Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Final Final Cut

Blade Runner is back, but it never really left us. Somewhere in the world, always, it's on someone's screen. And in some cities you can look out the window and think that you're still there. (Shanghai, anyone?) But there's yet another director's cut, this one the ultimate, and it sounds magnificent.

There's no underestimating the impact Ridley Scott's film version of Philip K. Dick's novel (original title, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?) has had on pop culture, movies, music, society. I'm loving how the opening titles of AMC's Mad Men TV series is Saul Bass-style figures against a kind of Dove soap version of Blade Runner city imagery. As Scott says:
“Here we are 25 years on,” Mr. Scott said, “and we’re seriously discussing the possibility of the end of this world by the end of the century. This is no longer science fiction.”
I predict solid box office for this specialty release. It's one to see on the big screen, even if for the third, fourth, or fifth time.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Anti-Bush

No, it's not any politician. It's The Boss:

“This is a song called Livin’ In the Future. But it’s really about what’s happening now. Right now. It’s kind of about how the things we love about America, cheeseburgers, French fries, the Yankees battlin’ Boston… the Bill of Rights [holds up microphone, urging crowd to cheer] … v-twin motorcycles… Tim Russert’s haircut, trans-fats and the Jersey Shore… we love those things the way womenfolk love Matt Lauer.

But over the past six years we’ve had to add to the American picture: rendition, illegal wiretapping, voter suppression, no habeus corpus, the neglect of our great city New Orleans and its people, an attack on the Constitution. And the loss of our young best men and women in a tragic war.

This is a song about things that shouldn’t happen here—happening here.”

Citizen Bruce lays it plain up and down a very extraordinary Today Show, playing rock & roll havoc with their format, stopping work in Rockefeller Center, asking (per John Kerry who he supported with concerts in 2004), "Who'll be the last to die for a mistake?"

The wise men were all fools
What to do
The sun sets in flames as the city burns
Another day gone down as the night turns
And I hold you here in my heart
As things fall apart
Now is that so hard to understand?

Stop this fucking War. And stop the next one before it starts.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mission of Burma

There's a lot of bad stuff to report from all over tonight, but the toughest situation has to be the military crackdown on protesters in Burma, dubbed Myanmar by the brutal current regime.

Thanks to the Internet, there's a blogger on the ground there, first hand reporting. It's bloody, so be warned.

Andrew Sullivan has some video of protesters expressing themselves, then meeting repression.

The Buddhist monks have been the bravest, leading the way, and suffering the greatest losses so far.

Still in house arrest but should be leading the country: Aung San Suu Kyi. Staying silent right now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Racism Party (Rolls On)

Back in July Nettertainment touched on the modern history of Republican reliance on the atavistic racist element of the electorate in the context of their almost complete non-participation in the NAACP GOP Presidential debate. Can the irony that "The Party of Lincoln" is so goddamned racist in the bone be lost on anyone?

I do believe that everybody has at a minimum trace of racial identification, if not racism, in everyone. To deny it seems Pollyannic. But to have that be your political party's safe haven is tragic, assuming the Republican Party is ever again capable of generating good governance ideas. Not just empty "principles."

But you can't keep a good racist down.

Not when so-called President Bush's White House spokesperson is saying, so officially for The Decider:

As for Obama, a senior White House official said the freshman senator from Illinois was "capable" of the intellectual rigor needed to win the presidency but instead relies too heavily on his easy charm.

"It's sort of like, 'that's all I need to get by,' which bespeaks sort of a condescending attitude towards the voters," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "And a laziness, an intellectual laziness."

Is it even worth my commenting on this? What, was Massa Bush putting his plantation in line? Is this the political posturing of the Confederacy had it survived to 2007?

Then there's Bill O'Reilly spewing racist ignorance, if one is to take him at his word. It seems he went to the famed Sylvia's in Harlem and thought maybe he was the first white may who had ever dined there:

O'REILLY: That's right. That's right. There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, "M-Fer, I want more iced tea."

WILLIAMS: Please --

O'REILLY: You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all.

He got bad reviews at the restaurant. Watch Whoopi and Sherri respond on The View. Everyone is laughing at tinpots this week.

And, once again, they're skipping out on actually speaking before black audiences. Bill Clinton taking them to task for snubbing Travis Smiley, like assholes, liked scaredycat chickenhawks. Bob Herbert explaining, "The Ugly Side of the G.O.P.":

The G.O.P. has spent the last 40 years insulting, disenfranchising and otherwise stomping on the interests of black Americans. Last week, the residents of Washington, D.C., with its majority black population, came remarkably close to realizing a goal they have sought for decades — a voting member of Congress to represent them.

A majority in Congress favored the move, and the House had already approved it. But the Republican minority in the Senate — with the enthusiastic support of President Bush — rose up on Tuesday and said: “No way, baby.”

At least 57 senators favored the bill, a solid majority. But the Republicans prevented a key motion on the measure from receiving the 60 votes necessary to move it forward in the Senate. The bill died.

At the same time that the Republicans were killing Congressional representation for D.C. residents, the major G.O.P. candidates for president were offering a collective slap in the face to black voters nationally by refusing to participate in a long-scheduled, nationally televised debate focusing on issues important to minorities.

The history goes back to Nixon -- and Reagan:

In one of the vilest moves in modern presidential politics, Ronald Reagan, the ultimate hero of this latter-day Republican Party, went out of his way to kick off his general election campaign in 1980 in that very same Philadelphia, Miss. He was not there to send the message that he stood solidly for the values of Andrew Goodman. He was there to assure the bigots that he was with them.

“I believe in states’ rights,” said Mr. Reagan. The crowd roared.

In 1981, during the first year of Mr. Reagan’s presidency, the late Lee Atwater gave an interview to a political science professor at Case Western Reserve University, explaining the evolution of the Southern strategy:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger,’ ” said Atwater. “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

Even the last black GOP Congressmen, former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) takes them to task:
"I think the best that comes out of stupid decisions like this," said former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts, is "that African-Americans might say, 'Was it because of my skin color?' Now, maybe it wasn't, but African-Americans do say, 'It crossed my mind.'"
How out of touch do you have to be to be snubbing Travis Smiley? He's a fair and informed interviewer, he puts people at ease, but sure, he's going to call you on stuff. Like any real reporter, even some of the ones hosting the current debates.

What does it say about the Party's fundamental character? What is defensible about this? That you're preserving the white core of 19th Century America?

The Dems have their race problems but for the past fifty years it's been a Party engaged in the debate, even if the spectrum can be wide.

Doesn't this seem like a national scandal? That one of our two major political parties is self-segregated through coded messages of hate?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Via Talking Point Memo, David Schuster refreshingly subs for Tucker Carlson and, interviewing Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), strips bare the GOP's ridiculous posing on the surprisingly accurate MoveOn ad (transcript from Crooks and Liars):

Shuster: “Let’s talk about the public trust. You represent, of course, a district in western Tennessee. What was the name of the last solider from your district who was killed in Iraq?”

Blackburn:”The name of the last soldier killed in Iraq uh - from my district I - I do not know his name -”

Shuster: “Ok, his name was Jeremy Bohannon, he was killed August the 9th, 2007. How come you didn’t know the name?”

Blackburn: “I - I, you know, I - I do not know why I did not know the name…”


Shuster: “But you weren’t appreciative enough to know the name of this young man, he was 18 years old who was killed, and yet you can say chapter and verse about what’s going on with the New York Times and Move”


Shuster: “But don’t you understand, the problems that a lot of people would have, that you’re so focused on an ad — when was the last time a New York Times ad ever killed somebody? I mean, here we have a war that took the life of an 18 year old kid, Jeremy Bohannon from your district, and you didn’t even know his name.”

In one way, I don't begrudge the GOP for using this total bullshit issue as a fundraising tool (MoveOn has made their share over the controversy), but any Democrat who adopts the Republican meme on this gets a demerit. As Matt Stoller says:
I'm a little worried about upcoming fights over funding for Iraq, inasmuch as they might distract us from discussing the Moveon ad.
Okay, Congress, shut up already about MoveOn and save America now.

Monday, September 24, 2007


On the road again, this time in the rather fetching city of Vancouver, where over dinner we discussed the speech at Columbia University by this asshole nutjob of an Iranian President who's name I can't be bothered to type since I'm blogging by Blackberry. The upshot from across the table was (1) he shouldn't have been allowed to speak there in the first place and (2) the university President introducing him seemed wacked to be insulting him in his intro, having invited him in the first place.

My thoughts, in reverse order, are that (2) I'm assuming the Columbia President felt a need to innoculate himself, whatever the resulting media dissonance, and (1) as odious as the Iranian President's speech might be, including his threat to wipe Israel off the map, since he hasn't directly threatened the United States itself, and since many political speakers offend someone or some group as much as he offends Jews in NYC, it is better as usual to let daylight be the best disinfectant.

Just as Hugo Chavez made himself lool like a fool to all but his ardent supporters when he spouted hyperbolic at the U.N. last year, so too did this guy look like a dipshit for dodging direct questions and, best of all, denying that any homosexuality exists in Iran, which drew outright laughter in the room.

Oddly enough, if anything could have made him seem like a moron...that was it.

More fun to come with this U.N. visit, f'sure.


Hillary showed cajones this week by releasing a healthcare plan that, no matter how moderate, was the first major potential opening for her GOP pretenders to set her on a long death spiral intended to climax next November.

Instead she seems to have come prepared and Presidential. Via MyDD, a report on her first Sunday on the major network talk show circuit and how she handled the questioners, from ABC to Fox:
They didn't lay a hand on her. Just from a pure political standpoint, a truly stunning performance from a Pro Bowl caliber politician. Clinton knew she was eating Chris Wallace's lunch. There were times when it looked like she was fighting back a grin, she was having so much fun. She knew these guys had been dreaming about roughing her up all year.

This was a very significant milestone in the campaign -- the day she took her message national. Those of us who have been following the Democratic race have seen her skills for months. Much of what we heard today is what we've been hearing in stump speeches, Q&As, Democratic debates, etc. But, most of the voters (and most of the clucking pundits), haven't had the opportunity to see her formidable campaign skills -- the relentless discipline to stay on message with a tone of pure common sense and competence -- until today.

She is, in her reactions to Chris Wallace on Fox, funny as hell.

"hwc" sums up the milestone, and I'm interested to know if Nettertainment readers feel the same:

Which brings us to the real importance of today - mark it on your calendars as the day Hillary moved from world of diehard Dems and introduced herself to the country at large. The first time most Americans saw her smile. And, laugh. And talk about the mistakes she's made and the lessons she's learned. And her calm dismissal of partisan attacks. And her relentless focus on the issues important to real Americans in their real lives - like getting out of Iraq, health care, etc. Repeatedly challenging the Republicans to stop silly political attacks and start presenting their plans for heath care and the war in Iraq. With her unshakeable message discipline, she showed just how fluent she can be in talking about these issues. It was, as the Clinton campaign has always talked about, a chance for voters to meet Hillary for the first time.

It will be interesting to see the impact of September 23, 2007 on the Presidential race. My guess is that it was devastating to the other Democratic candidates and to the Republicans. I don't know the cost of five 20 minute slots on national TV, but it's millions and millions worth of exposure. Does it force Obama and Edwards to appear on these shows? Probably. Can they perform like Clinton? The Republican candidates, many of whom are probably getting their first look at Hillary, are almost certainly sitting back at campaign headquarters, drinking their dry martinis, and realizing that they have a formidable candidate to contend with in 2008.
If the Dems end up choosing Hillary, I'm guessing it's going to be early, and then the interesting thing will be how she/they keep the momentum going, in this the longest lead-up to a Presidential election in modern history.

But if she's so sharp right now, I'm guessing she already has a plan.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More Money

From The New York Times, we're not just not stopping the Iraq War, we're moving in the wrong direction:
The Bush administration plans to increase its 2008 financing request for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere by almost $50 billion, with about a quarter of the additional money going toward armored trucks built to withstand roadside bombs, Pentagon officials said Saturday.

The increase would bring the amount the administration is seeking to finance the war effort through 2008 to almost $200 billion.
Think about that number the next time some rightwing pundit or GOP candidate says that we can't pay for national health care.

If they can find the money for killing, they should be able to find it for keeping us alive.

Friday, September 21, 2007


It's the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, where we fast all day (sundown to sundown) and ask God for a previous year's worth of forgiveness. Sounds good to me.

There's an opportunity tonight to blog on all sorts of painfully entertaining problems of our oh so strident day, whether it's Mister Bush claiming to be an asset to his Party's candidates, or Mitt Romney's shockingly insensitive remarks about his sons serving best by working on his campaign, or General Petraeus lying with statistics, or even someone finally explaining the town of Jena's racial politics in a way I can understand.

But there's a happy story for today as well, about the Bilbao Guggenheim now a surprising ten years old (that just crept up, didn't it?) and how it hasn't finished the transformation job on the historically gritty, industrial town of Bilboa, but it's gone some distance. I recommend checking out the slide show in the New York Times article for a very decent sense of in and around the museum.

Congrats to architect Mr. Frank Gehry, who maintains one of his unique homes several blocks from ours here in Santa Monica. Grace is generally considered a Christian term as it applies to God's relief from woe in our lives, and once again, it sounds good to me.

We need more grace in our lives...and it looks like Mr. Gehry's supplied more than his share.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Get It Together

If the Democratic Congressional leadership doesn't get it together soon, they will really have blown their one opportunity to take control of the public discussion on all these major Bush crime issues facing the country, like getting us into the Iraq War and using the war to gut the U.S. Constitution.

But even The New York Times is telling them they should have let the Republicans filibuster on the Webb Amendment to save our soldiers (you know, what they pretend to call "Support Ze Troops"); hell, they should have made them do it:

The current Republican leadership, now in the minority, has organized its entire agenda around the filibuster. In July, the McClatchy newspaper group reported that Republicans were using the threat of filibuster more than at any other time in the nation’s history.

Remember, this is the same batch of Republican senators who denounced Democrats as obstructionist and even un-American and threatened to change the Senate’s rules when Democrats threatened filibusters in 2005 over a few badly chosen judicial nominees. Now Republicans are using it to prevent consideration of an entire war.

Josh Marshall has some similar reactions from smart readers, with this being my favorite:

TPM Reader AC:

Politics is the art of the possible. And when nothing concrete is possible, that leaves theater. I am baffled at Democrats' continual willingness to concede the stage. Veto or no veto, making the GOP filibuster a bill like Webb's is not pointless. It puts vulnerable GOP moderates on the hot seat, it puts the blame for obstruction on the minority where it belongs, and it may force a series of unpopular high-profile vetoes from Bush.
Bag news Notes boils it down to a photograph of Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) after he's been thrashed -- even though his party had a simple majority:
Although I can feel the reflex rolling around in there, I'm decidedly not going to feel Jim's pain. Instead, I'm going to appreciate ... no, relish the fact that Jimmy learned something yesterday -- a hard lesson about what it's like to seek compromise with people who feel nothing.
And Keith Olbermann put the focus back where it belongs -- squarely on the "President", who seems more and more like a poltergeist from a previous century, like maybe the Tenth.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

GOP Blockage

It's official.

Even though they own the Presidency, the Republicans in the Senate are obstructionists who are deliberately placing themselves in front of the Peoples' Business for partisan purposes.

They killed the Webb Amendment to allow our troops appropriate rest -- and start unwinding the Iraq War -- today.

They killed the restoration of our Constitutionally mandated right of habeas corpus today.

The U.S. public is against this war.

In Iraq, things are far from improving.

They pushed for it. They've owned it. Without a doubt, they own it now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Just a quick note from New York City where I'm spending most of the week. It's easy to lose sight of what happened on 9/11/2001 from sunny Southern California when so much of the actual comprehension of the attack has been obfuscated by the Cheney/Bush Administration's perversion of that event for naked partisan gain.

But when on the streets of Manhattan, looking to orient myself, I glance over where the World Trade Center used to be, the southern tip of the island, and when I see only empty sky, it all comes rushing back and I utter under my breath, "You bastards."

We shouldn't forget that we were attacked, nor the need to take measures to prevent a future attack. We did strike back, definitively and with both bi-partisan and worldwide support, when we went into Afghanistan.

How tragic that we failed to finish the job -- Bin Laden escaped under George Bush's direction, any permanent fix abated due to the Cheney/Bush/Rumsfeld/Neoconservative misdirection into Iraq, their complete undermining of favorable world opinion and U.S. "soft power" by their war atrocities and illegal renditions.

There is no way to overstate how much this villainous Administration has abused the memory and emotion engendered by the attacks.

That alone is worthy of a treason trial, if not ruling.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rude Friend?

So Mister Bush has nominated as Attorney General a retired jurist pre-approved by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and obviously qualified for the job in a way that Alberto Gonzales never even approached. In other words, not for Bush’s inner coven.

There’s even been some grumbling by far-right conservatives. Hey, if Chuck Schumer likes the guy, there has to be something wrong with him. Perhaps in an attempt to mollify that nutbag contingent, the Wall Street Journal has published “Seven Things to Know About Michael Mukasey” but the effect on the rest of us may not be so reassuring.

For example, he’s so close to Rudy Giuliani that Marc Mukasey, works for the firm of Bracewell & Giuliani.

As for Rudy himself, MoveOn has his number.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What We Wrought

Bad news study out of England last week says:

In the week in which General Patraeus reports back to US Congress on the impact the recent ‘surge’ is having in Iraq, a new poll reveals that more than 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have been murdered since the invasion took place in 2003.

Previous estimates, most noticeably the one published in the Lancet in October 2006, suggested almost half this number (654,965 deaths).
Click the link above to see their methodology, very scary numbers like:
How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (ie as a result of violence rather than a natural death such as old age)? Please note that I mean those who were actually living under your roof.

None 78%
One 16%
Two 5%
Three 1%
Four or more 0.002%
The drop off at four or more might be from lack of survivors.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Good Start

It's one thing to have anti-war protests in D.C. Ho-hum.

But when the arrests start to happen, then something is really percolating:
Demonstrators were pushed to the ground, placed in plastic handcuffs and led away to the Capitol. Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, said that the authorities had arrested 189 people and that they would be charged with illegally crossing a police line. Two protesters and two police officers received minor injuries, Sergeant Schneider said.
Be still my heart.

Photo journal here.

Boehned It

Looks like Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) is doing his best to ruin his political career:
"The investment that we're making today will be a small price if we're able to stop al Qaeda here, if we're able to stabilize the Middle East, it's not only going to be a small price for the near future, but think about the future for our kids and their kids."
Y'see nobody really needs to sacrifice anything for this greatest conflict of all time war.

Tell that to the 3,780 families and counting.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Endless War

Whenever George Bush opens his mouth he lies. He lies to himself, he lies to us. It’s getting to be real drag.

I didn’t watch his speech, but I suffered through this lowlight reel from Talking Points Memo. Bush thinking he’s getting over with the Brandon Stout letter, practiced smugness.

Bush laid it out tonight for good. The war without end predicted by another George, Orwell in 1984. That's all he's offering, so would anyone left believing they can be reasoned with, please get over that. That's all Cheney and Bush are offering, well into the next President's term -- or terms.

As for the rebuttals, I’m with John on this one.

As I am so often these days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I'm starting to wonder if the tide is actually turning in D.C. I could be totally thwarted on this, but I think when Bush announces the bullshit drawdown of 30,000 troops that were scheduled to come home at that same time next year anyway (and if he and Cheney attack Iraq we'll see who comes home really), a force reduction that would just put us at pre-surge levels anyway (a wasted 12 months?), no one is going to believe him.

Because we all stopped believing him a long time ago.

Because we are all now trained to read his customary expressions and mannerisms as duplicitous.

Or, occasionally, duplicitous and stupid.

Here's some odd signs that the bruising Senate committee hearings yesterday were actually a potential turning point in the national debate. When Petraeus accidentally told the truth, and maybe historically will because of the slip have redeemed himself beyond what Colin Powell will have achieved, it was the other shoe hitting on the side of reason. There's just no truth to the neocon policy, and in reality no tangible security element, so we must take an approach radical to the current policy if we have any hopes of reversing course towards a more secure Earth.

Hopeful signs include all the GOP Senators wailing on the mission -- Lugar, Hagel, Warner (the latter two definitely able to go conscience now that they've announced retirement) -- as well as announced Democratic leadership plans to fight whatever Bush proposes and instead legislate a true withdrawal strategy.

Another hopeful sign is Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) taking a hard rhetorical line against Cheney/Bush machine, even mentioning Iran. Richardson and Dodd, his Presidential nomination rivals, have whacked at his speech, but I think it's a welcome move in the right direction for the national debate.

There's also an Action Alert out on Iran. Per Crooks & Liars:
Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121. We need to let our representatives know that Bush cannot attack Iran.
And then there's a couple tragic events unfolding that make me think the narrative could, with surprising speed, slip from the Pro-War establishment:

- Oil law compromise in Iraq got torched today (and Bush buddies from Texas, Hunt Oil, look plenty responsible -- amazing). Could this undermine the President's rhetoric enough, even get publicized enough?

- Two of the seven soldiers who recently authored a pro-withdrawal op-ed in The New York Times were killed in a vehicle accident today. Really icky karma for WarCheney and WarBush.

Oh, and after Pat Tillman, I'm not ruling out murder, i.e. political assassination.

Do you?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


In his second day of testimony, Bush/Cheney's figleaf general, Petraeus, made the most revealing admission of all, perhaps a faux pas, perhaps a Freudian slip:
In the hearings' most stunning moment so far, Sen. John Warner (R-VA) asked Gen. Petraeus if success in the Iraq war will make America safer. His response -- by far the most surprising moment of the hearings -- was a blunt "I don't know." This is the first time that any general officer, let alone the commanding general in Iraq, has ever equivocated on whether success in Iraq will contribute to U.S. security.
Did Petraeus inadvertently reveal this truth because it's a question that has never been properly answered, free of Rovian spin?

Isn't there something inadvertently refreshing about his admission of inconclusivity?

While Petraeus, revealing himself as much a politician as any Bush official who's every appeared before Congress, worked hard to backtrack when given the opportunity, the damage had been done. The resultant feeling from Petraeus' slipping out the truth, here on the sixth (that's right) anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, is one of intense sadness, the waste of it all:

MATTHEWS: But if the commander over there can’t justify the deaths of these soldiers, because it serves a national purpose and makes us safer then what the hell are we doing there?

BIDEN: …This is…this is heartwrenching. They refer to every one of those bodies as a fallen angel. They put six fallen angels on that aircraft. And you know, Chris, um…what do you say? Why did they fall? What do you say? What do you say to their parents? What do you say to those, those troops?
It's worth noting that Sen. Biden (D-DE) has a son in the Delaware National Guard who's due to be deployed to Iraq next year.

So this is what 9/11 has come to: America debating the corpse of a wrongly launched and ineptly prosecuted war of deception and arrogance that the greediest and most corrupt figures in our country's recent leadership have seemingly locked up into, one that a solid majority of us want us to exit.

Happy anniversary.

Look Away

I'm not sure that you could, at a stretch, call the way General Petraeus averts his gaze from the admonishing Congressmen as shame; it wouldn't be a stretch to call it disrespectful. At the very least, he's focused solely on his own narrative, and while they speak he just takes some sort of notes, figuring like an accountant or maybe a defense attorney.

But what he's not doing is paying attention. He's listening, but he's not listening. He's preparing.

It's so overdetermined as to be a Strangelovian parody of itself.

This man must sell this war. He's only the latest, and I would love if he turns out to be the last.

But I so doubt it.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


General Petraeus was revealed today to be "fully hardwired" into the Cheney/Bush fraud apparatus including debuting in US media for the surge on Fox New and working with former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie. Per Talking Points Memo:

Now, it isn't exactly a big surprise that a Gillespie-run public-relations team in the White House would be fully integrated into Gen. Petraeus' team, but it does reinforce what observers have known for quite a while now: Petraeus is a part of the president's political operation. That's not necessarily a criticism. It is, however, a realization that Petraeus' testimony is not that of a neutral, dispassionate observer.

As Ezra said the other day, "Next week, Petraeus will not be acting as a general and he will not be acting as a soldier; he will be acting as a media campaign. He is the White House's press strategy."

This makes the General a scoundrel rather than a statesmanlike military figure.

Who doesn't believe in the escalation, I mean, "surge?"

- Democratic Presidential candidates. No, really.

- Other top U.S. military leaders.

- The true statistical numbers they won't release. (You know, reality.)

- Gen. Petraeus himself:
General David Petraeus, the commander of United States forces in Iraq, admitted on Friday that sending 30 000 more troops into the war zone in January had failed to yield the desired results. "It has not worked out as we had hoped," the general said.
Is that supposed to give us confidence?

Who is for The War? Per Kevin Drumm, it's no longer War Hawks or Pottery Barn Hawks. It's now the Chaos Hawks:

Having admitted, however, that the odds of a military success in Iraq are almost impossibly long, Chaos Hawks nonetheless insist that the U.S. military needs to stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Why? Because if we leave the entire Middle East will become a bloodbath. Sunni and Shiite will engage in mutual genocide, oil fields will go up in flames, fundamentalist parties will take over, and al-Qaeda will have a safe haven bigger than the entire continent of Europe.

Needless to say, this is nonsense. Israel has fought war after war in the Middle East. Result: no regional conflagration. Iran and Iraq fought one of the bloodiest wars of the second half the 20th century. Result: no regional conflagration. The Soviets fought in Afghanistan and then withdrew. No regional conflagration. The U.S. fought the Gulf War and then left. No regional conflagration. Algeria fought an internal civil war for a decade. No regional conflagration.

The New York Times asked 6 experts (or maybe 5 since one of them is Doug Feith) for three questions each they would like to see Congress ask Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker when they appears before them. My personal favorite, from the Brit:
2. What do you think might be the consequences for the security situation in Iraq if the United States undertook military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities?
Clearly weighing on the minds of Britons -- and maybe the accelerator on their withdrawal from Basra.

Bob Schieffer has the most direct question, from Meet the Press (via Crooks and Liars):
We haven’t lost this war, but we’re not winning it. We’re hanging on. Victory would be obvious, Iraqi families would be strolling the streets of Baghdad and Osama Bin Laden would be walking out of a cave somewhere with his hands up. Instead of that question, let’s hope the General will be asked what we so often forgot during Vietnam: Is this worth the cost in lives and money?
Will any leaders step up this week?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Escalation Failure

The "surge" such as it is, has failed.

To study the full effects of the troop increase at ground level, reporters for The New York Times repeatedly visited at least 20 neighborhoods in Baghdad and its surrounding belts, interviewing more than 150 residents, in addition to members of sectarian militias, Americans patrolling the city and Iraqi officials.

They found that the additional troops had slowed, but far from stopped, Iraq’s still-burning civil war. Baghdad remains a city where sectarian violence can flare at any moment, and where the central government is becoming less reliable and relevant as Shiite or Sunni vigilantes demand submission to their own brand of law. “These improvements in the face of the general devastation look small and insignificant because the devastation is so much bigger,” said Haidar Minathar, an Iraqi author, actor and director. He added that the security gains “have no great influence.”

We all know that Cheney/Bush's Petraeus Report will be a lie.

Now stop the magical thinking.

Friday, September 07, 2007

War for Peace

I'm watching these anti-war protesters getting arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights. It strikes me that free speech is the first correction to the Constitution, not Amendment #78 or even low double-digits. No violence, no guns, no dead children due to the protest, and they're being busted in D.C. itself.

Our America. Wild.

The jackboot stuff kicks in around 6:15 when a mounted cop uses the unreasoning fear tactic, using the threat of violence from his horse to do it.

It's like suddenly being at a Karl Rove-staged GOP/Bush rally. As if D.C. is Bush's space, sheriff Cheney, not our town anymore. Not for every American.

So this is what the social contract has come to under imperialistic GOP rule.

I was also struck by the question of whether this protest was part of a larger plan, some sort of coordinated peace movement, but I'll bet the best we can expect is that the viral dissemination of the arrest video makes a couple stars and provides a little fuel.

But I don't think that's the case. I just watched this riveting video one of my heroes, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter. He just wrote a book called Waging Peace because he thinks that for there to be a truly effective peace movement, it has to get hard, get organized, get Sun-Tzu.

Ritter argues that the majority of Americans aren't against the Iraq War, they're just against losing. Ritter comes right out and says we lost.

Was that so difficult?

Then he says that those of us who want to be fighting for peace have to realize it isn't about converting everybody over to our cause. There are, in fact, pro-war factions that aren't going to change, including those in Congress who are vested in the military-industrial complex, per GOP President Dwight D. Eisenhower himself.
“If you want to be anti-war, that means you have to be in conflict with those who are pro-war.”

Petraeus is now revealed as completely in bed with Bush. He sees himself as a future Presidential candidate or something, defending his counterterrorism reputation. (Wouldn't you?) Leading up to the reuniting in D.C., Bush has been making a total fool of himself (and of course thus us) in Australia, confusing it with Austria (I kid you not), calling the APEC meeting he was at "OPEC" (what would Freud say?) and just like on his last trip to China, going off the stage the wrong way into a dead end (how overdetermined).

As for Bush's supposed nemesis, our nemesis, Osama Bin Asshole, either he or someone dressed like him (it's actually hard to tell) is in a newly released video giving us a recent history lesson (sad for its accuracies), taunting us to leave in another smartly timed release to steel our resolve.

The last thing Osama (or Al Quaeda) wants is for us to leave. Otherwise why would he/they release tapes on the last weekend of the last Presidential election?

Our presence there is his oxygen, and unless there are some serious Democratic led fireworks over the next several weeks, the USA is going to keep providing it to him.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Truth Sandwich

Here's the truth on Iraq: we're not really fighting Al Queda. If any politician says it, Republican or Democrat, it's a lie:

The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), which arguably has the best track record for producing accurate intelligence assessments, last year estimated that AQI's membership was in a range of "more than 1,000." When compared with the military's estimate for the total size of the insurgency—between 20,000 and 30,000 full-time fighters—this figure puts AQI forces at around 5 percent. When compared with Iraqi intelligence's much larger estimates of the insurgency—200,000 fighters—INR's estimate would put AQI forces at less than 1 percent. This year, the State Department dropped even its base-level estimate, because, as an official explained, "the information is too disparate to come up with a consensus number."

How big, then, is AQI? The most persuasive estimate I've heard comes from Malcolm Nance, the author of The Terrorists of Iraq and a twenty-year intelligence veteran and Arabic speaker who has worked with military and intelligence units tracking al-Qaeda inside Iraq. He believes AQI includes about 850 full-time fighters, comprising 2 percent to 5 percent of the Sunni insurgency. "Al-Qaeda in Iraq," according to Nance, "is a microscopic terrorist organization."

Here's some more truth, from someone on General Petraeus' advisory committee -- we can't win this post-war war:
Biddle also said (again, expressing his personal view) that the strategy in Iraq would require the presence of roughly 100,000 American troops for 20 years — and that, even so, it would be a "long-shot gamble."
And that from a guy who's positioned to support the surge/escalation.

Here's another truth: the GOP is living in a frighteningly dangerous, intractable fantasyland, and have apparently agreed to continue the slaughter:
"It should be off the table," House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said of Democratic attempts to pass legislation to force President George W. Bush to withdraw some of the 168,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and wind down the combat mission there.
So the majority of blood is on their hands, villains of history. The Cheney/Bush/Petraeus propaganda machine appears to be working, inasmuch as it has been deliberately aimed at wavering (i.e. nearly moral) Republican members of Congress, giving them enough fantasy ammo to stay in line with their senseless policies, such as they are, and thwart the potential for any substantive change in the debacle, all to protect their Party in the media eye.

The real question is whether the Dems will fold again:

“If we have to make [withdrawal by] the spring part of a goal, rather than something that is binding, and if that is able to produce some additional votes to get us over the filibuster, my own inclination would be to consider that,” Dem Senator Carl Levin tells the paper.

Of course, it's not immediately clear why it would be a "compromise" for Dems to give moderate Republicans what they want -- i.e., the opportunity to appease their constituents by voting symbolically against the war without forcing it to end -- while giving up what they want, which is mandated withdrawal. Nonetheless, it's looking more and more like this may be where things will head after the country is hypnotized next week by General Petraeus into believing that the surge is working.
There is a slight window of good news, and one we can only hope will open up further. Amongst the Democratic Presidential nominees, who is voicing real leadership for change in this disaster?

Front runners Clinton and Obama?


It's former Senator John Edwards and, I'm happy to report, Sen. Chris Dodd.

The key phrase:
No withdrawal timetable, no war funding.
Is that easy enough to understand?

Contrary to popular belief, I think the only way for the Dems to lose in '08 is not by nominating Hillary. If the Dems lose in '08 it will be because they betrayed the grassroots/rank & file of their party and didn't do their all to oppose Cheney/Bush/Petraeus and end this war.

I don't even care if they succeed. They just have to do their all.

Run, Earthling

Here's the best photo essay site ever:
The rules are simple: I put the self-timer on 2 seconds, push the button and try to get as far from the camera as I can.
Lo, the human condition.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Go watch Keith on that lying bastard Bush.

What a heartless, greedy son of a bitch.

No end while he is in office.

Follow the nuns.

Worst President ever? He's in the running for one of history's greatest villains, especially if he lights up Iran.
Show all
Anger is an entirely appropriate response.

To evil.

Monday, September 03, 2007


“The Republicans need to get their spunk back,” said Leanne Stein, 41, who lives in Claridon, Ohio, and works at a retirement home.
This from a New York Times article today on how the Republican rank and file is wholly unimpressed with their candidates for President. As readers of Nettertainment know, I agree. The New Hampshire GOP voters on:

“Giuliani, he’s pro-abortion,” he said. “It’s hard for me to believe that he’s a Republican front-runner. Giuliani’s children aren’t even supporting him. He’s had three wives. I don’t like that.”
Dave McMullen, 63, a dairy farmer in Warsaw, Ohio, said many of the candidates were not addressing the economy. He has taken a particular dislike to Mr. Romney.

“He’s not thinking about agriculture or the economy,” Mr. McMullen said. “We got so many foreclosures in my county. People are losing their jobs. All the big factories are moving down to Mexico, where they can get cheap labor. I don’t see Mitt Romney or any of them talking about that.”
“I liked McCain, but he’s losing ground too fast to win. I don’t know if it’s his age or the war."
“Who’s that? Oh, that guy on TV? I haven’t heard much about him. I’ve been working too much to watch TV news.”

Meanwhile, the Times gives a much different report on the Dem side:
Forget the “lesser-of-the-evils” talk typically heard from Democratic primary voters around this time of a presidential campaign. Interviews with dozens of Democrats here and across the country this Labor Day weekend found them enthusiastic about their presidential choices and, if slightly nervous about potential weaknesses in their candidates, confident of victory in 2008.
The November 2008 Presidential election is over fourteen months away, and anything can happen three times between now and then, like Dick Cheney attacking Iraq in our name or violence here at home.

But which is the more enviable position at this stage of the game?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pity Party

Several articles over this long weekend making self-pity the dominant theme of the Bush Administration's final turn. Just like with failed President Richard Nixon.

Primary amongst these tales are advance excerpts/word from Robert Draper's upcoming book on Mister Bush, for which he received unprecedented access to our supposed Chief Executive. Bush decries self-pity in a President, all the while doth protesting too much:

“Self-pity is the worst thing that can happen to a presidency,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Draper, by way of saying he sought to avoid it. “This is a job where you can have a lot of self-pity.”

In the same interview, Mr. Bush seemed to indicate that he had his down moments at home, saying of his wife, Laura, “Back to the self-pity point — she reminds me that I decided to do this.”

Bush's passive self-pity is matched only by his alarming, even horrifying passiveness over the key decision in the Iraq debacle:

Mr. Bush acknowledged one major failing of the early occupation of Iraq when he said of disbanding the Saddam Hussein-era military, “The policy was to keep the army intact; didn’t happen.”

But when Mr. Draper pointed out that Mr. Bush’s former Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, had gone ahead and forced the army’s dissolution and then asked Mr. Bush how he reacted to that, Mr. Bush said, “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, ‘This is the policy, what happened?’ ” But, he added, “Again, Hadley’s got notes on all of this stuff,” referring to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser.

Should play nicely in his "legacy."

Meanwhile Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is having a pity party of her own, participating in an unprecedented number of bios while still in office, desperate to shape the post-Admin impression of her performance (this from the former National Security Advisor who failed us by failing to prevent the forewarned 9/11 attacks on her watch):

Ms. Rice is rarely, if ever, self-reflective. But in an interview with The New York Times this month, she acknowledged, ever so obliquely, that her first four years working for the Bush administration were not her best.

“I don’t know; if that’s the assessment, you know, I’ll accept people’s assessment,” she said, her demeanor resigned. “The national security adviser is a great job, because you’re very close to the president; you’re working with him, but it’s also a very difficult job because everything is by remote control. You do not own any of the assets...”

...In fact, her friends say that she rarely questions whether she is right or wrong, instead choosing to believe in a particular truth with absolute certainty until she doesn’t believe it anymore, at which point she moves on. “Now you’ve got me trying to psycho-analyze myself,” she complained...

“...I told Steve Hadley once, I frankly prefer being coordinated than coordinating,” she said, referring to the current national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley.

Hadley again. What would these "leaders" do without him? Whine alone?

There's no end in sight to the self-pity, which will eventually morph into the traditional (and well-documented) rightwing "stabbed in the back" meme. Now that the British, with Tony Blair safely escorted from power, are doing exactly what the American public wants us to do, i.e. leaving, you've got plenty of Bush fury -- those backstabs bleed self pity every time:

Downing Street said the withdrawal from Basra Palace was part of the continuing process of handover to Iraqi forces.

But the move produced an angry reaction in Washington. Bush administration officials were furious that the operation was launched at a time when the president is begging for more time for his 'surge' strategy to turn the tide of the war.

Although the Prime Minister refuses to say when he will order UK troops home, observers believe the stage is set for a fullscale pull-out - and a serious rift in the special relationship with the U.S.

Who can blame the Brits -- even our own troops know our continued expenditures of blood and treasury in Iraq is futile at best.

But maybe the entire GOP establishment's childlike rage at the mess they've made of their Party and our country can best be summarized by Republican strategist Mary Matalin's toddler-tantrum act today on Meet the Press:
On this morning’s Meet The Press, Senior Cheney apologist and right wing sniper, Mary Matalin, threw a little hissy fit at Bob Shrum on the issue of Iraq and the upcoming presidential election. As Shrum continually smacks down her spin, Matalin becomes increasingly perturbed and at the end of the segment as Mike Murphy was getting in some right wing spin of his own, she chucks her pen across the table in front of him, noticeably drawing his attention and making a loud noise as it bounced across the table and onto the floor.

Hey, as one who finds being right a better feeling than, well, let's not go there, I'm sympathetic. It sucks to be wrong.

About everything.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The End of America

If this is true and we will be unilaterally attacking Iran by decree, what will be left -- morally and before long physically -- of our great nation?

Fasten your seatbelts for the next game-changer, the nightmare bookend of 9/11/2001.