Saturday, August 27


Until listening to Michael Medved's show on the radio yesterday, The Sage and I firmly believed we supported our troops though opposing the Iraq War since before the invasion. After all, we've had three nephews and a daughter's boyfriend over there, and another daughter who volunteered but was kept out because of medical reasons. As I've often stated on this blog, I come from a long, proud military family.

The theme of the day was Michael's contention that one CAN'T be said to "support the troops" if one doesn't support their "mission." You can LIKE them, he said, you can feel varying degrees of appreciation for their sacrifice, but you can't SUPPORT them. Michael repeatedly conflated support for the troops with agreement with George Bush's policies re Iraq.

Hm, we said. Sure THOUGHT, like Cindy Sheehan, that we supported our loved ones and all the other men and women who, we know, have put their lives on the line not for Dubya, but to protect and defend the United States of America. We don't blame them for being lied to, like the rest of us, about phantom threats against our nation; we honor their intentions.

Maybe we just don't understand the meaning of "support." So I took a look at good old for some enlightenment. First observation: none of these terms refers in any way to agreeing with the mission of that which is being supported. A pillar may support a roof, but it doesn't have to agree that the roof needs to be there. The pillar could argue that that's the architect's decision; its job is just to keep the roof from falling down. Now that may sound like a ridiculous thing to say, but then it's no more ludicrous than what Michael was saying.

Here's how defines the word:

To bear the weight of, especially from below. (OK, let's skip that one. No score for either side.)

To hold in position so as to keep from falling, sinking, or slipping. (Let's give one point one to Bush for his immovable "stay the course" policy. He's adamant about keeping the troops in position. But let's take away a point since keeping them in position is causing them to fall, sink, slip. Net zero.)

To be capable of bearing; withstand: “His flaw'd heart... too weak the conflict to support” (Shakespeare). (Let's skip this one also. It just doesn't seem analagous.)

To keep from weakening or failing; strengthen: The letter supported him in his grief. (I'd give both sides equal points for conveying our respect for the troops themselves, no matter our ideology. We're all Americans here.)

To provide for or maintain, by supplying with money or necessities. (I'd give 0 points for our side because of our Democratic Congressmen's inability to move legislation through -- though possibly no fault of their own -- to provide proper armor, equipment and ammunition to our troops, or to put sufficient pressure on the administration to do so. I'd give the Bush side a negative point, since they could, but haven't.)

To furnish corroborating evidence for: New facts supported her story. (Skip for same reason as previously noted.)

To aid the cause, policy, or interests of: supported her in her election campaign. (One point for us for our efforts to oppose or end this fiasco and bring our troops back home safely. Negative point for BushCo for cutting veterans benefits and other anti-soldier policies.)

To argue in favor of; advocate: supported lower taxes. (It's a wash -- everyone spouts pro-military rhetoric. It's only actions that count.)

To endure; tolerate: “At supper there was such a conflux of company that I could scarcely support the tumult” (Samuel Johnson). (Same; we'd durn sure better tolerate the guys making the sacrifices.)

To act in a secondary or subordinate role to (a leading performer). (One point for our side; we're trying to save their very lives. Negative point for BushCo -- they subordinate themselves to no one.)

Final score: three points for our side; negative two for Bush.

Yeah. Screw you, Michael. We support the troops.


WaPo's Colbert King on Dubya's deathly deception. Would that it were reprinted in every newspaper in the country so that the families whose sons and daughter are being recruited by Bush's "applause-line" promises would know the truth before it's too late.

...while Bush is out rallying the troops and reassuring their families that their sacrifices won't be in vain, administration officials in Washington are quietly playing down expectations of what can really be achieved in Iraq.

Far from the cheering crowds, this is the word in the Nation's Capital: Forget all that prewar talk about a secular, modern and united Iraq emerging after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Get ready instead for some form of Islamic republic in Iraq that gives special status to clerics and majority ethnic groups, and less deference to women's rights. A new Iraq free of violence and divisions? Oops, never mind.

Which brings us back to the troops who are doing the suffering and dying. Are their sacrifices worth it?

Consider the Iraq now unfolding on the ground.

What's the value of Americans giving their lives so that cleric-dominated Shiites and northern Kurds can get their hands on political power and oil revenue?

Why are American women and men sacrificing lives and limbs in a country where women may have to settle for less?

Stay the course. What course? So religious-based militia can divvy up the northern and southern portions of the country? So Islam can be enshrined as a principal source of new Iraqi legislation?

Are any of those things worth dying for? Do any of those likely outcomes represent an American victory? They certainly aren't why Bush said we went over there.

Okay, the Bush folks also promised us weapons of mass destruction, and greetings with rice and rose water, and Iraqi oil money to pay for reconstruction, and a model new democracy in the Middle East, none of which has happened.

But this is different.

President Bush is out selling a vision of victory in Iraq while U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad are resigned to settling for less. George Bush can't make good on his original promise, and they know it. They also know that more Americans are going to die in Iraq for what may end up as a theocracy-tinged spoils system.

When those carrying the burden of this war realize what they have sacrificed and died for, the worst days of George W. Bush will have just begun.

Yeah, we've been sending our young people to die to destroy windmills and instead nurtured real dragons -- and now he's asking more of them to die to do the same.


Mark Green responds to Ann Coulter's infamous comments that New Yorkers are cowards who would immediately surrender to terrorists:

So as she shuttles in limos between her sanitized cable appearances in a successful attempt to be the blondest blowhard in tv history, I would hope that assignment editors everywhere start exercising some news judgment. That includes Fox News. Hell, Murdoch and Ailes are New Yorkers. At what point do they and reasonable Americans turn their faces away in disgust? Indeed, at what point do reasonable Americans turn away in disgust from a President whose faith-based war has been blown up by reality and who can only wave the bloody shirt of 9/11 whenever he’s asked to explain what he’s doing to our soldiers and our country.

There will come a time – whether it’s in five months or 5 years or 50 years, I don’t know – when we’ll all have to answer the question of what we were doing when the Bush-Robertson-Coulter crowd tried to ruin America, just as earlier generations had to explain the mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials or McCarthyism. Cindy Sheehan and New Yorkers don’t need lectures from those that hate the values of a country whose flag they perennially wave.

Considering that a major portion of the media has some claim to a kinship with New York, how can any of them continue to give airtime to this disparager of their loss and valiance on 9/11 and its aftermath? What danger, other than a pie thrown at her, has SHE ever faced? And note how quickly she ran away from that!

It's so ironic to me that the chickenhawks and their feminine counterparts dare to disparage men and women who have fought, sacrificed, even bled and died for our nation as they have the past four years -- yet they were the leaders of the hordes who screamed "Draft Dodger!" at Bill Clinton for taking a principled stand against the most futile and defenseless (until the Iraq invasion) military exercise in modern U.S. history.

Read it all. It's a pleasure to see the lead, true feminazi (as opposed to the Rushbo type) taken apart, even if it's just preaching to the choir.


I was pleased to hear that Joan Baez sang "Joe Hill" at Camp Crawford earlier this week because as a long-time huge fan and admirer, I wrote new lyrics to the song a couple of weeks ago and titled it "Cindy's Song." The song seemed appropriate to me to Cindy's crusade -- and obviously did to Ms. Baez.

Just an hour or so ago I received an e-mail regarding the song (which I posted on my other blog Political Poet) and I'm repeating it here exactly as written. The commenter, I believe, makes some very powerful points in terms "the other America" ought to understand.

Here is what I learned from the Vietnam war, which I witnessed on tv for the last eight years of my public school experience. I learned that we always kill more of the enemy than we lose, always. I learned that trying as a nation to control another countries destiny caries a hugh cost of lives. I learned that the government is inept in conducting a foreign policy that reflects the values of the average american because it is not the government that makes the decisions, but rather some elite power group that is in the background, secret and powerful in its ability to control the actions of the government. I learned that when someone in the government does try to tell the truth .then they are blackballed and fired. So cut out the bulshit just tell us the truth for once. The lessons I learned from the Vietnam expirience give me pause to ponder what P. Bush would say if he did answer cindy’s request for an honest answer as to why her son died, and for what noble cause. He would tell her that he died to prop up an economy that is doomed to implode on its dept. He would tell her that his death bought a few more days of luxurious living for the privileged class in America before the oil runs out and the economy of perpetual growth begins to shrivel and die. He would bluntly say that we have to continue to flex our muscles on the world stage to insure continued investment in the crucial t- bonds by foreigners that support our lifestyle of convenience and an ever increasing imbalance of payments. He died to buy another injection for an addicted nation. One more fix for the junkie shopper cruising the Wall Mart isle salivating for the cheap consumer goods imported from overseas. He died to prop up governments that support economic conditions that keep in place the cheap overseas labor to provide the life blood of our high tech economy. That of exorbitant markup by the ever increasing technology driven companies that do nothing more than move the keys on thier laptops.

Here, again, is "Cindy's Song." Man, I'd love to hear it in Joanie's voice.

Friday, August 26


Capitol Hill Blue is reporting that Bush is becoming unglued by antiwar sentiment and adverse poll results.

While President George W. Bush travels around the country in a last-ditch effort to sell his Iraq war, White House aides scramble frantically behind the scenes to hide the dark mood of an increasingly angry leader who unleashes obscenity-filled outbursts at anyone who dares disagree with him.
Bush, administration aides confide, frequently explodes into tirades over those who protest the war, calling them 'motherfucking traitors.' He reportedly was so upset over Veterans of Foreign Wars members who wore 'bullshit protectors' over their ears during his speech to their annual convention that he told aides to 'tell those VFW assholes that I'll never speak to them again is they can't keep their members under control.'

White House insiders say Bush is growing increasingly bitter over mounting opposition to his war in Iraq. Polls show a vast majority of Americans now believe the war was a mistake and most doubt the President's honesty.
Bush’s behavior, according to prominent Washington psychiatrist, Dr. Justin Frank, author of “Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President,” is all too typical of an alcohol-abusing bully who is ruled by fear.

To see that fear emerges, Dr. Frank says, all one has to do is confront the President. “To actually directly confront him in a clear way, to bring him out, so you would really see the bully, and you would also see the fear,” he says.

Dr. Frank, in his book, speculates that Bush, an alcoholic who brags that he gave up booze without help from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, may be drinking again.

Bush's renowned mania for physical fitness aside, his periodic exhibits of amazingly poor balance do make one wonder. But as Dr. Frank goes on to say, if it's not drinking, it could just be the alcoholic personality at work. Does it make much difference?

Hat tip to Existential Ramble.

Thursday, August 25


Now this is downright terrifying.

The American Legion, which has 2.7 million members, has declared war on antiwar protestors, and the media could be next. Speaking at its national convention in Honolulu, the group's national commander called for an end to all “public protests” and “media events” against the war.

"The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu.

The delegates voted to use whatever means necessary to "ensure the united backing of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism."

Let's read that last sentence again. "United backing"? In other words, no dissent permitted? Hey, we used to say proudly about the U.S.A. that if the president of the United States got up before the Lincoln Memorial on July Fourth to read the Declaration of Independence, there would be some mother-f'er to protest. We were boasting about our freedoms, which were not mere words but real-live practices. And now the American Legion suggests that if we have a problem with the president's policy we confine our expressions of it to WRITING TO OUR CONGRESSMAN?????? Yeah, un huh.

OK, Legion, you go ahead and declare war on your fellow Americans and just see what it gets you. You'll galvanize the antiwar movement in a way that Cindy Sheehan never dreamed of. And try finding enough bodies to fight your filthy, misconceived war once we expose you wingers for the anti-American dopes you're proving yourselves to be. What a legacy Dubya is leaving behind -- civil war in Iraq and Afghanistan, civil war in our own country. IMPEACH BUSH NOW.


Well, it's clear now. The only way we're going to be able to exit from the Iraq War anytime soon is to impeach Bush.

President Bush, rebutting critics who want the United States to leave Iraq, pledged Wednesday that as long as he is president "we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terrorism."

Bush was speaking to the Idaho National Guard, whose service he lauded, and their families.

Bush praised the unique role of Guard members, who serve both their states and their country. More than 243,000 National Guard members have been called up for the war on terror, including more than 1,700 from Idaho.

In a rare reference to the war's death toll, Bush noted that 491 Guard and Reserve members have lost their lives in the fight against terror.

"And now we'll honor their sacrifice by completing their mission," he said.

I doubt he took note of the following:

The elevated death rates among part-time soldiers are a significant shift from the past. During most wars in the last century, the full-time military took most of the casualties, and their troops were much more likely to die in battle than Guardsmen and reservists.

In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, for example, the Army Guard suffered no fatalities out of 382 U.S. deaths. A total of 94 Army National Guardsmen and no reservists were killed out of 58,209 U.S. deaths in Vietnam.

''It's a changed paradigm,'' says Richard Stark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. ''We have completely crossed the line in terms of what it is to be a citizen-soldier.''


Will Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NEB) buck his own party and hold Senate hearings on the Iraq War as did J. William Fulbright (D-AR) during the Vietnam conflict?

As the nation shuns the war, Hagel is becoming the principled face of revulsion from within, to the point of saying Bush should have met with antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq. Reminded last month on NBC's ''Meet the Press" that Vice President Dick Cheney called him ''wrong" and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called him ''flat wrong," Hagel said: ''I watched 58,000 Americans get chewed up over a process of 1961 to 1975 . . . during a time when in fact we had a policy that was losing. And the members of Congress were interestingly silent and absent in asking tough questions. As long as I'm a United States senator, I will do everything I can to ensure that we have a policy worthy of these brave young men and women who are sacrificing their lives and doing the things that they do for this country. I don't think that policy is there today."

I'm prone to be wary of "Hagel as hero" because of his connections to black box voting and the questionable circumstances surrounding his two Senate elections. But at this point I'll take help wherever it comes, and it certainly doesn't hurt the public debate to have a war-hero Midwest Republican speaking the truth about the administration's handling of this war.

Tuesday, August 23


Heard a Sierra Club spokesman today say that we have the technology to make every vehicle capable of scoring 40 mpg and that if we did, we'd save as much oil as we import from the Persian Gulf and can extract from ANWR, combined. Instead, of course, BushCo is refusing to boost fuel efficiency standards for Hummers and Suburbans, etc.

So much for hiring oil men to formulate energy policy.


Was there ever a more apt cliche of a headline? "Bush: Sticking to His Guns."


Just heard on CNN: Venezuela's U.S. Ambassador's response to Pat Robertson.

The ambassador said Robertson is an ally of Bush, was instrumental in his 2000 primary victory in South Carolina, and is a former candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. His organization, the Christian Coalition, has two million members. His statement calling for the assassination of president Chavez is a call to terrorism, a call for American intervention into the affairs of a sovereign state. Venezuela demands that the U.S. abide by international law and respect our legally elected president. The Bush administration must denounce Robertson in the strongest terms. From the messages we have received it is clear that Pat Robertson does not speak for Christians in U.S. nor even the Christian Coalition when he calls for the assassination of our president. The U.S. must guarantee the safety of our president when he visits the U.S., such as when he visits the UN in New York.

It is clearly established in the Bible that you don't kill anybody. I think there should be the strongest condemnation of his remarks by the White House. Mr. Robertson is not of course only a private citizen. We think that he is an important person in your country and this is why we think the strongest condemnation is necessary. From all sides we have received messages, including the National Council of Churches, with strong condemnations of the statement.

Why have the White House and State Department even hesitated? They should, of course, have IMMEDIATELY denounced Robertson. That they haven't, speaks volumes.

UPDATE: CNN reports that Chavez says he doesn't know who Pat Robertson is and couldn't care less what he says. He's in Havana visiting with Castro. He said he was willing to sell Venezuelan oil at cut-rate prices to needy people in the U.S. who can't afford the current high prices.


Deepak Chopra on "Peace and Fanaticism."

Much of Europe found anti-Semitism acceptable for centuries before Hitler made it the most vicious cornerstone of a hateful ideology. The entanglement of every society in this "acceptable" belief, including the United States, blinded the Allies to Hitler’s threat, despite his constant public avowal that he was going to solve "the Jewish Problem."

These unique historical conditions aren’t present today. But one thing is common to both eras. All countries on both sides of the terror divide are enmeshed in the same conflicted mind set.

Religious intolerance exists on both sides. The inability to accept and respect dissimilar views of the world is present. The creation of a fictitious "them" who is always wrong, bad, barbaric, and evil is a common thread in reports from both sides.

I am well aware that the "us versus them" mentality is firmly entrenched on both sides. I know that militant Islam stands for absolute evil spawned by Satan to many people. But equally am I aware that this is the same mentality that keeps war going, decade after decade. There is always something "they" have done which is so heinous only armed reprisal can deal with it. And the response from "us," however horrific and brutally out of proportion, is always right and justified.

The blogosphere is the last place where such matters can be settled, but at least everyone should be afforded a peek into a world outside the one dominated by divisiveness and unending splenetic nationalism. Those who believe that the current war in Iraq is a blow for peace have never experienced peace, or else they are willing to accept the anti-logic by which you have to kill others in order to bring them peace.

I was taught, and have always believed, that the greatest testimony to Christianity was a Christian life truly lived. Gandhi once remarked that he might have become a Christian himself if he'd ever met a practicing Christian. And I often heard in my youth that the same was true for the United States during the Cold War, that a living, breathing, practicing democracy would be a beacon to the world and ultimately defeat communism. When we emulate the behavior and rhetoric of those we characterize as our "enemies," no distinction is drawn between "us" and "them." I fear that's been too much the case in this nation for some time now and especially since 9/11. When will we wake up and deal with the "beam in our own eye" rather than concentrating on the "mote" in the eye of others?


The NYTimes reminds us of some of Pat Robertson's past extremist remarks:

Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October 2003, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to ''kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.''

UPDATE: Another outrageous Robertson quote:

Federal judges are a more serious threat to America than Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 terrorists, the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed yesterday.

"Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings," Robertson said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."


WaPo sums it up nicely:

Iraq is beset with an insurgency that defies Bush administration attempts to belittle its extent or staying power. Vice President Cheney's smug assertion that the violence was in its "last throes" has become a morbid joke. The insurgents -- mostly Sunni Muslims, Baathist die-hards and foreign jihadists -- are getting more effective at their mayhem, not less. Their roadside bombs are deadlier than ever now that they are somehow getting their hands on higher-quality explosives.

Shiites and Kurds are making progress toward organizing a new Iraq, but it's a far cry from the latter-day Athens envisioned by the neocon architects of the war. It looks as if the new Iraq, or at least the biggest chunk of it, will have an organic relationship with next-door Iran, another charter member of the Axis of Evil. So one result of invading Iraq, which had no weapons of mass destruction, was to drive its Shiite majority closer to Iran, which is doing its best to build a nuclear bomb. Gee, that really worked out.

The new Iraq will also be teeming with terrorists. The nascent Iraqi government is hardly likely to impose order, since 138,000 well-trained and well-equipped American troops can't do the job. The administration never sent enough troops to occupy and pacify the country, but now the U.S. military is stretched so thin that many analysts say the administration will have trouble maintaining the current presence, much less augmenting it.

Sending more troops isn't a real-world option anyway, not with public opinion undergoing a tectonic shift. In a Newsweek poll conducted at the beginning of August, 61 percent of those Americans surveyed disapproved of the way Bush is handling Iraq; when asked whether the Iraq war has made Americans safer from terrorism, 64 percent said no. A full 50 percent said they would not support having "large numbers of U.S. military personnel" in Iraq beyond one more year. Only 26 percent echoed the president's view that U.S. troops should remain "as long as it takes."

We didn't even get any oil out of the deal. Remember how much of the war's cost was going to be repaid by a generous new Athenian-style government from its bountiful oil revenues? Because of the insurgency and the general state of disorganization, the Iraqis can barely keep the oil pumps and ports functioning at a minimal level. How much did you pay the last time you filled up?

The Democratic opposition is in its usual disarray, but even the Democrats can't blow this one -- a Republican president mired in an unpopular war with no end in sight and no real plan for an exit. Republicans are looking nervously at the 2006 midterm elections. Keeping U.S. forces at current levels for four more years, as a top Army official predicted recently, would be "complete folly," Hagel said. "It would bog us down. . . . It won't be four years. We need to be out."

And right outside Bush's ranch, Cindy Sheehan's antiwar protest continues in her absence.

Monday, August 22


It's about legislative stalemate regarding school finance in Texas, but it comes with a bonus -- a new mantra for the Democratic Party, courtesy of the conservative Dallas Morning News:

Your party's leaders are brawling like gunslingers. If word gets out that Republicans can't govern in the reddest of red states, how can they govern anywhere?

As head of the national party, you need to pay attention to Texas. It's not pretty, especially with 2006 elections on the horizon. You can hear the ads now:

Republicans can't even govern George W. Bush's home state.

We recommended some of these leaders for office, and we're beginning to wonder why. If something doesn't change, Republicans are going to have a tough time explaining why they should govern here – and elsewhere.

Hat tip to Off The Kuff.


Pat Robertson disgraces the cause of Christ.

Media Matters is reporting that Pat Robertson has suggested on the 700 Club that the President of Venezuela should be assassinated.

For Robertson to make such a suggestion on a broadcast that advertises itself as "Christian" is more than disgraceful, it is disgusting.

Robertson and other extremists have hijacked our faith and they are destroying the credibility of the gospel in the eyes of the world.

There ought to be some way to distinguish Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus from those who wear the label while ignoring the teachings of Christ and defaming the name of Jesus -- particularly when they literally advocate violence on a broadcast beamed around the world.

I'm with Dr. Bruce. Henceforth I pledge to refer to such people (the latter) as "so-called Christians."


Heard Lawrence Korb (former Asst. Defense Sec., 1981-85, now a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information) on CNN saying to Wolf Blitzer that the Iraq constitution draft as described undermines what we were trying to achieve. "We way underestimated the problem going into Iraq and we’ve done it again."

Here's the money quote (only it's a paraphrase): What's this nonsense about "training Iraqis" to defend themselves? The insurgents sure haven't needed much training. It's about motivation, not training.

That's just common sense. We can "train" a million Iraqis to police and defend their country, but as long as we're there to do the job for them, why should they pick sides? It's safer to take our paycheck and then cut and run if they don't like the action.

Any exit strategy that says, as Bush does, that "as the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down" is self-defeating.


Not the first time I’ve heard Bush say it: “We know that freedom is the future of every nation.” Who made him clairvoyant? Oops. I forget – he probably heard it directly from God.

The Salt Lake City speech was the same-old, same-old "stay the course." I didn’t hear a single new thing, other than his ridiculous comparison to World War II and his numbering of the war dead. And the applause was not what I’d expect from the VFW. Most of it occurred after Bush would say something supportive of the troops, now and historically.

My favorite part was when he talked about bin Laden and Zarqawi’s desire to make Iraq into an Afghanistan-like harbor for terrorists and a state where women would be beaten and ethnic and religious minorities executed. The irony just doesn't get to the guy (or probably it does and he doesn't care as long as the argument works for him) that none of those things were in the cards for Iraq until we landed there!

When he said we should honor the war dead by finishing the task they gave their lives for I nearly threw up.

I think most of our military would say the cause they put their lives on the line for is the safety and freedom of the United States and its citizens. When the president lies and deceives us into a foreign war with a nation that does not threaten the U.S., he has betrayed the troops.

Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson took great issue with Bush in a phone interview with CNN. “Instead of going after Bin Laden and Al Qaeda we went after Iraq," he said. "By doing that, we have simply created more enemies. We have a less safe world now, and we are approaching 2000 men and women killed. The rationale keeps changing. It is absolutely tragic, and I understand how these family members, many of them, don’t want anyone questioning why their loved ones died. That would mean that maybe their loved one didn’t have to die. We need a president who will listen and will change the way this nation is heading."

Rocky, you rock.


Is John Edwards signaling a shift against the war?


And the little boy shouted, "Look! The emperor has no clothes!"

36% approval among all Americans, 38% among registered voters.


In a new Newsweek story about how Iraq figures into the Pennsylvania senate race of Casey v. Santorum, this little item is buried:

Meanwhile, NEWSWEEK has learned, conservative Christian leaders privately are warning that Republicans will lose evangelical votes next year if the Iraqi constitution enshrines Islamic law at the expense of religious freedom there.

Since reports have been coming out that the U.S. is prepared to drop its opposition to such language in order to meet today's (extended) deadline, I would say that Bush can anticipate a further decline in his approval ratings.

Here's what Bush said in February 2004:

Russert: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that, and would that be better for the United States than Saddam Hussein?

President Bush: They're not going to develop that.  And the reason I can say that is because I'm very aware of this basic law they're writing.  They're not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.

Yeah, he looked into their eyes and saw their souls. They're not going to try to enshrine Islamic law because they told him that in the OVAL OFFICE, for gosh' sakes! Good as a blood oath --


Editor & Publisher reminds us not to let the media off the hook for its part in the rush to war:

Yet it was the media's swallowing of the false claims in Powell's crucial speech that enabled the march to war to continue.

E&P raised questions about the credibility of the Powell speech at the time and was critical of the press coverage from the start. Then, two years ago, it presented the first in-depth demolition of the Powell speech, provided by Charles J. Hanley, special correspondent for the Associated Press. E&P called the Powell charade the turning point in the march to war, and charged that the media, in almost universally declaring that he had "made the case," fell for it, hook, line and sinker, thereby making the invasion (which some of the same newspapers later questioned) inevitable.
Why does any of this matter? It's fashionable to suggest that the White House was bent on war and nothing could have stopped them. But until the Powell speech, public opinion, editorial sentiment (as chronicled by E&P at the time) and street protests were all building against the war.

The Powell speech, and the media's swallowing of it, changed all that.

The plain truth is, the media was so enthralled with Colin Powell and so convinced that he was a man of unimpeachable integrity, that they just plain swallowed whatever he said as gospel. But don't suppose that the thrill of going to war and the hot stories that would inevitably result wasn't a part of their thinking. Dramatic stories are the coin of the realm to journalists, and what's more dramatic than war and terrorist threats?


The story of why Casey Sheehan died, according to an embedded reporter who was in Sadr City on the day he was killed.

I had traveled to Sadr City to cover the Bush Administration’s undemocratic attack on the movement of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada Sadr. It didn’t matter that the cleric had millions of followers or that he was scion to an important political family with a history of standing up to tyranny. (His father was killed by Saddam’s regime for fomenting revolution in 1999. His uncle, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr, was killed for leading an insurrection against Ba’ath rule in 1980.)

It didn’t matter that Sadr’s forces were providing food aid to the poor, or organizing traffic patrol and garbage duty in an atmosphere with no basic services.

The problem for Bush and his Iraq Administrator L. Paul Bremer was that Sadr was against American occupation. So he had to be dealt with. First his newspaper was closed. Then his top advisor was arrested. Then, Bremer announced an unnamed judge was demanding Sadr be arrested on charges of murder.

"He's effectively attempting to establish his authority in place of the legitimate Iraqi government," US Administrator Paul Bremer told reporters. "We will not tolerate that."

That was the last straw. Until April 4, 2004 Muqtada Sadr had urged his followers to protest peacefully against American occupation. But the American assault lead him to urge his followers to “terrorize the enemy.”

In the first 48 hours of fighting Sadr's followers seized police stations and government buildings across the country including the Governor's Office in Basra. At least 75 Iraqis and 10 American servicemen were killed, among them Army Specialist Casey Sheehan.

So a year after the U.S. invasion of Iraq a popular cleric was organizing his people to provide services the U.S. didn't and encouraged his followers to protest (peacefully) the American occupation. We could have co-opted Sadr instead of seeing him as a threat to our puppet government, but we chose instead to try to crush him. Don't anyone try to tell me for one minute that BushCo didn't connive from the beginning to "own" Iraq -- the billion-dollar embassy and bases we've been building are clear indications of our intentions. We could have said, "Here you go, Saddam is gone and you have your country back" and left, with the thanks of the Iraqi people and a renewed respect on the part of many Muslims in the Middle East. But it was never meant that we should just topple Saddam and leave. We wanted the oil, we wanted the bases, and we wanted a client state. Anyone who thinks differently is either deceiving themselves or just plain naive.

Sunday, August 21


Steph asked what the two thought about Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker's remarks that the Army is planning for the possibility of keeping the current number of soldiers in Iraq -- well over 100,000 -- for four more years.

Hagel: "I think it's complete folly." There won't be any National Guard left, no Army Reserve left, there's no way Americans are going to tolerate 100k troops in Iraq by that time. That would give Iran more influence, hurt Israel, put our allies in a terrible position. We need to be out.

Allen: this was a worst-case scenario. Steph: Yes, but could we sustain those levels? Allen: We'd find a way.

Steph says you've both said the prez should have met with Cindy Sheehan. What about that?

Allen says he said HE would have met with her, but since he said that Cindy's made outrageous statements, some about the president, and this has become a political cause celebre.

Hagel says the WH doesn't understand that the dam has broken on this policy. The longer we stay there the more similarities to VietNam are going to be there. Can't tie the hands of your Commander-in-Chief, but we should have one objective. For the past two years, that's been to help the Iraq people position themselves to govern and defend themselves, but that can't go on indefinitely. We should start figuring out how we get out of there, but we cannot leave a vacuum that would further destabilize the Middle East, and the longer we stay there, the worse it wll become

Allen: I disgree completely. We HAVE to prevaioll, we must win. If we lose, THAT will destabilize the Middle East.


Russ Feingold on Democrats who oppose setting a timeline for our exit from Iraq: They've been intimidated by the administration from opposing this war that many of us knew was a mistake from the beginning. He pointed out that one of the reasons he opposed the war was the fact that of the 45 countries on the State Department's list of nations where Al Qaeda was operating, Iraq wasn't one of them. He quoted Porter Goss, Bush's own CIA director, back in February:

The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists," Goss said in his first public testimony since taking over the CIA. Goss said Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist who has joined al Qaeda since the U.S. invasion, "hopes to establish a safe haven in Iraq" from which he could operate against Western nations and moderate Muslim governments."
"Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists," CIA Director Porter J. Goss told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

"These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism," he said. "They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries."

That is, of course, exactly what has happened.

The argument that setting a timeline would encourage the insurgents to escalate the fighting, wait us out, and then take over the country? Feingold says it's bogus, that if that argument was true, why wouldn't the insurgents just stop fighting now and wait for us to leave and THEN take over? He said that he asked one of the top U.S. generals in Iraq about that and the general said, "Nothing would take the wind out of the sails of the insurgents more than to set a timeline for our exit." Feingold reminded David Gregory, sitting in for Tim Russert, that every time we HAVE set a target date for key Iraqi benchmarks such as transfer of sovereignty and open elections, it has given the Iraqis "ownership" of the process and been a success. He contends that a target date for our exit would be no different and would, in fact, diminish the insurgents' recruiting platform. Once out of Iraq, we could turn our resources to fighting the real war on terror globally.