Thursday, September 20, 2007

Space Is Our Place?

I have nothing against retire General Wesley Clark. He's been critical of the so-called surge in Iraq, and it's no surprise he endorsed Hillary Clinton for president a few days ago. But I was taken aback when I heard him on the NPR's Diane Rehm Show yesterday. Let's roll the tape:

Rehm: General Clark, you wrote in a recent Washington Post editorial that the next war is always looming, explain what you mean?

Clark: I think when you're in the military there's an obligation to not only remember the past but to also think about the future. So as we think about the future in the U.S. Arm Forces we're looking at, of course, the lessons learned in Iraq, ground troops, and we're looking the possible requirements to go against Iran -- air and navel power. And we're looking at the need to protect our domination of space.

Rehm: Space?

Clark: Space, the ultimate high ground. It belongs to us.

Belongs to us
? I know Clark was talking militarily-speaking. But such talk can come across as damn arrogant. Space: the property of the United States. It's that sort of rhetoric that peeves people in other nations, and right now we can use all the friends we can get.

Posted by David Corn at September 20, 2007 01:25 PM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

American exceptionalism at its worst?

I wonder if we own all the other planets and stars too.

If so have we overreached a little bit?

There are some very crazy ways of thinking from all sides - no reason to think Wes is more looney or kooky then others, just looney in different ways.

Belongs to us

I can't imagine how that would even work?



Gerald said...

I believe David Corn read my post on Wesley Clark. Some may recall where I said that Clark was another Hitler Bush with polish.

I truly enjoy reading my CodePink email. A great organization founded by women. Women are the answer to save our Nazi nation from her endless wallowing in the abyss of hell.

Gerald said...

The End of America

It has all come together. We are no longer America. We are Nazi America forever.

capt said...

Travel Guide to a War Zone

It may be a war zone, but never mind. Lonely Planet has published a new travel guide for Afghanistan, a first for the country since the 1970s. But as the long list of 'Dangers & Annoyances' shows, it's not your standard backpacker Bible.

At first glance, it looks just like the dozens of other Lonely Planet titles. Each chapter begins with the highlights of the region being presented. There are suggestions for those looking for "Roads Less Travelled." And there are useful tips for eating and sleeping. But the destination itself is a bit out of the ordinary: For the first time since Bohemians were following the Hippie Trail through Central Asia in the 1960s and 70s, travel-guide giant Lonely Planet has come out with a book on Afghanistan.

"For most Lonely Planet books, it's like you buy them, you book the flight, and you go on your trip. This one is different," says book author Paul Clammer, who also runs an Afghanistan travel Web site called Kabul Caravan. "This can only be a foundation, a starting point for the planning."

Indeed, the book is full of numerous links and contact addresses where travellers can get up-to-date information on the security situation in the country. Clammer says it is meant more for the employees of aid organizations operating in the country than for those few backpackers who might be looking for a bit of excitement.

"I find it difficult to recommend independent travel to Afghanistan," Clammer says. "It's not an adventure playground."

*****end of clip*****

My sick sense of humor found this a bit of a chuckle.


Gerald said...

In the "10 easy steps" outlined by Wolf, countries move from open to closed and repressive societies by devolving past certain markers, and Wolf makes a powerful case for the way in which the United States is following a similar pattern without any significant deviation. In each instance she compares and contrasts how America's adherence to the pattern compares or contrasts with the pattern in pre-World War II Germany. The 10 steps are:

Invoking an external and internal threat
Establishing secret prisons
Developing a paramilitary force

Surveiling ordinary citizens

Infiltrating citizens' groups

Arbitrarily detaining and releasing citizens

Targeting key individuals

Restricting the press

Casting criticism as "espionage" and dissent as "treason"

Subverting the rule of law

As noted in the quote from Justice Douglas above, the fascist shift is a protracted process; it never happens overnight, and in U.S. History Uncensored, I offer an historical narrative describing exactly how we have arrived where we are-at "the end of America". Some aspects of the process were generated before the U.S. Civil War, but our recent history is nothing less than the story of the acceleration of the fascist agenda and the death of the Republic.

Gerald said...

Soul Murder

Gerald said...

It HURTS us to see our country taken over by literal psychopathic fascists. It hurts us to watch the Bush/Republican rape of Mother Nature. It hurts us to see our Constitutional Republic turned into a cattle farm for vampire elites (hint: we're the cattle). It hurts us to see science trashed and our children's schools abandoned.

It also hurts us to watch religious fanatics babble about a 70 IQ Armageddon (the Baptist Big Bang) and how Jesus WANTS us to kill as many Muslims as we can in Bush's 3rd millennia crusade. For most American Christians, Jesus still stands for love and compassion. He's not some Fundamentalist God of War and to watch glassy eyed television evangelists shriek out their fear of life and hatred is like looking into a psychological belly of maggots.

Gerald said...

Iran So Far Away

Gerald said...

Blackwater in "cold blood" murdered Iraqi civilians

Gerald said...

There is a ground swell to have Kerry answer questions regarding the 2004 fraudulant election.

Kerry said all he can say. "Why beat a dead horse" is one of Bobby Knight's saying that his wife gave him in answering questions.

The 2004 election was rigged and we all know that it was rigged. Hopefully, we can stop future rigged elections but don't count on it.

With regard to 2004 WHY BEAT A DEAD HORSE???

capt said...

Copyright 2007 National Public Radio (R)
All Rights Reserved

National Public Radio (NPR)
SHOW: All Things Considered 9:00 PM EST

September 7, 2007 Friday

1275 words Iraqi Watchdog Official Alleges High-Level Corruption
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris.

This week, an NPR report spotlighted corruption in Iraq's government, covering some draft findings of State Department investigators in Baghdad. The report said the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has done little to combat corruption in its ranks. It also said Maliki has interfered with the work of what supposed to be an independent government watchdogs - the Commission on Public Integrity.

The head of that agency recently left Iraq, ostensibly to attend a training session in the U.S. Before he left, he gave an exclusive interview to NPR. But he said we could only air that interview if one of the following things happened: if he was arrested, killed or if he managed to get his family safely out of Iraq.

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Baghdad.

COREY FLINTOFF: Radhi Hamza al-Radhi has been head of the Commission of Public Integrity for three years, and he says the government corruption he's seen since then has been widespread and costly.

Judge RADHI HAMZA AL-RADHI (Commissioner, Commission of Public Integrity, Iraq): (Through translator) Most ministries are involved. Some officials, such as the minister of defense, have been dismissed. But we have about $4 billion in corruption cases there, $2 billion in cases involving the Interior Ministry.

FLINTOFF: In total, Radhi says his agency was investigating fraud and bribery cases believed to have cost the Iraqi government about $11 billion.

Documents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad obtained by NPR confirm Radhi's claim of widespread corruption the Iraqi government. One draft report shows that in the six-month period between September 2006 and February 2007, high- level Iraqi officials quashed 48 corruption cases involving more than 100 defendants.

Judge RADHI: (Arab spoken)

FLINTOFF: Radhi alleges that his agency was blocked from pursuing some cases that directly involved current and former government ministers, and at least one member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's family. He says the prime minister promptly closed the case involving the former transportation minister, Salaam al-Maliki, and that his office issued secret orders blocking the prosecution of at least three other top officials.

Judge RADHI: (Through translator) We received different secret orders blocking prosecution of former and current ministers.

FLINTOFF: He produces a copy of a letter that appears to be from the prime minister's office, signed not by Maliki, but by his chief of staff. Radhi says that's so the prime minister can deny involvement if he has to.

A few days after giving this interview, Radhi al-Radhi left Baghdad with some members of his staff to attend what he says was a previously scheduled training session in Washington, D.C.

About a week after that, Prime Minister Maliki told reporters that Radhi had violated a government travel ban and accused him of fleeing Iraq to avoid charges against him in parliament.

Prime Minister NOURI AL-MALIKI (Iraq): (Through translator) And in the following week, parliament was supposed to vote on withdrawing confidence from him, sacking him and referring him to the courts.

FLINTOFF: Radhi says the charges were trumped-up by Maliki's allies, and he says the reason he was able to leave Baghdad was simply that there was no travel ban against him.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad declined to answer specific questions about its report on corruption, but stressed that it was a draft and said there were doubts about the veracity of some of the sources used. The draft report said that Maliki's government was incapable of even the most basic enforcement of its own anti-corruption laws. It said the government had attempted to starve the Commission on Public Integrity by withholding its resources, and it accused government officials of trying to politicize the agency.

It said criminal elements in some government ministries were so violent and so dangerous that commission inspectors couldn't do their work in safety. The report paid particular attention to Iraq's Interior Ministry, which supervises police forces.

Unidentified Man: (Through translator) We've had a lot of corruption cases, but the only ones that ever get to the courts are the ones against low-level employees who don't have powerful friends to protect them.

FLINTOFF: This man works at the Ministry of Interior. He's asked that we not use his name for this report because he could lose his job or worst, if he were caught talking about corruption at the ministry. He says official crime takes place at all levels of the department, from the lowest-level police officers who have to buy their jobs, to high officials who take bribes to allow suppliers to provide shoddy equipment at high prices.

Unidentified Man: (Through translator) For example, just look at the contracts to buy armored vests for the police. The sample they showed us was high quality. The actual vests were poorly made. No one ever followed through on that case.

FLINTOFF: Like departments of government in the United States, each Iraqi ministry has its own inspector general, but our informant says many of them are political hacks.
Unidentified Man: (Through translator) The inspector general of the Interior Ministry is Akeel al-Toraihee. He's from the Dawa Party. Any high position has to be filled by someone from the big parties.

FLINTOFF: Our source says al-Toraihee, who is from the prime minister's party, has no prior experience that would qualify him to be an inspector general. He says corruption at the ministry has prevented the police from gaining much- needed training. Courses offered by countries such as Britain and Germany are popular with senior police officials who want to relax with a junket abroad.

Unidentified Man: (Through translator) Instead of sending the professionals to learn new fingerprinting techniques, we sent the ministry's food manager because he was willing to pay a bribe to go on a two- or three-month vacation.

FLINTOFF: Our source says that part of the problem is turnover among American military units that train and advise the Iraqi police. When one unit goes home, a corrupt official will ask its replacement to pay again for items that were stolen the first time around.

Judge Radhi, the head of the Commission on Public Integrity, says the criminals in government shield their activities by threatening anyone who is willing to act against them.

Judge RADHI: (Through translator) Two men from the Ministry of Trade came here to my office and accused me of working against the Shia. They said they were going to do something about it, and they've threatened my life.

FLINTOFF: He doesn't take the threats lightly. The draft State Department report says 12 members of the commission have been murdered in the line of duty.

Prime Minister Maliki suggested that the judge's decision to leave the country is proof that he was guilty of the charges leveled against him in parliament. Maliki also accused the judge of tampering with evidence.

Prime Minister AL-MALIKI: (Through translator) And I believe that he may have hidden some documents or changed some documents before he left the country.

FLINTOFF: So far, Iraqi newspapers that have covered the story have focused on the prime minister's contention that Radhi is a fugitive who should be brought to justice for his crimes. As long as he remains outside Iraq, it's uncertain whether the head of Iraq's anti-corruption watchdog agency can clear his own name, much less make a case against the officials he says are raiding his country's treasury.

Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Baghdad.

September 8, 2007


*****end of clip*****

A little bit from the judge himself.


capt said...

Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid.
Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)

There are more fools in the world than there are people.
Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)

There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832)

capt said...

Democrats Voting to Condemn

Baucus (D-MT),
Bayh (D-IN),
Cardin (D-MD),
Carper (D-DE),
Casey (D-PA),
Conrad (D-ND),
Dorgan (D-ND),
Feinstein (D-CA),
Johnson (D-SD),
Klobuchar (D-MN),
Kohl (D-WI),
Landrieu (D-LA),
Leahy (D-VT),
Lincoln (D-AR),
McCaskill (D-MO),
Mikulski (D-MD),
Nelson (D-FL),
Nelson (D-NE),
Pryor (D-AR),
Salazar (D-CO),
Tester (D-MT),
Webb (D-VA)


WTF? This is why congress polls even lower than the Coward from Crawford.

WHEN did any of the slugs above bring the swift boat liars lies to senate floor for condemnation?

I wonder what the sense of the senate is regarding "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" ads? How do they feel about the Ari pro-war ads?

We have some REAL problems in this country and the problems have their names on the list above - not in the content of a newspaper ad.

There is no excuse for this. Are the above thinking this is their Schivo moment?



capt said...


Every story there is both timely and substantial today - each one is a good read.


capt said...

Senate Blocks Anti-War Bill

The Senate blocked legislation Thursday that would have cut off money for combat in Iraq by June. It was a predictable defeat for Democrats struggling to pass less divisive anti-war measures.

The 28-70 vote was 32 short of the 60 needed to cut off a GOP filibuster. The legislation, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Russ Feingold, was indicative of the Democratic leadership's new hardline strategy.

Unable to attract enough Republican support on milder proposals, Reid has sought votes on strong anti-war measures intended to force a withdrawal of troops.

The outcome was not a surprise. In May, the Senate rejected a similar proposal by Reid and Feingold by a 29-67 vote, with Democrats who voted against it saying they did not support using money to force an end to the war because that approach could hurt the troops.

Voting for the measure were Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. A fourth candidate, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., did not vote.

Twenty Democrats joined 49 Republicans and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, in voting to block the bill.

Democrats now have united behind a proposal that would order an end to combat within nine months. But that measure, by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., also was expected to fail because Republicans said they opposed setting a timetable.

"They want this war more than they want to protect our soldiers," Reid, D-Nev., told reporters. "When I say they want the war, they want to protect their president more than they want to protect our troops."

Earlier, the Senate voted 72-25 to condemn an advertisement by the liberal anti-war group that accused the top U.S. military commander in Iraq of betrayal.

A full-page ad appeared last week in The New York Times as Gen. David Petraeus testified before Congress about his assessment of the situation in Iraq. The ad's headline was: "General Petraeus or General Betray Us? Cooking the books for the White House."

With several Republicans opposed to President Bush's war strategy, GOP lawmakers could put aside their differences and rally around their disapproval of the ad.

Sen. Gordon Smith, one of the few Republican senators who supports legislation ordering troop withdrawals, said he thought Petraeus' testimony and the ad were the two biggest factors in keeping Republicans from breaking ranks with the president.

He said Petraeus' testimony was persuasive and the ad went too far by attacking a popular uniformed officer.

"It was stupid on their part and disgraceful," said Smith, R-Ore.

The resolution, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, drew opposition from Clinton and Dodd.

Obama did not vote on that measure. But minutes earlier, he did support an alternative, by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that condemned the ad as well as previous attack ads that questioned the patriotism of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., both Vietnam veterans.

Bush said the ad was "disgusting" and he criticized Democrats for not immediately condemning it.

"And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like, or more afraid of irritating them, then they are of irritating the United States military," Bush said at a news conference.

Eli Pariser, executive director of the liberal group, responded: "What's disgusting is that the president has more interest in political attacks than developing an exit strategy to get our troops out of Iraq and end this awful war."

On Wednesday, majority Democrats failed to pass legislation that would have required active-duty troops to spend as much time at home as they do in combat. That measure was seen as Democrats' best shot at challenging Bush this year because of its pro-military premise.

Its failure essentially means that Democrats will not be able to get the support for tougher bills ordering troops home by next summer.

The Senate plans a vote in the coming days on Levin's proposal. He said it would allow some troops to remain behind to conduct such missions as counterterrorism and training the Iraqis. He estimated the legislation, if enacted, would cut troop levels in Iraq by more than half.

The firm deadlines reflect a shift in strategy for Democrats, who had pursued a bipartisan compromise on war legislation. But after last week's testimony by Petraeus, Democrats calculated not enough Republicans were willing to break party ranks and support more tempered legislation calling for combat to end next summer.

(This version CORRECTS 6th paragraf to say 20 Democrats, 49 Republicans and one independent voted to block the bill.)


*****end of clip*****

The current problem is not with the prez or his pals - it is those reliable DINO’s. Oop’s - I truly don’t mean to offend the partisans but really how can one be partisan to a non-party. Disunity on such an important issue divides more than just the party, eh?


David B. Benson said...

Capt --- That's a good one: DINOs, not Demos.

capt said...

Canadian dollar at parity with greenback

For the first time since Gerald Ford was president, the loonie can buy as much as the greenback.

The U.S. dollar's recent decline against the Canadian dollar, the euro, and even the Indian rupee, means Americans will pay more for imports and trips to Paris, Rome, Bangalore and Toronto. It also may drive overseas demand for U.S. goods and help raise profits at U.S. multinational corporations.

The U.S. dollar reached 1-to-1 parity against the Canadian dollar Thursday for the first time since November 1976. That means one Canadian dollar now buys one U.S. dollar, so a bottle of maple syrup could cost an American as much in Toronto as it does in New York.


*****end of clip*****

Now if we can only break down to a one - to - one with the peso.


capt said...

"Wars are seldom caused by spontaneous hatreds between people, for peoples in general are too ignorant of one another to have grievances and too indifferent to what goes on beyond their borders to plan conquests. They must be urged to the slaughter by politicians who know how to alarm them." : H.L. Mencken

"The ordinary man is passive. Within a narrow circle, home life, and perhaps the trade unions or local politics, he feels himself master of his fate. But otherwise he simply lies down and lets things happen to him." - George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] (1903-1950) British author Source: Inside the Whale, 1940


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

D - Democrat
I - In
N - Name
O - Only


I think the progressive wing of the Democratic party is often weighed down by DLC thinking.


capt said...

Professor Ajami's Iraq

There is an unhurried quality about Nouri al-Maliki. There is poise and deliberateness in him. The long years in exile must account for the patience….He is through and through a man of his culture, his Arabic exquisite and melodic. He takes in stride the sorts of things said about him by American officials and legislators.

Mr. Maliki recoils from the charge that his is a sectarian government; he notes with satisfaction that Gen. David Petraeus had exonerated the government of that charge.

The Mahdi Army had won the war for Baghdad. This has had the paradoxical and beneficial outcome of making that militia unneeded and parasitical.

Peace has not come to Iraq, the feuds have not fully burned out, but the center holds.

I brought back with me from Iraq a reminder that life renews in that land.

These quotations come not from a White House flack or a Dawa Party spokesman but from an article in the Wall Street Journal last week by Professor Fouad Ajami, the eminent Johns Hopkins scholar of Arab politics and culture. He had just returned from a trip to Iraq, during which the leading members of the country’s political class had told him that, appearances notwithstanding, Iraq is living out a glorious destiny. “Grant us time, and you will be proud of what you have helped bring forth here,” Prime Minister Maliki said. Adel Abdul Mahdi, the country’s Shiite Vice-President, told Ajami, “The war has been an American victory. All in the region are romancing the Americans, even Syria and Iran in their own way.” Ajami repeated this approvingly to the Journal’s readers, and again even more approvingly to the viewers of “Charlie Rose” when he and I appeared on the show last week.

Meanwhile, more than four million Iraqis have been displaced inside and outside the country. In Baghdad alone, according to yesterday’s Times, nearly a million people—a sixth of the capital’s population—have abandoned their homes. A third of Iraqis are in desperate need of emergency aid. The sectarian cleansing of Baghdad has been largely completed, leaving few mixed neighborhoods and putting brutal militias—especially those claiming allegiance to Moqtada al-Sadr—in charge of the rest of the city. The central government barely functions; nearly half the cabinet members refuse to come to meetings. From outside Iraq, Iran and Syria are indirectly killing American soldiers, backing different sides of the civil war, and all but daring America’s bogged-down military to launch a strike that the dictatorial leaderships of these two countries seem to think would strengthen their grip on power. And, somehow, Professor Ajami finds in this state of affairs a story of American success and Iraqi renewal.

It would be wrong to see in Ajami’s version of Iraq the same delusional thinking as in George W. Bush’s. The difference between them is the difference between a strategy and a fantasy. The President’s speech to the nation last Thursday, following the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, was perhaps the worst of his Presidency, misleading or outright false from beginning to end. But, as always with Bush, one felt that he believed every word of it: Iraq is a brave little country lighting the way to freedom in the Middle East, and freedom-loving people everywhere should rally to its side.

With Ajami, something else is at work. Of Lebanese Shiite origin, he has a deep knowledge of Middle Eastern politics (see his very good book “The Dream Palace of the Arabs”). According to Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial,” before the war Ajami was part of a group recruited on behalf of Paul Wolfowitz that provided an intellectual framework for the overthrow of Saddam. The group’s memo, which influenced the top figures in the Administration, declared that a transformation of the stagnant and malign Middle East should begin with war in Iraq—by now a familiar neoconservative idea but in 2001 quite audacious, even radical. Ajami repeated the argument in an article in Foreign Affairs just before the invasion, and nothing that has happened since has undermined his confidence in it. From the heights of his historical vision, a few hundred thousand corpses and a few million refugees barely register.

This isn’t a case of the normal heartlessness of abstract thought. The Journal piece, along with his recent work in The New Republic , make it clear that Ajami has taken sides in Iraq, and that his pleasure comes from his sense that his side is winning. His prewar writings and advice might have led the President to believe that the transformation of the Middle East would be a democratic one—and perhaps, a generation or two from now, it will be. But Ajami is already declaring victory, because it turns out that he has a different idea altogether: Shiite Arab power.


capt said...

COLUMN-The $3,850 per second war and its victims:Bernd Debusmann

Assuming you read at average speed, by the time you get to the bottom of this column, the war in Iraq will have cost the United States another $760,000. More than $4 million of U.S. taxpayers' money ebbed away in the 18 minutes it took George W. Bush to explain to his country and the world last week why the war he ordered would last well beyond his presidency.

During an eight-hour working day, U.S. tax dollars spent in the battle zones of Iraq total $112 million. These figures are extrapolated from a report by the Congressional Research Service (CSR), a bipartisan agency which provides research and analysis for the U.S. Congress. It put the war's average cost in 2007 at around $10 billion a month.

That translates into $333 million a day, $14 million an hour, $231,000 a minute and $3,850 a second. Even for the world's richest country, this is serious money.

It dwarfs what the United States is spending on efforts to alleviate the huge humanitarian crisis that unfolded after the 2003 invasion. Sectarian fighting has driven more than 4 million people from their homes, a population displacement without parallel in modern Middle Eastern history.

The consequences of the war were never part of the planning. And its high cost is a long way from the Bush administration's optimistic initial estimates.

Then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, one of the war's chief promoters, even predicted the post-invasion phase would be self-financing.


"There is a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money ... We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon," he said on March 27, 2003.

Depends on your definition of "soon", of course. The Government Accountability Office reckons it will take years before Iraqi oil flows at full capacity.

The number of U.S. troops in Iraq is now at a record high - 168,000. The cost of the war is not projected to decline despite plans for a phased withdrawal that will reduce troop levels by next summer to what they were before the so-called surge.

Troop levels are one of the factors that determine the cost of the war. Another cost driver: repairing and replacing worn-out equipment, from helicopter engines and tank tracks to Humvees, armored personnel carriers and machineguns.

Opponents of the war have begun to focus on its high cost and stress what could be done with the dollars spent in Iraq -- improving American education and healthcare and fixing ageing U.S. infrastructure.

The comparisons almost invariably center on things that could be done or bought in the United States for the benefit of Americans. Iraqis do not figure prominently in these analyses and the humanitarian disaster now unfolding is not much of a topic of discussion among Washington policy makers.

That, at times, dismays international aid officials who deal with the terrified multitudes who have fled waves of ethnic cleansing in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion. Around 2 million went to neighboring countries, mostly to Jordan, Syria and Egypt, by the count of international relief organizations.

Another 2.2 million fled from their homes and sought refuge elsewhere in Iraq. Shiites driven out of Sunni neigborhoods, Sunnis fleeing Shia districts, Arabs expelled from Kurdish areas, Kurds from predominantly Arab districts.

The movement dwarfs even the great population dislocations prompted by the 1948 creation of Israel, when an estimated 750,000 Palestinians fled their homes in fear for their lives.

Many of the internally displaced Iraqis -- IDPs in the language of aid organizations -- live in grim conditions, in makeshift camps without running water, electricity, even latrines.

Improving such conditions would be cheap, measured against the cost of the war, but appeals for increased funds have fallen on deaf ears.


This summer, the Iraq Chief of Mission of the International Organization of Migration (IOM), Rafiq Tschannen, said "only a fraction" of internally displaced Iraqis were getting basic assistance. It was difficult to understand, he said, why there was so little response to appeals for help.

Not all that difficult, really. Part of the international community suffers from what relief workers call "compassion fatigue." And for the United States, making the humanitarian crisis a public priority would be tantamount to admitting failure in Iraq.

After all, the U.S. invasion was meant to have brought democracy, security and stability, not civil war and mass flight.

Without much fanfare, U.S. contributions to various relief organizations quadrupled in 2007, to just under $200 million from $43 million in 2006, pocket change in terms of the war's cost. The sharp increase makes Washington the biggest single donor in the refugee crisis, according to the U.S. Department of State.

As to the $85 million appeal by the IOM, made in June -- by September, the organization had received $6 million, 5 million from the United States and 1 million from Australia.

The shortfall, $79 million, would be covered by less than six hours of war spending. (You can contact the author at


capt said...

Wheelchair-Bound Woman Dies After Being Shocked With Taser 10 Times

A Clay County woman's family said it's seeking justice after their loved one died shortly after being shocked 10 times with Taser guns during a confrontation with police.

The family of 56-year-old Emily Delafield said it would take the Green Cove Springs Police Department to court, according to a WJXT-TV report.

In April 2006, officers with the police department said they were called to a disturbance at a home in the 400 block of Harrison Street just before 5 p.m.

In a 911 call made to the Green Cove Springs, Delafield can be heard telling a dispatcher that she believed she was in danger:

Dispatcher: And what's the problem?

Delafield: My sister is waiting on my property.

Dispatcher: Your what?

Delafield: My sister (inaudible) is on my property trying to harm me.

Officers said they arrived to find Delafield in a wheelchair, armed with two knives and a hammer. Police said the woman was swinging the weapons at family members and police.

Within an hour of her call to 911, Delafield, a wheelchair-bound woman documented to have mental illness, was dead.

Family attorney Rick Alexander said Delafield's death could have been prevented and that there are four things that jump out at him about the case.

"One, she's in a wheelchair. Two, she's schizophrenic. Three, they're using a Taser on a person that's in a wheelchair, and then four is that they tasered her 10 times for a period of like two minutes," Alexander said.

According to a police report, one of the officers used her Taser gun nine times for a total of 160 seconds and the other officer discharged his Taser gun once for a total of no more than five seconds.

A medical examiner found Delafield died from hypertensive heart disease and cited the Taser gun shock as a contributing factor, the report said. On her death certificate, the medical examiner ruled Delafield's death a homicide.

The family said it plans to sue the Green Coves Springs Police Department now that it has all the reports regarding their loved one's death.

"We're going to try to compensate the estate and the family and try to get justice," Alexander said.

He said he believes the evidence weighs heavily in favor of Delafield's family and that justice will be served.

"I think that this evidence is going to show, along with some of the evidence we've collected outside of here, that there is no reason Emily Delafield should have died that day," Alexander said.

He said he plans to file a notice to sue sometime before the end of the year.


*****end of clip*****

Less than lethal does not mean it is safe to use a weapon - not even a taser.


capt said...

Bush says 'Iraq's Mandelas' are dead

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President George W. Bush on Thursday declared there were no more "Mandelas" left to help aid reconciliation in Iraq because former dictator Saddam Hussein had killed them all.

There could be no "instant democracy in Iraq" because "people are still recovering from Saddam Hussein's brutal rule," Bush told reporters.

Referring to former South African president Nelson Mandela, who led the fight against apartheid to become a symbol of reconciliation and hope, Bush said of Iraq: "I heard somebody say, 'Now where's Mandela?'"

"Well, Mandela is dead. Because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas."

The former Iraqi dictator, who was executed in December after his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, was "a brutal tyrant that divided people up and split families. And people are recovering from this," Bush said.

"So there is the psychological recovery that is taking place and it is hard work for them."

During key testimony earlier this month, US Ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, told Congress that Saddam had created a "pervasive climate of fear" across Iraq.

"No Nelson Mandela existed to emerge on the national political scene, anyone with his leadership talents would not have survived," he said.

"A new Iraq had to be built almost literally from scratch and the builders in most cases were themselves reduced to their most basic identity, ethnic or sectarian."

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mandela, now 89, spent 27 years in prison before being freed in 1990 and becoming South Africa's first black leader in 1994 after the fall of apartheid.

He stepped down as South Africa's president in 1999 and from public life in 2004 after being treated for prostate cancer three years earlier.


*****end of clip*****

I hope Nelson Mandela gives Commander Kantspeak an ear full. What an idiot.


capt said...

Countdown Special Comment: The President Of Hypocrisy

In light of President Bush’s disgraceful presser today, Keith Olbermann decided to make a Special Comment on tonight’s Countdown and wow, did he make the most of it. Olbermann blasts the president for his cowardly and un-American behavior of pimping General Petraeus as a political hack and hiding behind him to deflect criticism.

To say that Keith took the president to the woodshed would be an understatement.

Download (WMV)

Download (MOV)

Transcripts below the fold

So the President, behaving a little bit more than usual, like we’d all interrupted him while he was watching his favorite cartoons on the DVR, stepped before the press conference microphone and after side-stepping most of the substantive issues like the Israeli raid on Syria in condescending and infuriating fashion, produced a big-wow political finish that indicates, certainly, that if it wasn’t already — the annual Republican witch-hunting season is underway.

“I thought the ad was disgusting. I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus, but on the U.S. Military.

“And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad.

“And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like Move-On-Dot-Org — or **more** afraid of irritating them, than they are of irritating the United States military.”

“That was a sorry deal.”

First off, it’s “Democrat-ic” party, sir.

You keep pretending you’re not a politician, so stop using words your party made up. Show a little respect.

Secondly, you could say this seriously after the advertising/mugging of Senator Max Cleland? After the swift-boating of John Kerry?

But most importantly… making that the last question?

So that there was no chance at a follow-up?

So nobody could point out — as Chris Matthews so incisively did, a week ago tonight — that you were the one who inappropriately interjected General Petraeus into the political dialogue of this nation in the first place!

Deliberately, premeditatedly, and virtually without precedent, you shanghaied a military man as your personal spokesman — and now you’re complaining about the outcome, and then running away from the microphone?

Eleven months ago the President’s own party — the Republican National Committee — introduced this very different kind of advertisement, just nineteen days before the mid-term elections.

Bin Laden.

And Zawahiri’s rumored quote of six years ago about having bought “suitcase bombs.”

All set against a ticking clock, and finally a blinding explosion… and the dire announcement:

“These are the stakes - vote, November 7th.”

That one was ok, Mr. Bush?

Terrorizing your own people in hopes of getting them to vote for your own party has never brought as much as a public comment from you?

The Republican Hamstringing of Captain Max Cleeland and lying about Lieutenant John Kerry met with your approval?

But a shot at General Petraeus — about whom you conveniently ignore it is you who reduced him from four-star hero to a political hack — that merits this pissy juvenile blast at the Democrats on national television?

Your hypocrisy is so vast, sir, that if we could somehow use it to fill the ranks in Iraq you could realize your dream — and keep us fighting there until the year 3000.

The line between the military and the civilian government is not to be crossed.

When Douglas MacArthur attempted to make policy for the United States in Korea half a century ago, President Truman moved quickly to fire him, even though Truman knew it meant his own political suicide, and the deification of a General who history suggests had begun to lose his mind.

When George McClellan tried to make policy for the Union in the Civil War, President Lincoln finally fired his chief General, even though he knew McClellan could galvanize political opposition - as he did… when McClellan ran as Lincoln’s presidential opponent in 1864 and nearly defeated our greatest president.

Even when the conduit flowed the other way and Senator Joseph McCarthy tried to smear the Army because it wouldn’t defer the service of one of McCarthy’s staff aides, the entire civilian and Defense Department structures — after four years of fearful servitude — rose up against McCarthy and said “enough” and buried him.

The list is not endless — but it is instructive.

Air Force General LeMay — who broke with Kennedy over the Cuban Missile Crisis — and was retired.

Army General Edwin Anderson Walker — who started passing out John Birch Society leaflets to his soldiers.

Marine General Smedley Butler — who revealed to Congress the makings of a plot to remove FDR as President — and for merely being approached by the plotters, was phased out of the military hierarchy.

These careers were ended because the line between the military and the civilian is… not… to… be… crossed!

Mr. Bush, you had no right to order General Petraeus to become your front man.

And he obviously should have refused that order and resigned rather than ruin his military career.

The upshot is — and contrary it is, to the MoveOn advertisement — he betrayed himself more than he did us.

But there has been in his actions a sort of reflexive courage, some twisted vision of duty at a time of crisis. That the man doesn’t understand that serving officers cannot double as serving political ops, is not so much his fault as it is your good, exploitable, fortune.

But Mr. Bush, you have hidden behind the General’s skirts, and today you have hidden behind the skirts of ‘the planted last question’ at a news conference, to indicate once again that your presidency has been about the tilted playing field, about no rules for your party in terms of character assassination and changing the fabric of our nation, and no right for your opponents or critics to as much as respond.

That, sir, is not only un-American — it is dictatorial.

And in pimping General David Petraeus, sir, in violation of everything this country has been assiduously and vigilantly against for 220 years, you have tried to blur the gleaming radioactive demarcation between the military and the political, and to portray your party as the one associated with the military, and your opponents as the ones somehow antithetical to it.

You did it again today, sir, and you need to know how history will judge the line you just crossed.

It is a line — thankfully only the first of a series — that makes the military political, and the political, military.

It is a line which history shows is always the first one crossed when a democratic government in some other country has started down the long, slippery, suicidal slope towards a military junta.

Get back behind that line, Mr. Bush, before some of your supporters mistake your dangerous transgression, for a call to further politicize our military.

Good night, and good luck.


*****end of clip*****

Why does it take Keith speaking plainly about the hypocrisy of Bunnypants? Where are those opposed? (Hint 21 voting themselves as hypocrites)


capt said...

Tasers Under Fire Over Deaths

It started with a frantic call for help: "Something wrong with this guy. We need an ambulance."

A neighbor found 37-year-old Glen Leyba in his apartment, trashing so violently, the paramedics couldn't get close.

Then a police officer, hoping to restrain him, fired her 50,000-volt stun gun four times.

"It's been awful thinking about what he went through," says his mother Connie Leyba.

While the coroner ruled Leyba died from a cocaine overdose, CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports the family believes that can't be the whole story.

"The only thing we know for a fact is that he died immediately after the last Taser," says his sister Shelly Leyba.

In fact, at least 40 people have died after being hit with stun guns. James Borden was shocked three times and died while tussling with jailers in Indiana. David Glowczenki died in his New York neighborhood just after being stunned. So did William Lomax of Las Vegas.

"In none of these cases has the person died while being hit with the Taser," says Rick Smith, CEO of Taser International.

At Taser Headquarters, Smith says every one of the 40 people who died, died of something else and not the Taser. He adds that no coroner has ever listed the Taser as the sole cause of someone's death.

However, CBS News has found several cases, like James Borden, where the shock from a stun gun is listed as one of the causes.

"In the cases I've done, there's usually some underlying problem," says forensic pathologist Dr. William Anderson.

Anderson says for some people already agitated or on drugs - some of the people most likely to get hit with a Taser - the jolt can depress breathing and turn lethal.

"There may be a small group of people that once it's used, may develop difficulties that may result in death," says Anderson.

The company insists, after 100,000 uses, the Taser is safe, and police rely on that claim.

In Glen Leyba's case, the officer who responded said she used the Taser specifically because of her training - training that taught her there are no documented cases of injury or death due to the Taser.

"It was absolutely wrong," says Shelly Leyba. "Glen was in a medical emergency,"

But the Leyba family thinks all those shocks to Glen had to make a difference.

"After the last Taser it was reported in the police officers report (that) he immediately became unconscious, and he never moved again," says Shelly Leyba. "They are using it excessively and in any situation that doesn't warrant that use of force."

Of the 40 who died after being stunned, almost every one was already high on drugs or in an agitated state, which raises the question: Did the shock of a stun gun push some of these victims off the edge?


capt said...

Republicans Approve of Democratic Congress More than Democrats

Republicans approve of a Democratic controlled Congress significantly more than do either Democrats or Independents. Really, it makes sense, since the conservative governing majority in Washington has not been stopped by Democratic control of Congress. FISA was passed into law. The Iraq war has escalated, without any conditions being attached to it. Liberal political speech is condemned on the floor of the Senate. Republican filibusters are at a record high blocking everything in sight, and when that fails there is still Bush's veto to whip Congress into line. Effectively, Washington is still governing to the benefit of Republicans, and to the disgust of Democrats and Independents.

You know, I have to admit, that outside of the residual forces disaster, Hillary Clinton is rapidly moving up in my rankings of Democratic candidates for President. Say whatever else you want about the Clintons, but they don't take bullshit Republican attacks lying down or cowering in a corner. And if there is one thing I can't stand right now it is Democrats who won't stand up for themselves, who stab their allies in the back in order to appeal to D.C. elites and Republicans, and then ask us to keep fighting for them. At least Clinton fights back, and hard, whenever attacks are directed her way. That is a big plus in my book.


*****end of clip*****

Will the Democratic party caucus get the hint?


capt said...

New Thread

Sergio Reyes said...

I, too, heard that right at the end of the show and could hardly believe my
ears. "Did he actually say such an incredible thing?" I asked myself. And
then, why did Diane Rehm let him get away with it? Oh, yeah, the end of the
show. But still, such a preposterous statement cannot go unchallenged. I
wanted to call in the next day but realized it's futile, they don't allow
comments about past shows.