Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Kurtz: DSM and Durbin "mirror Images"

I rarely Splutter, much less in outrage; but in His Wapo Column Yesterday Howie Kurtz wrote a Sentence that left me spluttering with outrage:

The Durbin controversy has been fueled by a chorus of outrage from conservative columnists, bloggers and radio hosts, turning widely overlooked remarks into a full-scale furor for a lawmaker who initially refused to apologize. In that sense, it is the mirror image of the Downing Street memo, ..which drew even less media attention until liberal advocacy groups and bloggers spent six weeks berating journalists for burying the story.

WHAT? How do those get mentioned int he same breath? Is it possible to equate one of the most important pieces of paper in recent history with an artificial controversy whipped up by distorting the extremely valid words of a man of conscience?

Still, despite his hopelessly flawed premise, the column does provide a fascinating analysis of how the Wingnut Attack Machine gets a story in the MSM and by contrast, what it takes for the Forces of truth and justice to do the same :

Let's take a gander shall we?

Start with Howie's thesis statement again:

The Durbin controversy has been fueled by a chorus of outrage from conservative columnists, bloggers and radio hosts, turning widely overlooked remarks into a full-scale furor for a lawmaker who initially refused to apologize.

And Now his Supporting Evidence:

Durbin made his remarks on the evening of June 14 to a virtually empty Senate chamber...

Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham { Not a blogger; She is a broadcast media personality owned by giant corporation Westwood One} denounced Durbin after her producer Lee Habeeb saw the remarks on C-SPAN....

Rush Limbaugh { Also NOT a Blogger, do not be fooled. His markings indicate he is in fact a nationally syndicated broadcaster, he is also a bloviating anal cyst with an Oxy habit, but I digress }: accused the media of circling the wagons around Durbin because "they share his contempt for George W. Bush."

The next day, June 16, the Washington Times {also NOT A BLOG, it is in fact a clever life-like imitation of a Newspaper, Owned by Radical Right-Wing Wierdo, the Rev Sun Yung Moon}:splashed the story on its front page

McClellan ripped Durbin at the White House. Sean Hannity said on his Fox News program that the senator's remarks were "insidious" and "repugnant." MSNBC's new conservative host, Tucker Carlson, called the comments "outrageous" and "factually wrong." On CNN, National Review's Kate O'Beirne accused Durbin of "a stunning premeditated slander of American troops."

{ again I understand this can be confusing, but none of the above are in fact Bloggers. The are, in Order, the Press Secretary to the President of the United States, A village idiot and Television personality in the employ of Fox News, The Recently rehired television commentator properly called a Dick by John Stewart, and a print reporter for a famous conservative magazine, owned, until recently by William F. Buckley.}

In other words EVERY person involved in the Creation, Dissemination and Hyping of this story is the very DEFINITION of the Main Stream Media, Represented are all 3 of the world's Largest Media companies, (ViaCom, TimeWarner, and NewsCorp).

If that ain't the mainstream than I simply don't know what is....

Which, of course, makes it EXACTLY LIKE the treatment of the media gave the DSM:

The conservative media machine largely ignored the {Downing Street Memo}, sparking anger among left-wing bloggers, activists and some Democrats.

Georgia Logothetis, 22, a Chicago law student... { note carefully, NOT a Celebrity broadcast media Commentator who works for a multi-million dollar conglomerate, no this is an impoverished law Student with access to a computer, YES! we have our first Blogger, sighting! }, helped start the Web site DowningStreetMemo.com...

so exposed by a fearless blogger, THEN, THEN media feeding frenzy began....right? Frenzy? anyone, frenzy? no?

The network evening newscasts ignored the memo until June 7{ Ignored not hyped, featuring no endless discussion by partisan shills, in fact no coverage whatsoever}


But, in their defense, the seasoned journalists of the broadcast media were quick to display the sage news judgment that has made them our trusted information gatekeepers all these years

"While I found it interesting at the time," Schieffer says, "I didn't find it all that new. A lot of people had been making that charge."{ and a lot of people were being ignored for lack of evidence, which this clearly appeared to be, from an unimpeachable source no less}

ABC's Banner says his network has been "pilloried" for its skeptical reporting on the march to war "and I don't know that we felt, quite honestly, that this added a tremendous amount."

{Translation: "we were tired of being beaten up by Wingnuts every time we told the truth, so we've decided in the interests of 3rd quarter corporate profits to pretend the world is the way they want it to be"}

NBC's Capus says the memo "didn't seem like it was much different from a lot of the reporting we had done. I can't tell you how many stories we did questioning the prewar planning." { No I suspect you really can't}

Well to be fair the Durbin non-story got very little coverage on the broadcast networks until he apologized either, but the dynamic 24 hour saturation, news-starved cable outlets were all OVER the memo weren't they?

Unlike the Durbin flap, the memo got little traction on cable. { Oh.}

According to a database search, CNN first mentioned it May 12 in an "Inside Politics" segment on how bloggers were buzzing about the issue. { Note they were reporting on the reporting on the memo, NOT the memo itself}

"It certainly did spark my interest," says CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. "Were we slow in getting off from the start? I suspect we probably were." { Crack Detective that Boy, about as Sharp as the corners of a round table

Actor { note NOT reporter, or highly paid Political commentator, or news anchor} Tim Robbins brought up the memo May 25 on MSNBC's "Hardball,"

while liberal Fox host Alan Colmes raised it on May 11. { he must have been sick that day}

Fox's Moody says .. that "for our audience, the amount of attention and timing of our stories has been about right." { Defined as : "hordes of Sheep-like conservatives we're trying desperately to keep brainwashed"}

Lets Review:

  1. A Senator's heartfelt and impassioned speeech about real abuses being carried out by our government: Hyped by a large well oiled broadcast and cable attack machine, not for its content but for its word choices, eventually dominates both boradcast and cable media outlets until the Senator is forced to apologize.

  2. A Memo from an unimpeachable source, clearly confirms that the War we are currently fighting which has cost 1700 lives and 50,000 war-related injuries, was utterly unnecessary and that our president knowingly mislead us into the War.: This is met with defeaning silence by the media until enough private citizens, using their own tiny media pipelines, make enough noise about the story that they are forced to cover it, though not without first alibing their previous failure, and trying to downplay its significance. Currently being denied by those it names and not being followed up on by any major news outlet.

So there you Have it: Two Stories, one from the left, and one from the right, handled exactly the same, by the mainstream press. Except, not at all in any way shape or form. Maybe Howie was Right. They ARE mirror images, but only if you remember Mirror images are exact opposites of each other.

Monday, June 27, 2005

American Madrasas: Inside the Stepford Republiban Factory

One of the key factors blamed for the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan were the schools known as Madrasas . They are funded by wealthy Saudi Fanatics who take children at a young age and cut them off from the outside world to keep them "pure" and then forcefeed them hyper-fundamentalism.

When Students graduate, they are the perfect ideological warriors. Utterly fanatic, unaware of any other way of life or dissenting viewpoints, and utterly committed to the political agenda of their benefactors.

Well, never let it be said the Extreme Christian Right in this country doesn't know a good idea when it sees one.

This article in the New Yorker Highlights the American version of the Madrasas:

Have you ever watched Faux News (You know on dare or something) and looked at the ranks of perfectly blow-dried interchangeable earnest young androids they get on as guests to faithfully parrot the day's talking points? Have you every asked yourself "where could they get so many self-delusional idiots from? Is there a factory for them or something? "

Well Yes, yes there is, and its called Patrick Henry College:

Patrick Henry is a Christian college, ... where almost all the students {300 in all} have internships, with Republican politicians or in conservative think tanks..

Three times a year, the White House chooses a hundred students for a three-month internship. Patrick Henry, with only three hundred students, has taken between one and five of the spots in each of the past five years-- roughly the same as Georgetown.

Of the school's sixty-one graduates through the class of 2004, two have jobs in the White House; six are on the staffs of conservative members of Congress; eight are in federal agencies; and one helps Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, and his wife, Karen, homeschool their six children. Two are at the F.B.I., and another worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority, in Iraq
and this is not by accident, the "College" is essentially the assembly line where Stepford Wingnuts are made:

{its} main mission, since its founding, five years ago, has been to train a new generation of Christian politicians. {School President} Farris's manifesto for the school, "The Joshua Generation," embraces the Rove principle: the "Moses generation," he wrote, had "left Egypt," and now it was time for their children to "take the land."

Last year, the college began offering a major in strategic intelligence; the students learn the history of covert operations and take internships that allow them to graduate with a security clearance.

A whole lot of elected members of Congress started off as Hill staffers," Farris said. "If you want to train a new generation of leaders, you have to get in on the ground floor.

And where, oh where, does Patrick Henry find the worldly, seasoned, brilliant young men and women with depth of experience and world knowledge to become our future leaders?:

eighty-five per cent of the students at Patrick Henry, {were} homeschooled

Uh-oh. You mean they've been exposed to nothing more or less than whatever their Fundamentalist parents thought to teach them without any chance of ever encountering a dissenting viewpoint?

YEP; and apparently in Wingnut circles, that a good thing

In conservative circles.. homeschoolers are considered something of an élite, rough around the edges but pure--in their focus, capacity for work, and ideological clarity-- { the Password is "Fanatical" } a view that helps explain why the Republican establishment has placed its support behind Patrick Henry, and why so many conservative politicians are hiring its graduates.

Indeed this is exactly why the School was created:

Patrick Henry's president, Michael Farris,founded the school after getting requests from two constituencies: home schooling parents and conservative congressmen. The parents would ask him where they could find a Christian college with a "courtship" atmosphere meaning one , where dating is regulated and subject to parental approval. The congressmen asked him where they could find home schoolers as interns and staffers, "which I took to be shorthand for `someone who shares my values,' " Farris said. "And I knew they didn't want a fourteen-year-old kid." { Hey now, lets not give them that much credit Just yet, haven't you heard of Jeff Gannon?}

A neither side has been disappointed. Congressman get their Glassy-eyed Fanatical Storm Troopers, and Parents get to ensure that all their hard work warping (oops I meant Molding) their children into rigid dedicated swallowers of Fascism isn't undone by risking a chance they might, ya know think for themselves, but at the same time their children can actually get a college degree.

Lets just take a peek in on campus life shall we?: {author's note, I swear I am not making any of this up}

First lets look at their academic rigor:

when students enroll at Patrick Henry, they sign a ten-part statement of faith, agreeing that, among other things, Hell is a place where "all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."

The curriculum for the first two years follows a "Christian Classical" model--basically, Western Civ from a Biblical perspective... They also study Euclidean geometry and biology; the school uses a standard science textbook but the professor, Jennifer Gruenke, who also has a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, ,tells students that the earth was created in a week.
And the Progressive social atmosphere

Junior Ben Adams, who sent out a nine-page e-mail to the entire student body before the spring formal reminding the girls to dress modestly. "Lust is sin," it said. "It is sin for you to tempt us.
Often, the campus looks like a scene from "Meet Me in St. Louis," with young men and women talking to one another through open windows, or exchanging a chaste goodbye at the downstairs door--men and women are not allowed in the living areas of each others' dorms. Girls talk about not "stumbling" a guy, the equivalent of tempting him, and resident advisers keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't wear shirts that show any bra.

Because as we all know, glimpsing a woman's ...err...uhh.. "foundational garment" will turn any man into a lust-crazed hell bound beast.

and The extremely modern attitudes about gender roles:

When all the best papers in a constitutional-law class that Farris taught were turned in by girls--and not for the first time--Farris yelled at the boys to grow up. The new careerist code of the Joshua Generation can become a problem for the girls, however. Even the most ambitious ones, those who wake up at 3 A.M. to study, told me without reservation that as soon as they had children they would quit their jobs to raise them.
This backwards Campus would be the butt of a joke if not for its growing influence on the reigns of power in this country. For example lets take a look at the current Campus Power Couple. Both are smart as hell (He got a perfect 1600 on his SATS and together they have routinely won debating matches against students from Harvard and Oxford), The are driven, both have interned on Capital Hill and the White House, and both are utterly clueless about the real world:

This is Patrick Henry's version of College Sweethearts:

{Matthew} du Mée arrived at Patrick Henry, in 2001, after being homeschooled by his parents...{Christy}Ross is {a White House Intern } and du Mée's usual debate partner, When {she} was sixteen, she wrote in her journal,...she pledged...to not fall in love with a guy for five years," a period that she chose after hearing a lecture that compared committing to Christ to sticking to a long-term business plan. . ...they began spending "exclusive time" together, in junior year, du Mée called Ross's father to tell him.

Last year, du Mée asked if he could court her by writing her father an eighteen-page single-spaced letter. Du Mée's courtship proposal came exactly five days before her pledge expired

{ yes this 22 year old man asked permission of a 21 year old woman's Father! before dating her }

Over Christmas break, du Mée , to proposed in front of her parents . She accepted, and gave him a hug-- they wanted their first kiss to be at their wedding..

I've heard of saving yourself for marriage, but That's ridiculous! Two supposedly adult people have committed to spending the rest of their lives together, But have yet to even Kiss

Still their utter Naivete' hasn't impeded his rise through the Republiban ranks:

Du Mée's transcript reads as though he had gone through a Beltway-staffer training camp. He took classes on the Presidency, on Congress, and on constitutional law. In his senior year, he volunteered at the White House one day a week, answering the telephone comment line, and he has interned twice with Representative Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican.

Du Mée's first directed research project was a thirty-page evaluation of a bill giving tax credits for donations to fund private-school scholarships, which Franks had introduced

. He wrote another with Ross, on reforming the U.N., complete with policy briefs.

{duMee and Ross}decided to get married right after graduation and move to Phoenix. . Du Mée would "really, really like to run for political office," he said. "U.S. Congress would be great."

As for his equally brilliant wife?:

Ross would look for a job, but only to pay back loans. Eventually, they want to adjust to living on one salary so that she can homeschool their kids

and so the Cycle begins again.

Now to be fair the Patrick Henry Experiment hasn't worked yet. The sleazy culture of Republicans in the real world is likely to serve as a shocking kick to the spiritual groin.; for most of these little hothouse fanatics. But as they have got to be masters of Self-delusion to have made it this far; its unclear if the cognitive dissonance will have any actual effect on them. The scary thing is these kids are poised to step into the extremist shoes of blowhards like Santorum and Frist, but with one crucial difference

These Guys actually believe the Crap they are peddling.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Seventh Seal Breaks! Scoty McC' gives a direct answer!

And the Seventh Seal Broke, and the Weasel that spoke as a man, was given a query, and directly he answerth

-Hallucinations 35:17

Friends, these truly are strange and scary times we live in. All that we could rely on, all that was familiar and safe now seems strange. . It seems scarcely possible, but yesterday, in the WH briefing room , after intense questioning from a Press Corps reporter (yes I know I'm stretching the bounds of credulity here), something incredible happened:

Scotty "the Stoat" McClellan actually answered a question

And bizarre as this sounds here is the transcript to prove it.

Now lest you be too scared, it should be noted that this reluctant proffer of information occurred only after a suitably epic battle. A brave reporter had to go Mano-a-Weaselo for several rounds with Scotty until he broke.

It started simply as all such epic duels tend to :

Q Scott, can we get a clear "yes" or "no" answer on whether the President agrees on the Vice President's assessment that the insurgency is in "its last throes?" Is it a "yes" or "no"

Ol' pro that he is Scotty threw his heater
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I already answered this question the last couple of days.

Well, No; actually, despite Terry Moran's nigh heroic efforts to get you to do so.
On page one of the BushCo public relations manual, there must be a sentence which reads:

"Anytime you wish to avoid answering an embarrassing or inconvenient question, simply claim you've already answered it at a vague unspecified time in the past

and the Damnable thing is, most of the time, it seems to work for them. No one ever seems to ask the obvious follow-up:

"well if you've already answered this question in the past , I'm sure you wouldn't mind repeating the answer now"

Because if there is one thing that Scotty has proven, its that he is perfectly happy repeating himself, over and over and over again

This time though, Scotty's brushback pitch failed completely. Our Hero had eaten his Wheaties that morning and wasn't to be denied:

Q Is it "yes" or is it "no"?
Scotty lets make it easy for you, the question is Multiple Choice, there two choices, both are Polar opposites of each other, and they one syllable each. So which it is Y-e-s or N-o?

{ Surgeon generals Warning: those whole believe that language is a vehicle for the rational expression of logical organized thought should avoid the next response }

Scotty, of course, tried to answer it as an essay question:

MR. McCLELLAN: And I've talked about it the last couple of days. If you look -- if you look at the terrorists and the regime elements that are seeking to derail the transition to democracy, they are in a desperate mode, and here's why. Let me walk you through this.

{ Oh please Scotty, for the love of God don't!}

First of all, I think, to begin with, you ought to go back and look back at the full context of the Vice President's remarks, where he talked about the progress we're making to go after and capture al Qaeda elements that are inside Iraq -- like Zarqawi lieutenants. Just last week, we captured one of his top lieutenants, a very dangerous man who is responsible for the killing of a lot of innocent civilians inside Iraq. This was the person who oversaw Zarqawi's Mosul operations. And that was a significant development.

So I think you have to look at the facts on the ground. And the facts on the ground show that the Iraqi people are making important progress on the political front to build a free and democratic future. The vision of the terrorists is one of chaos and destruction. They really have no vision. Their only alternative is chaos and destruction and the killing of innocent civilians.

And that's what I talked about yesterday. They, every step of the way, have not been able to stop the progress that the Iraqi people are making on the political front. And they are being defeated and they will be defeated.

Didja see a yes or no In the above sentence? Anywhere? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Note there is of talk about how Good and Right will eventually triumph; but very little discussion on Throes per se, and how we know which throe exactly this is, and how many throes might remain in the hopper...

So our brave and Quixotic reporter tried one more time:

Q So that's a "yes"?

and then something remarkable happened. Slitherin' Scotty finally ran out of wiggle room and had to actually commit to a concrete position:

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said that. I said that the other day.

No, actually you didn't, what you said the other day when terry Moran tried to pin you down was was:

"MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve. "

Its really just not the same thing.

But lets not lose sight of the momentous thing that occured in that exchange. For the first time in 5+ years of daily briefings, a substantive question was asked and actually answered! It wasn't easy, but a reporter who kept following up, and refused to give up achieved an actual break in the WH's famed Wall of Obfuscation!

Frankly I'm as shocked as you are. Now let's not be nitpicky and point out that the answer was utterly wrong; a least a wrong answer is still an answer, and this being one of his very first, Scottie's not had a lot of practice with them.

By itself its not that remarkable achievement. But as a symptom of a larger movement, its a very comforting development.

Ever since The Great Reporter Uprising of '05 that began when Scotty tried to use Newsweek as a whipping boy for printing a true story, the Press seems to have found its long lost courage and professionalism.

TO be sure its happening in fits and starts, but it IS happening. Slowly reporters are learning that if they ask hard questions, lightning bolts will NOT in fact smite them from the heavens; and they are allowed to point out when Scotty doesn't actually answer their question.

They've also learned the techniques of following up on each other's questions, and even coming prepared to the briefings, and having source materials ready, to contradict Scotty when he starts straying from the truth. The rest of this transcript is a heartening read with a few absolute gems studded inside (such as the question that was already diarized about whether any part of the Bush clan is currently in the service)

Poor Scotty's is not taking this change well at all. He looks about as comfortable at the podium as a gazelle does in a nature documentary. His non answers, once almost koan like in the utter impenetrability and zen-like calmness, are taking on an increasingly delusional and desperate tone.

Check out this remarkable reality denying exercise from the same briefing

Q Scott, on Guantanamo and Africa -- President Bush's new friend, Bill Clinton, has said that Guantanamo needs to be cleaned up or closed. What are your thoughts about that, as you're saying that the allegations have been looked into?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm not sure specifically what he's referring to.

{I mean God, we've done So many things there, its really hard to keep track, you'll have to be specific, which horrific acts you're talking about}

Q He's referring to the abuse and the problems at Guantanamo Bay.

MR. McCLELLAN: And what abuse are you referring to? { like I said specificity here, The beatings, the Koran desecration, the sexual Humilation, the homicides, What?}

Q The abuse of the prisoners, the fact that the prisoners, some of them -- you still have, what is it, 500 --

MR. McCLELLAN: So you can't point to anything specifically.{ I mean otherwise we'll be here all day}

Q There's a whole bunch of things you can point to and I'm trying to --

MR. McCLELLAN: A whole -- no, April, that's not correct, because let me tell you about the ways detainees are treated at Guantanamo Bay. They are treated humanely, and that has always been the policy at Guantanamo Bay. { and for some reason I feel compelled to add, We've always been at war with Oceania}

Eseentially scotty was trying to say with a straight face:

"You Haff no Evidence because I haff decreed there is none. Please do be ignoring the Amnesty International Report, The pentagon's own internal reports , and the FBI's private emails on this subject, they are all wrong because I haff said so!""

Does even he believe we are taking him seriously at this point ?

It may be too soon to credit the Press Corps actual individual spines (I'm still waiting to see what happens with the DSM before I go that far). But its clear that as a pack they are starting to smell weakness and fear coming off of this administration. Scotty McClellan is getting prissier and prissier with the reporters; and they are starting to call him on his BS.

I'm still not convinced the Press is ready to party like its 1972 yet. But there are hopeful signs that they are remembering who they were and what they used to be able to do to elected officials that crossed them. The feeding frenzy directed at this White House may never materialize, but if it does, it will be all the bloodier for being so long denied. As Hamlet would say :

"tis a consummation to be devoutly wished"

Saturday, June 18, 2005

W's 2002 quote confirms the DSM! "F___ Saddam we're taking him out"

You want a smoking gun? You want high-level confirmation of the now infamous Downing Street Minutes? How about a quote from George W. in March of 2002! From A March 2003 Time Magazine article

(mad props to Left Coaster for their long memories and/or Google skills to pull this one back from the Memory Hole)

F___ Saddam. we're taking him out." Those were the words of President George W. Bush, who had poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

By itself the quote would be nothing more than a prime example of Chimpy the Cowboy's macho but delusional world view, but the time and place he said it make it so much more:

It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested. He waved his hand dismissively, recalls a participant, and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase.

Be very clear about what you are reading. this was 2002 The grown-ups from Capitol Hill had come to the White House to discuss a sensible way to deal with whatever threat Saddam really did pose. You know, how things are supposed to work. Resonable options were proposed: Going to the UN, building a careful multi-lateral coalition to oppose him, etc.

But Chimpy was having none of it. He was living in a Tom Clancy novel, where presidents squinted their steely eyes and ordered their enemies "taken out". In his simpleton's world view Saddam was a "bad guy" and taking him out would make everything all better.

In W's world there would be no sectarian crisis, or postwar reconstruction, much less a post war insurgency to contend with. Just a "clean" antiseptic war where nobody important died, and Bush got to preside over the victory parade. A war just like dear old dad had.

And how did the grown-ups react? With stunned disbelief apparently:

The Senators laughed uncomfortably; Rice flashed a knowing smile. The President left the room.

A year later, Bush's outburst has been translated into action, as cruise missiles and smart bombs slam into Baghdad.

(and two years after that it translated into IED's destroying Humvees, Suicide bombers killing Iraqi civillians, and too many brave young men and women dying maimed in the mud)

And there you have it. From W's own lips, uttered in 2002 we have all the proof we need of the essential truth of the Downing Street Minutes. There can be no real doubt anymore that Bush was determined to have his war, and he wasn't about to let facts, truth, or caution get in his way.

The next question will be, will any of the Senators in the room that day, have the guts or decency to come forward?

Recruitment: while our numbers fail, the insurgents surge

By now regular readers of this site know that US Armed Forces recruitment efforts are going very badly.

Even with lowered standards, raised ages limits, and shorter enlistments, the Army is missing their recruitment goals, even after they quietly lowered them earlier this month. What is less well known is that our enemies in Iraq, are having no such trouble finding fresh young bodies to sacrifice to their cause.

Two articles appeared this week in the Washington Post, highlight the contrast. Taken togehter they show that BushCo's inept policies in Iraq are simultaneously driving away US recruits in droves, and radicalizing the entire middle east, creating huge pools of trained, well equipped and wealthy volunteers, for the insurgency.

While our manpower is running dangerously low, we've created previously unthinkable alliances between radical religious clerics and the secular Islamic governments that used to suppress them, allowing free movement for a flood of arms, money and radical young men willing to fight in Iraq.

In short: We're really screwed.

First, we look at the crisis facing the US Armed forces, and a Brass willing to re-make every mistake of Vietnam before admitting it has a problem:

In an an Op-ed that ran this Sunday, a Retired Maj. General (*2* stars-thanks kalidescope) cleanly lays out the crisis

Nearly every day, anywhere from one to several U.S. soldiers or Marines die in Iraq, and even more are wounded...To keep our forces strong, every soldier we lose or who leaves the service has to be replaced by a new recruit. Their leaders, meanwhile -- the men who take them into combat and help determine the outcome of many battles -- can only be
replaced by soldiers who gain experience and undertake many years of leadership training.

Apparently the prospect of getting one's ass shot off for a vaguely defined war with hazy goals is no longer appealing to today's average high school graduate. In fact the recruitment crisis we are just now hearing about really started in 2003, right about the time it became clear that impossible as it may seem, the Photo-op was wrong, and the mission wasn't accomplished:

The recruiting problems first became apparent in the late summer of 2003, when the surplus of enlistees disappeared and the Army went into the next fiscal year without any cushion. Since then, recruiting numbers have been declining. An alarming trend -- fewer young people signing up than the Army needs to maintain its strength -- began to develop last fall.

And Now its gotten really Bad:

the Army has failed to meet its monthly recruiting goals since February. On Friday, it said that in May it reached only 75 percent of a goal it had already reduced from 8,050 to 6,700. The National Guard and Reserve, which provide more than 40 percent of the Army forces in Iraq, are experiencing even more trouble; so far, the National Guard has reached only 76 percent of its recruiting goals for this year.

Even those numbers are misleading because they don't mention of the ways in which the Army has been desperately trying to shore up those numbers, including lowering its standards to attract recruits it would have rejected out of hand just a few years ago:

The Army added 1,200 recruiters last month, and it has significantly increased its advertising budget and enlistment bonuses, from $6,000 for most recruits to $20,000. At the same time, it has raised the eligible age for the Army National Guard or the Reserve from 35 to 39. Even more telling, the Army is also accepting more recruits who are not high school graduates. This year, the percentage of high school graduates among those enlisting dropped from 92.4 to barely 90 percent, the Army's stated floor for the number of recruits who must have a high school diploma.

and this failure of recruiting is having even wider repercussions as it is chasing out the Army's best and brightest, particularly at the NCO levels:

An equally dangerous challenge facing the Army is the loss of experienced soldiers who leave the service after undergoing the demands of combat multiple times over several years.

I recently chatted with one such soldier, who told me that after participating in the invasion of Iraq, he remained there for a year and then returned to the United States, where he was transferred to a different unit. Only four months after he got home, his new unit deployed to Iraq. He has just returned from there again. His enlistment ends in less than a year, but he fully expects to go back to Iraq before that year is up and to serve another full year in Iraq under stop loss.

In addition to gaining extensive combat experience, this soldier finished two years of college while in the Army. He is exactly the type of soldier essential to the service's future:

. Unfortunately, he told me that he'll leave the Army as soon as he can -- not from bitterness, but because he's weary of combat and saddened at the loss of friends.

and to replace these experienced, seasoned veterans the Army is rushing poorly trained, badly organized, units with little experience and no cohesion. As a result, casualty rates among these soldiers will likely soar.:

Now, the Army's latest desperate attempt to gain recruits is a shortened, 15-month enlistment policy. A 15-month enlistment means that soldiers will receive only basic and advanced individual training, but none of the team and unit training our premier soldiers traditionally receive.

These recruits will be shipped off to war after only five months of training, deployed to units in combat where they know no one. These inexperienced soldiers will be at an enormous disadvantage and the casualties among them will be bound to reflect that disadvantage.

For those of you keeping score this is the same stupid idea we had at the end of the Vietnam war which is very likely to produce the same stupid result. Nice to know we are so good at learning from history eh?

Now Lets look in on the "Bad Guys", those nasty foreign fighters in Iraq whom the Pentagon like to blame for everything but the weather in Iraq.

Despite supposedly losing every engagement with US troops. They seem to be having no recruiting troubles at all. The WaPo had an excellent first person account from A Syrian Smuggler who fought in Iraq and is active in recruiting others to do the same

His side hasn't had any recruiting troubles since day one:

When the Americans led the invasion of Iraq, the men of Abu Ibrahim's family gathered in the courtyard of their shared home in the far north of Syria. Ten slips of paper were folded into a plastic bag, and they drew lots. The five who opened a paper marked with ink would go to Iraq and fight. The other five would stay behind.
Abu Ibrahim drew a blank. But remaining in Syria did not mean staying clear of the war. This 32-yr old has worked diligently to shuttle other young Arab men into Iraq, stocking the insurgency that has killed hundreds of U.S. troops and thousands of Iraqis.

The stream of fighters -- most of them Syrians, but lately many of them Saudis, -- has sustained and replenished the hardest core of the Iraq insurgency, and supplied many of its suicide bombers. ...

"They think jihad will stop if they kill hundreds of us in Iraq," Abu Ibrahim said with a note of defiance. "They don't know what they are facing. Every day, more and more young men from around the Muslim world are awaking and coming to the jihad principle.

"Now the Americans are facing thousands, but one day soon they will have to face whole nations."

For members of Ibrahim's sect, Salafism (the Muslim equivalent to evangelical fundamentalists), Iraq was stocked with its two greatest enemies, the Infidel west, as represented by the US, and Muslim heretics, that is both the Shi'ites and Kurds. One of the reasons the insurgency has been so willing to target Iraqi civilians is because to them, most of them are every bit a much the enemy as the US soldiers. Worse yet the most radical of the Salafisists can be found in our supposed ally Saudi Arabia:

{Ibrahim follows]Salafism, or "following the pious forefathers," it is a fundamentalist, sometimes militant strain of the faith grounded in turning back the clock to the time of the prophet Muhammad.
"a group of young men through my wife's family who spoke to me the true words of Islam. They told me Sufism was forbidden and the Shiites are infidels."...

A year later, he went to Saudi Arabia, a kingdom founded on Wahhabism, a puritanical form of Islam in the Salafi wing.

The reason you've likely never heard of this movement is that for years the secular government of Syria has actively suppressed them and others like them, but that was before our idiot Neo-con Imperialists started openly threatening to invade them :

Such views were unwelcome back in Syria, governed by the Baathist Party as a secular nation. Abu Qaqaa, a lanky, charismatic sheik born Mahmoud Quul Aghassi, preached the same radical message that Abu Ibrahim had taken to heart in Riyadh....{after one anti-american demonstration}Abu Qaqaa was arrested by the Syrian authorities, but he was released within hours.

In a dictatorship infamous for its intolerance of political Islam, such freedom made some of the cleric's lieutenants suspicious.

"We asked the sheik why we weren't being arrested," said Abu Ibrahim. "He would tell us it was because we weren't saying anything against the government, that we were focusing on the common enemy, America and Israel, that beards and epaulets were in one trench together


And that was BEFORE the invasion afterwards all hell broke loose

when] The United States led troops into Iraq, and everything went up a notch.

Worried that it would be Washington's next target, Syria opposed the military coalition invading its neighbor. State media issued impassioned calls for "resistance." The nation's senior Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Ahmad Kaftaro, undid his reputation for moderation by issuing a fatwa endorsing suicide attacks.

In Aleppo, Abu Ibrahim went door to door encouraging young men to cross the border. Volunteers boarded buses that Syrian border guards waved through wide-open gates, witnesses recalled.

So thanks to the Yapping of PNAC Neo-cons and BushCo officials who were content to posture and threaten instead of attempting actual diplomacy, Syria Lifted its thumb on hordes of Syrian radicals who became a highly trained an organized backbone of the Iraqi insurgency:

We had specific meeting places for Iraqi smugglers," Abu Ibrahim said. "They wouldn't do the trip if we had fewer than 15 fighters. We would drive across the border and then into villages on the Iraqi side. And from there the Iraqi contacts would take the mujaheddin to training camps."

Of course most Syrian recruits (unlike our puppet Iraqi security force) were already trained and battle ready:

Because Syrian men already had served two years of compulsory military service, most of them skipped the training. "It's mostly the Saudis who need the training," Abu Ibrahim said.

Afterward, the fighters were sent to join small cells usually led by Iraqis. They planted booby traps for U.S. convoys and laid ambushes.

Young men are fighting with zeal and passion," Abu Ibrahim said. "There are Saudi officers, Syrians, Iraqis. But not those who fought for Saddam. The man who is leading it for the most part is Zarqawi."

who Despite what BushCo would have you believe had no ties to Osama and Al-qaeda until very recently:

"Six months ago, Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden were different," he said. "Osama did not consider the killing of Shiites as legitimate. Zarqawi did that. Anyone -- Christian, Jew, Sunni, Shiites -- whoever cooperates with the Americans can be killed. It's a holy war."

And in part because of that Accord between Osama and Zarqawi, a whole new source of support has sprung up for the insurgency; This time is our dear ally and close friend Saudi Arabia. Saudi fighters may not be as well trained as the Syrian jihaddists, but what they lack in skills they make up for in Cash:

"Our brothers in Iraq are asking for Saudis," he said last month. "The Saudis go with enough money to support themselves and their Iraqi brothers. A week ago, we sent a Saudi to the jihad. He went with 100,000 Saudi riyals," or about $27,000. "There was celebration amongst his brothers there!"

So there you have it. A tale of two armies, one struggling mightily to maintain its strength, the other surging to new heights of strength every day. The thing they have in common? Both are brought to their present state by the bumbling stumbling incompetence of our leaders in Washington.

It's one thing to rail and scream against the staggering ineptitude of Bush and his cronies; but its important to fully appreaciate how much damage they are really doing, both to us, and to the furture of the world.

We must remember that their missteps, their arrogance and duplicity has real live consequences that will echo around the world long after they are justly discarded on the ash heap of history. Its not enough to let this war go on and glory in the Schadenfruede of watching Neo-cons dreams of Empire turn to ashes in their mouths. We must use all our voice and strength to demand we end this war as soon as possible. Our fate as a nation, and the shape of the world for decades to come could depend on it.

KS : Dominionists, Anti-suffragists and Creationists Oh My!

Kansas is rapidly outpacing Florida in the Race to become the butt of the national Joke.

We can do all the sociological and Ethno-political studies we want on Kansas, but the events of this week convince me that its simpler than that. Basically Kansas jest ain't right.

Now most states would be content with One national embarrassment. And Kansas certainly had that in spades when the Topeka School board decided to make like a revival production of Inherit the Wind and put evolution on trial.

But one, moment of utter stupidity is not nearly enough for KS. Keeping with their "Racing back to the Dark ages" theme, They've also come out this week alone against Women's Suffrage (?!) on the State level; and The separation of Church and State on the National level.

Yes, you read that right, Kansas has officially Hit for the Wingnut Cycle!

The first "hand upside the forehead" moment came when a female state senator and opponent of women's rights to Vote announced her candidacy to be the State's Top Election official :

TOPEKA, Kan. -A state senator who once said that giving women the vote was a symptom of weakness in the American family now wants to be Kansas' top elections official.

Sen. Kay O'Connor announced Wednesday that she is seeking the GOP nomination for secretary of state next year. O'Connor, 63, has served in the Legislature since 1993.

Warning! do not stare directly at the Irony in the above paragraph as permanent nerve damage may occur.

In 2001, O'Connor received national attention for her remarks about the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, which gave women the right to vote.

"I think the 19th Amendment, while it's not an evil in and of itself, is a symptom of something I don't approve of," she said at the time. "The 19th Amendment is around because men weren't doing their jobs, and I think that's sad. I believe the man should be the head of the family. The woman should be the heart of the family."

Yeah, those women and their silly superfluous brains, why should they get their own vote when their husband's vote will do just fine to speak for the will of the family?

Even scarier than her unbalanced pronouncements on the rights of Women, is the fact that she's been re-elected twice, and survived a recall attempt since making those statements!

Of course now she's got bigger fish to fry and is running for statewide office, where such evidence of mental incompetence might actually hurt, rather than help her chances. So, she's turned to a time honored GOP, Tradition. Although she's never retracted the statement, much less apologized for it; she's declared it Old News and is going to simply ignore the comment from here on out.

On Wednesday, she dismissed the controversy -- which included an unsuccessful drive to recall her from office -- as "silliness." She said she does not believe voters will consider it a significant issue.

of Course not, well the ones that can still vote anyway.

But even that wasn't the most stupid-Scary thing to slink its way out of the Flattest Place on Earth this week.

When you are looking for a staggeringly stultifying display of Wingnut Asshattery, who is the one man you can always count on? That's Right Sen. Sam, "the Brownie" Brownback. And this week he didn't disappoint. Instead week he gave a Shout out to his Dominionist homies by co-sponsoring The Constitution Restoration Act of 2005
(and for those of you who left your secret Dog-whistle Decoders at home, go Google "constitutional restoration")

Now this lovely Act Sez three very scary things:

1) `Sec. 1260. Matters not reviewable

`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.'.

Or, if for some odd reason you don't speak lawyer. This bit uses a little used quirk of the Constitution to forbid the Supreme Court from hearing cases where state and local officials try to cram their religion down other's necks.

Now maybe I dozed off during School House Rock, but I don't remember the part where between being passed by the Congress, and signed by the president, the Bill was assumed bodily into heaven to seek holy imprimatur. So I always kind of thought the sovereign source of Law was The Constitution of perhaps even the Will o' the People, but apparently I was wrong. Apparently God besides having three persons also has three branches, a legislative, executive and judicial, who knew?

But wait, there's More:


In interpreting and applying the Constitution of the United States, a court of the United States may not rely upon any constitution, law, administrative rule, Executive order, directive, policy, judicial decision, or any other action of any foreign state or international organization or agency, other than English constitutional and common law up to the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.

Any decision of a Federal court which has been made prior to, on, or after the effective date of this Act, to the extent that the decision relates to an issue removed from Federal jurisdiction under section 1260 or 1370 of title 28, United States Code, as added by this Act, is not binding precedent on any State court.

Now see not only did we need to get God back in charge of the judicial system, but we have to root out those damn foreign ideas of liberalism and the rule of law that are pervading the judiciary, especially those pesky wartime treaties and Intenational Declarations of Rights and the like. Amurican Judges should only look to Amurican law by gum!

Note ironically that they ARE allowed to base a decision on English Common law, but only up until the time they stopped burning witches and putting people in pillories. (which incidentally, if strictly applied would re-legalize trial by combat, but I won't bore you with the details of that)

And since Sen Brownback is completing a trifecta of stupidity, its only appropriate that he offer a bonus bit of stupidity to round out the bill

To the extent that a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States or any judge of any Federal court engages in any activity that exceeds the jurisdiction of the court of that justice or judge, as the case may be, by reason of section 1260 or 1370 of title 28, United States Code, as added by this Act, engaging in that activity shall be deemed to constitute the commission of--
(1) an offense for which the judge may be removed upon impeachment and conviction; and
(2) a breach of the standard of good behavior required by article III, section 1 of the Constitution.

You remember that whole "we appoint judges for life so they are immune from transient political pressure to decide certain cases in certain ways" thing? Yeah, well, never mind. See now that they're firmly in power (and own the voting machine companies) They're not so keen on that whole "independence" thing. They'd much prefer a leashed judiciary that can be removed at the drop of a hat, rather than that whole old free thinking kind.

Wow. Just wow. Putting evolution on trial (while, ironically enough, trying to fund a bio-tech research bill) was a breathtaking move; opening debate on a subject most people thought had been settled almost 100 years ago. Now this gets followed up with a State politician speaking openly about denying women the franchise, and taking a Sledge hammer to high wall of separation between Church and state.

While everything may be still up to date in Kansas City, the events of this week prove that no progress, no advancement is truly safe. We call ourselves progressives and over the years in hard fought battle after hard fought battle we have indeed made a lot of progress. The world is a safer, more caring and humane place because of our efforts. What Kansas is teaching us though is when you stop pushing forward, the other side starts pushing back as hard as they can, and no gain of the last century no matter how ingrained into our national fabric, is safe against the Wingnut Assault.

Lets stop complimenting them by calling them Republicans, as they have very little respect for the Republic itself, and apply their real name: Regressives. They are a political movement that is basically pissed that the 20th century even happened and if they have their way, we'll all be partying like its 1899 any day now.

Putting the Feds in Fed Ex : Fed Ex is spying on you for the FBI

Apparently they've been taking the "Fed" Part of their name too seriously over at FedEx these days.

According to this Pittsburgh Post Gazette Article, Since 9/11, Fed ex has become a virtual subsidiary of the FBI, allowing it free run of their customers financial and personal information, spying on its customers and even opening packages for them with out a warrant:.

In December 2001,a FedEx driver became suspicious after making a series of deliveries of boxes tot he same addess. FedEx called the police. the police showed up at the FedEx depot with bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs. The dogs didn't signal there was anything illicit in the boxes.

Well never let it be said FedEx let lack of probable cause get in its way:

FedEx then invoked the authority granted to it by every customer, permitting it to inspect any package without a warrant.
With a police officer looking on, FedEx popped the carton. The boxes contained several hundred compact discs. Local police uncovered a CD-bootlegging operation.

And Fed Ex's enthusiasm for informing on its customers doesn't stop there:

By law, all express courier services are required to provide space for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at their facilities. Since 9/11, FedEx has gone further and has granted customs inspectors access to the company's database of international shipments, which includes the name and address of a shipper, the package's origin and its final destination.

The databases also include credit-card information and other payment details that the government is not entitled to solicit outside of a criminal investigation. "Our guys just love it," says one senior customs official

and you Remember the TIPS program? That creepy Idea Johnnie Ashcroft had to turn all of our delivery men and meter readers into government informants?

Well while most business recoiled in disgust and refused to participate; Fed Ex thought the Idea was just Dandy, and has quietly implemented it it:

After the collapse of TIPS, FedEx pressed ahead with its own program, one that embodied many of the same objectives, much to the delight of the government.
Mr. Bryden, the former security chief, says FedEx worked with Homeland Security officials last summer to develop a computer system that simplifies the reporting of suspicious behavior.

"We secure our supply chain and help the country," says Mr. Bryden. "And we believe that's exactly what our customers want."

yes I know that covert surveillance for shadowy law enforcement agencies is exactly the kind of customer service I expect from MY Package delivery company!

And if that doesn't scare you Fecal matter less consider this, Fed-ex's CEO is trying to take his Junior G-man act to a whole new level by gaining access to classified information.:

Mr. Smith, who started FedEx 34 years ago after two tours of duty in Vietnam as a Marine officer. He says FedEx is willing to cooperate with federal authorities "up to and including the line on which we would be doing a disservice to our shareholders."

In a recent article , Mr. Smith wrote that his fellow corporate leaders had a duty to report suspicious activity. It's only by "training and empowering our own employees" that terrorism can be contained, he wrote.

Mr. Smith also sees a quid pro quo: ... As the president of the Security Task Force of the Business Roundtable; Mr. Smith is leading a drive to gain access to the government's secret terrorist watch lists. He says they would be an invaluable tool to help companies screen employees.

Yes THAT terrorism Watch list the one That's riddled with errors and impossible to correct

that's the List Mr Smith want to use to decide who can get a job in America.

So far the FBI has been unwilling to share:

So far the FBI, which controls the lists, says there's no sign the government will grant access to the classified databases.

But That's hasn't deterred Mr. Smith, he just went an bought himself a police force:

FedEx already has access to some classified information through other channels.

Two years ago, after intense lobbying by FedEx of the Tennessee state legislature, the company was permitted to create a 10-man, state-recognized police force. FedEx police wear plain clothes and can investigate all types of crimes, request search warrants and make arrests on FedEx property. The courier cops say their main job is to protect company property and systems from abuse and fraud and help combat terrorists and criminals.

As a recognized police force in Tennessee, it has access to law-enforcement databases. FedEx also has a seat on a regional terrorism task force, overseen by the FBI, which has access to sensitive data regarding terrorist threats. Robert Bryden, the recently retired vice president of FedEx corporate security, says it's "remarkable" for a private company to have a seat on the task force. Across the country, FedEx is the only one, the FBI says.

and this leaves you shaking in your boots or loathing Fed Ex, Good. Its a very good first step. Personally I will send something by passenger pigeon before Fed Ex gets one more dime of my money. But that's not nearly enough. FedEx is just the tip of the iceberg.
More and more corporations like Wal-mart and Western Union are now selling you out to curry Gov't favor. And if that wasn't bad enough Congress is considering an expansion of the Patriot Act that would allow the FBI to demand businesses all act like FedEx turn over nearly any record they hold on you without a warrant

The Bush administration and Senate Republican leaders are pushing a plan that would significantly expand the FBI's power to demand business records without obtaining approval from a judge,

In other news, the 4th Amendment was named to the Federal Endagered Species list