Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bombs Away

A beachcomber found a rusty object on Pensacola Beach yesterday and hauled it home to the 15th floor of Portofino's tower No. 3. After the beachcomber sent a cell phone photo of the curiosity to her boyfriend, he called back to say it looked like a bomb. The tower was evacuated.

Turns out this evil fruit of the sea was an unexploded W.W. II practice bomb. Just a taste of what many countries, including the United States, face in trying to rid the soil of similar stale war munitions. It's been estimated that at the current pace it could take up to 150 more years to rid just Germany, alone, of unexploded W.W. II munitions.

Luckily, no one was hurt yesterday on Pensacola Beach. Not so lucky? The people who live in some eighty other countries where cluster bombs and land mines litter the landscape. Tens of thousands, predominantly children, are killed and maimed every year.

Guess who is a major manufacturer, stockpiler, and user of cluster bombs?
The United States used cluster munitions in Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) in the 1960s and 1970s, Persian Gulf (Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia) in 1991, Yugoslavia (including Kosovo) in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, and Iraq in 2003.
Apparently, we lie a lot about that when it comes to Iraq, too, although this much is known:
The U.S. military has a staggering arsenal of these weapons. According to a recent Human Rights Watch report, the Army holds 88% of the Pentagon's CBU inventory -- at least 638.3 million of the cluster bomblets that are stored inside each cluster munition; the Air Force and Navy, according to Department of Defense figures, have 22.2 million and 14.7 million of the bomblets, respectively. And even these numbers are considered undercounts by experts.
In what could be a dark footnote to the Portofino story that is exciting so many beach goers, this week the U.S. refused even to attend, much sign, an international treaty banning cluster bombs.

Klotzbach Keeps Hurricane Forecast

Phillip Klotzbach and Dr. William Gray have issued their traditional seasonal start hurricane forecast update. Predictions remain essentially the same as in April:
We estimate that 2007 will have about 9 hurricanes (average is 5.9), 17 named storms (average is 9.6), 85 named storm days (average is 49.1), 40 hurricane days (average is 24.5), 5 intense (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (average is 2.3) and 11 intense hurricane days (average is 5.0). The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 140 percent of the long-period average. We expect Atlantic basin Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity in 2007 to be about 185 percent of the long-term average.
The Colorado State team explains that this year's predictions are based on "a new statistical scheme" that "utilizes a total of only three predictors."
Two of these predictors are derived from sea surface temperature data obtained from the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis. The third predictor is the previous year’s early December prediction of the Atlantic Meridional Mode (AMM).
AMM is an abbreviation for the measurement of sea surface temperature gradients between the northern tropical and southern tropical Atlantic ocean. So, if we read it right, it looks like what Klotzbach and Gray are saying is that for all the hoopla about the complex and difficult business of predicting hurricanes their own forecasts are based on not much more than sea surface temperature data.

Here's what you think you want to know: the Colorado State boys are saying there's an 81% chance of a hurricane hitting the Gulf coast and a 49% chance it will be a Category 3 or worse.




Category 1-2


Category 3-4-5






Entire U.S. (Regions 1-11)

95% (79%)

88% (68%)

74% (52%)

97% (84%)

99% (97%)

Gulf Coast (Regions 1-4)

80% (59%)

64% (42%)

49% (30%)

81% (60%)

96% (83%)

Florida plus East Coast (Regions 5-11)

73% (50%)

66% (44%)

50% (31%)

83% (61%)

95% (81%)

As Klotzbach and Gray caution, however:

[T]hese seasonal forecasts are based on statistical schemes which, owing to their intrinsically probabilistic nature, will fail in some years. Moreover... the probability of landfall for any one location along the coast is very low... .

In other words, this hurricane prediction stuff is still a mug's game. It just not that far removed from roulette.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and study this map of where the hurricane researchers live:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ferry Service to Fort Pickens

Over the long weekend the News Journal reported that "Ferry service to Fort Pickens on Gulf Islands National Seashore is now available." Catch the ferry at "the Chulamar Shack at Sabine Marina on Pensacola Beach."

$25 per adult; half price for children under 10.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Propaganda - Just Like Them

WaPo's Edward J. Cody writes today ["Drawing a Blank on a Party Hero"] of the "national campaign" in China over the once-obscure and now cancer-ridden "Comrade Fang Yonggang." It seems the Fang Yonggang campaign is only the latest propaganda initiative "launched recently by the Communist Party's Central Propaganda Department in Beijing."
The enduring use of study campaigns and role models, sometimes with the help of fictional embellishments, illustrates the party's abiding determination to mold public opinion in China, hiding inconvenient truths through censorship and creating useful truths through the promotion of popular legends.
And why would the Propaganda Department engage in such deceptions? Reporter Cody helpfully explains --
Since coming to power in 1949, the party has made this two-pronged control of information one of its principal weapons in retaining a monopoly on power.
Lest we feel too smug or scandalized over such inscrutable Oriental outrages, this week Michael Shapiro explores in Silicon Valley's a substantially identical phenomenon a bit closer to home -- The Ballad of Pat Tillman:
Norman Solomon, author of the book War Made Easy, agrees with the Tillman family that Pat was used to promote the wars. "This was a perfect storm of idolatry from the Pentagon standpoint: a football hero sacrificing himself for patriotic reasons—it was central casting as far as the Rumsfeld gang was concerned," he said. "The mythology was so wonderful that the facts were inconvenient and unnecessary."

What's astonishing is not just the lengths the Army went to create a fictional account, which included changing the testimony of soldiers who witnessed the friendly fire shooting and the destruction of evidence such as the burning of Tillman's blood–stained uniform. It's that this was not an isolated incident but rather part of a pattern of deception.

In recent months, several other families have pressed the military for details about their loved ones' deaths, uncovering similar fabrications. These revelations, coming to light after soldiers' relatives demanded details about their family members' final hours, may represent a fraction of the military's effort to conceal friendly fire or accidental deaths and injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the April 24 Congressional Oversight hearing, Lynch, portrayed in spring 2003 as the "little girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia who went down fighting," testified that the story the military told about her was a blatant lie. Lynch never fired a shot when her caravan was ambushed. After being severely wounded, she was kept alive by Iraqi doctors and nurses, who donated their own blood to keep Lynch alive.

Most shocking: according to sworn testimony during the Oversight Committee's hearing, Lynch's "rescue" from the Iraqi hospital was delayed by a day so that the Army could bring in camera crews. After stating Lynch was being held by hostile forces, the military waited 24 hours to rescue her so they could make a propaganda film.

Suggesting the potentially broad scope of the military's deception: Tillman was just one of three soldiers with South Bay (San Jose and Silicon Valley) roots killed in Iraq or Afghanistan during a two–month period whose families were lied to about their deaths.
You don't suppose, do you, that the reason behind our government propaganda is anything like the reason for theirs? "Retaining a monopoly on power"?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Stool Pigeon

Bush: "Some dirty pigeon stooled on me."

More from ABC News. And, Paul Baruth worries that "the enemy may very well see the video, follow us home, and potentially poop on us here."

September Song

Glenn Greenwald has everyone's number:
The central unyielding truth in our political landscape is that -- no matter what -- the War in Iraq is not going to end before the end of the Bush presidency. That has been obvious for a very long time, and that is why it is so bizarre to watch the Beltway establishment continue to pretend that there is some Big Decision Day coming in September -- the day when Republicans take a stand and our political elite put their foot down.

Nothing has changed. Republicans and media-war-proponents are far too invested in the war to do anything other than claim it is finally going well. And there are more than enough Democrats who either (a) believe we should stay in Iraq indefinitely, (b) perceive political benefits from staying, and/or (c) fear forcing withdrawal.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wisdom from Argentina

No Comment has it: "The Talisman of Torture."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New NOAA Hurricane Forecast

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its various subsidiaries -- the Climate Prediction Center, the National Hurricane Center, the Hurricane Research Division, and the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center -- say today that there's "a very high 75% chance of an above-normal hurricane season" starting June 1.

They caution, however, that there is "considerable uncertainty in forecasts" owing to the remote possibility of "La NiƱa conditions during August-October" and related dynamics.
Expected Activity - 75% chance above normal, 20% chance near normal, 5% chance below normal
But it's still May on Pensacola Beach, and a glorious May at that -- high temperatures, low humidity, and sunny days.

Bank 'em. You'll want to remember what makes Pensacola Beach such a livable place if one of those "13 to 17 tropical storms" happens to make landfall here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The 'Don' at Justice

Eugene Robinson in WaPo:
It just gets worse and worse. We already knew that Alberto Gonzales -- who, unbelievably, remains our attorney general -- was willing to construe the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions however George W. Bush and Dick Cheney wanted. We knew he was willing to politicize the Justice Department, if that was what the White House wanted. Now we learn that Gonzales also was willing to accost a seriously ill man in his hospital room to get his signature on a dodgy justification for unprecedented domestic surveillance.

The man Gonzales harried on his sickbed was his predecessor as attorney general, John Ashcroft. The episode-- recounted this week in congressional testimony by Ashcroft's former deputy, James Comey -- sounds like something from Hollywood, not Washington. It's hard not to think of that scene in "The Godfather" when Don Corleone is left alone in his hospital bed, vulnerable to his enemies, and Michael has to save him.

This is the attorney general of the United States, ladies and gentlemen. Heaven help us.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Wolfowitz 'Resigns' from World Bank

NYT: Paul Wolfowitz has resigned from the World Bank. But no one's talking about the money:
[T]here was no information Thursday night on whether he would receive any sort of severance package or pension, or be reimbursed for legal fees from his long battle.
Yeah, sure. It was all about principle, right?

Meanwhile, WaPo reporter Karen DeYoung, with help from the redoubtable Walter Pincus and others, details the incredibly long list of miscalculations, mistaken analyses, bonehead ideas, and just plain stupid moves Wolfowitz has made over his career of forty-some years. Can there be many Americans with a track record as dismal as Paul Wolfowitz'?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pointers and Setters

It seems the alleged "Irish humor" on the rest room entrance doors at McGuire's Pub in Pensacola isn't appreciated in Destin.

The Common Lie

It's being widely reported that Paul ("they'll greet us as liberators") Wolfowitz is insisting that he be exonerated of charges he acted unethically as a condition for resigning from his position as president of the World Bank.

As all of Planet Earth now knows, he screwed the World Bank as well as Shaha Reza. But now he wants a clean reference letter? On the order of this one?

Poppycock. With these birds, it's all about money and power. Neocons like Wolfowitz don't give a hoot about their reputation with anyone except each other. What he really wants is a bag full of dough to carry out the door and across town to the nearest right-wing think tank.

'Hit List' Included North Florida U.S. Attorney

Two McClatchy journalists today report that Alberto Gonzalez' Justice Department "last year considered firing two U.S. attorneys in Florida and Colorado, states where allegations of voter fraud and countercharges of voter intimidation have flown in recent years... ." The primary source for the report includes investigators working for either the House or Senate Justice committee.

The surprise is that the Florida U.S. Attorney is not Paul Perez, the former U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Florida. Perez' recent resignation inspired U.S. Senator Bill Nelson to wonder whether it was in retaliation for sending a letter that Washington bigwigs considered disloyal to George W. Bush.

Instead, McClatchy reports the marked man in Florida was Gregory Miller, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Miller's office serves the northern tier of the state from Pensacola to Jacksonville.

"You're telling me something I didn't know," Miller told McClatchy News Service. He denied "Washington" Justice Department officials ever voiced criticism about his office over any issue, including toeing the Bush administration line over supposed voter fraud.

Pointedly, however, when "asked whether activists outside Washington had asked his office to look into any controversial voter fraud allegations" Miller declined to comment. He said "Justice Department policy prohibits prosecutors from commenting on closed or ongoing cases."

First he says the Justice Department in Washington didn't say anything, then when asked about anyone "outside" D.C. Miller suddenly remembers prosecutors aren't supposed to talk about "closed or ongoing cases"?

The heavy implication of Miller's non-denial is that someone in Florida was pushing the northern district's federal prosecutor to feed Karl Rove's voter fraud fetish. Maybe it was Rove himself. After all, he maintains a home right here in the Panhandle.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Extraordinary Revelations


John Dean is prescient. Based on yesterday's testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, it looks like, as Paul Kiel reports, "[T]he President of the United States engaged in a prolonged and willful effort to violate the law, until senior members of his own administration forced him to stop."

Only threats to resign by the entire top echelon of the Justice Department and the intercession of the head of the F.B.I. brought the criminal designs of George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzalez to a halt -- for the time being.

May 16 2007 pm

It shouldn't make your blood boil so much as scare you to death that the same 'midnight hospital callers' -- Bush and Gonzales -- are still in office.

May 16 2007 pm

An unforgettable 20-minute video of Comey's testimony:

May 16, 2007 pm

Glenn Greenwald sums it up:
Amazingly, the President's own political appointees -- the two top Justice Department officials, including one (Ashcroft) who was known for his "aggressive" use of law enforcement powers in the name of fighting terrorism and at the expense of civil liberties -- were so convinced of its illegality that they refused to certify it and were preparing, along with numerous other top DOJ officials, to resign en masse once they learned that the program would continue notwithstanding the President's knowledge that it was illegal.

The overarching point here, as always, is that it is simply crystal clear that the President consciously and deliberately violated the law and committed multiple felonies by eavesdropping on Americans in violation of the law.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Class Action Redux: Ivan 'Wind versus Water'

The Pensacola News Journal today is carrying Paige St. John's report that a Tallahassee circuit court judge has again certified a class action lawsuit against state-owned windstorm insurer Citizens Property Insurance. The class action status had to be re-decided on order from the First District Court of Appeal.
Following a two-hour hearing Monday, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis declared lawyers met the burden of proving enough unpaid policyholders remain to let the aging case start anew.

Citizens' attorney Alan Howard contended hundreds of private homeowners already have sued the state-run insurer, and that Citizens is either settling those cases, or losing them in court.
According to a Citizens spokesman, "some 400 open cases" remain pending that would be included in the class action. The ruling no doubt will be appealed again, causing further delays in resolving these cases.

In most states, a class action suit would be the most efficient, least expensive, and the fairest way to
resolve common issues of law, such as applicability of the then-existing Florida "valued policy" law, and common issues of fact, such as the early evening strength and lengthy duration of high, destructive winds on Pensacola Beach several hours before flood waters even touched Via DeLuna.

But not in Florida. Legislative and judicial rules have made Florida one of the least friendly states in the U.S. when it comes to consolidating multiple lawsuits which involve substantially similar issues into a single class action case.

Those rules can be traced back
to long-standing efforts by politically conservative business industry lobbyists seeking to discourage enforcement of consumer protection laws. Too bad for the consumer or homeowner who can't afford his or her own attorney. But it's great for companies like Citizens Property Insurance.

Not only will Citizens Property appeal again, most insurers with hurricane Ivan or Dennis claims still open likely plan on stringing things out now until the next storm, or the one after that, when everyone's memory has begun to fade, the expert witnesses are all dead, and the original lawyers on the case have been replaced by their grandchildren.

Welcome to Bleak House:
Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable young people have married into it; innumerable old people have died out of it. Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves made parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing how or why; whole families have inherited legendary hatreds with the suit. The little plaintiff or defendant who was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled has grown up, possessed himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world. Fair wards of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers; a long procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the legion of bills in the suit have been transformed into mere bills of mortality; there are not three Jarndyces left upon the earth perhaps since old Tom Jarndyce in despair blew his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery Lane; but Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless.

"The Neoconservative Style"

The full World Bank Report about Paul Wolfowitz' self-dealing, unethical, and grossly deceptive conduct as president of the World Bank has been released. You can read the full report here.

The NYT's rather more pallid coverage is here. More enlightening is Prof. Juan Cole, who connects all the dots in Salon:
The small morality play unfolding at the World Bank tells us something significant about how the United States became bogged down in the Iraq quagmire when Wolfowitz was highly influential at the Department of Defense. The simple fact is that Wolfowitz has throughout his entire career demonstrated a penchant for cronyism and for smearing and marginalizing perceived rivals as tactics for getting his way. He has been arrogant and highhanded in dismissing the views of wiser and more informed experts, exhibiting a narcissism that is also apparent in his personal life. Indeed, these tactics are typical of what might be called the "neoconservative style."
* * *
Wolfowitz's record of favoritism, ideological blinders, massive blunders and petty vindictiveness has inflicted profound harm on two of the world's great bureaucracies, the U.S. Department of Defense and now the World Bank. He has left both with thousands of demoralized employees and imposed on both irrational policies that pandered to the far right of the Republican Party. He has, in addition, played a central role in destabilizing the Middle East and in leaving one of its major countries in ruins.

Many of his Himalayan-size errors were enabled by his careful placing of close friends and allies in key and lucrative positions. In the end, his career suffered remarkably little from his substantive policy mistakes. But once he moved beyond the forgiving world of high Republican Party politics, his dependence on cronyism finally caught up with him. That he ran into such trouble at the World Bank for behaving in ways that apparently were business as usual for him at the Department of Defense only underlines how corrupt the Bush administration really is.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Disappeared

HT to Scott Horton:
You were wondering perhaps, how do you completely alienate and infuriate a population under military occupation? Well, this is how.
McClatchy News Service:
Riyadh Juma Saleh, her husband of nearly 15 years, went missing one day nearly three years ago and Kareem has no idea what became of him.

Over the past four years, as sectarian kidnappings and killings have gripped Iraq and U.S. forces have arrested untold numbers in an effort to pacify the country, tens of thousands of Iraqis have vanished, often in circumstances as baffling as that of Kereem's husband, a Shiite Muslim father of three.

There's no accurate count of the missing since the war began. Iraqi human rights groups put the figure at 15,000 or more, while government officials say 40 to 60 people disappeared each day throughout the country for much of last year, a rate equal to at least 14,600 in one year.

What happened to them is a frustrating mystery that compounds Iraq's overwhelming sense of chaos and anarchy. Are they dead? Were they kidnapped or killed in some mass bombing? Is the Iraqi government or some militia group holding them? Were they taken prisoner by the United States, which is holding 19,000 Iraqis at its two main detention centers, at Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca?

Scott Horton, again:
“They may not be enemies when they enter these prisons,” one Army officer told me, “but you can count on it that they are insurgent sympathizers by the time they leave.”

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Homemade Mother's Day

According to Hallmark, 96% of American consumers take part in shopping on Mother's Day. Retailers report it as the "second highest gift giving day of the year behind Christmas."

Deplorable commercialization. But do you want a homemade Mother's Day instead?


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Heart Stopping Music

M & C:

[A]ccording to a study carried out by Jay Thaker, a 17-year-old high school student, which was presented to a selection of heart specialists yesterday, close proximity to an iPod can trigger monitoring malfunctions in cardiac pacemakers due to electromagnetic interference.

Thaker, lead author on the heart-related study and a student at Okemos High School in Okemos, Michigan, revealed that iPod units positioned a mere 2 inches from the chests of patients fitted with a pacemaker caused electrical interference in 50 percent of them. Even when located around 18 inches from a patient's chest electrical interference was registered as disrupting the pacemaker's telemetry equipment, leading the implanted device to misinterpret the pace of the heart. In one test the pacemaker ceased to function completely.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Which Mitt Romney?

"Eye on '08" has a memory. That makes it tough on candidates who don't, like serial liar Mitt Romney:
In the recent Time Magazine story on Mitt Romney:

The closest he has ever come to a personal religious crisis, he recalls, was when he was in college and considering whether to go off on a mission, as his grandfather, father and brother had done. Mitt was deeply in love with Ann, his high school sweetheart and future wife, and couldn’t bear to spend more than two years away from her. He says he also felt guilty about the draft deferment he would get for it, when other young men his age were heading for Vietnam.

Of course and as usual, that’s not what he used to say. Ryan Sager dug up a Boston Herald story from 1994:

Romney, however, acknowledged he did not have any desire to serve in the military during his college and missionary days, especially after he married and became a father. ‘I was not planning on signing up for the military,’ he said. ‘It was not my desire to go off and serve in Vietnam, but nor did I take any actions to remove myself from the pool of young men who were eligible for the draft. If drafted, I would have been happy to serve, and if I didn’t get drafted I was happy to be with my wife and new child.

A spiritual crisis about something he didn’t care about. That’s not plausible. It is not serious. And it is further proof that Romney isn’t either.

Broderism Unclothed

A riveting Internet debate has been going on over the past several days between attorney /blogger /Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald and Joe ("Anonymous") Klein of Time Magazine. At the core of the debate, as we see it, are these two questions:

Is David Broder, the so-called "dean" of American political commentators, a ridiculous doofus? And, if so, What does that say about all of his beltway buddies who profess to hang on Broder's every word?

The debate is not to be missed. Pungent prose, to be sure, but also a compelling examination of whether the popular press is failing America.

The debate began with Greenwald's article, "All You Need to Know About the Beltway Journalist Mind." Long-time political commentator Klein replied. Now, Greenwald has replied to the reply. At every turn, Glenn Greenwald seems to have gotten the best of Klein.

This morning, though, things escalated when Greenwald accepted Klein's challenge to name something "defective" about Broder's work. We hesitate to spoil the ending; then again, this isn't likely to end for a while.

Not after this:
[T]o the extent that Klein is interested in Broder's defective "reporting," he should begin here. That is where Broder, after listening to what he thought was some clever phrasing by George Bush in a couple answers about Iraq which Bush gave at a February press conference, announced: "President Bush is poised for a political comeback."

Broder seems to have absolutely no idea that the country has turned against George Bush and his war to a historic and irreversible degree, and no cute and clever Rove-designed platitudes at a Press Conference will change that. Anyone remotely in touch with the political sentiments of "Americans" would know that.

Klein should also look here, where some of Broder's most out-of-touch and obtuse observations are collected -- including:

* Broder's 2005 canonization of Bush ("the quest for freedom . . . is a central purpose of his administration");

* his November, 2004 criticisms of Bush critics for what he said were misguided concerns that the Bush presidency was radical ("he will have to work within the system for whatever he gets. Checks and balances are still there");

* his November 1, 2004 proclamation that the country likes Bush personally far more than Gore and Kerry and that "the country is truly conservative";

* his April, 2003 decree that "there is little the Democrats can do to shatter the reputation for strong leadership Bush has built, and not much their presidential candidates can do to win equal reputations for themselves";

* his May 2003 confession that "I like Karl Rove" followed by a very moving reminiscence of the quality time he was able to spend with Rove in Austria when (just like the ordinary people): "Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution and I were assembling a cast of American politicians to address a group of 40 emerging political leaders from Western Europe, the former Soviet bloc, Asia and Africa, I suggested we invite Karl Rove to be one of the instructors";

* his October 2002 "report" where he explained how Don Rumsfeld personally invited him to the Pentagon to explain how Iraq is such a grave threat, and at the meeting, Rumsfeld "pulled out a pencil and drew me a simple chart -- a downward sloping line tracing the erosion of Iraq's conventional military strength in the decade since the Gulf War, and an upward sloping line showing its growing store of WMD - weapons of mass destruction." Based on Rumsfeld's crude and condescending scribblings, an obviously flattered Broder pronounced: "Rumsfeld left me with the impression that he is aware of the risks of war with Iraq, but confident they can be handled." And finally:

* his October 2002 attack against protestors trying to stop the Iraq War with meetings in Iraq: "It was all too reminiscent of Jane Fonda in Hanoi or antiwar protesters marching under Viet Cong flags."

In sum, Broder has propped up one of the most unpopular and corrupt presidencies in history, all after he spent years waxing hysteric over a deeply popular President and a sex scandal that Americans by and large thought was petty and inconsequential. Time and again, David Broder is on the wrong side of every critical political issue. His judgment proves again and again to be worthless and misguided. And his opinions could not be any more detached from the "ordinary Americans" he thinks he represents.
One can fairly conclude that George W. Bush, like Castiglione's Prince, could consider Broder "worthye to have him in his servyce." He makes a lovely courtier.

One Third of a Friedman Unit

New York Times:
The difference between mainstream hawks and mainstream doves on Iraq seems to have boiled down to two months, with House Democrats now demanding visible progress by July while moderate Republicans are willing to give White House policies until September, but no longer, to show results.
Two months = one-third of a Friedman Unit.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Brother, Can You Spare a Humvee?

Is anyone in the White House really listening to the "generals on the ground," as The Leader urges?

Last month, almost no one paid any attention when U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) decried what Bush's Iraq war has done to rob readiness from our Florida National Guard, as revealed in this GAO report. This month, the state of Kansas was the first to feel the effect when a tornado devastated Greensburg, Kansas:

Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the state’s adjutant general, said the Kansas National Guard’s equipment had been reduced about one-third from prewar levels, which were already low.

Bunting said that the Guard had the resources to handle the Greensburg cleanup but that the initial response was slowed somewhat by equipment shortages. He added that those resources were being stretched to the limit in Greensburg.

Over the weekend, he said, Kansas officials had real concerns about the potential for more tornadoes and major flooding elsewhere.

“The reality is, we should be able to do two or three (disasters) at the same time,” Bunting said. “Now we can do one and maybe one more small one. It just leaves you pretty tight.”

What do you suppose was the response of the Bush White House? Attack the messenger.

It's a good thing sub-tropical Andrea seems unlikely to test the readiness of the Florida National Guard. The "Commander Guy" has made sure we'll flunk.

Andrea: First Named Storm of the Season

This is not a good sign. The first named storm of the year, Andrea, already has formed off the East coast. That's nearly a month before the official June 1 start of the Tropical Storm Season.

Reports the National Hurricane Center:

In the discussion portion of the mid-day forecast NHC says:
Once upon a time, we knew an Andrea. She was "disorganized," too. Although she wasn't "extra-tropical," a number of her friends suspected her of being extra-terrestrial. She usually moved "slowly," too, but nevertheless was effective at creating trepidation ahead of her and hardship in her wake.

We don't even want to think about the Olga we used to know.

General Calls Down Bush Bull

HT to Digby:

As Digby says:
The situation is now so godawful, so completely coo-coo, and so totally out of control that future historians will shake their heads in amazement trying to figure out why, by the spring of '07, the US politicians and the public haven't demanded the immediate removal of the Bush administration from office and their incarceration in the Hague to stand trial.

We live in very strange times.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

They Aren't Dying in Vain

They're dying for the oil.

Just as we said before.

Brits Bash Bush's Blunders

He's done it again.

Riverbend: Leaving Baghdad

Baghdad Burning is a blog from Iraq that's been with us since before Bush started his war of choice. Its anonymous author, almost certainly a woman, has even won several prestigious awards and two book contracts.

After a few choice words about the Wall --
The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart.
* * *
It's time for America to physically divide and conquer- like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of "Shia areas" and Shia out of "Sunni areas".
* * *
I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.
-- now, Riverbend says it's time for her and her family to leave Iraq:
On a personal note, we've finally decided to leave. I guess I've known we would be leaving for a while now. We discussed it as a family dozens of times. At first, someone would suggest it tentatively because, it was just a preposterous idea- leaving ones home and extended family- leaving ones country- and to what? To where?
Read more about the terrible choices confronting her. What to take? What to leave? How to exit? Where to go? Will they ever return?
It's difficult to decide which is more frightening- car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain.
You can also hear a short piece about the story on Public Radio International's The World.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Who's Right About This?

George Tenet, former CIA director, has written a book. Some say that it's a "tell all" book. Others say it's only a "tell some" book.

Everyone, however, seems to agree that Tenet now agrees that evading Iraq was a terrible mistake. But here's another question: Was it his responsibility to say so 'way back when he finally tumbled to what an idiotic move it was? Or is it fair game to wait until he resigns and lands a $7 million book deal?

Here's Tenet himself:
You know, history will make a judgment. I'm not one at the front end who said, "Don't do this." It wasn't my job to say this.
And here's an alternate view, as expressed by long time Washington D.C. reporter David Corn:
Don't the citizens of the United States deserve to know what happened in the run-up to the war (and to 9/11) for free? Tenet may feel--as he claims--damn lousy about the screwed-up National Intelligence Estimate that helped pave the way to war in Iraq. But he did not feel bad enough to resign--or to disclose earlier what had gone wrong. He sat on the story and now is peddling it for personal profit.
What do you think?

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wolfowitz' Quid Pro Quo

World Bank hypocrite Paul Wolfowitz is 'hinting" he would discuss whether to resign as bank president if the board cleared him of misconduct," according to the New York Times.

Ain't that sweet? He wants a good Letter of Recommendation.