Saturday, August 11

What's Next for Iraq? How 'bout a Draft?

And I'm not talking about a Stout Beer! From the second best site in the World (DKos being first) - Thinkprogress.

Yesterday, Bush’s "war czar," Gen. Doug Lute, told NPR that "it makes sense to certainly consider" a military draft and that it "has always been an option on the table." Americans Against Escalation in Iraq has produced a video that puts Lute’s comments into context with the administration’s plan to stay in Iraq for "a nine or ten year endeavour." Watch it:




Continued Gen Patreas has also argued that...

I don't know whether this will be decades, but average counter-insurgency is somewhere around a 9 or 10 year endeavor.

Decades? Is he talking about the Boer War here?

There has long been the argument that Bush dropped the ball on Iraq right from the start by ignoring Gen. Shinseki who based on our past experience with Bosnia argued that we would need several hundred thousand soldiers to control Iraq in Feb or 2003.

"Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We’re talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that’s fairly significant with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so, it takes significant ground force presence to maintain safe and secure environment to ensure that the people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this." [Sen. Armed Services Committee testimony, 2/25/03]

He of course, was attacked unmercifully for making such a obviously crazy suggestion.

"A senior Pentagon official dismissed General Shinseki’s comments as ‘bullshit from a Clintonite enamored of using the army for peacekeeping and nation-building and not winning wars.’" [Village Voice, 3/19/03]

And then he was tossed off the bus.

"For the past two years Gen Shinseki has been in total eclipse after what appears to have been the most spectacular bust-up with his civilian bosses, in particular Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary. ... he had already been turned into a lame duck (‘castrated’, according to the same Pentagon source) by the apparently unprecedented Rumsfeld decision to announce his successor 18 months in advance." [Guardian, 3/29/03]

One might argue that having a sufficiently overwhelming force just might quell the ethnic strife and violence that has raged their over the past year - but wouldn't we basically be fully taking on the role of occupiers.

The Soviet Union used similar methods to maintain control of the former Yugoslavia and it was after they withdrew that internal tensions flared to create the Bosnian War. The reality is that it's far too late to go down this path for Iraq, considering how well the current Surge has worked (or not), what is desperately needed is not a Super-Surge of troops to feed into the maw - but a Diplomatic Surge.

All of the various factions and leaders in the region need to be brought to the table in an intensive round of talks to work out their differences and a cease fire called. We Need to CALL A SUMMIT, preferably somewhere outside Iraq - on neutral ground so that those involved in negotiations won't be afraid for their own safety.

That's the only way out of this Mess-O-Potamia, it just isn't likely to happen until Bush is out of the White House.

Vyan

Friday, August 10

Gitmo Lawyers Challenge FISA Bill in Court

Today From Thinkprogress.

Yesterday, lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees asked a federal judge in San Francisco to invalidate the recently-passed FISA law that lets the Bush administration conduct warrantless surveillance on suspected terrorists without first getting court-approved warrants.

"We are asking your honor, as swiftly as possible, to declare this statute unconstitutional," said Michael Avery, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights. ... "Neither Congress nor the president has the power to repeal the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirements," Avery said.

Oh boy, it's on now.

In full disclosure, I have to say that this new court move doesn't necessarily surprise me. I even wondered if this might have been part of the rationale for some Dems, when you look at what happened the last time Congress completely rolled over with the Military Commissions Act less than a year ago.

Yeah, ok, maybe that is just wishful thinking.

But following their defeat on the Hamdan V Rumsfeld case, the MCA was rushed through Congress and since then the administration has lost a major decision concerning "right " to hold someone indefinitely without charges before the 4th Circuit Appeals Court, and then two separate Military Judges ruled that the commissions have no jurisdiction to try detainees.

That's Game, Set and Match on the MCA.

So I would say that the overall track record of the Gitmo Attorneys is pretty good despite the fact the ACLU's own FISA case was thrown out since the petitioners couldn't "Prove that they had been illegally spied" upon.

Even though the plaintiffs alleged a well-founded fear that their communications were subject to illegal surveillance, the court dismissed the case because plaintiffs could not state with certainty that they had been wiretapped by the National Security Agency.

BTW how exactly do you prove that a secret government program is specifically spying on you? If they are breaking the law and hiding behind "National Security" how exactly do you catch them without committing "treason?"

But that issue isn't really a problem for the Gitmo attorney's.

In CCR v. Bush, the Center is arguing that the government’s surveillance jeopardizes its ability to represent Gitmo clients. CCR reports that it has engaged in thousands of telephone calls and e-mails with people outside the United States in the course of its representation.

The Center writes, "Given that the government has accused many of CCR’s overseas clients of being associated with Al Qaeda or of being of interest to the 9/11 investigation, there is little question that these attorneys fall within the likely range of victims of the NSA Surveillance Program."

In their case, it's not a matter of thinking their clients "might" be associated with al Qaeda - they already have been.

Anthony Coppolino, a special counsel to the Justice Department, refused to rebut the challenge to the new law. Copppolino offered this defense: "It’s possible that their clients were and it’s possible that their clients were not" spied on.

With the previous decision by Federal Judge Ann Diggs Taylor that the NSA program as it existed was clearly and obviously illegal and violated the 1st and 4th Amendments already on the books, this decision shouldn't be a difficult one. And Judge Taylor wasn't alone.

A separate federal district court in San Francisco had previously rejected the administration’s argument that the courts could not hear the case due to a "state secrets" privilege.

Taken together these previous decisions lay a road map that just might not take that long for DC Circuit Federal Judge Vaughn Walker to navigate and immediately bring the implementation of this new FISA law to a screeching halt.

But then again, it might take some time. Either way, I'm optimistic - very optimistic.

The right wing will of course attempt to spin this into Dems "Not having the stomach to fight the war on Terror" but we have to push back and point out that this isn't about not wanting to listen to terrorists, it's about protecting innocent people from having their lives intruded upon and being mistakenly caught up in the terror web as people such as Maher Arar and Abu Omar have. Both of whom were innocent, yet mistakenly detained, then rendered to foreign a government where they were tortured. Or AP photographer Bilal Hussein whose been held by U.S. Forces in Iraq for months without explanation or charges just like the other 14,000 people that the U.S. is holding worldwide as "Security Threats."

If they are guilty of something - charge them and prove it in a regularly convened court - otherwise let 'em go.

Although Mitt Romney might be unaware of it, surprise - surprise, we already have been going into friendly countries without their permission and knowledge and snatching people up. (That's what happened to Omar and the Italian government now has warrants issued for 19 members of the CIA "Grab Team" who did it) At a certain point we really need to make sure these are the right people, and that the wrong people - the rest of us - are reasonable protected from being illegally and unconstitutionally spied upon or mistakenly suffering this fate.

Vyan

Thursday, August 9

Surge Suppression and the Premature Al-Anbur Happy Dance

"The Surge is Working - the Surge is Working" is the rallying cry that has begun to buzz louder and louder among the Bush's right-wing supporters as reports continue of decreased violence in the Al-Anbar province of Iraq.

Good news?

One would think so, but is it the beginning of trend, the result of some good luck and positive circumstances or simply a shifting of the battle-front to other areas?

And more importantly : what, if anything, does this bode for the continuing political meltdown in Iraq?

Speaking on CNN two Democratic Senators, Dick Durbin and Bob Casey, decided to spend their August vacation in Iraq and find out exactly what really going on down there.

They stated, to the delight and glee of the right-wing, that our "troops are making progress".

Red State: "Well, lo and behold, Democratic Senators Durbin (the #2 ranking Democrat in the Senate) and Casey, after actually visiting Iraq, now admit that the surge is, in fact, making precisely the military progress that Senator Reid declared to be impossible."

Power Line: Some Democrats have noticed that the "surge" is producing results on the ground in Iraq

National Review: Dick Durbin says the surge is "making real progress"

But unfortunately for the wingers, that's not all they said.

There were two important parts of this story, the military part as Senator [Bob] Casey said, where men and women were doing their best and making real progress. [...]

But I have to tell you there’s another side to this story...As we are seeing military progress, the political scene is very discouraging. We are seeing this al Maliki government, which was once branded the government of unity, coming apart. We see Shia’s leaving, Sunnis walking out. It’s not the kind of promise that we want in terms of bringing stability to this country.

We have to recall that the entire point of the surge wasn't to provide stability in Al-Anbar, it was to establish stability in Baghdad and give the Iraqi Parliament some "breathing room."

According to the White House's Fact Sheet on the New Strategy from this past April.

  • The New Strategy Recognizes That Our Top Priority Must Be To Help Iraq’s Leaders Secure Their Population, Especially In Baghdad. Until the Iraqi people have a basic measure of security, they will not be able to make political and economic progress.
  • Baghdad Was The Site Of Most Of The Sectarian Violence In Iraq And Is The Destination For Most Of Our Reinforcements. Three additional American brigades have reached the Iraqi capital, while another is in Kuwait preparing to deploy to Iraq and one more will arrive next month.

It can and has been successfully argued that violence in Anbar is indeed down significantly according to Military experts on the ground.

Speaking from Iraq via satellite, Major General Walter Gaskin made the type of absolute statements most commanders try to avoid. "I believe we have turned the corner," he said.

To support his view, General Gaskin said there were 98 violent incidents in al-Anbar Province during the past week, compared to more than 400 during the same week a year ago. He showed a chart, indicating that is part of a new trend in the province, and he credited local leaders for making decisions and taking actions to oppose terrorists and support the Iraqi government and coalition forces. "This is a stark departure from historic norms. Something significant has changed from previous years. We have broken the cycle of violence," he said.

Despite these encouraging claims the overall level of violence remains high. Despite a momentary dip in June to as I mentioned earlier this week in response to the Yearlykos Sgt.

the(Iraqi) casualty count went down from 1,941 the previous month to a measly 1,251 in June. The unfortunate fact is that in July they went back up again to 1,621. You can call that "progress" if you consider doing the hokey-pokey (2 steps forward, one step back) to be "progress."

And some indications are that the body count may continue to rise in August.

"Four U.S. military personnel and a British soldier have been killed in attacks [in Iraq], military officials said yesterday, raising the number of U.S. deaths in August to 19 in a possible sign that extremists are regrouping after a decline in U.S. casualties last month."

The question then is, if the violence in Anbar is down so greatly - why haven't we seen that drop reflected in the overall death toll across the country? Could it be that the insurgency and sectarian strife haven't been quelled, it's simply moved somewhere else - like - Baghdad?

But U.S. commanders say that rogue Shiite militias have stepped into the gap left as Sunni insurgents have been pushed back, and are now responsible for most attacks on Americans in Baghdad and surrounding districts. Such a trend would elevate fears that Iraqi forces are not yet able to maintain security even when insurgents are beaten back. Large numbers of Iraqi police are believed also to hold allegiances to Shiite militia groups.

The spike in deaths comes as the overall number of U.S. troops in Iraq has temporarily peaked at its all-time high - nearly 162,000 - as new units arrive to replace those on the way out, the Pentagon said.

U.S. officials also have warned that militants might try for spectacular attacks before a high-level military and diplomatic assessment in September on U.S. strategies in Iraq and what’s needed in the months ahead.

There is also the arguement that the strategy used to achieve success in Anbar may be undermining the Iraqi Government and fueling the battle elsewhere.

On Anderson Cooper’s show later in the evening, CNN Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware, who spoke live on a night scope camera while embedded with troops responded to "the vice president’s evaluation" of progress in Iraq, calling it "sleight of hand." "Yeah, sectarian violence is down, but let’s have a look at that," said Ware. "More than two million people have fled this country. 50,000 are still fleeing every month, according to the United Nations. So there’s less people to be killed. And those who stay, increasingly are in ethnically-cleansed neighborhoods. They’ve been segregated."

Ware also responded to Brookings Institution analysts Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack’s recent New York Times op-ed offering a sunny appraisal of progress in Iraq, calling the report "very one dimensional." "It doesn’t look at what’s been done to achieve this and what long term sustainability there is," said Ware. "I mean, these guys unfortunately were only in the country for eight days."

In order to achieve the small victories that O’Hanlon and Pollack cherry-picked for their column, America is actually undermining the Iraqi government, according to Ware. "What America needs to come clean about is that it’s achieving these successes by cutting deals, primarily, with its enemies," he said.

"By achieving these successes, America is building Sunni militias," said Ware. "Yes, they’re targeting al Qaeda, but these are also anti-government forces opposed to the very government that America created."

Even Defense Secretary Gates is not exactly sounding optimistic.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates acknowledged Thursday that the Bush administration underestimated the difficulty of getting a political truce in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s government has been crippled by a walkout by Sunni Arab ministers.

And the Bush Admin's confidence in Maliki to "get 'er done" seems to be waning.

Iraq’s political crisis is worsening as Sunni ministers have completely abandoned the government. Allegations have long persisted about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s connections to Shiite militias, and regime is quickly crumbling from a lack of political effectiveness.

QUESTION: But do you think — you’re not as vested in most places like you are in Iraq. So are you still confident in al- Maliki’s leadership?

MCCORMACK: Look, there’s a lot at stake, absolutely, for the Iraqi people, for the future of the Middle East. And Prime Minister Maliki is the person that was elected by the Iraqi people to lead Iraq. And we’re working closely with him. [...]

QUESTION: It’s kind of conspicuous that you’re not willing to say that you’re confident in him, even if you’re standing by his side.

MCCORMACK: You know, again, it’s not a matter of getting the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval from the United States government or any other government. Ultimately, this government has to act on behalf of the Iraqi people.

Without a quorum, the Iraqi government isn't going to decide anything, period. So how long are our soldiers supposed to stand around getting shot and bombed in the meantime with their thumbs up their asses?

Although there may have been some transitory successes in Anbar, the real goal of the surge which is to help stabilize the entire nation remains a very long - long - way off.

It is often said that those of us on the center/left have such a hatred of Bush that we will refuse to admit anything positive that he's done or accomplished. As O'Reilly last night asked a IVAW representative last night.

Q: If the surge worked, would that be a good thing?

A: That's a very loaded question.

Indeed it is, but I'm willing to state openly that, generally speaking, it's a good thing that violence is down in Al-Anbar.

You hear that O'Reilly!

But It would be a good thing - no, a better thing, to see violence down all over the country. It would be a better thing to see the Iraqi Parliament begin to come together and work for the betterment of their country. It would be a better thing for the Iraqi Military to finally stand up so that we don't have to use Sunni Insurgents as a surrogate police force as we are in Al-Anbar. It would be a better thing to use real diplomacy to have a series of Summit Meetings between Maliki, key Iraqi parliament members, militia leaders and yes, even some insurgent leader who are willing to lay down their arms, to hammer out the broad outlines of an agreement for a cease fire so that both U.S. and Iraqi troops could actually focus on fighting Al-Qaeda - but that isn't likely to happen with this President.

At least, not anytime soon.

Just because we've seen one good thing after five years of this pointless, uneccesary, unprovoked war - doesn't mean any of us should be jumping for joy or doing the Snoopy Dance. Our standards and desperationg for "victory" hasn't sunken that low - not yet.

Vyan

Wednesday, August 8

Guns N Roses - Coma

P.S. Fuck BIll O'Reilly

What's Wrong with America?

is the fact that it usually turns a blind and callous eye to the trials and tribulations such as this former LTV worker and his family.

QUESTION: After 34 years with LTV Steel I was forced to retire because of a disability. Two years later, LTV filed bankruptcy. I lost a third of my pension and my family lost their health care.

Every day of my life I sit at the kitchen table across from the woman who devoted 36 years of her life to my family and I can’t afford to pay for her health care. What’s wrong with America and what will you do to change it?


What's Wrong? America doesn't care Mr. Skarva. Oh, we like to pretend to - but when the time comes and we have to decide priorities - time and time again we focus on our own personal issues and interests, we don't look up and see the suffering of those around us and wonder how can we help? How might even my own problems be better if I had a helping hand when I needed it?

No, that's not what America is right - but it could be, if we first choose to look up from our own navel and see the face of our neighbor, our brother, our sister, our mom , our dad and our children staring back at us.

Vyan

Tuesday, August 7

Juan Williams Defends YearlyKos on Faux - and Wins?

Watch video


Last night on the O'Lielly Factor we had Episode #527.3 in the never ending saga of how the "Far Left Hate-Monger Blogosphere Ultra-Liberals" are leading the Democrat (sic) Party and it's Candidates around by the nose at Yearlykos.

It's something we've seen a thousand times, with the sneering moderator (Michelle Malkin), the firey True Conservative with the wind at their back (Rick Moran) and the weak, mealy mouthed Faux-macrat (Juan Williams) who is preordained to lose every significant point. The script is set and everybody plays their part in laying out their little psycho-drama for the O'Reilly blue-hairs.

But this time something different happened. Williams actually Won.

As Al Franken so wonderfully described in his book "Lies and Lying Liars" watching Faux Noise is a lot like going to a Harlem Globe-Trotters game.

The Conservatives are always the "Home Team" - who always win - while the (usually fake) Democrats high-lighted on Fox are always the Washington Generals who just can't seem to get their act together, fumbling and stumbling while the Trotters dunk, whirl and spin around, through and over them as if they were mired in molasses. Either that or they're weak-kneed surrender monkeys who finally concede whatever fantasitigorimical point the Cons are trying to make.

But Not. This. Time.

It started out normal enough as Malkin tossed the first slow-pitch at Moran (who she also happened to reveal is the comment moderator on her site as well as the head of the Pajamas Media video crew who were "covering" the event).

Malkin: Would you agree that Edwards and Hillary were the "Prom King and Queen" of the Nutroots Convention?

Yeah, that's right, she oh-so-uncleverly slipped in "Nutroots", I listened to it multiple times just to be sure.

Yuk yuk, that Malkin sure is a wit.

A half-wit, but a wit.

Moran himself, did a great job of tripping over himself with his response.

Well, Hillary would certainly like to think so. Certainly Edwards was the most popular - um, uh, - candidate there in terms of the applause meter is concerned.

Ok, Edwards most popular - got it. Except that Moran decided to argue with himself with his next sentence.

I thought Denise Kucinich, the other Far-Left Democrat (as compared to who?) who was there, probably was more popular than Hillary - that was my impression anyway.

Uh, what? Let me get this straight, Hillary thinks she's popular but really isn't compared to Edwards - but then Kucinich is more popular than she is, and I suppose Edwards is, or something.

I guess they haven't completely worked out the Hillary is a Far-Lefty and therefore the Far-Left must love her, except for all the other people they like better - like Obama, Edwards and even Gore!

According to the results of this Dkos Poll on who won the Yearlykos Presidential Debate, currently (after 600 votes) Edwards wins it handily with 37%, Barack is in second with 27%, Hillary is in third with 17% and Kucinich is in a distant fourth with 5%.

It's amazing to me that this guy actually attended Yearlykos and didn't event notice that we don't really like the Hillary very much. Simply stunning.

Just look at some of these diaries.

Now we know that this Moran character isn't exactly the sharpest fork in the drawer if he hasn't noticed the enormous ambivalence for Hillary among the Netroots over her Iraq War Vote. I should know, I've tried to defend her vote here on Kos and it wasn't pretty.

Then you had Malkin's next leading question.

Malkin: Did you see a lot of "9-11 Truth" types, y'know the conspiracy theorists?

Moran: No, no. I've made a point of asking a lot of people - a lot of the bloggers there - these are not really - I wouldn't say radical leftists in the sense that they - uh - they're conspiracy mongerers and so forth. These are the mainstream netroots. Which is still far-left, but not way out there like the truthers,

Malkin: Mmm

Yeah, well that might be because presenting conspiracy theories on Kos is a bannable offense. But let's not belabor - y'know - The FAQ. Nice, sleuthy detective work on your part there - Moran.

They of course, as I expected, had to mention the Sergaent Aguina kerfuffle and announce that the Moran will have an exclusive interview with him on The Factor tomorrow. Oh joy.

Then she, finally, turned to Juan.

Malkin: I take it you don't think it was a mistake for these Presidential Candidates to go to this convention?

Williams: Not at all, gosh, in fact it's part of the media landscape right now. It's part of American politics, what goes on, on the blogosphere. "Michellemalkin.com". In fact, what you see there is often cutting edge in terms of the debate that helps shape the policies and determines who's going to be the winning candidate on both Republican and Democratic tickets this year.

So far so good - in fact, maybe a little too good as Malkin narrowed in.

Malkin: "Cutting edge" is that your euphemism for "Radical and "Hate-Mongering", because in fact if you are a regular consumer of the Kos website you know that that's exactly the stuff that "they traffic in" there?

Oh, brother - here it comes.

Williams: I don't agree. I think that sometimes there are people that are "Hateful", there's an occasional wacko individual but that doesn't necessarily speak to the nature of the entire Dailykos or Yearlykos meeting. I think that they've, to the contrary, I think you see some very serious arguments put forward there. Things that people are forced to respond to, which is why you see serious people - like those who are running for President of the United States - would think that it was worth their time to show up.

Not too bad. Then Malkin got "serious".

Malkin: You think that Markos Moo-litz-os, the founder is a "serious" person. Someone who we've talked about many times (But never had cojones to actually have as a guest!) - the kind of comments that he's made about civilian contractors that were murdered (he apologized for that) and kind of comment that he made about Dick Durbin, where for example, after Dick Durbin apologized or non-apologized, about his comments about the military in Guantanamo Bay, agreed with another fellow liberal blogger that Durbin should quote "F- Himself" - is that "serious" conversation - "serious" policy debate, Juan?

That's when William's calmly turned around, called his shot like the Bambino of old and hit it out of the park.

Williams: Michelle you could say the same thing - about the Vice President on the Floor of the U.S. Senate talking to Pat Leahy! I mean, people are going to sometimes say things that are wrong-headed and profane..

If you heard some loud whopping and hollering at about 1am P.S.T. in Southern California - that was me an my wife sitting BOLT UPRIGHT in bed when we heard that one.

Hello!!

But Malkin wasn't satisfied.

Malkin: He never apologized for that comment, he never retracted it.

Williams: I don't know that Dick Cheney ever apologized either (He didn't), but gosh, let's go to the "parallel universe" to this left-wing blogosphere, let's talk about Right-Wing Radio (DING!) Where you can hear people like Michael Savage say Secretary of State Rice is "an Affirmative Action Hire"...

Malkin ignored his point, arguing that this was "Moral Equivalency", and that there their were right-wing blogs that do not "Traffic" in this sort of thing, in the process ignoring that Williams didn't bring up right-wing blogs - cuz, generally speaking they suck - he brought up Right-Wing Radio and fact that Dick Cheney made the exact same remark on the Floor of the U.S. Senate when Leahy was just being Nice to him - Juan was absolutely on the mark.

But she doesn't try to defend Cheney - cuz she can't - and she doesn't try to defend Savage - because no one can.And let's not even get into Neal Boortz and Dennis Prager and Laura Ingraham... ooh boy.

This following exchange really got me... as Mr. Moran attempted to bolster Michelle's deft duck, deflect and cover maneuver.

Moran: When you're talking about Dailykos and Yearlykos you're talking about the Big Lefty Bloggers (Awww, I thought we weren't as bad the conspiracy nuts just 2 minutes ago? My how times change) and yes, they do in fact traffic in this kind of (searches for the word) - Hate-mongering (Wow, what a surprise!) I guess would be the best way... and y'know the reason it's hate-mongering Juan, is because the left has lowered the bar on what is Hate Speech

If you can, watch the split screen reaction on Juan's face as his eyes widen when Moran says this -- it's just priceless.

Moran: On kos they talk about the Israelis. The Jewish people in general, gassing Joe Lieberman you can't say that kind of stuff and expect to be taken seriously in politics.

Let's again point out that the Moran is the moderator on Malkin's website and it should be noted that in Malkin's illustrious career as a "voice of moderation" she has ...

  • Repeatedly claimed she doesn't believe in "Hate Crimes" because they "punish thought" (unless I guess those thoughts are about Joe Lieberman?)
  • Defended Don Imus when she called the flap over his "Nappy Headed Hos" comment an attempt to "Blame Whitey"
  • Compared Latinos protesting a House bill aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration to "white supremacists and neo-Nazis." (But they didn't commit a Hate crime or nothin')
  • Blasted coverage of the Haditha killings by U.S. Troops in the Media claiming that they created "puddles of drool in the offices of the L.A. Times and The New York Times."
  • Stated that the proper reaction to suicides occurring at Guantanamo - despite reports that many of those held there are innocent of any terrorist activity - should be "Boo-freakin-hoo.'"

This person has standing to criticize Markos for dropping the F-Bomb? And dropping it on a Democrat no less, I'm surprised she didn't jump up and cheer in a ecstatic fit of shadenfreude.

Anyway, Williams summed it up perfectly.

Williams: I think if you're listening to Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, I mean these guys - these guys use outrageous language and I think what you're seeing there is that people are trying to match it in terms of intensity on the left, given the intensity and the success that we've seen on the right for that kind of language and that kind of rhetoric. I don't think there's any question where that language and rhetoric started - it started on the Right.

No Shit.

Next time some Right-Wing says we're "mean and foul-mouthed" let just say politely - "And you can thank Mr. Cheney and Mr. Savage for setting the standards for political discourse in this country at the absolute Rock Bottom!"

And just for the record Michelle, let me quote one of my favorite comments in this entire O'Reilly/Kos Fued after Dennis Miller came on as BillO's fluffer to revive him after Dodd KO'd him last week.

Fuck Dennis Miller in the ear (8+ / 0-)

Fuck Bill O'Reilly in the other ear

Fuck Fuckity Fuck Fuck Fuck

Daily Kos

Fuck

by calipygian on Fri Aug 03, 2007 at 11:28:39 AM PDT

Yeah, I think it's safe to say that your guys little "Ms Manner's spiel" is really making us re-think our approach. Er, not so much. Because for starers - we made you look!

(In Nelson Voice) "HA hah"

Oh, and just to clear out your palate after the Malkin Dumpster Dive, he's part of Gen Clark's Keynote Speech.

Vyan

Sunday, August 5

Pajamas Media Inteview with Yearlykos Sergeant

Well, we've certainly had a heap of excitement this weekend over YearlyKos, haven't we?

First we had O'Reilly attacking the Democratic Candidates for endorsing a "Partisan Hate Site" that dares to engaging in political (photoshop) cartoons. Oooh scary.

"Mama hide the kids! they're gonna drop the F-Bomb again!"

Then we had Michelle Malkin claiming that we've Kossified the Minnesota Bridge Collapse by daring to mix taxes with - uh - spending.

The sheer nerve!

Yesterday we had the latest flap over an Army Sergeant who attended YK2 in uniform and was reprimanded by John Soltz for violating the UCMJ which forbids those in uniform from being involved in politics.

Today, that soldiers has come forward - now out of uniform - to fight back.

Now, I wasn't able to attend YK myself, I've never been in the military - but then neither have most of the people on Pajamas Media so we're basically even on that score.

However, I have this thing for truthiness that they seem to lack. Showing that they have a deep and reverent respect for the "facts" - PJM set the stage this way.

Sergeant David D. Aguina returned to the YearlyKos gathering on Saturday, a day after he had been unceremoniously thrown out of a panel on the military and progressives.

Point of fact Sergeant Aguina, as is clearly visible from their own video, Was not thrown Out. The panel was over, he was allowed to speak at length after the questioning period was done - he was not interrupted, he was not cut short and he was not "censored." He did however receive an offline audience with Capt Jon Soltz, the moderator of the panel, who felt he clearly needed some talking to about the regulations he was in the act of violating.

When Sergeant David D. Aguina stepped up to the microphone at the YearlyKos forum on the panel on "The Military and Progressives: Are they that Different?" and began to quietly rebut many of the points that had been made about the failure of "The Surge," he knew he wouldn’t have an easy time of it. That is why he prepared a four-inch thick loose leaf binder full of charts, graphs, releases from the Department of Defense, the State Department, and Central Command, as well as articles from the mainstream media.

But for all his preparation, he was still taken by surprise when one of the panelists, John Soltz founder of the anti-war group Votevets.Org, took him to task and silenced him on the grounds that Aguina was wearing his uniform while expressing his political opinions.

As has been pointed out in the front page diary by The Angry Rakkasan - this wasn't the first time that Aguina had been warned. It was the second, following a confrontation with Gen. Wesley Clark the previous day.

Clark is said to have told the sergeant that, while he respected the sergeant’s opinion, political activism while in uniform was both inappropriate and illegal—and to do it at the much-publicized YearlyKos Convention would put the soldier in an unnecessary and precarious legal position. He told the sergeant firmly but politely that it would be in the soldier’s best interest to leave. And that was the end of it until the next day.

Aguina had no reason to be "surprised" by Soltz stern warning the next day. And it seems, he knows that.

"Technically, he was right," Aguina concedes. "He is a commissioned officer in the army and I follow the rules. I will respect his authority which is why today, I came in civilian uniform."

During his first interview with Pajamas Media immediately after the end of the panel discussion on Progressives and the Military, Sargent Aguina claimed that "We need to come together" and that we shouldn't let Al Qaeda divide us. He said those attending Yearlykos were "Good people."

His comments on the microphone had even begun with a statement that he wouldn't abide the attendants at Kos being attacked.

It seems his view on this has changed somewhat.

Despite his change of wardrobe, he remains boiling mad at Soltz for angrily chastising him in public for violating military regulations. If he wants to get technical about it, Aguina counters, two can play at that game.

"If I’m in violation of AR670-1 which is the regulation he brought up, then he’s in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 88 which says no commissioned officer can criticize a government official."

A "Government Official?" Who exactly would that be?

Call me silly if you will, but I actually like to look things up. Natch, It's the President.

  1. ART. 88. CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

So an Officer can not insult the President, but did Soltz actually "Insult" the President or does he simply disagree with him? Is it really a court-martial offense to say that the President's strategy in Iraq has been a failure?

I think not.

And then there's this.

Aguina also pointed out that Soltz violated the code of behavior between a commissioned and non commissioned officer. "Article 91," he said, forbids a commissioned officer from criticizing a non commissioned officer, and behaving in the "condescending" manner in which he was treated. "People in that audience didn’t have to see an American soldier be as rude and disrespectful toward another American soldier."

As is clearly visible on the tape, Soltz tried to speak to Aguina in Private and asked the Pajamas Cameraman repeatedly to give them some space. It was Aguina who countered saying "I have nothing to hide." and invited them over. ON TAPE Aguina acknowledged that he was willingly violating the rules, then attempted to justify that violating by claiming that he was doing it "for the Iraqi people" and that it was "worth it" to break the rules and help them rather than break the rules and hurt them "like they did in Abu Ghraib."

That's right, he actually attempted to justify his violation of the UCMJ by using someone else's greater violation of the UCMJ - and now he's trying to use the UCMJ against Soltz when he did his duty by trying to keep Aguina from violating the rules.

Are you getting a headache yet? I am.

Further Article 91 actually says the following.

  1. ART. 91. INSUBORDINATE CONDUCT TOWARD WARRANT OFFICER, NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICER, OR PETTY OFFICER

Any warrant officer or enlisted member who--
(1) strikes or assaults a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer, while that officer is in the execution of his office;
(2) willfully disobeys the lawful order of a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer; or
(3) treats with contempt or is disrespectful in language or deportment toward a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer while that officer is in the execution of his office;
shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

This is a regulation that restricts insubordination from lower noncoms to Petty Officers and Sergeants like Aguina, not from Commissioned Officers like Soltz.

There's also this failure to heed the directive of a Superior Officer - like the way Sargent Aguina failed to heed both General Clark and Captain Soltz by appearing and speaking at Yearlykos in uniform.

  1. ART. 90. ASSAULTING OR WILLFULLY DISOBEYING SUPERIOR COMMISSIONED OFFICER.

Any person subject to this chapter who--
(1) strikes his superior commissioned officer or draws or lifts up any weapon or offers any violence against him while he is in the execution of his officer; or
(2) willfully disobeys a lawful command of his superior commissioned officer;
shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, and if the offense is committed at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.

So is Aguina trying to find "common ground" with progressives? Er, not so much.

Aguina believes that the "netroots" – Soltz in particular, had used the uniform issue as an excuse to muddy the waters regarding what he had to say.
"They disagree with me because of my message, but they used the technicality of the uniform to try and influence something. And believe me, John Soltz? I am not done with him yet. I was up all night researching the USMCJ finding all the things he did wrong."

"He lost his professional standard when he couldn’t control himself on stage."

I would agree that Soltz got a might angry, but as I said - Aguina had already been warned! If you have to tell your kid four times to stop trying to stick their tongue in the light-socket, the fifth time you just might be a wee bit testy.

The primary claim that Aguina made during his time at the microphone was that the surge is working because Iraqi casualties are down... Well, except that they aren't.

Although, it is fair for him to point out that the casualty count went down from 1,941 the previous month to a measly 1,251 in June. The unfortunate fact is that in July they went back up again to 1,621. You can call that "progress" if you consider doing the hokey-pokey (2 steps forward, one step back) to be "progress."

Just as Aguina has apparently been misreading the Military Regs that he admitted he really doesn't care about anyway, he's been misreading the facts on the ground in Iraq as well.

There are severe problems with the Iraqi Power Grid, the one were supposed to have fixed almost four years ago.

shortages across the country are the worst since the summer of 2003, shortly after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

If Aguina cares so deeply about the Iraqi people, why doesn't he wonder why we can't keep the lights on?

Secretary Gates, who happens to be a unassailable "Government Official" says the Surge hasn't really helped where it counts - Politically.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates acknowledged Thursday that the Bush administration underestimated the difficulty of getting a political truce in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s government has been crippled by a walkout by Sunni Arab ministers.

The Pentagon chief’s remarks Thursday were his closest yet to acknowledging that the Bush administration’s top political goals for Iraq may not materialize during the buildup, even if it is extended into next spring, the latest the military could sustain the increase. He also is the top Bush administration official to express such concerns publicly.

If Aguina really wants to have a serious debate on these issues - which everyone serious notes is going to need a Political not Military Solution - I'm certain he'll more than welcome to do so by many of the attendees at YK. In fact he may already have.

"I understand trying to change people’s mind is a lot harder than it would seem or I would like it to be. I’m just here to provide information for people. If they want to talk, if they want to know, I’ll just show them."

He said that the conference-goers had treated him with respect and listened carefully to what he had to say, arguing strenuously against him but hearing him out nonetheless.

"There’s quite few people here who are open-minded and will listen. And even if they don’t agree with me, I at least thank them for listening. I’ve dealt with other people who insult me and then walk away."

Part of the task of truly attempting to change people's minds, is also being open to change yourself. He wants progressives to listen to him, but is he listening to them?

It seem to me that Aguina has nothing more than an agenda to push and his attempts to play "Gotcha" with Jon Soltz make me somewhat skeptical that his real goal is helping the Iraqi people, rather than trying to bait and punk progressive into fight with a cherry picked fact storm of right-wing talking points. Frankly my feeling is this guy is a Troll in the Flesh, nothing more.

I could be wrong, I wasn't there in person - but that's how I see it. Am I way off base or right on target? You decide.

Update Someone in the comments mentioned this, I had forgetten about it - but there recently were two Marines who were summarily discharged for violating the UCMJ in exactly the same way - wearing their uniform to an anti-war rally!

The Right-Wing site Newsbusters argued for their dismissal claiming that it wasn't partisan just part of the rules (not that they weren't fairly Schadenfreude about it)

Every time there is an anti-war rally, march, die-in, puke-in etc. you can find several protesters dressed in official military uniforms. The ones in uniform usually claim to have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. While some are truly vets, others are obvious posers (i.e. Jesse Macbeth). The uniforms are typically defaced with IVAW slogans or logos done in black marker. The tops are unbuttoned to show off the latest protest t-shirt. Medals and ribbons are usually in plentiful supply as a sign of "real service".

Two of the members of IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War), Adam Kokesh and Liam Madden are facing hearings by the Marine Corps for their protest attire. But if you read David Montgomery’s article, Antiwar to the Corps, in the Washington Post, you would think that the Marines were attempting to silence an anti-war voice. Not only did Montgomery miss the entire reason for the hearings, but he overlooked a few facts in his reporting.

Montgomery gave the background of the case...

In a case that raises questions about free speech, the Marines have launched investigations of three inactive reservists for wearing their uniforms during antiwar protests and allegedly making statements characterized as "disrespectful" or "disloyal."

Upon learning he was being investigated for wearing his uniform during the mock patrol, Kokesh wrote an e-mail to the investigating officer, Maj. John Whyte

Kokesh was notified by Major John Whyte via email of the investigation in March 2007. Major Whyte stated that he was reminding a "fellow Marine" of his obligations and duties, specifically the wearing of all or part of his uniform while engaged in political demonstrations or activities.

Soltz did the same thing that Major Whyte did.

How does that arguement about "If he had been speaking in support of Yearlykos" go, again?

Vyan