Filtered News 1/31

Finally, some movement in the real war on trrrrr:

Bush Commits One Additional Troop To Afghanistan

In an effort to display his administration's willingness to fight on all fronts in the War on Terror, President Bush said at a press conference Monday that American ground forces in Afghanistan will be aided by the immediate deployment of Marine Pfc. Tim Ekenberg of Camp Lejeune, NC.

"I want the American people to know that I have not forgotten that our battle for freedom began in Afghanistan, rooting out the extremists of al-Qaeda and the Taliban," Bush said. "Today, I am ordering the deployment of the 325th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Private Tim Ekenberg, to the embattled Kandahar region." [...]

Some prominent Democrats have expressed cautious support of Ekenberg's deployment. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) applauded the Bush administration for "at least meeting [our] demands 1/20,000th of the way."


Nationally syndicated columnist Molly Ivins has been hospitalized in her recurring battle with breast cancer. "I think she's tough as a metal boot," her brother, Andy Ivins, said Friday after a visit with her at Seton Medical Center in Austin. Andy Ivins said his sister was admitted to Seton on Thursday. She spent Friday morning with longtime colleagues and friends, and was "sleeping peacefully" when he arrived later in the day. A self-described leftist agitator, Ivins, 62, completed a round of radiation treatment in August, but the cancer "came back with a vengeance," and has spread through her body, Andy Ivins said.... "Raise hell," she urged readers. "Think of something ridiculous to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. ... We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'" If you can love someone you never met, Molly would be the one....Ed - Molly has made my day better many times over the years - let's all wish her the best in recovering ==

During today’s House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the , Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) revealed the Bush administration has barred Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte from saying the phrase “global warming.” Cooper said he recently attended a dinner party at which Negroponte was speaking, and “word slipped through the crowd he was not allowed to utter the words ‘global warming,’ at least not in the same sentence. Apparently, he was allowed to say the word ‘global’ in a separate sentence, and ‘warming’ in a separate sentence, but not together.”

Screwing these troops just like we did the first ones The Army and Marine Corps “are short thousands of vehicles, armor kits and other equipment needed to supply” the extra 21,500 troops President Bush plans to send to Iraq. “It’s inevitable that that has to happen, unless five brigades of up-armored ,” one senior Army official said. ...

The Inspector General for the Defense Dept. is concerned that the U.S. military has failed to adequately equip soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially for nontraditional duties such as training Iraqi security forces and handling detainees, according to a summary of a new audit obtained by BusinessWeek.

The findings come as the Pentagon prepares to send another 21,500 troops to Iraq and as Democratic leaders levy threats to restrict funding for a war that's already cost about $500 billion. The Army alone expects to spend an extra $70 billion on an additional 65,000 permanent troops from fiscal year 2009 through 2013. According to Army officials, $18 billion of that will be spent on equipment.

The Inspector General found that the Pentagon hasn't been able to properly equip the soldiers it already has. Many have gone without enough guns, ammunition, and other necessary supplies to "effectively complete their missions" and have had to cancel or postpone some assignments while waiting for the proper gear, according to the report from auditors with the Defense Dept. Inspector General's office. Soldiers have also found themselves short on body armor, armored vehicles, and communications equipment, among other things, auditors found.

Once again, Schumer's one dumb Democrat I'm afraid I pretty much agree with As a policy goal, "let's reduce a bunch of random stuff by 50%" is ridiculous, and as a political message it's such an obvious gimmick that I can't believe it's going to have any traction at all with ordinary voters. Even your average couch potato is sophisticated enough to see through this.

67 years ago today, the was issued to Ida May Fuller for $22.54. And under the Bush's now-dead privatization plan, folks who retired during a bear market might've received that same amount month after month after month. And wouldn't that just be wacky nostalgic??

Fool on the hill. Former Nixon staffer John Dean has become the White House's worst nightmare the last few years, and this must-read column---which takes dead aim at Alberto Gonzales's ignorance about signing statements and habeas corpus---:

With all due respect, Attorney General Gonzales needs to read an American history book---to avoid relying on arguments rejected in the 18th Century when offered by those who opposed the adoption of our nation's founding charter. Every time Gonzales testifies, he leaves the Constitution a bit more battered by his right-wing gobbledygook and revisionist dogma. We are fortunate he seldom appears before Congress.

Yeah, next time send up Cheney. He'd be much more fun to kick around.

Another Katrina waiting to happen A new report by the Government Accountability Office concludes that Defense Department officials have not adequately tracked “National Guard equipment needs for domestic missions,” leaving “ to the consequences of a large-scale terrorist attack or natural disaster.”

He does it again My Senator, Russ Feingold: experts told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Russ Feingold (D-WI) today. “I think the constitutional scheme ,” said Bradford Berenson, a Washington lawyer who was a White House associate counsel under Bush from 2001 to 2003.

Stealing my act. A "good student" at a Westerville, Ohio high school stripped naked, greased himself up with grapeseed oil, and ran around the cafeteria before he was stopped by a cop with . Mark my words: that boy’s gonna be a CEO one day. We’re predicting ExxonMobil.

Waking a sleeping giant. Yesss... The Oversight and Investigations arm of the Armed Services Committee is being re-activated after 12:

Chaired by Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., the new subcommittee will delve into the details of Iraq-related reconstruction contracts, troop readiness, equipment priorities and Iraq war strategy---looking for waste, fraud and shortfalls that were essentially ignored after the panel was shuttered in 1995 by [Surprise!] the Republican congressional majority.

I hope Mrs. Meehan is ready for some lonely nights. This is gonna take awhile.

"Is it the position of this administration that it possesses the authority to take unilateral action against Iran, in the absence of a direct threat, without congressional approval?” --Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) asks for an answer to his question.

Does the cognitive dissonance ever get to be too much? Bush he'll "respond firmly" if they interfere in Iraq! We're honestly in full-on crazy mode, people -- we have over 100,000 troops in Iraq and our government threatens to overthrow the Iranian regime every once in a while. Shockingly, the Iranians plan to fight back. Some people wonder why I'm so worried we're going to get into a war with Iran. No doubt after we bomb we'll be doubleplus outraged that Iran has the gall to retaliate.

How can one man be so consistenly right? My Senator, , is going to cut the supply chains for President Bush's Excellent Adventure:

In the United States of America, the people are sovereign, not the President. It is Congress' responsibility to challenge an administration that persists in a war that is misguided and that the country opposes. We cannot simply wring our hands and complain about the Administration's policy. We cannot just pass resolutions saying "your policy is mistaken." And we can't stand idly by and tell ourselves that it's the President's job to fix the mess he made. It's our job to fix the mess, and if we don't do so we are abdicating our responsibilities.

Tomorrow, I will introduce legislation that will prohibit the use of funds to continue the deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq six months after enactment. By prohibiting funds after a specific deadline, Congress can force the President to bring our forces out of Iraq and out of harm's way.

I have to wonder if this isn't exactly why Feingold chose not to run for the Oval Office recently. Bush can't do a damn thing to him politically; his seat is safe for as long as he chooses to retain it. So why not speak your mind, particularly if you're already so inclined?

At the opposite end of the scale in some respects, Barack Obama is toeing the same line. From an e-mail sent to his supporters:

The time for waiting in Iraq is over. The days of our open-ended commitment must come to a close. And the need to bring this war to an end is here. That is why today, I'm introducing the . This plan would not only place a cap on the number of troops in Iraq and stop the escalation, it would begin a phased redeployment of U.S. forces with the goal of removing of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq by March 31st, 2008 - consistent with the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group that the President ignored. (Emphasis and link in original text.)

The big rap against Obama has been that he's all position and no substance. Seems pretty clear that he's trying to stick his neck out on this one -- though it's obviously less bold a stand than it might have been at this time last year. Still, he's ahead of the curve, so give him some props on it.

And, as says, we've reached a tipping point:

...This is no longer a battle over whether Bush will run with McCain's escalation plan and prolong the war. This is now a battle over ending the war.... Obviously, we won't be out of Iraq by March 2008. Bush has already said he's too much a coward to end the war. He'd rather force his successor to do it so he can rest easy at night, having blamed someone else for his fuckups. But it won't be long before the "responsible" position, no matter what McCain, Lieberman, and the DLC crowd might think, will be a one-year phased exit from Iraq.

And at that point we'll be much closer to ending this godforsaken disaster of a war than we've ever been.

Amen and amen. The days of "serious" foreign policy thinkers giving Bush one extension after another are rapidly coming to an end. The math has now changed, and it is only a matter of time until the end moves into sight. By my calculations, that's January 2009 - or a lot sooner.

Feingold is doing this amidst Republican claims that only the president can decide on troop deployment. Of course, Republicans were making exactly the opposite arguments during the Clinton presidency, as Glenn Greenwald .

Sen. John McCain - October 19,1993

There is no reason for the United States of America to remain in Somalia. The American people want them home, I believe the majority of Congress wants them home, and to set an artificial date of March 31 or even February 1, in my view, is not acceptable. The criteria should be to bring them home as rapidly and safely as possible, an evolution which I think could be completed in a matter of weeks.

Our continued military presence in Somalia allows another situation to arise which could then lead to the wounding, killing or capture of American fighting men and women. We should do all in our power to avoid that.

I listened carefully to the President's remarks at a news conference that he held earlier today. I heard nothing in his discussion of the issue that would persuade me that further U.S. military involvement in the area is necessary. In fact, his remarks have persuaded me more profoundly that we should leave and leave soon.

Dates certain, Mr. President, are not the criteria here. What is the criteria and what should be the criteria is our immediate, orderly withdrawal from Somalia. And if we do not do that and other Americans die, other Americans are wounded, other Americans are captured because we stay too long--longer than necessary--then I would say that the responsibilities for that lie with the Congress of the United States who did not exercise their authority under the Constitution of the United States and mandate that they be brought home quickly and safely as possible [...] I, along with many others, will have an amendment that says exactly that. It does not give any date certain. It does not say anything about any other missions that the United States may need or feels it needs to carry out. It will say that we should get out as rapidly and orderly as possible.

Note how unambiguous McCain was when it suited his partisan purposes. He clearly states that the Congress has "authority under the Constitution of the Untied States" to bring home the troops if it so declares. And Greenwald didn't stop there, collecting similar statements from Gramm, Thurmond, Kempthorne, Gorton, Helms, Simpson, and Gregg. Oh, and Russ Feingold, who made the exact same argument then as he does now. Funny that -- a real maverick who remains consistent on substantive Constitutional issues like Congress' war powers whether the president belongs to his party or otherwise.

Now this is where things are starting to get interesting. This is no longer a battle over whether Bush will run with McCain's escalation plan and prolong the war. This is now a battle over ending the war.

Oh, yeah, forget Clinton. Who the heck knows what her position is? She's too busy trying to look "responsible" to give us an unambiguous position on Iraq. "I would never have expected any president, if we knew then what we know now, to come to ask for a vote. There would not have been a vote, and I certainly would not have voted for it." So sayeth Hillary Clinton on the war. Let me see. There would not have been a vote but I would have voted against it. What the hell does that mean?

The bitch-slap theory of politics Matt Yglesias has an on his site about just what the big deal is when Republicans call the Democratic party the 'Democrat party'.

As it happens, a few months back I got an email from a TPM Reader who I think was a linguist. And he explained that there is something about the concatenation of syllables, the sound or structure of the phrase 'Democrat party' that actually sounds somehow inherently grating or awkward on the ears. When I got the note I think I was busy with something else. And I never really got a chance to work through and understand just what the guy was saying. I think I'll probably try to dig it up.

But that is a secondary point. The whole issue of 'Democrat' party -- other than as an example of Republican infantilism -- is an issue of respect or rather intentional and repeated expression of disrespect as a means of asserting dominance.

There's a certain conservative columnist named James X. who shall remain unnamed. At some point a few years back I had cause to exchange an email with him. And I called him 'Jim'. I don't think I gave it a second thought. I'm Josh or Joshua -- doesn't matter to me. But a short time later I got a half questioning, half barely repressed anger email from the guy asking whether I was intentionally disrespecting him by addressing him as 'Jim', the dimunitive form of the name. Now, as I say, it was accidental. I apologized and explained that it was totally unintentional. And if he preferred to be called James I would certainly do so. As it happens, in the intervening years, my lack of respect for him has grown apace. But I'd still always call him James and not Jim. And this is the point. You address people the way they choose to be addressed. You address them by what they consider to be their name. In the ordinary course of life, when people do otherwise, we rightly recognize that they're trying to pick a fight or demean the person in question.

It is, as Matt points out, another illustration of the ''. You assert dominance over someone by mangling their name and continuing to do so even after the correct pronunciation or style is pointed out. It's right off the schoolyard and it's no surprise that it's a of this president.

What liberal media? And the minimum wage. A step forward for the minimum wage increase this afternoon, as the Senate cleared the logjam of the Republican filibuster that had been preventing the UpperdownvoteTM. But just how craven was Republican opposition to a fair day's pay for an honest day's work? Well, apparently the tax breaks they demanded in exchange for the wage hike didn't quite do the trick. Sure, that's what Republicans will point to as

The vote Tuesday emphasized how Senate passage of the bill depends on the tax package to attract Republican votes. The White House has also signaled that Bush wants tax breaks in the legislation.

But it wasn't until Harry Reid that things changed:

"If cloture is not invoked, we're through with minimum wage," warned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) before the vote, in a clear sign to Republican Senators that he will not allow them to use a minimum wage filibuster to stall having to vote on the pending Iraq war resolutions.

Now, was it a clear sign to Republicans that they wouldn't be allowed to use this filibuster to stall votes on Iraq? Or was it

Senate Democrats on Tuesday vowed to block pay raises for members of Congress until the minimum wage is increased. "We're going to do anything it takes to stop the congressional pay raise this year, and we're not going to settle for this year alone," Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said at a Capitol news conference.

Either way, cloture suddenly passed by a vote of 87-10. We report, you decide.

Meanwhile, get a load of , courtesy of Reuters: US Republicans clear way for minimum-wage rise Given what actually happened here, including a 12-year Republican moratorium on even considering a minimum wage hike, is this just the ultimate in lickspittle journalism, or what? In what universe do the jackasses who filibustered the minimum wage until their own pocketbooks were threatened deserve even the brief illusion of credit?

Bush tried to silence scientists A new report presented to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee by the and the shows in which the Bush administration interfered into the global warming work of government scientists over the past five years. Some other :

– 46 percent of government scientists “personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming,’ or other similar terms from a variety of communications.”

– 46 percent “perceived or personally experienced new or unusual administrative requirements that impair climate-related work.”

– 38 percent “perceived or personally experienced the disappearance or unusual delay of websites, reports, or other science-based materials relating to climate.”

– 25 percent “perceived or personally experienced situations in which scientists have actively objected to, resigned from, or removed themselves from a project because of pressure to change scientific findings.”

James Hansen, the government’s top global warming researcher, has also revealed that the Bush administration tried to to the media. In 2004, the administration also had a requirement that “ whenever NASA scientists spoke with reporters, either on the telephone or in person.”

The next war As the saying goes, if it didn't exist, you'd have to invent it. So with that in mind, let's do a little prospective journalism. When the bogus 'Iran incident' happens that becomes the predicate for a military attack on Iran, what will it look like? Let's try to sketch it out in advance. Will it be a real incident in Iraq for which the Iranians are blamed? Or will it be a complete bogus incident, something that never happened, that they're blamed for? Will we receive the news in manufactured evidence? Or will it all come through unnamed leaks and Richard Perle appearances on CNN?

Some key requirements occur to me.

1. Despite being fake, the incident must seem reasonably credible.

2. It must appear serious enough that discounting its importance or questioning its veracity appears the height of unseriousness.

3. It must place the majority of us in the odd and unexpected position of granting to President Bush the unfettered discretion to launch a war against Iran at the time and place of his choosing, despite our desire that he start it right now.

4. The incident can't be quickly falsifiable. It will have to take a long time and a lot of effort to be revealed as bogus. Weapons of mass destruction were perfect: we had to get into Iraq to show them to be false, and by that time, of course, it was too late to stop the war. The sort of same thing will be needed to commit some sort of act of war on Iran.

Example: We can evaluate for potential. This is from CNN ...

The Pentagon is investigating whether a recent attack on a military compound in Karbala was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives, two officials from separate U.S. government agencies said.

"People are looking at it seriously," one of the officials said.

That official added the Iranian connection was a leading theory in the investigation into the January 20 attack that killed five soldiers.

The second official said: "We believe it's possible the executors of the attack were Iranian or Iranian-trained."

Five U.S. soldiers were killed in the sophisticated attack by men wearing U.S.-style uniforms, according to U.S. military reports. (Watch how attackers got into the compound Video)

Both officials stressed the Iranian-involvement theory is a preliminary view, and there is no final conclusion. They agreed this possibility is being looked at because of the sophistication of the attack and the level of coordination.

"This was beyond what we have seen militias or foreign fighters do," the second official said.

A few quick points just to make a go of it. The possibility is being looked at because of the sophistication of the attack and the level of coordination. So, not likely that any native Iraqis could have pulled off this attack. Check.

And it's possible that the attackers were Iranian or "Iranian-trained". Again, just for the sake of conversation -- our current angle in Iraq is to cozy up to SCIRI (the ) as the moderate Shi'a grouping over and against the al-Sadr and possibly al-Maliki, the current prime minister. SCIRI's paramilitary is the . They were formed in Iran and by Iran from pro-Iranian Iraqi Shia. They fought alongside the Iranian army during the Iran-Iraq war. Before we toppled the Hussein government, they were still headquartered in Tehran.

Anyway, I'd stop by Juan Cole's site to hear from someone who really knows about this stuff. But even our feeble knowledge here ... is enough to tell us that when we start hearing catch-alls like 'Iranian-trained' for anything that happened in southern Iraq, we're dealing with meaninglessly vague words meant to bamboozle and hoodwink. Remember too this incident occurred in Karbala, where the Badr Brigade is headquartered.

To be clear, I'm not saying the Badr Brigade was behind this, only that in the context of paramilitaries in southern Iraq, 'Iranian-trained' is a meaninglessly broad category.


January 31, 2007 - 10:54am