Joe Klein : Go Away

Joe Klein, allegedly liberal journalist, has this to say about the Democrats on Scarborough Country:
They haven't found their sea legs, but they are overreaching.

That doesn't even make sense. They can't stand up to the President, and yet their proposals go too far. Klein is slowly becoming Time Magazine's Christopher Hitchens, except he's a bit less eloquent. Even if he seems a tad more sober than Hitch...

And what about that wacko plan that John Murtha has proposed? The one that he proposed without having sea legs, and yet goes too far? The one that says we should fully fund the troops and give them adequate rest between tours of duty? According to this Washington Post / ABC News poll, it has support from 58% of the American public. It's unfortunate that pro-war Republicans don't have the balls to call Murtha's bluff and implement his changes and keep the war going. They want to fight this war on the cheap, and hope that the troops won't notice.


A Sullivan Fraud?

Something is very suspicious about this post at Andrew Sullivan's blog. He only uses ten words to say that he was wrong and somebody else was right. No nuance. No triple-explanations. I would never have suspected that he could order a cup of coffee with less than forty words. Has somebody stolen his account?
He was right. I was wrong. This clip is impressive.

If you haven't seen the clip yet, I've added it to the post so you don't have to go over to Sully's Weird World. It was linked at TPM last week, and I didn't think it was that impressive. It was the standard Dem position for those of us that didn't support the war. Too bad people like Andrew Sullivan and the gang at The New Republic were too busy playing cheerleader for the Administration instead of paying attention to reasonable arguments opposing the invasion of Iraq. (To be fair, they were hiding in their closets a-feared of Osama's Balsa Wood Nuclear Planes and Mobile Hot Dog Vans of Doom.)


Cloudy With A Chance Of Chaos

Take a few minutes to read this article from Fortune Magazine:
A disturbing consensus is emerging among the scientists who study global warming: Climate change may bring more violent swings than they ever thought, and it may set in sooner. Lately John Browne, the CEO of BP, has been jolting audiences with a list of proposed solutions that hint at the vastness of the challenge. It aims at stabilizing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at about double the pre-industrial level while continuing economic growth. To do that, carbon emissions would have to be reduced ultimately by seven gigatons a year. A gigaton, or a billion tons, is even bigger than it sounds. Eliminating just one, argues Browne, would mean building 700 nuclear stations to replace fossil-fuel-burning power plants, or increasing the use of solar power by a factor of 700, or stopping all deforestation and doubling present efforts at reforestation. Achieve all three of these, and pull off four more equally large-scale reallocations of capital and infrastructure, and the world would probably stabilize its carbon emissions.

There's just one catch: Even change on this vast scale might not stop global warming.

What if the secret behind civilization is that we've had really good weather?

A Difficult Life For The Little Green Fascists

One of the Little Green Fascists is having a tough day. First of all, Digg has buried one of his stories.
It’s a leftist totalitarian dreamworld. They simply exclude any and all points of view that violate the groupthink—and call it “democracy.”

Well, I'm not sure that LGF has a strong record of respecting all points of view. In addition, LGF encouraged its audience to "digg" a post that is nothing more than a link to an AP article with a crappy headline. LGF's blog post didn't add anything relevant to the original article, and should have been buried because it did nothing but direct traffic to the LGF site.

If you have something interesting to say, post it up to Digg. If you are only driving traffic to your blog by linking to an article and adding two irrelevant sentences, then your digg item should be buried. Permanently.



Why We Fight


Assassination Proclamations

A few days ago Flippant Conservative Reaction Machine (AKA Instapundit) crapped out a long brown "idea" regarding assassination of civilian Iranian scientists:
We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and Iranian atomic scientists.

Now, some people thought this was a somewhat asinine idea because it's a little difficult to assassinate a sovereign nation's nuclear scientist community quietly. That's not something you can do on the 'down low'. It also begs the question of whether we have the intelligence resources to identify the correct people and quietly (or even loudly) assassinate them.

Paul Campos of the Rocky Mountain News labeled Insta-Rhetorical-Loop as the Right's Ward Churchill. (I tend to think that's a little kind to Mr. InstaLobotomy.) Mr. Campos writes:
Certainly, it's worth asking Reynolds' administrative superiors at the University of Tennessee what limits, if any, the terms and conditions of Reynolds' employment put on his behavior. After all, if the American government were to follow Reynolds' advice, his employer would have an accessory to murder on its payroll.

This led to a reaction from Instanutter defending his assassination wet dream:
And as a 1989 memorandum by the Judge Advocate General of the Army notes, killing enemy leaders or weapons scientists isn’t even assassination: “Civilians who work within a military objective are at risk from attack during the times in which they are present within that objective, whether their injury or death is incidental to the attack of that military objective or results from their direct attack. ... Thus, more than 90 percent of the World War II Project Manhattan personnel were civilians, and their participation in the U.S. atomic weapons program was of such importance as to have made them liable to legitimate attack.

“Similarly, the September 1944 Allied bombing raids on the German rocket sites at Peenemunde regarded the death of scientists involved in research and development of that facility to have been as important as destruction of the missiles themselves. Attack of these individuals would not constitute assassination.”

And it will continue to go round and round because both of these guys are lawyers, and they are highly trained in creating linguistic moebius strips.

Now, I think it's time to consider Instaheadache's response with regard to civilians that contribute toward a military objective. Members of the 101st Keyboard Division like to claim that liberal bloggers reduce soldier's morale with the hurtful things they type. So, the converse of this is the assertion that conservative bloggers improve soldier's morale with the incredibly brave words they type. Hell, Michelle Malkontent has even flown to Baghdad and blogged from the battlefield itself. Can you imagine how much worse the situation in Iraq would be if our soldiers were depressed because they didn't have access to conservative blogs? The liberal media would reduce them to nothing but quivering, crying Oprah-loving peace machines. If it weren't for the 101st Keyboarders, we would've lost Iraq years ago.

That's why I'm concerned for Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, and the rest of the crew at Red State. If we quietly assassinate the key components of the Iranian war machine, then they might start assassinating the key components of our own. Hell, it seems like you can push an agenda to assassinate anybody if you try hard enough. You'd almost think there should be another way to secure world peace and equitable global commerce. But, no probably not. I think it's time to go out and buy some body armor.



Vietnam Veteran, Rick Francona, accuses Vietnam Veteran, Jack Murtha, of forgetting the lessons of the Vietnam War and that somehow Jack Murtha will repeat the same mistakes of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon when they failed to drop that one last load of bombs in Northern Vietnam which would have made The Cosby Mysteries a success. Err, I mean Vietnam a success. If only we had dropped that final load of bombs we could have prevented communism from taking over the entire Asian continent which resulted in the Super Power of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that currently rules the world.

Francona's blog entry is just plain nonsensical:
All of this boils down to congressional (political) micromanagement of the Defense Department’s conduct of a war – all the things he no doubt complained about (or should have) when he was a Marine Corps officer.

Congratulations, Colonel – you propose to do to the troops in Iraq what the Johnson and Nixon administrations did to us in Vietnam. I hope it doesn’t turn out the same way.

Jack Murtha isn't proposing micromanagement of the Iraq WhAteveR. He wants our troops fully funded. He wants them to have realistic rotations that prevent our troops from burning out after a few years. He wants the Commander In Chief to deliver a realistic exit strategy and an actual definition of victory. Murtha isn't proposing that we divide Iraq into 150,000 little squares and assign one soldier each one to guard and protect. Murtha isn't proposing that Congress needs to oversee each individual band-aid or bullet in Iraq. Murtha isn't proposing that Congress starts writing the menu for our troops.

The pro-war people have the power to call Murtha's bluff. The pro-war people have the power to say, "Yes, these are realistic measures that will provide an incredible amount of support to our troops and boost their morale in ways that Rush Limbaugh's radio show can not."

But let's be honest. The pro-war people won't support adequate funding for a 21st Century Army. They want to literally fight the Vietnam War over again with the same type of tactics and the same type of gear (but with more computers!) They want an Iraq version of M*A*S*H on our television. They want Robin Williams to act like a doofus in a movie called "Good Morning, Baghdad" (except this time he also has a blog). They want to 'win' this time so they can finally say to those dirty hippies once and for all, "See! You guys were wrong about the Iraq War and that means you were wrong about Vietnam and that means you were totally, totally wrong about Lynyrd Skynyrd."

Jack Murtha is only 'bleeding' support away from this war because people like Rick Francona only want to support our troops by writing emotional blogs and bitching about Jack Murtha on cable TV. That's it. That's how they support our troops. Jack Murtha finally called their bluff and submitted a proposal that would set a compelling standard for troop support in the 21st Century. And what happened when the pro-war crowd looked at the proposal for this type of support? They wrinkled their nose because it came from a Democrat, and then they pooped their pants when they saw the price tag. However, they can't write that in their blog so they decide to attack the messenger and accuse him of forgetting the lessons of Vietnam. That might have worked in the 60's, but not today. It's almost like Francona has forgotten the lessons of the anti-Vietnam War Movement...


War Supporters From the Nth Dimension

War supporters are starting to remind me of Alex Jones fans. They will grasp onto any narrative that supports their position, even if that narrative defies any logic known to man. We have already witnessed Mark Steyn's Tall Tale of the Iraqi Sunni, Iranian Shia, and Al Qaeda working hand-in-hand to embarass Bush and his war. Now, Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe takes the wheel and steers us through the rabbit hole and into the paranoid world of the Middle Earth Lizard People.

Let's join the ride for a little bit:
WHAT DOES IT mean to support the troops but oppose the cause they fight for?

Jeff starts off with a real tough one here. Let's start off by splitting this sentence at the conjunction. What does it mean to support the troops? Good question. Does support mean that we give the troops adequate armor and language/culture training before sending them to war? Or does it mean that we will totally give a Marine a high five if we see them at the airport? I don't know. Jeff already has me stumped, and we're only half a sentence in. Let's skip this tough one and try the last half of the sentence. What does it mean to oppose the cause they fight for? Well, I guess we need to define what that 'cause' is now. We sent them in to force Saddam to give up his nonexistent weapons program. We're kinda screwed since the 'cause' only existed in the narrative constructed by pro-war Conservatives.

It's easy to support a person and not their cause. Have you ever had a friend attending college as a Communications undergrad? You can love the person, even though they are throwing away resources. Is Jeff really this dense? He must have been a Communications Major, too...

Next Jeff throws out the best line yet regarding the anti-surge resolution:
It was a disgraceful and dishonest resolution, and it must have done wonders for the insurgents' morale.

Yeah, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe is 'tuned in' to the insurgent's hearts and minds. He and Mark Steyn think that Iranian Shia, Iraqi Sunni, Muqtada Al-Sadr, Osama bin Laden, and Kim Jong Il are hanging out at Starbucks slapping each other's backs over the results of the vote in America.

Jeff, wake up. These people aren't sitting around reading the Boston Globe over cappucinos in the morning. They aren't going anywhere. Why the hell do they even care if the US troops stay or go? They are in it for the oil in Iraq. The winning faction in Iraq is going to expand the power of Saudi Arabia or Iran. That's what is at stake here. They aren't going to give two shits whether this war belongs to Bush, Clinton, Murtha, DeLay, Al Qaeda, or MTV. WAKE UP MORON.
America is a free country, but it is not the Michael Moores or the ROTC-banners or the senatorial loudmouths who keep it free. They merely enjoy the freedom that others are prepared to defend with their lives. It is the men and women who volunteer to wear the uniform to whom we owe our liberty. Surely they deserve better than pious claims of "support" from those who are working for their defeat.

Well, the op-ed pages of the Chicago Times and the Boston Globe aren't exactly on the front lines of this battle either. Pious claims of support? The last time I checked, it wasn't Michael Moore who sent a bunch of young Americans to go police rival factions in a hellish sand trap where nobody speaks English. Who is claiming to support the troops by sending an extra 20,000 of them to a pile of sand the size of California?

The pro-war Republicans are slowly realizing that this war is going very, very badly. So now they are spinning the most bizarre narratives possible. They don't want to consider the lack of pre-war planning. They don't want to consider the lack of an exit strategy. They don't want to consider that the mission objectives are ill-defined. They want to blame all of this on the hippies that objected to the Vietnam War. They want to blame Murtha, Kerry, and all other Vietnam Vets that seem to understand the cost of war better than the 101st Keyboard Brigade. At some point, I suspect they will be blaming all of this on Anna Nicole's lawyer. He's a pretty awesome scapegoat these days...

Climate Watch Blacklist

CERES provides this list of the top ten companies that are not responding to climate change concerns.
Banking & Financial: Wells Fargo
Electric Power: TXU, Dominion Resources, Allegheny Energy
Coal: Massey Energy, Consol Energy
Insurance: ACE
Oil & Gas: ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips
Retail: Bed Bath & Beyond

More information can be found at this link.

The Propagation of Ignorance Will Defeat US

Today Mark Steyn uses the Chicago Sun-Times as his bully pulpit to distort reality and create more conflict between Republicans and Democrats. Is he feigning ignorance just so he can take a few jibes at Democrats? Or is he truly ignorant of reality? I'm not sure, but his perspective is shared by many Conservatives and they are taking us down a very dangerous road.
Steyn uses the standard flippant Conservative voice when discussing the location of Al Sadr:
Meanwhile, the punk cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has decided that discretion is the better part of mullahs and has temporarily relocated to Iran. That's right: The biggest troublemaker in Iraq is no longer in Iraq. It may be that his Persian vacation is only to marry a cousin or two and consult with the A-list ayatollahs, but the Mookster has always had highly sensitive antennae when it comes to his own physical security -- he likes being the guy who urges martyrdom on others rather than being just another schmuck who takes one for the team. So the fact that urgent business requires him to be out of town for the Big Surge is revealing at the very least of how American objectives in Iraq are not at the mercy of forces beyond their control; U.S. military and political muscle can shape conditions on the ground -- if they can demonstrate they're serious about doing so.

Steyn has no evidence to support the claims that Muqtada is in Iran, but that doesn't prevent him from painting Sadr as a 'cut-and-runner'. However, Juan Cole provides a narrative that makes more sense:
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Muqtada al-Sadr and several leaders of his movement as well as commanders of his Mahdi Army are present in the southern marshlands of Iraq, a place in which dissidents in the former Baath regime used to hide out. The marshes have been re-flooded and are at 40% of their original area, and they do give good protection to anyone wishing to hide out. The Marsh Arab inhabitants of the swamps have largely become followers of Sadr, and so would protect him. They are in an area of Iraq that borders Iran and which serves as a smuggling route between the two countries, which may have given rise to the idea that Muqtada was on his way to Iran. He more likely is holed up in the marshes. This is the most plausible story I have seen yet on Muqtada's disappearance.

Jalal Talabani's account that Muqtada ordered his aides to Iran makes no sense at all given Muqtada's longstanding problem with Iran's authority in Shiism and his and his father's position that Iraqis should stay in Iraq even if they are in danger.

So which is it? Has Muqtada deserted his country and fled for Iran to marry his cousins? Or has he relocated to another area of Iraq? Relocation makes a lot more sense to me. However, that doesn't work with the Conservatives belief that the surge is already working so they are spinning nonsensical narratives to obsfucate the issue.

Steyn continues to weave his distorted tale:
According to a report by the New York Sun's Eli Lake last month, Iran is supporting Shia insurgents in Iraq and Sunni insurgents in Iraq. In other words, it's on both sides in the so-called civil war. How can this be? After all, as the other wise old foreign-policy "realists" of the Iraq Study Group assured us only in December, Iran has "an interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq.''

Au contraire, the ayatollahs have concluded they have a very clear interest in fomenting chaos in Iraq. They're in favor of Sunni killing Shia, and Shia killing Sunni, and if some vacationing Basque terrorists wanted to blow up the Spanish Cultural Center in Mosul, they'd be in favor of that, too. The Iranians don't care who kills whom as long as every night when Americans turn on the evening news there's smoke over Baghdad. As I say in my book, if you happen to live in Ramadi or Basra, Iraq is about Iraq; if you live in Tehran, or Cairo, or Bei-jing, Moscow, Pyongyang or Brussels, Iraq is about America. American will. American purpose. American credibility.

Well, if it's in Steyn's book then it must be true. Right? Except that it doesn't make much sense. I suspect Iranian Fundamentalists want to see their Shia brethren safe. I suspect the Iranian infrastructure wants to see a Shiite majority in the government because it would complement Iran's petroleum industry quite well. There is no reason for Iran to support Iraq's Sunni guerrillas. And then throwing the anti-Shia Al Qaeda into the mix obliterates Steyn's allegations. Does he really think that Al Qaeda will work with a group of Shia that they believe is a perversion of their own religion? That's almost as crazy as the idea of Al Qaeda working with Southern Baptists to fight the Jews. It's ludicrous. And where, exactly, does the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia fit into this mix? They are serious financial backers of Al Qaeda. Are we to believe that KSA and Iran are working together to create headlines in the newspapers in Chicago, New York, and Tokyo? That's almost like saying the British Kingdom was supporting the South during the Civil War so they could make headlines in Johannesburg.

I do see where Steyn is taking his argument, though. The Conservatives desperately need to link Iran to the Iraqi Sunni. It's the Sunni area where the Americans are taking the worst casualties, and it's imperative for Conservatives to create a narrative where the Iran Shia are the prime supporters of the Iraq Sunni. Yes, it's like saying the Ku Klux Klan were the backers of the Black Panthers, but people like Steyn are hoping that readers don't understand the difference between Shia and Sunni.

This is where the editor of the paper should come into play. Editors need to assert control and stand up for the integrity of their newspaper. I doubt that Mark Steyn would be allowed to write a serious column advocating that the Earth is flat. A responsible editor should come down hard on this type of material and say that it is too far away from reality to be published. There is a place for this type of idiocy, it's called the Weekly Standard. Not the Chicago Sun-Times.

And one more thing to Mr. Steyn: The Moderates in both parties, along with the Independents, do not want to live in a world where Iraq has descended into extreme ethnic cleansing. We do not want to live in a world where Iraq security is maintained by US troops indefinitely. If Bush takes us down that path, then he owns the "American Defeat", because both options are unacceptable. Neither of those are paths to "American Victory". If Bush decides to step back, admit mistakes in a frank and humble manner, and negotiate with international allies to create a new coalition; then I will sign on to that in a heartbeat and prepare myself for the resulting "Bush Peace." Ultimately, our goal is peace, not another war. There is still time to help create that type of dialogue in the world and in the United States. But that time is running out.

Stop creating new fights with Democrats and Republicans.

Start creating a new dialogue that will benefit our society and our world. The path to peace is in front of us if we decide to look for it. But we won't find it if we are focused on whether we should always take a Right turn or a Left turn.


NIN : Year Zero

A new NIN album is coming out on April 17. The album is titled Year Zero and according to Trent it is "Highly conceptual. Quite noisy. Fucking cool."

This appears to be a very high concept album. The mystery began when somebody noticed that highlighted letters from a European Tour Shirt spelled the words 'I am trying to believe." That led to the discovery of the website I Am Trying To Believe which seems to focus on a type of drug injected into the nation's water supply after some sort of biological attack.

The NIN Wiki has a page for Year Zero Research that contains links to more websites. How deep does the rabbit hole go? Take a look at the image linked to this post. That's the audio spectrograph analysis of a few seconds of static at the end of the single My Violent Heart that was leaked via a USB stick at a concert in Portugal last week.

I recommend that you take some time to explore the linked pages at the Wiki and stay tuned for further updates.


Anna Nicole Smith : Rest In Peace

I always liked Anna Nicole Smith. I didn't care for her reality show or some of her crazy antics, but I liked her. Why?

She was a strong, confident Texas woman who took her one gift and worked the hell out of it. You can find someone like her in every small town here. Except Anna didn't marry the richest farmer in town. She didn't marry that old guy when she was broke, even though 99.9% of the women in her position would have. No, she worked it and worked it and worked it until she found the success that satisfied her. Without compromise. Without editing herself to please her critics.

"But she made a living off her good looks!" you might say.

So what? She was born with 'em. I was born with excellent math skills. I have used them to my advantage to carve a little niche for myself in this world. I let myself get distracted when I should have focused on pushing toward high goals.

There are some men in this world that use their good looks to secure a job as a talking head on television. Men like Brit Hume or Sean Hannity like to think they are above women like Anna Nicole, but they are basically the same. Except they are selling an ideological perspective instead of sex. They pretend to be disgusted by women like Anna Nicole, even though they know they would have given her a blank check if she had shown interest in them. They kinda understand the sexual power Anna Nicole held. She understood it completely, even when she was smashed on methadone.

I will miss Anna Nicole Simpson. She was a wreck. She was a beauty. She was a strong, confident Texas woman that took her gift to the top of her industry. Rest in peace, my love.

Giuliani : He'll Fix America's Town Square

So Rudy Giuliani is running for President.

And why is Giuliani qualified to be the President of the United States.

He was 'America's Mayor'! He was on TV during 9/11 while Bush and Cheney were encased in protective Tupperware! He is personally responsible for cleaning Times Square!

In other words, he basically did the job he was hired to do. Now, that certainly makes him more qualified than somebody like George W. Bush. But it's not enough for me.

- I'm a Texas boy with very little interest in New York City. I realize that the Media has a huge boner for NYC, but I don't. I suspect plenty of NY folks don't give a flying flip for my beloved cities of Austin and Houston. But I'm not trying to shove Kirk Watson or Bill White down their throats. They are good, efficient mayors of large American cities. I bet they would have done their jobs if attacked by terrorists, just like Giuliani did.

- I don't really care about Times Square. I'm glad that it's nice and shiny and clean. But that's about the extent of it. Giuliani took advantage of a wealthy tax base and a booming US economy and spent money cleaning up a wealthy part of a rich city. That doesn't exactly impress me. Come talk to me when Giuliani cleans up Houston's Fifth Ward.

But maybe I'm the wrong person to talk about this. Let's get the perspective of a native New Yorker that covered Giuliani's administration:
I just read in the paper that there was another court settlement that is costing the city millions of dollars for unwarranted strip searches by the police. This was one of the many, many civil liberties, I would say scandals, that occurred across the Giuliani administration.

He prevented people from having protests and from getting access to government records so they could gauge the credibility of his claims about his magical governance against the facts.

That was a problem with the Giuliani years. He was very, very restrictive about the flow of information. His commissioners spoke at the risk of being dressed down or removed if they said the wrong thing or if they spoke with too much candor. His mayoral management reports, which had actually really been under Dinkins fairly interesting tools for assessing the pluses and minus of city services neighborhood by neighborhood, were turned into basically propaganda, rosy -- and very thin --reports.

That was problematic with Giuliani. If he should run for President, I don’t think it will be golden years for civil liberties in America -- if he wins, that is.

The more I read about Giuliani, the less that I like him. He's one of those typical Republicans that puts on this show about caring for all Americans; a "Compassionate" Conservative that really just cares about the upper classes. In other words, he's a George W. Bush with an East Coast accent. He will be so smug and arrogant that he'll make Bush look like a populist.

But then again, the GOP doesn't have anything else. John McCain makes Bob Dole look vibrant. And the rest of the bunch only care about abortion. I think the Republicans should just send their money to Ralph Nader. They'll like him more than they'll like Hillary. (Of course, most of them would prefer to neuter themselves with a rusty Garden Weasel than live with another democratically elected Clinton.)


War Protestors Vindicated?

From the Washington Post:
For people who were pilloried, penalized or warned to be careful because of their opposition to a powerful president's war, vindication is nothing to celebrate. It is a victory most bitter.

"Emotionally, it's a very traumatic and unhappy outcome." That is retired Army Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, head of the National Security Agency under President Ronald Reagan. "How can you be happy about being right about the disaster that's been created?"

It weighs on him.

"Vindication is not pleasing," he says. "Even some of my friends have noted: the more vindicated I've been, the more irritable I become."

Only very, very few people are pleased to see this war fail as a spite to the legacy of George W. Bush. I never supported this war. However, I desperately wish that I would have been proven wrong. But this is hardly the time to spend too much time contemplating those old wounds.

There is no time to gloat about who was right and who was wrong. It's time to look at the people who accurately forecast this disaster and ask them what we should do. The media failed us in the buildup to the war by allowing their front pages to be a bully pulpit for the Administration. Now the media has a chance to reach out to people like Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni and amplify his voice. The WaPo talks to Zinni, but they don't follow up on the most important issue at hand:
Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, formerly the top U.S. military man in the Middle East, started where Odom started -- in opposition to the war. Zinni argued that going into Iraq would destabilize the region and distract from the fight against al-Qaeda.

For his opposition, he says he was accused by some fellow officers of having political motivations and was disinvited from attending meetings at the Joint Forces Command, where he'd been a regular as a senior mentor for more junior officers.

But he diverges from most early critics of the war, because he now is arguing that withdrawing from Iraq would destabilize the region. Instead, he says, a new strategic framework for the war is needed -- something far broader than the increase Bush has proposed, which Zinni calls a "half-step."

"It's breaking my heart, watching it," he says of the war. "I was praying somehow I'd be wrong, but in my heart of hearts I knew it would happen this way -- the bad decision-making, the insufficient troops."

Congress now is mulling varying resolutions on the war, but Zinni complains that "the debate is wrong. I think Congress is debating the arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic."

But the ship, he argues, doesn't have to go down.

Hey Washington Post! If Zinni was right about the war and is now discussing a broader strategic framework, then follow up on it. I absolutely agree that we need to we need to pursue a broader strategy that will prevent destabilizing Iraq. (Hell, I blogged about it a few hours before reading this article!) I'd like to know what he has to say. If it's a workable idea, then it's time to spread the message and help support the idea by any means possible. It's not too late to save Iraq, but it will be if we allow Bush to keep digging us deeper while we sit around and discuss events four years past.

Options in Iraq

We have two options in Iraq and they can be summed up with these lines from The Clash:
Should I stay
or should I go?
If I stay there will be trouble
but if I go it will be double.

Basically, we can withdraw from the violent areas in Iraq and slowly redeploy some troops to regional bases/ships and send the rest home. Or we can stay in the middle of this sectarian strife / civil war.

Either way I think both options will result in more violence against Iraqi citizens, infrastructure, and coalition troops (mostly Americans by now). Staying the course (or a mini surge) is the easier, safer answer and that's why Bush chose that path.

Withdrawing from Iraq (slowly or quickly) is going to open the floodgates for more sectarian violence. Iraq's untapped oil is the prize for the winner, and there's little reason to think that any of the competing power players will accept compromise. It will be a fight to the finish, and Saudi Arabia has made it clear that they will go in if we leave. (Of course, they claim that the move is only for the protection of their fellow Sunnis.) This struggle for power will be bloodier than any of the violence we've seen in Iraq for nearly two decades. Therefore, I think withdrawal is an extremely difficult proposition to accept.

If we are going to stay in Iraq and continue the oxymoronic "fight for peace" then we have to move forward with a new approach. (I would also like to say that it's difficult for me to advocate any type of war or escalation of war, but I feel that I need to explore this path.) Here are my thoughts for a true New Way Forward:

Stability in Iraq can not be provided by American and Iraqi forces alone. A failed state in Iraq will diminish American credibility for decades, it disrespects the culture and history of the people in Iraq, and it contributes to global and regional instability. While a few would profit and thrive in this failed country, the world as a whole would not. That's why the first critical step is to kneel before the rest of the world and admit that we failed to prevent the current crisis in Iraq, and that we need help. We must be humble and admit that we need help. We cannot initiate an honest dialogue with potential allies without admitting our mistakes and our needs. Humility will not fix our problems, but I think it will bring sensible allies back to the table.

We must initiate a new dialogue with our European and Arab allies. Few credible people want to see a failed state in Iraq because it is "Bush's War". However, I think our credible allies have been pushed entirely out of the process. It's time to bring them back and listen to what they have to say. Sunni and Shia live in relative peace in the Middle East, and put aside their differences in return for safety and trade. I believe an new dialogue is possible, many people in the world would welcome it, and most Iraqi Sunni/Shia are willing to return to mixed ethnic communities.

The US needs to say that we will pay the startup costs for an International or Arab peacekeeping force in Iraq. The US military has lost too much credibility and burned too many bridges to be effective anymore. The peacekeepers in Iraq need to know the society, speak the language, and share the common life-experiences of the people they are protecting. They must understand the history and honor of the culture, and it's apparent that the US military falls well short of those goals. In order to establish this force we have to pay for it.

Would it be possible to form a new coalition of the willing? I think that it would be possible if the US showed humility and made a strong case for peace. And I don't think we have any other options to explore.

So that is basically my New Way Forward. Initiate a new dialogue (with regional and European partners) that is framed by humility, financing to establish a peacekeeping force, and a legitimate commitment to peace.

I know that my plan seems absurd when you factor the Bush/Cheney cabal into the equation. However, this plan is not directed solely at the Administration. If they are impeached for some reason then the same suggestions are applicable to President Pelosi. If I am given a choice between their Stay The Course (now with mini-surge Marshmallows!) or total withdrawal, then I have to choose withdrawal. The current plan isn't working, won't work with a small pittance of extra personnel, and comes with a pricetag that doesn't justify the return on investment. We either have to support the best plan for peace or go home and deal with the fallout.

Armey Dick

Former House Majority Leader, Dick Armey R-Texas, has this to say today:
Q. Your views on the Iraq war?

A. I'm not sure that it was the right thing to do. You might say removing Saddam from power was a right thing to do. Maybe it was, but was that necessarily then our responsibility to do that? And was it our responsibility to do that by invading a country that had no way declared any war on us?

Q. You voted for the resolution to go to war.

A. I did, and I'm not happy about it. The resolution was a resolution that authorized the president to take that action if he deemed it necessary. Had I been more true to myself and the principles I believed in at the time, I would have openly opposed the whole adventure vocally and aggressively. I had a tough time reconciling doing that against the duties of majority leader in the House. I would have served myself and my party and my country better, though, had I done so.

His 'principles at the time'? Are these the same principles that he holds now? And he accuses Hillary of being "whoever you want her to be"? Please. This is the man who tried to have it both ways in 2002 by saying we probably shouldn't go to war against Saddam but we absolutely have to give Bush a blank check to do it. I guess he had plenty of time to study 'triangulation' while Clinton was president.

Sorry, Dick. This Texan in Houston doesn't buy it. Refer to Colin Powell's warning to Bush: "If you break it, you buy it." You can't wash your hands of this by saying that you aren't "happy" about your vote. Why don't you go hook up with Tom DeLay and see if you can't settle your decade-old argument about whether the country needs less taxes or more Jesus.


Roger Ebert's one-star review of Blue Velvet has never been forgotten by Lynch's die hard fans:
"Blue Velvet" is like the guy who drives you nuts by hinting at horrifying news and then saying, "Never mind." There's another thing. Rossellini is asked to do things in this film that require real nerve. In one scene, she's publicly embarrassed by being dumped naked on the lawn of the police detective. In others, she is asked to portray emotions that I imagine most actresses would rather not touch. She is degraded, slapped around, humiliated and undressed in front of the camera. And when you ask an actress to endure those experiences, you should keep your side of the bargain by putting her in an important film.

His review of Wild at Heart wasn't much kinder:
The violence aside, "Wild at Heart" also exercises the consistent streak of misogynism in Lynch's work. He has a particular knack for humiliating women in his films, and this time the primary target is Diane Ladd, as Mariette Fortune, the town seductress and vamp. The way this woman is photographed, the things she is given to do, and the dialogue she has to pronounce are equally painful to witness. Not even Hitchcock was ever this cruel to an actress. Laura Dern is Ladd's real-life daughter, and in the movie she, too, is subjected to the usual humiliations. Ever since I witnessed the humiliation of Isabella Rossellini in "Blue Velvet," I've wondered if there is an element in Lynch's art that goes beyond filmmaking; a personal factor in which he uses his power as a director to portray women in a particularly hurtful and offensive light.

That's why I have been anticipating his review of INLAND EMPIRE. How would he feel about Laura Dern's next collaboration with Lynch? Surprisingly, Ebert awarded INLAND EMPIRE with Four Stars:
Lynch knows all stories are all in our heads; we make them up and then inhabit them. "Inland Empire" plays with our movie-fed storytelling expectations line by line, shot by shot, scene by scene, even reel by reel (pay attention to those changeover marks in the upper right). He toys with the building blocks -- establishing shots, reaction shots, POV, and especially closeups -- to get us to look at them in unfamiliar ways. It's poetry: We recognize the individual units of meaning, but the grammar and syntax have been altered.

And "Inland Empire" is very much a movie about acting, built around a towering performance by Dern that is itself about giving (and watching) a towering performance. There's a moment, when Dern's distorted, clown-like face is actually projected onto someone else's head, which has got to be the ultimate actor's nightmare: "This is what I do: I make big, grotesque clown-faces to parrot human behavior." You'll want to scream; you probably will. Lynch has actively campaigned (with a cow, on Sunset Boulevard) for an Academy Award nomination for Dern, and for very good reasons. Not only is Dern mind-blowingly terrific, but a nomination itself would be a meta-expansion/continuation of "Inland Empire," and the performance(s) she gives in it.

"Inland Empire" opens and contracts in your imagination while you watch it -- and you're still watching it well after it's left the screen. It's a long but thoroughly absorbing three hours (perhaps necessary for a movie that continually readjusts perceptions of time), but I feel like it's not over yet. It's still playing in my head, like a downloaded compressed file that's expanding and installing itself in my brain. This David Lynch, he put his digital virus in me.

I couldn't have said it better. After watching this film, it has continued to decompress inside of my head. I have attempted to dissect and reconfigure the film analytically, but it refuses to be restructured linearly. And yet, it completely makes sense on a visceral level.

Here's the French trailer of INLAND EMPIRE. If it screens again in the state of Texas, I will be there. I have to see it again.


Iraq NIE 2007 Part I

I want to do a slightly longer post about the new NIE of Iraq. However, I wanted to pull out this graph:
Coalition capabilities, including force levels, resources, and operations, remain an essential stabilizing element in Iraq. If Coalition forces were withdrawn rapidly during the term of this Estimate, we judge that this almost certainly would lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq, intensify Sunni resistance to the Iraqi Government, and have adverse consequences for national reconciliation.

Let me see if I get this right... In his 2003 State of The Union Speech, Bush spent 1,200 words discussing the dire need to disarm Saddam Hussein of his WMD and nuclear weapons programs. (Heck, he was researching five separate methods of enriching uranium according to this speech.) This is the speech that sent us to war, and it said nothing about establishing democracy or resolving old sectarian differences.

Four years later we now have this NIE. There is no mention of WMD or nuclear programs. However, it does state that we must stay there. We have to stay and fight a different war than the one Bush discussed. And we can't leave.

Question: If Bush had asked the American people if we would support a 5+ year war to bring democracy and order to a fractured, sectarian society; would we support this war? No. No. No. If Bill Clinton had proposed a similar war, he would not have received the support of the American people. If Hillary Clinton had proposed a similar war, Conservatives would have assassinated her.

Why are we staying? Why the hell are we staying? Explain this to me. It's time for us to realize that we will not see the United States of Iraq in our life. It's surely not going to happen in the next year or two. And what of the people of Iraq? They are going to splinter into sectarian provinces sooner or later. And at some point in 5, 50, or 500 years they will learn to get along (like the majority of Muslims in the Middle East) or they will kill each other. Either way, it's their decision to make and they aren't going to be taking advice from Bush, Cheney, or any other Conservative blowhards.

Get US out.

Evil Ads

The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Debacle

The City of Boston needs to STFU. Please. You have embarrassed yourself enough by making statements like these:
Assistant Attorney General John Grossman called the light boards "bomb-like" devices and said that if they had been explosive they could have damaged transportation infrastructure in the city.

”It’s clear the intent was to get attention by causing fear and unrest that there was a bomb in that location,” Assistant Attorney General John Grossman said at their arraignment.

Basically, if these were bombs then they could have done a lot of damage to the city's transportation infrastructure. You could reasonably make the same argument about homeless people. Except that it should be somewhat obvious that neither these ads or homeless people are bombs.

But wait! What if the terrorists decided to plant bombs in the city's infrastructure, disguise the bomb as a character from a lame unknown cartoon, and then leave the bomb without activating it? Well, I'd say that would be a pretty crappy plan.

Seriously, has any terrorist anywhere decorated a bomb like a Lite Brite toy? Is the Joker attacking Boston? Did the Riddler join Al Qaeda?

It's time to take a look at the people in charge of security in Boston and teach them the value of tax payer money. The people of Boston can't afford to be shut down every time a city worker sees a blinking light, or Pokemon, or keychain LEDs, or whatever it is that is giving them poopy pants. Call it a misunderstanding and just walk away. Walk slowly away.


Outrage Of The War?

Oy. This war just gets stupider by the minute.

See if you can keep up with this one: The NYTimes posted a video of a gunfight on Haifa Street featuring American and Iraqi forces. An American soldier is shot during the gunfight, and the video kinda shows the wounded soldier dragged into an adjoining room. The soldier later died. The NYTimes posted the video on its webpage accompanied with a picture.

Outraged? Well, maybe.

Is it THE outrage of the war? This conservative thinks so:
However, this time the NYT has gone far beyond the pale and reached to the deepest depths of depravity, inhumanity, and compassion, and violated standard ethical constraint when it broadcast the video of an American Marine being shot, and reported his death without officially contacting his family.

He isn't alone, several of the malcontents in the right blogosphere think this is the single most outrageous event of the Iraq war.

Sometimes I think I *almost* understand conservatives until I read this type of hyperbolic douchery. It's not the lack of WMD that is outrageous. It isn't Abu Ghraib. It isn't the squandering of billions. It's a picture and video of a wounded soldier on the New York Times that plumbs the deepest depths of inhumanity and depravity. Kidnapped contractors? Not as bad. Dozens of beheadings captured on video? Not as bad. The inept execution of Saddam Hussein broadcast globally in near real time on the eve of a religious holiday? Not as bad as New York Times (according to Conservatives).

And what of the family? I think this quote sums it all up pretty well:
"Oh God, they shouldn't have published a picture like that," Leija's cousin Tina Guerrero, who had not seen the images but was aghast about them anyway, told the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday in Raymondville.

That's right. They haven't seen the picture or video, but they are obviously outraged. Nobody should ever publish an image of a wounded soldier, right? I mean, then the war would be gross.

So, what does this grisly death video look like? Well, it's quite outrageous. It's six minutes long, and you can barely even see the soldier because of the low contrast lighting. However, you can see enough of this 'mission' to become extremely outraged. Basically, this Texan died for no f*@#king reason. None. They were "clearing" private apartments of whatever you call want to call them: bad guys, terrorists, dead-enders, insurgents, the enemy. (I can't keep up with their names anymore...)

But let's look at this situation. A kid from Texas is leading a group of fellow Americans through an apartment building where the residents do not speak or understand English (and we obviously don't speak their language). The bad guys have seen the Americans coming, and have had time to escape. One of the enemies (or perhaps somebody else in another building) snipes at the Americans through the window. The Iraqi troops have moved on and left the Americans by this time. We lose a soldier. We spend tax-payer resources to fund this "mission". And what did we purchase in exchange? The 'bad guys' had to move next door for a few hours or days.

If you aren't outraged by now, I think you should be. We are surging more troops and spending more tax payer resources to keep doing this everyday. For an indefinite period of time. And all of it is being captured on every single medium possible, and it will only become much easier to find. It's time for Conservatives to accept the costs of war in the 21st Century, the Age of Information.

It only gets worse from here, morons. The American public is growing outraged, and the direction doesn't point to New York. It points to Washington DC, and to the "heartland" "moral majority" blowhards that used fear and jingoism to buy support for this war.