and the Middle East.

We can do it, and this time, we can be sure that we can do it together.

I haven’t said this in a really long time, but I am loving America right now.


Mashrabeya, Egypt (

Only time would tell if Obama is real, or just too good to be true!

Sometimes, it is not enough to have a Big Dream. What matters is to have enough strength to resist the pressures to give up a Big Dream!

Land and People, Lebanon (

My take on this is that he is the president of the United States, and not Barack Obama. That said, I would really like to hope for change. After all, Obama showed that change was possible: he himself changed from a supporter of Palestinian rights into a man who believes that Jerusalem is the historic capital of Israel. He also changed during his campaign from “No Iraq war for me please, I’m trying to quit” into “All right I’ll have some, but a tiny piece please.”


But the question that really interests me is about the relationship between Obama and the true center of world power, Kapital. There was an awful lot of money in Obama’s campaign … A great chunk must have come from carefully planned investments by C.E.O.’s and multinationals. Will Obama be able to confront the mega-corporations? Does he want to? The poor and the colored population of the world, including that of the U.S., is the one that suffers most from malnutrition and hunger and food insecurity. We know now that mega-corporations, pushing for more profit at any cost, are responsible for most of the damage. Will Obama do something about that? Does he want to? Can he?

An Arab Woman Blues, Iraq (


I also said that Obama will strike a deal with Ahmadinejad on Iraq and in particular southern Iraq.

And lo and behold, the vice president for the booma Obama is none other than J. Biden. J. Biden, the Zionist, is an ardent supporter of the partition of Iraq into three statelets. No wonder Maliki & Co. were also backing the booma along with Iran. I also know that Iran had generously contributed to the Obama campaign.

… I shall not congratulate you on your 44th president. He will simply finish off what the other Zionists had started — the final partition of my country.

To hell with all of you and all of your presidents.

Neurotic Iraqi Wife, Iraq (

For me, this is not just about history, this is about someone who was able to bring down the very people that broke my country. It’s a great punch to the very people that destroyed the individual Iraqi. And that to me is an enough victory.

I will only have to say to Mr. Obama, don’t let us down.

There’s a lot of hope, but also a lot of well-earned bitterness and cynicism.  I think the reality is probably going to be somewhere in the middle.  I don’t think Obama will stray outside the bounds of our historical Middle East foreign policy, but he also won’t be nearly as callous or malevolent towards Arabs and Muslims as his predecessor.

It won’t be The Dawning Of A Brand New Day in American foreign policy, but at least we won’t be trying to rule by fear and gratuitous violence.  Who knows, we might even stop bombing weddings.

November 8th, 2008 at 09:10pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Elections,Foreign Policy,Iran,Iraq,Obama,War

Sarah Palin Outs The Republican Party

I knew it!

She continued: “And there must be something about San Francisco and he because it’s like I heard on Fox News today, it’s like a truth serum where when he’s there, he seems to be more candid, and remember it was there that he talked about, there you go, the bitter clingers, the cling-ons, all of us, I guess, you know holding on to religion and guns and, um, so something about he being there in San Francisco.”

It sure would explain their foreign policy, although not their complete lack of courage or honor.

(h/t Blue Texan)

November 3rd, 2008 at 07:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Foreign Policy,Iran,Iraq,Palin,Politics,Republicans,War

Least. Impressive. Endorsement. Ever.

Wow, so “lifelong Democrat who hasn’t wavered in his presidential vote since 1980” and war pimp Michael O’Hanlon finally, reluctantly endorses Barack Obama after being “unable to support [him] over the last two years.”  And only because he thinks Joe Biden is a stronger running mate than Sarah Palin.

Some lifelong Democrat – I’ve seen stronger Obama endorsements by Republicans.  But not to worry – O’Hanlon’s with us on everything except the war. Just like lifelong Democrat Joe Lieberman.

(h/t Elliott)

October 26th, 2008 at 11:52am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Biden,Elections,Iraq,McCain,Media,Obama,Palin,Politics,Wankers

Everyone Else Expected The Spanish Inquisition

Surprise… and fear!

Every. Single. Time.

Greenspan claimed he was “shocked” because his model “was working exceptionally well” for 40 years, adding that the crisis is “broader than anything I could have imagined”:

GREENSPAN: I also want to discuss how my thinking has evolved and what I have learned this past year. In 2005, I raised concerns that the protracted period of the underpricing of risk if history was any guide would have dire consequences. The crisis, however, has turned out to be much broader than anything I could have imagined.


Bush administration officials seem to have a systemic lack of imagination, often claiming major — and predictable — crises simply caught them off guard:

9/11: “And I said, ‘No one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon’ — I’m paraphrasing now — ‘into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile.’” – Condoleezza Rice, to 9/11 Commission

Hurricane Katrina: “The destruction left by Katrina reaches beyond anything we could have imagined.” — Bush, 5/11/06

And Think Progress doesn’t even mention, say, the fact that Iraq was not a cakewalk… or a flowers-and-candy-walk.  Or that deregulating the food supply would result in a frightening spate of toxic food scares.

Of course, they weren’t really failures of imagination.  They were failures of interest, failures of integrity, failures of compassion.  The Republicans simply didn’t care what the outcomes were, so long as they got money and power.  To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, it is difficult to get a man to imagine something when his salary depends upon his not imagining it.

October 23rd, 2008 at 10:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Iraq,Katrina,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers

When The Going Gets Tough, Everyone Go Shopping

This is not the first time I’ve seen the “If this is the most important struggle ever, then why aren’t we investing more effort in it?” argument, but Bacevich does a nice job with it:

From the very outset, the president described the “war on terror” as a vast undertaking of paramount importance. But he simultaneously urged Americans to carry on as if there were no war. “Get down to Disney World in Florida,” he urged just over two weeks after 9/11. “Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” Bush certainly wanted citizens to support his war — he just wasn’t going to require them actually to do anything. The support he sought was not active but passive. It entailed not popular engagement but popular deference. Bush simply wanted citizens (and Congress) to go along without asking too many questions.

So his administration’s policies reflected an oddly business-as-usual approach. Senior officials routinely described the war as global in scope and likely to last decades, but the administration made no effort to expand the armed forces. It sought no additional revenue to cover the costs of waging a protracted conflict. It left the nation’s economic priorities unchanged. Instead of sacrifices, it offered tax cuts. So as the American soldier fought, the American consumer binged, encouraged by American banks offering easy credit.


Bush seems to have calculated — cynically but correctly — that prolonging the credit-fueled consumer binge could help keep complaints about his performance as commander in chief from becoming more than a nuisance. Members of Congress calculated — again correctly — that their constituents were looking to Capitol Hill for largesse, not lessons in austerity. In this sense, recklessness on Main Street, on Wall Street and at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue proved mutually reinforcing.


At a Pentagon press conference on Sept. 18, 2001, then-defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld let the cat out of the bag: “We have a choice, either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable, or to change the way that they live, and we chose the latter.”…

But if the administration’s goals were grandiose, its means were modest. The administration’s governing assumption was that the U.S. military, as constituted in late 2001, ought to suffice to transform the Middle East. Bush could afford to tell the American people to go on holiday and head back to the mall because the indomitable American soldier could be counted on to liberate (and thereby pacify) the Muslim world.


The 2008 election finds the Pentagon cupboard bare, the U.S. Treasury depleted, the economy in disarray and the average American household feeling acute distress. Profligacy at home and profligacy abroad have combined to produce a grave crisis. This time around, telling Americans to head for Disney World won’t work. The credit card’s already maxed out, and the banks are refusing to pony up for new loans.

In other words, the Bush administration’s primary, all-encompassing goal was to keep the voters happy and stay in power.  Sure, defeating terrorism and spreading democracy would be great, but not at the expense of the true primary mission of consolidating their power to the point of invulnerability.

I’m not sure what they planned to do when their financial house of cards inevitably collapsed – either they believed their own propaganda and thought it was infinitely sustainable, that they would be able to spin the damage as inconsequential or someone else’s fault, or that they would be so entrenched as to be beyond retribution.

Or, alternatively, they knew the collapse was coming and are deliberately tanking the election to stick the Democrats with the bill.  As much as I want Obama to win, he’s going to be inheriting a major economic crisis and a crumbling civilian infrastructure and military, and he’ll have precious little budgetary latitude to fix any of it.

October 5th, 2008 at 06:27pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Economy,Iraq,Politics,Republicans

The Intersection

The AP tells a depressing-yet-somehow-familiar story:

The Iraqi prisoner had valuable intelligence, U.S. special forces believed, and they desperately wanted it. They demanded that expert American military trainers teach them the same types of abusive interrogation techniques that North Korea and Vietnamese forces once used against U.S. prisoners of war.

The trainers resisted, according to testimony prepared for a Senate hearing Thursday; the methods were intended to elicit confessions for propaganda use, rather than gather intelligence. They were overruled and ordered to demonstrate on the prisoner in September 2003, early in the war.

The interrogation went ahead before a lead trainer stepped in and stopped it. He and his team were sent home shortly thereafter.


“In far too many cases, we simply erred in pressing interrogation and interrogators beyond the edge of the envelope; as a result, interrogation was no longer an intelligence collection method; rather, it had morphed into a form of punishment for those who wouldn’t cooperate,” Col. Steven Kleinman said in his prepared testimony.

He headed the small team of military trainers from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency sent to Iraq in September 2003 to help special forces get more information from stubborn and resistant detainees.

“When presented with the choice of getting smarter or getting tougher, we chose the latter,” Kleinman stated.

This is the worst-case intersection of amorality and incompetence.  The Bush administration didn’t care about legality, decency, or even effectiveness – only cruelty and power.

Will we ever wash away the stain?

(h/t dakine)

September 25th, 2008 at 11:39pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Constitution,Iraq,Prisoners,Republicans,Terrorism,Torture

It’s Really Quite Spectacular, If You Think About It

The Republicans have managed to completely and utterly discredit themselves on not just foreign policy, but domestic policy as well – all in the span of one disastrous presidency. What an amazing, total, epic fail.

(Photo from Pundit Kitchen)

September 20th, 2008 at 08:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Economy,Iraq,Republicans

Attention World: Stop Confusing John McCain!

Superman, where are you now?

Look, you can’t expect the man to have Joe Lieberman whispering in his ear 24 hours a day.  So please, stop asking him to distinguish between Sunnis and Shias, Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic (or Slovakia), Spain and Latin America, the FEC and the SEC, or the Army and the National Guard. It’s all just too complicated.

Also, I would really like for us not to invade the wrong country again, please.  Thanks.

September 19th, 2008 at 08:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Economy,Elections,Iran,Iraq,McCain

McCain On Spain Has Problems With His Brain

I guess if you don’t know the difference between Sunni and Shia, the difference between Spain and Latin America can be tricky too…

And remember, foreign policy is the area where McCain supposedly knows what he’s talking about – it’s on the economy where he admits he’s weak.  Good thing the fundamentals are strong, so it won’t require a lot of presidential attention.

1 comment September 18th, 2008 at 07:10am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Iran,Iraq,McCain,Media,Republicans

Irony Continues To Be Dead

If it were almost anyone else, I would be amazed that he could say this with a straight face:

Vice President Dick Cheney, in the sharpest U.S. criticism of Russia since its brief war with Georgia, on Saturday accused Moscow of reverting to old tactics of intimidation and using “brute force.”


“This chain of aggressive moves and diplomatic reversals has only intensified the concern that many have about Russia’s larger objectives,” Cheney said.

“For brutality against a neighbor is simply the latest in a succession of troublesome and unhelpful actions by the Russian government.”


“At times it appears Russian policy is based upon the desire to impose its will on countries it once dominated, instead of any balanced assessment of security interests,” Cheney said in his prepared remarks.

He noted that a senior Russian military official threatened Poland with attack over its involvement in the missile defense system. “That is no way for a responsible power to conduct itself,” Cheney said.

“And it reflects the discredited notion that any country can claim an exclusive zone of authority, to be held together by muscle and threats,” he said.

“That is the old thinking,” Cheney said. “The old ways are gone, and the Cold War is over.”

Russia’s leaders should consider whether “bullying others will turn out well for their country’s future” and whether Moscow wants to “operate in the modern world as an outsider,” he said.

“Russia’s leaders cannot have things both ways,” Cheney said. “They cannot presume to gather up all the benefits of commerce, consultation, and global prestige, while engaging in brute force, threats, or other forms of intimidation against sovereign countries.”

I guess it’s only okay to threaten or invade countries that are really far away.

September 6th, 2008 at 02:04pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Iraq,Wankers,War

With Us On Everything Except The War

Pachacutec calls them on it:

We’ve been hearing from the Senate leadership since 2006 that Joe Lieberman is “with us on everything but the war.” We asked Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin to offer an example a piece of critical legislation the Senate had passed with Joe Lieberman’s assistance. The role of the Majority Whip is to count caucus votes and enforce party voting discipline.

Senator Durbin pointedly declined to answer the question and characterized it as illegitimate, ultimately putting his hand in front of the camera and asking me to account for my whereabouts and clothing as of three o’clock yesterday afternoon, as an example of – from his perspective – putting someone on the spot unfairly.

I’m not so sure he’s used to answering questions from people who do … journalism.

Putting him on the spot unfairly?  If Lieberman is with us on everything except the war, then all Durbin had to do is think of one vote about something other than the war.  Surely he should be able to do that in his sleep, right?

I mean, unless it’s total bullshit, of course.

August 28th, 2008 at 10:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Democrats,Iraq,Lieberman,Politics,Republicans,Wankers,War

John McCain, Foreign Policy Genius!

Shashkavili let me rock you let me rock you Shashkavili that’s all I wanna do Shashkavili…

Can someone please explain to me how John McCain has a reputation as some kind of foreign policy expert?  He needs Joe Lieberman to (repeatedly) remind him that al Qaeda aren’t Shi’ites, he cribs his South Ossetia policy from Wikipedia, and now he doesn’t know how to pronounce the name of Georgia’s president?

And remember, foreign policy is what he’s supposed to be good at.

August 12th, 2008 at 09:07pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Iran,Iraq,McCain,Politics

When Will Reality Be Post-Partisan?

Marty Kaplan points out the sad reality of our time:

Ron Suskind’s new book reports that in 2003, the White House ordered the CIA to forge a letter to “prove” that Iraq had a hand in 9/11 and that Saddam was buying yellowcake uranium from Niger for his WMD program with the help of Al Qaeda.

When this came up on MSNBC, moderator Chuck Todd asked Politico’s Mike Allen whether this would lead “the anti-war crowd” in Congress to call for impeachment. Allen replied that it would “give the lefty blogosphere something to grab onto.”

And so, in less time than it takes to say “Dick Cheney,” the subject is changed from what would be one of the most outrageous violations of the Constitution in the history of the Republic to a left/right issue. Instead of taking a breath to consider the merits and consequences of Suskind’s charges, MSNBC’s It’s-Always-Super-Tuesday-Over-Here reframing machine instantly transforms a shocking allegation about the abuse of power into a piece of political football, a tactic, an occasion for the players in the grand political theater that cable news says Washington really is to assume their designated roles, like a Punch and Judy show.

…If the White House asked the CIA to cook up this disinformation aimed at the American people, why shouldn’t the righty blogosphere, too, be up in arms? Why doesn’t every American, regardless of political party, have a stake in the truth and the rule of law?

…Unfortunately, the closest that the MSM usually comes to weighing the evidence is saying: Ron Suskind charges X, and the White House denies it. This is what is now called reporting.

Every time the Bush administration gets caught breaking the law, conservative pundits and bloggers are either excusing it or pretending that it never happened.  Never do they say, “Okay, yeah, they’re on my team, but this really is so far beyond the pale as to be despicable and criminal.”  It just doesn’t happen.  (They do slam BushCo. with that kind of hyperbole sometimes, but it’s usually for stuff like trying to compromise on immigration or negotiate with North Korea.)

When did reality become so irrelevant to our discourse?  Was it just during the Bush administration, or during the Clinton administration, or has it always been like that and I just never noticed it?

August 6th, 2008 at 10:40pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Media,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers,War

Bush Administration Objectively Pro-Rape

This is utterly disgusting, yet so true to form for the Bush administration.  Apparently “support our troops” only applies to male ones – or perhaps this is a passive-aggressive Republican strategy to get women out of the military:

There was quite a struggle in Congress this week. The Department of Defense refused to allow the senior civilian in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) to testify in Thursday’s hearing on sexual assault in the military. Rep. John Tierney, chair of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, angrily dismissed Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Michael Dominguez from the hearing when Dominguez said that he, the DoD chief of legislative affairs and the chief of public affairs, had ordered Dr. Kaye Whitley, chief of SAPRO, to refuse to honor the subpoena issued by the subcommittee for her appearance.

Full committee Chairman Henry Waxman called the DoD’s decision to prevent Whitley from testifying “ridiculous and indicating DoD is covering something up.” It could also place Whitley in contempt of Congress. Rep. Christopher Shays said the DoD’s decision was “foolish.”

One of the questions that would have been put to Whitley was why DoD had taken three years to name a 15-person civilian task force to look into allegations of sexual assault of military personnel. The panel was finally named early in 2008 but has yet to meet. She would have also been queried on the SAPRO program’s failure to require key information from the military in order to evaluate the effectiveness of sexual assault prevention and response programs.


Rep. Jane Harman cited Veterans Administration statistics that one in three women in the military has been sexually assaulted. She said the prosecution rate of those accused of raping fellow military service members is abysmally low. Of the 2,212 reported rapes in the military in 2007, only 8 percent of the cases ended in court-martial of the perpetrator, while the rate of prosecution in civilian courts is 40 percent.


Rep. Shays said he had no confidence in DoD or the military services and their policies of prevention of sexual assault, and asked how recruiting will fare when young women learn that one in three women is sexually assaulted and when young men find out that one in 10 men is raped while in the military.

Recruitment of rapists would certainly improve…

VetVoice wants to know where Bob Gates is:

Now, granted, Gates is a busy man with competing priorities–and two ongoing wars.  So maybe this hasn’t crossed his desk yet.  Maybe this is an issue that hasn’t risen above the Undersecretary level yet.  But if it hasn’t, it needs to.

This type of conduct by the Defense Department is despicable, and it’s indicative of a Presidential administration that has no respect for the American people or their elected Representatives.  Congressmen Tierney and Waxman should not only hold Deputy Undersecretary Dominguez in contempt, but they should subpoena Secretary Gates on this one.  As Congressman Waxman said, this is “ridiculous.”


With three female troops having been murdered this year stateside, and with the long list of rapes and suspected murders in theater, it’s clear that something needs to be done.  And what the Defense Department is doing now is far worse than simply ignoring the problem: They’re actively attempting to obstruct Congress from investigating it.

Many of us have been pleased with the moderate (non-neo-con) stances Secretary Gates has taken since he assumed the role from Rumsfeld over a year and a half ago.  But now he must step up and show the leadership that the troops and their families expect of him.  He needs to rectify this situation.  And quickly.

If he doesn’t, he will show that the Defense Department has no respect for its female troops, and, more importantly, that he’s going to allow murderers and rapists to sully the name and reputation of America’s Armed Forces. And no one wants to join an organization like that.

Here’s what I said about Gates during his confirmation hearing:

The thing is, while yes, Rummy was incompetent and awful, most of what went wrong with Iraq was dictated from above. If we venture for a moment into Magical Sugarplum Fantasyland and imagine that The Donald was the smartest, most competent SecDef in the history of all the universes, and told Dubya that his plan was Teh Suck, and refused to invade without a better plan, our clueless leader would have immediately shitcanned him and replaced him with Harriet Miers, or Joe Lieberman, or Jeff “Bulldog” Gannon, or Ryan Seacrest DSV.

In other words, the Defense Secretary does not set the Iraq policy; he merely executes it (or tortures it, as the circumstances require). It really doesn’t matter whether Gates has a plan for Iraq or not. Bush will do What Bush Wants To Do, which will inevitably be the most foolhardy and disastrous course possible.

Replacing the SecDef is all well and good, but we won’t have any chance of a least-bad outcome until we replace his boss.

In other words, I’m not convinced that Gates is responsible for this disgraceful rape-and-murder-enabling coverup – I would not be at all surprised if he were just following orders from the most secretive and amoral administration in American history.  Still, Gates isn’t resigning in protest, so his hands are not exactly clean either.

9 comments August 4th, 2008 at 10:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Iraq,Republicans,Sexism,War

How Do You Define Obstructionism?

I’m wondering which definition will apply here.

Old Definition: Filibustering, vetoing, or otherwise blocking every piece of legislation your opposition introduces.

New Definition: Insisting on introducing legislation that you know your opposition will filibuster, veto, or otherwise block.

1 comment July 31st, 2008 at 10:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Energy,Iraq,Politics,Republicans

Casus Belli Dancing

Hey, remember when we learned that before the Iraqupation, Dubya suggested painting a U2 spyplane with UN colors and trying to bait Saddam into shooting at it, thus providing a clear-cut case for war? (Never mind the fact that the UN would be well aware that it wasn’t their plane that got shot out – remember who we’re talking about here.)

Well, now Seymour Hersh says that Cheney’s staff talked about going him one better to start his much-coveted war with Iran.  Not satisfied to rely on Iran to be foolish enough to fire the first shot, this plan required no Iranian participation whatsoever!

There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives.


Look, is it high school? Yeah. Are we playing high school with you know 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran.

Actually, I’m pretty sure that the game of Chicken requires two willing participants.

And, of course, as Drum points out in referring back to the U2 plane plan:

In the end, of course, we didn’t do this. We just didn’t bother with any pretext at all.

Pretext is for sissies.

July 31st, 2008 at 09:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Iran,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

A Blackberry Is Not A Truck.

Episode #513 of Republicans Vs. Technology:

The Iranians are still exporting the most lethal explosive devices across the Iraqi border and into Iraq and killing brave, young Americans and Iran is still supporting terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. So, if they want to communicate with us and we want to communicate with them, fine. We all have blackberries. It’s fine.

Awesome.  John McCain is totally “with it”, as the kids say these days.

Also worth noting from the video: A banana is not a poll.

10 comments July 29th, 2008 at 09:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Iran,Iraq,McCain,Media,Politics,Quotes,Republicans,Technology

I Realize That… Now.

This just in: Military action not the best way to combat terrorism:

The United States can defeat al-Qaida if it relies less on force and more on policing and intelligence to root out the terror group’s leaders, a new study contends.

“Keep in mind that terrorist groups are not eradicated overnight,” said the study by the federally funded Rand research center, an organization that counsels the Pentagon.

Its report said that the use of military force by the United States or other countries should be reserved for quelling large, well-armed and well-organized insurgencies, and that American officials should stop using the term “war on terror” and replace it with “counterterrorism.”

Wow, no kidding.  I seem to recall John Kerry being ridiculed for saying this in 2004, and I seem to recall Bill Clinton being ridiculed for practicing it prior to 2001.

So how’s Dubya’s completely-ignore-terrorism-then-start-invading-people strategy working out for us, then?

(h//t Phoenix Woman)

1 comment July 29th, 2008 at 07:11am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers,War

The Most Critical Component Of The Surge

Time travel:

Let’s review:

* McCain said the surge started in 2007, after the Anbar Awakening that began in 2006.

* On Wednesday, McCain shifted gears and said the surge started in 2006, before the Anbar Awakening.

* On Thursday, McCain shifted gears again and said everyone except him is confused about what the surge is, and defined it as “a counterinsurgency strategy” that was launched before the troop escalation and the Anbar Awakening.

* And on Friday, McCain shifted gears again and re-embraced the original meaning of the word “surge,” which he now believes was launched shortly after the “birth” of the Anbar Awakening.

Just for fun, let’s not lose sight of the fact that McCain held all four of these competing and contradictory positions over the course of a single week.

And McCain is nevertheless basing his entire presidential campaign on his unrivaled expertise on, and support for, Bush’s Iraq policy.

It’s as if the McCain campaign is premised on the hope that voters aren’t paying any attention.

Well, not that voters aren’t paying any attention, so much as that the media won’t actually point any of this out.  It’s very easy to make that case that McCain’s foreign policy and war-making expertise are nonexistent, but no-one outside of the liberal blogosphere or the Obama campaign is making it.  I do hope that Obama puts out some nice aggressive “McCain Vs. McCain” ads this fall.

5 comments July 26th, 2008 at 01:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Iraq,McCain,Politics,Republicans

Wanker Of The Day

John McCain, with honorable mention for CBS:

Keith Olbermann led his broadcast tonight with Spencer Ackerman’s report on John McCain’s most recent gaffe: in an interview with Katie Couric, McCain claimed “the surge” was responsible for the “Anbar Awakening” — which actually began in September, 2006, months before the surge was even announced.

The strange thing, as Keith notes, is that CBS edited the gaffe out of its broadcast. Fortunately, they posted a transcript — and video — online.

Once again, John McCain reveals the depth of his foreign policy expertise, and the media demonstrates its clear liberal bias…

But wait, there’s more – John McCain also demonstrates the depth of his commitment to the environment:

And I’d like to mention offshore drilling if I could. My friends, we have to drill offshore. We have to do it! Oil executives say within a couple years we could be seeing results from it. So why not do it?

Well, if the oil executives are in favor, that pretty much settles it, right?  I mean, who could possibly be more trustworthy on the subject of offshore drilling?

July 23rd, 2008 at 07:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Energy,Environment,Iraq,McCain,Media,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

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