Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Washington Post
Iraq Order of Battle
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News

Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Digby's Blog
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oh yeah, Basra's out of control

Iraqi policeman and British soldier in Basra

Iraq imposes emergency in Basra

Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki has declared a month-long state of emergency in Basra, which has been plagued by sectarian clashes, anarchy and factional rivalry.

Visiting the city, Mr Maliki said he would use an "iron fist" to crush those who threaten security.

The prime minister has accused criminal gangs of holding the city's oil exports and other trade to ransom.

More than 100 people have died in the last month in Basra - until recently seen as one of Iraq's safer cities.

Relations between Basra's garrison of 8,000-odd British troops and the city's dominant Shias used to be cordial but have deteriorated rapidly in the past few months.

Nine British soldiers were killed in May alone.

Many Sunni mosques have also been closed amid rising sectarian divisions, and there are growing tensions among different Shia groups vying for political power and a share of the area's vast oil wealth, the BBC's Ian Pannell says.

A Shia faction has also threatened to sabotage oil exports through Basra to exert leverage over the Iraqi government.

But, but Sadr is hemmed in, right?

posted by Steve @ 11:26:00 PM

11:26:00 PM

The News Blog home page

Sorry for the outage

I'm working forBlogger now

Blogger went wonky today.


posted by Steve @ 10:05:00 PM

10:05:00 PM

The News Blog home page

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

This amused me

My fellow Republicans, we will kill children
to win.

Irey, Murtha Go Toe-To-Toe

As Congressman John Murtha prepares for the November election, on Wednesday his challenger headed to Washington, D.C., to deliver a message to him.

Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey and a busload of supporters headed to D.C. to demand Murtha apologize to Marines for recently accusing some of them of being cold-blooded killers.

Irey, 12th district challenger, said Murtha's stance on the war in Iraq is not her platform for the November election, but it is an issue.

"Mr. Murtha's comments, I believe, were irresponsible and they put our men and women serving overseas in greater danger," Irey said.

Murtha recently said several Marines killed at least 15 Iraqi civilians in cold blood last November and said action should be taken.

While the U.S. military doesn't dispute the congressman's claim, Irey said Murtha is in the wrong.

"Being a former Marine himself, he should know they have a process in place to take care of situation that may have happened that should not have happened," Irey said.

"By coming out and calling them 'cold-blooded killers,' he's already tainted the minds and possible jury of those who will be hearing these allegations.

Tainted a military jury? She should shut the fuck up. So I guess she's objectively pro-child murder.

But the best part is that her husband worked with a now murdered arms dealer in Iraq

Amazing story

posted by Steve @ 8:53:00 AM

8:53:00 AM

The News Blog home page

Time to go home

When is enough enough

I was watching Countdown tonight, with former Daily Show reporter Brian Unger (yes, it's weird on many levels) and there was a story about a specialist in counter intelligence, who had been wounded four times.

The piece made him out to be a determined young man. He's even quoted as saying "failure is not acceptable" and that he "wanted to finish the job".

And I'm thinking "where the fuck are his commanders"

He's been wounded four times, he's got the rest of his unit spooked and he's still out on patrol. I've never heard of someone with four purple hearts still in combat. Why hasn't someone sat him down, told him he's done his share and he has a family and life to get back to?

Luck runs out.

But what bothered me was the feeling that this guy was damaged and his bosses were turning their backs on it. There was just something about the kid which said he enjoyed this too much for their collective health. But because he did his job, they let him do his job. And the narration went against the vibe of looking at this guy. Which was unsettling.

Most guys talk about their friends as the reason to stay or come back.They can't leave their friends behind. Maybe this guy felt that way, but everything which came out of his mouth was about him. Then you see him cleaning his pistol. Most guys they interview off the line are writing e-mail home, talking about their kids, and usually aren't messing with guns.

I don't know. I've never dealt with this in real life. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe he's ok. But if that was my friend, I'd be worried as hell about him.

posted by Steve @ 1:45:00 AM

1:45:00 AM

The News Blog home page

I blame Beckham

We'll beat Germany this time, even if we have to
firebomb their cities again.

World Cup Defeats Paint Image of Toothless British Lion

Published: May 30, 2006

LONDON, May 29 — Will Wayne Rooney's broken foot heal in time for the second round? Can Sven-Goran Eriksson, the laconic Swedish coach, pull his nervous, egotistical players together? Will Melanie Slade, the 17-year-old girlfriend of the 17-year-old forward Theo Walcott, crumble under the pressure of having her figure and her fashion sense dissected daily by the tabloids?

Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and midfielder David Beckham can expect either the credit or the blame for England's World Cup performance.

Such are the questions consuming England's soccer team before the World Cup, which begins June 9 in Germany and the outcome of which will lift, or destroy, a nation's fragile sense of self-worth. But amid the soap opera that is soccer here — the large personalities, the even larger paychecks, the outfits, the injuries, the tantrums, the expectations — lies a hard, sobering truth: England, for all its bluster, has won the tournament only once, in 1966.

That was 40 years ago, when Harold Wilson was prime minister and shillings were a legitimate form of currency. Since that great, shining day, English fans have been forced to hedge their expectations, approaching every World Cup with the brittle hopefulness of the chronically disappointed.

"They always invent new arguments to persuade themselves that this time they can do it, when form and logic show that it's highly unlikely," said John Carlin, a British soccer writer and the author of "White Angels: Beckham, Real Madrid and the New Football." Describing the importance of soccer, Carlin quoted Bill Shankly, the former Liverpool coach: "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

One: This will be the year their team finally realizes its massive potential and wins.

Two: Their team never wins.

This year, England's chronic angst is compounded by two facts. The first is that the tournament is being played in Germany, home of its bitterest rival and agent of some of its biggest defeats. In 1990, England lost a heartbreaking match to Germany in a penalty-kick shootout in the World Cup semifinals. In fact, after England's greatest victory over Germany — its 4-2 extra-time victory in the 1966 final — 24 years passed before the English beat the Germans again in a major competition.

The second problem is Rooney's foot. Rooney, a prodigy who rose from the rough streets of Liverpool to become a star at Manchester United, is England's most talented scorer and its greatest hope. But last month he broke a metatarsal bone in his right foot, and on Friday he was ruled out for the first round of matches.

Every day there have been conflicting reports, anguished speculation, hope on the heels of despair. Rooney's coach in Manchester, Sir Alex Ferguson, described it as "folly" and a "wild dream" to expect Rooney to be available, while Eriksson, the England manager, said he was "very positive" that Rooney would play at some point. But Rooney's teammate Gary Neville, who took 21 weeks to recover from a similar injury, said this month that "as it stands, we have to plan for Wayne not being available."

On Monday, The Associated Press reported that Eriksson requested a scan of Rooney's injured foot be moved up one week, to June 7, presumably to give him the opportunity to replace Rooney on England's roster if he will be unable to play. Teams are allowed to replace injured players up to 24 hours before their first game, which in England's case is against Paraguay on June 10.

Meanwhile, Eriksson is to leave his post after the World Cup, throwing the team into further instability. A seemingly inoffensive, even dull, Swede, Eriksson is known as much for his vigorous love life — his curious relationship with Nancy Dell'Olio, his indeterminately aged, perma-tanned, tight-outfit-wearing girlfriend, as well as his affairs with various other women, all of whom have been happy to discuss them publicly — as he is for the serene blandness of his public remarks and for his managing skills, or lack thereof.

Look, I will state openly that I root against England. I hate the fans, the attitude, jesus christ, WWII ended in 1945,and the circus.

But most of all, the England side may be the best collection of players on earth, but not only do they not play as a team, David Beckham loses his shit in crucial games.Henry keeps his cool,so does Totti. But no, Beckham will lose his shit at a crucial moment then England loses.

And the tabloids drag up WWII at every turn. Uh, the Germans have been your allies for 50 years.

England will win when they forget all the footballer wives nonsense and concentrate and play.

Go Brazil.:)

posted by Steve @ 1:36:00 AM

1:36:00 AM

The News Blog home page

Who needs high school?

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
April Pointer, a part-time telemarketer who never
completed high school, attends Rockland Community
College in Suffern, N.Y.

Can't Complete High School? Go Right Along to College

Published: May 30, 2006

It is a kind of Alice-in-Wonderland idea. If you do not finish high school, head straight for college.

But many colleges — public and private, two-year and four-year — will accept students who have not graduated from high school or earned equivalency degrees.

And in an era of stubbornly elevated high school dropout rates, the chance to enter college through the back door is attracting growing interest among students without high school diplomas.

That growth is fueling a debate over whether the students should be in college at all and whether state financial aid should pay their way. In New York, the issue flared in a budget battle this spring.

They are students like April Pointer, 23, of New City, N.Y., a part-time telemarketer who majors in psychology at Rockland Community College, whose main campus is in Suffern, N.Y. Ms. Pointer failed science her senior year of high school and did not finish summer school.

But to her father's amazement, last year she was accepted at Rockland, part of the State University of New York.

"He asked, 'Don't you have to have a high school diploma to go to college?' " she said. "I was like, 'No, not anymore.' "

There are nearly 400,000 students like Ms. Pointer nationwide, accounting for 2 percent of all college students, 3 percent at community colleges and 4 percent at commercial, or profit-making, colleges, according to a survey by the United States Education Department in 2003-4.

That is up from 1.4 percent of all college students four years earlier. The figures do not include home-schooled students.

The existence of such students — eager, yet at high risk for failure — exposes a split in education policy. On one hand, believers in the standards movement frown on social promotion and emphasize measurable performance in high school.

At the same time, because a college degree is widely considered essential to later success, some educators say even students who could not complete high school should be allowed to attend college.

Nowhere is this contradiction more evident than in California. This year, 47,000 high school seniors, about 10 percent of the class, have not passed the exit examinations required to graduate from high school. They can still enroll in many colleges, although they are no longer eligible for state tuition grants.

The President's butt boy is going to Harvard Business School with one year of college. Ms.Pointer deserves the same chance.

posted by Steve @ 1:26:00 AM

1:26:00 AM

The News Blog home page

CBS crew killed

(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

The U.S. military treat wounded at the scene of
a car bomb in Baghdad's Tahariyat Square
which targeted an American convoy, setting a
Humvee on fire, in Baghdad, Iraq Monday,
May 29, 2006. CBS cameraman Paul Douglas, 48
, and soundman James Brolan, 42, were killed in
the attack and correspondent Kimberly Dozier, 39,
was critically injured.

2 CBS Crew Members Killed; Reporter Hurt

Updated: 4 minutes ago

NEW YORK - Cameraman Paul Douglas had spent more than a decade covering the world's hot spots for CBS News. Freelance soundman James Brolan was part of a CBS team honored for its dispatches on the earthquake in Pakistan. Correspondent Kimberly Dozier had reported on the deteriorating situation in Iraq for nearly three years.

The two British men were killed Monday in Baghdad when a car bomb exploded as they were working on a story about American troops in Iraq on Memorial Day. Douglas, 48, and Brolan, 42, died at the scene, the network said.

The U.S. military said an American soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were also killed in the same blast and six American soldiers were injured.

Dozier, a 39-year-old American, was in critical condition at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad and underwent two surgeries for injuries from the bombing, said Kelli Edwards, a CBS News spokeswoman. By early Tuesday, doctors had removed shrapnel from Dozier's head but said she had more serious injuries to her lower body, CBS News reported on its Web site.

"Kimberly, Paul and James were veterans of war coverage who proved their bravery and dedication every single day," CBS News President Sean McManus said in a statement. "They always volunteered for dangerous assignments and were invaluable in our attempt to report the news to the American public.

"Our deepest sympathy goes out to the families of Paul and James, and we are hoping and praying for a complete recovery by Kimberly," McManus added.

ABC did not want Elizabeth Vargas to face the same fate, which is why she was demoted.

I was listening to CBS tonight and imagined how Katie Couric would sound delivering such somber news.I'll put it this way: Les Moonves should have continued to fuck with Howard Stern.It made more sense. There are plenty of women who can deliver bad news. Katie Couric is not one of them.

posted by Steve @ 12:29:00 AM

12:29:00 AM

The News Blog home page

Governor Chickenhawk

Wango Tango, baby. Let me play tough

Ted Nugent makes me ill. His gun fetish combined with his bragging about dodging the draft induces nausea in me. Now this bully with guns is running for governor, at least in his head. If he wanted to be a tough guy, he should have gone to Vietnam. Instead he chose to be a rock star. Now he wants to act like he has balls. The General is running this

Governor Theodore Ted Nugent
China Spring, Texas

Dear Mr. Nugent :

I was delighted to see you announce your candidacy for Governor of Michigan this weekend. Overall, I though you did a splendid job in getting your message across and defining your political philosophy in this, your inaugural interview as a gubernatorial candidate. Even so, I thought I could offer you some helpful pointers that will maximize the utility of future interviews.

Handling the Media

  • When you announce your run for political office, consider doing so in a U.S. publication. While the readers of The Independent will, no doubt, become big boosters of your bid for Lansing, sadly, few of them will be eligible to vote in the Michigan election.

  • When doing political interviews, it is probably best not to preemptively deny rumors…particularly when the reporter has no idea what you are talking about. For example, this exchange:
    Nugent: "Neither did I poke my erect penis through a map of West Virginia - did you read that?"

    Reporter: "No."
  • During media interviews, refrain from teaching the journalist how to shoot an AK-47, and don’t pull out a hunting knife to trim your nails. These behaviors will not help with the urban vote.

  • I cringed a little while reading:
    He fires at a Styrofoam bear using his weapon of choice, a traditional bow and arrow. "Straight through the heart... dead bear," says Ted, as his heavily pitted target submits to yet another onslaught. "Both lungs... dead bear." The arrows, which he makes himself, keep flying. "Dead bear... dead bear... dead bear."
    I recommend that the next time you experience a maniacal bout, first ask any journalists to step outside the room. And, certainly avoid this type of behavior during a debate.

  • When a reporter asks:
    "What do these deer think when they see you coming?" …"Here comes the nice guy who puts out our dinner? Or, there's the man that shot my brother?"
    Reconsider your response:
    "I don't think they're capable of either of those thoughts, you Limey asshole. They're only interested in three things: the best place to eat, having sex and how quickly they can run away. Much like the French."
    I mean, just consider the heat that Arnold Schwarzenegger took from calling some legislators “girly men….”

  • The same can be said for your rather strongly stated philosophy:
    "Remember the movie Old Yeller? Everybody loved him. He brought us our slippers. We gave him cookies. But when Old Yeller gets rabies, you shoot him in the fucking head."
    This won’t play well among voters with young children--on a number of levels.

  • Finally, firing a .22 out of the window of your pick-up truck while shuttling members of the media may be constructive while running for office in Texas; however, voters in Michigan view this as falling outside the range of normal behaviors for a politician.

  • Foreign Policy

  • A well-formed foreign policy platform can be an asset in running for Governor of Michigan, but your statement that "[o]ur failure has been not to Nagasaki them [the Iraqi insurgents]," is just not really an appropriate start to such a platform.

  • As governor, your chief foreign policy issue will be trade. Saying that you "don't have to placate some Arab numb-nut because he holds all our fuel" doesn’t leave much room for trade negotiations.

  • You mentioned that you:
    "visited Saddam Hussein's master war room. It was a glorious moment. It looked like something out of Star Wars. I saw his gold toilet. I shit in his bidet."
    Certainly, the more conservative voter will be able to appreciate the rich metaphor of defecation on the “French throne” of the ex-dictator. However, scatological discussions are best avoided unless they somehow pertain to agricultural productivity.

  • Crime and Punishment

  • While being tough on crime is considered a positive attribute by Michigan voters, some might find disconcerting your statement:
    “I say if somebody robs you, shoot 'em. I'd like all thieves killed. And all rapists. And carjackers. No more graffiti. No more ‘snatch-pursing.’"
    At the very least, your suggestions of shooting graffitists will not play well with urban voters who would prefer to have fewer episodes of gun violence in the city.

  • Simple policy statements are always the most effective--especially with conservative voters. Even so, your statement
    "How do you get peace, love and understanding? First of all you have to find all the bad people. Then you kill them."
    will cause some voters to question your ability to work through complex issues.

  • I’m not sure you can refine the talking point:
    "I saw the riding crop. A lot. I felt it, I think, just once. But corporal punishment is real good. It teaches dogs not to shit on the couch."
    Consider leaving this out of future interviews.

  • Think about these points as your campaign progresses, Ted. With just a little refinement of your message (a little rephrasing here, a little behavioral modification there) I think there is an excellent chance that one day I will have the privilege of shaking the hand of the Governor of Michigan--the Governor who personally kills all the meat he eats.

    Yours verily,

    I hate this shit. Now he's a big man, terrorizing kids on a reality show and blowing away bears. Real hard core. But when it came time to serve his country, he ran for the hills. So fuck all his gunslinging now. Bears don't carry RPG's and AK's. If they did, Ted's hunting forays might end differently. Ambushing his silly ass might make him reconsider his bloodlust. He's the kind of guy who makes hunters embarassed.

    I mean, if you listened to his talk, you'd think he had a Silver Star in his closet.But when you realize only bullies talk like this, gutless scum who would run when facing someone who would shoot back, it gets pretty sickning, like listening to all bullies.

    posted by Steve @ 12:01:00 AM

    12:01:00 AM

    The News Blog home page

    Monday, May 29, 2006

    Jen and Steve's food adventures

    Stuffed artichoke

    I had mentioned to the astonishment of the readers here that I had never had artichokes. So a couple of weeks ago Jen and I went to Three of Cups in the East Village Now I'd never had artichokes before, so I didn't know what to expect. No idea.

    So when I ate the first one, it was interesting. The deeper we went, the better it tasted.Which was a surprise.The inside leaves are pretty tender. Jen, who had picked up a cooking brick for me on the way to dinner, had been at art galleries all day and had a liquid lunch. Now, there is something about eating artichokes with the tipsy which makes it a unique experience.

    We also had stuffed clams, a pizza and a calzone, with chianti.

    Then we went to d.b.a where we ran into a friend of hers. While I was sipping Anchor Steam porter on tap, my favorite beer, on tap, I spied a couple working on a Powerbook, which was fine. But they were drinking Amstel Light. Fucking Amstel Light. Huh? d.b.a sells cask conditioned ales, 40 kinds of single malt, and 20 beers on tap. And you drink what? Amstel Light. You can't hit people for being stupid, but they derserved a harsh lecture on what is appropiate behavior. Amstel Light. Jesus.

    The next weekend, we went to the Beer Garden in Astoria on the oddest day of the year. It alternated between rain, wind and sunshine.We were with our blogger friends and eating central European food and drinking during this odd weather. Grilled Kielbasa is amazing. Jen had roast pork and dumplings. Good, hearty food.

    Afterwards, Jen walked us to this greek mall a block away. She showed us the butcher and bakery. I bought some souvlaki she had mentioned as a possible barbecue treat and was impressed when I cooked it. The bakery had 10 kinds of biscotti and Greek pastries.

    Now, Jen's enthusiasm for sharing is infectious, so she was eager to share her neighborhood treats with our friends. Which is of course, interesting. Of course, she realized that she didn't do her own grocery shopping, nor had I, so we left early.

    The funny thing is that food adventuring can happen any place or any time.

    I was running errands today and walked into a street fair. I saw this incredible barbecue thing with flank steaks being grilled. I passed on that, but I did get the zeppoles. Zeppoles are basically fried pizza dough covered in powerdered sugar, a New York street favorite. Now, truth be told, most street fair food sucks. Grilled Corn, zeppoles and the odd sausage sandwich are about it, even the lemonade isn't sweet enough.

    But they're a nice way to spend a holiday afternoon.

    posted by Steve @ 6:23:00 PM

    6:23:00 PM

    The News Blog home page

    Bloomberg for media billionaire

    Yap, yap, yap, I'll marry gays

    DLCers Talk Up Indie Run by Bloomberg

    In today's issue of The New York Times, Diane Cardwell discusses the possibility of a presidential run by Michael Bloomberg. How fitting, then, that the pundits apparently most open to talking about a potential independent candidacy by the billionaire and New York City mayor come from the DLC.

    As Democrats and Republicans argue over the future of their parties and the national debate remains polarized, there are signs that voters are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with President Bush and the Republican leaders of Congress, and that they aren't necessarily energized by the Democrats, either.

    "Most people are not satisfied with their politics and would very much like to see more politicians who just got things done," said Al From, founder and chief executive officer of the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist policy group. "Most people really aren't about ideology. Most people really are about, 'Let's get something done that's going to make my life better.' "


    Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, which is affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council, said that in many ways Mr. Bloomberg had been building on the political legacy of moderate New York Republicans like Nelson A. Rockefeller and Jacob K. Javits. "It's hard-headed, but liberal on social issues and fiscally responsible," said Mr. Wittmann, who has worked for Senator John McCain. "He very much fits that mold that's been dormant, even in the Democratic Party." [emphasis added]

    I'm not sure to which Democratic Party Marshall Wittman belongs, but it's certainly not the one I'm a part of. Almost by definition, the Democratic Party -- particularly in the past two decades -- has been about fiscal responsibility and liberalism on social issues, the two planks Wittman says Bloomberg has going for him. In other words, that winning formula that Wittman proffers is simply the Democratic Party platform, though not in so many words.

    What Wittman and the folks at the DLC like about Bloomberg is his policies, per se, but rather that he's a Republican who's really a Democrat -- or perhaps that he's a Democrat who became a Republican. With this "bipartisan" resume, how could Bloomberg possibly lose?

    In a three-way race for the presidency, Bloomberg would likely split the center-left vote, handing the White House to conservative Republicans. Even if John McCain were the Republican nominee, it's not clear to me what conservative would vote for Bloomberg over McCain as the mayor is far to the left of McCain on social issues.

    Things might get more complicated in a four-way race for President, with a Democrat, Republican, nativist/religious conservative and Bloomberg all in the mix. However, it's not clear to me that the Democrats -- or even someone on the center-left -- would end up victorious in this scenario.

    I have no problem with Wittman, From and all of the DLCers working within the Democratic Party to enact change; after all, this is exactly what the netroots are attempting in a number of primary and general elections. That said, when they seek to undercut the party by peddling the possibility of a centrist independent like Michael Bloomberg for the presidency, they have no place in Democratic politics.

    As racist and meanspirited as Rudy Giuliani is, he has charisma. Bloomberg was elected because he lacked charisma. Compared to him, Hillary Clinton is Bette Midler.

    Mike Bloomberg is tacking left because Eliot Spitzer is going to be the next governorof New York, and the Senate may go blue also. The New York GOP is spiraling to a brutal collapse and Mike needs to move left.

    Bloomberg isn't acting like he wants to run for anything, but let's face facts, the DLC needs a new poster boy, Lieberman is in trouble and they've quickly become a curse word in Democratic party circles. But the fact is that Bloomberg wants to get back to his company, to run for president, it would have to, at a minimum, be placed in a blind trust and more likely sold.

    But he doesn't seem interested in any of that. Most of his tacking left is to prepare for his endorsement of Spitzer and a possible return to the Democratic Party.

    posted by Steve @ 5:53:00 PM

    5:53:00 PM

    The News Blog home page

    I want some chicken

    I fight weeds

    There's a wonderful piece on chickenhawks on Kung Fu Monkey but there's a bit I want to rip to shreds without stealing the fine prose below it. It's parsing time, folks.

    There is a term tossed about currently: "chickenhawk." It's understood to be a derogatory term for someone who avidly supports choosing war as an option while simultaneously avoiding any risk of personal harm in the ensuing conflict. It is an admittedly fuzzy invective; particularly now when we have a professional Army. I think that in most applications it's lazy. People who support the Iraq War -- it's often couched in terms of supporting the War on Terror, but let's face it, nobody's chasing Bin Laden in the Pakistani highlands, we're talking Iraq here -- have claimed the phrase is meaningless. The quote that brought this attitude into particular focus for me was, unfortunately, written by a casual friend, Warren Bell, over at the conservative website The Corner:

    I am going to save you some time. You no longer need to email me every time I take some position in favor of the War on Terror , the invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan, or in fact any pro-military stance. I now am completely and thoroughly informed that I am a chickenhawk, that it is "easy" to support a war when I don't have to put on a uniform and fight, and that I am a coward who would only sacrifice other people's loved ones.

    Nice for you to be up front about it.

    And to save you further time, I am going to expose myself even more. I am a hypocrite and chickenhawk in the War on Crime, as I continue to avoid donning a badge and a gun and busting down doors to catch bad guys, even though I support sending in real police to do the job.

    Uh, chickenhawk, there is a vast difference between supporting the police and advocating aggressive war. The difference is that you would be calling for the police to execute criminals on the spot, but refusing to identify the drug dealers on your block.

    I am a complete coward in the War on Fire, because I have never put on a yellow slicker and an oxygen mask to go stand on the front line in the battle against a burning building. And that's while completely admitting that I would be great at squirting the big hose.

    No, you are a complete coward if you send barely trained 19 year olds to fight fires, then cut the budget for the fire department.

    Additionally, and this is a little painful, I am a loser, hypocrite, chickenhawk, and barely half a man in the War on Weeds. I tried digging them out of my yard, but found I didn't have what it takes, so now I sit in my comfy chair and watch while other people's loved ones put themselves at risk. I'm sorry.

    Well, if weeds blew your leg off, and the dandelions sniped at you, then you might have a point.

    But like all self-justifying cowards, chickenhawk Warren, trivializes service to the country to hide his own cowardice. Here's a man lucky enough to write for the NRO, and he thinks his cheap words mean something.

    I could write all day, every day, on how badly I feel for the Iraqis, how my heart aches when I see another woman bending over a prostrate body. But I don't. Why? Because those words would be cheap. Sympathy without action is cheap. People don't need to hear cheap words. The Warren Bells of the world can cheerlead all they want, but it doesn't lessen their cowardice one bit.

    They want war without sacrifice, well, their sacrifice, you can die for them. They try to minimize their cowardice because they know it is shameful.They know they cannotlook honest men and women in the face. So they turn it into a joke. The sacrifice of others, the destruction of families, compared to weeds.

    An honorable man would be ashamed of such a comparison.

    posted by Steve @ 5:29:00 PM

    5:29:00 PM

    The News Blog home page

    Memorial Day

    How do we honor the dead?

    Is it with words, deeds or actions

    With nearly 2500 dead in Iraq, what can we say about them and their sacrifice?

    What can we do to remember them?

    posted by Steve @ 6:21:00 AM

    6:21:00 AM

    The News Blog home page


    Do you really need more than this?

    Pimp My Grill
    Mark Snyder

    Published: May 28, 2006

    A KALAMAZOO grill can suck a standard tank of propane dry in two and a half hours. Not that backyard grill-users would want to crank every burner simultaneously and reach the full 154,000 B.T.U. capacity of this $11,290, six-and-a-half-foot-wide brute


    "Our gas line had to be doubled in capacity from the house," said Connie Dove of York, Me. She and her husband, Mo Houde, took delivery last year of a Kalamazoo Bread Breaker Two Dual-Fuel grill with an infrared rotisserie cradle system and a side burner.

    They hooked the 600-pound stainless steel hulk into their home's main propane supply, choosing not to mess with standard tanks, which each hold only four gallons of fuel. That's enough to allow a typical backyard grill to run at maximum for 15 hours, according to the Propane Education and Research Council in Washington.

    "It is very, very powerful," Ms. Dove said. "A turkey you can have in an hour and a half."

    The Bread Breaker, which has a temperature gauge that reaches 1,000 degrees, is one of an increasingly popular breed of supergrills that are becoming backyard status symbols, as Americans, mostly of the male variety, peacock with an object that harks back to the earliest days of human existence.

    As Memorial Day marks the official beginning of grilling season, many men will find themselves almost genetically drawn to throwing hunks of raw meat onto a fire and poking them with tongs. It's a pull that some will spend almost any amount of money to satisfy, said Pantelis A. Georgiadis, the owner of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, the grill manufacturer based in Michigan. "There is a market segment we call the 'man cook with fire' types," he said.

    When Daniel Conrad, a lawyer, moved to Dallas four years ago from Pittsburgh to join the woman who would become his wife, his parents bought him a small Weber grill. "It wasn't big enough for my ego," Mr. Conrad, 34, said. "So I got this giant enormous Weber grill."

    Now, he rushes home to his wife — and to his baby, a Weber Summit Gold D6, to slow-cook ribs or experiment with smoking turkeys. "Grilling has become my creative outlet," Mr. Conrad said. "The only two extravagances I have in my life are my car and my grill." He drives a Mercedes.

    And like luxury car owners, many people who splurge on a grill that can simmer, bake and fry are looking to impress.

    Last fall, Dave and Allison Petrullo of Commack, N.Y., installed a custom-built Cal Spas grill on their patio with an outdoor refrigerator. They spent more than $100,000 renovating their backyard with a new synthetic deck, masonry, a whirlpool and a pool waterfall, so $6,500 more for Mr. Petrullo to have a brick sanctuary with a Cal Spas grill as its central altar seemed like nothing. "I told him to just go for it," Ms. Petrullo said. "And get your dream barbecue."

    Though they have actually cooked on the grill only three times since they installed it, it has been a hit with Mr. Petrullo's friends, who congregate around it at parties and give it a going-over like a pack of high school boys around a Corvette, Ms. Petrullo said. "They like to lift up the hood and play with the knobs," she said. "They open the doors underneath, and they open the fridge next to it to check it out."

    If you can't good results with a Weber and charcoal, then you can't do any better spending more money. It's in how you cook more than what you cook on.

    posted by Steve @ 1:47:00 AM

    1:47:00 AM

    The News Blog home page

    The predator

    REUTERS/Kamal Kishore
    I smell money

    Target of F.B.I. Raid Had a Hard Path to Capitol Hill

    NEW ORLEANS, May 27 — Representative William J. Jefferson has always liked to talk about growing up in an impoverished farm community, picking cotton for $3 a day and hitting the books hard enough to win his ticket out — a scholarship to Harvard Law School.

    But even as Mr. Jefferson built a reputation as one of Louisiana's brightest, most effective leaders, a less flattering view began to emerge, one signified by his nickname in political circles, "Dollar Bill."

    Early in his career, as a state legislator, he was criticized for enriching his law firm with contracts from state and local agencies. He also ran stores that rented appliances by the month to poor residents, owned dilapidated apartment buildings and was sued by federal regulators over a defaulted loan.


    The raid on Mr. Jefferson's office took place barely a week ago. But in a sense, the questions circling him have long resonances in his career, which was shaped by a remarkable ascent from the deepest poverty and a quest for the comforts his family never had.

    "There was always a feeling among those who knew him as Dollar Bill that having grown up as poor as he did, his hunger for wealth always burned," said Allan Katz, a New Orleans political consultant.
    Standing outside a new post office that Mr. Jefferson helped bring to his district, one voter, Joyce F. Smith, said that if the accusations were true, "I'd be very disappointed because he's been a very good congressman."

    But many people here have been joking about his "frozen assets" and "cold cash." And Ms. Smith added, it is "hard for me to believe" that he would have stashed legitimate earnings in frozen-food containers and aluminum foil.


    Friends of both men said the mayor thought Mr. Jefferson had tried too aggressively to collect legal fees for helping Mr. Morial win the election. But after Mr. Jefferson became a state senator in 1979, his political rivals began to use "Dollar Bill" to refer to his expanding financial ventures.

    His rental business — which leased television sets and other appliances to people who could not afford to buy them — appeared on the delinquent list in a city sales-tax scandal in the 1980's. And a day after he was elected to Congress in 1990, the Resolution Trust Corporation, which was trying to clean up the mess from the collapse of savings institutions, sued him for $160,000 over an apartment-building loan on which he had quit making payments. He later settled the suit, with friends saying his investments had been hurt by a faltering economy.

    Over the years, Mr. Jefferson has received campaign contributions and free travel from individuals and companies seeking business in Africa, including iGate.

    Government documents show that Mr. Jackson told the F.B.I. that when he met Mr. Jefferson in late 2000, the congressman voluntarily helped promote iGate's products — a normal and legitimate action for a government official involved in trade issues. But according to the F.B.I. documents, in early 2001, the congressman's actions became improper when he said he would continue to use his influence on iGate's behalf only if Mr. Jackson made payments to a company, the ANJ Group, run by the Jefferson family. The iGate payments were disguised as consulting fees, the F.B.I. said.

    Mr. Jefferson says these were private business dealings that had nothing to do with his work on the House committee.

    But as part of a 2003 deal to distribute iGate's products, a Nigerian company, Netlink Digital Television, agreed to pay the congressman $5 per subscriber, the F.B.I. affidavit said, "in return for Jefferson's official assistance if the deal was successful."


    Investigators said that in negotiating the deals, Mr. Jefferson had often cited his desire to provide for his five daughters, three of whom also have degrees from Harvard Law School.

    From December 2004 through June 2005, the F.B.I. said in its affidavit, Mr. Jefferson increased his demands for equity in one Nigerian company, to 30 percent, to be split among his daughters. He also told an investor that one of his daughters had to be retained to do legal work, according to documents in the case.

    Then, on July 30, 2005, when Mr. Jefferson met Ms. Modi at a Ritz-Carlton hotel, the F.B.I. said it supplied her with a briefcase with $100,000 in marked bills. Mr. Jefferson had told her the money would be needed to bribe Nigerian officials, the affidavit said.

    As the F.B.I.'s video cameras zoomed in on him, the bureau said, Mr. Jefferson drove off with the briefcase on the seat of his Lincoln Town Car. And when agents raided his home four days later, $90,000 of the money turned up again, in the kitchen freezer.

    Renting TV's to the poor is among the scummiest businesses in America. It's like you're stealing from them with near usurious rates. A slumlord? Getting work for family members?

    Jefferson wanted to be rich without doing the work to be rich.His ego said politics, but his wallet said business deals. He could have practiced any kind of law, but chose politics and then wanted to make his family rich as well.

    Other people do it, and it's as wrong, but it seemed like Jefferson liked to prey on the weak and poor to make his money

    posted by Steve @ 1:10:00 AM

    1:10:00 AM

    The News Blog home page

    Sitting at a desk for America

    Democrats who'll fight for America

    George Will, Washington Post Writers Group
    WASHINGTON - Peter Beinart is an advocate of liberal -- not "progressive" -- nostalgia. He wants to turn the clock back to 1947 at Washington's Willard Hotel.

    Beinart, who was born in 1971, is editor at large of the liberal New Republic magazine and disdains the label "progressive" as a rejection of liberalism's useable past of anti-totalitarianism. An intellectual archaeologist, he excavates that vanished intellectual tradition and sends it into battle in his new book, "The Good Fight: Why Liberals -- and Only Liberals -- Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again." It expresses Beinart's understanding of liberalism in 1948, 1968 and, he hopes, 2008.

    His project of curing liberalism's amnesia begins by revisiting Jan. 4, 1947, when liberal anti-totalitarians convened at the Willard to found Americans for Democratic Action. It became their instrument for rescuing the Democratic Party from Henry Wallace and his fellow-traveling followers who, locating the cause of the Cold War in American faults, were precursors of Michael Moore and his ilk among today's "progressives."

    Among the heroes of liberalism's civil war was Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who today is 88. He stigmatized their anti-anti-communism as "doughface-ism." Beinart explains: "The original doughfaces were 'Northern men with Southern principles' -- Northerners who opposed slavery, but who could not bring themselves to support the Civil War." Today's doughfaces are "progressives" who flinch from the fact that, as Beinart says, "America could not have built schools for Afghan girls had it not bombed the Taliban first."

    Liberalism's civil war seemed won after Henry Wallace's Progressive Party candidacy failed to prevent President Truman's 1948 election. But the war broke out again in the Democratic Party's crack-up over Vietnam in 1968. Then, Beinart says, a "new liberalism" emerged that "questioned whether America had much to offer the world." Four years later the party nominated George McGovern, who had been a delegate to the 1948 Progressive Party convention that nominated Wallace. McGovern's trumpet sounded retreat: "Come home, America."

    Since then, Beinart argues, liberals have lacked a narrative of national greatness that links America's missions at home and abroad. It has been said that whereas the right-wing isolationists in the 1930s believed that America was too good for the world, left-wing isolationists in the 1960s believed that the world was too good for America. After Vietnam, Beinart says, liberal foreign policy was "defined more by fear of American imperialism than fear of totalitarianism."

    Ronald Reagan said he did not want to return to the past but to the past's way of facing the future. As does Beinart, who locates the pertinent past in 1947.

    So when is Beinhart enlisting?

    He is a coward who hides behind 19 year olds.

    What Beinart forgets is that the people who formed the post-war policies fought in WWII. They didn't sit behind desks, typing their support.

    Beinart's gutlessness reeks like shit in a warm wind. He wants to play war while people die. If Beinart believes in national greatness, he can lead a platoon in Afghanistan or join the foriegn service.If not, then he's a coward.

    posted by Steve @ 12:04:00 AM

    12:04:00 AM

    The News Blog home page

    Sunday, May 28, 2006

    Running for what,Rudy?

    Flocking together

    More Problems For NYC's Ex-Top Cop
    Former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik Still Facing Corruption Probe

    NEW YORK, May 26, 2006
    (AP) Bernard Kerik once enjoyed a national reputation as a brash, self-made law enforcer. As New York's police commissioner, he was at Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's side during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. By late 2004, President Bush wanted him for homeland security chief.

    Kerik's fame faded after allegations of ethical lapses doomed his nomination. His troubles, however, have endured.

    A grand jury in the Bronx has been hearing testimony about a possible corruption case against Kerik involving reputed mob associates, alleged influence peddling and a questionable home-renovation project.

    The Bronx District Attorney's office refused this week to comment on speculation that the grand jury could soon charge Kerik with abusing his authority while a top city official, or to discuss any aspect of the case. But defense lawyers confirmed that their clients had testified during the past several weeks.

    Among the witnesses was Timothy Woods, a contractor who supervised a project to convert two apartments — bought by Kerik in 1999 for $170,000 — into one home. Kerik, who was commissioner of the city's Department of Correction when the work was done, sold the home for $460,000 in 2002 after real estate advertisements described it as a "gem" adorned with marble and granite.

    In a civil complaint filed last year, New Jersey authorities now working with the Bronx prosecutors alleged that most of the $240,000 renovation was secretly paid for by a construction firm in that state with ties to the Mafia, Interstate Industrial Corp. In return, Kerik allegedly vouched for Interstate with city regulators, charges both he and the company's owners, Frank and Peter DiTommaso, vehemently deny.


    There were questions about his $6.2 million windfall from exercising stock options in a stun-gun company that did business with the government. There also were reports that during his 18-month tenure as police commissioner he had simultaneous extramarital affairs with two women, including the publisher of his memoir.
    Kerik later met with a regulator at the city's Trade Waste Commission, which was investigating Interstate, telling him was interested in "alleviating the agency's concerns" about the firm, the papers said. (The official has said he didn't believe Kerik improperly tried to influence him, Kerik's lawyer said.)

    The complaint said when the gaming division sought answers and documents from Kerik, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.


    Bernie loved to take things on the arm.And he was police commissioner. How is Rudy gonna escape this? Every sleazy thing Kerik did was mirrored by Giuliani. He recommened him to run Homeland Security. Kerik's indictment lands right in Giuliani's lap. Didn't he notice Kerik was living beyond his means? He even put the arm on people for his wedding.

    posted by Steve @ 8:14:00 PM

    8:14:00 PM

    The News Blog home page

    So what is everyone doing this holiday weekend?

    My first task this weekend--break these bad boys in

    Hello, all! Jen here.

    Apologies for not posting/commenting more, but my work life has been like a slow-motion riot in a crowded white-collar asylum for the past few months, and most nights after work I'm trying to either a) keep what social life I have still alive to some extent b) do necessary things, like buy more toilet paper and pay bills, c) hit the gym or d) go to bed at 8 PM and sleep in the same position all night out of bone-crumbling exhaustion.

    The irony is that for the first Memorial Day Weekend in about 5 years, I don't have some kind of Huge BBQ Party Thingie to go to. Gilly is getting ready for a family event in Boston, another close pal is home with his sister who just got home from the UK, and my other friends with jobs are pretty much doing what I'm doing--going face-down to rest and get shit around the place done. Even my Mom isn't doing anything at the house and is actually for once going to someone else's party. The ironic part is that this isn't the first Memorial Day in ages that hasn't had shitty, cold weather.

    (Note for our non-US readers: Memorial Day is a holiday that always falls on a Monday. Ostensibly it is to honor the members of the US Armed Forces. Over the years it has become the official Start of Summer in the US, and is traditionally celebrated by barbeques, picnics, etc).

    So, what is radical, super-exciting Jen doing this weekend?

    Well, I rushed home Friday night after banging back 2 mudslides a the Continental to watch Get Color on HGTV. This was because I was exhausted from schlepping a new pair of sneakers and my new Doc Martens around town, in the damp, running chores after work. The Docs are for my upcoming summer vacation; the sneaks are because the last pair I bought for "just walking around" (as opposed to the gym--a lot of US gyms have "indoor sneaker only" policies) was something like 6 years ago, and the arches on my one street pair had totally collapsed. Yes, I got the sneaks in the funky pink and green shown. I woulda gotten New Balance, but my gym sneaks are those, and I have to say while they have the very best fit, they are ugly to the point of bordering on a wearble medical device.

    But I digress.

    When I got home, I collapsed in front of the TV after running to my bodega for milk--I have not set foot in a supermarket for almost 2 weeks, and was eating the nasty ends of whatever I had left in the fridge (and was too tired after work most nights to even think about opening the freezer, which by contrast, is full).

    I had also managed to hit the drug store for silicon sneaker spray, Motrin, and other feminine supplies. So, after Get Color, I sprayed my sneakers, treated my Docs with Wet-Pruf, and collapsed into bed after the news.

    Today all I did was sleep, get up and pee from time to time as the kids next door woke me up, highlighted my hair (need to get it cut but couldn't deal with it Friday--will do next week), and then...launched into Grocery Shopping. Hit my local greengrocer, got some sliced dried salami from Mike's Pork Shop, and dropped stuff off at home. Had a dinch (dinner/lunch) of fresh, raw veggies, a kaiser roll with a tad of olive oil on it, and some sliced sweet and hot salamis.

    Then I watched the news and went back out to do my REAL grocery shopping, even though I was tired again, because I had one roll of toilet paper yet and was out of essentials like, oh, bread, cheese, canned tuna, and so on.

    Got in around 9. Was going to go back out to some hotspot in LIC, but then I realized that a) it was hot b) I was tired and had been c) breaking in boots as hard as new body armor to do multiple staircase runs and chores around the 'hood, and my feet needed a break.

    Tomorrow, I am due to go have dins with a good friend, whose dad was just diagnosed with cancer. I may go out later that night, or I may just flop.

    At some point, I also have to go Shopping for Summer Staples like a few fresh layering T's to wear under a blazer at the office, as well as cheap shorts that fit. And, I have to Try On Stuff to see what Fits for a big fancy dinner that I am doing with family on Tuesday. I also have to try to call a bunch of folks overseas now that I finally remembered to get an STI Phone Card at my local bodega.

    Yeah, I am the picture of decadant urban living. Woo Hoo. Exciting me. I may try to clear another level of 25 to Life or Black, or put in Brokeback Mountain or one of the Aeon Flux on episodes.

    But enough about me.

    What's everyone else doing this weekend?

    posted by Jenonymous @ 7:41:00 PM

    7:41:00 PM

    The News Blog home page

    Left behind to die

    hey, he's slowing us down. leave him

    Dead' Climber's Survival Impugns Mount Everest Ethics

    Published: May 28, 2006

    LONDON, May 27 — It has been a lethal and quirky climbing season on Mount Everest, with at least 15 deaths recorded or rumored so far.

    But no episode seemed quite so strange as the story of Lincoln Hall, a 50-year-old Australian climber, who was a 16th. But only for a while.

    That case revived a passionate debate over the ethics of high altitude climbing, particularly in what is called the death zone, where conditions, temperatures and the lack of oxygen combine to mean that rescuers may forfeit their own lives in trying to save a sick or incapacitated climber.

    Mr. Hall, one of Australia's best-known climbers, was on an expedition whose members paid a minimum of $16,000, according to its Web site. The group included a 15-year-old Australian climber, Chris Harris, who had hoped to become the youngest climber to reach the summit.

    He was forced to turn back after having problems breathing, but Mr. Hall and others made it to the top on Thursday.

    Accounts on Saturday, pieced together from expedition Web sites and newspaper articles, said that on the descent, Mr. Hall suddenly collapsed. He was pronounced dead by the sherpa guides accompanying him and abandoned at 28,500 feet. The cause was understood to be cerebral edema — a swelling of the brain.

    The next day, according to accounts from Mr. Hall's fellow climbers, he was seen by Dan Mazur, an American veteran of many Himalayan expeditions. Mr. Mazur, they said, realized that Mr. Hall was still alive. Almost incomprehensibly, he survived the night.

    "Lincoln was motionless, but submitted weak attributes of life," Alex Abramov, the Russian leader of the expedition, said on its Web site (

    The expedition dispatched a team of 13 sherpas to rescue him. Three sherpas with "tea, oxygen and medicines have reached Lincoln," the expedition Web site reported Friday.

    "Lincoln has a rest, drinks tea. He in consciousness, however not completely understands what happens," Mr. Abramov wrote on the Web site.

    It ascribed his initial weakness on the mountain to an "acute edema and hypoxia," meaning he was not getting enough oxygen.

    By 10 p.m. local time Thursday, Mr. Hall and his rescuers were said to have descended to a camp at about 23,000 feet on the North Col of Everest. And by Saturday, "Lincoln Hall was able to walk on his own" to the Advanced Base Camp farther down the mountain.

    The fact that he had been able to walk unassisted was taken as testimony to a remarkable recovery and raised the question of what might have happened to the Briton, David Sharp, if he had been helped.


    The episode provoked a sharp dispute with Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander who, with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, made the first verifiable conquest of Everest in 1953. Sir Edmund said that "people have completely lost sight of what is important."

    "In our expedition, there was never any likelihood whatsoever if one member of the party was incapacitated that we would just leave him to die," he told a New Zealand newspaper, The Otago Daily Times

    Yeah, it all comes down to that, leaving people to die like garbage on the side of the road.

    posted by Steve @ 5:22:00 PM

    5:22:00 PM

    The News Blog home page

    Ordinary Men

    In the mid-1990's two books were published about Germans and the Holocaust, Hitler's Willing Executioners, by Daniel Goldhagen and Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning.

    Goldhagen felt that most Germans were at best indifferent to the Holocaust, and many were willing participants. Many felt he overstated his case.

    However, Browning's book, Ordinary Men, was far better recieved. It showed how ordinarymen, policemen, could become murderers. One of his conclusions, and it was stunning, even in the mid-1990's, was that the burden of killing fell to relavtively few people. No one was punished for not killing. People who would rather hunt partisans or face the Russians in these units transfered out without punishment, but most neither killed nor stopped killing. They watched. A few men, with the power of life and death, were eager to kill, reveled in it, but most did nothing. They didn't kill, they didn't stop the killing. In essence, they were mute. Neither killers nor resisters.

    A lotof people on the left who don't have experience with the military even on a historical level, tend to see the military as a monolith. But that is far from true.

    The first thing to understand is that the infantry, the actual patrolling,killing 11B's are a minority in the army, a caste apart. Even other soldiers are wary of them. They live in a world apart. Most soldiers handle supplies and file papers, they never seeor handle a gun in their work day.

    There are others who share the battlefield with them, but when infantrymen walk into a room with other soldiers, they are apart.

    The men in Browning's book were policemen, in the rear. The only shots they heard were the ones they fired.

    When Omer Bartov edited a book of pictures of Wehrmacht atroicities,Germans were none too happy to see the pictures. It had been easy to blame the fanatics of the SS for the crimes in the east, the wanton murders. These pictures showed ordinary men at murder.

    The idea that ordinary men kill is an unacceptable one. When General Dyer massacred peaceful protesters ar Amritsar, people made him into a hero.

    When we talk about Haditha, people need to understand something: there were a few killers and a lot of coconspirators. There were killers, eager, but few in number, and many willing to cover up their acts. Why? Sympathy for the killers, fear, loyalty, embarassment. Yet, there were people who would not accept this, who fought for it to come to light, despite the instutitional pressures.

    The American military has killed civilians in Iraq in many ways, traffic stops, stray fire, aerial attack. But as wrong as that is, it is the byproduct of war. Cold blooded murder is not. Which is to say,when you send soldiers to solve problems, they do so violently.

    But to walk into a home, and fire a round into a crying, begging woman and her child? That is murder.

    People will either try to tar the Marines as a whole by this, or claim that they were driven to it.
    And both will be wrong. These men, if they did as they are accused of, decided to seek revenge, it was a conscious, purposeful act, one of deliberation. Others watched them murder in cold blood and refused to speak out. All active choices. All deliberate choices.

    Other Marines, in the same position, in the same town,chose to do otherwise. The thought of blind revenge lingers in many minds. But to cross that line, to become a murderer, takes something.

    Then, when faced with these facts, to cover them up? That is the most loathesome act of all. People will want to place the blame on the sergeant and his men, and they will deserve much of it. But not all. Those who hid this are culpable as well. Maybe even more so. Because they were given evidence of the murder of children and hid it. People who would never hide a child killer at home, did so in Iraq.

    But before we get sanctimonious here, let's remember, these are oridnary men. They could be our neighbors, our friends, even us. It is easy to make them into monsters. But they are not. They chose to kill, and others chose to protect them. Monsters? No. Ordinary men. But the problem is that we are required to be more than ordinary to keep our souls.

    posted by Steve @ 12:34:00 PM

    12:34:00 PM

    The News Blog home page

    Try again

    OK, in the long essay on Iraq, there are just some stunning historical whoppers here which need to be addressed

    Moktada Sadr's troops and commanders were appallingly inept, and were crushed in their abortive uprising. While other, more sanguine commanders, such as the Badr Brigade and the rump Fedayeen Saddam maintained an effective Mao-type insurgency, Moktada Sadr and his soldiery duplicated the disastrous techniques of the Vietcong in the Tet Offensive, and Sadr's troops were crushed by the same Marines who beat them to a pulp at Hue and Khe Sanh.
    Uh, no. The VC were well-organized , but largely faced the US Army and Australians during the Tet Offensive, while regular NVA troops fought the US and South Koreans in the Northern two Corps of Vietnam. The Marines didn't face the VC at Khe Sahn or Hue.

    John Dos Prados. history of Khe Sahn is a good place to start because it explains how US air power, especially large bombers, kept the NVA in the Laotian mountainside. When there were battles for Hill881N and 881 S, all hell broke lose and the Marines were lucky to fend off the human wave attacks. Survive is a lot better word than crush. Because the 1stCav had to eventually relieve the Marines at Khe Sahn

    Giap's stupid gamble at Tet, (for which Giap was relieved of command) is now well-understood. General Odom and Jack Murtha seem quite willing to repeat America's parallel idiocy of unilateral withdrawal from Vietnam in Iraq. Walter Cronkite stood atop the Caravelle Hotel, with the smoke of Cho Lon rising over his shoulder, and told America the war was not winnable, leading LBJ to say, "If we've lost Cronkite, we've lost America".

    Wrong again. Giap did not lose his job. And Cronkite said that after the VC sapper teams charged the US Embassy and were fended off only after hours of fighting. But the fact was that Westmoreland had been saying for two years that the VC were on the run, citing the hill fights, DakTo and Junction City, while the NVA was hiding in Laos and Cambodia waiting

    So when Tet happened, people were astonished, no stunned, to see that after all of Westy's charts and numbers, the NVA and VC was alive and kicking ass. Giap and Ho expected a nationwide uprising, but the US had enough firepower to force most of the attackers back from places like Tan Son Nhut and Chi Lai. But fighting in Pleiku and other areas didn't end quickly

    We left Vietnam because the army was pushing towards open revolt and the middle class no longer supported the war. There were fraggings and combat refusals and drug use. It was either leave Vietnam or destroy the Army
    Reality Check: the smoke rising from Cho Lon was a city block on fire, set by the ethnic Chinese, burning out the Vietcong who had murdered hundreds of Chinese during the Tet Offensive. The Vietcong at Tet learned the ordinary Vietnamese had no interest in supporting the cause of Communism.

    Please. The NVA had fully penetrated the ARVN. What Tet proved was that lightly armed guerrillas and light Infantry die when running into Arc Light, Armor and artillery, When the NVA came back in 1972, they did so with Armor , and took much of I Corps in the process and nearly took An Loc

    The Tet Offensive, we now know from the historical record, nearly drove the North Vietnamese to surrender.
    No we don't. They kept fighting into May, 1968. In fact, the pace of combat increased after Tet, the US reached peak combat strength in May,1969, at 543,000. The NVA was fighting a defensive war, but in a series of battles, like Hamburger Hill and battles in the Arizona Country, they were heavily engaged with US troops.

    Ronald Spector's history After Tet, explains this clearly. To say this is to misread history.

    Only the antiwar movement in the USA saved them from defeat.
    In what fantasy world? The peak of the antwar movement came in 1971-72 as US troops were being withdrawn. The fact was that the US Army was collapsing in the field. After Hamburger Hill, the lead battalion commander had a $10,000 bounty placed on his head and was nearly assassinated seven times. Racial strife led to riots, smuggling and corruption exploded, drug use was endemic. Then you had the GI resistance to the war at home and in Vietnam. The antiwar movement didn't save the NVA. Armor did. By 1971, the NVA was better equipped, better led and far more professional, as was demonstrated in Lam Son 719, when they blew helicopters out of the sky and the ARVN panicked.

    Nixon went to the Communists, and cynically sold the Vietnamese and Lao people into abjectest slavery. How could this be? We had achieved a stunning victory over an entrenched guerilla movement, heroic victories at Hue and Khe Sanh, the obliteration of the Vietcong. But by then, so many Bright Shining Lies had been told, the truth was not believed.
    Because the South Vietnamese government was corrupt and lacked the support of the people. Officers were appointed because of favoritism, troops cheated out of pay, people refused to
    rally around the ARVN, while some bravery was seen.most of it was inept and poorly led.

    Fantasy revisions of the Vietnam War doesn't explain Iraq.

    posted by Steve @ 10:39:00 AM

    10:39:00 AM

    The News Blog home page


    The man who runs Iraq

    Iraq: an exit strategy.. A reply to General Odom.
    by BlaiseP [Subscribe]
    Sat May 27, 2006 at 12:58:20 PM PDT

    A Reply to Lt. Gen. William E. Odom: "Why America must get out of Iraq now."

    Try not to bash me too hard, people. This isn't standard Democratic policy or received wisdom, and I hope you cut me some slack here. Odom's right, in the main.

    Withdraw immediately or stay the present course? This presumes there are no alternate courses, no alternate exit strategies. I believe there are other options, this is a false dilemma. It is an ill wind which blows nobody any good: let us stipulate to the manifestly stupid proposition of staying the current course, and the further damnation of its authors for the present, however satisfying and true it might be. It is enough to say they have failed us. What alternate courses might prove wise? What do the Iraqis themselves want?

    In short: we must retrain the Iraqi military and policemen, here in the USA, if need be. The Iraqi soldier gets 24 days of training. The Iraqis want security. Trained Iraqi troops and policemen are the only agents which could ever provide security. Work from there.

    I translate Iraqi newspapers from Arabic to English, for DailyKos, and I am a Democrat, a Liberal Democrat. I soldiered, too. In differing with General Odom, I would preface my remarks with what may seem faint praise but it is heartfelt. General Odom is a sensible man, with sterling credentials, and though I differ with his opinions, his arguments are based on sound if different reasoning. His analysis is of the current situation is sound, yet I feel led to present my own thoughts on the matter: a cat may look upon a king, and this old soldier may address his betters.

    General Odom correctly observes the American people have always hated war, and this prescriptive war in particular outrages them. It should. Like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, this current war in Iraq is waged on the false premises of WMDs, and with similarly false expectations of a friendly government arising. The monstrous lies, exaggerations and happy talk surrounding this war provoke the American people as the Bright Shining Lies of Vietnam provoked them then. Yet I do not believe the entire story is being told: the way out of this conflict is also the way through this conflict.

    A far better comparison and contrast to the War in Iraq is to the Balkans War, waged by Bill Clinton and Wesley Clark, a war where there were no Good Guys, and where we still have an ongoing occupation. In the Balkans, the European community, indeed the entire world stood by with its fingers in its mouth, while genocide and savage tribalism ensued upon the death of Tito. Wesley Clark cut through the Gordian Knot of a land invasion, and without a single casualty, won the most lopsided victory in the history of European warfare. This strategy was applied with good effect to the No-Fly Zones in Iraq, why the military planners did not duplicate the victory in the Balkans remains a mystery. The Kurds and Shii have used their time in the No-Fly Zone effectively, the rest of Iraq could have done the same, had we made the entire country a No-Fly Zone.

    A priori, every sensible person agrees the solution to the Iraq conflict must be an Iraqi solution. This war has been badly micromanaged by Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush administration. The generals on the ground are all in agreement: the current war is untenable. The now-cashiered generals, Shinseki chief among these, had more pragmatic assessments of the war, and they were ignored. Now we are confronted with two pats of butter and forty acres of hot toast.

    I have often said, as in the Balkans, the USA opened a jar of Tupperware, left in the refrigerator of history for forty years by Saddam Hussein. With the passing-away of the old regime in Iraq, (led by a brutally effective dictator from an ethnic minority), the world again found a foul anoxic science project of suppressed ethnic rivalries. It is instructive to note one ethnic group adores George Bush and his strategy, the Kurds. Those who would call Iraq a Descent into Civil War forget the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the still-suppurating decubitus of Chechnya on Russia's backside. Suppressing ethnic tensions does not attenuate them.

    Of the terrorists, this may be safely said: they hate each other altogether more than they hate the Ameriki. They are essentially gangs, carving up the neighborhoods of the cities as Crips and Bloods do in this country, and the FARC does in Colombia, the Maoists in Nepal, the list continues ad nauseam. Obviously terrorism is not an exclusively Muslim problem. The solution to terrorism in Iraq is no different than the solution to gangs anywhere else: an effective police force and justice system is required. The Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence is driven by the same motivations, fears and allegiances which fill our morgues with drive-by shootings from gang-bangers in this country. Far more American civilians have died of gang violence and the concomitant epidemic of drug abuse in the USA than American soldiers have died in Iraq. We do not wage open war on gangsters in this country with soldiers and Marines: why we try this anywhere else is madness.

    Al Qaeda is a hobgoblin, an ignis fatuus, yet another avatar of Qutbist Islamism, fathered by the Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood long ago. After the murder of a prominent Sunni sheikh in January of 2006, Sheikh Naser Abdul Karim al-Miklif of the huge al-Bu Fahad tribe in Anbar province, a price was placed on Zarqawi's head, and he has gone silent. While there is no love lost between the Sunnis and the Ameriki, the ordinary Iraqi is appalled by Al Qaeda's kidnappings and beheadings. The surviving Baathists are really no different than the warlords of the Balkans, gone into hiding: we know who they are, we can't get them, for the same reasons we can't grab Osama bin Ladin. The resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan are merely Pashtun tribesmen doing what they have always done, and do in Pakistan as well, re-establishing the grim Deobandi modus vivendi. In Iraq, where ethnic identity has long been suppressed, the vast majority of the violence is not civil war, but tribal factionalism reestablishing itself with dreary predictability, the natural state of mankind for thousands of years, and while its followers are nominally Islamic, they are a weed which only sprouts in the soil of a lawless state. The national boundaries of the Middle East were drawn up by Sykes and Picot, a pair of scheming liars who betrayed the Arabs, ensuring future internal discord for centuries. Africa, too, labors under onerous procrustean borders, the lasting legacy of colonialism. This is not civil war. This is the curse of tribalism writ large in our day.

    General Odom questions the Iraqi military's allegiances: to whom will they be loyal? The Iran/Iraq War showed both Iraqi Sunnis and Shii united against Iran, and from that war was forged a national identity. The Arabic-speaking Shii clerics of Karbala and Najaf have been rivals of the Farsi-speaking clerics of Qom in Iran for centuries. Sistani, whose native language is Farsi, attempts to preach tolerance and forebearance, and in the main, it works where he has influence. To the Arabic-speaking Shii, Iran is a ruinous Mordor: no matter how bad things may become in Iraq, neither the Da'wa nor SCIRI factions would willingly abandon the current model, and devolve into a Hizb'allah (read Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the pasdaran) and Syrian-dominated Lebanon. We have set the stage for another Lebanon in the creation of a confessional democracy, if we cannot empower Iraq's constitutional powers effectively. Of course democracy in Iraq will not look like ours, it will more closely resemble Switzerland, with powerful cantons and a weak central government. The Swiss do not quarrel among themselves, nor does India's vast collection of tribes and languages: democracy has not yet failed in Iraq. It has not yet had time to fail. Our own history produced a Shay's Rebellion or two before we realized the need for an effective central government, and a constitution to that effect.

    These things will sort themselves out in time, the American Revolution and the preceding French and Indian Wars featured many atrocities based on shifting political and tribal allegiances. What followed, in our country, was the wholesale slaughter of the Native Indians, let us not shriek too loudly about this sort of thing when cultures clash in the Middle East, it has always been so, where the rule of law fails mankind. Our own failure to address the issue of slavery in the Constitution led to divided loyalties, culminating in the Civil War. It has taken us more than 200 years to achieve our own More Perfect Union, and today the leaderless nation descends into a resentful apathy. The voice of reason is brought low with much shouting and recrimination, the War in Iraq has become a Blame Game. Our own allegiances are in doubt, and we follow witless leaders in both the White House in Congress, who lack vision enough to solve our problems, whose time is wasted on damnation of the other side and the prostitution of the good offices. Satmars and Lubovitschers get along better than our own Congress. It is a national disgrace.

    The War on Terror is fundamentally a war on crime, and a soldier is not a policeman. He who washes plates with a hammer must not expect to eat off unbroken crockery. Once, I stood, a gawky trainee, listening to Drill Sergeant McFarlane expound on this topic: "War is what happens when politicians stop doing their goddamn jobs, and wars end when they start doing their jobs again. In the meantime, the in-between time, it's up to us."

    The Iraqi soldier gets 24 days of training. This is actually an improvement. They used to only get 14 days of training. A current American recruit gets 9 weeks of Basic training and at least another 9 weeks of AIT, or 16 weeks of combined BASIC/AIT called OSUT, just for infantry. That's often followed up by more training. I was in training for far longer. General Odom says: "The problem in Iraq is not military competency; it is political consolidation." Every officer in TRADOC would disagree with his belief 24 days of training produces competent servicemen.

    Moktada Sadr's troops and commanders were appallingly inept, and were crushed in their abortive uprising. While other, more sanguine commanders, such as the Badr Brigade and the rump Fedayeen Saddam maintained an effective Mao-type insurgency, Moktada Sadr and his soldiery duplicated the disastrous techniques of the Vietcong in the Tet Offensive, and Sadr's troops were crushed by the same Marines who beat them to a pulp at Hue and Khe Sanh.

    Giap's stupid gamble at Tet, (for which Giap was relieved of command) is now well-understood. General Odom and Jack Murtha seem quite willing to repeat America's parallel idiocy of unilateral withdrawal from Vietnam in Iraq. Walter Cronkite stood atop the Caravelle Hotel, with the smoke of Cho Lon rising over his shoulder, and told America the war was not winnable, leading LBJ to say, "If we've lost Cronkite, we've lost America".

    Reality Check: the smoke rising from Cho Lon was a city block on fire, set by the ethnic Chinese, burning out the Vietcong who had murdered hundreds of Chinese during the Tet Offensive. The Vietcong at Tet learned the ordinary Vietnamese had no interest in supporting the cause of Communism. The Tet Offensive, we now know from the historical record, nearly drove the North Vietnamese to surrender. Only the antiwar movement in the USA saved them from defeat. Nixon went to the Communists, and cynically sold the Vietnamese and Lao people into abjectest slavery. How could this be? We had achieved a stunning victory over an entrenched guerilla movement, heroic victories at Hue and Khe Sanh, the obliteration of the Vietcong. But by then, so many Bright Shining Lies had been told, the truth was not believed.

    What, then, should we do to extricate our soldiers from Saigon-upon-Tigris? I would embark upon a massive retraining of Iraq's military and policemen, bringing them up to proper readiness levels, preferably in the United States. I repeat, the current Iraqi soldier has 24 days of training, and the policemen are worthless. We should send as many Likely Lads as possible to Officer Candidate School, here in the United States as will come. I believe the same should be done with Iraqi police officers.

    A bit of Devil's Advocacy here: we've trained officers before. A great many tinhorn dictators and generalissimos have passed through the doors of the School of the Americas, and Norman Schwartzkopf's father, the celebrated policeman associated with the Lindbergh Baby would later train the Shah of Iran's dreaded SAVAK. My solution has serious shortcomings, I acknowledge them, but I cannot see a better solution for Iraq, which lets us withdraw in good order and provides some bulwark against the terrorists.

    General Odom's assertion of a large officer corps with plenty of experience from the Iran-Iraq War is baffling: Iraq's prosecution of the war against Iran featured a horrible campaign strategy for every battle: Saddam's campaigns may be used as textbook examples of stupidity. The entire Iraqi Army, pushing towards Tehran, with every prospect of success, halted and dug in. Iran took appalling casualties, sending children forward to their deaths. The Iraqi soldiers were sickened to shoot them. Saddam Hussein's military commanders were Yes Men and Zampolit. Saddam's chief complaint, whilst he still had power, was that everyone would lie to him. He once asked one of his subordinates, after Gulf War One, what he thought of the war. The subordinate, in a moment of inspired bravery, replied "It was the most disastrous war in the history of the world." Saddam grumbled and replied, "That's your opinion." Find that subordinate, and install him as SecDef in the new Iraq.

    A rapid reversal of our present course in Iraq would produce the same results as our rapid reversal in Vietnam. The lasting legacy of Vietnam was not the loss of external credibility, as General Odom asserts, it would be our belief in ourselves which was lost. The Cold War would continue well into the time of Ronald Reagan, and our cynical proxy war against the Russians in Afghanistan, and our subsequent cynical abandonment of Afghanistan to the Taliban, would sow the seeds which blossomed on 9/11. If the price of idealistic engagement is high, the price of cynical unilateral withdrawal will be higher, in the long run, for if Iraq is abandoned, I predict with absolute certainty we will find ourselves engaged in Egypt, where a largely unknown war on Islamism is going hugely awry, Algeria-style, one atrocity after another, in an escalating tit for tat between an undemocratic regime and a hardened insurgency. Cynicism has its price, and that price is the soul.

    Of course we must leave Iraq, and the current course of action is hugely counterproductive. There is another way, we must leave a well-trained corps of policemen and soldiers behind to enforce the rule of law against the gangsters arising in its midst. It answers Iraq's own heart-wringing cry for security, it is all they ask, and they can do it themselves thereafter. And they will do it.

    We have two problems here and this is a well-thought out essay.

    1) The Mahdi Army was crushed and came back smarter and better trained. Sadr has more bodies than we do, three thousand dead is a small loss. The NVA wasn't just beat at Khe Sahn, they were defeated in a four month campaign which started there, continued through tet and ended at Dong Ha. Then the CIA went after the Viet Cong Infrastructure with the Phoenix Program. The Madhi Army is stronger now than in 2004 and controls Basra and East Baghdad.

    2) Any Iraqi who comes to the US will have his family killed.

    See,when you have shitty intelligence, bad things happen. Once that list is drawn up, you have a death list. They can't leave their families behind, and if they leave, they can't come back.

    A lot of people forget the all-penetrating intelligence of the resistance. They can murder the french fry guy.Families kill those who inform to the US. Even delivering aid can get you killed. Imagine 1000 Iraqis leaving for the US. Their families would be instant targets.

    The police are totally penetrated now. Training them in the US is just training Sadr's new police force as well as exposing their families to murder.

    I'm sorry, but to say India's vast tribes don't fight each other is to be woefully ignorant of Indian history. Look, two Indian prime ministers were assasinated in the last 20 years.

    But the core problem is that Iraq has no real government,just squabbling factions. All of the main players exist outside the government, but can control it. No one is loyal to it. Train the army, you get more effective militia fighters.

    Haditha is what you get when you send people back to war over and over. The Army is about to lose NCO's and officers who like their wives enough to quit the Army and save their marriage. Most people want nothing to do with enlistment. So the clock is running before the Army falls apart.

    All we can do is leave Iraq .We cannot save it and they aren't interested in doing so.

    posted by Steve @ 1:42:00 AM

    1:42:00 AM

    The News Blog home page

    Burn baby burn...........maybe not

    (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)
    See any Minutemen around?

    Are you drunk?

    With Illegal Immigrants Fighting Wildfires, West Faces a Dilemma

    Published: May 28, 2006

    SALEM, Ore. — The debate over immigration, which has filtered into almost every corner of American life in recent months, is now sweeping through the woods, and the implications could be immense for the coming fire season in the West.

    As many as half of the roughly 5,000 private firefighters based in the Pacific Northwest and contracted by state and federal governments to fight forest fires are immigrants, mostly from Mexico. And an untold number of them are working here illegally.

    A recent report by the inspector general for the United States Forest Service said illegal immigrants had been fighting fires for several years. The Forest Service said in response that it would work with immigration and customs enforcement officers and the Social Security Administration to improve the process of identifying violators.

    At the same time, the State of Oregon, which administers private fire contracts for the Forest Service, imposed tougher rules on companies that employ firefighters, including a requirement that firefighting crew leaders have a working command of English and a formal business location where crew members can assemble.

    Some Hispanic contractors say the state and federal changes could cause many immigrants, even those here legally, to stay away from the jobs. Other forestry workers say firefighting jobs may simply be too important — and too hard to fill — to allow for a crackdown on illegal workers.

    "I don't think it's in anybody's interest, including the Forest Service, to enforce immigration — they're benefiting from it," said Blanca Escobeda, owner of 3B's Forestry in Medford, Ore., which fields two 20-person fire crews. Ms. Escobeda said all of her workers were legal.

    Some fire company owners estimate that 10 percent of the firefighting crews are illegal immigrants; government officials will not even hazard a guess.

    The private contract crews can be dispatched anywhere in the country through the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho — and in recent years have fought fires from Montana to Utah and Colorado, as well as Washington and Oregon — anywhere that fires get too big or too numerous for local entities to handle.

    The work, which pays $10 to $15 an hour, is among the most demanding and dangerous in the West. A workweek fighting a big fire can go 100 hours.

    So Lou, what do we do now? Considering the Guardsmen they would use are shooting up Iraq?

    Why, they can cross the border legally while the west burns to the ground.

    Given weather conditions and the simple lack of bodies , things might be complicated. But that never stopped the Minutemen.

    posted by Steve @ 1:28:00 AM

    1:28:00 AM

    The News Blog home page


    Editorial Staff
    RSS-XML Feeds

    Add to My AOL

    Support The News Blog

    Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
    News Blog Food Blog
    Visit the News Blog Food Blog
    The News Blog Shops
    Operation Yellow Elephant
    Enlist, Young Republicans