More On Jamie Leigh Jones From “Pap”

October 31, 2009

And I’m sure that, as I type this, Kathleen Parker is writing another column about how those 30 GOP senators are good “family values” Republicans who are merely getting a bad rap here from those dastardly liberals – spare me.

Update 11/01/09: Vitter deserves all this, and more.


Friday Mashup (10/30/09)

October 30, 2009

  • Over at the AEI blog, Baby Newton Leroy Gingrich opined as follows on Wednesday (here, specifically concerning health care legislation)…

    …Senator Jim Bunning (R-I Hear Voices) recently introduced an amendment that would require legislators to make all bills public for 72 hours, with legislative text and an official budget analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), prior to being considered. Democratic senators blocked the amendment.

    It is unfortunate that the Democratic leadership has decided it would be easier to rush their legislation through rather than honoring the people’s right to know. At healthtransformation.net, we have posted a petition to Washington to support the principle of Senator Bunning’s amendment by requiring Congress to make all bills public for 72 hours before voting.

    Openness is never a bad thing, I realize, even though this is tantamount to a publicity stunt by the about-to-retire Sen. “High And Tight” Bunning (can YOU read a nearly 2,000 page bill in three days? I can’t). And Gingrich is right that the amendment was voted down in the Senate.

    However, this TPM story from last month tells us the following…

    Accepting Republican demands, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to post health care reform legislation online for 72 hours before a final vote on the bill, The Hill reports.

    House Republicans, including Minority Leader John Boehner, have introduced a petition to require three days for lawmakers to read the final bill before voting. Two Democrats, Brian Baird and Walt Minnick, have also signed on. At today’s press conference, Pelosi said she would “absolutely” support the petition.

    Besides, House Bill 3200 has been available from the House HELP site for months (how else do you think Bucks County’s big mouth pundit J.D. Mullane was able to supposedly find his “angel of death” clause?), as has the HELP bill from Sen. Bob Casey’s site, among other places.

    Oh, and the following should be noted from here concerning Mr. Former House Speaker Who Resigned In Disgrace and his alleged “openness”…

    Gingrich was the author of an infamous secret memo to GOP leaders in 1995 titled “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control”, which one of America’s foremost linguists called an outline of a strategy to frame the word “liberal” as “something akin to traitor” in the media. This was in line with his once-described goal of “reshaping the entire nation through the news media” (New York Times,12/14/94).

    And I’m still waiting to hear about Newt’s space-based air traffic control system, by the way (from here).

  • Repug Senators Orrin Hatch and Jim DeMint also inflicted us with the following from the Murdoch Street Journal site today (here, opposing the Net Neutrality rules proposed by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski)…

    Ten years ago, we effectively had no broadband marketplace. Dial-up Internet was common, but not ubiquitous. Consumers had a choice of service providers, but they were typically confined to walled gardens of preselected or preferred content. The broadband revolution led us out of that desert. Instead of dog-paddling, we could surf the net, choosing between broadband service offered by traditional phone and cable companies and, now, wireless companies as well.

    Compare that to the last decade of success at government dominated companies like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, GM or Chrysler.

    Of course (as alluded to here, concerning what is probably the “granddaddy” of all the Repug big lies out there, right next to Casey Sr. not being allowed to speak at the ’92 Democratic National Convention because he was pro-life), if it weren’t for the “government,” there probably wouldn’t be an internet at all, something the Journal and their Repug playmates are counting on people to forget (heaven forbid that Al Gore actually get any credit here, right?).

    Also, it’s a good thing Hatch and DeMint opposed the “stim” and the 7.2 billion for “complete broadband and wireless Internet access,” right (here – snark)? Especially since the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a report from the summer of ’08 that lists the U.S. as 15th in broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants (here, with Japan, Francesacre bleu, wingnuts! – and Korea 1, 2 and 3 respectively).

    And it wasn’t that bad “gumint” that was found guilty of violating Net Neutrality principles by “secretly degrading or blocking peer-to-peer traffic — specifically that used by BitTorrent,” was it? Nope, it was Comcast (here).

    And by the way, to learn more about the principles of Net Neutrality (which, not coincidentally, debunk in total this ridiculous Journal column), click here.

  • Finally, House Repug John Shadegg of Arizona patted himself on the back as follows (here)…

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is a time for women across America to highlight the importance of prevention and to celebrate the millions of breast cancer survivors across our nation. This year, it is also a time to recognize the looming danger of government-run health care and what it could mean for America’s women. If Democrats in Congress pass a bill that allows Washington to take over health care, future generations of American women may be at risk.

    Shadegg then goes on to say that he “offered an amendment that would have ensured that US (breast cancer) survival rates remain high and women had the option of choosing (another health care plan). But Democrats shot it down.”

    This tells us more about Shadegg’s amendment, which would have…

    … require(d) the Government Accountability Office to perform an annual study of breast cancer survival rates. Based on the study’s findings, if five-year survival rates for breast cancer decreased by more than .1 percent, women and families with at least one female member would be allowed to purchase health insurance that does not meet the requirements set forth in the bill, 22-36.

    So basically, the amendment would not have “ensured” anything, except portability of insurance if the GAO allowed it.

    And as far as Shadegg’s record on women’s health issues is concerned, the following should be noted from here…

    • (He) twice co-sponsored legislation to override the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone (RU 486), a safe and effective early abortion medication. [H.R.3453, 108th Cong. (2003); H.R.1079, 109th Cong. (2005)]
    • Twice co-sponsored legislation crafted establishing “personhood” at the moment of fertilization. [H.R.552, 109th Cong. (2005); H.R.618, 110th Cong. (2007)]
    • Co-sponsored legislation forcing women to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure before receiving abortion care. [H.R.5032, 110th Cong. (2008)]
    • Voted to de-fund Title X, the nation’s only federal program dedicated exclusively to family planning and reproductive-health services. [House vote #614 (8/2/95)]
    • Voted five times to deny federal employees the right to choose a health plan that covers abortion care. [House vote #526 (7/19/95); House vote #320 (7/17/96); House vote #288 (7/16/98); House vote #301 (7/15/99); House vote #422 (7/20/00)]
    • Voted against contraceptive equity for federal employees – a provision of law that ensures health plans cover birth control equally with other prescription medications. [House vote #493 (10/7/98)]
    • Voted twice to eliminate funding completely for all international family-planning programs. [House vote #358 (9/4/97); House vote #360 (8/3/99)]

    And to get an idea of how this has worked for Shadegg’s constituents, this tells us that teen birth rates have risen sharply in his state. Also, this Think Progress post tells us more about Shadegg’s flair for demagoguery; he claimed that the congressional Democrats are trying to give us “full on Russian gulag, Soviet style health care.”

    Actually, given Shadegg’s contempt for basic women’s health care, a gulag might one day be more preferable as a location to obtain services than his own state if it continues on its present, ruinous path.

  • Update 11/7/09: Wow, I’d never consider bringing the young one to my job, and he’s way older than this baby Shadegg uses as a prop here (words fail me).


    Some Fix Noise Fairness?

    October 29, 2009

    Careful, Shep, or else Roger Ailes will send you back to “the factory” for reprogramming.


    A Bucks Countian’s Response To Dave Sanko’s Sendoff

    October 28, 2009

    sanko
    Now-departing Bucks County Chief Operating Officer David Sanko wrote the following Guest Opinion in the Courier Times yesterday…

    For the last five years, it has been my privilege to serve the residents of Bucks County as chief operating officer. During that time, your county government has made tremendous strides – fiscally, physically and in the constantly evolving realm of service provision. At a time when governments around our nation are seeing budgets stretched thin or turned to ribbons of red ink, Bucks County is uniquely positioned to handle the current economic climate. The reason for this is two words: fiscal responsibility.

    For three years in a row, the board of commissioners held the line on county property taxes – the first time since 1994-96!

    I’m not sure why Sanko is praising the commissioners here, but it should be noted that (according to here), property taxes in Bucks have gone up 46 percent since 2001, so I think the whole “three-year” thing should be taken with a grain of salt, to say the least.

    Back to Sanko…

    Further, under the expert guidance of Finance Director Brian Hessenthaler, the last five years have produced a steady growth in the county’s general fund, also known as the “rainy day” fund. From a 2005 total of $9 million, we increased that rainy day fund to the current figure of $73 million. This allowed us to earn a record setting high S&P bond rating, and saves us money as we borrow in the future for open space and the new Justice Center.

    In response, I’d like to point out (from here) that every time our august Bucks County Commissioners want to designate property for open space, they issue a bond as opposed to drawing up a regional plan in coordination with other Bucks municipalities, which is bound to be cheaper; as former commissioner candidate (and now PA House Rep for District 31) Steve Santarsiero noted, “the county doesn’t have enough money to (issue a bond) for every piece of property that needs (an open space) designation.”

    Back to Sanko…

    How has this growth been achieved? In addition to prudent spending, we’ve refinanced multiple bond issues, hired a county grants coordinator (producing more than $2 million in grant awards), convened a BEST (Bucks Employees Saving Taxes) Committee that replicates sound business practices, asked our management team to make difficult but wise choices regarding their departmental budgets, and improved efficiencies by hiring an asset manager.

    Oh, and speaking of hiring employees, it should be noted that Sanko, along with Bucks County commissioners Jim Cawley and Charley “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” Martin, “(hired) two employees without publicly advertising those open positions or interviewing anyone other than those who got the nod for the jobs,” as the Courier Times tells us here (one position was a $30,992-a-year job as an administrative assistant for the public information office, and the other was a $19-an-hour position for a legal secretary – the whole matter was aptly summed up by the other commissioner, Dem Diane Marseglia, as “policy as usual”).

    And speaking of cronyism in hiring, Martin said here that he wanted to replace Sanko with “a political operative” (the beat goes on).

    Also, I would like to enter the following “into the record,” as it were, as long as Sanko is telling us how wonderful he is:

  • Sanko dismissed Patrick Murphy’s call here for a paper ballot backup to a vote as an “unfunded mandate” (makes too much sense, I guess).
  • He had the lock changed on the County Commissioner’s office because Diane Marseglia gave a reporter the combination to the office suite, as noted here (drat that “good government” impulse!).
  • Cawley said Diane owed Sanko an apology because Sanko had failed to provide information Diane had requested, namely, the written justifications by county employees for vehicles on our dime (here – typical).
  • County Board of Elections Director Deena Dean accused Sanko of “two years of harassment” here.
  • Sanko participated in a GOP fundraiser here, which he considered “no big deal,” even though he did so as a government employee (typical for a Bucks County Repug).
  • I will acknowledge Sanko’s successes in his position, which he notes in his farewell. While he deserves credit, I would be happy if his replacement achieved a similar measure of success without the execrable wreak of political partisanship that Sanko managed to turn into a job requirement.


    Some More Words About Chris Dodd

    October 27, 2009

    Dodd_D000388
    This story tells us that a deal was reached to “extend the soon-to-expire $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers.”

    Who got the deal done? Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd.

    This story tells us that a credit card interest rate freeze was proposed after one card rate hit the usurious level of 29 percent.

    Who proposed the freeze? Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd.

    This post tells us that the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee made sure that the public option was included into the Senate health care bill. The individual who formerly chaired that committee was Sen. Ted Kennedy.

    Who chairs that committee now (and kept up the fight for the public option)?

    Chris Dodd, that’s who (and this story tells us of an upcoming fundraiser; Dodd has closed the gap against challenger Rob Simmons to approximately five points).

    I would ask that you remember this the next time the Murdoch Street Journal and right-wing media sites start caterwauling again about alleged sweetheart mortgage deals (and I think it’s also instructive to remember this when considering Dodd against the wingnut Simmons, whose antics are on display here).

    JL_tv_7sep05_Joe-Lieberman_
    Update: Based on this, the Connecticut senator who should be in trouble is this soulless shill, not Dodd.


    A Tuesday “Funny” From Fix Noise

    October 27, 2009

    So let me get this straight – Fix Noise talking head Gregg Jarrett allows all kinds of cross talk with serial propagandist Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee (basically putting out there a “tenther” argument), but when Rob Andrews makes a remark about trying to get a moment of “fair(ness) and balance,” Jarrett the utter tool goes off on him (h/t HuffPo).


    Monday Mashup (10/26/09)

    October 26, 2009

    Obama_Chicken

  • I just have three words for this one: stay classy, Repugs.
  • zurawik_8413

  • Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik criticized the Obama Administration’s “thin-skinned, heavy-handed minions” here over the mindlessly obvious observation that Fix Noise is the media wing of the Republican Party.

    Well, I don’t know how thin-skinned “Z on TV” is, but I have some evidence that he, at the very least, is a bit “heavy-handed” himself…

  • Here, Z. compares K.O and Rachel Maddow to Nazis (nice).
  • He said here that Fix Noise was “seriously questioning the administration of President Barack Obama as it pushes an agenda of massive social change not seen since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal” (when does Fix Noise “seriously” do anything, unless it’s Shep Smith going off-script and telling the truth?).
  • Z. compared K.O. to Joe McCarthy here with no proof (of course).
  • Here, Zurawik joined the hallelujah chorus deriding Dan Rather’s “disastrous” 2004 report on Dubya’s National Guard service; the criticism of “Z” focused on document minutiae but not the substance of the report describing how, among other pieces of this puzzle, “former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes in his first ever interview (said) that he had pulled strings to get the future president into the National Guard,” as noted by story producer Mary Mapes.
  • Here, Zurawik said he wants the White House to be “rally(ing) the spirits of the unemployed and the millions of others who fear they will soon lose jobs” instead of criticizing Fix Noise (huh?)
  • Oh, and “Z” expressed a bit of umbrage here over the fact that MSNBC airs episodes of “Locked Up” over the weekends in between news coverage here (and who else actually cares about that?).
  • Well then, on further review as they say, if “Z” gets worked into a froth over such a mindless objection (the “Locked Up” business), then maybe he is a bit thin-skinned after all.

  • Update 10/29/09: God, Zurawik is such a tool (here – h/t Atrios).

    PMW_jones_narrowweb__300x369,0

  • I try to avoid Zurawik’s fellow villager pundit Kathleen Parker, but her most recently concocted dreck (here) on the amendment sponsored by Sen. Al Franken in response to the ordeal suffered by KBR contractor Jamie Leigh Jones (pictured) is too odious to ignore…

    The amendment, which passed Oct. 6 by a 68 to 30 vote, was intended to prevent the Pentagon from contracting with companies that require employees to resolve disputes over sexual assault and discrimination through arbitration rather than through the courts.

    The impetus behind the amendment was the 2005 horror story of (Jones), then a 20-year-old employee of Halliburton/KBR in Iraq, who alleged that she was drugged, gang-raped and held captive for 24 hours in a shipping container without food or water. When Jones sought legal recourse, the defense contractor argued that, under its employment contract, she had to pursue her complaint through arbitration rather than the courts.

    So far so good with Parker – but…

    No one hearing details of the alleged assault wants to be on the side of those who attacked her — or the company that refused to help her. If you’re a remotely savvy politician, that’s not a battle you want to join.

    How about a politician possessing a modicum of basic human decency? What does “savvy” have to do with trying to comprehend Jones’ horrifying ordeal?

    One might assume, therefore, that there must be some reasonable explanation for 30 Republican senators taking a position that would invite vilification. It’s true that Halliburton donates seven times more campaign money to Republicans than to Democrats, according to http://CampaignMoney.com. Then again, while we’re crunching numbers, journalists donate disproportionately to Democrats — more than five times as much as they give to the GOP.

    The implication that campaign funding for either party had anything whatsoever to do with deciding to do the right thing here is almost too repugnant for words.

    And the only fault that Parker can find with the 30 senators who opposed the Franken amendment is that they “haven’t been brilliant in explaining their position” (of course, for these 30 utterly clueless and heartless life forms, they’re lucky I suppose that Parker is here to explain their position for them).

    See, according to Parker, the amendment was opposed by the 30 senators, the Department of Defense and the White House because if was “overbroad,” which may or may not be true. However, according to TPM here…

    The White House does say it supports “the intent of the amendment,” spokesman Tommy Vietor told TPM.

    Vietor also said the White House is working with legislators to rework the amendment “to make sure it is enforceable.”

    The Senate legislation, part of a defense appropriations bill, must still be merged with a House bill before it can be signed.

    And just as a reminder, here are more details on what Jones endured, which led to the Franken amendment…

    Ms Jones was working in Iraq during Iraqi Operation Freedom for KRB when she was brutally sexually assaulted. When she reported the gang rape, she was held imprisoned in a shipping container by two armed KBR guards until she could call the Embassy to reach her father, after which she was rescued.

    Ms Jones needed reconstructive surgery due to the brutal nature of her attack. Reconstructive surgery! And the assailants claim it was “consensual”. Her breasts were misshapen and torn from the wall of her chest, among other painful injuries she sustained.

    Of course, far be it for Parker to include all of this in her screed, a typically “through the looking glass” bit of bogus Beltway blather trying to defend the utterly indefensible.

    I think I speak for many when I say that I think Jones is a hero. I cannot comprehend her bravery, and the very least we can do to honor it is to pass the amendment with whatever modifications for enforceability are necessary so that it is signed into law at the earliest possible moment.

    Which would thus subvert the obstruction of at least 30 ignorant white men who only want Jones to shut up and go away.


  • Friday Mashup (10/23/09)

    October 23, 2009

  • I happened to come across the following highlighted story at the Fix Noise site…

    Fox_Funny_1
    Oh mah gawd, I thought to myself; I’d better click on this story and read it right away!

    And after I did, I found this (with the very different headline of “Google CEO: Vast Web Changes Coming Within Five Years”).

    And just to make sure, I searched the story for “government” and “screw” and found nothing.

    So just to reiterate, Fox “News” ran a story with an imaginary quote from the story subject in the headline.

    And they actually have the gall to whine when they’re not treated like a reasonably serious news organization (more here – unless they were really trying to criticize this but were too lazy and/or cowardly to do it any other way).

  • Pitts_3885523_200X150

  • And in another somewhat shocking development, I came across the following item from The Hill by none other than U.S. Congressional District PA-16’s very own waste of space, Pancake Joe Pitts himself…

    There is one thing that people across the ideological spectrum can agree on when it comes to the issue of energy—the United States needs to produce far more clean energy from a source that does not rely on the whims of tyrants in far off parts of the world.

    Fortunately, there is a technology out there that produces clean, emission free energy without the need for raw materials imported from unstable countries. Our green energy future is a nuclear future.

    I believe that we need to provide for a regulatory process that will encourage an increase in the production of this clean, alternative energy.

    I don’t think we should charge headlong into developing nuclear reactors as a means of lessening our oil dependency, but I grudgingly admit that nukes should be part of the picture (of course, it doesn’t hurt that Limerick, the site of an existing reactor, is in nearby PA-06, but I guess Jim Gerlach, that district’s rep, is too busy trying to run for governor to sign onto this also).

    However, as I read the text of Pitts’ bill, I came across a little item of concern (the very last section, actually)…

    The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 shall not be used to arbitrarily prevent uranium mining from taking place on Federal lands. The Federal Government shall not collect additional leasing fees, beyond that which are currently applicable, to mine uranium on Federal lands. Any fees collected in association with commercial uranium mining on Federal lands that should be applied for remediation purposes, shall only be applied to the remediation of sites that incurred damage as a result of commercial nuclear activities. Such fees shall not be applied to the remediation of any sites that incurred damage as a result of Government or Government-sponsored activities.

    So basically, Pitts is proposing that the Act not be enforced to “prevent uranium mining,” huh?

    This story from last July tells us the following…

    WASHINGTON – The Interior Department announced Monday it is temporarily barring the filing of new mining claims, including for uranium, on nearly 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon.

    The land is being set aside for two years so the department can study whether it should be permanently withdrawn from mining activity, according to a notice published in the Federal Register online. The notice covers 633,547 acres under the control of the Bureau of Land Management and 360,002 acres in Kaibab National Forest.

    The announcement comes ahead of Tuesday’s congressional hearing on a bill to set aside more than 1 million acres of federal lands north and south of the canyon. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, and environmental groups had been looking to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for temporary protections at the Grand Canyon while the legislation is pending.

    The Interior Department under President George W. Bush was unresponsive to efforts to ban new uranium mining claims. The House Natural Resources Committee invoked a little-used rule to stop any new claims for up to three years, but Interior officials refused to recognize the action and continued to authorize additional mining claims.

    Former Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Rob Arnberger said he would welcome any protection that (Interior Secretary Ken) Salazar offers, but permanent withdrawal is the goal.

    “Are we prepared to allow the landscape to be torn up adjacent to the park, to threaten the hydrological and the natural resources of that park?” Arnberger said. “My answer to that is no. Don’t open it up to exploration.”

    So, if Pitts wants to advocate for more nukes, that’s his right. However, don’t try to play these cowardly and environmentally destructive games in the meantime.

    Given al of this, I guess I shouldn’t complain so much when Pitts regularly votes No, since that’s usually not as detrimental as episodes such as this, when he actually decides to do something but ends up flirting with catastrophe for his (and our) trouble.

  • Malcolm

  • Finally, former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm opined as follows from here…

    Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, who recently taught Americans the federally-approved way to sneeze this season, was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

    She was trying to explain widespread delays in the delivery of the H1N1 vaccine across the country.

    Basically, of course, she said it wasn’t the Obama administration’s fault, that as soon as the vaccines come in, they’re being shipped out immediately by the many thousands of doses.

    You know how everyone talks about Americans not making things anymore, that so many manufacturing jobs, for instance, have been shipped overseas?

    Well, Sebelius was essentially saying the same goes for flu-vaccine-making.

    Four of the world’s five makers are foreign. And we all think we know what that means.

    Huh?

    Members of Congress could have been exploring this subject last winter when their latest automatic pay raises took effect.

    Instead, Wednesday they expressed shock and dismay at the situation now that it’s October and thousands are already falling ill with the H1N1 virus…

    Also, Purdue University researchers reported the late deliveries may not matter because by the end of this year 63% of Americans will be infected anyway. So, too many doses, too late.

    Well, this wasn’t helped one bit by the following, as noted here last April…

    Famously, Maine Senator Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus, fumed about the pandemic funding: “Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill? No, we should not.

    Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate’s version of the stimulus measure.

    And as noted here by Dana Milbank at the WaPo (experiencing a welcome moment of clarity, describing how a certain furry red muppet was called upon to make the case for flu preparedness)…

    This reliance on (PR stunts) rather than medicine is not the fault of the Obama administration, which has done about the best it could with limited tools. It’s the result of years of failure to build adequate vaccine-manufacturing capacity in the United States. Too little work on new vaccine technologies means producers of flu shots still rely on the ancient method of making inoculations with chicken eggs. And the anemic public health system will almost surely buckle this fall as flu sufferers flood emergency rooms.

    If there’s any good news, it’s that the government may be jolted into building an adequate vaccine and public health infrastructure before a more severe pandemic comes along with the potential to kill millions of Americans instead of mere thousands. In the meantime, the best the feds can do is try to slow the spread of the germs until the vaccines arrive…

    And just remember which political party favors delay and obstruction on health care reform as you read this, including fighting the creation of the infrastructure Milbank is talking about.

    Which is nothing to sneeze at, if you will, as the number of flu cases rise across this country (it’s a shame that there’s no similar vaccine to stifle pundit idiocy, or else Malcolm would require multiple injections).


  • Sweeping More “Turd Blossom” BS Under The “Afghan Rug”

    October 22, 2009

    rove“Bush’s Brain” opined as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal yesterday…

    In an interview with CNN’s John King on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said President Obama is now asking tough questions about Afghanistan “that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side and the strategic side.” It was a not so subtle dig at Mr. Obama’s predecessor and was meant to distract from the White House’s mishandling of the war.

    The Bush administration did in fact conduct a top-to-bottom strategic review of Afghanistan in 2008. That review was provoked by two developments.

    The first was that Pakistan’s government wobbled starting in 2006. It cut deals with tribes that created safe havens for the Taliban and al Qaeda and then became distracted from fighting terrorism as President Pervez Musharraf was pressured to leave office and replaced by a new democratic government. The second was al Qaeda’s decision to refocus its efforts on Afghanistan after having been driven from Iraq.

    In response, I’d like to provide this link that tells us that, while the threat of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq was quite real, to say nothing of the suicide attacks, “Pentagon documents leaked to the Washington Post (around April 2006) regarding Zarqawi have revealed that Al Qaeda in Iraq is fabricated.” And just to refresh our memories, this McClatchy story tells us the pains the Bushco regime went through to try and fabricate a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

    And as far as the Obama White House’s supposed “mishandling of the war,” Cenk Uygur “keeps his eye on the ball,” so to speak, by telling us the following (here)…

    Right now, there is a debate as to what President Obama should do in Afghanistan. As there should be. Should he send in more troops? Does it make sense to escalate the war without a viable partner in the Afghan government? Will this be his Vietnam? Woh, woh, woh whose Vietnam?

    What is not being talked about enough is the disastrous situation George Bush left for Obama in Afghanistan (as he did in just about every aspect of government). What the hell did Bush do in Afghanistan for over seven years? Apparently, not a damn thing.

    Do you know how many troops Bush had in Afghanistan in early 2008? He had an unbelievably small contingent of 26,000 troops in the whole country. At the same time, he had 160,000 troops in Iraq. I don’t know if you know this, but Iraq did not attack us. The people who did attack us on 9/11 lived in … Afghanistan.

    So Bush had 26K troops in Afghanistan, and we’re debating about whether or not we should have almost four times that amount now.

    And before any of this occurred, Afghanistan had been our radar, as it were, since the Soviets were driven out of the country, mainly for the following reason (as noted here)…

    The strategic location of Afghanistan can scarcely be overstated. The Caspian Basin contains up to $16 trillion worth of oil and gas resources, and the most direct pipeline route to the richest markets is through Afghanistan.

    The Alternet article discusses in length how the American company Unocal (aided by an Arabian company, Delta Oil) fought Bridas, an Argentine energy company, who had leases to drill for oil in the region…

    …and by November of 1996 (Bridas) had signed an agreement with General Dostum of the Northern Alliance and with the Taliban to build a pipeline across Afghanistan.

    Unocal wanted exclusive control of the trans-Afghan pipeline and hired a number of consultants in its conflict with Bridas: Henry Kissinger, Richard Armitage (now Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush Administration), Zalmay Khalilzad (a signer of the PNAC letter to President Clinton) and Hamid Karzai.

    Unocal wooed Taliban leaders at its headquarters in Texas, and hosted them in meetings with federal officials in Washington, D.C.

    Unocal and the Clinton Administration hoped to have the Taliban cancel the Bridas contract, but were getting nowhere. Finally, Mr. John J. Maresca, a Unocal Vice President, testified to a House Committee of International Relations on February 12, 1998, asking politely to have the Taliban removed and a stable government inserted. His discomfort was well placed.

    Six months later terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and two weeks after that President Clinton launched a cruise missile attack into Afghanistan. Clinton issued an executive order on July 4, 1999, freezing the Taliban’s U.S.-held assets and prohibiting further trade transactions with the Taliban.

    Mr. Maresca could count that as progress. More would follow.

    Immediately upon taking office, the new Bush Administration actively took up negotiating with the Taliban once more, seeking still to have the Bridas contract vacated, in exchange for a tidy package of foreign aid. The parties met three times, in Washington, Berlin, and Islamablad, but the Taliban wouldn’t budge.

    Behind the negotiations, however, planning was underway to take military action if necessary. In the spring of 2001 the State Department sought and gained concurrence from both India and Pakistan to do so, and in July of 2001, American officials met with Pakistani and Russian intelligence agents to inform them of planned military strikes against Afghanistan the following October. A British newspaper told of the U.S. threatening both the Taliban and Osama bin Laden — two months before 9/11 — with military strikes.

    According to an article in the UK Guardian, State Department official Christina Rocca told the Taliban at their last pipeline negotiation in August of 2001, just five weeks before 9/11, “Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.”

    And Think Progress tells us of the following from here, as the Iraq war and the neglected Afghanistan war dragged on…

    JANUARY 24, 2006: Army has become “thin green line”
    Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a “thin green line” that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon. [AP, 1/24/06]

    OCTOBER 4, 2006: Iraq and Afghanistan war vets say military is overstretched, underequipped. 63 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans believe the Army and Marine Corps are overextended. 67 percent of Army and Marine veterans believe their forces are overextended. [VoteVets Action Fund, 10/4/2006]

    OCTOBER 19, 2006: Staff on the House Veterans Affairs Committee report that the “number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doubled — from nearly 4,500 to more than 9,000 — from October 2005 through June 2006.” [McClatchy, 10/18/2006]

    And Bush’s “boy genius” tells us more…

    There is also the heavy whiff of politics in the administration’s war deliberations. The president’s senior political adviser, David Axelrod, apparently attends war cabinet meetings—something I did not do as President Bush’s senior political adviser.

    For Rove to imply that he separated the wars from politics is laughable in the extreme; here is another reminder…

    Implying that Democratic Party liberals were little better than traitors, Rove continued, “Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said: we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said: we must understand our enemies. Conservatives see the United States as a great nation engaged in a noble cause; liberals see the United States and they see … Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of Cambodia.”

    Yep, I would call that an example of the “heavy whiff” of something, but not politics (certainly befitting of Rove’s nickname, though).

    “Decisive support” of a new Afghan strategy is certainly required, though (one to help remedy the failures of the old strategy, or what passed for one, by Rove and the rest of the disreputable Bushco bunch).

    Update 10/25/09: I guess it shouldn’t at this point any more, but it continually astonishes me how much our lapdog press seems to crave pro-Bushco BS like this (a “secret plan,” huh?).

    Update 10/27/09: And silly me for thinking that Rove was telling the truth about supposedly not participating in “war cabinet meetings”; maybe he didn’t, but he’s a liar for saying that he never participated in high-level national security meetings, as noted here.


    R.T. For Two (A Musical Interlude)

    October 21, 2009

    Yep, he put on a great show at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ last night, opening with “Misunderstood,” which he performs here, as well as the second number, “Time’s Gonna Break You”…

    gwb_13-george-w-bush
    …a song about this guy.


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