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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Don't really have anything today

Didn't really come across anything that got me going today so I'll give you this picture. I don't know why, it just makes me laugh.

"Okay, everybody lean in. And Cardinal, maybe if you just did the splits in front. Yeah, that's it."

In an interview on an Israeli network, Bush said that military options were on the table for Iran, but I don't think anybody believes that, what with Iraq in the condition it's in, our military barely able to meet current deployments, and 135,000 troops there just waiting to be targets for Iranian agents.

Oh, and he actually said this.

But, he said, if diplomacy fails "all options are on the table."

"The use of force is the last option for any president. You know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country," he said.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Iraq and Viet Nam

Take a read of this article from the Washington Post. Now, I wasn't around to read the transition of the Vietnam coverage, but I Imagine(1971) that it started something like this.

The events of the past week have brought home once again the difficulties confronting the president as he prosecutes what polls suggest is an increasingly unpopular war. With surging violence claiming more U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq and the angry mother of a dead soldier camping out near his ranch in Texas, Bush plainly cannot count on indefinite public patience.

Administration officials have all but given up any hope of militarily defeating the insurgents with U.S. forces, instead aiming only to train and equip enough Iraqi security forces to take over the fight themselves. At the same time, they believe that the mission depends on building a new political infrastructure, a project facing its most decisive test in the next three days as deeply divided Iraqis struggle to draft a constitution by a Monday deadline. ......

"It's a race against time because by the end of this coming summer we can no longer sustain the presence we have now," said retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, who visited Iraq most recently in June and briefed Cheney, Rice and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "This thing, the wheels are coming off it."

McCaffrey said Bush's strategy of building Iraqi political and security institutions makes sense, and he estimated an 80 percent chance of success. Even so, he said the fading public support represents a genuine hazard for the president: "We want to get out of this. . . . The American people are walking away from this war."

Well, there goes the legacy, eh?

It's all about the fall of the dollar.

The one thing that no one has mentioned in all this talk about oil prices is the effect of the rather significant managed fall of the dollar by the Bush administration. The retreat of the dollar was touted as policy in an effort to increase the export import ratio, but that doesn't work when the trade balance is as significant as it is. All it accomplishes is to increase the cost of those imports including oil.

If you take a look at the decline of dollar value vs the Euro during the budget deficit, loose money Bush admin, Oil would not be all that expensive.

Have you seen any stories in British, European, or other foreign press complaining about gas prices?

No. That's because this story is about a weak dollar, not about gas prices.

There's a poll out there talking about people's insecurity about all this. Here's a quick link.

Pretty good post on Cindy Sheehan

I think this blog has a pretty good post on Cindy Sheehan although it leaves out the obvious juxtaposition of the mourning mother with a president on five weeks of vacation while soldiers are dying daily. Don't you think those soldiers would like to take five weeks off about now. Kind of a meta-analysis of the circumstances of her particular cultural resonance.

Take a look.

It's not the sex, it's the lying

Who would have thought that Arnold Schwarzenegger would have made a bad politician? After all, he was sooooo qualified.

Okay, not big on Arnold news, find the whole thing a rather disappointing reminder of the state of our democracy, but this is real news. And I can't tell if the company(National Enquirer) covered this up because a) they wanted to protect their business interests, b) they were using this past affair to blackmail him into using their "consulting" and acting as a figurehead for their muscle rags, or c) he initiated the relationship to cover up past bad behavior.

No matter how it shakes out, this is bad. Bad for Arnold, and bad for our country.

Who could've forseen that selecting an movie action hero for student body president could have been such a bad idea.

LATimes (yahoo link cause it's non-subscription.)

SACRAMENTO — Days after Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped into the race for governor and girded for questions about his past, a tabloid publisher wooing him for a business deal promised to pay a woman $20,000 to sign a confidentiality agreement about an alleged affair with the candidate. .....

The Enquirer had published a cover story two years earlier describing an alleged seven-year sexual relationship between Goyette and Schwarzenegger during his marriage to Maria Shriver, California's first lady.

On Aug. 14, 2003, as candidate Schwarzenegger was negotiating a consulting deal with American Media, the company signed its contract with Mora, who said she received $1,000 cash in return. Goyette declined to say whether she received the $20,000 promised in her contract. .....

Schwarzenegger biographer Laurence Leamer wrote in his book, "Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger," that Schwarzenegger understood the tabloids would not skewer him if he was entering a business relationship with the company — although Schwarzenegger told Leamer he did not specifically seek such assurances.

Indeed, during the recall campaign, American Media put out a 120-page magazine celebrating Schwarzenegger as an embodiment of the "American dream."

Abramoff Indicted on unrelated fraud.

Unrelated to the whole Delay investigations, Abramoff got indicted for fraud on a business deal. Notice the prominent inclusion of the death. Does the NYTimes want me to draw the conclusion? 'cause I sure did.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 - Jack Abramoff, the once-powerful Republican lobbyist involved in ethics allegations facing Representative Tom DeLay, was indicted in Florida on Thursday on unrelated fraud charges involving his purchase of a fleet of gambling boats from a businessman who was slain amid bitter wrangling over the sale. .....

There is no accusation that Mr. Abramoff or his partner, Adam R. Kidan, had any involvement in the death of the Fort Lauderdale businessman, Konstantinos Boulis, but the unsolved gangland-style killing produced extensive news coverage in Florida over the disputed sale of SunCruz. Mr. Boulis was gunned down while driving home in February 2001.

I'll update on this later when I have a little more time to look around.

UPDATE: Here's a link to somebody who has been on the Abramoff story a long time. Sounds like Miami in the eighties. Or maybe the garbage collection business.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

PR Fiasco

Bush should have just quietly met with Cindy Sheehan the day she showed up. Even though he can't "feel her pain" ala Clinton, he could have just met with her briefly, let her make her case, then made his. But instead, his handlers refused, maybe not wanting to set a precedent? After all, the Mothers against the war in Russia(Chechnya) have had major political impacts.

Anyway, it went from one sympathetic mother to this.

Members of Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out are beginning to arrive in Crawford, Texas to add their voices to Cindy Sheehan’s, calling for a meeting with President Bush and for troops to be brought home now.

The following Gold Star and Military Families Speak Out members are available for interview:

Celeste, Dante and Raphael Zappala of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Celeste and her son Dante arrived in Crawford on Tuesday August 9; son Raphael will arrive Friday night August 12. Celeste's son Sgt. Sherwood Baker (Dante and Raphael’s brother) was the first Pennsylvania National Guardsman to die in combat since World War II. He was killed in action in Baghdad on April 26, 2004 while searching for non-existent WMD's. Celeste is a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Tammara Rosenleaf of Belton, Texas arrived in Crawford on Tuesday, August 9th. Tammara's husband serves in the Army, stationed at Ft. Hood, and will be deploying to Iraq this fall.

Lietta Ruger of Bay Center, Washington will be arriving in Crawford Wednesday morning, August 10th. Lietta's son-in-law and nephew serve in the 1st Armored Division of the U.S. Army and are currently in Germany. They have both served extended 15-month tours of duty in Iraq; they are both under stop-loss orders and due to re-deploy to Iraq this fall.

Linda and Phil Waste of Hinesville, Georgia will arrive in Crawford Wednesday morning August 10th. Linda and Phil have 3 sons and 2 grandchildren (a grandson and a granddaughter) who are active-duty military. Together, they have already spent a total of over 57 months on tours of duty in Iraq. Several of these children/grandchildren are currently serving in Iraq, and have served extended and multiple deployments.

Jean Prewitt of Birmingham, Alabama will arrive in Crawford on Wednesday morning, August 10th. Jean’s son Private Kelly Prewitt was killed in action during the first few weeks of the war in Iraq, on April 6, 2003.

Valarie Fletcher of Seymour, Missouri is driving to Crawford and arriving Wednesday evening, August 10. Valarie's son serves in the Marines and will be deploying to Iraq at the end of this month.

Sherry Bohlen of Scottsdale, Arizona is driving to Crawford and arriving on Wednesday evening, August 10. Sherry’s son serves in the Army and deployed to Iraq on June 10, 2005.

Rebecca Bahr of Scottsdale, Arizona is driving to Crawford and arriving on Wednesday evening August 10. Rebecca's daughter serves in the Marines and is currently stateside.

Caryn Unsicker of Silvis, Illinois is driving to Crawford and arriving Wednesday evening, August 10. Caryn's son serves in the Marines, currently stateside.

Anne Sapp and her daughters Lydia (age 17) and Mary (age 8) of Billerica, Massachusetts will be arriving in Crawford on Thursday morning, August 11th. Anne's husband/Lydia and Mary's father is a Staff Sergeant in the Massachusetts National Guard and currently serving in Iraq.

Barbara Porchia of Camden, Arkansas will be arriving in Crawford on Thursday morning August 11th. Barbara's son, Army Reservist Private 1st Class Jonathan Cheatham, was killed in action in Baghdad two years ago, on July 26, 2003.

Sue Niederer of Pennington, New Jersey will be arriving in Crawford on Thursday morning August 11th. Sue's son, 1st Lieutenant Seth Dvorin, was killed in action near Iskandariyah, Iraq on February 3, 2004. Sue is a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Kristin Williams and Matthew Williams of Dallas, Texas will be arriving in Crawford this weekend (August 13-14). Matthew Williams is an Iraq War Veteran who served as a combat medic for one year in Iraq (2003-2004). He was honorably discharged from the Army. Kristin is his sister.

Bill Mitchell of Atascadero, California will be arriving in Crawford in the next several days. Bill's son Sgt. Michael Mitchell was killed in action in Sadr City, Iraq on April 4, 2004, along with Cindy Sheehan's son Spc. Casey Sheehan. Bill is a co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace.

Mimi Evans of Hyannis, Massachusetts will be arriving in Crawford on Tuesday, August 16th. Mimi's son serves in the Marines; he will be deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in the next two weeks.

Eric Blickenstaff of Portland, Oregon will be arriving in Crawford early next week. Eric's brother Spc. Joseph Blickenstaff served in the Army and was killed when his Stryker vehicle rolled into a ditch on December 8, 2003 in Balad, Iraq.

Josh Marshall's on fire.

This is exactly the kind of connecting the dots I wish to be doing. Small election scandal in NH with big connections.

Talking Points Memo.

And he also is the first place I came across this WaPo piece.

WASHINGTON -- A political committee founded by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay may have improperly spent unregulated "soft money" on get-out-the-vote and fundraising activities, the Federal Election Commission says. A DeLay attorney said Thursday the money has been reimbursed.

Just came across this

This is from Focus on the Family website, James Dobson leader. This is one of the two main christian groups that Bush, less so now that he has no more elections to face, and all the other presidential candidates are placating.

Evidences of gender confusion or doubt in boys ages 5 to 11 may include:

1. A strong feeling that they are “different” from other boys.

2. A tendency to cry easily, be less athletic, and dislike the roughhousing that other boys enjoy.

3. A persistent preference to play female roles in make-believe play.

4. A strong preference to spend time in the company of girls and participate in their games and other pastimes.

5. A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them “queer,” “fag” and “gay.”

6. A tendency to walk, talk, dress and even “think” effeminately.

7. A repeatedly stated desire to be — or insistence that he is — a girl.

If your child is experiencing several signs of gender confusion, professional help is available. It’s best to seek that help before your child reaches puberty.

And here is their link that was under professional help.

If Your Child Needs Help

If your child exhibits repeated overt prehomosexual tendencies:

1. Accept your child and affirm his or her worth regardless of the characteristics you observe. Show unconditional love.

2. Don’t wait until your daughter’s masculinized behavior or your son’s effeminate preferences get any worse. Remember that for many prehomosexual boys and girls, some of the characteristics may be more subtle:

  • inability to bond with same-sex peers
  • feeling different from and inferior to other same-sex peers
  • discomfort with his or her gender
3. Call to make an appointment with a professional therapist who believes change is possible. Work patiently with that therapist in redirecting your child’s prehomosexual behaviors. To find a qualified therapist, contact one of these organizations:

Exodus International
P.O. Box 540199, Orlando, FL 32854
Phone: 407-599-6872 or 888-264-0877 (toll-free)
Fax: 407-599-0011

National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality
16633 Ventura Blvd., Suite 1340
Encino, CA 91436
Phone: 818-789-4440

And if you want to take a tour through the right's incredibly well funded repression land.....

Here is the link for NARTH listed above as a source for a "qualified therapist."

Oh, and by the way, whether you believe in nature or nurture, creating this sort of unresolved conflict is only bad. Mixing religion with unresolvable guilt is how you get neuroses, psychopaths, hand washers, and serial killers.

Sorry, this is long, but only in full context can you appreciate the insanity of these people.

Are we nearing a panic?

Chevron has a tanker named for Condi Rice.

Question: Are we near a panic?

I don't think so yet, but I think we're beginning to get nearer. One big problem, a Saudi coup, an Iranian shut down, a Nigerian strike, and we're deep in it.

And Mr. Bush, no matter what else you do, this could be your legacy. Not that the complete destruction of Iraq and the reduction of its oil exports have had anything to do with this. Democracy's on the move.

(I think this is Palo Alto, I'm sure it's California.)

Dirtiest race ever.

With Hillary Clinton emerging as the 2008 presidential front runner, but still having to run for her pretty secure senate seat in 2006, you can just bet that things are going to get really ugly. The republicans are likely, despite the claims that they think they're likely to win, will probably put someone up whose sole job it is to slime Hillary Clinton as much as they can. We can hope that the repubs in NY will actually pick the best candidate in their primary, limiting this effort to outside groups, but you know the national repub folks are gonna get deep into this one.

I'm not a big Hillary Clinton fan, but the slime list is long and the repubs do this over and over. It's just wrong. On the bright side, I doubt there is much left hidden. After all, how many candidates have been vetted for four years at taxpayer's expense by an independent counsel and come out clean.

Anyhow, the NYTimes had a story on one of the republican contenders. I know nothing about NY politics, but check out her connection to the repub nationals.

Jeanine F. Pirro got her United States Senate campaign off to a fiery but rocky start yesterday, broadly assailing the Democratic incumbent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in three speeches across the state, while grappling with questions about abortion, taxes, Iraq and her husband. ....

Mr. Pirro, who was said to be working at his lobbying practice yesterday, ......

Facing reporters, Ms. Pirro ignored a question about whether she would take campaign donations from her husband, who is a prominent Republican donor, or let him raise money toward her goal of at least $30 million for the Senate race. Some political candidates rebuff donors with criminal records.

By day's end, a Pirro aide, Michael McKeon, said Mr. Pirro would not play a role in fund-raising, but Ms. Pirro would accept his money. Mr. McKeon said donations from people with criminal records would be reviewed "on a case by case basis."

Lastly, the only way to stop the slime is to vote against it. Use your head and see though the lies.

The tipping point?

I have no idea about this, but it's BBC so it's probably pretty accurate. The thing we tend to forget is that the climatic system is just soooooo complicated. Historically, it does tend to stabilize over time, but it's time (5000 years) is very different from my time (35 years left.)

The world's largest frozen peat bog is melting, which could speed the rate of global warming, New Scientist reports.

The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago.

The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear. ....

Western Siberia has warmed faster than almost anywhere on the planet, with average temperatures increasing by about 3C in the last 40 years.

The warming is believed to be due to a combination of man-made climate change, a cyclical atmospheric phenomenon known as the Arctic oscillation and feedbacks caused by melting ice. ....

"This is a big deal because you can't put the permafrost back once it's gone. The causal effect is human activity and it will ramp up temperatures even more than our emissions are doing."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

AIPAC scandal update. Pretty big.

Just go read this, it's not that long, and pretty well sketches out everything from the official indictments. Bottom line, it's much, much bigger than Franklin, Weissman, and Rosen.

But as the full text of the indictment makes clear, the conspiracy involved not just Franklin and the AIPAC officials, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, but at least several other Pentagon officials who played intermediary roles, at least two other Israeli officials, and one official at a "Washington, D.C. think tank." It's an old-fashioned spy story involving the passing of secret documents, hush-hush meetings and outright espionage, along with good-old-boy networking.

Embedding reporters won't work.

Four more Soldiers died yesterday/today in another bombing in Iraq and another six were wounded. In the coverage, I came across the second photo, and it got me thinking.

Despite all the attempts of the DoD to lock down reporters in an "embedded" status to control what action they see, and now with them effectively confined to the Green Zone, the story will still come out. It will come out it trickles and probably not in the highest resolution, but over time, we will truly see the horror of this occupation because of the digital camera.

The military thinkers blamed, in part, the pictures and stories out of Vietnam for the loss of support for that war. Leaving aside the obvious blind spot, that it wasn't the pictures that were unpopular but the policies, the military set a course to never allow that to happen again.

The US military has tried all sorts of press limitations since Vietnam, the total lockdown of Grenada and Panama, the "pool reporter" experiments in the first Iraq war, and the complete comedy of the troops trying to sneak in on the Somalia beaches only to find camera crews and lights waiting there for them.

Today's version is the embedde reporter.

But information can flow like water, and with the presence of thousands of digital cameras in the hands of the soldiers in Iraq, all of those snapshots and memories that seemed of importance at the time will slowly trickle home. Shots with buddies, shots after battles, trophy shots of the dead and captured, shots of locals, will all come home with these soldiers, and over time will slowly come into the public sphere. Abu Ghraib was the first case.

It will be unique, first, because these shots are not being taken for their "news quality" they will probably be much more poignant and be packed with more individual emotion. Second, unlike WWII and Vietnam, where although press photographers had relatively free reign but were limited by their numbers, in Iraq there is probably a camera in almost every unit so the span, the coverage will be far broader. Very few incidents will take place without a camera present.

I would wager that as these photographs come out in public in 5, 10, 20 years time, they will rewrite the history of this conflict in an unprecedented way. I'm sure there will be collectors, and shows, and whatever passes for websites in twenty years giving us true pictures of what this war really did.

And I would guess that all of this will negatively alter the public's perception of this war. It is fairly simple to rally support for war on an idealized level, but that idealized level doesn't really involve the true horrors of war, the horrific injuries, the moral degradations, and the impact upon those poor people who just happen to live where someone started a war.

I would wager that this war will not be allowed to pass into mythic history the way the first gulf war has, but instead, will be remembered as a series of amateur snapshots of broken bodies and dirty sad soldiers.

Just riffing. Mike

Democracy is on the move

I think the most telling thing about this story is that there is no US response. No effort to keep this guy in office, no effort to stop the "city coup". Our influence is such that the Shia's can do what they want and we're afraid to do anything about it. Oh, and notice the unveiled threat of violence from the city council chief.

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 9 - Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia.

The deposed mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi, who was not in his offices at the time, recounted the events in a telephone interview on Tuesday and called the move a municipal coup d'état. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life.

"This is the new Iraq," said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal." .........

The militia has been credited with keeping the peace in heavily Shiite areas in southern Iraq but also accused of abuses like forcing women to wear the veils demanded by conservative Shiite religious law.

"If we wanted to do something bad to him, we would have done that," said Mazen A. Makkia, the elected city council chief who led the ouster on Monday and who had been in a lengthy and unresolved legal feud with Mr. Tamimi. .......

When asked whether the Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a politician with another Shiite Islamic party, Dawa, was concerned about developments at the municipality, a spokesman, Laith Kubba, said, "My guess is, yes, he is."

Mr. Kubba said he had not yet had a chance to talk with the prime minister about the issue. But gave clear indications that the prime minister would not stand in the way of the move.

And, from the same article, what does this have to do with the rest of the article? Oh, and by the way, I don't doubt that bombs are being smuggled into Iraq from Iran, but that is a long way from saying that the government of Iran is supplying them. Drugs are being smuggled into the US by the eighteen wheeler load. Does this mean that the US government supports the drug gangs? Wait, don't answer that. Dark Alliance by Gary Webb who died recently from two shots to the back of the head, ruled as suicide. (Again, the link is not an amazon endorsement, just the easiest link. Shop your local used book store.)

In Washington, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that Iran had become a conduit for weapons smuggled into Iraq and used by insurgents, and he criticized Tehran for not doing more to prevent the smuggling.

"Weapons clearly, unambiguously from Iran have been found in Iraq," he said at a Pentagon briefing. He added: "It's a big border. It's notably unhelpful for the Iranians to allow weapons of those types to cross the border."

Defense officials have said recently that components and fully manufactured bombs from Iran began appearing about two months ago and that a large shipment was captured last month in northeast Iraq after coming across the border.

Mr. Rumsfeld's comments were the first confirmation by a senior American official that such smuggling was occurring. Mr. Rumsfeld said it was not clear who in Iran was responsible for the shipments, which some specialists have said could be the work of smugglers or splinter insurgent groups, rather than the government of Iran.

OH MY GOD!!!!!

I don't know why this is so freaky to me, but it is. Perhaps it's the celebratory country music concert to celebrate 9-11. Perhaps it's the Orwellian name "America supports your freedom walk." I don't know, it just seems to take some serious tacky propaganda treads on what should be a hallowed space.

Pentagon Announces September 11 Concert

The Pentagon would hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing today.

"This year the Department of Defence will initiate an America Supports Your Freedom Walk," Rumsfeld said, adding that the march would remind people of "the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation".

The march will start at the Pentagon, where nearly 200 people died on September 11, 2001, and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Again with the Roman Legions

I'm on a Roman empire kick tonight, I guess that's the price you pay for playing Total Mideival War for just a little to long. Anyhow, a retired army colonel is pushing for a spanish version of the army entry test according to the army times. I'll work around the obvious do you really want a non-english speaker in your unit not understanding orders while under fire, and pass on down to some of the errata about immigrants in the army.

Draw whatever conclusions you want, I found these items interesting.

Citizenship as a reward for U.S. military service already exists.

In July 2002, President Bush signed an executive order that “expedited naturalization for aliens and noncitizen nationals serving in an active-duty status ... during the period of the war against terrorists of global reach.”

In October 2004, further benefits were added:

•Naturalization processing now is available overseas at U.S. embassies, consulates and military installations.

•No fees are required to file for naturalization.

•Posthumous citizenship is awarded to active-duty personnel who die in the line of duty, and “special consideration” is given to surviving family members seeking citizenship.

About 45,000 non-U.S. citizens are serving in the military, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports. Eduardo Aguirre, the director of CIS, said he favors the new approach. .....

In the 1990s, the military experimented with soldiers who had limited English-speaking ability. They were allowed to enlist and were taught English, Stauffer said.

But the time and expense of the program made it impractical, he said. ....

(and in a true sign of recruiting woes)

Valdez likened his proposal to the Vietnam-era Project 100,000.

In 1966, the government accepted into the military people who scored below 20 on the Armed Forces Qualifications Test. They previously had been rejected.

“I am privileged to say that I had many of them in my units that I commanded, and they did an outstanding job,” said Valdez, who served three tours of duty in Vietnam as an infantry officer.

The US army is everywhere.

I include this because sometimes we think of Iraq and Afghanistan, and some of the more notable encampments, Japan, Germany, Britain as the total footprint of the US military. But that's not it at all. The US has active bases in about two thirds of the countries in the world. All those fears of world domination and empire are misplaced, the US military already is the Roman Empire. Minimal "reaction forces" and corrupt local vichy politicians.

From the Christian Science Monitor. Dateline: Lamu, Kenya.

It is a strange place to find the US military on active duty. The soldiers on patrol here are part of the 1,500-strong Horn of Africa Combined Joint Task Force stationed in a former French Foreign Legion base in the tiny Red Sea state of Djibouti.

The primary reason for the military manpower and its associated hardware lies just up the coast: the lawless, failed state of Somalia, long seen as a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism. ....

American troops regularly support the Kenyan Navy as they search boats for drugs, equipment, or illegal agents trying to slip into Kenya.

They have on occasion marched in full combat gear through Lamu's narrow lanes in a show of force, especially during a tense period when investigators linked the area to a series of terror attacks in Kenya and Tanzania. ....

That's where a small contingent of the US Army's 412th Civil Affairs Battalion steps in.

The four-man team is helping facilitate a public-works campaign designed to ease hardships in poor communities, win loyalties, and cut off Islamic fanaticism before it can take root.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Great paragraph from the Tom Dispatch

The rest of the article contains no real surprises, but this is a great paragraph.

This was not long after other officials in the Bush administration, who had been arguing fiercely since Sept. 11, 2001, for a series of deep links between terrorism and Iraq, strove hard to deny that the terrorist bombings in London's subways had anything to do with Iraq. So the message was clear: Don't leave home because… uh, they hate us (but Iraq has nothing to do with it).

Brilliant logic.


American attitudes toward the war in Iraq continue to sour in the wake of last week's surge in U.S. troop deaths, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows. (Related: Poll results)

An unprecedented 57% majority say the war has made the USA more vulnerable to terrorism. A new low, 34%, say it has made the country safer. The question is critical because the Bush administration has long argued that the invasion of Iraq was undertaken to make the USA safer from terrorism.

Ignoring the intelligence, Again!!!!!!

Looks like they're doing it again. The story here is this: Bush receives an NIE, the best summation of all the intel on Iran, and then summarily ignores it to push his policy of democratizing the middle east. After all, it's going so well, why bother with reality?

Again, from newsweek. (I wonder who their sources are, because they've been dumping like crazy.)

Aug. 15, 2005 issue - A classified analysis by the U.S. intelligence community warned top Bush administration officials last spring that the theocratic reign of Iranian mullahs could be entrenched for years to come, NEWSWEEK has learned. This National Intelligence Estimate, issued by a unit of the new National Intelligence Director's office, reported that Iran is not in a prerevolutionary state and that near-term regime change appeared unlikely, ......

In briefings with reporters, intel officials have stressed recently that they want contrary views to be taken into account when analyses are presented to policymakers. But a White House spokesperson says President George W. Bush had no intention of backing away from comments he made about Iran just before its June election. In his June statement, Bush hinted at regime change, telling the Iranian people, "As you stand for your own liberty, the people of America stand with you."

Drudge goes after an Iraq war mom

The right wing slime machine is at it and hard. Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in the Iraq war, has been camped outside Bush's vacation home in Crawford claiming she will not leave until she gets to speak with President Bush. Two days ago, Bush sent out a couple of flacks, but she would not be mollified and has vowed to stay there until she can ask Bush what her son died for.

Now, needless to say, with the whitehouse press crew there and tired of watching our President "clear brush" and mountainbike, this is getting some play. And the last thing this administration wants is for the "Why did we go/Why are we there/What are our soldiers dying for?" questions to make it in the press.

So, in the great Swiftboat vets, John McCain, Joe Wilson, Paul O'Neil, Richard Clarke, etc. tradition, the right wing slimers come in from the side. This item ran on Drudge in his own print because I'm sure he couldn't find a real source.(top story for 5 hours, simple item for eight now) I'm sure The Reporter of Vacaville is really a major source.

The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier who is holding a roadside peace vigil near President Bush's ranch -- has dramatically changed her account about what happened when she met the commander-in-chief last summer!

Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., who last year praised Bush for bringing her family the "gift of happiness," took to the nation's TV outlets this weekend to declare how Bush "killed an indispensable part of our family and humanity."

CINDY 2004

THE REPORTER of Vacaville, CA published an account of Cindy Sheehan's visit with the president at Fort Lewis near Seattle on June 24, 2004:

And it goes on like that. And this....

On her current media tour, Sheehan has not been asked to explain her twist on Bush; from praise to damnation!

And notice the picture he used(above), which although I like, was obviously chosen to resonate negatively with the brown shirts.

She's a freakin' war mom, for god's sake. I think she has paid the price to get to speak.

Evil freakin' bastards.

UPDATE: It's even worse and more crooked. Here's the article, and she's not prowar or proBush. The "happiness" quote was taken WAAAAAAYYYYY out of context.

UPDATE: Tue. morning 7:30 AM and it's gone off into the ether. No apology, no comment, just gone. That is trait three of the Slime Machine. Allege everything, create an image in people's minds, then when discovered, never mention it again. Evil bastards.

Oooh, that smell.

Keep an eye on this one. Isikoff from Newsweek has another pretty significant little blurb.(no wonder they tried to hatchet him over technicalities on the Q'uran in the toilet thing.)

Let's see, the only man who has access to the information in the Plame case, the only man who has the power to approve or refuse indictments, just happens to get an "offer he can't refuse" from Lockheed with all it's connections to both the Bush Clan and government. The guy who's going to replace him, is not only an "old Bush friend" but also one of ten Yalees inducted into the Uber-fraternity of Skull and Bones with Bush.

This stinks like Archibald Cox.

Operation "Make Plame Go Away" may be proceeding apace.

Aug. 15, 2005 issue - The departure this week of Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who has accepted the post of general counsel at Lockheed Martin, leaves a question mark in the probe into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Comey was the only official overseeing special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation. ..... Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum is "likely" to be named as acting deputy A.G., a DOJ official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter tells NEWSWEEK. But McCallum may be seen as having his own conflicts: he is an old friend of President Bush's and a member of his Skull and Bones class at Yale.

UPDATE: Here's a little past history of Bush doing the exact same thing on the Abramoff investigation.

Bush removal ended Guam investigation

US attorney's demotion halted probe of lobbyist

WASHINGTON -- A US grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor, and the probe ended soon after.

The previously undisclosed Guam inquiry is separate from a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia that is investigating allegations that Abramoff bilked Indian tribes out of millions of dollars.

NYTimes on Judge Roberts

Kind of a strange, non-committal piece on Roberts in the NYTimes, but a fair primer of one of the conflicts that will come in his confirmation hearings.

Judge John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, has written quite a bit in opposition to a constitutional right to privacy that has served as the basis for Supreme Court decisions protecting abortion and gay rights. But his writings, though distinctive and consistent, were always on behalf of superiors and clients and might not reflect his own views, then or now.

The positions Judge Roberts sketched out do echo those of Robert H. Bork, whose nomination for the court was defeated in 1987.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Big movements from Saudi, yet only a ripple.

Let's start with this.

(It's Moonie UPI, so, who knows)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia said Sunday it was working to bring back to the kingdom a total of $360 billion invested abroad in the last 18 months.

Weird. New king takes over Saudi, and one of his first acts, after making rather explicit statements that he will NOT crack down on the Wahabi extremists, is to make a statement that he intends to bring large sums of cash back to the kingdom. Now, Saudi propaganda since 9-11 has claimed that 50-60% of Saudi foreign investment is in the US. If this were an across the board pullback, the US economy would expect to see $180 Billion to be sucked out of it. But, after looking around, I couldn't find anywhere where it said where this money was to be drawn from.

So, maybe economic warfare? But against whom?

Now, what's curious about this is that this announcement comes just one day after this.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- A U.S. delegation led by Vice President Dick Cheney paid respects Friday to King Abdullah, a visit intended to show the importance Washington attaches to close ties with oil power Saudi Arabia.

Cheney, former President Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell offered condolences on the death Monday of the new monarch's half-brother, King Fahd.

So, just what is going on?

Update: And let's add this to the mix.

From the Sunday Telegraph (also interestingly republished in the Moonie Washington Times)

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Two senior al Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia made money transfers and used coded text messages to communicate with suspected terrorists in Britain in the months before the July attacks in London, according to security officials in the kingdom.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that the two men, of Moroccan descent, have since been fatally shot in separate gunbattles.

I had expected an inter-family power struggle after Fahd died, but that has not materialized. Instead, we have actions which are yet to form a complete whole.

When the new pope came into office, there was great speculation for a week about the changes he might make and the effects that those changes might have. Why has their been no similar questioning in the press about Saudi? So, the pope changes a ritual, or reinstates fish on Friday, that's nothing compared to the waves felt by even modest turns in the Saudi ship of state.


The United States has closed its embassy and two consulates in Saudi Arabia for two days in response to a terror threat, the embassy has said.

The US, Britain, and Australia are citing "credible evidence," but the excerpt box has this.

"We can't dispel the possibility of a terrorist attack... but we have no information about an imminent terrorist attack
Maj Gen Mansour al-Turki
Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman

Oh, and the picture, at the top('cause I can't figure out how to get it down here) has the caption,

The closures come days after a top-level visit to Riyadh

Quote of the day.

The quote of the day comes from an AP piece, which talks about the differences in the new Al Quaeda recruits.

Jenkins said al-Qaida recruiters are very good at spotting the vulnerable — often young men undergoing personal crises — whether drugs, crime, joblessness, poverty or a spiritual hunger. They are offered an ideology that explains the difficulties and provides a new mind-set.

"This is the way cults recruit," Jenkins said. "To a certain extent ... this is the way armies recruit."

Bin Laden was at Tora Bora

Okay, I know this is the lead because it is the most publicizable thing in this guy's book, but still.....

Bin Laden got away because the Bush admin and DoD had already turned their attention to Iraq, which by the way, had nothing to do with the terror attacks, no WMD, no threat to the US.....

Aug. 15, 2005 issue - During the 2004 presidential campaign, George W. Bush and John Kerry battled about whether Osama bin Laden had escaped from Tora Bora in the final days of the war in Afghanistan. Bush, Kerry charged, "didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down and kill" the leader of Al Qaeda. The president called his opponent's allegation "the worst kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking." Bush asserted that U.S. commanders on the ground did not know if bin Laden was at the mountain hideaway along the Afghan border.

But in a forthcoming book, the CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, says he and other U.S. commanders did know that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing Qaeda and Taliban members. Berntsen says he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was holed up at Tora Bora—intelligence operatives had tracked him—and could have been caught. "He was there," Berntsen tells NEWSWEEK. Asked to comment on Berntsen's remarks, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones passed on 2004 statements from former CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks. "We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001," Franks wrote in an Oct. 19 New York Times op-ed. "Bin Laden was never within our grasp." Berntsen says Franks is "a great American. But he was not on the ground out there. I was."

There it is.