Friday, April 29


Josh Marshall asks, Is the press finally wising up to the GOP’s word-game shenanigans?

I'm not sure it's a case of the press "wising up." It's just barely possible that they're tired of whoring for the Republicans and would like to regain some sense of self-respect.


Well, it's been an interesting week of 16-hour days while I managed an internal trade show of 700 people at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center. Tuesday night I had booked the Charlie Daniels Band for our entertainment (I wanted Willie, but he doesn't do corporate any more). I became a fan about 25 years ago of Southern rock bands like Charlie's, Lynyrd Skynyd and the Marshall Tucker Band. Sitting in the green room with him before the performance he told me about his recent trip to Iraq and how the band's helicopter was fired upon several times and hit once. When they landed he told his guys, "Boys, if them Iraqis had been raised on dove-hunting like us, we'd be dead now."

Charlie is a kindly old Santa Claus figure; as so many, he just doesn't understand the difference between disagreeing with your government's policies and being a traitor. He believes the media is distorting or ignoring "all the good things" that are happening in Iraq. Don't try to tell him any differently.

He can still put on one hell of a performance. I'd booked Asleep At The Wheel for the next night, and they were awesome. Ray Benson and the guys have still got it! Western swing is alive and well.

Listened to Bill Bennett this morning on the commute in to work. He was very unhappy with Bush's press conference last night. I thought it was a lackluster event. Bush was relaxed and confident, but his Social Security speech was the same old quest for private accounts, and he was very weak when asked about his rendition policy. The reporters asked decent questions but didn't hammer on followup. I appreciated Chimpy distancing himself from the intrusive religious right, calling religion "personal." But the man uses the introductory "See..." like some people use "I'll tell you the truth..." In other words, it's a signal that he's about to prevaricate, obfuscate or otherwise deceive.

I'll be on the road Sunday-Tuesday (Fort Lauderdale, what a hardship!).

Monday, April 25


Omigod. BushCo is considering handing our nuclear program to private contractors.???? Yeah, and next thing you know, the contractors would be increasing their profit margin by having nukes built in India or China. Can we say, what happened to national security?

Rofer also notes that the Bush administration is thinking about taking the nuclear program away from Los Alamos and putting it into private, for-profit hands. (See here for more>.) Oy. You'd think any grand claims about the "efficiency" of the private sector would be at least a little muted after the debacle in Iraq, or even after, as Rofer puts it, "Lockheed-Martin’s penchant for using English and metric units interchangeably, which resulted in the crash of one of the Mars vehicles." Heh, wee bit of a mess-up there. But no, apparently that track record is more than solid enough to trust contractors with our nuclear weapons.

Oh, and you also have to wonder: would the private companies who would stand to make billions off of a new and ever-more-dazzling array of nuclear weapons ever—ever—advise restraint on the subject? Hmmm, tough question.


Unconscionable. A platoon of Marines who fought in Iraq have broken their silence and are telling their story about the lack of armor, planning and personnel.

"As marines, we are always taught that we do more with less," said Sgt. James S. King, a platoon sergeant who lost his left leg when he was blown out of the Humvee that Saturday afternoon last May. "And get the job done no matter what it takes."

The experiences of Company E's marines, pieced together through interviews at Camp Pendleton and by phone, company records and dozens of photographs taken by the marines, show they often did just that. The unit had less than half the troops who are now doing its job in Ramadi, and resorted to making dummy marines from cardboard cutouts and camouflage shirts to place in observation posts on the highway when it ran out of men. During one of its deadliest firefights, it came up short on both vehicles and troops. Marines who were stranded at their camp tried in vain to hot-wire a dump truck to help rescue their falling brothers. That day, 10 men in the unit died.

Sergeant Valerio and others had to scrounge for metal scraps to strengthen the Humvees they inherited from the National Guard, which occupied Ramadi before the marines arrived. Among other problems, the armor the marines slapped together included heavier doors that could not be latched, so they "chicken winged it" by holding them shut with their arms as they traveled.

"We were sitting out in the open, an easy target for everybody," Cpl. Toby G. Winn of Centerville, Tex., said of the shortages. "We complained about it every day, to anybody we could. They told us they were listening, but we didn't see it."

The company leaders say it is impossible to know how many lives may have been saved through better protection, since the insurgents became adept at overcoming improved defenses with more powerful weapons. Likewise, Pentagon officials say they do not know how many of the more than 1,500 American troops who have died in the war had insufficient protective gear.

This is a powerful story. Rumsfeld and JCS Chairman Myers should lose their heads over this. And Bush, Cheney and all the other chickenhawks who rushed us to war have the blood of our fighting men and women on their hands.