Friday, August 17, 2007

Things in Iraq are "spectacular!"

The BBC reports:

"The governor of the Sinjar region of north-western Iraq has said 344 people died in Tuesday's multiple bomb attacks against the minority Yazidi community. He said another 400 people had been injured by the blasts and that he believed 70 others were still buried in the rubble of destroyed buildings. About 600 local residents had been made homeless, the governor added."

Looks like Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon's plans for a speedy troop withdraw from the his area of responsibility won't be happening quite so quick after all.

Reuters reported on July 13, 2007, Mixon said:

"I think that over time in a very methodical and well thought-out way -- and I'm only speaking for Multi-national Division North -- that we could have a reduction of force that could begin in January of 2008."

So much for that.

The always up and ready for good news Lt. Gen Raymond Odierno says, "Despite this attack, security across Iraq is generally improving." He says AQI is actually being "forced to undertake its spectacular events in more remote parts of the country, rather than in the capital." AFP

Things are going great! It's just that these desperate AQI types keep pulling off these "spectacular attacks" in the run-up to Patraeus' (White House's) report to Congress.

Where have I heard this 'things are great/spectacular attacks' formulation before?

Nov. 15 2002:

"Al Qaeda may be planning 'spectacular attacks' in the United States that will cause 'mass casualties' and 'severe damage' to the economy, according to a federal law enforcement bulletin." CNN

Sep 2004

"U.S. intelligence agencies concluded recently that al Qaeda — fearing its credibility is on the line — is moving ahead with plans for a major, 'spectacular' attack, despite disruptions of some operations by recent arrests in Britain and Pakistan." AFP

Jan 2007

"U.S. general warned Friday that insurgents may be planning 'spectacular' attacks to scare voters in the three weeks before Iraq's landmark elections, and Shiite and Sunni religious leaders voiced sharply divergent views on whether the vote should be held at all. Air Force Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, who is deputy chief of staff for strategic communications in Iraq, said the United States has no intelligence indicating specific plots, but he said American leaders expected a rise in attacks." AP

Apr 30, 2007

Maj. Gen. Scott, deputy chief of staff for strategic effects for Multinational Force Iraq, told online journalists in a conference call that while there has been a slight increase in the number of 'spectacular' car-bomb attacks around Baghdad, there has also been positive movement as a result of the U.S.-Iraqi plus-up strategy.'Overall sectarian violence has decreased. Overall violence in the city of Baghdad has decreased,' he said." AFPS

Could it be that it's not so much AQI is on the ropes, as it is that we just can't stop them from doing stuff like this whenever they want? And if they can attack at will, which they obviously keep showing they can, then isn't the entire notion of the Surge actually ever being able to be successful is is pretty much finished?

Those extra 30,000 troops are there to provide "breathing room" for the Iraqi politicians to get together. But the troops aren't able to keep the peace and the politicians are hopelessly deadlocked. The Sunnis have walked out and now al-Maliki's Shiites and Talibanis Kurds have decided to go it alone, without the Sunnis.

AFP reports:

"On Thursday, Talabani and Maliki announced the forming of the alliance which brought together Shiite Dawa party and Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and the Kurdish factions of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdish Democratic Party (PDK)."

Sounds like progress to me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Better living through chemicals?

As I've already noted, the US military seems to be getting a free pass by the media on the issue of using Willy Pete, or White Phosphorus, in Iraq. Now we find out that the administration is gunning to combine the War on Terror with the War on Drugs by bringing the not so successful technique of aerial spraying of herbicides from the WOD in Columbia to Afghianstan. The new Amabassador to Afghanistan, William Wood, is hell-bent on getting the Afghan government to implement aerial herbicide spraying as a way of undermining the Taliban's cash flow.

Obviously, all you have to do is look at the boomtown that is Kandahar to understand that the Talibs are financing their insurgency against ISAF and the Americans with massive opium profits -- but is arial spraying the way? Didn't work in Vietnam, and it hasn't worked in Plan Columbia, where Wood worked before:

According to MEXIDATA.INFO:

"Numbers kept by the US government prove fumigation does not work. When Wood took his post in mid-2003, the US State Department had measured 113,850 hectares of coca plantations in Colombia. By year-end 2005, the last set of data publicly available, the State Department measured 144,000 hectares of coca in Colombia. According to the United Nations Office of Drug Control (UNODC), the volume of planted coca in Colombia from 2003 to 2005 did not change, remaining at 86,000 hectares.

So why would it work in Afghanistan?

And what about that "Heart and Minds" thing the administratrion is always talking about?

You start destroying Aghanis only cash crop, as has happening in Columbia and Equador, and the very patient Afghans, who actually still ike us, are going to go for the Talibs big time. Especially if we start poisoning their water and messing with their DNA.

Wait, their DNA?

Corpwatch reports:

"U.S.-funded aerial spraying of coca plantations in Colombia near the Ecuador border has severely damaged the DNA of local residents, a new study has found. Blood samples from 24 Ecuadorians living within three kilometres of the northern border had 600 to 800 percent more damage to their chromosomes than people living 80 km away, found scientists from the Pontificia Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador.

The border residents who were tested had been exposed to the common herbicide glyphosate -- sold by the U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto under the brand Roundup --during a series of aerial sprayings by the Colombian government begun in 2000, part of the anti-drugs and counterinsurgency Plan Colombia, financed by Washington. The Ecuadorians suffered a variety of ailments immediately following the spraying, including intestinal pain and vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness, numbness, burning of eyes or skin, blurred vision, difficulty in breathing and rashes, says the study, which is to be published in the journal Genetics and Molecular Biology."

That's all we need.

But, maybe, we don't care what Hamid Karzai has to say on the subject; which has been all along, basically, 'NO.'

USA Today reported recently, that despite constant US pressure to spray:

"Karzai's Cabinet decided . . . to hold off on using chemicals for now, according to Said Mohammad Azam, spokesman for Afghanistan's Ministry of Counter Narcotics. 'There will be no ground spraying this year,' Azam told The Associated Press. He said there would be more pressure to destroy poppy crops with 'traditional' techniques' — typically sending teams of laborers into fields to batter down or plow in the plants before they can be harvested. If it works, that is fine,' Azam said. 'If it does not, next year ground spraying will be in the list of options.'"

But, back in 2004:

"The dark plane came during the night, rattling windows in this picturesque farming village in eastern Afghanistan as it flew back and forth, spraying a chemical on houses, orchards and fields.
Farmers and tribal leaders, as well as the Afghan government, say unidentified planes have been spraying opium poppy fields with a toxic chemical.

Last week, President Hamid Karzai called in the ambassadors of Britain and the United States, the two main donors involved in efforts to combat narcotics in Afghanistan, to explain the aerial spraying in Nangarhar Province. Both countries denied any involvement, according to Karzais spokesman, Jawed Ludin. . . We do not support aerial spraying as an instrument of eradication,' Ludin said. 'We have never in the past, at present, and never will in the future authorize the use of poppy-spraying chemicals. The government of Afghanistan has not authorized any foreign entity, any foreign government, any foreign company, or anyone else to carry out aerial spraying.'"

--- Afghanisatn Peace Orginization December 05, 2004

Good luck with that . . . We can go into Pakstan if we want to, why would Afghanisatn be any different?

Maybe, instead of alienationg the only people in the region who're actually cheering us on we should do what the UN has suggested. Take the drug profits out of opium by selling it to pharmacutical companies for people in pain.

The United Nations NARCOTICS CONTROL BOARD had an idea a while back that seems to make a lot of sense.

"In keeping with its task of monitoring and ensuring that an adequate supply of narcotic drugs exists for licit medical purposes, the INCB warns that the availability and consumption of some essential narcotic drugs, particularly opioids, which are used for pain treatment, including palliative care, remains extremely low in many countries worldwide. . . The current global production is ample enough to meet a significant increase in the demand for narcotic drugs for the world population. The Board encourages manufacturing countries, in cooperation with the pharmaceutical industry, to explore ways to make narcotic drugs, in particular opioids, used for the treatment of pain, more affordable for countries with scarce financial resources and low levels of consumption."

How about giving the opium planter in Afghanistan a lot of money to treat people in pain? Sound crazy?

Well, Tony B-liar didn't think so not too long ago:

The Guardian (01 April 2007 ) reports:

"Tony Blair is on the brink of a U-turn that will set him on a collision course with President George Bush. The Prime Minister has ordered a review of his counter-narcotics strategy - including the possibility of legalising some poppy production - after an extraordinary meeting with a Tory MP on Wednesday. . . Downing Street spokesman confirmed last night that Mr Blair is now considering whether to back a pilot project that would allow some farmers to produce and sell their crops legally to drugs companies . . .

The White House has consistently rejected the idea that opium could help to solve Afghanistan's chronic poverty. But there are clear signs of a shift in international opinion towards allowing a legal trade. Pervez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, has said that "buying the crop is an idea we could explore'. He added: 'We would need money from the US or the UN. But we could buy the whole crop and destroy it. In that way the poor growers would not suffer.' The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, who has opposed the idea in the past, is said privately to have changed his mind - as long as the international community takes on any licensing scheme."

But that would make sense. We'll all have to wait until the gang that can't shoot straight get's out of office. The questions is: can we afford that wait?

White House bait and switch.

It;s funny, this whole time W. has been telling everyone to keep their shirts on, wait for his good buddy David (Petraeus) to come back to Congress on September 15, before coming to any conclusions about the success or failure of the Surge. Now, all of a sudden -- surprise, surprise -- the WaPo reports:

"Senior congressional aides said yesterday that the White House has proposed limiting the much-anticipated appearance on Capital Hill next month of General David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to a private congressional briefing, suggesting instead that the Bush administration's progress report on the Iraq war should be delivered to Congress by the secretaries of state and defense. "

Wow, you really get the impression they want Petraeus giving a frank assessment of the situation over there in public testimony. You think they might be afraid Petraeus has gotten wise to the fact that W. has been touting him as the great savior of his Iraq debacle at every opportunity he gets? You Maybe, Petraeus doesn't play the good soldier and take one for W. & Co. Perhaps, he goes up there and says unless we want to stay ijn Iraq for another generation, we should pack it in. Lay in W.'s lap.

That might be better, though, than having Condi appear. They're maul her.

A more "robust" Surveillance State:

The WaPo reports:

"The Bush administration has approved a plan to expand domestic access to some of the most powerful tools of 21st-century spycraft, giving law enforcement officials and others the ability to view data obtained from satellite and aircraft sensors that can see through cloud cover and even penetrate buildings and underground bunkers. . . They could also have access to much more. A statement issued yesterday by the Department of Homeland Security said that officials envision 'more robust access' not only to imagery but also to 'the collection, analysis and production skills and capabilities of the intelligence community.'"

Although, the statelites worry me; I could see how these so called "Keyhole-class" spysats with resolution of 5 to 6 inches could be useful to cops during anti-war demostrations; and the signals intercept and detection satellites, which according to Space Today Online can "tune in on radio, telephone and data transmissions," are pretty scary when you think about any flatfoot being able to access that sort of thing with the very trust worthy oversight of Al Gonzales' DoJ between you and him, what really get's me is the military/police team up.

Hell, why don't we just roll the military into a big office of National Para-Police and give every cop a sporty new black uniform with shiny boots.

What is this new Democratic Congress doing anyway? You see the likes of Pat Leahy, Arlen Specter and John Conyers calling for Gonzales' head, yet at the same time they're giving him more power.

Didn't the Dems just give Waterboard Al a free hand on domestic eavesdropping? And it looks like forgetfull Al has new powers in the Patriot Act, too, which not one of these civil liberty loving, Gonzales loathing, Democrats thought to check into before renewing the law again last year.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center the newly passed bill "Is likely to curtail the appeals of state death row inmates in federal courts. The legislation . . . would allow states to obtain approval of their systems of representation in death penalty cases from the U.S. Attorney General rather than from the federal courts, as required under a previous law. Once approval is granted, habeas corpus petitions alleging constitutional error in death verdicts would be put on a fast track for resolution," (i.e. Death).

Because we know how frivilous all these death penalty appeals are: 100% of all death row inmates are guilty, or else they wouldn't be there, right?

And, by the same token, you shouldn't be too worried about spysats that Space Today says, have "resolutions as sharp as 10 centimeters (3.93 inches) -- in other words, the satellites can discern a softball-sized object from several hundred miles away," becuase if you've got nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.

All you right-wingers out there surely have nothing to worry about, because you're on the same team with these people snooping into every underwear closet and under every bed.

Until, that is, Hillary gets into office. Then where will you be?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I swear the clock is moving backwards. When is this movie over?

Ryan Crocker says we're only on reel one of five in Iraq.

Why do I get the distinct impression governments around the world are fervently wishing he's not right about that? With all due respect to all our soldiers on the battlefield, all competent military officers, NCOs, pentagon officials and career Foreign Service personnel out there in Iraq and around the world trying to do right by the American people and the United States, you're just swimming against the tide. Shit rolls down from above and no matter what you do, W. & Co. have made such a cock up of the entire situation from Iraq to the Arab/Israeli conflict that there's just nothing to be done until they are safely out of office and away from power.

Mark Seibel of the McClatchy papers writes that nowadays, "political thought throughout much of the Middle East is: "The end of the Bush administration is approaching and things will be different afterwards. . . With 17 months to go in Bush's second term, political leaders in the region are anticipating his departure and preparing for change."

In an number of interviews around the region Seibel pretty much got the impression that "the widespread awareness that Bush will be gone soon augurs poorly for any new administration initives." A "senior Israeli official" he spoke with "sat silently for several seconds after he was asked which negotiating approach was most likely to lead to progress in peace talks with Israel's Arab neighbors. Then he laughed and, in flawless English, suggested to a colleague that he must have not understood the question. 'I don't see any promising pathway,' he eventually said. 'There is a huge gap between the rhetoric and what people believe.'"

So, in other words, Condi's big trip to the Middle East with Sec Def Robert Gates last week just wasted a bunch of jet fuel and contributed a little more to global warming. Sure, the Israelis and Saudis will take the cash they're offering, but as far as doing anything the US wants -- forget about it.

This administration isn't about to talk to Hamas about the situation in Gaza, they're not going to talk to the Syrians, which even the Israelis want to do. The official Seibel talked to said the Israelis knew giving back the Golan Heights would be part of a peace deal with Syria, but "we're willing to discuss it.," With Bush insisting "from the Oval Office" that the US won't deal, however, there's nothing to be done. Not until these bumblers in the White House check out.

We'll spend blood and treasure to prop up a Tehran leaning, Shiite led government in Iraq -- that doesn't recognize the existence of Israel, either -- yet at the same time we'll arm Sunni insurgents that just a few months ago were killing our soldiers. But we're not talking to Syria. Sure they're a stable, secular regime that's currently buckling under the pressure of tens of thousands of refugees from W.'s disaster in Iraq, and sure throwing them a few bones might encourage them to stem the flow of suicidal Saudis into Iraq, but we don't talk to terrorists regimes. They know what they have to do. We'll just wait for them to do it. Great plan. Someone get Christopher Hill over to Jerusalem, he'll fix this mess!

My God! Are we there yet?

More progress reports from Iraq:

Newsweek reports that the Turkish officials are very worried about the sudden appearance of thousands of Glock pistols in their country. So far, killers have used Glocks to kill a priest and to shoot up the Turkish supreme court, killing one supreme court justice in the process. The government of Turkey has seized over a 1000 of these weapons from "criminals, guerrillas, terrorists and assassins all over the country, and authorities believe tens of thousands more have found their way onto the black market"

Gosh, where on earth could all these weapons be coming from? Well, according to the Austrian government, who cross-checked the serial numbers of the seized guns: "US Mission Iraq, address: Republican Presidential Compound, Ministry of the Interior, Baghdad, Iraq."

Hey, what do you know about that? Some of those 190,000 missing weapons General Petraeus originally gave to the Iraqi security forces in 2004 have made their way out of Iraq and into the hands of killers all over the region. Apparently, the great idea of giving plane loads of guns to the Iraq security forces began when Petraeus was in control of the Multi-National Security Transition Command -- Iraq (MN-STCI). Now, he's decided that arming Sunni insurgents is a great idea, too. Nothing could go wrong with that plan, right?

Interestingly, Christopher Dickey writes that one of Petraeus' subordinates, Col. Theodore Westhusing, received "an anonymous letter on May 19, 2005 which claimed there was outright fraud by government contractors. Among the alleged problems: Failure to account for almost 200 guns."

Less than a month later Westhusing was found dead. In a letter found near his body he wrote: "I cannot support a [mission] that leads to corruption, human rights abuses and liars. Death before dishonored any more. Trust is essential -- I don't know who to trust anymore." Dickey writes Westhusing's death was ruled by military investigators to be a suicide and the "complaints he leveled against commanders and contractors . . . 'unfounded.'"

Naturally, everyone knows military contractors wouldn't rip off the American tax-payer. The fact that the 60,000 or so contractors in Iraq involved in security and such aren't answerable to either Iraqi or American law wouldn't encourage any of them to walk off with several thousand Glocks or kill anyone investigating their extra curricular activities or anything. Stuart Bowen, the Pentagon's SIG for Iraq Reconstruction, found last summer that there were 13,180 Glocks missing, worth $46 million on the black market. More recently, the GOA found the number is closer to 80,000.

Don't worry though, a few weeks ago Sec Def Robert Gates sent the DoD's special counsel to Turkey, according to an anonymous source of Dickey's, to "Meet with the Turks, hear their concerns and convey that we take them seriously."

Wow, the special counsel. They are serious! I'm sure the Turks were very impressed

Willy Pete moves to Somalia

The NYT reports:

"Human Rights Watch on Monday accused the transitional government in Somalia and the Ethiopian troops that helped bring it to power of war crimes in Somalia, saying that Ethiopian troops had shelled hospitals, that Somali officials had blocked aid convoys and that both forces had shown wanton indifference toward civilians.

Last month, United Nations arms monitors accused the Ethiopian military of dropping white phosphorous bombs on insurgents and killing 35 civilians in the process. Residents said the bombs melted people. Ethiopia denied having such bombs."

I wonder where they would get such bombs, if they did have them, which, of course, they don't.

So much for rosy predictions of imminent success in Iraq.

Back on July 30th Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack wrote that the debate taking place in in Washington about Iraq was "surreal." After spending 8 whole days in country they found "significant changes taking place." One example cited of the surge "finally getting somewhere" was a trip they took up to Tal Afar and Mosul in Nineveh province. There, they write, "American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. . . While Iraqi Army troops cover the country side."

Right. Or could it be that the reason US troops number in the hundreds is due to the fact that we don't have enough to spread around? Because yesterday, in that supposedly pacified country-side, four suspected al-Qaeda suicide bombers attacked Qahataniya populated by a small sect of ethnic Kurdish Yazidis near Sinjar, west of Mosul, killing at least 250 and wounding 400 of them -- perhaps more. [AP] On the same day 9 US troops died, five in a helicopter crash, a deputy oil minister was kidnapped in broad daylight with no resistance bu uniformed gunmen and what was left of a previously bombed bridge Taji was completely destroyed. [WaPo]

I heard on the BBC thing morning that the Yazidis had requested protection from Iraq or coalition forces after a particularly ugly incident involving an honor killing of a Yezidi girl who had converted to Islam, but none was forthcoming.

It looks as if all the al-Qaeda types the US military has been crowing about chasing out of Baqubah have redeployed a little further north. But, not to worry. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch has the answer to that. Along with Operation Lightning Hammer, a reprise of the Baqubah offensive, there's also Operation Phantom Strike, a series of simultaneous raids on al-Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias, which has supposedly led to the uncovering of safe havens, the capture of weapons caches and, according to the LAT, the rounding up of several "high value" suspects. Maj, Gen, Rick Lynch says "The intent is to keep the enemy on the run."

Oh, he's running alright, all the way up to Mosul and surrounding environs. It appears that somewhere along the way, during all the safe haven crashing and air strikes, Lynch & Co. missed two car bombs and one tanker truck loaded for bare with bombs. The nomenclature of the operation in appropriate, though, they're chasing phantoms.

Nineveh: the forgotten province.

Last week I had posted about the problems with Nineveh province, and Mosul in particular. Contrary to O'Hanlon's and Pollack's rosy appraisal of the situation, what seems to be going on in the area is not so much an example of Pax Petraeus, but rather a new front in the sectarian warfare so endemic in most other parts of Iraq. This time the struggle is between the Arab Sunnis and the Kurds, who are fighting for territory they covet for a new Kurdistan. AQI has come along for the ride because they're being pressed by all those macho sounding military operations in Diyala. (The Yezidis really don't have a dog in the fight; they appear to have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.)

Things are so out of control in the nearby oil rich and ethnically contested city of Kirkuk, that officials have ordered a ban on truck traffic into the city after a series of bombings in July which killed 150 people. The LAT reported on July 18 that: "At a meeting in Kirkuk, officials announced the indefinite truck ban and the digging of a trench, which already had been planned on the southwest and western edges of the city." When you're to the point where building a medieval moat around your city sounds like a great idea -- which has also been proposed for Baghdad. Is this O' Hanlon’s and Pollack’s idea of "sustainable stability?"

At any rate, in an article in the NYT on Nineveh province and its sectarian and ethnic travails [cited previously] the province's deputy governor Kasro Goran said Sunnis had chased some 70,000 Kurds from the western half of Mosul. (An estimated third of the population of 1.8 million people had been Kurds.)

However, to their credit, the Kurds have been keeping their powder dry -- so far. Goran, the deputy governor, told the NYT at the end of last May: "I compare the Sunni Arabs to the Bosnian Serbs: Their behavior, their way of thinking, their way of acting. They are for killings, they are for mass graves. Not all of them, but a majority of them." He went on to say, "We can kill every day 50 Arabs in the streets. Every day, everywhere, in Mosul and outside of Mosul. But we don't so that, because we know they want us to do that."

I wouldn't be too sure that after what happened yesterday that Mr. Goran, or some of his more hotheaded compatriots, aren't going to be tempted to do what the Sunnis want them to do.

Ex Post Pax Petraeus?

Before these latest horrific attacks even took place, the military was already covering their asses by warning that the insurgents or AQI would be staging large camera grabbing attacks like these in the run-up to Petreaus' and Ryan Crocker's report to Congress in September. The PR strategy this time, as it has been every other time, will be to blow off this latest outrage as another example of ongoing success, but I don't know if it’s going to fly this time.

If at this late date 30,000 extra troops can't stop the insurgents from bombing the infrastructure at will; AQI from killing hundreds at a time; or the prevent the Shiites from just waltzing into highly guarded compounds and government buildings and kidnapping government officials whenever they feel like it, then what's the point? Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch excuse for the military's inability to stop any of this is: "As we surged the enemy surged." But our surge was supposed to stop their surging, wasn't that the whole point? Mission not accomplished.

What I'm really wondering about is how Petraeus & Co. plans on keeping the lid on Nineveh and Kirkuk while they're still engaged up to their eyeballs in Baghdad, Diyala and Diwaniya. And soon enough US forces will be needed down south in Basra, too, to cover our vital supply lines to Kuwait after the British go. Because, the British are going soon, and we're not about to let the Iranians move right into a vacuum in Basra. That's not only on the way to Kuwait, but it's also where the only outlet to the Gulf sea is and, oh yes, most of the oil.

If I'm General Patraeus, I'm thinking, why didn't I "take that civilian job."

[Extra note: I haven't read this anywhere, but when you take into account the growing number of attacks on Kurdish targets in Mosul, Kirkuk and on into the Kurdish autonomous region in Irbil, one might get the idea that the Turks had something to do with what's going on. They certainly can't be crying into their beers about a little destabilization in the previously very stable Kurdish region. A preoccupied Pashmerga further south makes the Turkish army's job easier against the PKK on their south-eastern border. I ain't saying this is so, but its food for thought.]

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why should the human race exist?

Here's a letter I submitted to the Inquirer last week. They never got back to me on it. Probably questioning the existence of the human race is a little too heavy for their reader. [plural deleted on purpose]

Regarding:"Finding survival in space travel," Opinion, August 8 2007]

To the Editor,

Tad Daley cites Cambridge University's Martin Rees' dire prediction that the odds are no better than "50/50" that our civilization will continue beyond this century, due to any number of potentially apocolyptic threats to our planet (either natural or man-made). Daley posits that in order ensure humanity's immortality we must establish "the human race beyond the cradle of its birth . . . to live forever among the stars."

In my opinion, before we begin exporting our irrational superstitions, greed and muderous stupidity throughout the universe, we ought to first ask ourseleves whether we're even worthy of survival. What makes us so special? Just look at the cruelty we've inflicted upon each other over the centuries and have now continued into the new millenium. If we are to evolve into the species of enlightened space farers Tad Daley envisions, perhaps we should start by choosing leaders who actually believe in evolution.

What is the deal with Condi Rice?

Last night my friend and I were sitting around watching crappy preseason football and some how the topic of Condi Rice came up and I haven't been able to stop thinking about her ever since. Inquiring minds want to know:

What is her deal? Is she a robot? What's up with those dominatrix boots she's always sporting? Does she have a boyfriend -- a girlfriend? Why does the question of who she's with ever come up? (And if she doesn't have a squeeze on the side, then that just makes me even more worried about her.)

Of course, I'm not really concerned about who she's doing, I don't need to see an Access Hollywood special on her, but it just concerns me that we have a Secretary of State who appears to be slightly less emotional than Mr. Spock. It also concerns me that while they were picking people off roof tops in New Orleans she was shopping for shoes in Manhattan. And it really galls me that while the entire world was clamoring for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon last summer, she was tickling the ivories in Kuala Lumpur.

Whereas I know Colin Powell's slow-boat-to-China act while Yasser Arafat was being bulldozed into a closet in Raffah was not his idea [See below], Rice's whirlwind diplomatic road show to nowhere in July of '06 was her idea. As thousands of Lebanese civilians were being buried under tons of rubble, she was staging phony peace conferences and singing the praises of the "Birth pangs of a new Middle East." Scary!

This last July 21st, Judith Warner wrote an Op-Ed in the NYT about what a refreshing change it was from Condi's usual "robotic equanimity" to see Sec Def Robert Gates wiping away tears as he spoke about a Marine who was killed in Iraq this past May. Such human emotion has been seriously lacking from all of Bush's Gods of War. Warner quotes a very revealing passage from a biography of Rice called "Twice as Good," in which, Rice in her late teens after many years of "assiduous and ambitious practice," washes out of concert piano school. It seems Rice's teacher felt she lacked the "interest or inclination" to "make someone else's thoughts or emotions [her] own." I don't know about you, but that sounds like we're getting into sociopath territory to me.

[Definition: Antisocial Personality Disorder is chronic, beginning in adolescence and continuing throughout adulthood. There are ten general symptoms: Not learning from experience, no sense of responsibility, inability to form meaningful relationships, inability to control impulses, lack of moral sense, chronically antisocial behavior, no change in behavior after punishment, emotional immaturity lack of guilt, self-centeredness."]

The epiphany I had last night whilst watching the Eagles stink-up M&T Bank Stadium [that just rolls right off the tongue doesn't it?] was that Rice was Diane Thorn, Fay Dunaway's character in Paddy Chayefsky’s Network.

Well, kind of, in a round about way . . . If Condi was a Network executive:

Max: (William Holden's character)

"You are television incarnate, Diana. Indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. The daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split-seconds and instant replays. You are madness, Diana, virulent madness, and everything you touch dies with you."

[Factoid Time Magazine April 2002 : "Many commentators, both Arab and Israeli, saw in Powell's tarrying a deliberate strategy by the Bush administration to give Ariel Sharon more time to finish his offensive against Palestinian militants in the West Bank. Perhaps. Sharon's apparent indifference to the administration's calls for immediate withdrawal suggest the Israeli leader read Powell's circuitous itinerary as evidence of a tacit understanding by Washington of his objectives." Sounds errily familiar doesn't it?]

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ding-dong the Turd is gone:

The WaPo reports:

"Karl Rove, the architect of President Bush's two national campaigns and his most prominent adviser through 6-1/2 tumultuous years in the White House, announced today that he will resign at the end of the month."

Rove claims that as much as he'd like to stay, "I've got to do this for the sake of my family."

Uh huh.

Why am I having a hard time actually believing any of this? In Washington spending 'more time with your family' more usually means spending more time with your lawyers. He is currently under a subpoena to appear in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, isn't he? That couldn't have anything to do it, could it?

No, not at all, he's simply retiring from an administration that is happily humming along, basking in the glow of two widely successful terms. The new Republican dominated century he dreamed of is going according to plan and construction of the George W. Bush monument on the Mall is nearing completion as we speak.

Why would a man who has spent his entire adult life trying to get back at the Democrats for having gotten beat up by a little girl suddenly decide to cut and run if there isn't another shoe about to drop? Some smells very fishy about this whole thing.

But you wouldn't get that impression from listening to NPR earlier today. Their crack White House reporter David Green was waxing rhapsodic on Day to Day about the Turd Blossom, fondly recounting MC Rove's rap act in front of a very friendly press corp.

'You know, that whacky Karl Rove, he's not such a bad guy. Sure he plays rough with the opposition, launching whispering campaigns about black babies and going after the wives of opponents who dare cross him, but when all is said and done, he's just a regular Joe. Sure, it may say in the text books that the Fourth Estate is the guardian of a free and well informed democratic electorate, but we all know we're all on the same team.'

No need to delve into Rove's history of dirty tricks and underhanded partisan tactics that have so coarsened the political debate in the country over the past 6 1/2 years. And what can you say about a guy who leveraged the destruction of the World Trade Center and the deaths of almost 3000 Americans on 9/11 into two wars and two successful political campaigns? Anything is fair game to Boy Genius.

Yes indeed, the Republicans sure have a lot to be proud having had Karl Rove on their side. His brilliant plan to ensure GOP hegemony for the next 100 years resulted in a stunning loss of the both Houses of Congress and more than likely total Democratic control, for better or worse, of the executive and legislative branches in '08 and into the next decade.

But they can take comfort in Rove's prediction to Paul Gigot that W.'s "will move back up in the polls," and "Iraq will be in a better place." I feel better already.

Rove's fans may think his strategy of focusing on getting out the religious nut vote while at the same time blocking minorities in Florida and Ohio from voting was a brilliant scheme, but you can't build a national movement on that alone.

The "Party of Lincoln" seems to have forgotten Honest Abe's admonition that: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
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