If past history is any guide, nobody at State or Defense is planning for this scenario, but when the last helicopter leaves the Green Zone in Baghdad, what's going to happen to all those Iraqis who've been working for the US military and its contractors? From the janitor/laborer/line cook all the way up to translators and interpreters, these are people who are going to be at great risk just by virtue of their former employment.
We now know that Rumsfeld wanted to fire people who thought a post-war plan might be a good idea; do you suppose his compatriots at DOD or in the Executive branch have changed their views since then?
I'm sure the chosen few Iraqi diplomats and Ministers already have their passports updated and their cash in foreign accounts, but what about the rest of those Iraqis who signed on to help rebuild their country?
The Columbia Journalism Review's blog justifiably sneers at Fox's Neil Cavuto's claim that "the media" ignored the good news for retailers that sales were up 19% year-over-year on "Black Friday."
Alas, by Cavuto’s calculation, “The Media” did manage to find another way to “spin it” -- by ignoring it. “Apparently to much of the media, it’s not a big deal,” Cavuto concluded, adding that “most who report on this stuff were busier reporting what stinks, not what soars,” and that there was “more talk about how Wal-Mart disappointed. Not much talk about how almost everyone else did not.”
CJR then lists about a dozen clips of headlines from major media outlets talking about the good sales numbers, and asks:
In sum, we don’t know what “media” Cavuto was consuming, but we couldn’t escape the Black Friday excitement in the press -- in outlets from sea to shining sea.
Silly CJR. Don't you realize that Fox's agenda is to build itself up as the only truthteller in American media? Those others are out to tear America down.
I can understand why the Bush Administration resists calling the Iraq mess a civil war; after all, it's already a very unpopular endeavor, and if it were labeled a civil war there might very well be a whole new group of Americans who'd suddenly say "Why should our soldiers be in the middle of one?"
But really, all this self-aggrandizement on the part of NBC for making a semantic decision is silly, as is the discussion on the part of other media outlets as to why they are/are not following NBC's lead.
William Arkin at WaPo declares: "Semantically, and by the military's official definition, what is happening in Iraq is nowhere near a civil war."
He thens asks the more sensible question:
But does it make a difference? Whether Iraq has or hasn't descended into civil war, nothing has changed from last week or last month. It would be a shame if we were blind to that stark reality and instead indulged Washington and New York's time-wasting debate.
Too right. "A rose by any other name," and all that. It's a freakin' mess brought to us by the blind hubris and stupidity of the current denizens of the White House and their friends/enablers, so whether it's the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, World War 1 or The Great War, it's still a disaster.
A draft report of the Iraq Study Group's recommendations has surfaced.
Officials said that the draft of the section on diplomatic strategy, which was heavily influenced by Mr. Baker, seemed to reflect his public criticism of the administration for its unwillingness to talk with nations like Iran and Syria.
But senior administration officials, including Stephen J. Hadley, the president’s national security adviser, have expressed skepticism that either of those nations would go along, especially while Iran is locked in a confrontation with the United States over its nuclear program. “Talking isn’t a strategy,” he said in an interview in October.
“The issue is how can we condition the environment so that Iran and Syria will make a 180-degree turn, so that rather than undermining the Iraqi government, they will support it.”
Administration officials appear to be taking steps that will enable them to declare that they are already implementing parts of the Baker-Hamilton report, even before its release. On Saturday, Vice President Dick Cheney flew to Saudi Arabia for a meeting with King Abdullah, whom he has known for 17 years.
I'm betting on 1).
In the past four or five days I've read books by three authors whose work I doubt I'll visit again. They were Martha Grimes's The Old Contemptibles, Jeffrey Archer's Honor Among Thieves, and Mary Higgins Clark's You Belong To Me.
I own a few of Archer's earlier books, and they weren't too bad, but I think he's getting stale. This book's dated (Saddam Hussein's boys steal the American Declaration of Independence and the plot revolves around getting it back), but it doesn't have the fire that Kane and Abel did.
Grimes's book I found on our shelves, and it was impossible for me to even like the protagonist. Richard Jury is a British police Inspector or something (told you I didn't like the guy; I can't even remember what his rank is), and she's built a series around him. No thanks. If I want British cops, I'll stick with Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn.
Clark I really don't get. She's obviously widely popular; she's got a million books in print. But the characters in this book just didn't appeal at all. You Belong to Me isn't Gothic; it's set in New York, but it does have a heroine as the protagonist. She's a former City Prosecutor turned clinical psychologist, and she just didn't work for me. Did I just find a clunker among all of Clark's books, or are they all this bad?
I'm ready for one of these now.
While today is big, with Notre Dame playing USC, next week is the one we Navy juniors live for: Army-Navy.
December 2 will be the 107th meeting of the two service academies; Navy leads the series 50-49, with 7 ties. I've been to one of the games. I know it was played in Philadelphia, and I know that Roger Staubach played for Navy. I think it must have been 1964, the year after Staubach won the Heisman. Army won, 11-8, according to Wikipedia. I don't remember the score, but I do remember the disappointment.
This year Navy has an 8-3 record, while Army is 3-8. That may not mean much; Army's playing for a share of the Commander-in-Chief's trophy, awarded to the winner of the three-way series between Army, Navy and Air Force.
The car bombings destroyed dozens of other vehicles, scattered charred and mangled bodies and sent flames and thick pillars of smoke into the air. Frenzied crowds clawed through the wreckage, pulling bloodied bodies from cars and minibuses and moving them out in wooden carts.
What have Bush and his cohorts let loose?
My friend Kate at Cider Press Hill was poking around the internets and found...
Arlo Guthrie's Myspace Pages, where he's posted an 18-minute version of Alice's Restaurant.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!
For some reason Flickr's "blog this" function isn't working for me, so here's a picture:
Ah, table preparation. Tomorrow this will be overflowing with turkey, dressing, peas & onions, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce. But today it's gathering its strength.
Hawai'i entered the Union back in 1959; we're all agreed on that? Good. Then why is it that so many cursed mail-order operations don't know it? The number of them who charge extra for shipping to Hawai'i is amazing. What's really annoying is that many of them ship via US mail, but they still insist on tacking on an extra fee of some sort.
Yesterday Mom was going to order from some outfit which had "Free Shipping for Orders over $XX" emblazoned all over its catalog if you ordered online. Well, the prospective order was certainly going to be over $XX, so we thought "OK, let's do that." Ha. Find the items, add them to the shopping cart, go to checkout, and voilá! "Free shipping not available for AK or HI," the option page says.
Our local papers used to award "Statehood Recognition Awards" when one of these kinds of things turned up, usually in some tourist's remarks (Do you use American money here?" "Have you ever been to the States?"). I doubt it would do us much good to do that with mail-order companies, but they certainly deserve one.
O.J. Simpson's book and TV interview have been pulled by News Corp.
"I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project," said Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman. "We are sorry for any pain that his has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."
A dozen Fox affiliates had already said they would not air the two-part sweeps month special, planned for next week before the Nov. 30 publication of the book by ReganBooks. The publishing house is a HarperCollins imprint owned _ like the Fox network _ by News Corp.
Let me be one of the first to suggest that it was the potential loss of advertising revenue from those affiliates that was the principal reason for cancelling this abomination, not a sudden onset of good taste on Fox's or Murdoch's part.
Asked how Bush was interacting with the Vietnamese people, advisor Stephen Hadley said:
"If you‘d been part of the president‘s motorcade as we‘ve shuttled back and forth over the course of the day ... as you can tell, we‘re in the midst of the Vietnamese people all the time," he said.
Right. From the interior of the car.
How the hell do you get to be 60 years old and have as little curiosity about the rest of the world as this guy has?
When you're trying to avoid getting killed by the good guys, follow these rules:
Many more here.
via Jon Weisman's TV blog Screen Jam
I've been wondering what Brad DeLong would have to say about Friedman.
As far as I can tell, the man's policy ideas may have been straightforward in his own mind, but often contradictory to the non-economist. Here was a man who believed that the market could eventually solve most problems and that government interference with it was anathema, yet he had a major role in the now solidly-in-place institution of withholding tax. He proposed privatizing Social Security as early as 1962, yet he also suggested a "negative income tax" for low-income people which has now been institutionalized as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
I dunno. I'm more of a believer in the Keynesian view that government has a role in society than I am in Friedman's view that it ought to butt out, but I can't deny that he was one of the two or three giants of 20th-century economic thought.
More on Friedman at Wikipedia.
I wish some of the advocates of partitioning Iraq into three parts (Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the middle, Shiites in the south) would look back to the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947-1948 and see how well that turned out. This photo essay by Margaret Bourke-White shows the misery that resulted from that earlier exercise in population movement.
This article discusses the effects continued sectarian strife in Iraq is having and will have on its neighbors.
I don't have any answers either, but if history teaches us anything, from the India-Pakistan partition to the more recent ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, splitting countries up into racial or ethnic divisions has no happy ending.
After several postcards from a data collection firm asking me to call and update my biographical info for my fraternity, I finally got around to doing it. They asked for an e-mail address, which I gave them. Then I offered them my web URL. The response was, "Oh, we don't publish those."
Ah well. At least they're publishing the directory in both paper and CD-ROM format; they've progressed that far.
The ups: College basketball season has begun and ESPN shows lots of live games
The downs: Some of those games have Dick Vitale doing color
commentary analysis shouting
Who'd a thunk that Hawai'i would elect a transgendered woman to the school board? According to the story, she's now got the distinction of being the member of her group holding the highest elected office in the country.
Granted, the candidates for school board get pretty limited writeups in the newspapers compared to national legislative candidates or even candidates in local races, but I'll bet you there's a fairly large group of people in this state saying "Yikes! Stop it! I didn't know! Get her offa there!"
I voted for her not knowing this, and I wouldn't have cared much had I known. She was fresh blood for a board that's not done a very good job, as far as I was concerned. Good for her.
I just finished reading Dick Francis's new book Under Orders. It's his first book in six years, and there's some rust showing. It features Sid Halley, who first turned up in Odds Against, moved on to Whip Hand and reappeared in Come to Grief.
Sid, of course, is a former champion jockey whose hand injury (picture a horseshoe worn to knife-edge thinness landing directly on your palm at thirty miles per hour) has forced him to find other employment. The first novel told the story of his developing an unexpected skill at investigative work; the second is a bit more of a character study of Sid and his self-worth. The third is...well, I'm not sure what the third is.
Anyway, I'd have bought this just because it's a new Francis book. I wasn't entirely disappointed; Sid has gotten more interesting and more human, and the crime's just as racing-related as ever, but something didn't quite click for me. I kept seeing little one-word injections of Sid's thought processes ("Wow!" after he's learned something) which were never in the previous books, and they didn't ring true.
All of Francis's books can be read as stand-alones, so don't fear you'll get hooked into a series.
What do the Democrats plan to do about oversight once they take control? According to the NYT, lots.
First, they plan to do what I suggested back here and resurrect the IG for Iraq Reconstruction's job. Then it's curtailing earmarks (or at least forcing members to put their names on them) and broadening or reallocating Transportation Security Administration funds beyond airports into mass transit and port security.
Good on 'em. I suspect these ideas will be popular with the public.
Arlington Cemetery, November 11, 1941
[White House news release.]
Among the great days of national remembrance, none is more deeply moving to Americans of our generation than the Eleventh of November, the Anniversary of the Armistice of 1918, the day sacred to the memory of those who gave their lives in the war which that day ended.
Our observance of this Anniversary has a particular significance in the year 1941.
For we are able today as we were not always able in the past to measure our indebtedness to those who died.
A few years ago, even a few months, we questioned, some of us, the sacrifice they had made. Standing near to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Sergeant York of Tennessee, on a recent day spoke to such questioners. "There are those in this country today," said Sergeant York, "who ask me and other veterans of World War Number One, 'What did it get you?'"
Today we know the answer-all of us. All who search their hearts in honesty and candor know it.
We know that these men died to save their country from a terrible danger of that day. We know, because we face that danger once again on this day.
"What did it get you?"
People who asked that question of Sergeant York and his comrades forgot the one essential fact which every man who looks can see today.
They forgot that the danger which threatened this country in 1917 was real-and that the sacrifice of those who died averted that danger.
Because the danger was overcome they were unable to remember that the danger had been present.
Because our armies were victorious they demanded why our armies had fought.
Because our freedom was secure they took the security of our freedom for granted and asked why those who died to save it should have died at all.
"What did it get you?"
"What was there in it for you?"
If our armies of 1917 and 1918 had lost there would not have been a man or woman in America who would have wondered why the war was fought. The reasons would have faced us everywhere. We would have known why liberty is worth defending as those alone whose liberty is lost can know it. We would have known why tyranny is worth defeating as only those whom tyrants rule can know.
But because the war had been won we forgot, some of us, that the war might have been lost.
Whatever we knew or thought we knew a few years or months ago, we know now that the danger of brutality and tyranny and slavery to freedom-loving peoples can be real and terrible.
We know why these men fought to keep our freedom-and why the wars that save a people's liberties are wars worth fighting and worth winning-and at any price.
"What did it get you?"
The men of France, prisoners in their cities, victims of searches and of seizures without law, hostages for the safety of their masters' lives, robbed of their harvests, murdered in their prisons-the men of France would know the answer to that question. They know now what a former victory of freedom against tyranny was worth.
The Czechs too know the answer. The Poles. The Danes. The Dutch. The Serbs. The Belgians. The Norwegians. The Greeks.
We know it now.
We know that it was, in literal truth, to make the world safe for democracy that we took up arms in 1917. It was, in simple truth and in literal fact, to make the world habitable for decent and self-respecting men that those whom we now remember gave their lives. They died to prevent then the very thing that now, a quarter century later, has happened from one end of Europe to the other.
Now that it has happened we know in full the reason why they died.
We know also what obligation and duty their sacrifice imposes upon us. They did not die to make the world safe for decency and self-respect for five years or ten or maybe twenty. They died to make it safe. And if, by some fault of ours who lived beyond the war, its safety has again been threatened then the obligation and the duty are ours. It is in our charge now, as it was America's charge after the Civil War, to see to it "that these dead shall not have died in vain." Sergeant York spoke thus of the cynics and doubters: "The thing they forget is that liberty and freedom and democracy are so very precious that you do not fight to win them once and stop. Liberty and freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them."
The people of America agree with that. They believe that liberty is worth fighting for. And if they are obliged to fight they will fight eternally to hold it.
This duty we owe, not to ourselves alone, but to the many dead who died to gain our freedom for us-to make the world a place where freedom can live and grow into the ages.
So what are the election results' effect on environmental legislation? Glad you asked. Richard Pombo, Chairman of the House Resources Committee, got defeated by, of all ironic opponents, a wind energy consultant named Jerry McNerney. Pombo's been an advocate for all manner of horrible ideas which contradict sound environmental policy, so this is great news.
"We've elected a greener U.S. House and a greener U.S. Senate," said Cathy Duvall, the national political director for the Sierra Club.
The probable new chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. She's one of the Senate's most liberal members; the current chair, Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, is among the most conservative.
The changing cast of characters will play out in many ways:
- The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil-and-gas drilling perennially championed by House Republicans won't go anywhere in the next Congress. Drilling off the coast of Florida or other states becomes a real long shot.
- Other controversial ideas that Pombo once toyed with - such as selling 15 little-visited National Park Service sites, including playwright Eugene O'Neill's home in the California city of Danville - are down for the count.
- The Endangered Species Act, which Pombo built his career on combating, has a new lease on life. The Democrat who's poised to become House Resources Committee chairman, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, voted against Pombo's Endangered Species Act legislation. The League of Conservation Voters gave Rahall a vote ranking of 92, compared with Pombo's score of 17.
I should also add that Senator Akaka of Hawai'i was re-elected with the endorsement of the local Sierra Club. He's been a consistent voter in favor of drilling in ANWR but promised to revisit the issue in order to get their endorsement. His reasoning's always been based on the economic benefits of drilling to the tribes up there; as we know, their thoughts have changed somewhat.
The moment the new Senate takes office, can it please reinstate the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)? The one that was discontinued in a secret provision of the recent Defense bill?
A bipartisan group led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is seeking to keep the Special IG office in business.
“I strongly support the continuation of [Bowen’s] office as long as American tax dollars are being spent on Iraq reconstruction,” said Collins. “I am working with Senators Russ Feingold, John Warner and Joseph Lieberman and will propose legislation to extend the term of the SIGIR past the October 1, 2007, expiration date."
Here's what Bowen had to say recently:
“This was a waste of money because the contractors were ordered to go to Iraq to work, but they weren’t working,” explained Bowen (whose office will disappear in October 2007 unless critics of the termination prevail in having the office continue). Due to the deteriorating security situation, many contractors were forced to remain idle, but taxpayer dollars still had to pay for their food and housing while they waited to begin work in Iraq. “About $62 million was spent on overhead for contractors that only accomplished $26 million in construction work.”
There you go, guys and gals. Support Senator Collins' bill and get this reinstated. We need to know what all those companies have done for the billions they've gotten paid.
This really says it all.
AP calls Virginia for Webb.
The new AP count showed Webb with 1,172,538 votes and Allen with 1,165,302, a difference of 7,236. Virginia has had two statewide vote recounts in modern history, but both resulted in vote changes of no more than a few hundred votes.
Meanwhile in Montana, Burns is holding out, but all the media have called that race for Tester.
In the latest unofficial results from the Montana secretary of state's office, Tester won 181,917 votes or 49.2 percent, compared to 178,567 or 48.3 percent for Burns, who was first elected in 1988.
Looks like we should congratulate Senate Majority Leader Reid, too.
According to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee website the Democrats took 28 seats formerly held by Republicans in the House while the Republicans took none from Democrats.
According to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee website the Democrats held all of their Senate seats and took 6 formerly held by Republicans.
According to the New York Times the Democrats picked up 6 Governorships and held the ones they already had, while the Republicans lost 6.
A clean sweep? Has that ever happened before? If it's true, it's astonishing.
Congratulations, Speaker Pelosi.
Funniest comment I've seen today, over at Lawyers Gun$ and Money:
The parking lot was about half full at 12 noon when I got there; my ballot was the 402nd to go through the optical scanner. The poll worker I spoke with said the site had been busy in the morning and he expected it to be busy this afternoon (polls close at 6:00pm HST).
Judging from the voter lists posted outside, there probably aren't more than a thousand or so voters assigned to that precinct, so turnout looked to be about 40% by lunchtime. There were maybe 20 booths for the SAT-style ballot users and one touch-screen machine designed for use by folks who can't use that variety. Of the 20, about half were full when I walked in.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote for torture.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote for corruption.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote for cronyism.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote against habeas corpus.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote against our troops.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote against liberty.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote against the Constitution.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote against being secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote against Social Security.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote for “preemptive” war.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote for incompetence.
A vote for a Republican, any Republican, is a vote for Bush.
Go out today. Vote Democratic.
Today is the first day of the struggle to take our country back.
If you or friends of yours are getting repetitive phone calls about Democrats, you may be in a district where this crap is going on.
Tim Daly from Clarendon got a call saying that if he votes Tuesday, he will be arrested. A recording of his voicemail can be found online at: www.webbforsenate.com/media/phone_message.wav
The transcript from his voicemail reads:
"This message is for Timothy Daly. This is the Virginia Elections Commission. We've determined you are registered in New York to vote. Therefore, you will not be allowed to cast your vote on Tuesday. If you do show up, you will be charged criminally."
Daly has been registered to vote in Virginia since 1998, and he has voted for the last several cycles with no problem. He has filed a criminal complaint with the Commonwealth's attorney in Arlington.
That one's from Kos.
If you see anything off-color at your polling place, there are several numbers to call.
Election incidents can also be reported to several national hotlines. Those reported to 1-866-OUR-VOTE will be catalogued in the Election Incident Reporting System (check out the incident map, which already reflects several incidents across the nation). Problems with voting machines can also be reported by calling 1-888-SAV-VOTE (1-888-728-8683). You can also report incidents through the DNC by calling 1-888-DEM VOTE or by filling out this online form. (Also from Kos).
Honest elections are so untrustworthy if you're a Republican.
Matt Taibbi has a wonderful accounting of what our Congress has been up to for the past six years: it's on the cover of Rolling Stone (and not in the way Dr. Hook envisioned that honor, either). Many of this stuff is known to the politics junkies among us, but there are some pretty shocking revelations about the process which may surprise even us.
If you live in a state or district where there's a hotly-contested race and you've got a preference for the Democrat, I urge you to call up his or her campaign office and volunteer. As Taibbi's article shows, the Republicans have slipped from passive acceptance into wholesale participation in the destruction of democracy in a co-equal branch of government. They need to be beaten.
Now here's a motivator for the angry voter:
It's got a couple of minutes of blank tape after the 4:22 mark.
Found via Shakespeare's Sister.
Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to "leverage the Internet" to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.
But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.
The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.
The campaign for the online archive was mounted by conservative publications and politicians, who said that the nation’s spy agencies had failed adequately to analyze the 48,000 boxes of documents seized since the March 2003 invasion. With the public increasingly skeptical about the rationale and conduct of the war, the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees argued that wide analysis and translation of the documents — most of them in Arabic — would reinvigorate the search for clues that Mr. Hussein had resumed his unconventional arms programs in the years before the invasion. American search teams never found such evidence.
Now, I could be polite and say "well, this is just an example of unintended consequences." Or, I could be nasty and say "they were grasping for straws to justify their ill-thought out and mendacious reasons for war."
But I think I'll just ask the question "Are you feeling safer with these guys in charge?"
I thought not.
The Rude Pundit tells us why we should vote against Republicans.
"This is a Southern American city [she's in Tennessee], and I can't drive down my main street and read the signs anymore."
Now, really. That's just plain dumb. Lady, can you still find an English-language Safeway and Walgreens?
Wow. Is that the first time the supernatural has taken a physical role in this show?
I don't get it. Why a show focused on Eko's flashbacks only to have him die at the end of the episode?
The new blonde whose name I can't immediately remember Juliet is playing a double game of some sort to try to escape from Ben, and she's willing to suggest murder to succeed. And she's got company in wanting to escape, if the flashcards on the videotape are to be believed.
I liked the simplicity of the "What are these other TVs for?" question.
We had two groups of kids; one of three small ones and one of eight older ones. I can't remember when I decided I was too old to go out trick-or-treating, but it was surely no later than my fifteenth birthday. It annoys me a little to see kids that age show up without even a costume. If you're going to participate, then play the game properly.