Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn ("In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."). --HP Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

The stars hath turned in the heavens once more: Mighty Cthulhu stirs. His dreams reacheth forth, communing with those with ears to hear. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! His thoughts trample down along the pathways of thy mind; thou knowest His footprints, each of which is a wound...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Cthulhu is a Realist

No. Really. I took the test and it said so.

(Blame Absit Invidia if you don't like it: He's always starting crap.)


Just Doing My Part

General JC Christian (Patriot) has himself this here great idea: We should all extoll the manly virtues of Dick Cheney, lest people mistake his behavior as a mask for impotence. Clearly, we can't have people linking Dick with impotence. That would undermine the respect that Dick deserves, thus afflicting the authority of his office with impotence.

You may think I'm making too much out of Dick's perceived impotence, but I think Jesus' General is right: Dick should never be synonymous with impotence. In fact, we should do all that we can to make sure that Dick is never accused of impotence. Impotence is the very last thing that people should think about when they see Dick. I mean, Dick and impotence don't even belong in the same sentence.

So remember, never think of Dick and impotence at the same time. Don't even dream of impotence when you think of Dick.

And don't ever, ever link Dick's website with the word impotence: That might just cause something to start ticking...


Grasping at Straws

Well, they warned us over a month ago, and now they're carrying out that threat:

Roughly 5,600 soldiers from the ready reserve will be notified of possible deployment this year, including some soldiers who will be notified within a month, said an Army official speaking on condition of anonymity.

A senior defense official said, "These individuals are being called back to fill specific shortages for specific jobs."

"It would be an involuntary measure, an involuntary mobilization," the Army official said. "It’s approximately 5,600."

The Army is in dire straights when they start tapping the Inactive Ready Reserve. The IRR is a roster of some 118,000 people who have completed their active duty time, and have since gone on to attend school, build careers, start families...Uprooting them and hauling them back in to active duty isn't something to be done lightly.

And to think, it was just last year that ShrubCo™ was firing General Shinseki for telling the truth, and then going on to reassure us that securing Iraq would be easy:

Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz criticized the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, after Shinseki told Congress in February that the occupation could require "several hundred thousand troops." Wolfowitz called Shinseki's estimate "wildly off the mark."

Rumsfeld was furious with White when the [former] Army secretary agreed with Shinseki.

And these are the same neo-clowns who predict that The Draft won't be needed either. I'm soooo relieved to hear that...


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

found on BartCop

The VP Candidate That Gives ShrubCo™ Nightmares

Note to neo-clowns: Nation-building is tough, but a good yardstick of success is whether or not the locals are shooting at you. In case you haven't noticed, 2 Million Muslim Kosovars and Albanians happen to love General Wesley Clark.

But Lt AWOL Dumbya™ would be hard-pressed to find any Muslims anywhere that could say his name without spitting.


Dumbya Has Read Bill's Book

So how do you deal with that pint-sized whacko in Pyongyang? Apparently, after wasting time with useless brinksmanship, after allowing him three years to build up a nuclear aresenal, the thing for Shrub to do is repeat what Bill Clinton did a decade ago.

That's ShrubCo™: "Bringing America Forward in to the Past®"


Sunday, June 20, 2004

ShrubCo's™ Cabal of Rasputins

Sy Hersh is going to get another Pulitzer, but only if these guys don't get to him first:
Special Plans was created in order to find evidence of what Wolfowitz and his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believed to be true—that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of chemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons that threatened the region and, potentially, the United States.

"They didn’t like the intelligence they were getting, and so they brought in people to write the stuff. They were so crazed and so far out and so difficult to reason with—to the point of being bizarre. Dogmatic, as if they were on a mission from God." He added, "If it doesn’t fit their theory, they don’t want to accept it."

A must-read, but a scary one. Then again, so is everything else that moves this administration.


The Last Trustworthy News Program

Shrub, Cheney, and the 9/11 Commission: The Daily Show straightens everything out.


Friday, June 18, 2004

My soul is this big

On the Brighter Side...

Cheney is whining that the media is "irresponsible" in calling him out for the ignorant and arrogant bastard that he is:

"There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming," Cheney said in an interview with CNBC's "Capitol Report."

"It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts with Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials."

Really? That's news. Then why didn't the 9/11 Panel back you up?

Asked if he knows information that the 9/11 commission does not know, Cheney replied, "Probably."

And why is that? You had your chance to tell them. You could have shared that information with them before, during, or after your testimony to them. Hell, it's not as if you were alone, under oath, and/or being recorded.

So you withheld information from the 9/11 Panel, then argue with the conclusions that you helped them draw.

There really isn't anything else to do but laugh.


A Critic Takes Issue

I normally run a troll-free blog, here (it's mine, so why should I put up with their crap?), but ConAnon linked his weblog URL with his arguments: A return address is grounds, in my view, for more than a cursory glance. By way of background, this guy is posting from the "army.mil" domain somewhere in Central Europe. Had his IP resolved to somewhere in the US, I would have just deleted it from the comments with a shrug--I give no credence to the Fighting 101st Keyboard Brigade.

re: Latest pics from Abu Ghraib and my quoting of George Paine over at Warblogging:

Tell me that you would react as harshly if someone was doing this to our troops. Tell me.

--I would have reacted as strongly, and have in the past. But these acts have cost us the moral high-ground; we have shown ourselves to be that which we hate. How can we blame those jihadi fuckers for being cruel when we do the very same things? Believe it or not, it's possible to hate torturers on both sides of a conflict. And I do.

My sense of outrage stems from the fact that the systemic acts of Rumskull and his goons have added to the hatred that our soldiers are fighting against, have given more reasons for Iraqi partisans to attack our soldiers, and have denied any sense of sympathy that others might have shared with us.

We signed the Geneva Convention to protect our soldiers from suffering a similar fate. Abrogating that treaty only endangers them. Or have you forgotten why Nick Berg was whacked?

Short of a few people that argue that the rules of war, specifically this war, justify any means necessary there aren't many people out there who argue that this isn't a war crime.

--Then why are you defending them? Why are you criticizing me for criticizing the rightard neo-clowns who ordered these war crimes?

What's at issue is whether the self-described 'objective' media's (and of course the admittedly left-leaning in television and print) refusal to let this die is costing the lives of Americans (it is), whether or not they care that it is (few seem to), and lastly whether they show the same sense of moral repugnance to the much worse, much more widespread instances of deprivation committed by the people whose cause the left champions.

--That's three issues in one sentence, but here we go:

1) The "librul media" (which, btw, includes such warm human beings as "Pill Popper" Limbaugh, "Traitor" Novak, "Hate Monger" O'Reilly, and "Rove-bot" Scarborough) isn't doing much to keep the story alive; they're just playing new information as it becomes available.

And their coverage isn't killing American soldiers; the acts of soldiers at Abu Ghraib, BIF, and other camps are killing American soldiers. The orders being handed down by Rumskull, Cambone, Boykin, and Miller are killing American soldiers. Your circular argument is tantamount to saying that crime on the streets only happens because the media reports that there is crime on the streets.

2) If the media didn't care about it, they wouldn't report it.

3) The media holds the same sense of repugnance toward crimes committed against Americans--or weren't you around a television when those four mercenaries got whacked and hung in Fallujah? I was certainly exposed to that gross-fest. And so, apparently, were the people who ordered the Marines to exact a little pay-back for it.

re: Kofi Finds His Spine and my desire to see ShrubCo™ hauled before the war crimes tribunal:
As much as you would love that, Americans love their freedom too much to subserve their people to an international justice system so readily hijacked by politics.

--As an American, I love my freedom too much to let fascist goons like Shrub and Asscroft step all over my beloved Constitution, and its sacred Bill of Rights, without a fight. Too many good men and women have died that I might write this blog, and I will not dishonor their sacrifice by rolling over and letting rightard neo-clowns take these rights and freedoms away from me or any other American.

And if the international justice system is so readily hijacked by politics, then why did the US create it in the first place? Try doing a little research on something called the "Nuremberg Tribunal." You'll find that the US formed it, ran it, wrote it's principles, and that those principles were adopted by the UN to form our current international laws. In short: The very laws and system that you hate were written and created by our very own nation.

In any event, a good national leader would have the international community striving to please the US, not fight it. If the US put Shrub and his fucktards up for trial, I'm sure Justice would be served. The only people who don't want to see ShrubCo™ go to The Hague are the rightarded neo-clowns who support them.

Someone ought to indict the country of Belgium for obstruction of justice.

--In what way has Belgium obstructed justice? In case you haven't noticed, there's exactly one place on Earth that Slobodan Milosevic is getting tried for the genocide that he created, and that's in Belgium; they're not exactly coddling him, either.

The bottom line is this: If the US wants to regain the moral and ethical prestige that we once held--before Dumbya™ and his thugs pissed it all so merrily away--then we have to have our war-crimes trial in the only court internationally recognized for such trials.

[Note: The commentor's statements have been reprinted in their entirety, separated only for clarity]


Thursday, June 17, 2004

A Bit of Good News

I've been told that Spandau Prison was razed after Hess' death. Guess that means we can send the ShrubCo™ fuckers to Marion, where they have:
1) Large men who prey on scrawny cowards in the showers, and

2) A Death Penalty.


If Sanchez Let Rumskull Do This...
then he should hang with the rest of them.

Is this a "fear up harsh"?

Did they get anything accurate out of this guy?

Does that boot on his chest mean he's getting stitched w/o anesthetics?

I have only one thing to say: All rightard neo-clowns must BURN IN HELL!

Warblogging can take it from here:
Tell me that these people are not war criminals. Go ahead. Tell me. Tell me that these people did not approve the use of excessive force in combat. Tell me that these people did not engage in the use of excessive force in combat. Tell me that these generals who consider the Iraqis "dogs" are "liberating" the Iraqi people. Tell me that a leadership that actively hides prisoners from the Red Cross, that approves the use of these stress positions, that approves the use of dogs in interrogations, tell me that these people are moral, that they are not criminal, that they are somehow fit to lead this nation.



Kofi Finds His Spine

The ünter-wonder UN SecGen who helped orchestrate "Black Hawk Down" and "Wrecking Rwanda" seems to have suddenly grown a backbone:

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan sharply criticized the United States on Thursday for seeking another exemption from the International Criminal Court, particularly in light of the Iraqi prisoner scandal.

"The blanket exemption is wrong. It is of dubious judicial value and I don't think it should be encouraged by the council," Annan told reporters.

"It would be unfortunate for one to press for such an exemption, given the prisoner abuse in Iraq, " Annan said. "It would discredit the council and the United Nations that stands for rule of law."

Security Council envoys say Washington does not yet have enough support or will barely reach the required nine "yes" votes needed for the resolution to pass in the 15-nation body.

Well, the neo-clowns have long argued that the UN was spineless and completely untrustworthy--largely because of the many gaffes pulled by Annan.

Such accusations must have hurt his feelings, because he's certainly taking a different tact now.

So what does this mean? Hey, ShrubCo™, take a look at the photos below: You'll be seeing these places in person. Soon.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A Matter of Priniciple(s)

The UN handed old Sloby a big defeat in his bid to squirm out of a permanent vacation in Spandau prison:
U.N. war crimes judges rejected on Wednesday a motion to drop genocide charges against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, saying there was enough evidence to pursue them.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia released a ruling obtained earlier by Reuters that said there was a genocide case for Milosevic to answer, dismissing lawyers' arguments that evidence was lacking.

At issue is whether or not Slobodan committed crimes according to international law. The laws in question? Well, in short:
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under; international law:
A) Crimes against peace:
1) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
2) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (1).
B) War crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or illtreatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
C) Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

Astute readers will already have realized that the laws cited above could and should be applied to others as well.

ShrubCo™, take a look at your future retirement home:


Sunday, June 13, 2004

Well That Didn't Take Long...

Yesterday, ShrubCo™ offered up General Ricardo Sanchez as their official scapegoat. Read yesterday's post to see how ridiculous that proposition was.

Well, today, word has come that the ICRC is kicking the legs out from ShrubCo's™ chair:
New evidence that the physical abuse of detainees in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay was authorised at the top of the Bush Administration will emerge in Washington this week, piling further pressure on the White House.

Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported that four confidential Red Cross documents implicating senior Pentagon civilians in the Abu Ghraib scandal have been passed to an American television network, which is preparing to make them public.

Senior Pentagon civilians? At the top of ShrubCo™? I wonder who they could be? Can't be Sanchez; he's in Iraq and not a civilian. Which civilians are at the top in the Pentagon?

Douglas Feith

Steven Cambone

Donald Rumskull

We'll have to wait to see what the ICRC reports actually say, of course. I can't wait.

(Hat tip to Bubba at Belly of the Beast. The story is all over the blogosphere now, but he was the first one to tell me of it)


Saturday, June 12, 2004

Sanchez: Fall Guy or Flood Gate?

Remember when I wrote this? Wilson was trying to pin Sanchez because FRAGO 1108 put the MP's at Abu Ghraib under the command of MI interrogators. I stated then that she was putting Sanchez in Rumskull's sights, trying to make Sanchez the scapegoat, even though Taguba had all but exonerated him.

Now the US Army has provided Congress with summaries of documents called "Interrogation Rules of Engagement" and "Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy". The documents purportedly show that General Ricardo Sanchez approved and ordered the techniques contained in these documents:

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq, borrowed heavily from a list of high-pressure interrogation tactics used at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and approved letting senior officials at a Baghdad jail use military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns, sensory deprivation, and diets of bread and water on detainees whenever they wished, according to newly obtained documents.

So, what, is WaPo saying that Abu Ghraib is all Sanchez's fault? Not neccessarily, but you do have to do some deep reading:

The U.S. policy, details of which have not been previously disclosed, was approved in early September, shortly after an Army general sent from Washington completed his inspection of the Abu Ghraib jail and then returned to brief Pentagon officials on his ideas for using military police there to help implement the new high-pressure methods.

That "Army general" was General Miller, the same goon who ran Guantanamo, and who is now in charge of Abu Ghraib. Here is a comprehensive timeline of events that specifically names Miller.

Still, Sanchez is clearly accused of committing the crime: The argument seems to be that none of this would have happened had Sanchez ignored Miller's "suggestions". In effect, the DoD is saying that Miller is saying: "Hey, I just suggested he do some stuff. I didn't order him to do it. Sanchez is the one who actually gave the order."

This revelation comes on the heels of news that the DoD is widening its investigation under pressure from Congress:

Defense Department officials said the investigation would be restructured with high-ranking investigators to allow the questioning of top officers in Iraq.

Congressional investigators are trying to determine who authorized aggressive interrogation, and their hearings are looking at how high in the ranks of the Pentagon and administration the scandal might reach.

Under Army regulations, junior officers can not question senior officers as part of an investigation. The DoD's move to replace Fay with a higher ranking officer opens up questioning farther up the chain of command.

Short version: If someone wants to go after Sanchez, he is now vulnerable.

This attempt hinges on one thing: Did Sanchez give the order to torture Iraqi's on his own or not? The DoD is apparently saying that Sanchez gave the order.

The problem with the DoD's argument? According to the Pentagon, the sequence of events goes something like this: Sanchez orders that torture be used at Abu Ghraib. He then hears about torture being used at Abu Ghraib, and personally assigns General Taguba to go investigate, a move that would prove that Sanchez had violated Army regulations as well as US and international laws. Upon reading Taguba's report, he then orders the tortures to stop because he knows that torture is illegal, and begins court martial proceedings against the soldiers who were following Sanchez's orders to begin with. In short, according to the DoD, General Ricardo Sanchez is the very stoopidest general that the Army has ever vetted.

This whole thing is criminally ridiculous: If Sanchez had known of the torture orders at all, he wouldn't have sent Taguba to go and prove that soldiers were following the torture orders that Sanchez was supposed to have issued himself. I think Sanchez's defense will try to show that he was out of the loop on this; he has some rather convincing evidence in Taguba alone.

That will refocus the spotlight on Miller. Miller will then either cop to it (unlikely) and resign in order to save his superiors, or will take the "following orders" defense to save his own skin.

And who could give such an order to Miller? In order: General Boykin, Steven Cambone, and Donald Rumsfeld.

(As for the "following orders" defense: I have a feeling that all of the actors in this tragedy will point out that the Pentagon's Office of General Counsel assured them that the orders were legal. Something that I would dearly love to see argued in court.)

We're getting closer to Justice, folks; this lame attempt at scapegoating Sanchez is just part of the two-steps-forward-one-step-back approach that plagues such politically-tainted investigations. The really dumb part about all of this is that I, a blogger of small account, can connect dots between timelines, Taguba's report, Congressional testimony, Army regs, US and international law, the chain of command, and shoddy reporting, and so see right through the smoke and mirrors that Rumskull is hiding behind.

And if I can do it, so can McCain, Leahy, Biden, Dayton, Clinton, and the American people.

Update: 061404
There has been some spirited debate about Sanchez's role in Ghraib-gate. Let me just clarify one thing: I don't think Sanchez is completely innocent of any wrong-doing. At the very least, he was irresponsibly unaware of what was happening in his own command. At worst, he knew of Miller's mission and--deliberately or complacently--allowed it to proceed. But the point remains that, no matter how involved Sanchez was, he was not the original architect of torture in Iraq: That trail leads to Rumskull.


Friday, June 11, 2004

Update on Guard Deployments

I've been receiving comments and emails about the bleak picture I painted in this post: Unanimously, I've been told that my picture isn't bleak enough.

The problem is that the troop strengths of combat units (ie, trigger-pullers; not MP's, medics, et al) are difficult to guage, and here is why:

An Infantry Squad usually consists of 12 men. That number fluctuates a bit after deducting sick/injured personnel that have yet to be replaced, a variable that is impossible to know, so not taken into account here.

An Infantry Platoon consists of three or four Squads, and a Platoon Leader and Platoon NCO. Sometimes there is also a Platoon-level Heavy Weapons Team (60mm or 81mm mortar, AT-4, etc) that may have 2-6 men per weapon(s).

An Infantry Company has three or four Platoons, a Company HQ with a variable number of men, and often a Company Fire Support Team (Mortars, Javelins, MPAD Teams and/or additional HMG teams). There may or may not be a motor transport section and/or an AD section assigned to the Company as well.

As you can see, the larger the unit, the harder it is to guage its actual manpower.

To make matters more hazy, an Armored Platoon consists of four tanks with four men each, including both the Platoon Leader and Platoon NCO, approximately half the personnel of an Infantry Platoon. With Armored Cavalry, you have four tanks, two Bradleys, and two Mechanized mortar carriers and/or ITV's. You may or may not also have a FISTV or other supporting vehicle. The crew-counts on these vehicles vary, especially the Bradleys, which could mount anything from Heavy Infantry to small Scout Sections. You also get a bit of variability with Mechanized Infantry. All this assumes, of course, that the tracks are all present and working (something I'm told is rare among mechanized units).

When running through the DoD .pdf, I had to do a lot of averaging to figure out how many people were actually in any given unit--and that averaging came out to be wildly more than the 40K given in the WaPo article that I had quoted. And while the WaPo article doesn't specifically state that these 40K are all combat units, it is an easy assumption to make: 99% of the Reserve is dedicated to support, logistics, and/or combat support. 52% of the Guard is made up of combat units--more than half of the Army's total fighting strength. In short, if you activate the Guard, it isn't to drive a truck.

The DoD .pdf says that there are 143,714 Guard/Reserve personnel currently deployed to Iraq. The Reserve has exactly NO ground combat units in Iraq (the 100th Infantry Battalion is scattered over the Pacific right now). The same .pdf makes no numerical distinction between combat units and combat support units. You can read which units have been deployed, and make a guess about their size based on their name, but that's about it.

Then there is this: Guard units that are returning from deployment have a period of time where they are standing-down, when they are unavailable for further deployment. I don't know how long that period is (I think it's as much as three months) and so I couldn't factor that in to the total Guard deployment count. The DoD .pdf didn't make any distiction between any of the three deployment types: Whether they were gearing up, already in Iraq, or standing-down. For all I know, they may only have been counting "boots on ground" (and if that's the case, then my tally of trigger-pullers deployed was very rosy by comparison).

To summarize, I initially said that 44% of the Guard's combat units are already deployed. I am told by people in the Guard that that number is probably too low. A harrowing thought indeed.

If anyone who knows about the real timescale of Guard rotations and actual unit manpower could look over this .pdf and fill in the blanks for me, I'd greatly appreciate it. Until then, I'm telling my friends of Draft age (18-26) to dust-off their passports and start looking for countries that don't have extradition treaties with the US (you can forget Canada, btw).


Thursday, June 10, 2004

Yet Another Disconnect

First he says this:
"See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."

Then I read this:
The House Appropriations Energy and Water subcommittee denied the $36 million the administration sought to study the nuclear weapons it says may be needed to confront emerging threats since the end of the Cold War.

And the neo-clowns wonder why people think they're friggin idjits.



I was going to stay out of this whole Ronnie-is-Dead-Week, especially given the fanatical neo-clown love orgy that has erupted over the media since The Gipper went to meet his Maker. But a couple of things came to my attention, and I thought they should be shared.

First, there is this scathing Salon interview with Ron Reagan Jr:

"9/11 gave the Bush people carte blanche to carry out their extreme agenda -- and they didn't hesitate for a moment to use it. I mean, by 9/12 Rumsfeld was saying, 'Let's hit Iraq.' They've used the war on terror to justify everything from tax cuts to Alaska oil drilling."

"But my father was a man -- that's the difference between him and Bush. To paraphrase Jack Palance, my father crapped bigger ones than George Bush."

Reagan says his mother shares his "distrust of some of these [Bush] people. She gets that they're trouble in all kinds of ways. She doesn't like their religious fervor, their aggression."

There's lots of good stuff in there. Do yourself a favor and go read it.

Ghouls in the White House

The next thing that came along was this:
The ads, ordered up by Bush political advisor Karl Rove immediately after Reagan's death last Saturday, use images of Reagan and excerpts from his speeches in what one angry GOP conservative describes as a "callous attempt to tie George W. Bush to the legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan."

Eeyup, those tools are already trying to use Reagan's death to pick up their sagging poll numbers. Tasteful, or...
"They're disgusting," says one long-time Republican who participated in a focus group to preview the new television ads. "They dishonor the memory of Ronald Reagan and if President Bush allows these ads on the air I, for one, will not vote for him in November."

"Ronald Reagan has achieved god-like status among conservative Republicans and you don’t mess with his memory...If they are smart they will pull the plug on the campaign and order the ads destroyed. Unfortunately, the Bush campaign has not yet impressed us with its intelligence."

I would be shocked at ShrubCo's™ ghoulish intentions, but 3½ years of their evil stupidity have left me just as under-whelmed with their intelligence. After all, these are the same goons who have replaced their own reelection website with a twisted hagiography to The Gipper; they have nothing positive to say about themselves. (I'd provide a link to the Bush/Cheney site, but I just can't bring myself to do it.)

The Coattail Effect

So is ShrubCo's™ sudden love-affair with Reagan working to their advantage? It's a little too soon to tell, but not so far:

Gallup, 060804:

The poll, conducted June 3-6, overlapped news of former President Ronald Reagan's death. Some of the results reported here could be affected by this news.

The poll finds Kerry leading Bush in the presidential contest by 49% to 44% among registered voters, and 50% to 44% among likely voters.

LA Times doesn't have a pretty graph, but does show this:
Kerry led Bush by 51% to 44% nationally in a two-way matchup, and by 48% to 42% in a three-way race, with independent Ralph Nader drawing 4%.

The real test will come after Shrub does his eulogy. If he tries to tie himself to Reagan by mentioning "war on terra®" and "freedumb® in Iraq", then expect his numbers to continue diving.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Richard Cohen lays a Smack-down

WaPo wins über-kewl points with Cohen's latest op-ed piece:
It is commonly said that we are a nation of laws, not men. And we are. But beyond the laws, we are also a nation of men and women with a common ethic. Some things are not American. Torture, for damned sure, is one of them.


Um, Yeah, Right...
(Shrub gets burned at his own G-8)

Dumbya™ wants NATO to come rescue his bacon out of his little mess-o'-potamia:
French President Jacques Chirac emphatically rejected the idea. "I do not think that it is NATO's job to intervene in Iraq."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "The concept we've been emphasizing is the role of the United Nations."

Well, that didn't go so well. Oo oo, how'bout we make a whole mess-o'-Demokracy® instead?
The formal text of the plan, released Wednesday, said the G-8 would create a forum for discussions on reform with leaders of business and civil society in the region, among other initiatives. Leaders of key countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco spurned Bush's lunch invitation.

Chirac said the Arab world did not need "missionaries" of democracy. Instead, he said, conflicts such as the long-running struggle between Israelis and Palestinians must be addressed.


Well, not to worry: There's always next ye-- Um, nevermind.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Reposted from Juan Cole:

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Coalition Provisional Authority:
The fact that the Iraqi chicken crossed the road affirmatively demonstrates that decision-making authority has been transferred to the chicken well in advance of the scheduled June 30th transition of power. From now on the chicken is responsible for its own decisions.

We were asked to help the chicken cross the road. Given the inherent risk of road crossing and the rarity of chickens, this operation will only cost the US government $326,004.

Muqtada al-Sadr:
The chicken was a tool of the evil Coalition and will be killed.

US Army Military Police:
We were directed to prepare the chicken to cross the road. As part of these preparations, individual soldiers ran over the chicken repeatedly and then plucked the chicken. We deeply regret the occurrence of any chicken rights violations.

The chicken crossed the road, and will continue to cross the road, to show its independence and to transport the weapons it needs to defend itself. However, in future, to avoid problems, the chicken will be called a duck, and will wear a plastic bill.

1st Cav:
The chicken was not authorized to cross the road without displaying two forms of picture identification. Thus, the chicken was appropriately detained and searched in accordance with current SOP's. We apologize for any embarrassment to the chicken. As a result of this unfortunate incident, the command has instituted a gender sensitivity training program and all future chicken searches will be conducted by female soldiers.

Al Jazeera:
The chicken was forced to cross the road multiple times at gunpoint by a large group of occupation soldiers, according to eye-witnesses. The chicken was then fired upon intentionally, in yet another example of the abuse of innocent Iraqi chickens.

We cannot confirm any involvement in the chicken-road-crossing incident.

Chicken he cross street because bad she tangle regulation. Future chicken table against my request.

U.S. Marine Corps:
The chicken is dead.

To which I would like to add:

Reports that say that the chicken crossed the road are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known chickens; there are chickens we know we know. We also know there are chicken unknowns; that is to say we know there are some chickens we do not know. But there are also unknown chickens — the chickens we don't know we don't know.

(For which he won this award)


Music For America has a great new Asscroft video, from award-winning filmmaker Jason Woliner, up on their site. It's friggin hilarious, although a little disturbing as well. Go check it out! (must have Quicktime to view).


Monday, June 07, 2004

Stretching the Guard
(Some worrisome number crunching, and the Draft)

Reptile pointed out that there are currently 350,000 members in the Army National Guard, and was kind enough to provide links for further information: It seems as if the Guard can easily meet the manpower requirements of Iraq, making the return of The Draft superfluous.

So imagine my continued alarm when I read things like this:
Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday he could not rule out keeping soldiers from the 1st Armored Division in Iraq beyond a previously announced three-month extension.

A heavy armored division--already having served 12 months and extended for three additional months--is now looking at possibly serving another three months in Iraq. This isn't the sort of thing to consider lightly: The fatigue and abuse on men and machines is particularly hard on the sharp end of the spear. Turning a 6-month combat tour into 12 months, then 15 months, and then into a year-and-a-half is truly a desperate measure by any standard: The cost to morale alone can be staggering.

And then there is also this bit of news:
The United States has proposed removing 12,500 of the 37,500 U.S. troops based in South Korea, where for half a century they have guarded against aggression by communist North Korea, the Pentagon said on Monday.

That includes 3,600 men already redeploying to Iraq. This is largely a symbolic force, a way of telling Kim Jong-Il that there isn't any way south without a fight with the US, but it's a very important message. And while the message may be stated with less troops, there is a lower limit to the number of men that can state it: The units there have to be strong enough to survive until they can be reinforced. If they can't hold out, then not only are they consigned to a suicide mission, but they are also tempting Kim Jong-Il into trying the Pearl Harbor scenario: A quick and hard defeat, and maybe the US will sue for peace. I know that won't work for him any more than it did for Tojo, but that doesn't mean a whole lot of people won't die teaching Kim Jong-Il that same lesson (that stumpy little psycho constantly underwhelms me with his intelligence).

But what really sent my spidey-sense tingling was this from WaPo:
With almost 40,000 troops serving in the unexpectedly violent and difficult occupation of Iraq, the National Guard is beginning to show the strain of duty there, according to interviews and e-mail exchanges with 23 state Guard commanders from California to Maine.

That's when I busted out the calculator and did some digging.

The Army Reserve boasts 1,059,468 members. Numbers can be deceiving: Only 211,420 can be considered ready to be activated. Another 116,162 are people who have served some time in the last eight years (and have since moved on, raised families, built civilian careers, etc). The vast majority, 731,185 men and women, have retired and are receiving their pensions.

Furthermore, the Reserve has--get this--only one ground combat unit: The 100th Infantry Battalion, whose 400± soldiers are scattered across Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa. The Reserve also has the 244th Aviation Brigade, which is already in Iraq. In all, about 2,800 men. The rest of the Reserve is made up of training and support units (medics, field artillery, etc). With only 2,400 men to commit to Iraq, and those being in a helo brigade, someone has to be there to put boots on the ground, to kick in the doors and shoot at the bad guys. Guess who that is?

The Army National Guard does indeed have 350,000 men and women able to be activated if needed. However, combat formations make up only 52% of the Guard (182,000 men), with another 17% dedicated to combat support (military intelligence, mp's, etc, coming to 59,500 men and women). That means that 22% of the trigger-pullers are already in Iraq. If you want to relieve those men, you need an equivalent number standing by.

Think about that for a moment: At current levels of deployment, 44% of the National Guard's combat forces are gearing up to go, have just come back, or are currently fighting in Iraq.

40,000 Guardsmen in Iraq means that 40,000 more have to be activated, equipped, and trained to be ready to replace those that rotate back home. So now you have 80,000 men spoken for out of the 241,500 combat and combat support soldiers available. That's 80,000 men who are no longer in the civilian work force and contributing to the economy, men who are no longer able to support their families with their civilian incomes.

You could mobilize even more of the Guard, but every such mobilization adds a burden to the social and economic structure of the US. In short, one has to be very careful every time one thinks of that 350,000 number.

There is still a cushion available to the Guard, but that margin gets thinner every day. The whole purpose of having half your army in reserve is to have something on hand in time of crisis. At current levels, there is no way that the Guard could stop Kim Jong-Il (whose army has 1.2 million men) from acting up.

But war isn't their only duty. The National Guard doubles as the states' militia, and is leaned upon in times of local crisis. Forest fires, hurricanes, floods, tornados, all of the general mayhem that Nature can throw at local communities are all handled by the National Guard. Here in the West, our reliance on the Guard during fire season can't be overstated. Those men and women are needed here, now, and probably forever. Or at least until Nature gives us a break, and climbers stop getting stranded on mountains, and hikers stop getting lost in the forest...you get the idea.

The time to address a crisis is before it becomes one, and that is why HR 163 is moving forward rather than being laughed out of committee. The Draft isn't needed, yet, but it will be if things keep going the way that they are. The WaPo article pointed out that Guard recruiters are meeting resistance from parents because of Iraq, and the Army is losing experienced soldiers that might have otherwise reenlisted.

The men and women of the Army National Guard will do whatever is asked of them without thought to their personal political convictions. They will perform with the same bravery and distinction that they have displayed for over 200 years. But many, like Reptile, fear that draftees won't fight with the same dedication to their fellow soldiers that volunteers have shown. They fear the Draft will actually weaken the Guard, rather than strengthen it.

Unfortunately, the way the numbers are working out, the Guard may soon not have a choice in the matter.

Update: 060904
A large part of these numbers come from a DoD .pdf tally that can be found here. Sorry about the omission.


Thursday, June 03, 2004

And So It Begins...

The US Army has just instituted a "stop-loss" policy for all active, Reserve, and National Guard personnel: If your unit is scheduled to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan, and the end of your service falls within the tour date, you will deploy with that unit and serve the full tour.

Soldiers will be notified 90 days before their units are to deploy, and by policy, all soldiers must then serve with their units until 90 days after they return. If a soldier's scheduled service end date falls within that window, he or she will be forced to serve the entire tour.

Your out-date could be 91 days from now, but instead you're going with your unit for the full tour--at least a full year--and then an additional 90 days to be served when you get back. Since most units get three months training before deploying, and another month to stage in Kuwait, you'd be looking at 19 months of additional service.

Not one stinking month of that will be voluntary.

And remember when I wrote about the IRR? The Inactive Ready Reserve is comprised of thousands of former military members, people who have either retired or moved on in to the civilian world. These are people who have served within the last eight years:

Also, for the first time in more than a decade, the Army is combing through the Individual Ready Reserve, the nation's pool of former soldiers, looking for specialists with critically needed skills. So far, 618 soldiers have been called back to duty under the program.

The neo-clowns already have two talking-points with this issue:
1) It's neccessary to "save soldiers' lives", and
2) It just shows that we "need" the Draft to be reinstated.

I have two talking points as well:
1) You can save more lives--American and Iraqi--by bringing all the soldiers home, and
2) You wouldn't need the Draft if you'd stop waging war for sick political agendas.

Thus are we witness to the still-birth of ShrubCo's™ Freedumb® and Demokracy®: When you force people to serve in combat against their will, that's called "conscription".


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