Why The President Is Probably Going To Lose

by lestro

Once again, President Obama is pulling a 180 on Candidate Obama’s promises. In this case, he promised that he would punish  those responsible for intentionally tanking the economy in 2008. Now, it seems, the president is doing everything he can to make sure everything works out in Wall Street’s favor while the good folks on Main Street who got totally and completely fucked will be left to pick up scraps and continue to slave away for our corporate overlords.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, all the banks, and, now, apparently, all the other state attorneys general.  [...]

This deal will also submarine efforts by both defrauded investors in MBS and unfairly foreclosed-upon homeowners and borrowers to obtain any kind of relief in the civil court system. The AGs initially talked about $20 billion as a settlement number, money that would “toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners,” as Gretchen Morgenson reported the other day.

The banks, however, apparently “balked” at paying that sum, and no doubt it will end up being a lesser amount when the deal is finally done.

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup , will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.

I love the line “the ultimate papal indulgence.”  That’s genius.

This is the essential problem facing Obama next year: the failure to even TRY to deliver on the promises he made as a candidate.

I’ve been wracking my brain; what part of his platform has he succeeded in passing?

Healthcare? nope.  He buckled and we got Hillary’s plan instead of the public option we voted for.

Closing Gitmo? nope.

Out of Iraq? not quite.

Afghanistan? still there, though we did get Bin Laden and Obama should be commended for that.

Certainly we haven’t seen the ‘change’ we were promised and frankly, I am yet to see him even try.  I expect the youth vote to stay home, once again convinced that their vote don’t mean shit, and when you remove those votes, shift the independents around and factor in a fired-up right wing, you get a mix that spells doom for the president in a race where turnout is going to be the key component…

Mark my words, this is turning into the theme song of the 2012 election:

“U.S. military leaders recognize that they need to make adjustments.”

by twit

why does it sound like we just got to Afghanistan?

The men of the 3rd Batallion, 8th Marine Regiment, based at Camp Lejeune, are discovering in their first two months in Afghanistan that the tactics they learned in nearly six years of combat in Iraq are of little value here — and may even inhibit their ability to fight their Taliban foes.

Their MRAP mine-resistant vehicles, which cost $1 million each, were specially developed to combat the terrible effects of roadside bombs, the single biggest killer of Americans in Iraq. But Iraq is a country of highways and paved roads, and the heavily armored vehicles are cumbersome on Afghanistan’s unpaved roads and rough terrain where roadside bombs are much less of a threat.

… to reach the populace, American forces must find unmapped caravan routes that run through treacherous terrain, routes not designed for their modern military vehicles.

American forces have been in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001 …  and the military is just beginning to notice that the terrain is different?

U.S. military leaders recognize that they need to make adjustments.

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Well no wonder they’re throwing shoes

by lestro

While the Great Shoe-Throwing Incident of 2008 will undoubtedly be the only thing anyone is talking about today (that and the uncanny ability of the Buffalo Bills to almost literally throw away a game in the final minutes), there is another big Iraq story today, one that might even help explain what drove an Iraqi journalist to risk EVERYTHING to take a pot-shot at the President of the United States.

Today the New York Times details a 500+ page draft report of the “official history” of the Iraq war and the picture is not a pretty one.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

According to the Times (and I’ll trust them – the actual report is here, if you want to read it, but at 500 pages, I don’t see myself getting through it today…), the last five years have been an unmitigated failure of leadership.

In the preface, Mr. Bowen gives a searing critique of what he calls the “blinkered and disjointed prewar planning for Iraq’s reconstruction” and the botched expansion of the program from a modest initiative to improve Iraqi services to a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Mr. Bowen also swipes at the endless revisions and reversals of the program, which at various times gyrated from a focus on giant construction projects led by large Western contractors to modest community-based initiatives carried out by local Iraqis. While Mr. Bowen concedes that deteriorating security had a hand in spoiling the program’s hopes, he suggests, as he has in the past, that the program did not need much outside help to do itself in.

Let’s be clear here: No one is slagging the military.

The military mission of defeating and overthrowing Saddam Hussein and occupying the capital was a magnificent success. The military, with a few notable exceptions, have acted honoarbly and done their very best to complete the undefined, politically-motivaed and completely nebulous mission(s) handed down by the civilian leadership.

This is NOT a failure or defeat for the US Military. They did their part.

This is a political and diplomatic failure. Yet another example of how everything the Bush Administration touches seems to turn to shit.

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Iraq comes full circle

by lestro

I remember very well the excitement of the first few weeks of the Iraq war.

It was a crazy time, with news reporters “embedded” and reporting live from the backs of Humvees and Bradleys charging toward the capitol, where the Butcher of Baghdad and his elite republican guard awaited, possibly with their chemical weapons and definitely spoiling for a fight.

I remember shock and I remember awe.

and I will never forget the triumphant images of the American soldiers helping Iraqis pull down the statues of Saddam Hussein. It was a big moment, a triumph and, really, a good day for humanity.  Whether you supported the war or not, there was no way around the joy and excitement that seemed to be pouring out of the Iraqi people actually did, for one day, treat us as liberators.

Of all the images, one of the things I remember specifically was the Iraqis beating the statue of Hussein with their shoes. Men ran up to the statue from all around Baghdad, hopping as they approached the fallen icon and taking off their sandals to beat the visage of Hussein with their shoes.

I remember the anchors and correspondents telling us that this was very significant because in Iraq, hitting something with your shoe was a terrible insult.  It meant you were the lowest of the low,  beneath even the soles of their feet and a tremendous sign of disrespect.

In Iraq, apparently, hitting someone with your shoe is like spitting on them while flipping them off AND calling their dead mother a whore.

It’s nasty stuff.

As you have undoubtedly seen, Baghdad has come full circle. Today, the man who “liberated” Baghdad (and who also plunged its residents into more than five years of terror, warfare and death) visited his catastrophic blunder of a legacy for the last time as Commander-in-Chief.

This morning at a press conference, an Iraqi threw both of his shoes at our president, who had no problem avoiding both shoes, after spending the last eight years dodging questions, prosecutions and the U.S. Constitution.

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Iraqi journalist hurls “a farewell kiss” at George W. Bush

by twit

and Bush manages to duck both of them:

via Breitbart:

An Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes and an insult at George W. Bush, without hitting him, as the US president was shaking hands with the Iraqi premier at his Baghdad office on Sunday.

As the two leaders met in Nuri al-Maliki’s private office, a journalist sitting in the third row jumped up, shouting: “It is the farewell kiss, you dog,” and threw his shoes one after the other towards Bush.

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The fundamentalist difference

by lestro

What a lot of creationists don’t understand is that evolution is not a world view, but is instead simply an explanation, and one that changes when new evidence is discovered.

Unlike the world of creationists, in which an ideological world view is laid out and everything must conform to it.

For example, according to creationist reasoning, there is no special section in the Bible talking about dinosaurs, therefore dinosaurs and man must have existed at the same time, damn the fossil record, carbon dating and whatever other evidence that science might offer. Nevermind the obvious, that if they existed at the same time, you’d think it would be mentioned in the fucking Bible, as Bill Hicks said.

In a recent NYT article, this difference is again made clear as recent experiments have completely blown away a long-standing theory of what the beginnings of the planet looked like, forcing scientists to adapt their views based on the new evidence.

You’ll never see a fundie do that.

Analyses of crystals in rocks in Australia, left, have formed a new picture of the early Earth, depicted with young oceans in the painting at right. (Left, Bruce Watson; right, Don Dixon)

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Eight years later

by twit

From the NY Times blog The Caucus on October 24, 2008:

A twist on the old Budweiser “Wassup” commercials, using the same guys as the originals, and incorporating Iraq, the economic meltdown and the electrified change atmosphere of this election.

and the original “Wazzup” commercial:

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Attack the tactic? Bad strategy, John.

by lestro

I think I just got to the heart of the problem in the George W. Bush Administration, as well as the would-be sequel of the McCampaign.

It is a delicate, but incredible important distinction between strategies and tactics.

Friday in the debate, during a discussion about the 2003 troop surge in Iraq, Barack Obama said:

They have done a brilliant job, and General Petraeus has done a brilliant job. But understand, that was a tactic designed to contain the damage of the previous four years of mismanagement of this war.

And so John likes — John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007. You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong.

You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shiite and Sunni. And you were wrong.

John McCain, following this eloquent and succinct dressing down of his judgment, put on his most condescending face, flicked his tongue a few times and did exactly what the Karl Rove playbook says to do.

He belittled his opponent, plugged the message and changed the subject:

MCCAIN: I’m afraid Senator Obama doesn’t understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy. But the important — I’d like to tell you, two Fourths of July ago I was in Baghdad. General Petraeus invited Senator Lindsey Graham and me to attend a ceremony where 688 brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, were reenlisting to stay and fight for Iraqi freedom and American freedom.

I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to those troops. And you know, afterwards, we spent a lot of time with them. And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don’t want our kids coming back here.

And this strategy, and this general, they are winning. Senator Obama refuses to acknowledge that we are winning in Iraq.

With McCain’s storied military career, his dressing down his younger opponent on the difference between a strategy and a tactic carries some weight.

Unfortunately, as Joe Biden pointed out in the immediate spin (which was not countered by the other veep candidate, by the way. hmmm…), McCain was wrong and Obama was right.

A strategy is a big picture goal while a tactic is what you use to help achieve those. In the case of the surge, the strategy was “Clear, hold and build” – the tactic used to try and accomplish it was a temporary increase in troop levels.

In a broader sense, the strategy was to use the military to tamp down violence and create breathing room for the diplomatic operations to take hold and allow us to get out. The tactic that was used to allow the military to tamp down the violence was “the surge”.

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The end of the Iraq War

by twit

is now scheduled for 2011:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday that an agreement had been reached in negotiations on a security pact with the United States to end any foreign military presence in Iraq by the end of 2011.

“There is an agreement actually reached, reached between the two parties on a fixed date which is the end of 2011 to end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil,” Maliki said in a speech to tribal leaders in the Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

(update: The BBC has more on the story)

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The Iraq War lurches into the ‘win’ column

by twit

We’re pulling out of Iraq.

Via McClatchy on August 7, 2008:

BAGHDAD — The United States and Iraq are nearing completion of negotiations on a security agreement that would pull American troops out of Iraqi cities by next July and foresees all U.S. combat troops gone from Iraq by 2011, according to two Iraqi officials who are familiar with the negotiations.

… The U.S. agreement to set a specific date for the end of American operations in Iraqi cities and the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces marks a major turnaround for the Bush administration, which until last month had refused to discuss a timetable for withdrawal.

However, Iraqi officials were insistent that a date of some sort needed to be set.

… Under the agreement, the United States would pull its troops from Iraqi cities and onto American bases in Iraq by June 30, 2009, according to the Iraqi officials familiar with the negotiations.

We’ve won.

Tenet admits to ‘efforts’ by the Bush Administration to fake Iraq evidence

by twit

So there’s a book out that claims that somebody in the Bush Administration faked a letter to show a link between Iraq and al-Qaida. In the mad scramble of denials that have followed, former CIA Director George Tenet makes an interesting dodge:

Tenet, in a statement distributed by the White House, also issued a denial about the supposedly fake letter. “There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from CIA ever involved in any such effort,” he said.

“It is well established that, at my direction, CIA resisted efforts on the part of some in the administration to paint a picture of Iraqi-al-Qaida connections that went beyond the evidence,” Tenet said. “The notion that I would suddenly reverse our stance and have created and planted false evidence that was contrary to our own beliefs is ridiculous.”

The White House is distributing a denial that says it is “well established” that ‘some people in the Bush Administration made efforts to pressure the CIA to distort the evidence.’

Wait, what? People in the Bush Administration were leading efforts to get the CIA to create and plant false evidence?

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McCain vs. Every Damn Journalist

by twit

You know your shit stinks when every damn reporter calls you out, even the entertainment ones:

McCain’s latest attempt at discrediting his handsome, photogenic young rival particularly galls stars and executives with a memory, because only eight years ago, McCain was a fixture in Hollywood fundraising circles when he tried to raise money from the very people his ad now ridicules.

At the time, dozens of people in Hollywood — including Lear, Harrison Ford, Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy and Michael Douglas — gave to McCain because they thought he was a Republican celebrity ƒè with a great personal story. And, dare we say, some celebrities, namely Warren Beatty, even became friends with the Arizona senator.

But the truth is most of Hollywood won’t return McCain’s calls nowadays because many of the stars and executives he initially impressed now believe the maverick stance they found so attractive was just a pose. Hollywood doesn’t object to a good pose — unless, of course, it doesn’t work.

… The fact of the matter is that for all his popularity in the entertainment industry, Obama has kept Hollywood at a friendly but slight distance. He’s hardly waded into the scene with the sort of relish that Bill Clinton did in the 1990s.

The press kicking the crap out of McCain is not going unnoticed the recent tirade from the Wall Street Journal is definitely special – as I read it, I found myself worrying that the writer was going to accidentally choke on his tie because of how upset he seemed while writing it.

However, in “Dick Move of the Week,” Jon Stewart is our new Secretary of Awesome.

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But how did you get home, Johnny Mac?

by lestro

This week, McCain was out chillin’ with Papa Bush in Maine and slagging on Obama, who is currently on tour in Europe and the Middle East:

The Arizona senator disparaged Obama as “someone who has no military experience whatsoever.”

“When you win wars, troops come home,” McCain said. “He’s been completely wrong on the issue. … I have been steadfast in my position.”

So, uh, John…  If the troops come home when you win wars, how did your skinny ass make it home from Vietnam?

Because if this is your idea of winning a war:

Then I think we can make that happen by Friday…

Iranian dissident leader escapes to America… with a video camera

by twit

Via the International Herald Tribune:

After nearly 8 years in prison, Ahmad Batebi fled Iran, documenting the journey on a pocket-sized video camera.

A July 13, 2008 video report can be seen here. More information is available from a July 13, 2008 article:

… He rose to fame in 1999, appearing on the cover of The Economist magazine holding the bloody T-shirt of a fellow student demonstrator – an image he first saw when a judge slapped it before him and declared: “You have signed your own death sentence.”

At the age of 31, after nearly eight years in Iranian prisons, subjected to torture and twice taken to the gallows and fitted with a noose, Batebi had fled.

His own awakening began in the fourth grade, when his teacher, fed up with the distortions of an official history textbook, burst out: “Go out and read other things to try to get the truth.”

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Memo to the Bush Administration: Sex sells

by twit

So CBS Correspondent Lara Logan went on the Daily Show on June 17, 2008, and you can watch the entire episode here.

//www.nypost.com/seven/06262008/photos/new05a.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

In response to Stewart’s question about whether we have lost our humanity, Logan answers “yes.” One might infer that she is not impressed with the limited war news coverage generally available to Americans.

And now we get to learn that there are sex scandals. What a coincidence.

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Ghosts of Iraq

by twit

An insightful comment on a previous post raised an important point about the mental health effects of combat stress, and it reminded me of a recent news story that goes far beyond the cold statistics of the suicide rates for our war veterans:

From the Fort Mill Times on May 25, 2008:

Until the day he died, Sgt. Brian Rand believed he was being haunted by the ghost of the Iraqi man he killed.

The ghost choked Rand while he slept in his bunk, forcing him to wake up gasping for air and clawing at his throat.

He whispered that Rand was a vampire and looked on as the soldier stabbed another member of Fort Campbell’s 96th Aviation Support Battalion in the neck with a fork in the mess hall.

Eventually, the ghost told Rand he needed to kill himself.

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The Miracle Marine

by twit

Cpl. Merlin German was injured so badly by a roadside bomb in Iraq he was rushed back to the United States so his family could have a chance to say goodbye. 97% of his body was covered in burns but he defied the odds and slowly began the long process of recovery and rehabilitation.

People started calling him the “Miracle Marine.”

The Associated Press reports on May 25, 2008:

At Brooke [Army Medical Center], he designed a T-shirt that he sometimes sold, sometimes gave away. On the front it read: “Got 3 percent chance of survival, what ya gonna do?” The back read, “A) Fight Through, b) Stay Strong, c) Overcome Because I Am a Warrior, d) All Of The Above.” D is circled.

His recovery became legendary:

“Early on, he thought, ‘This is ridiculous. Why am I doing this? Why am I working so hard?’” Renz recalls. “But every month or so, he’d say, ‘I’ve licked it.’ … He was amazingly positive overall. … He never complained. He’d just dig in and do it.”

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In Golf We Trust

by twit

Olbermann has some choice words for Bush about his claim of sacrificing golf out of respect for families of soldiers lost in his wars:

via Buzzfeed.

Bush foreign policy advice is like weight loss tips from those fat twins on the scooters

by lestro

Today the President in all his wisdom chided those who would negotiate with “terrorists and radicals.”

It is being perceived as a shot at Obama, for his (amazingly Christian, something you’d think our born-again crusader of a president would know) view of talking with our enemies in an attempt to resolve the issue by not having to start a multi-billion dollar, never-ending war.

“Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Mr. Bush said.

“We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.”

We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

What a son of a lame duck bitch he is.

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love letters from gangsters and thieves

by twit

why, Alan… my, how you do go on

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Tuesday the U.S. economy was in recession, and said it would be appropriate to tap public funds to resolve the mortgage-related crisis that has helped pull the economy under.

why, Bubba… my, how you do go on

Mark Penn, who lost his job as chief strategist to the Clinton campaign because of his work for the Colombian government on a controversial trade pact, wasn’t her only adviser with such ties. Another is Bill Clinton.

Mr. Clinton supports the pact with Colombia even though his wife opposes it, a Clinton campaign spokesman said Tuesday.

why, Karl… my, how you do go on

… even Rove had to agree that Sen. Clinton has run a poor campaign.

“She has run a horrific campaign,” said Rove. “It has been astonishingly bad. … [Obama] has strategically always run a better campaign than she has tactically.”

why, Energy Information Administration… my, how you do go on

… the Energy Information Administration predicted that average gasoline prices will shoot up to $3.60 a gallon in June and average $3.54 per gallon over the summer driving period, an increase of 60 cents a gallon over last summer.

It’s entirely possible, EIA Administrator Guy Caruso said, that gasoline prices could top $4 a gallon during parts of the summer driving period, defined as April 1 to Sept. 30.

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Surprised?

by twit

ABC News is, but I don’t know what channel they’re watching…

Surprising Political Endorsements By U.S. Troops

… these soldiers spoke out about their personal endorsements, and their opinions are likely to matter. In 2004, 73 percent of the U.S. military voted for a presidential candidate, and officials believe it may be even higher this time around.

so here comes the surprise…

PFC Jeremy Slate said he supported Sen. Barack Obama…

SFC Patricia Keller also expressed support for Obama…

Spc. Imus Loto said he supported Obama…

1st Sgt. David Logan said, “I am leaning toward Hillary…”

Spc. Joseph Lindsesdt’s pick is Obama…

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but John, you are a warmonger. look it up.

by lestro

For being such a tough guy, Sen. John McCain seems to me to have a pretty thin skin:

The campaigns of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama sparred Saturday after Ed Schultz, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who is known for his blunt criticisms of the Bush administration and the Republican Party, called Mr. McCain a “warmonger” at a fund-raiser.

Mr. Schultz, a conservative Republican turned liberal Democrat, made the remarks on Friday while revving up a group of Obama supporters at a $100-a-head fund-raiser at the North Dakota Democratic Party’s convention in Grand Forks. As soon as the Republican National Committee got word of the attack, it issued a statement criticizing Mr. Schultz and calling on Mr. Obama to repudiate the comments.

Later, Mr. McCain, speaking to reporters in Prescott, Ariz., said, “Mr. Schultz is entitled to his views.” But he added, “I would hope that in keeping with his commitment, that Senator Obama would condemn such language, since it was part of his campaign.”

But here’s the thing, he is a warmonger. I looked it up:

war·mon·ger Listen to the pronunciation of warmonger Listen to the pronunciation of warmonger
Pronunciation:
\ˈwr-ˌməŋ-gər, -ˌmäŋ-\
Function:
noun
Date:
1817
: one who urges or attempts to stir up war

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we taught them everything they know

by lestro

Well, we’ve done a heckuva job in Iraq and have obviously trained the Iraqi leadership to the absolute best of our leadership’s abilities, as apparent by the Iraqi push into Basra last week that stirred up the Mahdi army:

… interviews with a wide range of American and military officials also suggest that Mr. Maliki overestimated his military’s abilities and underestimated the scale of the resistance. The Iraqi prime minister also displayed an impulsive leadership style that did not give his forces or that of his most powerful allies, the American and British military, time to prepare.

“He went in with a stick and he poked a hornet’s nest, and the resistance he got was a little bit more than he bargained for,” said one official in the multinational force in Baghdad who requested anonymity. “They went in with 70 percent of a plan. Sometimes that’s enough. This time it wasn’t.”

As the Iraqi military and civilian casualties grew and the Iraqi planning appeared to be little more than an improvisation, the United States mounted an intensive military and political effort to try to turn around the situation, according to accounts by Mr. Crocker and several American military officials in Baghdad and Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A leader with good intentions and bad advice who went lumbering into a battle with no exit strategy and a vastly underestimated sense of the insurgency that was waiting for them?

why does that sound familiar? oh yeah.

But the comparisons don’t end there.

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our surge can beat up your surge

by lestro

With all the talk about the great effectiveness of “the surge” in Iraq, one little important bit of evidence is always left out when discussing the reduction in violence: the Mahdi Army’s decision to lay low since last summer.

However, this week Moktada al-Sadr – a guy who went from a terrorist who needed to be killed into a political leader we deal with – decided to reassert himself:

Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who commands the Mahdi Army and initially called for a suspension of his militia’s activities in August, called on Monday called for a nationwide civil disobedience campaign, beginning in Baghdad, in response to what his followers say is an unwarranted crackdown.

and what happened?  all hell broke loose.

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Should the US boycott the Olympics?

vs.

Previously, in response to a report that hundreds of Tibetans have been killed since March 10, 2008, lestro wondered, “what if they hosted an Olympics and no one came?”

The conversation continues…

http://i.infoplease.com/images/blackpower.jpg

Bush: Politics not a factor in Olympics

WASHINGTON – China’s crackdown in Tibet will not cause President Bush to cancel his planned trip to the Beijing Olympics, the White House said Thursday.

… Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush’s position is that the Olympics “should be about the athletes and not necessarily about politics.”

She said that Bush, in accepting the invitation last year from Chinese President Hu Jintao to attend the Olympics, told him the games would “shine a spotlight on all things Chinese.”

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Perino added.

Bush agreed to go to the Olympics during a meeting with Hu in Australia last September during the Asia Pacific Economic Council meeting. A White House spokesman said at the time that Bush was going to the games for the sports and not for any political statement.

(image via infoplease.com via www.attytood.com)

Should the US boycott the 2008 Olympics?

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birthday parties for unjust wars

by twit

Five years ago I watched the war start on CNN. It had been frustrating then to see how limited the news coverage was of the protests that were taking place in DC and around the country at the time. On the ground, they were huge. On the news, not so much.

Five years ago we didn’t have the internets like we do now, but today, after visits to the main organizing sites and finding no blogs, no updates few updates, no recent press releases or video, I see a missed opportunity here. It looks like whatever fragmentation is happening with the organizers of the protests, it translated into fragmented coverage on the internets and in the news.

so what the hell happened?

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war is fun

by twit

Bush listens to military and civilian personnel on the front lines describe how difficult operations are in Afghanistan, and in a Ferraro-esque display of self-absorption and abandonment of reality, suggests they should quit complaining and instead be more appreciative of the ‘fantastic’ and ‘exciting’ experiences of war and reconstruction.

From Reuters on March 14, 2008, with emphasis added:

http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/N/b/bush_finger_thumbnail.jpg

I must say, I’m a little envious,” Bush said. “If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.”

It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.

You’re really making history, and thanks,” Bush said.

The Raw Story notes on March 13, 2008 that an upcoming conference is going to highlight “some pretty fucked-up shit” from the experiences of combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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pay no attention to the war in Iraq

by twit

MSNBC reports on a recent study from the Pew Research Center that suggests “public awareness of developments in the Iraq war has dropped precipitously since last summer, as the news media have paid less attention to the conflict.”

And maybe they have a point. I had figured that the graphic story about the five severed fingers sent to US officials in Iraq would dominate the news today, but apparently it is (mostly) flying under the radar. DNA tests confirm that the fingers belong to military contractors kidnapped in Iraq in 2006. McClatchy reports:

The first four men were security contractors with Kuwait-based Crescent Security and were captured in a brazen ambush of their 43-truck supply convoy in the southern Iraqi town of Safwan, near the Kuwaiti border, on Nov. 16, 2006.

The Crescent contractors appeared in two hostage videos released in December 2006 and January 2007 in which they pleaded for the United States to withdraw troops from Iraq and to free all Iraqi prisoners. In the videos, they appeared in good condition and said that they were being treated well.

No financial demand has been made public and it’s unclear what group is holding the men. All of the hostages were seized in southern Iraq, an area swarming with powerful Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim militias.

Image via Drudge, representative of what the American news prefers to think about instead.

http://www.drudgereport.com/sw.jpg

The Washington Post points out that only “[t]wenty-eight percent of the public is aware that nearly 4,000 U.S. personnel have died in Iraq over the past five years, while nearly half thinks the death tally is 3,000 or fewer.” For the record, via Think Progress, “[a]s of today, the Department of Defense has confirmed the deaths of 3,973 U.S. soldiers.”

UPDATE: The Raw Story reports on March 24, 2008:

The remains of two American security contractors who were kidnapped more than a year ago have been found in Iraq, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Monday.

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“There is no crisis to be dealt with or managed when you are first lady”

by twit

zing. From the Associated Press on March 8, 2008:

http://ak.imgfarm.com/images/ap/thumbnails//Clinton_s_Experience.sff_WX104_20080308110145.jpg “Her experience speaks for itself,” says former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is advising Clinton’s campaign. She wasn’t the one making the final decisions on U.S. policy, he says, but “no one in the world got a better idea of the countervailing pressures. The most important decision a president can make is to send Americans into harm’s way. She knows what that entails.”

A contrary view comes from Susan Rice, a former assistant secretary of state from the Clinton years and an Obama campaign adviser. She said Clinton’s involvement with foreign policy as first lady was “laudable and important, but it is hardly the same thing as the kind of crisis management” that is required of a president. “There is no crisis to be dealt with or managed when you are first lady,” Rice said.

hm. Hillary Clinton’s adviser says that the most important decision “a president can make” is about sending the military into harm’s way. So she gets a big ‘fail’ for voting to start the Iraq war, right?

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postcards from the internets

by twit

when he’s right he’s right: “I have some news for John McCain,” Obama said, according to The Politico. “There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain” started their war… John McCain may like to say he wants to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell, but so far all he’s done is follow George Bush into a misguided war…”

when she’s right she’s right twice: “It’s a hard sell for Hillary to say that she is the only one capable of leading this country in a war when she helped in leading the country into that war.” aaaand: “It is only because of the utter open-mindedness of the press that Hillary can lose 11 contests in a row and still be treated as a contender.”

through the looking glass: “First came Harold Ickes, who gave a presentation about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s prospects that severed all ties with reality.”

and back again: “A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds Barack Obama with a 16-point lead over rival Hillary Clinton among Democratic primary voters nationwide…

When all registered voters were asked who they favored in a head-to-head general election match up between Obama and McCain, Obama led by 12 percentage points, 50 to 38 percent. In a Clinton-McCain match up, registered voters were evenly split, with 46 percent backing each candidate.”

when the kitteh’z right…

http://yeswecanhas.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/republicat.jpg

more postcards after the jump…

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100 Years Is OK With Me

by squishmael

Please don’t interpret this as a commitment of support on my hairy part, but, in specific regards to the ’100 years’ statement that Hill and Barry have been riding, I don’t think it’s all that bad as explained by CNN. I, too, think that a 100% pull-out could have some notable consequences. In fact, I would have to say that having some very-limited presence there is the responsible way to go. Getting to the point where our presence is peaceful and not prompting innocent civilians to be killed as a result of suicide bombers’ actions in reaction to our presence, however, is a very dim-lit road.

Right To Life

by squishmael

I haven’t finished the process of breaking down all the issues yet. I admit to not giving the race for the presidency a lot of attention until the last month or so. But, you can count on one issue being on the top of my list when I line up the candidates side by side to compare their positions: how do they address the issue of the people’s right to life?

Now, you may already be writing me off as a Christian conservative, but, hold on. When I consider the right for each individual being to live, I’m not just talking about fetuses (which I do believe have that right), but, also about American citizens being forced to serve in Iraq, elderly people who can’t afford medication, hispanics who cross the border out of desperation, and blue collar workers who can’t afford proper medical care.

The worst thing somebody could do is claim that they are for protecting the lives of the unborn and vote for a candidate who says they also want to protect the unborn, but, then put hundreds or thousands of people in harm’s way for the sake of oil.

The fact that the American political system is flawed becomes apparent when you realize that bundled laws that aren’t even read by most lawmakers are being passed by the truckload and presidential candidates are burning millions of dollars just to make the point that they’re responsible enough to have the job of righting our economy, providing healthcare for people who can’t afford it, and feeding those whose cupboards are bare.

As Chris Cornell once sang so brilliantly several years ago, “The wreck is going down. Get out before you drown.”

understatement of the day

by twit

“This parody concept is brilliant.”

thx Wonkette

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People may ignore the war in favor of the elections

by twit

and the Pew Research Center reports that Iraq was the focus of only two percent of news coverage from January 28 through February 3, 2008.

But Iraq has a way of calling attention to itself:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two journalists working for CBS News have gone missing in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the company said in a statement.

“All efforts are under way to find them and until we learn more details, CBS News requests that others do not speculate on the identities of those involved. CBS News has been in touch with the families and asks that their privacy be respected,” CBS News said in a statement.

via drudge

Made in France – False Statements

by the squid

So finally, some poor graduate students were asked to over all the rhetoric leading up the the Iraq war. They found 935 false statements.

“The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.”

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