Saturday, February 25

The Dubai Debacle, Iraq and the Senate

Well, I've been away from the keyboard for a couple days and all hell's a bustin' loose. (With a hearty tip of the Hat to KISS) .

First you've got GOPers running from the President like rat-fuckers desserting a burning ship on the Dubai Debacle. It even looks like Homeland Security objected, Micheal Chertoff didn't know and John Snow was AWOL on the deal to sell six - no, wait make that Twenty-ONE - U.S. Ports to DPW. Rassmussen's latest poll shows that only 17% of Americans support the Dubai Deal. John Podheretz is about to burst a blood-vessel as he notes that Democrats are now polling better than the President (43 to 41%) on National Security. Oi Vey!

It looks to me like people are starting to wake-up to the reality that indescriminate torture and illegal spying on innocent American citizens does not make you tough guy on terrorism when you literally give the keys to the kindom away to the ownwer of one of Bin Laden's favorite Bed and Breakfast outfits.

Presidential Puppeteer Karl "Turd-blossom" Rove can see the writing on the rapidly approaching wall and is back-peddling furiously, but the Pentagon and NSA head Stephan Hadley are diggin in. This is gonna get messy folks.

Speaking of National Security nightmares, the readiness of Iraqi troops is actually going in reverse - From CNN:

Pentagon: Iraqi troops downgraded
No Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support

The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.

The battalion, made up of 700 to 800 Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the U.S. as an example of the growing independence of the Iraqi military.

The competence of the Iraqi military has been cited as a key factor in when U.S. troops will be able to return home.

It's gotten so bad that even Bully O'Leily when he's not trying to get Keith Olberman fired, has decided to join the ranks of the "cowards and traitors" such as Howard Dean, John Murtha, and William F. Buckley and is now calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq
During the February 20 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly suggested that the United States "hand over everything to the Iraqis as fast as humanly possible" because "[t]here are so many nuts in the country -- so many crazies -- that we can't control them." O'Reilly then claimed that the "big mistake" was actually "the crazy-people underestimation."
Meanwhile, Sen Rockefeller is calling Bullshit on CIA Director Porter Goss's latest conniption fit over NSA leaking since the Vice-Presidents Office has been leaking like a week-old pair of Depends(tm) for years.
I am surprised and puzzled, however, that Director Goss chose to lay the blame for this damage on what he describes as misguided whistleblowers. Clearly "leaks" and damaging revelations of intelligence sources and methods are generated primarily by Executive Branch officials pushing a particular policy, and not by the rank-and-file employees of the intelligence agencies.

For confirmation we need look no further than press reports from the past few days. On February 9th, the National Journal reported that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby told a grand jury that he was "authorized" by Vice President Cheney and other White House superiors to disclose classified information from a National Intelligence Estimate to the press to defend the Administration's use of pre-war intelligence in making the case to go to war in Iraq.

This blatant abuse of intelligence information for political purposes is inexcusable, but all too common. Throughout the period leading up to the Iraq war the Administration selectively declassified or leaked information related to Iraq's acquisition of aluminum tubes, the alleged purchase uranium, the non-existent operational connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, and numerous other issues.

All of this has Harry Reid ready to do the Happy Dance in Nevada.

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that if midterm elections were held today Democrats would win the five seats they need to draw even in the Senate, due largely to the Bush administration's "general incompetence" at home and abroad. [...]

Reid said polls show Democrats winning Republican-held seats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, Missouri and Rhode Island.

"And we have good shots in Arizona and Tennessee," he said. "If elections were held today, we'd pick up five seats. The Senate would be 50-50. "

Perhaps by November we'll be looking at picking up more than five seats in the Senate.... and perhaps 15 to 20 in the House. Not a bad week, IMO.


Wednesday, February 22

The DP World Wig Out - Obscuring the Obvious

This week has certainly been an active one for the Bush Administration, following closely on the heels of Shotgate, and the scathing Katrina Report has come the revelation that Dubai Ports World will be taking over the operation of six U.S. Ports.

Congress has threated to blocked the sale, even Republicans, and Bush responded with his second veto threat ever (his first of course being his threat to veto anti-torture legislation).

But the question few people are asking is - does any of this furor over DPW really matter, or is it just more bread and circuses while embers of Rome begin to smolder?

Look guys, the problem with the port sales isn't the fact that the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will gain control and access to America.

The current company operating the ports is foreign (British). The employees are still going to be American. Any foreign employees would still have to get a Visa and go through immigration.

This is simply a sale of one international company to another. No big deal.

The good news is that port security itself will still be handled by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs.

The bad news is that both the Coast Guard and Customs have been made part of the Homeland Security Dept under Michael Chertoff. (Yes, "Oh Shit" indeed)

The fact is that Homeland Security is a total fucking disaster, and has been for some time. We got a big honking wiff of the DHS stench during Katrina, we're sure to get another nose full before much longer.

Long before the Department was created, former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clark wrote in "Against All Enemies" that even Tom Ridge didn't support the idea of creating the Department of Homeland Security.

I believed that adept White House coordination and leadership could get the many agencies all working on components of a consistent overall [domestic security] program. As a career civil servant wih almost thirty years' experience in Washington headquarters, I believed that the alternative method, rewiring the organizational boxes [into the Dept of Homeland Security] would make us less able to deal with domestic security and preparedness for years to come. The smaller mergers that created the Energy Department and the Transportation Department had taken years to jell. [Tom] Ridge agreed and told me. "The last thing we need to do now is reorganize and create a new department."

Unfortunately, "create a new department" is exactly what they did -- no thanks largely to Sen. Joe Leiberman who drafted the legislation needed.

People are getting off-track, and frankly behaving in a borderline racist manner in their assumption that DPW is some kind of terrorist front organization. That simply isn't true. Long before 9/11 the UAE supported moves made by the Clinton Administration against al Qaeda and the Taliban. They closed their airports to travel from Ariana Airlines (the primary carrier for Afghanistan). They helped the U.S. broker and negotiate with the Taliban and did so in far better faith than the Saudis. No, the Taliban didn't listen and expell Bin Laden, but the point is that the UAE was clearly on our side in the discussion.

The U.S. Navy has been using the port of Dubai as a veritable base for years. The Dubai port is the only one in the entire Persian Gulf with the capability of handling aircraft carriers.

The truth is, just like with China, creating an economic inter-relationship with the Arab world means that they become invested in our well being. If our ports get damaged they could potentially lose $billions -- and that's one primary reason why they won't let that happen. It's in their best interest to protect their investment.

DP World isn't the problem, even Jimmy Carter says so and he certainly hasn't gone out of his way to support Bush lately.

But Bush and Chertoff certainly aren't going to fix the problem (Homeland Security) - they are instead going to try and slam home this deal because it looks good in the right columns of the ledger books and is going to make Treasury Secretary John Snow $Millions.

Bush shouldn't block this sale because the UAE is an Arab nation, and it might make our ports less safe -- they already aren't safe, that's just par for the course -- he should block it because it's completely improper for Secreatary Snow to have been head of the committe overseeing this sale when he stands to gain so much from it financially.

It's called Conflict of Interest.

But, being as bullheaded as he's always been - Bush is going to certainly do the wrong thing. Congress will fight for a while and then cave just as they always do. John Snow with get rich(er), and we'll lose nothing that we didn't already have barely a shadow of - other than our delusions of security. Being the barely closeted racists and theocrats they are Bush's Base is going ballistic over this. It's also interesting to note, as has Glenn Greenwald, that Republicans in Congress seem to have completely reversed themselves - last week people like Pat Roberts were claiming the President Article II powers for Foreign relations and national security were absolute -- now suddenly he has to have to have Congressional approval on a Foreign relations issue? Not to mention that many of the Republicans barking the loudest have been fighting the hardest against toughening port security for years.

Hypocrisy much?

As a results we -- and by "we" I mean both Dems and Repubs of the reasonable stripe - are gaining a clearer and clearer picture of just how callous and tone-deaf President Bush is when there's a profit to be made, and I do consider that to be one for the Win column of the Reality-Based community.

The only thing that could mess things up for us politically is if Bush actually grows a brain and stops the sale - yeah, I know - Fat Chance.

So, Let Bush be Bush, and let us make sure we hammer this cluster-fuckup of naked-greed, cronyism and incompetence home this coming November.

The revolution will not be televised - it'll be a Podcast.