Friday, August 19


I'm linking to a June post about Col. Ted Westhusing because of the comments that have been entered recently. I can't verify the accuracy of the information they contain, but because I've received such a tremendous amount of traffic (for me) on this issue I feel that more readers should have access to the post.

It certainly seems to me that by now the military investigation should have shed some light on the circumstances of this American hero's death. I'm not a conspiratist by nature, but recent years have made skeptics out of many of us when it comes to believing the "official" version of anything. Isn't there a veterans organization or former military officers association or something that should be demanding some answers? Printed accounts seem to indicate his death was the result of suicide or murder. Even if the investigation hasn't resulted in pinpointing a perpetrator, shouldn't the medical examiner have determined the cause of death to be one or the other? And why has the media totally ignored this story? It may be insensitive to say so, but it clearly has all the elements of an arresting drama: war hero, highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq, dies in mysterious circumstances, killed by a single gunshot to the head.

Silly me. Who's got time to investigate, when Greta and the rest are too busy looking for Tracey Holloway in vacation paradise Aruba?

My other posts on Col. Westhusing and comments are here and here. The passion and devotion this man elicited makes it all the more urgent that the military come clean. This was a man who made a difference. And people care. They care very, very much.


The world could run out of time to develop cleaner alternatives to oil and other fossil fuels before depletion drives prices through the roof, a leading Dutch energy researcher said on Thursday.Link here.

Lately (apparently because of a story CNN did on hybrids) people have been challenging whether or not my driving a Hybrid is saving me money. Their contention is, since it costs more to purchase a hybrid, I can't make up the difference in gas savings. When I tell them I bought it several years ago for environmental reasons, before gas prices skyrocketed, they're left open-mouthed, as if there's nothing to say to someone that wacko. Another reason I'm known as the left-wing crazy around the office.


"No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up." - Lily Tomlin


Holy cow. When you read so many hate-filled comments directed at liberals all at once, it makes you wonder how it's possible for us to coexist with the wingers. How is a bridge to be built between us and those who listen to the drip-drip-drip of this baseless invective? And how is it that Democrats/liberals/progressives in a position of power have allowed these people with their ugly message to put us on the defensive and insist we prove we ARE patriots by "me-tooing" the failed and wrongheaded policies of the right instead of resolutely calling them out for their despicable and divisive language?

A healthy tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a poor tree bear good fruit. Every tree is known by the fruit it bears; you do not pick figs from thorn bushes or gather grapes from bramble bushes. A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart; a bad person brings bad out of his treasure of bad things. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. "Why do you call me, "Lord, Lord,' and yet don't do what I tell you? Luke 6:43-46

Their mouths are full of hate speech. That is proof, Jesus said, that their hearts are also full of hate. And out of their hearts come very, very bad things.

Thursday, August 18


I don't believe anyone will be able to sustain a strong case in the short run without going back to the fundamental misjudgment of invading Iraq in the first place. Once the enormity of that error is grasped, the case for pulling out becomes easy to see.  -- Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University, Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988.

Read the rest of his "What's wrong with cutting and running?"

Everything that opponents of a pullout say would happen if the U.S. left Iraq is happening already, says retired Gen. William E. Odom, the head of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration. So why stay?

Hat tip to First Draft.


I have to say, I sympathize greatly with Mark Leon Goldberg's frustration with Democratic hawks. As I posted earlier this week, I'm reminded of nothing so much as 1968, when anti-war sentiment drove Lyndon Johnson to declare he would not run for re-election only to be succeeded by Hubert Humphrey as the Democratic presidential nominee, Humphrey who endorsed Johnson's war policies in toto. Eugene McCarthy was the hope of the anti-war movement, but institutional Dems submarined his campaign at every opportunity and in the end, we were left with the distressing choice between the known Humphrey and the deceitful Nixon, who fooled so many with his "secret plan" to win the war.

It wasn't until the 1972 campaign season that Robert Kennedy and George McGovern rose above the crowd of usual suspect Democratic hawks to insist that it was time for the nation to face the reality of the VietNam War and end that tragic and senseless conflict. For their troubles, Kennedy was assassinated and McGovern, after winning the nomination, was caricatured and marginalized by his own party and the media. Nixon, of course, was exposed after the election for the lying, cheating weasel he was, but it was too late to save thousands of young American lives and rescue the government's moral authority.

And here we are again. If the Democratic Party leadership doesn't begin to speak out and differentiate from BushCo, many Democrats will stay home from the polls just as they did in 1972. I hear the argument that Biden, Clinton, Kerry et al cannot win if they advocate withdrawal from Iraq, but I've heard it before, when McCarthy and McGovern lost. It's that fear, I believe, that drives the argument. But Democratic hawks are forgetting that both McCarthy and McGovern had long been characterized as doves, and they got little or no support from their fellow party members. Had Kennedy not been assassinated, I firmly believe he would have been elected president. It's a powerful statement when a hawk declares a conversion experience -- that he/she was lied to (on SO many levels), and that the "noble cause," whatever its chances for success might have been, has been lost irrevocably because of the mismanagement of the current leadership. Also, McCarthy and McGovern were soft-spoken, mild-mannered professorial personalities that simply didn't appeal to a large segment of the citizenry during a time of war. The current crop of Democratic hopeful hawks don't suffer from that handicap, being far more charismatic and resolute in type.

In marketing we constantly look for differentiators between our product and the competition's. Simply put, we have to offer a better value proposition; else what reason is there for the consumer to select ours? If Dems continue the Kerry strategy of saying, "It was the right strategy, I'll just execute it better," we'll lose again. And the American experiment can't afford another four years of Republican rule and survive as we've known it.

UPDATE: Chuck Dupree of Bad Attitudes quotes former Colorado Sen. (and presidential hopeful) Gary Hart:

It is a great wonder that war opponents, including increasing numbers of Democratic “leaders,” are so silent. Some of the most visible simply believe the invasion of Iraq, which they endorsed, has been mismanaged, that more troops (not fewer) are needed! Even today, they seem untroubled by the false statements and manipulated intelligence of the administration. The most difficult political statement in the English language is: I made a mistake.

Speaking only for myself, I will find it very difficult to support any Democratic “leader” who remains silent at this critical moment but who wants to be president in 2008. There are defining moments in political careers and in national life where true character is revealed, where moral authority is achieved, or forfeited. Recall Dante’s well-known warning that a special place is reserved in hell for those who, in times of moral crisis, preserve their neutrality.


Then and now.

"[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)


Mark Kleiman recounts an old 1986 incident in which Dubya publicly cussed out reporter Al Hunt for predicting that Bush Sr. would lose the 1988 presidential nomination to Jack Kemp. Mark says that somehow he had never heard the story and wonders if that's not evidence of lazy Gore campaigners and campaign 2000 reporters.

Actually, I've read about the confrontation several times, but I'm not surprised Mark hadn't since every time I tell the story, I fail to find a single person who believes it. They just can't believe that if true, it wouldn't have been all over the papers and TV.

I'm not sure it's laziness or incompetence that has kept the tale from becoming big news. Instead, let me suggest an alternate theory. It's my contention that, though Republicans and conservatives have seized the "morality" issue, it's generally, traditionally been an article of faith that it is/was/has been the Democratic Party that voters have associated with generosity, compassion, humility, collegiality, tolerance, etc. Republicans had an image as "robber barons," snobbish, elitist people out for the bucks and for themselves. In the South of my youth, the Baptist and other fundamentalist churches that frowned on dancing and drinking were filled with Democrats, while the more affluent Republicans were members of Episcopal and Presbyterian congregations where the rules weren't quite so strict.

So for a long time it wouldn't have been a "story" for a Republican to be caught drinking or cussing, while it would have given some satisfaction to nab a righteous Democrat doing so. Up till the relatively recent phenomenon of the Moral Majority, right-wing Christian activist movement, Democrats were perceived to be much more likely to be deeply religious. Al Gore and Bill Clinton, Baptist Democrats, are much more a target of northern journalists, who I believe have had a sneering, superior, elitist attitude towards them just as they did towards Jimmy Carter, another Baptist southern Democrat. Remember the furor over decent Sunday School teacher Jimmy when he confessed innocently to Playboy magazine that while wholly and completely faithful to his wife, he had "lusted in his heart" for other women? My God, the story played 24/7 for days, and the man didn't even DO anything. The Big Dog and Jimmy were men who came from extremely humble origins and through their own merit reached the pinnacles of power -- and then had the audacity to try to use that power to help ordinary people. What did they think they were, heroes? The nerve.

Conversely, it's just no real fun for many journalists to expose Bush's slimy underbelly since they assumed he had one from the beginning and that everyone, really, is aware of it. Many of them identify with his coke-snorting, prep school snobbery, just-getting-by grades, cryonism and pathetic attempts to appropriate an athletic persona unsupported by his native clumsiness. I truly believe they like and are sympathetic towards George because they can feel superior to him.

Plainly put, it's just more fun for some people to knock down real-live heroes or people of real accomplishment. They prefer to elevate the mediocre, which makes them feel better about their own deficiencies.


Steve Clemons shares a delightful bit of whimsy about the appointment of John Bolton:

On President Bush's Recess Appointment of John Bolton as Ambassador to the United Nations
by Calvin Trillin

The job's too vital, Bush has said,
To leave unfilled, and so instead
He'll simply stiff the Senate now,
And name John Bolton anyhow.
The problems of the world have grown,
And so we need some tantrums thrown.
Some analysts who haven't skewed
Intelligence remain unscrewed.
But that will change with Bolton there:
The man knows how to overbear.
We need someone to show contempt
For resolutions we'd pre-empt
And show contempt as well for those
Who might oppose what we propose --
Reflecting through contemptuous power
The last remaining superpower.
Those tiny nations need a pasting.
So let's get started. Time's a-wasting.


Well, if this isn't just precious.

AUSTIN - A decorated Marine enrolling in college was surprised to learn his Texas driver's license, car registration and bank records weren't enough to qualify him for the lower-priced state resident tuition.

Carl Basham said officials at Austin Community College told him that his two tours of duty in Iraq kept him out of the state too long to qualify for Texas resident tuition...

Austin Community College spokesman Dwayne Cox said it's not Basham's military tours that keep him from meeting in-state residence requirements.

Under Texas law, members of the military are presumed to maintain the same residence as when they enlisted in the service. Although he grew up throughout Texas, mostly in Waco, Basham graduated from high school and enlisted in the Marine Corps in Monroe, La.

The school's response surprised Basham, 27, who was born in Beeville, is registered to vote in Travis County and does his banking in Austin.


There were around 10 "Cindy" vigils held yesterday in the Dallas area. In Carrollton, a north Dallas suburb, about 200 people gathered near a duck pond on Josey Lane. Mostly midddle-aged couples and young families stood in solidarity with Cindy Sheehan, quietly holding signs opposing the Iraq war. A steady stream of motorists offered supportive honks, but some few yelled, "Support the president." Some of those attending said that they had opposed the war from the beginning but had not spoken out publicly until moved by Cindy's example.


Let's all sing along:
"Jesus was a Capricorn, he ate organic food.
He believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes.
Long hair, beard and sandals and a funky bunch of friends,
Reckon they'd just nail him up if He come down again.

'Cos everybody's got to have somebody to look down on,
Who they can feel better than at anytime they please.
Someone doin' somethin' dirty decent folks can frown on.
If you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me."

Thank you, Kris Kristofferson.

And think about this:

Retired Lutheran minister Daniel Bruch of Live Liberal gets right to the point: "I don't know if Jesus was the first liberal, but he was an important one."

Jesus taught love, tolerance, forgiveness, charity and humility. Don't take my word for it. Read the New Testament. It's not that long. And it's not about fire-and-brimstone fundamentalism, judging one another or dominating the Earth. It outlines a philosophy based on a really radical idea: Love your creator, love yourself, love your neighbor as yourself.

When it comes to following this lesson, the current administration "is walking 180 degrees opposite of the person they call their savior," Bruch said in a phone interview.

On their Web site, Bruch and daughter Sarah offer quotes and essays on liberalism that Hillary Rodham Clinton should work into her speeches. For example, "liberals support changes that increase personal freedom and tolerance, and exercise the liberty to empower government to the extent necessary to achieve those ends."

Instead of trying to make their best candidate, Clinton, into a vanilla-flavored, inoffensive centrist, Democrats ought to boldly point out that liberals provided the impetus to move society toward acceptance of civil rights, women's rights, children's rights, consumers' rights, etc.

Liberals also deserve "family values" mantle because the 40-hour workweek, laws against child labor and other protections for workingmen and women were liberal ideas of old. High-quality childcare is a liberal idea for today's working families.

They should be "for" better wages.

They should be "for" national health care.

They should be "for" being liberals. They should point out that Jesus was a liberal, too.

Somehow, Democrats let others define them as elitist snobs. That label, not the liberal label, is the one Democrats have to shake.

Can Hillary help them do it?

She has the charisma and the intelligence -- and she has infinite patience, or Bill would be toast. She needs the guts to take a proud left turn and loudly proclaim that the United States is not a "Christian nation" in any pinched or exclusionary way. It's a nation that honors the individual rights of pagans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others, as well as Christians.

It is also nation that acts for the common good in ways that were meticulously outlined by a radical liberal named Jesus.


Cindy continues to confound the conservative pundits.

The rapidly dwindling minority of Americans who continue to search for some rationale for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq has been driven to the brink of breakdown by the success of Sheehan's protest.
What the pro-war crowd does not understand is that Cindy Sheehan is not inspiring opposition to the occupation. She is merely putting a face on the mainstream sentiments of a country that has stopped believing the president's promises with regard to Iraq. According to the latest Newsweek poll, 61 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's handing of the war, while just 26 percent support the president's argument that large numbers of U.S. military personnel should remain in Iraq for as long as it takes to achieve the administration's goals there.

The supporters of this war have run out of convincing lies and effective emotional appeals. Now, they are reduced to attacking the grieving mothers of dead soldiers. Samuel Johnson suggested that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. But, with their attacks on Cindy Sheehan, the apologists for George Bush's infamy have found a new and darker refuge.

I have also listened to quite a few of the other grieving mothers the media has trotted out to counter Cindy's sentiments and have been struck by the fact that not a single one of them has been able to counter one of Cindy's points. To a woman, they've all persisted in the same meme, namely that they support Bush and the troops. Cindy clearly does not have a corner on the grief market, and has never claimed to, but I believe she has demonstrated convincingly to the media and to the largest segment of the public that she and her supporters have done a lot more independent thinking than the other side.

Wednesday, August 17


Changed the design of this blog and lost some links, settings, other stuff. Please be patient until I reconstruct.

The management thanks you.


Daytona Beach, Florida, is best known for its drive-on beaches (that is, you can drive cars right down to the water). This results, to a native of the white sugar-sand beaches of the northwest Florida Emerald Coast, in a rather ugly flat, yellow beach if you're not a teenager or college kid dragging the strip.

But Daytona boasts one of the finest newspaper editorial pages in the nation. To prove it, read Pierre Tristam's "Catastrophic War Game."


Oh, this is just too good. Trust me. Just go there.

From Bad Attitudes.


Jon Stewart's lengthy segment on Cindy Sheehan was priceless. I especially liked his shot at Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard on Faux News. He showed Barnes calling Cindy a "crackpot," then segued into a shot of Fred commenting on Terri Schiavo's parents, saying, "The Schindlers clearly have a strong moral case." The juxtaposition was devastating, and the "moral" of the story clear.

And the graphic for the segment was perfect: "Texas Scold 'em" --

Here's a partial transcript. And you can watch the segment here.

Tuesday, August 16


Petition for a way out of Iraq.

The petition is a response and challenge to the charge that peace and security advocates have no plan. The truth is that Secretary Rumsfeld has no exit strategy--only a "victory strategy." The truth is that the leadership of the Democratic Party has offered no alternative to Bush's policies beyond invading Falluja, adding more American troops, training more Iraqis and providing better body armor. All these policies are failing and will continue to fail. But there is another option: adopting a framework of conflict resolution as the alternative to permanent war and occupation.

The petition is here.


This may be presumptuous of me, but it's in response to all the certainly presumptuous speculation of those who never knew Casey Sheehan and yet feel free to spew their opinions of his reaction to his mother Cindy's actions all over the airwaves, print media and conservative blogosphere:

(Sung to the tune of Joe Hill)

I dreamed I was near Crawford town
Beneath the Texas sun
A-standing in the noonday heat
To watch Bush come undone,
To watch Bush come undone.

His nemesis, a grieving mom,
Had come to question why
For ego, oil or something else
Her cherished lad must die,
Her cherished lad must die.

“Young Casey died for freedom’s sake,”
The chickenhawks replied,
And Bush endorsed that sad cliché
And hoped she would subside,
And hoped she would subside.

The powermongers and their fans
Watched Cindy stand, and flinched.
But all their vile invective failed,
She wouldn’t budge an inch.
She wouldn’t budge an inch.

Now joining her in vigil pure,
A million voices pause
To ask our leisure-loving prez,
“What is that noble cause?”
“What is that noble cause?”

But Cindy still with patience waits,
The hope of peace ignites,
Reminding us how one brave soul
Can bring a nation light
Can bring a nation light.

I dreamed I saw young Casey smile
As he watched Cindy plead
To save some other mothers' sons
I think he would agree.
I think he would agree.


Antiwar activitist and former California State Sen. and Chicago 8 defendant Tom Hayden proposes an exit strategy from Iraq:

Peace movement advocates have lobbied successfully for members of Congress to hold Capitol Hill forums in mid-September to explore exit strategies. Here is a starting point that is being discussed in peace circles. It is based on deciding now to get out of Iraq and outlining how to do it. The basis of the plan is a shift from a military model to a conflict-resolution model, then to a peace process that ends in a negotiated political settlement alongside a U.S. withdrawal. The main themes are these:

First, as confidence-building measures, Washington should declare that it has no interest in permanent military bases or the control of Iraqi oil. It must immediately announce goals for ending the occupation and bringing all our troops home — in months, not years, beginning with an initial gesture by the end of this year.

Second, the U.S. should request that the United Nations, or a body blessed by the U.N., monitor the process of military disengagement and de-escalation, and take the lead in organizing a peaceful reconstruction effort.

Third, the president should appoint a peace envoy, independent of the occupation authorities, to begin an entirely different mission in Iraq. The envoy should encourage and cooperate in peace talks with Iraqi groups opposed to the occupation, including insurgents, to explore a political settlement.

And his coup de grace: "Perhaps Cindy Sheehan's moral stance will awaken courage among politicians who openly or privately deplore the fabricated origins of the war but cannot bring themselves to be honest about the war itself."


The contrasts between LBJ and GWB -- one anguished over the casualties from the VietNam War, the other "feels no pain."

Bush is the detached CEO, a man who got his position thanks to a lifetime of privilege; Johnson was a hands-on CEO who got the job after having worked his way up from the very bottom of the political world. Bush doesn't do details; Johnson pored over the aerial maps of Vietnam, hoping that he could pick a bombing target that would turn the tide of the war.

Bush doesn't go to funerals for our dead soldiers. Until last week, his administration had refused to release photos of the flag-draped caskets coming back to the United States. (The Pentagon caved as a result of a Freedom of Information Act suit.) When it comes to the second Iraq war, Bush displays no doubt, no anguish. And therein lies the key: It is that quality that made Johnson, for all his faults and failings, a great president. It's the same quality that exposes Bush as the wrong president at the wrong time, fighting the wrong war in the wrong place.
Often, late at night, the president would go down to the White House Situation Room to check on casualty reports. At times, when Johnson sat with visitors in the Oval Office, he would weep openly as he read from the previous day's casualty lists."

Johnson felt the pain of others. And his courage and determination (along with the sharp prodding that came from Martin Luther King Jr.) to help the less fortunate forced Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act. In doing so, Johnson achieved one of the great political -- and human rights -- victories of the last century.

W. doesn't do human rights. He doesn't do casualty lists. Nor, apparently, does he cry. And as noted by author James Moore, that's what makes Sheehan such a powerful figure. Sheehan has rendered the complexities and carnage of the war into a simple question: Are you on the side of a grieving mother of a dead soldier? Or are you on the side of a president who continues to insist that this war is, in some way, noble?


He's my man to defeat Governor Goodhair.


Saw Cindy Sheehan on Hardball this evening. Chris Matthews was so impressed with her he gave her quite a lot of air time and finished by asking her if she was running for Congress (is that the latest right-wing screed?). When Cindy replied "not this time" and said she's a one-issue lady just trying to get the troops home, Tweety very sincerely remarked that she knows more about the Iraq War than most Congressmen. Another subject Chris raised was whether Cindy would feel the same if her son had been killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq. She thought for a second and then replied no, she didn't think she would, because in both cases we invaded sovereign countries and killed innocents when we were after a specific group of people, and we didn't catch the worst culprits anyway in Afghanistan. She went on to link these wars with a desire on the Bush administration for other, future adventurism to foster a new American imperialism in the Middle East. Chris found that interesting since, as he said, most Americans saw the war in Afghanistan as justified since the government was harboring Al Qaeda. Towards the end of the interview he asked Cindy about the intra-family dispute over her crusade, and she and her sister (who joined her in the interview) answered very diplomatically that these things happen in families, that, as Chris suggested, it's a partisan thing. Queried about her husband's filing for divorce, Cindy simply said that he fully supports her views but not her intensity and said that was all she was going to say about that.

Then he switched to a mother whose son has served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan who is a Bush supporter, and an Iraqi woman who said we should keep troops in Iraq until they are "ready to stand up on their own." When Chris asked how long that would be they both more or less said, "Till whenever." Chris remarked that if that's five or ten years, Americans aren't going to like it. He asked each woman who the "enemy" is in Iraq. Both answered that it's foreign fighters. The mother kept talking about the "insurgents," and Chris corrected her by saying he didn't think she should be using the term insurgents since that indicates the indigenous peoples, not foreigners. Chris asked the mother if her son who is fighting in Iraq tells her that ordinary Iraqis support us and she said yes, definitely. He didn't keep those two on nearly as long as he did Cindy.

The contrast was great between the soft-spoken Cindy Sheehan, who was both knowledgeable and articulate about the issues surrounding the so-called "war on terror" and the mother (whose son, it should be noted, is still alive) who supports the pResident. The latter seemed to think that it would be a dis to her son's and the other troops' sacrifices if we pulled out before the "job is finished." While Cindy, when asked a similar question, stated that her heart and soul had been torn out with the death of her son, and why would she or any mother want any other mother to go through that just to justify in some weird way the death of her own son?

UPDATE: All the better. The actual transcript is here.

Monday, August 15


Does it strike any other remnants of the VietNam War era that there's an obvious parallel between the post-LBJ bipartisan presidential aspirants such as Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon and the current crop of John McCain, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton et al? Trying to outdo a failed "war president" by increasing troop numbers and death tolls did not elect HHH and won't McCain. And promising a "secret plan to end the war" but then matching his electoral opponent in actual war-making may have won it for Nixon but served him poorly in the end. Nonetheless, Nixon got the support of the youth and anti-war vote simply because he wasn't associated with the war policies of Johnson, as was Hubie baby.

Then again, though the "peace candidate" George McGovern won the Democratic nomination after RMN proved to be a lying jingoist who escalated the war despite his rhetoric in 1968, he lost the general election big-time. So what does history tell us? That an anti-war candidate can't win amidst an active war? That the only way to win the presidency is to lie to the American people and then reverse position? Even Howard Dean is saying now that we broke Iraq and now can't just leave.

Is there a single leading politician who will speak out and say, as the investment broker will, "run with your profits and cut your losses"? In other words, we're throwing "good money after bad" by continuing our involvement with the Iraq War. And, more importantly, we're jeopardizing more of our young people's lives by fighting a no-win scenario.


Jo Fish of Democratic Veteran catches Newtie offering his plan for a "21st century governing majority:"

"Our core pattern should be 'there is a BIG difference and it is a fact. . . .' We must then take such key facts to immediately illustrate a large vision; we cannot remain in arguments at the detail level."

Translation: the Big Lie works remarkably well; don't let facts get into any conversation or we are doomed! Facts are inconvenient things to be classified whenever possible and ignored when that's not an option.


Another great Frank Rich op-ed: "Someone Tell the President the War Is Over":

Such political imperatives are rapidly bringing about the war's end. That's inevitable for a war of choice, not necessity, that was conceived in politics from the start.
Nothing that happens on the ground in Iraq can turn around the fate of this war in America: not a shotgun constitution rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline, not another Iraqi election, not higher terrorist body counts, not another battle for Falluja (where insurgents may again regroup, The Los Angeles Times reported last week). A citizenry that was asked to accept tax cuts, not sacrifice, at the war's inception is hardly in the mood to start sacrificing now. There will be neither the volunteers nor the money required to field the wholesale additional American troops that might bolster the security situation in Iraq...this administration long ago squandered the credibility needed to make the difficult case that more human and financial resources might prevent Iraq from continuing its descent into civil war and its devolution into jihad central.
Thus the president's claim on Thursday that "no decision has been made yet" about withdrawing troops from Iraq can be taken exactly as seriously as the vice president's preceding fantasy that the insurgency is in its "last throes." The country has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We're outta there. Now comes the hard task of identifying the leaders who can pick up the pieces of the fiasco that has made us more vulnerable, not less, to the terrorists who struck us four years ago next month.


William Raspberry has a great op-ed in WaPo today about SCOTUS nominee John Robert. Raspberry's especially concerned about two things: political balance on the Court, and Robert's life, which has excluded any real-life exposure to the "problems and concerns of ordinary men and women."

Worth the read. And possibly the most cogent argument against the man that I've yet seen.


Fascinating, and disturbing, article in NY Times Magazine about private security companies in Iraq: "The Other Army." Armed employees of these companies number around 25,000, but the estimates are questionable since no one seems to be really keeping track. Some of the companies weren't even formed until after the Iraq War started, but they're charged with protecting some of our most vital personnel (including four generals) and missions.

Yet it is hard to discern who authorized this particular outsourcing as military policy. No open policy debate took place; no executive order was publicly issued. And who is in charge of overseeing these armed men?

The Pentagon and the security companies don't like the term "mercenaries" and describe their function as "defensive -- we protect." The truth is, though, that they are sometimes fighting a war. Why? Ret. Gen. Jay Garner, former head of the C.P.A., and others, admit that it's at least partially because we just didn't put enough boots on the ground.

It's estimated that between 160 and 200 of these "private security" men have been killed in Iraq -- more than any one of our coalition partners have suffered. Why do they do it? For most and for the most part, it's the money, $400-700 a day for Americans and other Westerners.

No one knows how many innocent Iraqis have been wounded or killed by these men. There are virtually no rules. And "besides, no one in power is watching too closely," so what rules there are are largely ignored.

There are other implications to the unusual-for-the-U.S. hiring of private armies, and the policy raises a number of questions that aren't answered in this article. But it's another good insight into just what's going on "over there."


Overheard on the morning radio news: "Iraqis are unlikely to get to actually read their new proposed constitution before they vote on it."

I think that speaks for itself.


This is possibly the most insensitive thing I've ever known Bush to say.

Bush said he is aware of the anti-war sentiments of Cindy Sheehan and others who have joined her protest near the Bush ranch.

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say."

"But," he added, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

In other words, although Bush's irresponsible policies are responsible for other people's lives being blown apart, his priority is for his privileged life to continue unhampered by knowledge of the impact of his mistakes and crimes so that he can commit more of them.