Author: BooMan

Blame-Shifting Commission Report on Iraq

The American intelligence community was “dead wrong” about Iraq’s weapons arsenal in large part because of an outdated Cold War mentality and a vast, lumbering bureaucracy that continues to shackle dedicated and capable people, a presidential commission said today.

“The intelligence community must be transformed – a goal that would be difficult to meet even in the best of all possible worlds,” the commission said in its report to President Bush. “And we do not live in the best of worlds.”

The commission said the erroneous assumption by intelligence agencies that Saddam Hussein possessed deadly chemical and biological weapons had damaged American credibility before a world audience, and that the damage would take years to undo…

“The C.I.A. and N.S.A. may be sleek and omniscient in the movies, but in real life they and other intelligence agencies are vast government bureaucracies,” the nine-member commission told the president.

New York Times: Free Registration

I don’t buy this “lumbering bureaucracy” excuse. It’s not that I think our intelligence agencies are well coordinated…they’re not.

When Bush Sr. decided to stop the Persian Gulf War, he expected that Saddam Hussein would be toppled in short order. When that did not happen our country got sucked into a containment policy as an ad hoc solution.

We imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, but, ironically, they only served to strengthen Saddam’s hold on power. The sanctions crimped trade in the region, hurting the struggling regional economies. When we developed the oil-for-food program as an attempt to alleviate humanitarian concerns in Iraq, it only invited corruption and skimming by the Ba’athists in power.

Open Thread

“Well, I think if you say you’re going to do something and don’t do it, that’s trustworthiness.”

–Bush in a CNN online chat, Aug.30, 2000.

Humanity in the Face of War

Soon after five in the morning, on Thursday, 19 November (1942), the telephone rang in the Sixth Army headquarters. The operations staff were housed in Golubinsky, a large Cossack village on the right bank of the Don. Outside, it had started to snow, which, combined with freezing fog, prevented sentries from seeing more than a few yards.

The call was from Lieutenant Gerhard Stock, the javelin gold-medallist with the Romanian IV Corps on the Kletskaya sector. His message was logged in the war diary: ‘According to the statement of a Russian officer captured in the area of the 1st Romanian Cavalry Division, the expected attack should start today at five o’clock’. Since there was still no other sign of the offensive starting, and it was after five, the duty officer did not wake up the Army Chief of Staff. From: Stalingrad- The Fateful Seige: 1942-1943 by Antony Beever, Viking (1998).

At 5:20 am, the Soviets opened up their first barrage of artillery and mortar fire. Operation Uranus was underway and the tide of World War Two had suddenly turned irrevocably against the German Empire.

The Germans had been laying siege to Stalingrad since August 23rd, the ‘day which never be forgotten’. Luftwaffe aircraft dropped hundreds of incendiary bombs, burning nearly all the wooden structures to the ground and leaving thousands buried in rubble. But, in the intervening three months, the Germans had been unable to dislodge the dogged defenders of the city and force them to retreat across the Volga.

Meanwhile Stalin had been quietly building up his forces for a counterattack. The Soviets charged into the German lines south of Stalingrad and into the Romanian lines that were stretched out to the West along the River Don. Soon the entire Sixth Army of the Third Reich was encircled in a Kessel. Over a quarter million Axis soldiers were cut off from their land supply routes and winter was setting in.

What followed was one of the worst catastrophes in military history, and an example of human suffering on an almost unimaginable scale.

The Axis forces were spread out on the Steppe where very few trees grow. The ground soon froze so solidly that even raging fires could not soften the ground enough to dig bunkers or foxholes for shelter against the whipping winds and protection against artillery fire and aerial bombardment.

:::Read more:::

50 Biggest Republican Douchebags for Freedom

With apologies to my mother. I promised her I wouldn’t be stridently partisan. So, I’ll just get this out of my system, and I promise to behave myself from now on.

1. Robert “Bob” Novak TRAITOR
2. George “Dubya” Bush CHIMP
3. Richard “Dick” Cheney PUPPY KILLER
4. Tom DeLay BUG KILLER
5. John Ashcroft CROONER
6. Denny Hastert PIG WRESTLER
7. Douglas Feith TRAITOR
8. Ann Coulter LIBERALS ARE TERRORISTS
9. Rush Limbaugh BIG FAT IDIOT
10. Bill O’Leilly FALAFEL IN THE SHOWER
11. Rick Santorum FECAL MATTER
12. Karl Rove GOEBBELS
13. Zell Miller BENEDICT ARNOLD
14. Sean Hannity LYING SCUM
15. Jerry Falwell BLAMES AMERICA FIRST, REALLY REALLY FIRST
16. Pat Robertson AGREES WITH FALWELL
17. Richard Perle SATAN’S MINION
18. Clarence Thomas SLAP THIS IN THE VCR, OR WAS IT A BETA?
19. Katherine Harris CRUELLA DeVIL
20. Newt Gingrich I CAN’T BE WITH A WOMAN WHO HAS CANCER
21. Ralph Reed DRUNK FRAT-BOY HYPOCRITE, SOUND FAMILIAR?
22. Phyllis Schafly RABID NUTCASE
23. Sen. Jim Inhofe OUTRAGED BY THE OUTRAGE
24. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave GAYS ARE TERRORISTS
25. Condoleezza Rice YES SIR, IT SURE SOUNDS LIKE A TERRIBLE PILOT

In Honor of Johnny Cochran

I present an explanation of the Chewbacca Defense.

Chewbacca Defense

by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, @06:22PM from Slashdot.com.

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are huge Star Wars fans. There have been several Chewbacca references on the show.

In the “Chef Aid” episode, Chef is accused of trying to steal the song “Stinky Britches,” which he really wrote many years ago. The record company takes Chef to court, and they hire Johnny Cochran to prosecute Chef. The whole town is wondering if he will use his famous “Chewbacca Defense,” which he used during the O.J. Simpson trial. Here’s a transcript:

Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider: (pulling down a diagram of Chewie) this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk, but Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now, think about that. That does not make sense! (jury looks shocked)

Why would a Wookiee — an eight foot tall Wookiee — want to live on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense!

Listen to the Chewbacca Defense

This is offered in the spirit of fun, not disrespect for an accomplished American attorney.

:::Read More:::

Falwell Hospitalized in Critical Condition, With Viral Pneumonia

“LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP)- The Rev. Jerry Falwell was hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday, battling his second case of viral pneumonia in just five weeks, hospital and church officials said.

Falwell, 71, was admitted to Lynchburg General Hospital shortly before midnight Monday suffering from “respiratory arrest,” the hospital said in a statement.

He was put on a ventilator and stabilized but remained in critical condition, the hospital said.

“He’s resting comfortably and in stable condition ,” said Ron Godwin, Falwell’s executive assistant. “It’s a recurrence of the viral pneumonia.”
Yahoo:emphasis mine.

Meeting of 2nd Iraqi Assembly Breaks Down

“People on the street are counting on us,” said Hussein al-Sadr, a moderate Shiite cleric who is a member of the Iraqi List, the slate formed by Ayad Allawi, the interim prime minister. “What are we going to tell the people who went to vote on Jan. 30?”

Indeed. And what is the Right-Wing Media Circus going to tell the American people about the wonders of the purple-finger election?

The second meeting of the new Iraqi constitutional assembly descended into a series of contentious exchanges today, as some members accused others of hijacking the political process and betraying the Iraqi people by failing to form a government.

Prominent politicians also said in interviews that the delay in forming a government could force the assembly to take an extra half-year to write the permanent constitution, pushing the deadline for a first draft well beyond the original target date of Aug. 15…

The anger boiled over into a shouting match today and showed the fiery tensions that are rising as the main political parties fail to reach an agreement to form a coalition government, more than two months after Iraqi voters defied insurgent threats to vote in the first free elections here in a half-century.

And lest anyone think that the difficulty of forming a government is primarily ethnic or religious, the following makes clear that greed and mistrust are the driving factors:

Before the meeting began, leading politicians said in interviews that all the sides were close to agreeing on a new government, but were haggling over posts. One of the most contentious jobs is that of oil minister. The Shiites and Kurds are each vying for the position, said Saad Jawad Qindeel, an assembly member and a representative of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a prominent Shiite party.

“The negotiation regarding this is held up, is frozen,” he said.

The meeting of the Iraqi constitutional assembly intended to appoint a speaker today. They were unable to do so, primarily because the leading candidate, Sheik Ghazi al-Yawer, a Sunni, took his name out of the running. Another Sunni, Fawaz al-Jabar, may become the new leading candidate.

If there is one positive in all this, it is the continued recognition on the part of Sistani’s dominate faction, that efforts must be made to compromise and that the viability of a new government will depend on inclusiveness. Yet, the longer the formation of the government is delayed, the more problematic the roadmap, and the longer before we’ll see a draw down of U.S. troops in Iraq.

The 275-member National Assembly is working on a tight timetable. It is supposed to have a draft of the constitution ready by August, though a measure in the transitional law approved a year ago allows the president and two vice-presidents to ask for a six-month extension. If the assembly adheres to the original schedule, then full-term elections would be held at the end of the year.
New York Times: Free Registration

When Religion and Paranoia Interfere With Medicine…

KANO, Nigeria — Accusations by Islamic preachers that vaccines are part of an American anti-Islamic plot are threatening efforts to combat a measles epidemic that has killed hundreds of Nigerian children, health workers say.

Government officials play down the anti-vaccine sentiment, but all the measles deaths have been in Nigeria’s north, where authorities had to suspend polio immunizations last year after hard-line clerics fanned similar fears of that vaccine.

Nigeria, whose 130 million people make it Africa’s most populous nation, has recorded 20,859 measles cases so far this year. At least 589 victims have died, most of them children younger than 5 and all in the north, the Nigerian Red Cross and the U.N. World Health Organization say.

Southern Nigeria, which is mainly Christian, had only 253 measles cases, and no deaths.
Chicago Sun-Times

It appears that the United States has no monopoly on anti-science zealots.