Saturday, September 1, 2007



With all my other rants on Iraq, the hubris of this is incredible. Look at your new US embassy.

Baghdad is a city of ruins - of burnt-out homes, of shops wrecked by suicide bombs, of the crumbling shells of Saddam-era palaces and ministries destroyed by smart bombs in the US invasion of 2003.

There is one notable exception. It is probably the only big new building project in the capital in the past four years. It is the new US Embassy on the west bank of the Tigris which the contractors will transfer to the US Government officially today.

I'm sure that the fine people of Baghdad won't mind.

This is the largest US Embassy built – roughly the size of Vatican City – and at $600 million (£300 million) the most expensive. At a time when millions of Baghdadis outside the green zone receive only a couple of hours of water and electricity daily, Iraqis observe that this project has been completed on time, on budget, and is entirely self-sufficient with its own fresh water supply, electricity plant, sewage treatment facility, maintenance shops and warehouses.

“People are very angry,” said one young Iraqi. “It’s for the Americans, not for the Iraqis.”

There are two office blocks that will house 1,000 staff, six apartment blocks containing 619 one-bedroom units, spacious residences for the Ambassador and his deputy, a school, shopping centre and food court; a swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts; a gymnasium, cinema, beauty salon and social club.

The neo-cons seem to believe that we can somehow turn Iraq into a pro-American democracy, a modern day colony state.

The embassy was built with imported labour. This year a congressional committee heard charges that First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting told a planeload of Filipino construction workers that they were flying to Dubai to build hotels and did not admit that they were heading for Baghdad until they had taken off, forcing them, in effect, to work there.

Critics also portray the new compound as a symbol of American isolation and occupation, and a sign of how little confidence the US has in Iraq’s future. Jane Loeffler, an expert on the architecture of embassies, writes in the latest edition of Foreign Policy magazine: “Encircled by blast walls and cut off from the rest of Baghdad, it stands out like the crusader castles that once dominated the Middle East.”

Embassies were traditionally designed to promote interaction with their host communities, she says, but not this one. “Although US diplomats will technically be ‘in Iraq’ they may as well be in Washington.

“Although the US Government regularly proclaims confidence in Iraq’s democratic future, the US has designed an embassy that conveys no confidence in Iraqis and little hope for their future. Instead, the US has built a fortress capable of sustaining a massive, long-term presence in the face of continued violence.”

Have we done anything right in Iraq? This sends a simple signal to the Iraqi people: "we're staying". It is the absolute worst message we could possibly send.

Where Zymurgian is

I'm slightly jealous. Zymurgian is off boating the San Juan river. He's got my camera with him, so I hope to have some new river pics coming.

September Reports

September is here, and this month we'll get to hear the White House report on "progress" in Iraq. We've already seen the NIE report, which the White House edited, that was more negative than positive. The leaked GAO report basically said Iraq is failing.
But our shrub is banking on the "Petreaus" report. So here are a few facts to remember in advance of the coming lies.
Troop deaths:

Graphic via Kevin Drum of

Then we have the civilian casualty numbers. While Petreaus claimed that "sectarian" deaths are down, the overall deaths are up.

At least 1,809 civilians were killed, compared to 1,760 in July, based on figures compiled from official Iraqi reports.

American officials have maintained that violence is declining in Iraq in the run-up to a series of reports to Congress this month that will decide the course of the U.S. military presence here.

The top U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, told The Australian newspaper in an interview published Friday that the troop increase has sharply reduced sectarian killings in Baghdad, in particular. Petraeus is expected to make the same point when he reports to Congress in about two weeks.;_ylt=ArwokMuV_C1X48cCtOPCbG0UewgF

Then there is the refugee crises. These numbers are truly astounding:

"The humanitarian situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate with the number of displaced Iraqis, both inside and outside the country, rising. Now, an estimated 4.2 million Iraqis are have been uprooted from their homes, with the monthly rate of displacement climbing to over 60,000 people compared to 50,000 previously, according to UNHCR and the Iraqi Red Crescent. Displacement is rising as Iraqis are finding it harder to get access to social services inside Iraq and many Iraqis are choosing to leave ethnically mixed areas before they are forced to do so. Some Iraqis who stayed in the country until the end of the school year recently started leaving the country with their families.

More than 2 million Iraqis are displaced inside Iraq, with over 1 million displaced since the February 2006 Samarra bombings. While most of the security incidents happen in the centre and south of the country, the displaced are not confined to these regions. In the north, there are more than 780,000 displaced Iraqis, over 650,000 in the centre of the country, and 790,000 in the south. Many are barely surviving in makeshift camps, inaccessible to aid workers for security reasons."

United Nations High Commission on Refugees

That is almost one in six displaced. There is no way to make this sound good. As we are responsible for creating so many refugees, what are we doing about it?

Not much. Less than Denmark.
It is clear to me that we must end this senseless occupation. Period. The longer we stay, the worse it gets. Anyone who claims that we need to give the "surge" more time is ignoring the facts.
Will Iraq get worse when we leave? Possibly, although there is an equal chance that our leaving would force some reconciliation. We aren't preventing a bloodbath with our current plan, merely prolonging one. Only the people of Iraq can decide what will happen when we leave. And we will leave. We can't stay forever.
It's time to go.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Do you see a pattern here?

Actually, there isn't one.
Iowa now allows gay marriage. Good for them, but I can't see Iowa becoming the new Mecca for gays.
Tony Snow is resigning as press secretary. As liars go, he had better hair than Ari Fliescher. But Dana Perino could become the best looking liar for the administration if she wears a low-cut blouse (yeah, it's slightly sexist to say that. sue me.).
John Warner won't be running for re-election. Based on polls, this means that only the first name will have to be changed on his office.
Lt. Gen. David Petreaus said that "there has been a 75% drop in sectarian killings", while noting that there has been an overall increase in deaths. This is "progress", because they aren't being killed over religion.
Meanwhile, the "green zone fog" must be pretty thick:
But even such tight control could not always filter out the bizarre world inside the barricades. At one point, the three were trying to discuss the state of Iraqi security forces with Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, but the large, flat-panel television set facing the official proved to be a distraction. Rubaie was watching children's cartoons.

When Moran asked him to turn it off, Rubaie protested with a laugh and said, "But this is my favorite television show," Moran recalled.

Porter confirmed the incident, although he tried to paint the scene in the best light, noting that at least they had electricity.

"I don't disagree it was an odd moment, but I did take a deep breath and say, 'Wait a minute, at least they are using the latest technology, and they are monitoring the world,' " Porter said. "But, yes, it was pretty annoying."

real news of significance

It's somehow reassuring to hear that the Iraqi National Security Advisor has time to enjoy cartoons. And that Rep. Porter considers this "monitoring the world".

R.I.P. Michael Jackson

The good Michael Jackson , the "Beer Hunter" has left us:

LONDON (AP) -- Michael Jackson, a leading world beer critic who praised the brews of Belgium and acknowledged he would never be as famous as ''that Michael Jackson,'' has died. He was 65.

He was one of my personal heroes. I mean, making a living by traveling around the world tasting beer? How can I get a gig like that?
Actually, he was a great writer who always found the best words to describe the essence of different beers. His website is a great resource for those who want to know more about quality beer.
Pints will be hoisted in his memory at many a happy hour today (including mine).

And a Friday Boobie

It doesn't feel like a Friday if you don't see a boobie.

Why Bother?

Not that I really care, but I find this really silly. Fred Thomson announces that he's going to announce that he's running next Thursday. He'll be announcing his announcement on Leno the night before.
I'd like to announce that I'll be announcing that I would never vote for 'ol Fred next Friday.

Added: In the comments, Sweaterman explains:
Follow the math and the regulatory hopscotch:

* From the date of the formal announcement, Thompson has 15 days to declare his candidacy officially with the Federal Election Commission. Takes us to September 21, 2007.
* From that date, Thompson has 10 more days for his official campaign committee to register with the FEC. Takes us to October 1, 2007.
* And what's so special about October 1? It's the start of a new FEC reporting quarter.

By delaying the filing of his organizational papers until books have closed on the
third quarter of 2007, Thompson arguably will not have to file any disclosure reports with the FEC until January 31, 2008, after the Republican primaries/caucuses in WY, IA, NH, NV, FL and Lord knows who else at this point.

Typical GOP-type of maneuvering to skate the laws, but hey, nothing to see here....these aren't the droids you're looking for....move along....

I'll postpone announcing anymore announcements until I've consulted with Sweaterman.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Have a Vug

Because a mossy vug is a good thing.

Good Satire

Sometimes, it's best to leave satire to the pros:

“Dateline,” the NBC newsmagazine which has scored big ratings for its “To Catch a Predator” investigations, announced today that it would introduce a new investigative series this fall, entitled “To Catch a Senator.”

At a press conference in New York, NBC News president Steve Capus said that “To Catch a Senator” would focus the “Dateline” investigation team’s energies on “the
number one menace in America today: pervy Republican senators.”

While he indicated that plans for the program are still being developed, Mr. Capus said that “To Catch a Senator” would use an airport bathroom as the nerve center for its sting operation.

Specifically, he said that the program would deploy “Predator” host Chris Hansen as a decoy to lure depraved senators into lewd contact.

“Chris will be waiting in one of the bathroom stalls, and when the senator taps on the wall, Chris will kind of pop out of the stall and start grilling him,” Mr. Capus said. “We’ll nail that bastard faster than he can say ‘I’m not gay.’”

But even as NBC trumpeted its latest “Dateline” spin-off, industry insiders wondered whether there would be an adequate supply of sex-crazed senators to keep the program going for more than a few episodes.

For his part, Mr. Capus brushed off such concerns, telling reporters, “As long as there are Republican senators out there who oppose gay marriage, there will always be plenty of pervs.”

If you can write satire at that level, please send it to me.

Where did I put those WMD's

Back in late 2003, our local NPR affiliate had a delightful spoof piece titled "Where did I put those WMD's?". It coincided with reports that no WMD's had been found in Iraq, and in it a woman is searching her house and garage for her missing WMD's. A very funny piece.
Now we have this from the UN:

The United Nations found potentially lethal vials of a chemical warfare agent, removed from Iraq a decade ago, in offices near its New York headquarters but officials said on Thursday there was no danger.

The FBI and New York police were called in to remove the substances and were on the site, across the street from U.N. headquarters on Thursday.

The materials included phosgene, an older generation chemical warfare agent, which could have been lethal if it had evaporated, the officials said.;_ylt=AhqMv5vnSj1qxkf6fhP05V8XIr0F

I can't wait to see what the anti-UN rightwingers say about this one. I'm guessing they'll run with it for weeks.

Another Terrorist Group

Guess who is the latest group to be designated as "terrorists"?

It's no wonder then that federal officials are now revisiting their previously failed effort to link terrorism to cannabis, the only real cash cow in the government's so-called War on Drugs. Only difference is, this time, they don't have Tommy Chong as a scapegoat.

Unable or unwilling to solve the nation's crippling meth addiction or its hypocritical dependency on prescribed narcotics like oxycontin, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently rang the terrorism alarm to nail pot growers in Redding's Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California. Along the way, ONDCP "czar" John Walters showed off not only the Bush administration's love of twisted terminology but also its subcultural savvy by coining a memorable phrase of his own.

"We have kind of a reefer blindness," Walters explained during a Redding press conference on the ONDCP's Operation Alesia, a cannabis-eradication program coordinated by the California National Guard's Counterdrug Taskforce and the Shasta County Sheriff's Office. Walters followed that clever turn of phrase with the reliable terrorist designation to describe the armed growers cultivating cannabis in Shasta County. "These people are armed; they're dangerous. [They're] violent criminal terrorists." He even went so far to argue that the "terrorists" growing weed in Shasta County, as the Redding Record Searchlight reported, "wouldn't hesitate to help other terrorists get into the country with the aim of causing mass casualties."

Except there seem to be a couple major problems with Walters' characterizations. For one, Walters declined to explain during the press conference what Operation Alesia's specific goals were. More importantly, he didn't offer up any concrete names of the terrorists or their ideological objectives. What legalization advocates and law enforcement authorities alike were left with was yet another hazy strategy based on loose terminology whose only purpose it seems is to confiscate as much pot as possible from Shasta County's public lands.

That's right. The pot growers are out to kill us all. I think they just declared war on common sense.

Tinfoil Time

Let me begin by saying that I tend to ignore conspiracy theories. So now I'm going to connect some dots, don my foil fez, and proceed to scare myself.

We'll start here:

This year, on August 28, President Bush spoke to another veterans' group, the American Legion. He called Iran "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," whose "active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust." He concluded:

Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late.

But this apparently is just test marketing, like Cheney's 2002 speech. After all "from a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." Today I received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington and whose information has often been prescient. According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way:

They [the source's institution] have "instructions" (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don't think they'll ever get majority support for this--they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is "plenty."

Of course I cannot verify this report. But besides all the other pieces of information about this circulating, I heard last week from a former U.S. government contractor. According to this friend, someone in the Department of Defense called, asking for cost estimates for a model for reconstruction in Asia. The former contractor finally concluded that the model was intended for Iran.

Then I see this, via Shaun at Kiko's House

The company has branched out into disaster response management since Hurricane Katrina, where it overbilled the feds ungodly sums, but appears to have other stateside plans in the works, as well.

Explains Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, in an interview:

"Blackwater's been in negotiations with several state governments in the United States. Blackwater met recently with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about doing disaster response in California. They’re opening up a new private military base in San Diego. Another one is in Mount Carroll, Illinois. They have applied for operating licenses in every coastal U.S. state. This is the expansion of a privatized army."

Creepy, isn't it?

Now try this on for size: Could it be the the Dark Prince is planning for the day that martial law was imposed after a disaster and would come to the aid of the very clergy folks whom the Department of Homeland Security is training to help put down citizen unrest?

Sound's batshit crazy doesn't it?

But as Jim Booth, who has aggressively covered Blackwater at Scholars and Rogues, notes:

"Having planes that are good at counter-insurgency in the hands of a dedicated private army headed by an evangelical dominionist could be a back-up in case pastoral diplomacy fails.

"Of course, this could merely be a business decision on the part of Blackwater. After all, as we’ve noted already, there's no business like war business. And to do business properly, you’ve got to have the right tools."

Be fearful, America, be very fearful.

So we have a private security firm ready to step in, with the help of "clergy response teams":

If martial law were enacted here at home, like depicted in the movie "The Siege", easing public fears and quelling dissent would be critical. And that's exactly what the 'Clergy Response Team' helped accomplish in the wake of Katrina.
Dr. Durell Tuberville serves as chaplain for the Shreveport Fire Department and the Caddo
Sheriff's Office. Tuberville said of the clergy team's mission, "the primary thing that we say to anybody is, 'let's cooperate and get this thing over with and then we'll settle the differences once the crisis is over.'"
Such clergy response teams would walk a tight-rope during martial law between the demands of the government on the one side, versus the wishes of the public on the other. "In a lot of
cases, these clergy would already be known in the neighborhoods in which they're helping to diffuse that situation," assured Sandy Davis. He serves as the director of the Caddo-Bossier Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
For the clergy team, one of the biggest tools that they will have in helping calm the public down or to obey the law is the bible itself, specifically Romans 13. Dr. Tuberville elaborated, "because the government's established by the Lord, you know. And, that's what we believe in the Christian faith. That's what's stated in the scripture."
Civil rights advocates believe the amount of public cooperation during such a time of unrest may ultimately depend on how long they expect a suspension of rights might last.

And how much help will our youth be? Maybe not so much:

Very few Americans under 30 have ever taken a civics class . Which means nobody's
ever walked them -- slowly and patiently over several weeks -- through each article of the Bill of Rights, and explained to them -- carefully and thoroughly and in great detail -- how those articles define the way they as Americans should expect to interact with their government.

This, of course, is very convenient for the would-be oligarchs in our midst. Funny
thing: people who don't know they have rights aren't nearly as inclined to insist on them.

I'll throw in "32 clues that your country may be turning into a fascist state":

And this:

A restoration of habeas corpus rights may have a better chance. Leahy said he will push the issue next month, and legislation co-sponsored by Conyers and Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is likely to move through their committees this fall.

But political fear still hovers over any legislation that touches on the fight against terrorism, which, for Democrats, may be the new third rail of politics.

“We can do this, but you have to keep in mind Republicans care more about catching Democrats than catching terrorists,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “They have spent years taking Roosevelt’s notion that we have nothing to fear but fear itself and given us nothing but fear.”column

Feeling the paranoia yet? Here's a small tool:

Print copies of the ACLU Bust Card (2 to a page), cut on the lines, and give one to everyone you know. Do this now please.

Aargh, I think I woke up on the wrong side of the floor this morning.

The GAO Report

So we have a new GAO report on Iraq, freshly leaked, that shows that Iraq has failed to meet OUR goals for Iraq. Is this a surprise to any sentient being?
Here's the part of the story that matters:

The person who provided the draft report to The Post said it was being conveyed from a government official who feared that its pessimistic conclusions would be watered down in the final version -- as some officials have said happened with security judgments in this month's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Congress requested the GAO report, along with an assessment of the Iraqi security forces by an independent commission headed by retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, to provide a basis for comparison with the administration's scorecard. The Jones report is also scheduled for delivery next week.

Bravo to whoever provided the report to the Post. While most folks who come here know that our administration lies, there still is a segment of the public that trusts them. The GAO is one of the few government agencies that still retains a shred of credibility, and it's important that they fight to retain it.
Remember this when the White House "Petreaus" report comes out.
Added: What I'm saying is that the GAO is actually calling the administration "liars", albeit subtly.
More added: Didn't take the Pentagon long to comment:

WASHINGTON - Stung by the bleak findings of a congressional audit of progress in Iraq, the Pentagon has asked that some of the negative assessments be revised.;_ylt=Avo9B5iIMeMLrDU9HRLa.JGs0NUE

Because "facts" have a liberal bias.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


In the previous post I mentioned "pranks". To be a good prankster, you have to follow some rules. It's a "no harm" thing.
Good prank: Adding the line to your bosses report: "After licking many hallucinogenic toads, I've concluded".
Bad prank: replacing a blind persons guide dog with a wild boar.
Please add "good" pranks in the comments.

Rove's Car


OK, this one made me laugh:

WASHINGTON - Karl Rove, your car is ready.

White House pranksters wrapped Rove's Jaguar in plastic wrap on the private driveway next to the West Wing. Rove's car is easily recognizable because of its
"I love Barack Obama" bumper sticker and the twin stuffed-animal eagles on the trunk. Oh, and there's a stuffed-animal elephant on the hood.Rove, the top White House political strategist who recently announced his resignation, left his car on the driveway while visiting Texas and traveling with President Bush. He was due back in Washington Wednesday evening.

I do love a good prank. I just hope the pranksters don't find themselves with a one-way ticket to Guantanamo.

People I Know

This is a true story involving some of my friends. I'm trying to make it coherent, but it strays into areas that only Doc Thompson could've handled.
A young friend of mine returns from Iraq tomorrow, and we're looking forward to seeing him. I'm actually closer to his parents, but I've known him as a friend and fellow river runner. "A" (yeah, I'm keeping anonymity for the family) is an adventurous soul, and when he got himself into some minor trouble with the law, he joined the marines. From all reports, he's done well, and upheld the proud tradition of the corps.
So what's "A" going to do on his leave? In this case, his leave time corresponds with the county fair. So he'll be competing in the demolition derby on Saturday. And if he advances, again on Sunday.
Yep, fresh back from Iraq, he enters a demolition derby.
It's a bit of a family tradition. "A"'s mother "D" has been a regular competitor in the demolition derby for years, but she can't do it this year. "D" suffered a broken back in a plane crash a little over a month ago (they're an adventurous family). She's healing well, but isn't ready for a demolition derby.
Normally, I'm not much of a derby fan. But I'll be watching this time, and I know where my bet will be. In a car smashing contest, I'll bet on the marine fresh back from Iraq.


I haven't posted anything on the Larry Craig scandal, well, because it just seemed like too much low hanging fruit. I've come to expect the republicans to do something hypocritical everyday. It's what they do.
So when I read this by Mark Gisleson (of, who I really should add to the blogroll), I knew I had to share it:
It was at this point that I just had to stop reading. "Self-respecting Republican"? Where on earth would you find one of those?

Sure there was such a thing once upon a time, but all those people are Libertarians or independents now. No person with any decency or honor could cling still to the stinking, fetid remains of George Bush's empire.

The Republicans are who they are, and that is being made more clear with each new scandal. No principles have ever been at risk in their enterprise as the new Republicans don't belong to a party. They belong to a confederacy of greed, a loose knit scallawaggery of rutting preachers, racist freaks, gun waving jerks, passive-aggressive homemakers, ego-driven entrepreneurs, soulless technocrats, fringe dwelling lunatics, plutocrats, oligarchs, WASPs, rednecks, gyrenes, grunts, no necked
Nascarites, stiff necked Hoosiers, pork rind eating good ol' boys, displaced aristocracy, closet freaks, self-impressed realtors, secretarially fellated Chambers of Commerce, procreation-crazed evangelicals, brain-hardened seniors, adulterous golfers, neocons, oreos, bananas, coconuts and former members of various C.I.A. armies from around the world.

The worst thing we could ever do to them would be to lock 'em all up in a room together.

I really can't say it any better than that.

Katrina: 2 Years Later

New Orleans - Aug 29. 2005

After 2 years, many parts of New Orleans are still in ruins. And a lot of people are angry or bewildered as to why. Why can't the richest country in the world rebuild a city?

The AP noted this morning, “On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, anger
over the stalled rebuilding was palpable Wednesday throughout the city where the mourning for the dead and feeling of loss doesn’t seem to subside.”

How could anyone feel anything but anger? For all the rhetoric from the administration, exactly two years after Katrina ravaged New Orleans, “none of the 115 ‘critical priority projects’ identified by city officials” for publicly funded rebuilding efforts “has been completed.” Of the $34 billion “earmarked for long-term rebuilding,” less than half “has made its way through federal checks and balances to reach municipal projects.”

Allow me to explain: That's not a bug, it's a feature. Remember Grover Norquist? He of "shrink the federal government down to the size where you could drown it in a bathtub"? That philosophy is pervasive in our current administration. The belief is that government doesn't work, so everything should be handled by the private sector. The billions are handed to private contractors, but they are never held accountable as to what they do for the money.

Here's where the philosophy fails. Business exists to make a profit. Most do so legitimately, but some are just plain greedy. Some projects just aren't that profitable (such as repairing bridges), and parts of New Orleans fit that profile. The areas that have NOT been rebuilt are almost all POOR areas. The poor, by their very name, are not profitable. Just ask any insurance company.

Throw in some corruption, incompetence, and underlying racism, and you have a perfect recipe for inaction. What has happened in New Orleans after Katrina is only a symptom of a much more widespread disease, and we are all at risk of the next outbreak.

It doesn't have to be this way.

And now our shrub is visiting them again (the 15th time), with more empty words. Haven't they suffered enough?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Increasing Tensions

This is another really stupid move. Coupled with my last post, this looks bad:

American troops raided a Baghdad hotel Tuesday night and took away a group of about 10 people that a U.S.-funded radio station said included six members of an Iranian delegation here to negotiate contracts with Iraq's government.

The Iranian Embassy did not confirm the report. But it said seven Iranians — an embassy employee and six members of a delegation from Iran's Electricity Ministry — were staying at the Sheraton Ishtar Hotel, which was the one raided by U.S. soldiers.;_ylt=AqX04rLqi8tqBy9exrsShxMUewgF

Given the lousy job we've done restoring electricity in Iraq, is it any surprise that they would look for Iranian assistance?

Update: They've been released.

Oh No!

I've grown used to our shrub saying stupid things, but when he starts talking about Iran, I get scared. This type of sabre-rattling cannot end well:

The United States demanded Tuesday that Iran end any support for extremists in Iraq "at once" and raised the specter of a "nuclear holocaust" in the Middle East if Tehran gets atomic weapons.

US President George W. Bush branded the Islamic Republic "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," citing its backing of Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Shiite fighters killing US troops in Iraq.

"And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust," he told the American Legion veterans group.

"Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere, and the United States is rallying friends and allies to isolate Iran's regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late," he said.;_ylt=AsT4yFeCsKmsGxl6OQAIyf.bOrgF

The escalating rhetoric on Iran comes with an increase in military planning (via Cernig at The NewsHoggers):

The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact.

US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours.

US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice.

Some form of low level US and possibly UK military action as well as armed popular resistance appear underway inside the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan and Khuzestan. Iran was unable to prevent sabotage of its offshore-to-shore crude oil pipelines in 2005.

Nuclear weapons are ready, but most unlikely, to be used by the US, the UK and Israel. The human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.

possible U.S. plans for an actual attack

If they attack Iran we're doomed. Our economy will collapse in the face of skyrocketing oil prices. Martial law will follow. The rest of the world will be justified if they compare Bush to Hitler.
I wish I could focus more on cute pictures of bunnies or kittens.

The corruption spreads

The Army Criminal Investigation Command is following up on the missing weapons in Iraq, and the results could be quite revealing:

BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 — Several federal agencies are investigating a widening network of criminal cases involving the purchase and delivery of billions of dollars of weapons, supplies and other matériel to Iraqi and American forces, according to American officials. The officials said it amounted to the largest ring of fraud and kickbacks uncovered in the conflict here.

Looks like they suspect a top aide to Gen. Petraeaus had her hand in the cookie jar.

But now, American officials said, part of the criminal investigation is focused on Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, who reported directly to General Petraeus and worked closely with him in setting up the logistics operation for what were then the fledgling Iraqi security forces.

That operation moved everything from AK-47s, armored vehicles and plastic explosives to boots and Army uniforms, according to officials who were involved in it. Her former colleagues recall Colonel Selph as a courageous officer who was willing to take substantial personal risks to carry out her mission and was unfailingly loyal to General Petraeus and his directives to move quickly in setting up the logistics operation.

“She was kind of like the Pony Express of the Iraqi security forces,” said Victoria Wayne, who was then deputy director of logistics for the overall Iraqi reconstruction program.

She may be totally innocent, but the potential for graft in Iraq is certainly a temptation.

And, if you haven't read The Great Iraq Swindle from Rolling Stone (that I linked to in the middle of Saturday's post), please do so now. Here's a sample:

The administration also greenlighted brash, modern-day forty-niners like Scott Custer and Mike Battles, a pair of ex-Army officers and bottom-rank Republican pols (Battles had run for Congress in Rhode Island and had been a Fox News commentator) who had decided to form a security company called Custer Battles and make it big in Iraq. "Battles knew some people from his congres­sional run, and that's how they got there," says Alan Grayson, an attorney who led a whistle-blower lawsuit against the pair for defrauding the government.

Before coming to Iraq, Custer Battles hadn't done even a million dollars in business. The company's own Web site brags that Battles had to borrow cab fare from Jordan to Iraq and arrived in Baghdad with less than $500 in his pocket. But he had good timing, arriving just as a security contract for Baghdad International Airport was being "put up" for bid. The company site raves that Custer spent "three sleepless nights" penning an offer that impressed the CPA enough to hand the partners $2 million in cash, which Battles promptly stuffed into a duffel bag and drove to deposit in a Lebanese bank.

It's a long article, with literally dozens of examples. Every member of congress should be forced to read it before voting on the next Iraq funding bill.

A Deadly Fundraiser

After raising funds for the corrupt New Mexico senator Pete Domenici, our shrub managed to get another cop killed:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A police officer died Monday after crashing his motorcycle while riding in a motorcade as President Bush prepared to leave the city following a fundraiser for Sen. Pete Domenici.

Rio Rancho Officer Germaine Casey, 40, was rushed to an Albuquerque hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The motorcycle was near the front of the motorcade, and the president saw the wreck as he drove past on the way to the airport, said Rio Rancho Police Department spokesman Officer John Francis.

That our shrub was raising money for Domenici, who violated the law to get the New Mexico attorney fired for political reasons, is bad enough. It's tragic that an officer lost his life protecting these corrupt bastards.

National Take a Stand Day

There will be "Take a Stand" vigils against the Iraq war in over 700 communities today. Go here to find one near you.
For my local readers, see you at Wheeler Park around 5:00pm (damn, we're going to have to interrupt happy hour. Oh well, it's worth it).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Eclipse Tonight

My alarm is set for 3:00am. Yours?

News? or maybe not

So, I see the major news is all about the coolant leak at the Yankee nuclear plant, right? I'm sure you've all read it, but here's the report:

A cooling tower structure at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant that partially collapsed Tuesday underwent a full inspection.

"It was determined acceptable for continued operation," said Rob Williams, spokesman for plant owner Entergy Nuclear.

Williams said the collapse, which occurred Tuesday afternoon and left a gaping hole in the side of the structure, caused Entergy to reduce power output by 50 percent until
repairs are carried out.

Osama has won. We'll just commit a slow suicide now. Because our media tells us to.

Gov. Jim Douglas said he has asked the Public Safety Department to look into the incident and report back to him. He said Vermonters should understand that the tower problem did not pose a risk of a radioactive release.

"I'll wait for the report and take it from there," Douglas said. "Certainly, that kind of structural problem is of great concern to me and I'm sure to everyone."

OK, it's only "hot water". But I never saw this story until monkeyfister picked it up. Maybe I'm wrong, but I have a problem with commercial media. I don't watch much TV, but tonight I was faced with network news. Michael Vick is guilty and somebody named "Lindsay" did something to get back in the news. Then a brief mention that "Attorney General Resigns" crawled across the bottom of the screen.
There is the reason that I read blogs.
And, um, I'm not an engineer, but, really, when cooling fails, um, doesn't heat increase, and um, doesn't the chance of meltdown increase?
Oh, yeah. I forgot how bad government regulation hurt business.

Designated Driver

"I have a license". Pic taken Saturday outside the brewery.

Be Our 5,000th Visitor

If the ol' sitemeter is telling the truth, we're about to hit 5,ooo visits. While that makes us a tiny fish among the ocean o' blogs, it's more than I ever expected when I started. So, be our 5,000th! I'll try to come up with fabulous prizes!

Update: Looks like our winner is from St. Louis, and came here via a google search for "artillery math". That found them this post: Hope it was what you were looking for. For your prize, I'm setting off fireworks:

and releasing a gorilla:


Another Fine Plan

One of my often repeated themes on Iraq, the incoherence of the plans, shows up again. The idea of arming Sunni insurgents was, IMHO, a really bad idea. Looks like those arms are being used to extort reconstruction money:

BAGHDAD — Iraq's deadly insurgent groups have financed their war against U.S. troops in part with hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. rebuilding funds that they've extorted from Iraqi contractors in Anbar province.

The payments, in return for the insurgents' allowing supplies to move and construction work to begin, have taken place since the earliest projects in 2003, Iraqi contractors, politicians and interpreters involved with reconstruction efforts said.

A fresh round of rebuilding spurred by the U.S. military's recent alliance with some Anbar tribes — 200 new projects are scheduled — provides another opportunity for militant groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq to siphon off more U.S. money, contractors and politicians warn.

"Now we're back to the same old story in Anbar. The Americans are handing out contracts and jobs to terrorists, bandits and gangsters," said Sheik Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, the deputy leader of the Dulaim, the largest and most powerful tribe in Anbar. He was involved in several U.S. rebuilding contracts in the early days of the war, but is now a harsh critic of the U.S. presence.

So more taxpayer dollars are going to groups that are killing our soldiers. Does anybody think that this is a good idea? Anbar, according to the administration reports, is our big success. The place where we're "makin' progress". I wonder how long it will take before some pundit blames this on Nouri al-Maliki?


Gonzales resigns. Somehow, I'm not celebrating yet. I fear that our shrub will come up with an appointee who's a better liar. Gonzo's credibility was shot. He even lied to the end.

As recently as Sunday afternoon, Mr. Gonzales was denying through his press spokesman, Brian Roehrkasse, that he intended to leave.

Mr. Roehrkasse said Sunday afternoon that he had telephoned Mr. Gonzales about the reports circulating in Washington that a resignation was imminent, “and he said it wasn’t true, so I don’t know what more I can say.”

Steven Lee Myers, New York Times

My next question is if this will cause the congressional investigations to lose steam. With all the damage AG did to our constitution, I want to see him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But I doubt that congress has the guts.
Added: our shrub: "After months of unfair treatment". Gah!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Slow Day

A post to say "I got other things to do besides post today".