Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why are you destroying the country?

A NYT article in Friday’s paper about the court-martial noted the pressure in sniper units to increase body counts. It also reported that the commanders who introduced the baiting program also “sought less restrictive rules of engagement — to legalize the combat killing of anyone who made a soldier ‘feel threatened,’ for example, instead of showing hostile intent or actions.” Um, NYT, so did they get those changes or not?

Karzai says he wants to offer Mullah Omar a government position, if he only knew where he was. “If I find their address, there is no need for them to come to me, I’ll personally go there and get in touch with them,” Karzai said. He wants to ask the Taliban leaders, “Esteemed Mullah, sir, and esteemed Hekmatyar, sir, why are you destroying the country?” That’s a trick question, right?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I admire the Islam

John McCain, interviewed by a religious website (video and transcript), said that the number one issue people should use in selecting a president is “Will this person carry on in the Judeo Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?” He added that “the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation” (funny how quickly the Judeo part drops out).

However he did say, “I admire the Islam.”

And some time after the interview, he called back to clarify that he didn’t mean a Muslim couldn’t be president: “I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values.” You know, the Christian ones.

Friday, September 28, 2007


The new naturalization test will include 100 questions (pdf) about American history and government. (Rising Hegemon has a good list of alternative questions.) The questions are okay, but the answers could use some work. For example, for question 2, “What does the Constitution do?”, allowable answers are a) sets up the government, b) defines the government, c) protects basic rights of Americans. Nothing about d) cleans Dick Cheney’s ass after each and every bowel movement.

Clearly we can do better. Contest: provide better answers to as many of the questions as you like.

I have a few suggestions:

1. What is the supreme law of the land? You do not talk about Fight Club.

3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words? “Yo, homies, wassup?”

5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution? Suspended until further notice.

11. What is the economic system in the United States? Kleptocracy.

12. What is the ‘rule of law’? Jude Law will eventually remake every single one of Michael Caine’s movies, including Jaws: The Revenge.

14. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful? No, really, we’d really like to know.

15. Who is in charge of the executive branch? That box Cheney had installed in the middle of Bush’s back.

24. Who does a U.S. Senator represent? If you have to ask...

25. Why do some states have more Representatives than other states? Blatant favoritism.

26. We elect a President for how many years? Four, but sometimes it seems like 400.

30. If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

37. What does the judicial branch do? Under those robes, who can tell?

45. What are the two major political parties in the United States? Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

48. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them. I don’t have anything funny here, but, um, there are actually 5 amendments about who can vote. Somebody needs to go back and read the 14th again.

49. What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens? Weaseling out of jury duty.

52. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance? Richard Stands.

55. What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy? They list things like voting, joining a political party, calling your representative, writing to a newspaper. Not a fucking thing about blogging.

64. There were 13 original states. Name three. The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.

65. What happened at the Constitutional Convention? Those stains were there when we got here.

72. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s. The official correct answers are the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. No Indian wars.

86. What major event happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States? Rudy Giuliani started calling up his wife (and assorted mistresses) to tell them that he loves them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I am an optimist, because I believe that I’m right

Today Bush signed a bill expanding the Pell Grant program (which has been shamefully eroding in value for years, and this won’t help that much). He spoke repeatedly about helping people “realize dreams.” “I love the fact that this country is dedicated to helping people who want to realize a dream.” Indeed, if you’ve ever dreamed about eating a hamburger bigger than your head, this is the country dedicated to helping you realize that dream.

Actually, I’m not really sure why this speech irritated me; I sort of hoped once I started writing, it would come to me as it usually does, but today not so much. Maybe knowing that if this program were being proposed for the first time now, he would fight it tooth and nail, but instead here he is trying to take credit for it, and expecting gratitude for the grants like they’re acts of personal charity on his part.

He brought out some Pell Grant recipients as props because “We believe it’s important to put a face behind what it means to get a Pell Grant.” So it’s important to see that the people who receive Pell Grants have faces.

Hey, George, can you In Other Words that for us? “In other words, every one of these folks up here is benefiting from the Pell Grant, so he or she can realize their dreams.”

See? They totally have faces.

I haven’t taken on the Bush-Aznar transcript from 2003, because I hate having to rely on the English translation of the Spanish translation of something Bush said in whatever language he speaks. Still, there’s this: “I am an optimist, because I believe that I’m right. I’m at peace with myself.” He is optimistic because he’s the good guy, and the good guy always wins.

This could be you!

Isn’t this just adorable? Two days ago, the Hillary Clinton campaign sent out an email from Bill with the subject line “You, me, a TV, and a bowl of chips,” in which he announces that 3 lucky campaign contributors will be invited to watch one of the debates: “We’ll sit down in front of a big TV with a big bowl of chips, watch the debate, and talk about the race.” Today – and remembering their Sopranos parody I knew this was coming – a follow-up email from Hillary asks, “If you are one of the three people who get the chance to join him, can you make sure he eats carrots, not chips?” Ha ha.

Also today, an email from John McCain, announcing that 3 lucky campaign contributors will be invited to join him on his campaign bus, has the scariest visual yet:

Which is more dangerous, John McCain attacking my face with a sander, or being placed between Bill Clinton and a large bowl of chips?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Childrens do learn

Just because the US Supreme Court will be considering whether the chemicals used in Texas’s executions are cruel and unusual doesn’t mean that Texas will stop executing retarded people in the meantime.

Speaking of... nah, too easy. This blog depends on the White House doing the one thing it actually does correctly: not cleaning up the transcripts of George Bush’s speeches on their website. Today they failed me, and indeed America, by cleaning up the sentence “As yesterday’s positive Report Card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.”

“It’s ‘children,’ doofus!”

I’m not sure what’s wrong with the LauraBot, but run, little black girl, run!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

If you’re mercilessly killed by roaming bands, you know it’s genocide

This afternoon, Bush addressed a UN Security Council session on Africa. Because he totally gives a shit about Africa.

“[M]y nation has labeled what’s taking place in Darfur as genocide, and when we find genocide it’s time to do something about it.” By which he meant, of course, it’s time for someone else to do something about it. He told the African Union that the 7,000 troops it has deployed are not sufficient: “you know better than me that the area of Darfur is bigger than France, or Texas, and both are plenty big for 7,000 troops.” The AU responded, “You know, you should really stop explaining to Africans that parts of Africa are about the same size as some European country or some American state, as if even Africans need to compare Africa to someplace ‘real.’”

Bush said, “7,000 troops is not enough, if you believe what’s taking place on the ground is genocide. Maybe some don’t think it’s genocide, but if you’ve been raped, you think it’s -- your human rights have been violated. If you’re mercilessly killed by roaming bands, you know it’s genocide.”

You can’t mock a sentence like that. Bang your head repeatedly against a table, yes, but mock, no. It’s just sort of complete and pristine, you can only read it over and over and marvel.

The harsh steps necessary to spread liberty

Maliki says he is “multi-nationalistic,” that he has stopped “the explosion of a sectarian war,” and that Iran and Syria are no longer interfering in Iraqi affairs. So it must be true.

Bush spoke to the UN General Assembly today. He told them all about inherent human dignity (he was speaking as an outside observer).

He spoke about the universality of human rights... to a group of people who had to listen to him speaking.

He talked about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and somehow slipped into that declaration the right of American multi-national corporations to operate without let or hindrance: “When innocent people are trapped in a life of murder and fear, the Declaration is not being upheld. When millions of children starve to death or perish from a mosquito bite, we’re not doing our duty in the world. When whole societies are cut off from the prosperity of the global economy, we’re all worse off.”

He said that “the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people from tyranny and violence.” Er, no it isn’t.

He said “Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear.” Which either means that Americans have been outraged for the last 19 years, or they’re only just hearing about this now.

He called for “reform” of the UN, especially of the Human Rights Council. By reform, he meant stop criticizing Israel.

Later in the day, he held a “roundtable on democracy” because “I can think of no better way to work toward freedom than to strategize with leaders from around the world who are willing to take the harsh steps necessary to spread liberty.” No one can make liberty sound terrifying quite the way George Bush can.

Monday, September 24, 2007

And nothing to hide

For some reason I feel compelled to bring to your attention the, um, face of modern Polish feminism, the newly formed Women’s Party of Poland.

The campaign poster, curiously reminiscent of ads for The L Word, reads, “Everything for the future. The Party of Women. Poland is a Woman. And nothing to hide.” Those are the party’s parliamentary candidates.

Not the time

This morning, Bush spewed some budgetary petulance at Congress: “If they think that by waiting until just before they leave for the year to send me a bill that is way over budget and thicker than a phone book, if they think that’s going to force me to sign it, it’s not.”

He is especially against tax increases, of course. Because the time is just wrong: “At a time when families are working hard to pay their mortgages or pay for their children going to college, now is not the time to be taking money out of their pocket.” Congress should just wait until a time when people aren’t paying mortgages or their children’s college education.

It means nothing for me

So there’s a secret Pentagon program in Iraq to drop “bait” such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammo here and there, and shoot dead anyone who picks it up, because they are clearly up to no good. Larry Craig’s still a senator, right? $100 to the first reporter who calls him up to ask whether he thinks this sort of lethal entrapment is a legitimate tool.

Yes, I said tool.

Maliki says criticism of him by members of Congress is unimportant, because they are not important: “What is important is that it did not come from the American administration or President Bush. That it comes from other areas ... for other reasons, is not a concern of mine. ... It means nothing for me.” Democratic congresscritters: you have just been dismissed as irrelevant... by Nouri al-Maliki. Ouch.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

It’s a feature, not a glitch

WaPo: “The money spent on one day of the Iraq war could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children”.

Bush, weekly radio address: “Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage -- not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage.”

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bush press conference: Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas

This post is brought to you by Percocet and in loving memory of my abscessed right lower wisdom tooth, Pointy. For the first time in my life, I have an even number of teeth (I am a mutant).

Speaking of abscesses, this morning Bush held a press conference.

He started off by claiming that Democrats only support expanding the S-CHIP program of health insurance for children for political gain. How dare they support health insurance for children just because it’s popular with the American public! He said they “have decided to pass a bill they know that will be vetoed” (note the passive voice). So because they know that Bush is a stubborn bastard, they must intend to fail in order to have a campaign issue. “Health coverage for these children should not be held hostage while political ads are being made and new polls are being taken.” Was there ever such a cynical charge of cynicism?

One reporter got him on the record specifically opposing an increase in cigarette taxes to fund the program.

IN OTHER WORDS, IS WHAT HE SAID: “And I also said that progress will yield fewer troops. In other words, return on success, is what I said.”

He immediately followed that up with a U-Turn IN OTHER WORDS, in which two IN OTHER WORDSES took him right back to the original words: “There are two types of reconciliation, David. One is that reconciliation, that very visible reconciliation that happens through the passage of law. In other words, it’s reconciliation that shows the Iraqi people that people from different backgrounds can get along and, at the same time, that government can function. Clearly there needs to be work there. In other words, there needs to be the passage of law.”

A game of IN OTHER WORDS Bumper Cars (about North Korea): “In other words, whether it be the exportation of information and/or materials is an important part -- it doesn’t matter to us whether they do -- in terms of the six-party talks, because they’re both equally important, I guess is the best way to say it. In other words, we want -- it does matter -- let me rephrase that -- it matters whether they are, but the concept of proliferation is equally important as getting rid of programs and weapons.”

A PLAIN VANILLA IN OTHER WORDS: “The folks like Blackwater who provide security for the State Department are under rules of engagement -- in other words, they have certain rules.”

He said about the Blackwater incident, “Obviously, to the extent that innocent life was lost, you know, I’m saddened.” But only to that extent. So there will be a joint US-Iraqi commission to investigate the extent to which Bush is saddened: “I want to find out the facts about exactly what took place there in the theater and that’s exactly what we’re about to find out.”

But that’s not the only thing ensaddening him. Asked about the Jena incident, he replied, “The events in Louisiana are -- have saddened me. I understand the emotions.” Well, he’s heard of them, anyway.

(Before I forget, the White House issued one of those “Responding to Key Myths” papers about Iraq. Among other things, it proved that Maliki is not an agent of Iran thusly: “Maliki is an Iraqi nationalist who does not speak Persian”. Quod erat demonstrandum.)

Maliki is not, however, a Nelson Mandela: “I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, where’s Mandela? Well, Mandela is dead, because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.” Even Winnie?

This Mandela line, which passed from Ryan Crocker to Condi and now to Bush, provoked this comment from me last week: “So basically what they’re saying is that if any of the current crop of Iraqi politicians had been any damned good, they wouldn’t be alive.”

Bush thinks the MoveOn “General Betray Us” ad was “disgusting,” and an attack on the entire military. Which is nonsense. Also disgusting: Democrats. “And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat Party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad. And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like -- or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military.”

So sad:
Q: Mr. President, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld recently was asked if he missed you. He said, no. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I miss him.
(Update: see, I knew I’d miss something, with the drugs and the pain and everything: “We dealt with a recession, a terrorist attack and corporate scandals. And we did it by cutting taxes.”)

Well, no wonder they hate us

Rudy Giuliani: “I’m probably one of the four or five best known Americans in the world.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Enemy Entity

Israel has designated Gaza– not Hamas, the entire Gaza – an “enemy entity” (or “hostile entity” in the BBC’s translation), and will cut off its fuel and electricity and prevent people and goods (but not, they say, food) entering Gaza. Israel claims the declaration absolves it of its obligations under international law as an occupying power. Condi, who is in Israel, helpfully added that the US considers Hamas a hostile entity too, but that it won’t “abandon the innocent Palestinians in Gaza,” but did not say how many of the Palestinians in Gaza she considers innocent.

An aide to Maliki says they may not kick Blackwater out of the country after all: “Maybe they will make a commitment that they study their moves” or just... change its name. Possibly to Hostile Entity, Incorporated.

Demanding that Congress make the legalization of warrantless surveillance permanent, Bush informed it of its rather limited job description: “It is the job of Congress to give the professionals the tools they need to do their work as effectively as possible.” Makes it sound like a plumber’s assistant. Which, come to think of it...

The many sullen faces of the Bush administration:

Hiding in the Easter basket

The WaPo’s Walter Pincus writes an article based on a round-table conference-call interview (transcript) of the guy who runs American detention facilities in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone by several “defense bloggers,” whatever they might be (one asked whether we could use robots as guards), about the US military’s attempt to de-program Muslim extremists among the 25,000 prisoners we are holding (and more each month), some of them as young as 11. “Religious enlightenment,” they call it. And honestly, a bunch of (presumably) non-Muslim occupiers trying to alter the religious outlook of captured Iraqis, what could possibly be wrong with that? (Note as well that 83% of the prisoners are Sunni, which is a tad disproportionate.)

Stone says he reads the Koran every day, but let’s see if we can detect a hint as to his actual religion in this quote about Muslim extremists: “They’re like rotten eggs, you know, hiding in the Easter basket”. Nevertheless, Stone feels able to talk about “fraudulent imams” and prisoners’ “misunderstanding” of the Koran. He likes to talk about this as the “battlefield of the brain” and says his goal is to “turn these guys and spin them around”. “We’re out here because war is an act of force and we’re going to compel this enemy to do our will. And our will is that the moderates are going to win out. And so everybody that’s in my detention is either going to go out doing that, because that’s what will -- our will is, or they’re not going out.”

And how does he know that prisoners who claim to have changed their religious views in response to these programs actually have? Polygraphs, of course.

Stone says Iraqi VP Tariq al-Hashimi told him that the US could win the war if only it could do the same thing to the whole of Iraq. Er, Stoney, I’m not sure he really wanted actual Iraqis to find out that he said something like that.

Stone spoke approvingly of an incident two weeks ago, when moderate Muslim prisoners attacked radical Muslim prisoners: “Found them, identified them, threw them up against the fence, and shaved their frickin’ beards off of them. That, I mean, that is historic.” Yes, if by historic you mean that much of world history does indeed consist of people attacking each other over religious differences. And clearly Iraq needs more of that sort of thing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Every day is Mother’s Day as far as you’re concerned

This morning Bush met with members of military support organizations. “Laura and I are honored to welcome you here to the South Lawn. Welcome to the people’s house.” Okay, technically, shouldn’t that be “welcome to the people’s lawn”?

“Gold Star Mothers, got you, okay, thank you -- Blue Star Mothers, Gold Star Mothers, all the mothers, yes. (Applause.) Every day is Mother’s Day as far as you’re concerned, isn’t it? (Laughter.)” If you mean that on Mother’s Day, it is traditional to receive flowers, candy, and the fear that you will outlive your child because they will be killed by a roadside bomb in a pointless war far from home, then yes, every day is Mother’s Day as far as they’re concerned.

Monday, September 17, 2007

With your help, perhaps a cure can be found

Romney attacked Hillary’s health care plan (before she’d even released the details – he’s just that good) in front of St. Vincent’s in Manhattan, unaware that the hospital has a “Rudolph W. Giuliani Trauma Center.”

Finally, a center for the treatment of the dreaded Rudy Giuliani trauma.

If it weren’t for recreational hysteria, I’d get no exercise at all

Bush nominates Michael “Not As Much of a Dick As Ted Olson” Mukasey to be attorney general.

While Mukasey does indeed seem to be not as much of a dick as Ted Olson (or, to set the bar even lower, as incompetent as Gonzales), this 2004 op-ed article in which he defended the Patriot Act against “a good deal of hysteria, some of it reflexive, much of it recreational,” and calling for the government to be given “the benefit of the doubt,” does give one some pause, if not the recreational hysteria we all enjoy so much. At least not yet.

This morning Bush met Prime Minister José Sócrates of Portugal for a bit of a – dear god I can’t help myself – Socratic dialogue, which Bush described thusly:
So we discussed our bilateral relations. I asked the Prime Minister, I said, how would you frame our bilateral relations, he said: good. Well, you know, I feel the same way. ... we discussed and confirmed that transatlantic relations are very important for the United States and the EU.

The prime minister then called for a round of hemlock.

Fiat lux

No posting here for a bit, what with the slow news weekend and a 10½ hour power outage here at Casa de WIIIAI, thanks to the good folks at Pacific Gas & Not So Much With The Electric. Missed “Tokyo Story,” which was on Turner Classics last night, too.

The LAT lists some of the bills passed by California Legislature in the past session. A mixed bag, to be sure (and if the governor signs
SB 880, that bag can now be made from the imported skin of a kangaroo). Other bills would legalize condom distribution in prisons and allow celebrities to control the use of their names and images even after their deaths. One which has been signed into law allows restraining orders in domestic abuse cases to protect family pets.

O.J. Simpson: you’re supposed to start with stuff like robbery and work your way up to double homicides, not the other way round.

Now, slogan contests. Two of them:

1) Donald Rumsfeld is starting the Rumsfeld Foundation. He just gives and he gives, doesn’t he? The foundation needs a motto, and I think you people are the ones to supply it. I mean, it could just go with the motto it has rather than the motto it might want or wish to have at a later time, oh my goodness yes, but there are known known mottos and known unknown mottos and possibly unknown unknown mottos, but we don’t know them, and what was I talking about?

2) Andrei Lugovoi, the “former” KGB guy who allegedly poisoned Alexander Litvinenko with polonium, isn’t starting a foundation, but is running for the Duma, possibly in order to acquire parliamentary immunity, as a candidate of the Liberal Democrats (who are neither). What would a Lugovoi bumper sticker say? (Er, that is, a Lugovoi election bumper sticker, not the bumper sticker on Lugovoi’s actual car, which I believe says “If you’re close enough to read this, you might want to consult a physician.”)

You may offer slogans for either or both (or indeed neither, I know it’s a Monday) (and the time is evidently 12:00, blinking, and have I said “Fuck PG&E” yet?)

Saturday, September 15, 2007


This week the Indian government put forward an official position that the Hindu god Rama isn’t real. Specifically, it told a court that development should be allowed to go ahead in Adam’s Bridge, a chain of shoals linking India and Sri Lanka, because it is a natural formation and was not built by Lord Rama with an army of monkeys.

Pro-war politicians like to talk about “honor.” Actually, not Bush so much, but Cheney and, especially, McCain. At the Petraeus hearing on Tuesday, McCain said, “All of us want our troops to come home, but we should want them to return to us with honor, the honor of victory that is due all of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

While “honor” seems to be important to war supporters, I’m not really sure what they mean when they use the word. Perhaps in McCain’s case the word means nothing: he seems increasingly to be using words in ways that are intended to convey an impression of meaning, rather than to convey actual meaning. For example, in the sentence I just quoted (which presumably he prepared in advance), the reference to the “ultimate sacrifice” seems to say that he wants American troops to return only when they are 1) victorious, and 2) dead. If that is not what he meant, and I’m guessing it isn’t, then we must assume that he just strung some grand-sounding phrases – “honor of victory,” “the ultimate sacrifice” – together willy nilly, in much the same way that I’ll use any excuse to use the phrase “willy nilly” (or “army of monkeys”).

But to return to honor (as opposed to returning with honor), is McCain saying that whether or not honor accrues to individual troops is dependent on whether the war is fought to “victory” or not? Doesn’t seem quite fair. Someone really should ask him to define his terms more clearly.

I know what you’re all asking at this point: did Rama’s monkey army return with monkey honor?

Yes it did.

Friday, September 14, 2007

We’ve got what’s called return on success

Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, the thuggish Sunni sheikh in Anbar assassinated yesterday, has been replaced by his brother, Ahmed Abu Risha, who promises, “All the tribes agreed to fight al-Qaeda until the last child in Anbar.” Oh good.

Today Bush visited a Marine Corps training facility, amusingly named The Basic School, where he had a basic lunch with the troops. (What’s that round white thing? Rice? Mashed potatoes?)

Then he spoke to reporters about his basic visit. “First of all, my first impression is, it’s amazing country where people volunteer in the face of danger.” Yup, that never happens in any other country in the world.

He recounted how he explained to the Marines the speech he gave last night. It was like a game of Telephone, but with only one player: “the plan I announced was that we’re making enough -- based upon the fact we’re making enough success in Iraq that we can begin bringing some troops home; that I told the American people last night we’ve got what’s called return on success.”

“Making” success, “return on” success. Well, to be fair, there isn’t normally much call for Bush to use the word success in a sentence. For some reason it just doesn’t come up that often.

I assume everyone’s following The Case of the Contraband Underwear at Guantanamo.

Speaking of contraband underwear, today was Alberto Gonzales’s last day as attorney general. Try not to cry, Little Fredo, try not to cry.

Oh, now you’ve got me going.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bush addresses the nation: Return on success


Bush has a vision, a vision of a united America, if everyone just shuts up: “those of us who believe success in Iraq is essential to our security, and those who believe we should begin bringing our troops home, have been at odds. Now, because of the measure of success we are seeing in Iraq, we can begin seeing troops come home. The way forward I have described tonight makes it possible, for the first time in years, for people who have been on opposite sides of this difficult debate to come together.” If by come together you mean everybody supporting Bush doing whatever he feels like doing. Let the healing begin.

Is this supposed to reassure us?: “Young Sunnis who once joined the insurgency are now joining the army and police.”

Troops will “return on success”. Bush keeps returning to make these speeches. Doesn’t seem quite fair.

“During my visit to Anbar on Labor Day, local Sunni leaders thanked me for America’s support.” So it’s all been worth it.

Iraqi leaders (he was a little unclear on who these Iraqi leaders might be) have asked for an “enduring relationship” with the US. They asked us! They asked us!

(Update: see also Fred Kaplan in Slate and Matthew Rothschild on the Progressive website.)

Yes we have no surrender today

John McCain, in an email today, attacked Hillary Clinton for saying that the Petraeus report required “a willing suspension of disbelief.” He then somehow linked this to the ad,

saying, “I think it willingly suspends disbelief to not repudiate an advertisement...” Er, how? That sort of rhetorical jiu-jitsu really only works if the phrase you’re trying to turn back on your opponent has some sort of relevance to what you’re saying.

He also thinks it has something to do with toughness: “If you’re not tough enough to repudiate a scurrilous, outrageous attack such as that, then I don’t know how you’re tough enough to be President of the United States. I am prepared to be Commander-in-Chief and tough enough to face the challenges presented by a dangerous world.” Assuming those challenges come in advertisement form.

“In fact, I’m the only candidate in this race prepared to be Commander-in-Chief from day one.” This brings up the scary possibility that if anyone else won, they’d have to let Dubya continue as commander-in-chief while they took some night classes in order to get their commander-in-chief license.

“Right now I’m traveling through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina talking about the success of the surge...” Because it’s a hell of a lot safer than traveling through Baghdad and Ramadi and Fallujah taking about the success of the surge.

This is his new banner, which nicely conflates his refusal to surrender his dying campaign with his refusal to surrender his pointless war.

Right now he is on a “No Surrender Tour,” in which presumably he travels from town to town, not surrendering.

Say, you don’t like terror either?

Gov. Terminator has vetoed a ballot initiative on the Iraq war, saying it was “divisive.” The initiative, not the war.

Petraeus told the National Press Club that “The central front of al Qaeda’s global war on terror is in Iraq.” Wait, if Al Qaida is also fighting a global war on terror, maybe this whole thing has been a crazy misunderstanding?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bucket. That’s all I’m saying.

Wait, is Bush “kicking ass” in Iraq or kicking the can down the road? I’m confused by all the kicking metaphors.

John Negroponte, who these days is deputy secretary of State, is visiting Pakistan to shore up General Musharaf with, among other things, another $750 million in US aid, and to talk up the forthcoming “democratic elections.” Negroponte’s plane practically crossed paths with that of the one carrying Nawaz Sharif, the man Gen. Musharaf forcibly overthrew, back into involuntary exile, but he said that he hadn’t brought the matter up because “This is a legal matter for the government and the people of Pakistan to decide”. Actually, it is an illegal matter, since Musharaf acted in defiance of a Supreme Court order to allow Sharif back into the country.

Israel dropped bombs on Syria last week, and invaded Gaza today. Just saying.

Condi Rice did a few interviews today. In one, she repeated the talking point used by Crocker two days ago, but which we’ve heard before, that any Nelson Mandela type in Iraq had been killed by Saddam. So basically what they’re saying is that if any of the current crop of Iraqi politicians had been any damned good, they wouldn’t be alive.

The interviewer asked about the latest Republican talking point, that Al Qaida members have cut the fingers off people they found smoking. She deflected. Are there any authenticated reports that this ever actually happened to anyone?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A day that really helped

Indonesia bans giving money to beggars in Jakarta.

Every time I see an excerpt from one of the detainee hearings at Guantanamo, someone on the panel says something remarkably naive and/or ignorant – no, I’m gonna go with “clueless.” The AP has got hold of some transcripts, and here’s a panel member, simply amazed after being told that some of the prisoners actually tell untruths to their interrogators: “Why do you feel you have the right to lie to the interrogators?” The right? Like he is under some obvious moral obligation to truthfully answer the questions of people who seized him in Pakistan and have illegally kept him prisoner for several years now.

Actually, it turned out there was an answer. The prisoner explained that he had to lie, had to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear, because they would stop his medicine until he did so.

This morning Bush, as he put it, “commemorated the -- a day that really helped -- or it did define our nation, which is 9/11/2001.” No, no freudian slip there.

Earlier, he went outside for a moment of looking down, all squinty and solemn-like, then looking around furtively to see what everyone was doing silence.

Petraeus & Crocker testify, Day 2: Some type of success is possible

Today Corp. Combover told the Senate that “some type of success in Iraq is possible.” Yay! Success! Well, some type of success! Is a possibility! Not a complete impossibility! Yay!

Lieberman once again helpfully suggested that his fellow congresscritters should now shut up and go into hibernation, or as he phrased it, he hoped they’d “take yes for an answer and we’d go on and look forward to [Petraeus’s] next report in the spring.”

Holy Joe also suggested that it was time to authorize military strikes inside Iran, “in pursuit of your mission in Iraq, to pursue those Iranian Quds Force operations in Iranian territory, in order to protect Americas troops in Iraq”. Petraeus said that since he commands multi-national Coalition of the Willing (COW) forces, he can’t really do that, but maybe CentCom could.

A heckler asked, “Hundreds of thousands dead, isn’t that enough for your blood thirst.” One assumes that was a rhetorical question.

John Warner asked if succeeding in the Iraq war would make the US safer. Petraeus said fuck if he knew. In fact, he made it sound like it was not an interesting enough question for him to have ever spent any time thinking about it. He’s just in it for the ass-kicking.

Speaking of which, Barbara Boxer pointed out that 28 American soldiers have died since Bush said we are kicking ass in Iraq.

Actually, a bit later, after a bathroom break, Petraeus claimed that he had now had a bit of a think and yes, the war in Iraq is deeply, deeply important to the safety of Americans after all.

Biden asked if a Sunni could safely travel to a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad? Petraeus said it depends on the neighborhood, but failed to name any Sunni-friendly Shiite neighborhoods. Funny, he had a chart for everything else.