The Decider Decides to Escalate


You're going to get really sick of this word.


It's that Vietnam era term in war that gets more soldiers killed after we all know a conflict is lost. Escalation is about salvaging something to pin "victory" upon. You know, like "peace with honor." Only in Iraq there is neither, not that there was in Vietnam either. In fact, after we started escalating that's when the blood started to really flow. All because our leaders couldn't admit that it was time to go. Nixon's escalation, however, went beyond all imaginings. That Bush would decide to go the same route seems almost preordained.

So, Mr. Bush is evidently not going to "stay the course," because what he's opted for instead is a foreign policy tantrum. He's getting ready to accelerate the carnage and dump more U.S. soldiers into the desert quicksand of Iraq, because he cannot envision a failure attributed to his presidency. It's all about him.

Of course, losing in Iraq will only hurt The Decider's unpresidential ego. He's not the one with his life on the line, now is he? No, he never is.  But not only is he thinking of one last push, he wants $127B (more…)

About that Iraq Study Group…


America, we've got a problem. Take a look at the list of people picked for the ISG.

James Baker – US Secretary of State, 1989-92
James F. Dobbins – US Ambassador to the EU, 1991-93
Charles W. Freeman, Jr. – US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, 1989-92
Lawrence Eagleburger – Secretary of State, 1992-1993 (replacing Robert M. Gates, nominee for SecDef)
Lee H. Hamilton – 9-11 Commission vice chairman
Vernon Jordan – Advisor to Bill Clinton
Ed Meese – Attorney General under Reagan, 1985-88
Sandra Day O'Connor – US Supreme Court Justice, 1981-2006
Leon Panetta – Bill Clinton' Chief of Staff, 1994-96
William J. Perry – US Secretary of Defense, 1994-97
Chuck Robb – US Senator from Virginia, 1989-2001
Alan Simpson – US Senator from Wyoming, 1979-1997

Leon Panetta?

James F. Dobbins?

Sandra Day O'Connor? I guess I should be grateful there was at least one woman included, but what the hell does she know about sectarian violence in Iraq or any other Middle Eastern country, for that matter?

Nobody, not one person on the Iraq Study Group, has any indepth Middle East experience or expertise. (more…)

What if Bush Iraqs IRAN?


Looking at the civil war in Iraq, it’s hard to imagine what would (will) happen if (when) George W. Bush turns his talents on Iran. If we think we’ve got problems now — and we do — going into Iran would make the bombs bursting in Baghdad seem like firecrackers at a football game.

Sam Gardiner has put together a fascinating and chilling report talking about what will happen once Bush and the Republicans turn their military sights and lack of planning on Iran. According to his official bio, Gardiner is a "retired U.S. Air Force colonel who has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College, Air War College, and Naval War College". He also did some war gaming on Iran, which James Fallows covered for the Atlantic Monthly.

In a new report for the Century Foundation, Gardiner lays out what’s going to happen and how it will unfold, which I outline in the rest of this post. No, that’s not exactly right, because it’s already unfolding. But it’s not like Iraq, with Wolfowitz and Perle filling Georgie’s little head full of delusions of being greeted as the liberator of Iraq. This time the delusions are straight from Dubya.

…And on top of all of those pressures–pressure from Israel, pressure from those worried about a nuclear Iran, Iran in Iraq, and Iran in the war on terrorism–is another decisive piece of the puzzle: President George W. Bush. The argument takes several forms: the president is said to see himself as being like Winston Churchill, and to believe that the world will only appreciate him after he leaves office; he talks about the Middle East in messianic terms; he is said to have told those close to him that he has got to attack Iran because even if a Republican succeeds him in the White House, he will not have the same freedom of action that Bush enjoys. Most recently, someone high in the administration told a reporter that the president believes that he is the only one who can "do the right thing" with respect to Iran. One thing is clear: a major source of the pressure for a military strike emanates from the very man who will ultimately make the decision over whether to authorize such a strike–the president. And these various accounts of his motivations and rationales have in common that the president will not allow does-not-make-sense arguments to stand in the way of a good idea.

The End of the "Summer of Diplomacy" – Assessing Military Options on Iran (pdf), by Sam Gardiner, Colonel, USAF (Ret.) (h/t) (more…)

Our Troops Keep Taking the Hit


I was supposed to be in a conference call this morning with VoteVets, but was interrupted. So I asked them to send me their most recent ad campaign in support of the troops, which unmasks George Allen even further. Eric from VoteVets emailed me the YouTube version above, which everyone is talking about today. It’s damning. George Allen should be ashamed, though we all know he has no shame.

If only this was the only instance of our troops being hung out to dry. Sadly, it isn’t.

With today’s news in Baghdad, not to mention the reality in Anbar province, it’s even more unconscionable than ever that our troops don’t have all the equipment they need. The Republican record on defense is abominable. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is a disgrace.

Nearly 100 people were killed or found dead in a series of bloody incidents throughout the Iraqi capital over the past 24 hours, authorities said.

At least 62 unidentified bullet-riddled corpses–all bearing signs of torture–have been found throughout the city since Tuesday night, said Brig. Gen. Abdullah Mahmood of the Interior Ministry.

Death Toll Nears 100 in Grim Day in Baghdad

Last week, Keith Olbermann showed a report by Lisa Myers on a defense system that is purported to stop RPGs. Take a look at this video.

Sadly, our soldiers may be taking the hit, quite literally, all because of profit. (more…)

Did Curt Weldon Dodge the Draft?


If you’re not familiar with Curt Weldon, he’s the guy who wanted to take his shovel to Iraq, and excavate the country in hopes of finding WMD nobody else could find. It earned him a little chiding and by inference the title of Indiana Weldon in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was also the leader in the Able Danger campaign, doing blogger conference calls ad nauseam to drum up support for the now infamous group. Well, in the past months, something else has come to my attention that casts further doubt on Mr. Weldon’s credibility.

"Where is Weldon’s uniform? Why didn’t Weldon serve during the ’60s. There was a war on; there was a draft. … He wasn’t drafted. Why?"Rocco Polidoro, Republican co-chair of Veterans for Sestak

I got interested in the Weldon – Sestak race when Curt Weldon decided to swiftboat Joe Sestak, starting with a smear against his daughter, who just so happened to be fighting a malignant brain tumor at the time. Classy stuff in this race, because Weldon didn’t stop there, next swiftboating Sestak for wearing his uniform, which was quickly smacked down. Evidently Curt was a little jealous he didn’t have one. Which brings me to the point of this post. Why didn’t Curt Weldon have a uniform of his own?

As Rocco Polidoro asked back in July, why wasn’t Curt Weldon drafted? It’s a logical question given his birth date is July 22, 1947. That would have made him of prime drafting age when the first lottery was launched in December 1969. Why does this matter today?

Curt Weldon, in addition to swiftboating his veteran opponent Joe Sestak, is the second ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. He sits along side one of my other favorites Rep. Duncan Hunter who has been front and center in the swiftboating of Jack Murtha, which I chronicled for The Patriot Project. I’ve done many pieces on swiftboating, my most recent for Alternet. Weldon is also always trumpeting his support for the troops. But if Weldon is so supportive of the troops why didn’t he serve when he had the chance? And boy did he have a chance. (more…)

Remembrances of Hopes Long Dashed


I used to live in New York City. I worked on Broadway for several years. I remember the World Trade Center towers very well. I was among the few who loved those structures.

Two weeks ago my husband and I spent 10 glorious days in New York City. We traveled to the Statue of Liberty, because he’d never seen it, as well as Ground Zero, a very moving experience for us both.

I’ve been on the web for over ten years, doing most of my writing for other sites, but I’ve had my site for a long time, though it existed in relative obscurity until I went to blogging one year ago. On the morning of September 12, 2001, at 1:30 a.m., I sat down to write "Pissed Off." Just days after the attacks on September 11, 2001, I wrote the the section below on my website. I offer it certainly not out of ego but to remind everyone, because many have forgotten, due to the lies and horrors we’ve experienced, that our nation was once united. I don’t need to tell anyone that it is no longer.

It’s also important to remember that amidst the Islamic religious rhetoric and all the genuflecting to their faith, when it comes down to it, the majority of these extremists are nothing but lustful murderers, with an insatiable appetite for flesh, dead or alive. Here’s part of the post I wrote early on 9/12/01. (more…)

How Did We Get From 9/11 to Iraq?

You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m not feeling very well this morning. I’m sick to my stomach over the reality I see out over the horizon. And believe me, it has nothing to do with ABC’s desperate docudrama. I mean really, showing the Washington monument immediately after a news clip of Clinton talking about the Lewinsky imbroglio? Republicans have such a phallic fetish. But in the middle of a miniseries on 9/11 it’s un-American blasphemy.

Maybe by mid-morning I’ll be able to compose myself. For now, all bets are off.

First, I’m sick to my stomach that Vice President Dick Cheney is talking about Afghanistan. Afghanistan? We’re in trouble in Afghanistan? Now? After all these years? Why is that, I wonder?

MR. RUSSERT: Pakistan has now a peace pact with the terrorists in the area where we think bin Laden is, creating what Richard Clarke, the former White House adviser on terrorism, calls a “sanctuary.” And reports from the RAND Corporation that the Pakistan CIA, the ISI, are in…


MR. RUSSERT: Yeah, are in cahoots with the Taliban. So if the Pakistanis aren’t willing to seek bin Laden, and have a peace pact with the terrorists, where are we?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t buy the premature question, Tim.

"Meet the Press"

Whether the vice president buys the premise or not is immaterial. George W. Bush is responsible for Afghanistan now going south and so is every other Republican, including Dick Cheney, because all of them helped make Afghanistan less stable the minute they turned their attention towards Iraq.

I know, it’s 9/11, so why am I talking about such things this morning, of all mornings? Because somewhere on the way to making the men who hit us five years ago today pay our president lost his way. We’ve gone from a Pet Goat moment to a Pet Goat presidency. For what? (more…)

John Kerry Blasts ABC’s Desperate Docudrama


"… In other words, we said to Osama bin Laden we think getting rid of Saddam Hussein is seven times more important than dealing with of you. – President Bill Clinton

So, after Bill Clinton got through ripping ABC and Republicans, with a little help from his lawyers, I started thinking. What does John Kerry think about "Path to 9/11"? So I emailed my contact in Kerry’s Senate office.

Then I’m working this morning, in the middle of a conference call actually, when my cell phone rings. It was John Kerry.

After quick pleasantries, Kerry took off. If Iger’s office door was open at the time he could have heard Kerry all the way from Massachusetts. Talk about ticked. He let rip. Let’s just say Kerry’s fed up and he’s not going to take it anymore. After our conversation, which lasted around 15 minutes, I got a statement from him that says it all.

What I find most stunning in all of this is that now five years after the real 9/11 – as if any fiction could somehow make more searing what each and every one of us lived with our own eyes and ears – is that we need less revisionism about the past and a hell of a lot more reality about what’s going on now. Right now.

Instead of the fiction written to excuse the invasion of Iraq by exploiting the 3,000 mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who were lost that day — they were attacked and killed not by Saddam Hussein but by Osama bin Laden – we need the truth.

Here’s a little truth: The President pretends Iraq is the central front on the war on terror. It is not now, and never has been. His disastrous decisions have made Iraq a fuel depot for terror – fanning the flames of conflict around the world.

The terrorists are not on the run. Worldwide, terrorist acts are at an all-time high, more than tripling between 2004 and 2005. Al Qaeda has spawned a vast and decentralized network operating in 65 countries, most of them joining since 9/11. The Taliban now controls entire portions of southern Afghanistan, and just across the border Pakistan is just one coup away from becoming a radical jihadist state with nuclear weapons. The Middle East is more unstable than it has been in decades. Hezbollah flags fly from rooftops in Shiia slums of Sadr City and Iran is rebuilding Southern Lebanon. We have an Iraqi Prime Minister sustained in power by our forces, who will not speak against the Hezbollah terrorists, who will not say that Israel has a right to exist, and who will not condemn the Iranian nuclear program, who will not even as a national leader support the national army over the Shiite militia. In other words, the Iraq government that the administration cites as the front-line force in the fight against terrorism won’t even take our side when we are fighting terrorists. No American soldier should be asked to stand up for an Iraqi government that won’t stand up for the values and interests that draw them into battle every day. Oh, and the 9/11 commission recently gave our government a failing grade on implementing intelligence reforms.

I love watching movies, but with the world looking the way it is right now I think this is a good time to stick with just the facts. After Iraq, we’ve all had enough fiction to last a lifetime.

Senator John Kerry (more…)

Ann Coulter’s Beautiful Big Money Smear Machine


guest post by Taylor Marsh

When I saw the latest insanity in The New Republic"A Defense of Ann Coulter" by Elspeth Reeve, I knew it was time to let fly my latest piece. Reeve’s article is a beauty. That is if you like pimping for the Republicans’ prime propagandist.

Yes, yes, Coulter has said some terrible things. But I don’t think it’s the terrible things that really bother liberals. Coulter makes us cringe not when she lies, but when she says things we wish weren’t true. …

If you’re really looking for the truth about Ann Coulter, I suggest you read on.

On the YAF site selling the Ann Coulter poster, this is the description: The Beauty of Conservatism, Ann Coulter – best-selling author, witty columnist, and compelling speaker – proves it is possible to be beautiful, intelligent, and conservative. It’s important to note a couple of things. First, they describe her columns as "witty." Secondly, that "beautiful" comes before either "intelligent" or "conservative." Witty and beautiful are her top commodities in the YAF "marketplace". But it’s the whole package conservatives are taking to the bank, no matter how wrong their right-wing diva can be.

"I think [Whitewater]’s going to prevent the First Lady from running for Senate."— Ann Coulter on Rivera Live 3/12/99

YAF has been around for a long time, as many of you know. Their major issues include: combating "racial preferences," also known as affirmative action; feminism, communism and Marxism, and "diversity." "Quacks" bother them, fascism not so much.

"My libertarian friends are probably getting a little upset now but I think that’s because they never appreciate the benefits of local fascism."— Ann Coulter on MSNBC, 2/8/97

For the longest time, Phyllis Schlafly, then Dr. Laura, were the poster girls for the conservative right. My brother debated Schlafly back in Missouri during the ERA days. She may make a good case, but she’s nothing to look at, though back then that was no crime. However, in the new age of TV glamour, cool and celebrity, the conservatives were being out distanced by a mile. So what’s a conservative party to do? Find some way to make conservatism cool. It was post Reagan, when Bush 41 just didn’t cut it, with the rise of Bill Clinton, who was as cool a political conglomerate as we’d ever seen. Something had to be done. (more…)

IRAQ and the Republican Collapse


guest post by Taylor Marsh

You’ve got George Allen going all Strom Thurmond, with Rick Santorum cozying up to LGF, while John Bolton is so desperate to get out of committee he’s doing interviews with a drunk wingnut blogger. But that’s not even the worst of it. The Republican Party base no longer believes the president or their own party can handle their jobs.

If you haven’t seen the video posted on Crooks & Liars yet you simply must watch it, because it says it all. It comes from MSNBC’s "Scarborough Country" and proceeds to lay Bush out flat. The title across the screen is: Is Bush an "Idiot"? Mind you, Joe Scarborough was once a Republican member of Congress. He questions whether Bush is curious enough to be able to lead this country over the next two years. Lawrence O’Donnell said Bush looks overwhelmed with the job of being president. John Fund tried desperately to stick up for Bush, but even he seemed to only mount a half-hearted defense. O’Donnell thinks Bush’s troubles started with Katrina. I just think it was the tipping point. The real reason everyone is walking away from Bush and the Republican Party is Iraq.

It’s the number one topic on everyone’s mind. It’s impossible to shake; the never ending bad news inalterably fixed in our minds. But there’s something else, sort of a Joe Lieberman lesson waiting for George W. Bush in November. After all these months, even years, no one, absolutely no one has been held accountable for the incompetence, the abject failures and the stubborn "stay the course" mind set that has led to an unmitigated catastrophe: an Iraqi civil war. The other cost is that Iraq has put our military at grave risk.

But it’s not just Democrats who want Republicans to be held accountable; after all, they’re in charge of the House, the Senate and the executive branch. Republicans actually want Democrats to hold Republicans accountable. You know why? Because Republicans don’t believe their own leaders are up to the job.

Chris Bowers and Rick Jacobs over at MyDD did an extraordinary post recently marching out poll data on the Republican Party that is simply stunning in its implications. Now, my strong suit is not analyzing polling that’s for sure, but even Bush would recognize the red alert warning in this baby. (more…)