Saturday, July 21, 2007


WTF is wrong with these people? The "problems" in Iraq are because we didn't have a good "marketing" strategy?

In the advertising world, brand identity is everything. Volvo means safety. Colgate means clean. IPod means cool. But since the U.S. military invaded Iraq in 2003, its "show of force" brand has proved to have limited appeal to Iraqi consumers, according to a recent study commissioned by the U.S. military.

The key to boosting the image and effectiveness of U.S. military operations
around the world involves "shaping" both the product and the marketplace, and
then establishing a brand identity that places what you are selling in a positive light, said clinical psychologist Todd C. Helmus, the author of "Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation." The 211-page study, for which the U.S. Joint Forces Command paid the Rand Corp. $400,000, was released this week.

Some days I read something so mind-numbingly stupid that I wonder how the author finds their way to the restroom. Sample:

In an urban insurgency, for example, civilians can help identify enemy infiltrators and otherwise assist U.S. forces. They are less likely to help, the study says, when they become "collateral damage" in U.S. attacks, have their doors broken down or are shot at checkpoints because they do not speak English. Cultural connections -- seeking out the local head man when entering a neighborhood, looking someone in the eye when offering a friendly wave -- are key.

So now we know why the Iraq occupation isn't going so well. We haven't been marketing properly.

"We want to look at new concepts, new business practices, to see if there are things that we can learn," he said. Since his office was established after the U.S. military issued a new doctrine for urban warfare in 2002, "we've been collecting lessons learned from all over the world," he said. "Not just Iraq and Afghanistan, but places like the Philippines and South America. Wherever there have been fights, we went out and looked at them."

The challenge for the advertising study, he said, was to find "something we can learn from Madison Avenue or from the marketers, the best in the world, that might help us when we're trying to deliver a message about what democracy is." In Iraq, Schattle said, the "urban population is the center of gravity" and the problem is "how we influence them to be on our side, or at least not be an enemy" when "what they see is armor." The goal of such studies, Schattle said, is to distill what works and incorporate it into future training.

Yeah, that'll work.

Power Outage

Lost electricity twice so far today to lightning. Storm still going strong, so not much likely to be posted today.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Go for it

I know what I would do if I were in this position:
U.S. President George W. Bush (L) plays around with boxing legend Sugar Ray
Leonard (R) on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, July 20, 2007

I'd be happy to do it, fully knowing that I'd end up doing time.
Yeah, even to a guy going into a colonoscopy.

Scary stuff.

38 years ago

This was 38 years ago today:

Side story: I grew up in a household without a television until the lunar mission. My father thought TV to be a waste of time. But when Apollo 11 launched, dad decided that we needed to watch so he went out and bought a TV. This scene was that important.

To this day I rarely watch TV.


I need something to lift my spirits.

Me. Rowing. On the San Juan.

I needed that.

By Executive Fiat

Another outrage:
I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:

Wait, the "peace and stability"?

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

But of course, our shrub exempts himself:

Sec. 7. Nothing in this order is intended to affect the continued effectiveness of any rules, regulations, orders, licenses, or other forms of administrative action issued, taken, or continued in effect heretofore or hereafter under 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as expressly terminated, modified, or suspended by or pursuant to this order.

Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

This executive order basically criminalizes opposition to the war, and allows the government to seize the assets of any group opposing the war. Impeach!

Added: Sara Robinson says what I was thinking:

It's that B clause that concerns me -- and should concern all of us who blog, comment, organize, write letters, and otherwise exercise our rights to agitate against this unholy war. "Undermining the efforts" is a term that can be defined very, very broadly. And since those of us opposing this war have been told repeatedly, from the beginning, that our
efforts to change our fellow citizens' minds were in fact treasonous acts that undermined the war effort, emboldened America's enemies, and harmed our troops, it's not unreasonable to believe that those warnings are now being backed up by official action. "At risk of committing significant acts of violence" is more overbroad weasel-speak: How many of us have said things that could be construed (at least by the certifiable paranoids in the White House) as a threat of violence against the Bush Administration?

Boobies for Friday

A masked pair. They're calling for impeachment, too.

Beyond Outrage

What fresh new hell is it today? Because every day brings a new outrage from the administration of our shrub:

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against
current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals.

Did you get that? They just said that they don't have to obey the law because they control the means to enforce the law.

But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts.

"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," said a senior official, who said his remarks reflect a consensus within the administration. "And a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."

I'm old enough to remember Nixon, but even that sick bastard never claimed anything this outrageous. Shrub now claims that his word trumps the constitution.

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."

The administration's statement is a dramatic attempt to seize the upper hand in an escalating constitutional battle with Congress, which has been trying for months, without success, to compel White House officials to testify and to turn over documents about their roles in the prosecutor firings last year. The Justice Department and White House in recent weeks have been discussing when and
how to disclose the stance, and the official said he decided yesterday that it was time to highlight it.

Yesterday, I posted in favor of impeachment. We have a rogue president who must be stopped. The gauntlet has been thrown down, and if congress lets this stand our constitution will no longer be relevant.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Can't resist

So Bud will begin selling high-end bottled water:
ST. LOUIS and THORLAKSHOFN, Iceland, July 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Anheuser-Busch, Inc. and Icelandic Water Holdings ehf jointly announced today
Anheuser-Busch will become the master distributor for Icelandic Glacial super-premium natural spring water in the United States, effective immediately. Anheuser-Busch has taken a 20 percent equity interest in Icelandic Water Holdings as part of theagreement.

Their low-end bottled water will continue to be "bud light".

More thoughts on impeachment

For our 500th post (woohoo) I'm revisiting the issue of impeachment. It's an issue that I'm mildly conflicted on. Our shrub and the cheney certainly have taken so many actions for which they truly deserve to be impeached, but should the impeachment fail in the senate then their abuses of power will be the norm for future administrations. In short, any articles of impeachment must be so well crafted that it cannot be defeated. It has to be overwhelming.
There are more than enough outrages deserving impeachment. Lies about Iraq, the failures on 9/11 and Katrina, warrentless wiretapping, politicizing the DOJ, the suspension of Habeus Corpus, and the executive signing statements are just the first to spring into my mind. Hell, I just read another this morning. Remember the cheney energy task force?

In March 2001, while California's two largest utilities were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and the state's electricity crisis was spiraling out of control, Vice President Dick Cheney summoned Curt Hebert, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to his office next to the White House for a hastily arranged meeting.

Cheney had just been informed by his longtime friend Thomas Cruikshank, the man who handpicked the vice president to succeed him at Halliburton in the mid-1990s, that federal energy regulators were close to completing an investigation into allegations that Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Companies and AES Corporation of Arlington, Virginia had created an artificial power shortage in California in April and May of 2000 by shutting down a power plant for more than two weeks.

Cruikshank was a member of Williams's board of directors, and perhaps more importantly, had been one of many energy industry insiders advising Cheney's energy task force on a wide-range of policy issues, including deregulation of the nation's electricity sector, that would benefit Williams financially.

Cruikshank informed the vice president he had learned about the preliminary findings of FERC's investigation during a Williams board meeting earlier in March 2001. FERC, Cruikshank told Cheney, was in possession of incriminating audio tapes in which a Williams official and an AES power plant operator discussed keeping a Southern California power plant offline so Williams could continue to receive the $750 per megawatt hour premium for emergency power California's grid operator was forced to procure to keep the lights on in Southern California.

That's right. They covered up the conspiracy behind the California electricity crises. They have no shame.
In spite of my earlier expressed reservations, I've come to believe we must impeach. Because the cost of allowing the administrations dishonesty to continue would be the destruction of the America we love. If we are to remain a constitutional democracy we must call the bastards to account.
DCUP at PoliTits (who I've grown to love) has some great thoughts on the need to impeach:
Finally, since I'm not an expert on the impeachment process, I went out and looked up an answer to your 2/3 question. Here's what I found:
(1) To convict Bush we only need 16 Republican Senators in addition to all the Democrats. It is quite possible that we will get them.
(2) After investigations and the trial, it will be obvious to everyone that Bush is guilty of serious crimes. At that point, many Republicans will feel compelled to vote for a guilty verdict.
(3) Many Republican politicians oppose Bush because they feel he is hurting them politically.

(4) Many Republican voters are calling for impeachment. If Senators want to get reelected they may have to vote Bush guilty.
(5) Bush committed crimes and it is our duty to oppose those crimes
and defend the Constitution regardless of our chance of success
(6) If we can force a debate on impeachment then it will expose Bush's crimes even if he is not convicted.
(7) If we can force a roll call vote and some Republicans vote with Bush then we will have them on record as being on the wrong side of history.
(8) It is better to fight for justice and lose then to accept injustice.

I'm with her. We cannot let them get away with it.
While my own congress-critters are all staunch rethugs, I've decided to contact them every day, calling for impeachment. They need to here from all of us.
Here's the contact info:



It's one of those that kind of sums up this whole horrible presidency.

Bush: No Deal On Children's Health Plan.

President Bush yesterday rejected entreaties by his Republican allies that he compromise with Democrats on legislation to renew a popular program that provides health coverage to poor children, saying that expanding the program would enlarge the role of the federal government at the expense of private insurance.

Apparently "compassionate conservatism" doesn't apply to children, either.

It's what I had to say, only clearer. If the choice is between children's health and corporate profits, we know what's more important to our shrub.

My Morning

Woke up this morning, early dawn as usual, and looked out my window. There was a Fox snooping around my back yard. He/she ran off before I could grab my camera (I don't move very quickly pre-coffee), but it did make me smile. I like having wildlife in my backyard. Also, I don't have any chickens.
On an unrelated note, several people have asked where I found the pictures of tattoo'd pigs. Here's the link: It's an "art farm" in china. Here's a sample:
Now I'll have to check the backyard early each morning. I really want to get a pic of the fox.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


A fine mess continues. The filibuster of the Reed-Levin amendment succeeds, as Harry Reid could only get 52 votes on cloture. So Reid pulled the whole defense appropriation bill.
In an in-your-face response to Republicans continuing to block a full Senate vote on withdrawing American troops from Iraq, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just moments ago set aside the pending Defense Authorization Bill until the Senate's Republican leadership stops defying the will of the majority of Congress and the American people and allows votes on the Iraq occupation.

"This has been a long week and it is only Wednesday," said Reid on the Senate floor. "We have now been in session continuously for 2 days. On Monday I submitted a simple request for consent to proceed to an up or down vote on the Levin/Reed Amendment to the Defense Authorization bill. As I have stated, this amendment provides a clear, binding and responsible path to change the U.S. mission and reduce our combat presence in Iraq."

"Regrettably, Republicans chose to block this amendment. They chose to deny the American people an up or down vote on a bipartisan amendment. They chose to continue protecting their President instead of our troops – no matter the cost to our country."

The reality is that the whole Iraq mess is punted down field, and our current senate wasn't going to get us out of Iraq regardless of the rhetoric. If the filibuster had been broken and the bill passed, shrub would have vetoed it. And there just aren't enough votes to override.
We need to shout "It's the republicans who are keeping us in Iraq" and "Republican obstructionism" at the top of our lungs.
So we remain stuck in the Iraq quagmire. The problem is that there are NO good outcomes for us in Iraq. When we leave, there will be a bloody struggle for power. While we stay, there will be a bloody struggle for power. We will have to leave at some point because the drain on our military and resources will simply become too great. The only question is how much blood will have to spill before we leave.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

tortoise tuesday pics

...well maybe it is Jabba the Hutt. Noam would go nanners if she knew i was checking out other reptiles. She's chomping on Goethe right now.

The Filibuster

So we're getting a real live filibuster, instead just the threat of one. The last time the Senate had an actual filibuster was in 1964, to try to stop civil rights. I wrote earlier that in the Senate 60 votes are required to end debate and force a vote on a bill. The actual procedure is a bit more arcane:
The Right to Recognition

Rule XIX affords the presiding officer no choice and no discretion in recognition. As a general rule, if a Senator seeks recognition when no other Senator has the floor, the presiding officer must recognize him or her. The presiding officer may not decline to recognize the Senator, whether for reasons of personal preference or partisan advantage, or to enable the Senate to reach a vote on the pending matter.

As a result, when the Senate is considering any debatable question, it cannot vote on the question so long as any Senator wants to be recognized to debate it.

Basically, the rethugs have merely threatened to filibuster, and because the dems don't have 60 votes, the debate isn't ended. The bill simply doesn't come to a vote.
The Right to Speak at Length and the Two-Speech Rule

Under Rule XIX, unless any special limits on debate are in effect, Senators who have been recognized may speak for as long as they wish.

They usually cannot be forced to cede the floor, or even interrupted, without their consent. (There are some exceptions: for example, Senators can lose the floor if they violate the Senate’s standards of decorum in debate, or, as discussed later, they may be interrupted for the presentation of a cloture motion.) Rule XIX places no limit on the length of individual speeches or on the number of Senators who may speak on a pending question.

It does, however, tend to limit the possibility of extended debate by its provision that “no Senator shall speak more than twice upon any one question in debate on the same legislative day without leave of the Senate, which shall be determined without debate.” This provision, commonly called the “two-speech rule,” limits each Senator to making two speeches per day, however long each speech may be, on each debatable question that the Senate considers. A Senator who has made two speeches on a single question becomes ineligible to be recognized for another speech on the same question on the same day.

The “day” during which a Senator can make no more than two speeches on the same question is not a calendar day, but a legislative day. A legislative day ends only with an adjournment, so that, whenever the Senate recesses overnight, rather than adjourning, the same legislative day continues into the next calendar day. A legislative day may therefore extend over several calendar days. The leadership may continue to recess the Senate, rather than adjourning, as a means of attempting to overcome a filibuster by compelling filibustering Senators to exhaust their opportunities of gaining recognition.

Senators rarely invoke the two-speech rule because they generally do not believe that there is any need to do so. Sometimes, however, they may insist that the two- speech rule be enforced, as a means of attempting to overcome a filibuster. On such occasions, nevertheless, Senators often can circumvent the two-speech rule by making a motion or offering an amendment that constitutes a new and different debatable question.

For example, each Senator can make two speeches on each bill, each first-degree amendment to a bill, and each second-degree amendment to each of those amendments as well.

In recent practice, the Senate considers that being recognized and engaging in debate constitutes a speech. The Senate, however, does not consider “that recognition for any purpose [constitutes] a speech.” Currently effective precedents have held that “certain procedural motions and requests were examples of actions that did not constitute speeches for purposes of the two speech rule.” These matters include such things as making a parliamentary inquiry and suggesting the absence of a quorum.

Nevertheless, if a Senator is recognized for a substantive comment, however brief, on the pending question, that remark may count as a speech.

By actually forcing the continued debate and not adjourning the senate for the night, Sen. Reid is forcing the rethugs to act on their threats.
(I'm trying out this "serious" blogger thing).

Bigger than I thought

I thought this was a humble little blog with only a few readers. Then I was reading Bill Scher at The Huffington Post, and I saw this:

When you're Senate Majority Leader, everyone's fighting for your ear. Today, the netroots have Harry Reid's ear, instead of the punditocracy.

The Campaign for America Future's blog -- where I also post -- has long been calling for Senate leaders to fight for bold, popular legislation and stand up to those blocking its passage -- instead of flinching at filibusters, chasing unprincipled compromises and accommodating the conservative minority.

We launched the petition last month urging Reid to do just that.

And many other bloggers -- including Digby, Taylor Marsh, Open Left, Booman
, ThinkProgress, Miles Mogulescu, FireDogLake, Leisure Guy, The
Next Hurrah
, The Carpetbagger Report, Tangled Webs, Billy Creek, Politits, Talking Points Memo, South Georgia Liberal, Pygalgia, The Newshoggers, The Sideshow, Seeing The Forest and Blue Jersey -- have rallied around the effort.

Wow, look who we're listed with...I mean Digby, FDL, and TPM get more visitors in one hour than we've gotton over our entire history. I don't know if I can take the pressure. I mean some of the other blogs listed are serious scholars with many thousand readers. We have Friday Boobies and Zymurgian's philosophy eating dinosaur. But it is nice to be noticed.
And good job, Sen. Reid!
Added: This is still a vanity blog, where we throw stuff out because we want to. Tattoo'd pigs? We got 'im. Woman with a Cockatoo? Got it. We're Pygalgia, and we don't need no stinkin' rules.

'Bout Time

Uhm, shouldn't you have done this four years ago?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to ask Congress Tuesday for permission to shift as much as $1.3 billion from other military programs to speed up the purchase of bomb-resistant vehicles for troops in Iraq.

According to military officials, the Army would like to reallocate about $800 million, and the Marines want roughly $500 million, to buy the Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles that have been saving lives in roadside bomb attacks.

We're spending $10 billion a month in Iraq (although god only knows on what), but need another $1.3 billion for up-armored vehicles for the troops. I think there's a couple of thousand reasons why the troops should have had these vehicles long ago.

Poor Rick

Aww, my local corrupt congress-critter Rick Renzi is having fundraising problems:

WASHINGTON -- Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi's campaign cash is dwindling, giving Democrats more hope that they can take advantage of his legal woes and win his 1st District U.S. House seat.

Renzi, whose family business was raided by the FBI last April, ended the last quarter with $20,418 in the bank, according to campaign finance reports covering April 1-June 30. That is just a fourth of the $80,000 he had on hand at the end of the first three months of the year and a fraction of the money he has raised in previous years.

The report, filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission, shows Renzi has spent $126,388 and owes $456,024.

I guess it's harder to solicit bribes after you give up your committee seats:

On the day of the raid, he stepped down temporarily from the House Intelligence Committee. A few days later, he took a leave of absence from the House Financial Services and Natural Resources committees.

I have no sympathy for you, Rick, but I will give you another pig:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hemp Mobile

I'm only posting this to make Whig comment:

GREEN drivers may soon be travelling in “cannabis cars” which can be recycled. Ministers have coughed up £500,000 to develop the world’s first sustainable vehicle made from hemp.

The joint project between the environment department DEFRA, car giant Ford
and growers Hemcore aims to create new materials based on plant fibres to
replace metal and oil-based plastic components.

Developers Qinetiq have already designed hemp replacements for the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals. As the technology improves, it may be used
for larger car parts such as body panels.,,2-2007320802,00.html

Spliffing ... hemp for car parts

Any questions?

Expanding the Disaster

Today's news is grim. The Cheney wants more war, as if the one's we have aren't enough:

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.",,2127343,00.html

The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.

Here's a little noticed complication: How will Turkey react?

Turkey-Iran sign EU gas export deal

ANKARA: Turkey and Iran have reached a preliminary agreement to carry natural
gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to Europe, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler
said yesterday.

We're creating more enemies throughout the region:

The LA Times reported yesterday that nearly half of the detainees in US military
custody are Saudis. Not so for the suspected jihadis held by the Iraqis. They have only 9 Saudis. About half of their detainees are Egyptian, and a fifth are Sudanese. The Iraqi security services clearly think their biggest problem is jihadi volunteers from the Nile Valley. But the picture emerging from the two sets of detainees is that the publics of the two main US allies in the Middle East, Saudi and Egypt, are the most likely to fall under suspicion of supporting the insurgency. While suspicion falls on some Iranians, they appear to be cleared quickly and released. The Daily Star writes:

"He reports that among those still being questioned, "11 were Jordanians; 64 Syrians; nine Saudis; two Algerians; six Moroccans; six Yemenis; two Libyans; 57 Palestinians; 284 Egyptians; 113 Sudanese, two Emiratis; three Lebanese and one Somali."

And Iraq? Who's side are we on?

The NY Times has an interesting article today on trust issues in Anbar. The Shia Army don't trust the new Sunni auxiliaries to the U.S. occupation. The Sunnis don't trust the Shias. Neither trusts the U.S. and the Sunnis are quite blatant about saying if they don't get what they want from the Americans, they will go back to killing them.

So maybe we can make it worse:

The U.S. military's top general said Monday that the Joint Chiefs of Staff is weighing a range of possible new directions in Iraq, including, if President Bush deems it necessary, an even bigger troop buildup.;_ylt=AjvOh8LFxaHsQYygYgZ2UVcUewgF

The whole thing is making me crazy. Our country is being run by some incredibly dangerous people. If we actually attack Iran, we might as well be at war with the entire region. And in the long run, we won't win.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Our Friends, the Saudi's

I've said this many times that despite the rhetoric about Iran, our real problem in Iraq is the Saudi's. The LA Times gives the numbers:
Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.

About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency.

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis.

The situation has left the U.S. military in the awkward position of battling an enemy whose top source of foreign fighters is a key ally that at best has not been able to prevent its citizens from undertaking bloody attacks in Iraq, and at worst shares complicity in sending extremists to commit attacks against U.S. forces, Iraqi civilians and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.

[Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times]

That's the problem with Middle East intervention. Nobody wants us there.
(BTW, this is old news in the Arabic press. Go read
The Saudi government does not dispute that some of its youths are ending up as suicide bombers in Iraq....

Iraqi Shiite lawmaker Sami Askari, an advisor to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, accused Saudi officials of a deliberate policy to sow chaos in Baghdad.

"The fact of the matter is that Saudi Arabia has strong intelligence resources, and it would be hard to think that they are not aware of what is going on," he said.

Askari also alleged that imams at Saudi mosques call for jihad, or holy war, against Iraq's Shiites and that the government had funded groups causing unrest in Iraq's
largely Shiite south. Sunni extremists regard Shiites as unbelievers.

Both the White House and State Department declined to comment for this article.

Nice to know that they're our allies.

A story with pictures

Yesterday I posted a picture of a cockatoo picking at a friends teeth. Now I'll tell you the story. It was Thurs. night, and I was at my local brewery:

I was hanging out with a group of fellow whitewater rafters ("river trash" to the locals), and an old friend was in town (another boatman, don't have a picture of him). He always has a couple of his birds with him, this time an Amazonian Parrot named "Jack" and an Australian Cockatoo named "Kiwi". His birds are extremely friendly, and were a great source of entertainment.

Which led to some goofing amongst the river trash. Kiwi likes to pick at peoples teeth, and given the lack of health insurance amongst boaters (boatman's health plan: 2 aspirin, a vitamin, washed down with beer), we called Kiwi's picking "dental care".

Here's a boatman getting his annual teeth cleaning.

And here's a boatwoman taking a turn. I didn't get any pictures of my turn, but trust don't want to look at my teeth. I did get Jack untying my hair:

This story of birds and river trash was brought to you by:

Gilmore drops out

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore has dropped his bid for pres., and all three of his supporters are heartbroken. The rest of the country responded "who?", "wha?", or "zzzzz". Don't worry, the rethugs still have plenty of other wackos to choose from. Take Tom Tancredo...please.