Archive for Iraq

Frank Rich asks, The 9/11 decade is now over. The terrorists lost. But who won?

Rich was on MSNBC to talk about his piece in New York Magazine that includes this:

By portraying Afghanistan and Iraq as utterly cost-free to a credulous public, the Bush administration injected the cancer into the American body politic that threatens it today: If we don’t need new taxes to fight two wars, why do we need them for anything? But that’s only half the story in this alternative chronicle of the decade’s history. Even as the middle class was promised a free ride, those at the top were awarded a free pass—not just with historically low tax rates that compounded America’s rampant economic inequality but with lax supervision of their own fiscal misbehavior.

To that point, the government just announced plans to sue several big banks for their fiscal misbehavior:

The federal agency that oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is set to file suits against more than a dozen big banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities they assembled and sold at the height of the housing bubble, and seeking billions of dollars in compensation.The Federal Housing Finance Agency suits, which are expected to be filed in the coming days in federal court, are aimed at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, among others, according to three individuals briefed on the matter.

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Jul
10

Credit Where Credit Is Due

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During the Iraq occupation in 2006, I observed that at the top of their game conservative spinmeisters are as skilled at misdirection as close-up magicians at the Magic Castle. One of their best sleight-of-hand tricks is “Heads, I win. Tails, you lose.” Steve Benen at Washington Monthly observed the same thing about the weak jobs numbers released last week and illustrates his point with simple graphics:

When the jobs reports were looking quite good in the early spring, Republican leaders were eager to take credit for the positive numbers they had nothing to do with. Needless to say, GOP officials are no longer claiming responsibility, and are in fact now eager to point fingers everywhere else. It’s a nice little scam Republicans have put together: when more jobs are being created, it’s proof they’re right; when fewer jobs are being created, it’s proof Obama’s wrong. Heads they win; tails Dems lose.

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Mar
21

Open Thread: War

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Heath Shuler wants U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. There are still 40,000 troops in Iraq. We’re shooting up Libya. We spend more on ‘defense’ than anything else. Our troops are stationed across the globe. Meanwhile, here at home our government is claiming poverty and the need to burden the working classes.

What are your thoughts about the state of U.S. international military interventions?

Dec
05

Reaction To The WikiLeaks Reaction

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The successive waves of document dumps by WikiLeaks have revealed just how much goes on behind the scenes, some aimed at driving the public to where leaders want to go. I am old enough (barely) to remember the Gulf of Tonkin incidents. Signal intelligence declassified by the National Security Agency in 2005 reveals that Americans were the first to fire (warning shots unreported at the time) in the first incident and the second reported incident – as we already knew – never took place. The USS Maddox took a single bullet hole. No Americans were injured. But records doctored to support claims of a second attack gave the Johnson administration a blank check to escalate the Vietnam war. Nearly 60,000 Americans and countless numbers in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia lost their lives in the aftermath. Because of leaks, Americans did not have to wait forty years to find out about the lies behind nonexistent WMDs, prisoner abuse and government-sponsored torture. Lies and secrecy seem to have a pretty high potential for doing great harm. It’s hard to imagine what greater damage the truth can do.

And now some reaction to the reaction to the WikiLeaks document release.

The Independent of London:

Beyond the inadvisability of giving unlimited access to diplomatic cables to plainly unreliable employees, the leaks so far have done remarkably little harm to the reputation of the US internationally. But the apparent marshalling of corporate America, assorted showboating legislators and, quite possibly, techno-savvy “patriots” acting as guerrilla deniers of service in an attempt to harass WikiLeaks out of existence may be what, in the end, does the real harm. The country’s over-reaction is looking increasingly like that of a bully who, having had his nose put slightly out of joint, is determined to batter the upstart into a pulp. If America wanted to convince the entire online world that it has no sense of perspective, the past few days have been a triumph. Talk of boycotts is now in the air.

Daniel Ellsberg has already started one:
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Dec
03

But They Can’t Take It

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Politico reported Wednesday that some Senate Republicans are none too happy with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN):

The Republicans are steamed at Franken because partisans on the left are using a measure he sponsored to paint them as rapist sympathizers — and because Franken isn’t doing much to stop them.

“Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape —and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don’t think it’s a very constructive thing,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in an interview.

Citing Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Politico notes that some senators were not “convinced that Franken was staying above politics.”

[Perform spit-take here.]

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At least the damage was minimal, Frank Rich suggests in this morning’s New York Times. It’s not as if the “balloon boy” fraud led the country into invading a sovereign country in search of nonexistent WMDs, or into investing in dot-coms with no business plans, or into buying oversized homes with no-income no-asset loans.

But “balloon boy” is this generation’s “War of the Worlds” hoax, Rich believes, “the inevitable product of this reigning culture, where ‘news,’ ‘reality’ television and reality itself are hopelessly scrambled” — a culture in which media snake oil salesmen are as likely to be suckered as their audiences, if not more so.

Rich observes,

As “balloon boy” played out, the White House opened fire on one purveyor of fictional news, Fox News, where “tea party” protests are inflated into a national rebellion rivaling the Civil War and where Glenn Beck routinely claims Obama is perpetrating a conspiracy to bring fascism to America. But the White House’s argument is diluted by the different, if less malevolently partisan, fictions that turn up on Fox’s competitors. On CNN, for instance, Lou Dobbs provided a platform for the nuts questioning Obama’s citizenship. When an ABC News correspondent insisted that Fox was “one of our sister organizations” in an exchange with the president’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, last week, he wasn’t joking.

Not that anyone around him would have gotten it if he were.

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Dec
14

Everyone’s a critic.*

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* Other possible titles for this blog entry that were floating around in my mind included “Wow, pretty good reflexes for a dried-up drunk” or “Looks like someone’s been playing Wii Fit!”. Just be grateful I didn’t make any shoe puns, like “what a… heel” or “that’s an insult in my native… tongue!”

If anyone needs a reminder of what kind of place the shoe holds in Islamic cultures, ask yourself why exactly would the owners of the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad have wanted to have an intricate tile mosaic of George H.W. Bush installed at its main entrance?

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Nov
18

LOLberman!

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Today is International Laugh at Lieberman Day!

Think Joe Lieberman is a joke?

We do too. That’s why we’ve created a new holiday: Laugh at Lieberman Day. It’s today, Tuesday, November 18th, and we want you to celebrate with us! Here’s what you need to know:

How to celebrate:

Step 1: Find some way to record yourself

It can be a video camera, a camera phone, your laptop, or just a microphone. Just find someway to at least capture yourself speaking.

Step 2: Call Joe Lieberman’s office

Start your recording, pick up the phone, and dial (202) 224-4041. When someone picks up, ask if you’ve reached the office of Senator Joe Lieberman.

Step 3: Laugh!

Cackle. Giggle. Chortle. Guffaw. Whatever it is, just laugh. Even if you get an answering machine, laugh! Laugh at the joke that is Senator Joe Lieberman.

Step 4: Upload your video to YouTube

Upload the recording of you laughing at Joe Lieberman to YouTube. Make sure you tag your video laughatliebermanday so it will show up automatically on this page.

Step 5: Tell your friends!

Spread the joy! Tell all your friends about Laugh at Lieberman Day. Email them this website. Post it on Facebook. Tweet it on Twitter. Shout it from the rooftops. Just get the word out!

It’s easy and fun! See?

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Oct
04

Saturday Reading

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The pile of gluey tissues to my right and the steamy cup of Breathe Deep tea to my left are all the clues you need to know about my health. I don’t reckon that these germs will travel through the Toobz, so you can breathe easy. The picture here to the left is worth a clickthrough to the larger version. You’ll see Sarah Palin wearing some sort of fried egg/old-lady roses/cartoon cloud coat, and you get to see her daughter flipping someone the bird.

$300 million dollars to private American contractors to create psyop teevee for the Iraqis:

“The Defense Department will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to “engage and inspire” the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government.

The new contracts — awarded last week to four companies — will expand and consolidate what the U.S. military calls “information/psychological operations” in Iraq far into the future, even as violence appears to be abating and U.S. troops have begun drawing down.”

Blast from the near past. Obama and McCain exchanged letters over ethics reform in 2006. McCain was pissy about Obama even back then. Go read it and tell me that John’s not kinda c-r-a-z-y.

Pennsylvania Republicans join their comrades in working hard to get fewer people to vote:

Sue Nace thought election volunteers were joking when they told her she would have to remove her T-shirt to vote in the presidential primary last spring.

But it was no laughing matter to the poll workers-turned-fashion police, who said Nace’s Obama shirt was inappropriate electioneering – and made her cover the writing before casting a ballot.

Now, a political fight over what voters can wear to the polls is headed to court in Pennsylvania – with the Republican Party favoring a dress code and Democrats opposed.

The McCain campaign is working hard to keep voters from seeing the results of the “troopergate” report.

Almost all of McCain’s ads between now and election day are going to be attack ads. He’s losing, and the only way he can bounce back is to drag Obama into the mud. His agenda doesn’t sell with America, so all that’s left is fearmongering and mudslinging.

tremayne at Open Left says that McCain isn’t even trying to win at this point, simply hoping to do better than Bob Dole.

Sep
16

Tuesday Afternoon Reading

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Star City Harbinger: The National Organization of Women has endorsed Barack Obama for President. We can safely assume that even McCain surrogates won’t have the temerity to call them sexist for doing so. Sarah Palin wants to control your uterus.

Washington Post: “A GOP congressional leader who was wavering on giving President Bush the authority to wage war in late 2002 said Vice President Cheney misled him by saying that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had direct personal ties to al-Qaeda terrorists and was making rapid progress toward a suitcase nuclear weapon”

For those of you who loved Obama’s speech at the convention and have been wanting another oratory fix, watch this speech given in Colorado today.

Another big endorsement for Obama comes from Virginia, “Former GOP governor Linwood Holton today endorsed a Democrat for president for the first time and is going to stump critical areas of the state for him.

Linwood Holton is the hero of moderate Republicans in Virginia. He defeated the segregationist Democrat for governor and fought GOP rightwingers. Holton is widely regarded as the father of the Republican party in Virginia. When Richmond public schools were ordered integrated Holton enrolled his children in the AA school close to the governor’s mansion and walked them to school.”

AP: Bob Barr made the ballot in Pennsylvania. Good news for Libertarians. Bad news for McCain.

Giant Eddie Murphy head on the highway.

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