Our American Values and Character

by joshua

“Ten years later, I’d say America came through this thing in a way that was consistent with our character. We’ve made mistakes. Some things haven’t happened as quickly as they needed to. But overall, we took the fight to al-Qaida, we preserved our values, we preserved our character.” President Obama to NBC News

This Memorial Day, why don’t we honor the Nazi dead while we’re at it?

by lestro

UPDATED! SEE BELOW!

There’s a column in Sunday’s Washington Post about something I am afraid to admit I did not know existed.

Apparently, somewhere in Arlington National Cemetery, there is a monument honoring the dead of the Confederate States of America. The monument was dedicated in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson and according to the article, presidents  have since honored the Confederacy’s dead along with those of the United States by sending a wreath on Memorial Day.

The question in the column is whether President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, will and should continue the tradition honoring a nation whose very founding was based on keeping blacks as subservient slaves.

Although it is tough to tell exactly where the author stands on the main issue of honoring Confederates, he expects the president to send a wreath because it is tradition:

Many of my colleagues in academia are urging President Obama to pull the plug on this tradition. I doubt that he will, for the simple reason that the men buried around the Confederate memorial sacrificed, suffered and died just as the black and white soldiers of the Union did. Most of the descendants of those Confederates, whatever their political stripe today, would be loath to deny their ancestors a simple gesture of recognition.

The author goes on to say that the president should send a wreath to the memorial as well as one to the African American Civil War Memorial as a sort of reconciliation.

But I disagree. The president should under no circumstances feel pressure to honor the dead of the enemies of the United States on the holiday designed to honor those who gave their lives for this great nation.

It is also important to note that this is NOT a tradition that goes all the way back. According to the Arlington Cemetery Web site,  (warning: music will play when the page opens. the player is all the way at the bottom of the page) the first President Bush ended said tradition in 1990 and it was not re-instated until the second President Bush started sending wreaths again.

Therefore, President Obama should feel no pressure in having to honor these traitors. It is shameful that President Bush restarted this tradition in the first place.

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Crying wolf?

by lestro

So Pelosi held a press conference yesterday to discuss what she knew about torture and when she knew it.

Turns out she was briefed in 2003.  I think.  It’s tough to really tell.

At a tense press conference, Ms. Pelosi said for the first time that a staff member alerted her in February 2003 that top lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee had been briefed on the use of tough interrogation methods on terror suspects.

Her excuse is somewhere between stupidity and Bush, which, I admit, is not that great a distance.

But she said the fact that she did not speak out at the time due to secrecy rules did not make her complicit in any abuse of detainees. She accused the C.I.A. and Bush administration of lying to Congress about what was actually transpiring with the detainees.

“I am saying that the C.I.A. was misleading the Congress and at the same the administration was misleading the Congress on weapons of mass destruction,” Ms. Pelosi said.

Link it to other lies. Beautiful. The Bush Admin obviously, 100 percent misled Congress and the American People about WMD and the Iraq-al Qaida link during the run up to the Iraq war.  It only makes sense they’d do the same thing about torture.

Boehner, however, was right on top of her, though he is arguing her point…

Republicans immediately took issue with the speaker’s comments, saying that she was in essence blaming the intelligence professionals for misleading her.

Why is that so tough to believe, considering the nation’s top intelligence official told the president that WMD in Iraq was a “slam dunk” and helped mislead the entire country into war?

That is what happened, Johnny my boy, keep the fuck up.

The Republican-driven furor over what Ms. Pelosi knew about waterboarding and other techniques has put the speaker on the defensive. She repeatedly referred to a carefully prepared statement to respond to multiple questions at the session with reporters.

Ms. Pelosi blamed the dispute on Republicans and others, saying they are trying to shift attention from those who authorized the interrogations and other tactics now found to be questionable.

Republicans have said the speaker was now criticizing the Bush administration for abusing terror suspects when she herself was aware of it at the time.

“This is a diversionary tactic to take the spotlight off of those who conceived, developed and implemented these policies, which all of us long opposed,” Ms. Pelosi said.

I love the “Republican-driven” bit in there because it really shows that if anyone wants it both ways, it is Boehner.

Shit, in 2003 Pelosi wasn’t even the speaker, Denny Hastert was. Shouldn’t they be all over his shit?

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There’s got to be a better way

by lestro

From the Seattle PI on May 14, 2009:

The nation’s new drug czar looks like he has no interest in being the commanding general of a war on drugs.

Gil Kerlikowske, Seattle’s former police chief, says in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he wants to end using the phrase “war on drugs.”

“Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” Kerlikowske said in his first interview since being confirmed for the federal post. “We’re not at war with people in this country.”

Damn right.

We are never going to “defeat” drugs and Kerlikowske is right about it being a war on the American people. We should change our language to reflect that we are trying to reduce abuse and help those locked in a cycle of addiction.

I don’t know what that word is, but I am 100 percent sure it is NOT “war”…

Make Trek, Not Wars

by lestro

I love this:

Inside the White House, a tight circle of advisers has already been selected and office space has been set aside in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. But aides said their surroundings would purposely not be called a “war room,” because of the combative image that the term suggests.

“We would like to put the confirmation wars of the past behind us,” one White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the selection process, “and have signaled that with our consensus-oriented, non-confrontational approach to appellate court nominations.”

LOVE it.

I absolutely hate all of the war metaphors we use in this country.  Everything is a war: war on drugs, war on terror, war on poverty, etc.

This creates an adversarial tone and belittles what an actual war is.  Besides, the government is losing the war on drugs and the war on poverty.  Which means stoners and the starving are winning!

That’s bad.

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We are America! We do not fucking torture!

by twit

With thanks to the Daily What, and by way of FOX News:

it’s about thirty seconds in…

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The high-level White House

by twit

According to Newsweek on April 21, 2009:

The report, an advanced copy of which was provided to several news organizations, draws on newly declassified documents that Levin says bolsters his principal message: That the abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo were not caused by “a few bad apples,” as Bush administration officials repeatedly asserted.

Instead, Levin said in a statement Tuesday, it was the product of high-level White House decisions to utilize a controversial series of “enhanced” and coercive interrogation techniques despite vociferous warnings by U.S. military lawyers and FBI officials that they could subject U.S. officials to prosecutions for torture and war crimes.

High-level White House decisions?  Whatever could that mean?

According to Fox News on April 20, 2009:

The former vice president says the biggest task he had was to protect the nation’s security following 9/11 and to ensure such devastation would never happen again.  He says many of the policies he set up are currently being dismantled by the Obama administration.

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morning cartoons of insanity

by twit

“The Crisis of Credit Visualized”

via mefi

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The president is a simple man, indeed.

by lestro

Today at his news conference, the president discussed his greatest mistake, without actually realizing it:

Mr. Bush went on, leaning over the lectern as he declared, in effect, that while many Americans have moved on after the attacks, he has not. “You remember what it was like right after September the 11th around here?” he demanded, adding: “People were saying, ‘How come they didn’t see it? How come they didn’t connect the dots?’ Do you remember what the environment was like in Washington? I do.”

So? Answer your own question, Georgie: How come you didn’t see it? How come you didn’t connect the dots?

And if the dots were there and you just failed to connect them, why did you need all those new powers and imperial leeway?  Seems to me that if you had spent less time in the summer of 2001 paying attention to the Chandra Levy thing (who?) or the shark attacks (seriously?) maybe you would have connected the dots that said “Bin Laden determined to strike in the US,” you idiot.

And still defiantly dumb to the end:

To critics who say his policies have diminished America’s moral standing in the world, Mr. Bush said flatly, “I disagree with this assessment.”

He said was not certain why he had become so divisive — “I don’t know why they get angry. I don’t know why they get hostile,” he replied to a question about those who disagree with his policies so vehemently that it became personal — and added that he had learned, during the course of his time in office, not to pay attention.

He disagrees? Because, uh, according to Pew, he is, um, WRONG.

Seems pretty straight-forward to me, Mr. President-for-thankfully-only-another-week.

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“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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Joe the travesty

by twit

hey Joe, what did you learn today?

partial transcript via Think Progress:

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.

and confidential to Joe: we support our troops here.

This is what you get

by lestro

When you elect terrorists to run your ‘country.’

The question is no longer whose fault this is. The answer is very obviously Hamas.

Dr. Awni al-Jaru, 37, a surgeon at the hospital, rushed in from his home in the Toufah neighborhood in Gaza City dressed in his scrubs. But he came not to work. His head was bleeding, and his daughter’s jaw was broken.

He said Hamas militants next to his apartment building had fired mortar and rocket rounds. Israel fired back with enormous force, and his apartment was hit. His wife, Albina, originally from Ukraine, and his 1-year-old son were killed.

The story is about ordinary people being caught between the idiot terrorists and the crushing force of the Israeli army. It sucks, but what can you do?

Within minutes, another car pulled up with four more patients.

One was a 21-year-old man with shrapnel in his left leg who demanded quick treatment. He turned out to be a militant with Islamic Jihad. He was smiling a big smile.

“Hurry, I must get back so I can keep fighting,” he told the doctors and anyone else who would listen.

He was told that there were more serious cases than his and that he needed to wait his turn. But he insisted. “We are fighting the Israelis,” he said. “When we fire we run, but they hit back so fast. We run into the houses to get away.” He continued smiling.

“Why are you so happy?” someone asked. “Look around you. Don’t you see the misery that you are helping to cause?”

His answer?

“But I am from the people, too,” he said, his smile incandescent. “They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.”

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The New York Times gets punk’d

by twit

It has been quite a long week for the New York Times.

On December 19, 2008, The Nation takes a big swing at the New York Times coverage of the Georgia/Ossetia conflict, suggesting that “the Times engaged in the sort of media malpractice that it promised its readers wouldn’t happen again after its disastrous coverage of the lead-up to the Iraq War.”  Then, the Standards Editor for the New York Times responds with a “defense” that ultimately seems to support the point the Nation was making.

On December 21, 2008, the New York Times publishes the article “White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire,” which plays into the delusional meme of George W. Bush simply being a well-meant fool.  Overall, it was a long and dull piece that still manages to be a nice reminder about how lucky this country is that Bush didn’t get his way on Social Security privatization.

But then, the article gets some of the spice it was missing when White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued a snarly response and stated, “We make no apology for understanding the concept of regulatory balance.”

Today, however, brings this tiding of good cheer:

The New York Times admitted Monday it published a fake letter purportedly from the mayor of Paris criticizing Caroline Kennedy’s Senate bid as “appalling” and “not very democratic.”

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Barack Obama, the battered wife

by twit

Obama recently responded to the outrage over Rick Warren with the statement that “what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable.”   This reminds me of the millions of abused spouses and children who try to do this, with the hope that if they are just nicer to their abusive family member, maybe the abuse will stop.

This is why it hurts so badly for Obama to have chosen Rick Warren for the inaugural invocation.  We know it won’t stop the abuse.  We know that it will only empower and enable the abusers.

A commentary at CNN describes some of the positions held by Rick Warren:

He adamantly opposes a woman’s legal right to abortion and dismisses common-ground efforts to reduce the need for abortion by comparing them to accommodating the Holocaust. He is disrespectful of progressive people of faith, suggesting that they are tools of the Democratic Party or more Marxist than Christian.

… Warren, in an interview with Beliefnet.com, has since equated allowing loving same-sex couples to get married with redefining marriage to permit incest and pedophilia.

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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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How to play music like a war crime

by twit

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine … protesting against Guantanamo Bay at the Reading festival. Photograph: Chiaki Nozu/Filmmagic.com/Getty Images  (The Guardian)

via Slashdot, from the AP:

At least Vance, who says he was jailed for reporting illegal arms sales, was used to rock music. For many detainees who grew up in Afghanistan – where music was prohibited under Taliban rule – interrogations by U.S. forces marked their first exposure to the pounding rhythms, played at top volume.

The experience was overwhelming for many. Binyam Mohammed, now a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, said men held with him at the CIA’s “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan wound up screaming and smashing their heads against walls, unable to endure more.

“There was loud music, (Eminem’s) ‘Slim Shady’ and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this nonstop over and over,” he told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith. “The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night for the months before I left. Plenty lost their minds.”

and that’s not all…

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Our faithful Bush Administration

by twit

is keeping us safe by declaring “mission accomplished,” while standing in front of a backdrop far more brutal than a Palin Thanksgiving special.

via the Associated Press world news Dec 4, 12:11 pm (ET):

AP IMPACT: Pakistan police losing terrorism fight
BADABER, Pakistan (AP) – Brothers Mushtaq and Ishaq Ali left the police force a month ago, terrified of dying as their colleagues had – beheaded by militants on a rutted village road before a shocked crowd. They went straight to the local Urdu-language newspaper to announce their resignation. They…

Rice satisfied with Pakistan’s anti-terror stance
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she is satisfied with Pakistan’s commitment with its readiness to pursue any lead in the attacks in India that have sharply raised tensions between the two nuclear powers. Pakistan’s young civilian government, she said…

just 47 “joyous” days left of the Bush Administration…

… according to the Daily Show on December 3, 2008.

Hugo Chavez declares war on Alaska

by twit

by again offering donations of oil to rural parts of the state:

With heating oil prices approaching $10 a gallon in rural Alaska and reports of neighbors stealing fuel from neighbors to warm their homes, a Venezuela-owned oil company plans to supply free fuel to villages again this winter.  […]

Citgo has provided roughly 15,000 Alaska village households 100 gallons of heating oil each for the past two winters. If the company donates the same amount this year, some families will save as much as $1,000 on their fuel bills. It’s part of a program providing assistance to low-income communities in 23 states.

which means war!

The fact that the heating assistance is coming from Chavez led some eligible Alaska communities — such as St. Paul — to reject Citgo’s gift in the past.

It would have been unpatriotic to participate, said Steve Senisch, a local councilman who voted against the gift in 2007.

He predicted the council will vote the same way this time.

well, maybe less war this year…
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Sarah Palin thinks George W. Bush is an idiot

by twit

But apparently Bush wins this round.  From the Guardian on September 25, 2008:

Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.

[…] Bush’s decision to refuse to offer any support for a strike on Iran appeared to be based on two factors, the sources said. One was US concern over Iran’s likely retaliation, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and other personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The other was US anxiety that Israel would not succeed in disabling Iran’s nuclear facilities in a single assault even with the use of dozens of aircraft. It could not mount a series of attacks over several days without risking full-scale war. So the benefits would not outweigh the costs.

But as Sarah Palin told Charles Gibson on September 11, 2008:

GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don’t think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

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“Palin-tology”

by lestro

A column in today’s LA Times paints a horrifying picture of Wasilla and of its famous former mayor, and it does so mostly using people who like her.

Some towns have character. Some have a sense of place.

And then there is Wasilla, which greets visitors with Wal-mart, Target, Lowe’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s and Taco Bell.

They paved paradise, and all they’ve got to show for it is chalupas and discount tube socks.

I thought I’d found the town center when I came upon a row of frontier-style buildings, but it was just a Knott’s Berry Farm-style facade housing a Señor Taco, among other establishments. Up at the next intersection of strip malls, I found a Chimo Guns shop across from a store offering 15% off of home-schooling supplies.

Sure, every town in the United States has its big-box stores, strip malls, fast-food joints and sprawling churches. But Wasilla seems to have little else.

But according to one of the planning commissioners who is running for mayor, it’s not Sarah’s fault.

Rupright admits the “downtown” area is no model city, with too much traffic and no real center. He’d like to fix that, he said, and the city sewer system is a mess too.

But don’t blame Palin, he said, calling her a good mayor and a smart cookie. The town just grew too fast.

“Grew too fast.” That’s idiot-speak for “someone was asleep at the switch.”

News

AP Photo/Al Grillo via Salon

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John McCain says Sarah Palin is naive

by twit

According to Alex Koppelman at Salon on September 12, 2008:

In his interview with her, ABC News’ Charlie Gibson pressed Sarah Palin repeatedly on the question of Pakistan and whether the U.S. has the right to make cross-border attacks into that country without its government’s permission. The answer Palin eventually came up with was, admittedly, on message. The only problem? It wasn’t John McCain’s message that Palin was repeating — it was Barack Obama’s.

… Obama has been attacked for taking that stance, and for announcing it publicly.

… McCain himself has repeatedly taken after Obama on the issue. Speaking to reporters in February, McCain said, “[T]he best idea is to not broadcast what you’re going to do. That’s naive… You don’t broadcast that you are going to bomb a country that is a sovereign nation and that you are dependent on the good will of the people of that country to help you in the war — in the struggle against Taliban and the sanctuaries which they hold.”

The Washington Post makes the same point on September 12, 2008:

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Even John McCain isn’t so foolish to talk about going to war with Russia

by twit

Via Politico on August 12, 2008:

McCain has led harsh denunciations of Russia’s invasion of Georgia, though neither he nor any other leader has suggested that the West has any real way to blunt Moscow’s ultimate intentions.

Which hopefully means that we now can all agree that Governor Palin is dangerously unqualified to be Vice President:

GIBSON: Would you favor putting Georgia and Ukraine in NATO?

PALIN: Ukraine, definitely, yes. Yes, and Georgia.

GIBSON: Because Putin has said he would not tolerate NATO incursion into the Caucasus.

PALIN: Well, you know, the Rose Revolution, the Orange Revolution, those actions have showed us that those democratic nations, I believe, deserve to be in NATO.

Putin thinks otherwise. Obviously, he thinks otherwise, but…

GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?

PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.

You’d think a Governor whose national security credentials are based on Alaska being close to Russia would understand this…

Pay no attention to the war behind the curtain

by twit

October surprise edition, via the Jerusalem Post by way of Drudge:

The Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD, has called off an operation aimed at infiltrating and sabotaging Iran’s weapons industry due to an assessment that a US attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is imminent, according to a report in the country’s De Telegraaf newspaper on Friday.

The report claimed that the Dutch operation had been “extremely successful,” and had been stopped because the US military was planning to hit targets that were “connected with the Dutch espionage action.”

The impending air-strike on Iran was to be carried out by unmanned aircraft “within weeks,” the report claimed, quoting “well placed” sources.

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on God’s vote

by lestro

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and again after Hurricane Katrina, the right-wing evangelical fundamentalist establishment leaders said – both times – that each one was the result of God’s wrath  because of the acceptance of homosexuals as human beings.

Then they attacked the center and left for “blaming America first” for the September 11 attacks, when non-Republicans the country over said, “whoa, whoa, whoa.  Why did they attack us?  They say it’s because of our foreign policy? hmm. maybe we should look at that…” (by the way, the President immediately and quietly met a handful of Al Qaida’s demands, like, say, pulling troops out of Saudi Arabia…)

They won a presidential election doing that.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, most people realized that it could not be blamed on Democrats (though I am sure they tried to find a way…), but it didn’t stop the right wing from blaming the gays and the loose morals of the left.

They lost the Senate and the House doing that.

But really, if God does control the weather (and why wouldn’t he, really? After all, if he is omnipotent enough to answer that prayer about a winning season for the Red Sox or help you find your car keys, certainly he’s omnipotent enough to wing a few storms around), I don’t think he is voting Republican this year.

Twice this year, hurricanes have completely disrupted major McCain events, but the weather has completely favored Obama events.

Think about it. Back in July, on Obama’s World Tour, while he was speaking on a gorgeous day in Berlin, John McCain had to cancel his big photo op and front page grab on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico because a hurricane rolled through.

Now, after Obama held an outdoor rally in front of 84,000 people on a beautiful summer night in Denver, all the talk is about Hurricane Gustav and its potential Category 5 impact on the Louisiana coast almost three years to the day that Katrina laid bare once and for all the incompetence of the Bush Administration.

I mean, I may not be one to believe that an all-powerful being gets His jollies punishing those He is supposed to love and favor.

But if I did, I would certainly not find it surprising at all that the God who teaches “love thy neighbor” (and built his name on forgiveness and opposes adultery and divorce and talks about “thou shalt not kill” and the “meek” inheriting the earth and all that) would be trying to slow the run of a warmongering lifelong military man who sings ‘bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb iran’ and divorced the seriously injured wife that waited for him while he was a POW for a woman he calls a cunt.

Because as near as I can tell from the Bible, He hates those things.

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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“All I know is, there is water where it didn’t used to be”

by twit

Which is apparently why the United States is losing a very Cold War…

From the International Herald Tribune on August 18, 2008:

Admiral Thad Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard, who toured Alaska’s Arctic shores two weeks ago with the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, said that whatever mix of natural and human factors is causing the ice retreats, the Arctic is clearly opening to commerce – and potential conflict and hazards – like never before.

“All I know is, there is water where it didn’t used to be, and I’m responsible for dealing with that,” Allen said. Given the 8 or 10 years it would take to build even one icebreaker, he added, “I think we’re at a crisis point on making a decision.”

Really? A crisis point in the Arctic? However could this have happened?

As early as 2001, the navy issued reports saying that it had limited ability to operate ships and planes reliably in the Arctic. But with two costly wars under way, the region has remained an icy backwater and a low priority, with navy budgets for polar analysis declining.

oh. So what does this mean?

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But can they strap it to a shark’s head?

by lestro

So the most interesting part of the laser truck story was that Boeing has apparently already fired theirs. I followed the link and son of a bitch it’s true. But beyond the killing power is an even more powerful weapon for governments the world over:

Boeing announced today the first ever test firing of a real-life ray gun that could become US special forces’ way to carry out covert strikes with “plausible deniability.”

In tests earlier this month at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Boeing’s Advanced Tactical Laser — a modified C-130H aircraft — “fired its high-energy chemical laser through its beam control system. The beam control system acquired a ground target and guided the laser beam to the target, as directed by ATL’s battle management system.”

Cool. The future is now.

According to the developers, the accuracy of this weapon is little short of supernatural. They claim that the pinpoint precision can make it lethal or non-lethal at will. For example, they say it can either destroy a vehicle completely, or just damage the tires to immobilize it. The illustration shows a theoretical 26-second engagement in which the beam deftly destroys “32 tires, 11 Antennae, 3 Missile Launchers, 11 EO devices, 4 Mortars, 5 Machine Guns” — while avoiding harming a truckload of refugees and the soldiers guarding them.

Wow.

But aside from the killing power – which though impressive doesn’t have all the neat smoke and fire that really gives the brass a hard-on – the laser might also give the higher-ups something even more important – “plausible deniability.”

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The Mobile Laser Cannon

by twit

Coming soon to a warzone near you

Hel_td_beam

Image from Boeing via Danger Room

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McCain vs. Rocky II

by twit

“Baracky II”

via the Viral Video Chart

Once again, Arab insurgents distract a superpower from the obvious threat… The other superpower

by lestro

In the future, when alien anthropologists or hyper-intelligent insect archaeologists are trying to piece together the end of what we call ‘human civilization,’ they will undoubtedly come to one conclusion:

It was the fault of the Arabs. But not in the way that one might expect.

After 50 years of posturing and bluffing and threats of mutual assured destruction, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union finally seemed to burn itself out in the late 80s. The Soviet Union broke apart and the Doomsday Clock finally turned back a few ticks as everyone was now almost all on the same side.

World War III, at least as we expected it, had been averted.

But the new threat of Islamofacism stepped in to fill the gap, an ideology of destruction and hate, premised on a bastardization of a religion and a total lack of respect for nation states, their leadership and their territorial boundaries.

Eventually, all eyes turned to this rising force as the new potential enemy for World War III. At first, they attacked, we ignored. They attacked again, we swatted at them like flies. They attacked again and we continued to pooh-pooh and downplay the threat to our national security. Then, on September 11, 2001, the little bastards went too far and suddenly everyone – including, finally, the Bush Administration – was paying attention.

Finally we had a new enemy. Finally we could crank our war machine back up. The World War that we had spent 50 years preparing for was finally on our doorstep.

It didn’t matter that it wasn’t the war we expected or that they didn’t play by the rules, we took it to them.

Fer us or agin us. And agin us gets bombed.

If World War III was going to play out, it was obviously going to be between the Civilized World and the Fundamentalist Islamic World.

Made sense at the time.

But history, says the cliché, is written by the victors. And that means much of the story often gets left out. And as recent events in Georgia have shown us, just because we counted out the Soviets and that version of WWIII doesn’t mean they did.

We took our eye off the Russians in favor of the Arabs and it may end up costing us. Just like it did them.

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McCain 2008: “He’ll make Cheney look like Ghandi”

by twit

Thank you, Sensico.  This video is a powerful statement about John McCain and his vision for America:

America’s Old Man continues to let his imagination run wild

by lestro

According to the Caucus, at an event in Pennsy, Johnny Mac had this to say about his plan to go to as many small towns as possible :

“I’m going to tell them I think they are the heartland of America, that the values they hold dear are the strength and character of America,” Mr. McCain said.

“They’re the reason why the people in Georgia today are looking to America . . . a beacon of hope and liberty.”

Of course, that is NOT what the Georgians themselves are saying, just what Mac thinks they are saying (or at least what his top foreign policy adviser, a lobbyist who also works for Georgia, is telling him)…

Bitterly criticizing the United States and other Western countries for letting his country down, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia said Russia had flagrantly defied the peace accord and effectively severed the country in two…

Mr. Saakashvili said Russian forces had all but established an economic blockade of Tbilisi and criticized Western countries, including the United States, suggesting that they had appeased Russia and let Georgia down.

“Today, the West’s very will is tested,” Mr. Saakashvili said in a telephone call with journalists. “The main thing is if the West fails now, then it will have tremendous consequences for the world for years to come.”

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“Strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

by lestro

Apparently, the US and UK have decided to cancel scheduled war games with the Russians in light of their recent attacks on Georgia:

A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity Tuesday, said that the August 15-23 exercises involving Russian, French, British and US warships in the Sea of Japan “have been scrapped.” The exercises were to involve an onshore component in the Russian port of Vladivostok.

“In the wake of this conflict, there is no way that we can proceed with this joint exercise at this time,” the official said.

I believe Russia’s response was something to the effect of “That’s okay with us, we don’t need the games anymore as we found a real war to practice in…”

Besides, the only good War Games are the ones that involve Matthew Broderick and the WOPR that just wants to play a nice game of chess.

However, given that Russia and the West are once again viewing each other suspiciously through figurative and literal gun sights, maybe we should not have canceled. It does always help to get a close-up view of what your enemy is up to…

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How do you say “Gulf of Tonkin” in Cyrillic?

by lestro

So it looks like Russia launched the first salvo in this war about a month ago.

Weeks before bombs started falling on Georgia, a security researcher in suburban Massachusetts was watching an attack against the country in cyberspace…

Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks in Lexington noticed a stream of data directed at Georgian government sites containing the message: “win+love+in+Rusia.”

Other Internet experts in the United States said the attacks against Georgia’s Internet infrastructure began as early as July 20, with coordinated barrages of millions of requests — known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks — that overloaded and effectively shut down Georgian servers…

This, combined with reports that South Ossetians have been ethnically cleansing Georgians, leads me to believe that the Russians were hoping to provoke a response that would allow them to move their already-prepared-and-waiting military into their neighbor.

It also explains how they got in there so quickly.

But be prepared, this is what the future of war looks like:

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