On this date in 1773, rebellious colonists dumped a few hundred chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest British taxation, an event now known as the Boston Tea Party. I always wept on this date until I found out it wasn't the Long Island iced variety.

As The Dreidl Turns...

It was Hanukkah and the tiny village was in fear of not having any latkes because they had run out of flour.

Rudi, the rabbi, was called upon to help solve the problem.

He said, "don't worry, you can substitute matzo meal for the flour and the latkes will be just as delicious!"

Sheila looks to her husband and says, "Mortey, you think it'll work?"

"Of course! Everybody knows Rudolph the Rab knows grain, dear!"

Happy Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Chanukah, Chanuko, Hannuka, Hannukah, Hanuka, Hanukah, Hanukkah, Kanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanuka, Khanukah, Khanukkah, and Xanuka!!

Don Rumsfeld officially leaves this weekend. I dedicate this karaoke selection to him...

Mem'ries, light the corners of my mind...

("It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.")

Misty water-colored memories, of the way we were...

("There's another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.")

Scattered pictures, of the smiles we left behind...

("Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said.")

Smiles we gave to one another, for the way we were...

("Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. Stuff happens.")

Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time re-written every line?

("We do know of certain knowledge that he [bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country. Or dead.")

If we had the chance to do it all again tell me, would we? Could we?

("As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns---the ones we don't know we don't know.")

Mem'ries, may be beautiful and yet, what's too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget...

("I don't do quagmires.")

So it's the laughter we will remember...

("Now, settle down, settle down. Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning and I'm gathering my thoughts here.")

Whenever we remember...the way we were...

("You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.")

The way we were...

("If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I'm disinclined to mislead anyone.")

No matter what happens, sir, we’ll always have Tikrit and Baghdad. And areas east, west, north and south somewhat.

The butcher of 10 Downing Street. The reality-based community in Britain dropped a steaming turd on Tony Blair today:

The Government's case for going to war in Iraq has been torn apart by the publication of previously suppressed evidence that Tony Blair lied over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. A devastating attack on Mr. Blair's justification for military action by Carne Ross, Britain's key negotiator at the UN, has been kept under wraps until now because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act. ...His hitherto secret evidence threatens to reopen the row over the legality of the conflict, under which Mr. Blair has sought to draw a line as the internecine bloodshed in Iraq has worsened.

"Hello, Tower of London? I’d like to reserve a cell for one, please. Yes, in the wanker turret."

Ignorance is bliss? Since September, the Bush administration has refused to tell Congress the numbers of enemy attacks in Iraq. Walking the plank. A Native American tribe desperate to raise some wampum is planning to build a glass-bottom walkway that juts over the Grand Canyon so you can look straight down into the abyss. Three words: you go first. Immune systems of steel. Senator Tim Johnson's condition is improving as he recovers from Wednesday's cerebral hemorrhage. But, to be perfectly honest, the one-armed pushups were a little show-offy. Killing the "Goddess of the Yangtze." I'm sad to report that, thanks to "overfishing, dam-building, environmental degradation, and ship collisions," the beautiful Chinese river dolphin is now functionally extinct. In recognition of the feat, the human race will receive a special lifetime achievement award at next year's International Parasite Conference. The last last last last last last (really, we mean it!) chance. Very Serious Thinker Charles Krauthammer, ignoring 80 percent public support for the Iraq Study Group's detailed recommendations, says George Bush can only achieve a Glorious Imperial Victory by pissing off Muqtada al- Sadr and throwing more troops at the problem. His reason: Just cuz. We're not worthy.

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"

-- Sean Hannity, (R- Moron) Fox News, 4/6/99 When Clinton was president, and the p o s s i b i l i t y existed of military deaths, Hannity the Whore was very, very worried about the danger they might face. But now, as we approach 3,000 military dead under Der Monkey, Hannity is "Go, go, go" for Bush's never-ending bloody quagmire.

One of life's little mysteries I see that President Bush devoted his radio address today to a denunciation of the evils of congressional earmarks. It's funny that this subject never seemed to exercise him very much back when Republicans were in charge, isn't it? DA DA DA DUM....Today is Beethoven's birthday. Go listen to a symphony! Cool, I often feel terrorized by the GOP.... Newt "Savior of Western Civilization" Gingrich has decided that free speech is for pansies:

Gingrich cited last month's ejection of six Muslim scholars from a plane in Minneapolis for suspicious behavior, which included reports they prayed before the flight and had sat in the same seats as the Sept. 11 hijackers. "Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists," Gingrich said. "And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens." ....In an interview, Gingrich said it is possible to distinguish between terrorists and others when looking to fight threatening expression. "If you give me any signal in the age of terrorism that you're a terrorist, I'd say the burden of proof was on you," Gingrich said.

There's a screw loose there somewhere Did Ralph Nader really send a letter to NBA commissioner David Stern complaining about the league's new basketball, on the grounds that he is "an advocate for all workers, no matter their salary"? Yes he did. Priorities, dude, priorities. You need to work on your priorities. Smearing Obama Steve Benen surveys the newly emerging field of Barack Obama smear-ology and finds the wingnuts falling down on the job: "I’m sure GOP attack dogs will dig up plenty of dirt on Obama, and if they don’t, they’ll make stuff up. But in the meantime, we’re left with a progressive, church-going Democrat with big ears. C’mon, right-wing machine, what kind of smear-job is this?" Better idiots, please.

Don't negotiate -- it might work! This isn't really anything new, but it's still freshly astounding whenever I hear it:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday rejected a bipartisan panel's recommendation that the United States seek the help of Syria and Iran in Iraq, saying the "compensation" required by any deal might be too high. She argued that neither country should need incentives to foster stability in Iraq. "If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway," Rice said in a wide-ranging interview with Washington Post reporters and editors.

This is, basically, an argument for never negotiating with anyone. After all, why bother if states will simply do what they want to do regardless? Conservatives often accuse liberals of elevating negotiation into an end in itself. It's a fatuous charge, but its mirror image isn't: as a matter of principle, contemporary conservatives really do seem to have broadly rejected even the concept of negotiating with our enemies. I guess you could armchair psychoanalyze this belief forever, but I imagine it's mostly caused by a fear that they might actually succeed. Take a look at Iraq: in the end, it acquiesced to every American demand in 2002 and 2003, and that just made it harder to gain support for the invasion we wanted. It's no wonder Bush hates the idea. He's probably afraid the same thing might happen with Syria.

The Army's warnings are getting louder and louder: Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, issued his most dire assessment yet of the toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the nation's main ground force. At one point, he banged his hand on a House committee-room table, saying the continuation of today's Pentagon policies is "not right."....The burden on the Army's 507,000 active-duty soldiers — who now spend more time at war than at home — is simply too great, he said. "At this pace, without recurrent access to the reserve components, through remobilization, we will break the active component," he said, drawing murmurs around the hearing room. I'd be more sympathetic toward Schoomaker's pleas for more soldiers if the Army had a credible plan for using them to turn things around in Iraq. But I haven't heard one yet. He's putting the cart before the horse. Spencer Ackerman points out something else: this isn't what Schoomaker was saying a year ago: "Schoomaker deserves no praise for the warning he issued yesterday. The question he needs to face up to — every morning while he shaves, in fact — is why he didn't stand up for his soldiers against Rumsfeld." That's another reason my sympathy is limited. How do we know what he's leaving unsaid this time around?

From the Completely Lost It files The Vice President's declaration at Friday's Pentagon sendoff for Don Rumsfeld that Rumsfeld was the best secretary of defense in U.S. history (which really means since the Department of Defense was created in 1948, not since the Revolution) was widely panned, deservedly. But the comment that left me shaking by head came from Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace: "Secretary Rumsfeld accepted the responsibility and not once, in public or in private, did I ever hear this man try to shift responsibility to anyone else but himself."


I have never seen a public figure as adept at passing the buck, often very slyly, as Don Rumsfeld. It has been one of my biggest pet peeves about Rumsfeld, especially when he lays the blame at the feet of the uniformed military, which he has done repeatedly and shamelessly, since the chain of command mostly hamstrings the military from playing hardball in kind.

So I thought I would gather up some of Rumsfeld's best buck-passers to illustrate the point:

April 1, 2003, on the initial Iraq invasion plan: "I keep getting credit for it in the press, but the truth is, I would be happy to take credit for it but I can't. It was not my plan, it was General Franks' plan, and it was a plan that evolved over a sustained period of time, which I am convinced is an excellent plan."

December 6, 2004, on Iraq: "I don't think anyone would say that the intelligence left anyone with the impression that you'd be in the degree of insurgency you're in today."

"The big debate about the number of troops is one of those things that's really out of my control. I mean, everyone likes to assign responsibility to the top person and I guess that's fine. But the number of troops we had for the invasion was the number of troops that General Franks and General Abizaid wanted."

December 8, 2004, on up-armored humvees: "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe – it’s a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment. I can assure you that General Schoomaker and the leadership in the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable for it to have, but that they’re working at it at a good clip."

June 26, 2005, on whether he tried to fight the Iraq War "on the cheap": "[T]his is not a decision I make; this is a decision that's made by the military commanders. General Franks, General Abizaid, General Casey have decided what those numbers are. They've recommended them to me. I've recommended them to the president. I agree with them. I think they're right."

April 17, 2006, on the Iraq war plan: "Of course the implication that there was something wrong with the war plan is amusing almost because of the fact that the war plan’s fashioned by the combatant commanders and it’s reviewed in great detail by the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then it’s recommended to me and the President."

November 10, 2006, on role of other departments in the failure of reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan: "Their success has been limited because these activities too often are thought to remain almost exclusively in the responsibility of the Department of Defense," he said. "National security policies can no longer be separate into functions of defense, diplomacy and development."

December 15, 2006, on what happened at Abu Ghraib: "Well, it's pretty clear that on that midnight shift, for a period of some weeks, there were people there who were behaving in a way that was fundamentally inconsistent with the president's instruction to treat people humanely, my instructions that they were to treat people humanely. And they were, for the most part, people involved who weren't doing interrogations."

If you have your own personal favorites, please pass them along.

Religious war Pat Buchanan said in an infamous speech to the Republican National Convention in 1992, "There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America." That's true. War has been declared by the religious right against us, and much that we hold dear. It's time we stop pretending that we don't know it. Talk To Action

How To Win In Iraq See Army Captain's Simple Demonstration: How to Win in Iraq. (Note - it's a PDF slide show.) This slideshow is of course three years too late - and it is a crime that we are there in the first place. It references the idiocy from "the 25-year-olds" that the Republican ideologues sent over to run things. The story behind it is here,

But Patriquin [the author of the slide show] will not see victory in Iraq. He was killed by the same improvised explosive device that killed Maj. Megan McClung of the Marine Corps last Wednesday. Patriquin had fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. A gifted officer, he spoke numerous languages, including Arabic.

Count this as one more item in a long list of things we should have done... History will not be kind to the conservatives.

Colbert nails one The other day on Hannity and Colmes, Tom DeLay blamed the American left for the failure in Iraq citing our lack of "will" that's prohibiting the military from doing it's job. Colbert picked up on this last night and took it a few steps further. Video WMP | Video MOV "Well said, Congressman. American people: you are losing this war! Now, I don't like to say that. I wish there was someone else to blame…The President, the Vice President, Congress, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Bremer, George Tenet, Colin Powell, Tommy Franks, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol… if only they had made one mistake! Some way we could pin this thing on them."

Colin: We're losing Today on CBS’s Face the Nation, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said he agreed with the Iraq Study Group that the situation in Iraq is “grave and deteriorating.” He disagreed with incoming Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ assessment that the U.S. is neither winning nor losing in Iraq. “We are losing,” Powell said.

"I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume."

-- America's no-conscience murderer, Link

Corruption watch I know you won't be surprised that the White House has managed to politicize yet another function of government. Still, this is important stuff. Over at TPMCafe, Steve Clemons gives the rundown on the White House's alleged involvement in trying to silence Flynt Leverett, the former government official and scholar who is a prominent critic of Bush foreign policy. The White House claims that Leverett's draft op-ed for the NYT contains classified information, a finding at odds with the CIA's own Publication Review Board. The CIA has bowed to the White House pressure, according to Leverett. All the details here.

Corruption watch, Part II Late Friday, the Department of Justice announced that the President had used a recess appointment to name a 34-year-old former White House aide to Karl Rove as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Apparently J. Timothy Griffin made his mark as a Republican campaign operative as opposed to, say, as a lawyer. He replaces current USA Bud Cummins. The move has provoked the ire of Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark):

Normally, the White House requests names of potential replacements for U. S. attorneys and other positions from the state’s senators or congressmen, and then chooses a nominee from among those names. The nominee then must undergo a background check and Senate confirmation — which could be tough for Griffin in the new Democrat-controlled body. Griffin, a longtime behind-the-scenes Republican operative and political strategist, has worked for the Republican National Committee. . . . [Pryor spokesman Michael] Teague noted that an interim appointment could keep Griffin at the helm of the top prosecutor’s post in the state’s Eastern District for the two years remaining in Bush’s term.

“This process circumvents a way to find out about his legal background,” Teague said. “We know about his political background, which is unbalanced. If he’s just interim for the next two years, every decision he makes during that time is going to be somewhat suspect.”

The state’s only Republican congressman, John Boozman, said last month that he hadn’t been asked to submit names to replace Cummins.

Go read the whole article. It's textbook patronage politics. I hope we're not about to see a flood of recess appointments to get the White House through the rest of the President's term with minimal advice and consent from the Democratic Senate. As an emailer noted, a recess appointment now may not be effective for the remainder of Bush's term. More here.

Corruption watch, Part III You may recall some of the dandy investigative reporting on Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) turned in by Pittsburgh's KDKA-TV during the midterm election campaign. At issue was whether Murphy was illegally using his congressional staff for campaign purposes. Now it looks like the feds are investigating. KDKA has the latest.

2008 Watch Evan Bayh is out, but John Edwards is in. Edwards will use New Orleans' Ninth Ward as the backdrop for announcing his candidacy for President later this month.

Bigot watch Newt Gingrich tries to outdo Pat Buchanan as the GOP's most xenophobic blowhard.

Dubya NIMBY Not everyone at Southern Methodist University is happy at the prospect of hosting the George W. Bush presidential library. Administrators, faculty and staff of SMU's School of Theology, interestingly enough, are apparently leading the opposition to the $500 million project.

Myth vs reality on Dubya in Iraq Well, here we go. Reports this week, including from today's New York Times, indicate that the President will escalate U.S. involvement in Iraq by deploying additional troops. CBS News last evening reported that plans already call for a brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division to deploy to Kuwait after the holidays. Incoming Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is expected to approve the move after being sworn in Monday.

I get the sense that everyone in the country except the President and Vice President is caught back on their heels at the moment. Here are just a few of the misconceptions that seem to be floating around since the election:

Myth: The results of the election will force the President to reevalute his Iraq strategy.

Reality: The election defeat has forced the White House to go through the motions of reevaluating its Iraq policy; hence, the President's listening tour. Politically, he had no choice but to make a lavish effort to look responsive to the election results. Substantively, however, everything about this Administration suggests it will do what it wants to do regardless. The last few weeks reinforce that impression. If the White House can blow off the bipartisan elder statesmen of the Iraq Study Group, it can certainly ignore Democrats, the press, and the people.

Myth: Following the reevaluation of its Iraq policy, the White House will announce its proposed New Way Forward, whereupon there will be a vigorous national debate.

Reality: The White House is not going to wait for the Democratic Congress or for an extended national debate before it proceeds. There are some indications that the reason for delaying the President's announcement of "The New Way Forward" is so that he can announce a fait accompli. (Andy Card, who famously noted about the 2002 run-up to the Iraq invasion that you don't roll out a marketing campaign in August, might also say the same thing about launching one during the Christmas holidays.) I wouldn't be surprised to see new deployment orders already issued by the time Democrats officially take over Congress in the first week of January, the President's way of grabbing his crotch and saying, Debate this.

Myth: Rumsfeld's exit and Gates' entrance signal a new direction from the White House.

Reality: The relief and excitement that greeted Gates' nomination seemed all out of proportion then and even more so now. Gates caught official Washington, and many Democrats, on the rebound. If Rumsfeld was the bad boyfriend, then Gates swept everyone off their feet simply by being soft-spoken and listening. So instead of using the hearings on the Gates' nomination as the starting point for a debate on Iraq policy, it became a bipartisan lovefest. The myth that the ISG report would somehow save the day has already been exploded. The adults are not in charge; Cheney still is. I would expect that Cheney and Rumsfield conspired in the last few weeks of Rumsfeld's tenure to start the ball rolling on the New Way Forward with the intention of constraining Gates' options.

Myth: The prospect of Democratic oversight will sober up the Administration and force it to rein itself in.

Reality: The White House is going to try to outflank Congress with speed and agility. Troop deployments are a perfect example. Deploy the troops, then ask Congress for the funding. Are Democrats going to support the troops already there, or pull the rug out from under them?

Myth: Congessional hearings will build public support for withdrawal from Iraq.

Reality: It is difficult to imagine public sentiment against the war being any higher than it is right now. In this week's NBC/WSJ poll, 71 percent of respondents disapproved of the President's handling of Iraq. As soon as congressional hearings begin, the President is likely to get some bump in the polls because it allows him to cast the debate in familiar political terms. The President versus congressional Democrats is a much better matchup for the White House than the President versus the reality of his disastrous policies. Congressional hearings are also messy, boring, and diffuse--an important part of good governance, but not especially effective at rallying public support one way or another, at least in the short-term.

So while quite a few Americans and an abundance of commentators heralded the midterm elections and the ISG report as the beginning of the end of U.S. involvement in Iraq, I am afraid Americans will shake off their New Year's hangovers and discover a new and deeper American commitment in Iraq, one which won't easily be reversed for the remainder of the Bush presidency.

If you sleep with dogs, you wake up with fleas That's soon-to-be-primaried Ellen Tauscher with you-know-who. The reason I'm bringing this up is that the picture, taken in 2002 right before Tauscher proudly voted for Bush's war, used to have a proud home on Tauscher's official website. Now, it has been scrubbed. Too late Ellen.

The unflattering truth about us The New York Times has an amusing look at what the census reveals about Americans.

Submitted by RKing on