Saturday, September 15, 2007

It takes a genius to state the obvious ...

AGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi lawmakers said on Saturday that Washington should take responsibility for the turmoil in Iraq and stop blaming Baghdad, Iran and Syria.

Frustrated by criticism from the United States over their slow progress towards political goals meant to foster national reconciliation, Iraqi leaders said Washington would be better served by examining its own progress in the unpopular war.

"The Americans always try to pretend the responsibility for cleaning up this mess isn't theirs and tend to shift blame onto Iraq, Iran and Syria for everything that goes wrong," said veteran Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman.

"But they should stop this nonsense and admit that most of the accountability rests on their shoulders," he told Reuters.

More here

  • We invaded them.
  • We disbanded their army - though it seems we can no longer remember how that came about.
  • We allowed their infrastructure (water, electricity) to fall apart.
  • We neglected to provide any security after the war.
  • We won the war but had no plan for the peace.
  • We left military installations housing untold tons of arms and munitions unguarded and open to looting once the "Mission" had been "Accomplished" - and in due course those installations were looted while (in some cases) our troops watched - because they had no orders to cover the circumstances.
  • We went into Iraq with a total ignorance of 1,400 years of tribal animosity between Sunni and Shiite or its importance.
  • We thought the merest whiff of democracy would overcome 3,000 years of traditional, tribal systems.
  • We thought purple fingers meant something.
  • We underestimated the cost to ourselves and overestimated the ability of post war Iraqi oil revenues to pay for this war.

The list goes on and on ... but they're responsible for cleaning up the mess that we've made of things. If they're responsible and we're not, lets leave them to their on devices. They're intelligent people. I'm sure they can figure a way out of this for themselves.

After all, wasn't it Ronny Reagan who said, "The nine most frightening words I could imagine hearing were: I’m from the government and I’m here to help."

I presume he was referring to the US government?

Why do Republicans Hate Democracy? Part 2

Once upon a time the battle cry in this country of ours was:

"I may disagree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

We were the light unto the world; a beacon of freedom - the role model for others to emulate.

John McCain's take on that?

“It’s disgraceful, it’s got to be retracted and condemned by the Democrats, and ought to be thrown out of this country.”

However ill advised was in its ad tag line (and I sincerely believe they were very ill advised) they have a right to say it ... in a free society. But Republicans like McCain feel differently. They feel that anyone who says anything that offends them should be "thrown out of the country".

My, my, how far we've come.

Of course, later, someone must have whispered in his ear an dgiven him a set of brains about the meaning of a free society. His campaign issued the following backpedal:

The McCain campaign clarified the senator’s comments for CBS News. “Senator McCain, like most Americans, is appalled by the ad. Last night he expressed his outrage in words that did not convey his intended meaning. What he meant to say was that MoveOn’s smear of General Petraeus’ character should have no place in the American political debate.”

No place in the American debate? I guess that's a step in the right direction.

How long can you tread water?

Manhattan following a 5 meter rise in water level.

Architecture 2030 is a nonprofit that tries to bring attention to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that the building sector contributes to global warming through inefficient electricity use, lighting, heating and cooling. The organization created maps to explain how U.S. coastal cities would be affected by inevitable sea level rise if nothing is done to curb the effects of global warming.

See the images here.
Read the article here.

Just a quick question about ...

the Coulter Republicans accusing Hilary Clinton of engaging in character assassination and spouting political venom in her remarks about General Petraeus.

This is the party of Joe McCarthy, Karl Rove and the Swiftboaters, of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Rielly and Sean Hannity?

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Hilary's got nothing on these people when it comes to character assassination and spouting political venom. These are the people who invented character assassination and political vitriol in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Their attack on Hilary is more of the same. Rather than attack her on the issues, they make it personal ... perhaps because they recognize they can't win in a discussion of actual issues? I guess waging personal attacks on Hilary is easier than defending their war in Iraq, explaining away a domestic economy that's circling the bowl and health care system in this country that's not working as a result of their policies or making apologies for their legion of scandal ridden brethren.

My imaginary friend is more real than your imaginary friend - Part 2

Switcheroo: American minister sends video to Osama

Says he's damned to hell if he doesn't repent, convert

WASHINGTON – An American television evangelist has turned the tables on al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden – sending him a video message warning him to repent of his sins and convert to Christianity.

"Osama, since you seem to be a fan of video messages, I thought this would be the best way to communicate with you," says Bill Keller, host of the Florida-based "Live Prayer" TV program as well as in a message being posted to YouTube and 20 other major video sites in the U.S. as well as some 50 in the Middle East.

Keller said his goal was to reach out to bin Laden with a message of salvation.

"Look at you, look at your life," Keller says. "You live like a hunted goat in caves, totally dependent on a small group of people for your survival. At any moment, one of those you trust could betray you like Judas betrayed Jesus and your life would be over. The false prophet you follow, Mohammad, was poisoned to death by one of his wives."

The rest of the story after you click ...

Each having precisely the same amount of evidence that their position is based on fact and the other's opinion is based on fiction and fallacy. A theological pissing contest. Let the games begin!

Watch the video here ...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bill Maher Interviews Chris Dodd

... with Conservative Closed Captioning for the ideologically challenged:

Click image to watch the clip.

Just when you thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel

Dollar's Retreat Raises Fear of Collapse
By Carter Dougherty / The International Herald Tribune

The Euro is the New Dollar - Get used to it.

Frankfurt - Finance ministers and central bankers have long fretted that at some point, the rest of the world would lose its willingness to finance the United States' proclivity to consume far more than it produces - and that a potentially disastrous free-fall in the dollar's value would result.

But for longer than most economists would have been willing to predict a decade ago, the world has been a willing partner in American excess - until a new and home-grown financial crisis this summer rattled confidence in the country, the world's largest economy.

On Thursday, the dollar briefly fell to another low against the euro of $1.3927, as a slow decline that has been under way for months picked up steam this past week.

"This is all pointing to a greatly increased risk of a fast unwinding of the U.S. current account deficit and a serious decline of the dollar," said Kenneth Rogoff, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and an expert on exchange rates. "We could finally see the big kahuna hit."

Read the rest here ... if you have courage.

Free Market doesn't work ...

when one side has all the guns.

UN General Assembly backs indigenous peoples' rights

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a non-binding declaration upholding the human, land and resources rights of the world's 370 million indigenous people, brushing off opposition from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.*

The vote in the assembly was 143 in favor and four against. Eleven countries, including Russia and Colombia, abstained.

The declaration, capping more than 20 years of debate at the United Nations, also recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination and sets global human rights standards for them.

It states that native peoples have the right "to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties" concluded with states or their successors.

Indigenous peoples say their lands and territories are endangered by such threats as mineral extraction, logging, environmental contamination, privatization and development projects, classification of lands as protected areas or game reserves and use of genetically modified seeds and technology.

The rest of the story at Yahoo News ...

* That looks like a list of the countries that support democratic self determination. Right?

What's wrong with this picture. It sounds like those countries are saying, "We conquered you people, friggin' STAY CONQUERED!" I guess that support for HUMAN RIGHTS is what you might call "lip service"?

The arguments against protecting the rights of indigenous peoples?

"They said they could not support it because of their concerns over provisions on self-determination, land and resources rights and giving indigenous peoples a right of veto over national legislation and state mangement of resources."

"'Unfortunately, the provisions in the Declaration on lands, territories and resources are overly broad, unclear, and capable of a wide variety of interpretations, discounting the need to recognize a range of rights over land and possibly putting into question matters that have been settled by treaty,' Canada's UN Ambassador John McNee told the assembly."

  • Property is more important than people. Human rights are fine as long as they don't interfere with property rights and profit.
  • Treaties, most of which were ignored by the conquerors, most of which were initiated at the point of a gun, have already settled many issues.
  • The original treaties were ambiguous but when the shoe is on the other foot, it's a problem.
  • Justice is not part of the equation. The maintenance of power is.

All Things to All Women

Who would know more about what women want than a guy in a dress?

Perhaps you were wondering

... why Liberals are so obsessed with Larry Craig's personal life:

This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow does it again.
(Click on graphic to see the whole thing.)

Actually, it seems to me most liberals have been pretty quiet. I've heard more commentary from conservatives - certainly more anger. But I'm not complaining. It's about time something tapped into all the deep seated "moral outrage" inherent in the so-called Family Values Party.

Yes, but how are they DIFFERENT?

ST. GEORGE, Utah, Sept. 14, 2007

Warren (God) Jeffs
Would you buy a used car
from this man?

The key witness in the trial of polygamist Warren Jeffs testified Thursday that she was taught Jeffs was the prophet and the only way to eternal salvation was a complete surrender to his teachings.

"The prophet was God to us. He was God on Earth and his counselors were pretty much the same, so they had jurisdiction over us," the woman said, explaining why she agreed to Jeffs' order to marry her 19-year-old cousin when she was 14 years old.

More on "knowing what's on gods mind" ... and the man who says he knows.

How is this man any different than a Pope who declares that his church is the only true church and therefore, the only path to salvation - or the fundamentalists who who so look forward to the Rapture - or Christian Evangelicals who claim THEY have the only way to salvation - or Ossama bed Linen and his religious perspective?

How do you tell them apart when their beliefs are fundamentally so similar?

Haven't I seen this movie before?

"And now the whole nation -- pulpit and all -- will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."

- Mark Twain, American philosopher

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bush: Return on Success

... or Catch 22?

The more successful our troops are (in a situation that has no military solution) the the more of our soldiers can come home.

I'm not sure that's a good deal. If there's no military solution, it's holding out a false hope because all military solutions are doomed to fail. Did anyone else see that go by?

When I heard that my first thought was, "Oh, my God, he just said we're going to be there forever!" Or at least until Bush can palm his mess off on someone else who'll shoulder the blame for his incompetence and total lack of judgment.

And then there's this ...

President Petraeus? Iraqi Official Recalls the Day US General Revealed Ambition

By Patrick Cockburn / The Independent UK

Thursday 13 September 2007

The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, expressed long-term interest in running for the US presidency when he was stationed in Baghdad, according to a senior Iraqi official who knew him at that time.

Sabah Khadim, then a senior adviser at Iraq's Interior Ministry, says General Petraeus discussed with him his ambition when the general was head of training and recruitment of the Iraqi army in 2004-05.

"I asked him if he was planning to run in 2008 and he said, 'No, that would be too soon'," Mr Khadim, who now lives in London, said.

General Petraeus has a reputation in the US Army for being a man of great ambition. If he succeeds in reversing America's apparent failure in Iraq, he would be a natural candidate for the White House in the presidential election in 2012.

His able defence of the "surge" in US troop numbers in Iraq as a success before Congress this week has made him the best-known soldier in America. An articulate, intelligent and energetic man, he has always shown skill in managing the media.

But General Petraeus's open interest in the presidency may lead critics to suggest that his own political ambitions have influenced him in putting an optimistic gloss on the US military position in Iraq .

Mr Khadim was a senior adviser in the Iraqi Interior Ministry in 2004-05 when Iyad Allawi was prime minister.

More of it here.

Sad and Sorry Coincidence

2 G.I.’s, Skeptical but Loyal, Die in a Truck Crash in Iraq


WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 — “Engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act,” the seven soldiers wrote of the war they had seen in Iraq.

They were referring to the ordeals of Iraqi citizens, trying to go about their lives with death and suffering all around them. But sadly, although they did not know it at the time, they might almost have been referring to themselves.

Two of the soldiers who wrote of their pessimism about the war in an Op-Ed article that appeared in The New York Times on Aug. 19 were killed in Baghdad on Monday. They were not killed in combat, nor on a daring mission. They died when the five-ton cargo truck in which they were riding overturned.

The victims, Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, 26, and Sgt. Omar Mora, 28, were among the authors of “The War as We Saw It,” in which they expressed doubts about reports of progress.

Full article here.

I posted about their op-ed a little while ago.

Unfortunately, the link to the full text of their op-ed on the NYTimes site is one that requires a suubscription to the NYTimes. However, I was able to locate a copy of the full text of their op-ed on - I think it's worth reading what the troops in the field are thinking.

Sgt. Omar Mora

It is sad that two more soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq. Sadder still that their voices, so clear such a short time ago, have now been silenced.

What Crocker and Petraeus Didn’t Say

by Nancy A. Youssef and Leila Fadel / McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration’s top two officials in Iraq answered questions from Congress for more than six hours on Monday, but their testimony may have been as important for what they didn’t say as for what they did.

A chart displayed by Army Gen. David Petraeus that purported to show the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad between December and August made no effort to show that the ethnic character of many of the neighborhoods had changed in that same period from majority Sunni Muslim or mixed to majority Shiite Muslim.

Neither Petraeus nor U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker talked about the fact that since the troop surge began the pace by which Iraqis were abandoning their homes in search of safety had increased. They didn’t mention that 86 percent of Iraqis who’ve fled their homes said they’d been targeted because of their sect, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Read the article here.

The piece goes on to make three basic points:

  • There has been no real drop in civilian casualties among the Iraqis. The evidence presented is statistical sleight of hand.
  • A "fall in violence" has taken place in some neighborhoods, but it is not the result of American troops suppressing sectarian violence. Quite the contrary, it is the result of the fact that violent ethnic cleansing has been completed. That is, previously mixed neighborhoods have been purified [usually with the aid of American troops, who drive away the armed militias (always labeled as "terrorists") that defend embattled Sunni residents].
  • As a result of this sustained ethnic cleansing, which is continuing apace in the still mixed neighborhoods, the number of refugees inside and outside Iraq continues to mount dramatically, creating the kind of terminal misery that only losing your home and livelihood in a disaster area can produce.

I guess that's the definition of "progress" and of "winning in Iraq" that we're looking for.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jon Stewart: Considers the Petraeus Report

... and concludes that it has a lot on common with an M.C. Escher vision of reality.

See it here ...

Senator John Warner (D-VA):
“Does that make America safer?”

General Petraeus:
“Sir, I-I don’t know, actually. I have not sat down and sorted out in my own mind, uh-what I have focused on and been riveted on is how to accomplish the mission of the Multi-National Force Iraq.”

Actually, I have a great deal of sympathy for Petraeus and for his answer. Petraeus is not there to determine if his actions are making America safer. He's there under orders and tasked with making his mission in Iraq work. Whether our presence in Iraq is making us safer or not is not part of his mandate, it's a policy question and I don't think we want our generals making policy decisions. It would not be good for our generals to be forming opinions (particularly publicly) about whether or not their missions were "making us safer".

The decision to be in Iraq was made at levels far above General Petraeus' position and his orders resulted from those decisions. For him to question whether or not his orders were politically effective (politically in terms of the broader picture) could very easily put him in a position of questioning his orders.

In the past several years several well known generals have resigned because they found themselves questioning their mission. Their choice was to accept their mission or resign so they could express opinions about their mission. They chose to resign. General Petraeus chose to accept his mission.

I believe the only way Petraeus could publicly express an opinion that suggested the mission was a failure in terms of the degree to which it enhances our overall protection would be to resign as others have. In order to pursue his mission he must accept at the onset that those who made the decision to be in Iraq made the right decision. Only with that assumption could a soldier of honor follow his orders.

In the meantime, how many general officers under the Bush administration have been relieved of their duties for expressing thoughts contrary to the Alice-In-Wonderland views of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld? How many careers have visibly crushed, side tracked or destroyed (not counting those behind the scenes) for questioning policy?

Iraq - the Fable

"Didn't the fox never catch the rabbit, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy the next evening.

"He come mighty nigh it, honey, sho's you born--Brer Fox did. One day atter Brer Rabbit fool 'im wid dat calamus root, Brer Fox went ter wuk en got 'im some tar, en mix it wid some turkentime, en fix up a contrapshun w'at he call a Tar-Baby, en he tuck dish yer Tar-Baby en he sot 'er in de big road, en den he lay off in de bushes fer to see what de news wuz gwine ter be. En he didn't hatter wait long, nudder, kaze bimeby here come Brer Rabbit pacin' down de road--lippity-clippity, clippity -lippity--dez ez sassy ez a jay-bird. Brer Fox, he lay low. Brer Rabbit come prancin' 'long twel he spy de Tar-Baby, en den he fotch up on his behime legs like he wuz 'stonished. De Tar Baby, she sot dar, she did, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"`Mawnin'!' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee - `nice wedder dis mawnin',' sezee.

"Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nuthin', en Brer Fox he lay low.

"`How duz yo' sym'tums seem ter segashuate?' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee.

"Brer Fox, he wink his eye slow, en lay low, en de Tar-Baby, she ain't sayin' nuthin'.

"'How you come on, den? Is you deaf?' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Kaze if you is, I kin holler louder,' sezee.

"Tar-Baby stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"'You er stuck up, dat's w'at you is,' says Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en I;m gwine ter kyore you, dat's w'at I'm a gwine ter do,' sezee.

"Brer Fox, he sorter chuckle in his stummick, he did, but Tar-Baby ain't sayin' nothin'.

"'I'm gwine ter larn you how ter talk ter 'spectubble folks ef hit's de las' ack,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee. 'Ef you don't take off dat hat en tell me howdy, I'm gwine ter bus' you wide open,' sezee.

"Tar-Baby stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"Brer Rabbit keep on axin' 'im, en de Tar-Baby, she keep on sayin' nothin', twel present'y Brer Rabbit draw back wid his fis', he did, en blip he tuck 'er side er de head. Right dar's whar he broke his merlasses jug. His fis' stuck, en he can't pull loose. De tar hilt 'im. But Tar-Baby, she stay still, en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"`Ef you don't lemme loose, I'll knock you agin,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, en wid dat he fotch 'er a wipe wid de udder han', en dat stuck. Tar-Baby, she ain'y sayin' nuthin', en Brer Fox, he lay low.

"`Tu'n me loose, fo' I kick de natal stuffin' outen you,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, but de Tar-Baby, she ain't sayin' nuthin'. She des hilt on, en de Brer Rabbit lose de use er his feet in de same way. Brer Fox, he lay low. Den Brer Rabbit squall out dat ef de Tar-Baby don't tu'n 'im loose he butt 'er cranksided. En den he butted, en his head got stuck. Den Brer Fox, he sa'ntered fort', lookin' dez ez innercent ez wunner yo' mammy's mockin'-birds.

"`Howdy, Brer Rabbit,' sez Brer Fox, sezee. `You look sorter stuck up dis mawnin',' sezee, en den he rolled on de groun', en laft en laft twel he couldn't laff no mo'. `I speck you'll take dinner wid me dis time, Brer Rabbit. I done laid in some calamus root, en I ain't gwineter take no skuse,' sez Brer Fox, sezee."

Here Uncle Remus paused, and drew a two-pound yam out of the ashes.

"Did the fox eat the rabbit?" asked the little boy to whom the story had been told.

"Dat's all de fur de tale goes," replied the old man. "He mout, an den agin he moutent. Some say Judge B'ar come 'long en loosed 'im - some say he didn't.

In case you haven't guessed and need a score card to keep track of the players:
  • Ossama bed Linen plays the part of Brer Fox,
  • Iraq plays the part of Tar Baby and
  • Our Fearless Leader plays the part of Brer Rabbit.

Of course, in real life things are a little different. The difference is that, in real life, Brer Fox didn't make the Tar Baby that Brer Rabbit got tangled up in. Brer Rabbit made it aw bie hizsef.

To quote Elmer Fudd (but not to mix the metaphor), "Siwee wabbit!"

American Attitudes toward Dependence on Foreign Oil

... Global Warming,
The Melting Ice Cap
and other related issues.

It's not easy to hold out hope for the future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sons of the Five O'Clock Follies

Ya Can't Make This Stuff Up

Cashing in on 9/11.

I don't create these things ... I just draw attention to things that amuse or disgust me. I'm not sure which effect this one has.

Trying to Think it Through

Norman Horowitz on Huffpo

Not that the General is a bad guy, not that the General is lying to us or misleading us, but after all, he is a soldier, and we are asking a soldier if he wants to do what soldiers do, which is to keep fighting, and fighting with as many other soldiers as possible.

Don't believe that? Have a séance and discuss this with Generals MacArthur, Patton, and Westmoreland among others.

Short essay ... but pointed

A Win-Win Situation?

On one side, the Democrats are not going to do anything about the war in Iraq. They may posture and bluster but they're not going to do anything significant to stop this war. The reason is that they don't want to have the taint of responsibility for any part in this war. They want all of the responsibility for the war to hang like and anvil around the necks of every Republican office holder and candidate as the election season approaches. It's a short term strategy but, the argument goes, you have to get through the short term in order to get to the long term.

On the other side of the aisle, The Republicans aren't going to seriously change their "stay the course" approach to the quagmire that is their war. Their strategy is to keep the damned thing going long enough to be able to pass it on to the next president - probably a Democrat, even from their point of view. Even being out of power has its powers - in this case, the power to point a finger and say "You were so head up about getting us out of this mess, what are YOU doing about it now?"

Whichever side has the pile of poop that is Iraq land on them then has a choice. They can either pursue the absurdity of mediating someone else's civil war ad infinitum while nursing the illusion that there's a possibility of a win in there somewhere or they can take the fall, getting themselves labeled the president and party that surrendered - not a positive thing in the face of the American ego.

Given those choices - as both Johnson and Nixon faced during the Vietnam war - finding a way out is almost politically impossible. Nixon and the Republicans found a way out - or had a way out handed to them by the growing war protests during the late 60s and early 70s. The war protests, taken to the streets across this country, allowed Nixon to finally walk away from the conflict and gave the Republican party someone to blame - the anti-war liberals - for loosing a war we couldn't possibly win.

The best way out politically is to be able to say "We woulda/coulda/shoulda won but the other guy made us pull out." It's risky business. It coulda/shoulda backfired on the Republicans after Vietnam but history seems to suggest they're much better at spin than the truth. Personally, I think the smart move would be for the Republicans to support a withdrawal process while they can still point at the Democrats as the "reason" for us "loosing" - but I'm not sure they're that clever.

In any case, don't expect to see us getting out of Iraq any time soon. At this point, both parties think they have a vested interest in keeping the damned thing going. But, yep, its risky business because whoever ends up holding the hot potato is surely going to be facing anti-war protesters in the streets somewhere along the line.

Like the poster? Check out for more.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Economy is As Strong As Ever

And American Mortgage Brokers haven't lost one bit of their creative financing talents.

MacMansion Home Unsold, Mortgage Brokers Open Brothel

Police: Westchester Couple, Unable To Sell MacMansion House, Turn It Into A House Of Prostitution

(CBS/AP) The downturn in the housing market appears to have driven two New York homeowners to desperate, illegal measures when their house went unsold.

Police say the Westchester County couple, both mortgage brokers, turned their home into a brothel.

Robert Werner, 34, and Heather Mazzenga, 32, were arrested at the three-bedroom home Friday night and were charged with promoting prostitution. Four women, ranging in age from 21 to 30, are charged with misdemeanor counts of prostitution and practicing massage without a license.

The rest is here ... if you absolutely need it.

hummmmm ... the article didn't say if they were Family Values Republicans or not.

Three Elements of Iraq War Opposition

The fella who does the Political Arithmatik blog has a great background in opinion poll analysis (academically and professionally). I follow his opinion poll analysis because I'm fascinated by the statistics and because his analysis is far more detailed that the sensationalist MSM (Main Stream Media). Not to mention that his analysis doesn't always support the conclusions offered in the MSM.

In this piece he examines the polling trends related to the War in Iraq. I think it's both useful and informative to understand what the public opinions really are and what they really represent.

Check it out here

Wexler to Petraeus

Robert Wexler is a Democratic Senator from Florida who apparently knows a little about history. The following is a rough transcript of his comments to general Petraeus:

"I vehemently opposed the surge when the president announced that last winter and instead I call for troops be withdrawn. In your testimony today you claim that the surge is working and you need more time. With all respect General, among unbiased nonpartisan expert consensus thus far the surge has failed based on most parameters. In truth, war related deaths have doubled in Iraq in 2007 compared to last year. Tragically, it is my understanding that seven more American troops have died while we’ve been talking today. Cherry picking statistics or selectively massaging information will not change the basic truth.

And please understand Gen. Petraeus, I do not question your credibility. You are a true patriot. I admire your service to our nation, but I do question your facts. And it is my patriotic duty to represent my constituents and ask you ... to question you about your argument that the surge in troops be expended until next summer, especially when your testimony stating that the dramatic reduction in sectarian death is opposite from the National intelligence estimate the Government accounting office and several other non-biased non-partisan reports.

I am skeptical General, more importantly the American people are skeptical because four years ago very credible people while in uniform and not in uniform came before this Congress and sold us a bill of goods that turned out to be false. And that’s why we went to war based on false pretense to begin with.

This testimony today is eerily similar to the testimony the American people heard on April twenty eighth nineteen sixty seven from General William Westmoreland, when he told the American people America was making progress in Vietnam.

General you say we’re making progress in Iraq but the Iraqi parliament simply left Baghdad and shut down operations last month. You say were making progress but the nonpartisan GAO office concluded that the Iraqi government has failed to meet a fifteen of the eighteen political economic and security benchmarks that Congress mandated. You say we’re making top progress? War related deaths have doubled. An ABC/BBC poll recently said that seventy percent of Iraqis say the surge has worsened their lives. Iraqis say the surge is not working.

I will conclude my comments General and give you a chance to respond but there’s one more thing if I may. We’ve heard a lot today about America’s credibility. President Bush recently stated we should not have withdrawn our troops in Vietnam because of the great damage to America’s credibility. General, there are fifty eight thousand one hundred ninety five names etched into the Vietnam war Memorial. Twenty years from now when we build the Iraq war memorial on the National Mall, how many more men and women will have been sacrificed to protect our so called credibility? How many more names will be added to the wall before we admit it is time to leave?"

My question is how did going into this war on false pretenses effect our credibility that we're so keen to hold onto now?

Einstein's god

by Deepak Chopra on Huffpo

If Einstein pointed the way to a new form of spirituality through his comment on Buddhism in which he gave the key criteria for a "cosmic religion of the future," such a religion, he said, should

  • Transcend a personal God
  • Avoid dogma and theology
  • Embrace both the natural and the spiritual
  • Establish itself on a personal sense of unity among all things

What's left for us is to apply the same criteria today, fifty years after Einstein's death. For many people the first step will prove the hardest. They seek the reassurance and solace of a personal God, but Einstein had seen enough of world catastrophe to reject the possibility of a God who intervenes in daily affairs. A benevolent God who doesn't intervene also seems rather futile. The alternative, as he saw it, is to transcend to a level of Nature where harmony, wonder, and unity are real experiences. One would then have God's essence without needing God's interference. The second point, avoiding dogma and theology, releases us from organized religion. Einstein, being an independent thinker of the highest order, couldn't fit into any organized faith, and more to the point, the Judeo-Christian tradition is based on a personal God, which he had already rejected. Being freed from religion offers an open field for new and unknown possibilities.

The rest of the essay on Einstein's god ...

A quick one-liner from Kurt Vonnegut

"True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country."

Speaking Truth to Power

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA12) to General Petraeus: "We can not take ANY of this Administration’s assertions on Iraq at face value anymore, and no amount of charts or statistics will improve its credibility. This is not a knock on you, General Petraeus, or on you, Ambassador Crocker. But the fact remains, gentlemen, that the Administration has sent you here today to convince the members of these two Committees and the Congress that victory is at hand. With all due respect to you, I must say … I don’t buy it. And neither does the independent Government Accountability Office or the Commission headed by General Jones. Both recently issued deeply pessimistic reports… In the last few days, General Petraeus, media have reported that you are prepared to support a slow drawdown of our forces in Iraq - beginning with a brigade or two, perhaps at the end of this year. This clearly is nowhere near enough… It is time to go - and to go now."

Check out the GAO Report here and compare it with Petraeus' assessment.

File under "who ya' gonna believe - me or you're lyin' eyes?"

More Honor and Integrity from the Family Values Party

According to Wonkette: Nobody is mourning the suicide of St. Petersburg City Council Chairman John Bryan — “a staunch Republican and former finance chairman for U.S. Sen. Connie Mack” — who sucked a tailpipe Friday afternoon after the story broke that he had sexually molested his adopted daughters and another little girl. has the full story ...

Is someone keeping track of the Democrats or are they just not as interesting?

9/11, Six Years Later

by David R. Henderson

It has been six years since the horrid attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Throughout that time, George W. Bush has been president of the United States and, especially given the emphasis he has put on 9/11, it's fair to judge him on how well he's done on policies aimed at responding to 9/11. I will leave out, except tangentially, a judgment on his policies on civil liberties, not because I don't have one, but because I want to focus on foreign policy.

So, how has George W. Bush done? In a word, badly. I'm not challenging his intentions. I believe Bush thought, like almost all Americans and, indeed, like a supermajority of the world's population, that the attacks were horrific and unjustified. I also believe that he wanted to respond appropriately to the attacks. But I'm judging his responses. As one of my mentors, the late Milton Friedman, loved to say, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." George W. Bush has provided, and is providing, much of that pavement.

Finish the essay here ...

A Thought for the Day

It is always easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them. – Alfred Adler

Liberals are smarter, except when circumstances call for a knee-jerk ideologue.

A study says liberal brains "are more responsive to informational complexity."

Test: You sit in front of a computer screen and wait for a letter to appear on it. You're supposed to tap your keyboard if it's an M, but not if it's a W. The experimenters mix it up but give you more M's than W's to see whether you get lulled into tapping when you shouldn't.


1) On M's, liberals and conservatives responded equally well.

2) On W's, liberals were twice as likely to be among the more accurate responders.

3) On electrical measurements of the brain area that monitors conflict "between a habitual tendency … and a more appropriate response," liberals were five times more likely to show brain activity.

Unofficial scientist/media spin: Liberals are smarter.

Official scientist/media spin: Liberals are smarter, except when circumstances call for a knee-jerk ideologue.

Knee-jerk liberal spin: We're smarter because we have more agile brains.

Thoughtful liberal spin: Then again, maybe we have more agile brains because we're smarter.

(Human Nature's view: Liberals are smart, except when their knees jerk.)

The links are all there ... have fun.

Fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way

Click graphic for more.

Unless, of course, you believe the Constitution only guarantees rights to the people who agree with you. Or if you agree with the current administration, who apparently believe, evidence their actions over the last 7 years, that the Constitution is quaint, old fashioned and should be eliminated entirely.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Five O'Clock Follies - Revised

Yesterday I bloged about the resurrection of the body count ... a metric of last resort used to demonstrate that "we're winning". The bit referenced the "Five O'Colck Follies". For those who weren't around for that minor distraction called the Vietnam War, let me put the Five O'Clock Follies in perspective relative to the current distraction:

The Five o'clock Follies is a derogatory term from the Vietnam War for the daily official military press briefings held for reporters in Saigon.

The "Five o'clock Follies," became the baseline reporting on the war. Military officials provided news releases and verbal accounts of battlefield and air activity. They became infamous for their rosy scenarios about the war ...

But the best reporters and news organizations only used these official pronouncements as an on-the-record, official version of events to compare with information from field reporters and other sources. They would take the official word, run it by soldiers actually fighting the war, and combine and contrast the official military view with what was really happening across Vietnam.

During the Gulf War, the military changed the time of the press briefings to disassociate themselves from the Vietnam era. So, during Desert Storm they were known as the "Four o'clock Follies."

Find it here ...

The Current Perspective:
In Vietnam, infamously, foreign journalists trudged through Saigon to attend daily US military briefings that were quickly dubbed 'Five O'Clock Follies.'

They are no longer at Five O'Clock. They are no longer military. And you don't even have to trudge.

The era of digital telecommunications has introduced: the Dial-a-Folly.

To get the US Embassy's daily take on Iraq, journalists in Baghdad can now pick up the phone and get briefed by conference call from an official a mile away across the River Tigris.

This means that a scribbler already sitting in the 'Red Zone' dials from Iraq back to the USA (it is a 001 number) to ask a civil servant sitting in the 'Green Zone' what he thinks is happening out in the 'Red Zone'.

More of that here ...

Ain't technology grand.