Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Swartout's may be victims, but...

Update 3: Replaced the link to the dead motionbox video with the youtube embed, and deleted the link to the rightwing site (to the motionbox vid) that was in update 1.

Update 2: New video, from a different angle.

Update: Added the best video I can find, to replace the one that is no longer available on this site. (which has now--update 3--been replaced by the YouTube video.)

It's kinda hard to tell exactly where this all went wrong, but the "in your face" style of the Swartout family as regards anti-war protests and protesters has led to several other incidents where they were the unfortunate victims, including one in which the 82 year old wife of a WWII veteran kicked Mr Swartout in the ass, and when he pressed charges, was fined $25.00 for her crime. As with serial peace victim Joshua Sparling, I wonder why these few are repeatedly attacked while counter-protesting against anti-Iraq war groups, while so many others escape such a fate. Is it pure dumb luck (or unluck?), or is there anything in the behavior of the victims that leads to such troubles?

To the extent that the peace folks were the agressors in this (or any) situation, they were wrong. But I also wonder whether putting a camera to one's face gives one care blanche to walk among those with whom one disagrees, mocking and insulting them until a verbal or physical confrontation ensues, and then claim victim status, as though there was no way they might've avoided such trouble. While one has the right to walk in any public place at anytime one wants, and to say whatever one feels, actually using those rights isn't the smartest thing to do in every situation... ...unless one wants a nifty little youtube video and the right to whine about poor treatment at the hands of hypocritical peace protesters, anyway...

Along with rights come the responsibility to use them intelligently and appropriately, and I suspect that some of the latter was lacking in this situation.

See also: What'd I Say?: Joshua Sparling: A swiftie spitting swiftly

Friday, April 25, 2008

Public opinion on Iraq

The gap between the views of the American people and those of the administration on Iraq continues to grow.

A newly released Gallup poll asked this question, the central question -- really the only relevant question -- regarding what we should do about Iraq:

If you had to choose, which do you think is better for the U.S. -- to keep a significant number of troops in Iraq until the situation gets better, even if that takes many years, or to set a timetable for removing troops from Iraq and to stick to that timetable regardless of what is going on in Iraq?

The reason why this is the central question is because it describes the two sides of the mainstream political debate. Keeping troops in Iraq until the situation is better, no matter how long it takes, is the Bush/McCain position. Setting a timetable for withdrawal and adhering to it regardless of what is happening there -- i.e., regardless of whether things are better or we're "winning" or "losing" -- is, roughly speaking, the view of the Democratic presidential candidates and, even more so, the defining premise of the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq sponsored by 42 Democratic Congressional candidates.

Americans overwhelmingly favor unconditional withdrawal and it's not even close. They favor that by a 25-point margin, and it's a 29-point margin among independents. Those are huge margins. Very few public policy questions of any significance produce margins that large.

read more | digg story

Sure, some strident neocons toss out straw man arguments, such as the fact that most Americans don't support immediate withdrawal (neglecting to mention, of course, that no one ever suggested the American public did support immediate withdrawal, or the fact that neither Democratic candidate has advocated for any such thing, either.), but the rest of us in the more reality based community understand the political & social implications of these poll results, which are reliable, and in fact have grown over time.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

F^@&in' Lever Pullers

Psy-ops on Steroids

More info: Free

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


REPUBLICANS FOR HILLARY - New York Post: "but for Republicans, there's only one candidate of hope: Hillary Rodham Clinton."

American Power: Hillary's Win: It's Not About the Math: "So, forget that Obama's ahead in pledged delegates, or in the total popular vote (which is a rehash argument from Gore's popular vote 'win' in 2000).

It's not about the math anymore. Barack Obama's surge has stalled, and Hillary's perfectly situated to make the case on the grounds of electoral superiority."

Hillary Builds Her Case: "FORGET DELEGATES AND the popular vote for the Democratic presidential nomination. The most important thing Hillary Clinton gained by winning the Pennsylvania primary yesterday was a better argument--indeed, a much better argument."

When the Cons are rooting for Hillary, it should tell you something...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why the Surge Doesn’t Matter

General Petraeus has scored some victories. But the United States is still far closer to having created another failed state than a functioning democracy. Surge or no surge, it’s extremely doubtful the U.S. occupation can ultimately produce a successful Iraq—a stable, unitary, democratizing state at peace with its neighbors.

read more | digg story

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pastor Wright: In Context

"The focus on Wright and Obama has obscured the larger truth about the sermons he has presented: they resonated in the African-American community. Few of the self-righteous critics of Wright appear to care that they are also stamping a significant proportion of African-Americans as “appalling” (Cheney) or “anti-American” (Bill O’Reilly)."

read more | digg story

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ABC News: Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation'

ABC News: Sources: Top Bush Advisors Approved 'Enhanced Interrogation'

Detailed discussions were held about techniques to use on al Qaeda suspects

In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News.

The so-called Principals who participated in the meetings also approved the use of "combined" interrogation techniques -- using different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time -- on terrorist suspects who proved difficult to break, sources said.

Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.

The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically attended by most of the principals or their deputies."

Is anyone surprised?

The CIA, remembering how previous covert actions (Phoenix, Iran-Contra) were said to be the work of an agency out of control, sought to protect itself by having "the principles" sign off on their actions:

"It kept coming up. CIA wanted us to sign off on each one every time," said one high-ranking official who asked not to be identified. "They'd say, 'We've got so and so. This is the plan.'"

Sources said that at each discussion, all the Principals present approved.

"These discussions weren't adding value," a source said. "Once you make a policy decision to go beyond what you used to do and conclude it's legal, (you should) just tell them to implement it."

Then-Attorney General Ashcroft was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

This is not the America I believe in. Some Republicans--including many in charge--are taking their foreign policy cues from episodes of "24." We can do better, America. We have to, if we intend to remain the shining example for the rest of the world. American values are more powerful than American military might. Once we lose them--or worse, intentionally give them away--we're finished.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Perfected: The Ann Coulter Song

Thursday, April 3, 2008

An Army Out of Balance

Today’s Army is out of balance. The current demand for our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds the sustainable supply and limits our ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies. While our Reserve Component (RC) are performing magnificently, many RC units have been assigned missions as an operational force, when they had been resourced as a strategic reserve for decades. Current operational requirements for forces and insufficient time between deployments require a focus on counterinsurgency training and equipping to the detriment of preparedness for the full range of military missions.

Given the current theater demand for Army forces, we are unable to provide a sustainable tempo of deployments for our Soldiers and Families. Soldiers, Families, support systems, and equipment are stretched and stressed by the demands of lengthy and repeated deployments, with insufficient recovery time. Equipment used repeatedly in harsh environments is wearing out more rapidly than programmed. Army support systems, designed for the pre-9/11 peacetime Army, are straining under the accumulation of stress from six years at war. Overall, our readiness is being consumed as fast as we build it. If unaddressed, this lack of balance poses a significant risk to the All-Volunteer Force and degrades the Army’s ability to make a timely response to other contingencies.
- Army Vice Chief of Staff General Richard Cody, remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee, April, 2008

Read more: VetVoice:: Chiefs of Staff: Change Course, Face Draft, or Lose Army

The Real McCain

The REAL McCain: Less Jobs, More Wars.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Islamic Scholar Reza Aslan (No God But God)

A collection of videos answering questions about Islam, Muslims, & the relationship between "us" and "them". (including the idea that a good number of "them" are not loyal, patriotic Americans.)

After watching that Dutch video suggesting that Islam is a religion of hate bent on taking over the world (If you've not yet seen it, check almost any Rightwing blog for the link), another view...

read more | digg story

Recession. The Movie.