Copyright © 2006 Frank Lynch.
Me: Frank Lynch
These are my mundane daily ramblings.
Some photo call-outs for you, by others. Each of these shots deserves to be seen in greater glory. Click on them for their larger views. I really think these are wonderful, and wanted to share.
"Early Morning River"
Skull and Crossbones Flag:
"Ernesto has arrived"
And your spam experience has been? I'm sick and tired of the spam, the email messages touting this or that, the embedded images and so on. I feel like going nucular and signing up with one of those interceptor services that require a human interaction to get the email through ("prove to me you're real: what's the third letter in 'orange'?" and such).
Part of me wants to just contain the threat, which is not a bad idea. On the other hand, another part of me recognizes that these initiatives have probably been created with the idea of clogging Internet traffic and slowing down our nation's ability to quickly respond to the Paki deli guy talkin' about 'jihad' even if he's only enjoying the ribald humor of "Hee Haw." As a nation we have to be prepared, and our ability to string 'em up could mightly be impedibated without the proper tools in place, by which I mean it might be unpatriotic for me to shut that spam and phishing content down.
"The Democrats have no plan..." You hear it a lot, this idea that if the Democrats "know so much" and are a better option than the Republicans, how come they don't have a plan to succeed in Iraq? I think this is a false standard to hold against the Democrats, don't you? I mean, think about it: it's not like they have the same access to the same intelligence that the President of the United States does. There's just no way the Democrats could be expected to know everything about Iraq to make an informed plan: the President has access, and even he seems clueless about the depth of the problem. Why would anyone expect the Democrats to have a better understanding?
If the President wants to share the intelligence in an open, honest way (hah! just like the 2002 NIE...), well maybe then the Democrats could be expected to come up with a "plan," but until that happens, anyone who questions why the Democrats aren't solving the world while having an obscured view of the stage is just bloviating.
This of course has echoes of the lie that was peddled in 2004
about John Kerry, when Bush claimed that his opponent had seen
the same intelligence as he (Bush) had. That, like I said, was a
lie. Remember this when it comes time to sift through the
An unfathomable slouch back to King John. Today the United States Senate voted in favor of Bush's detainee bill, setting aside centuries of American principles and habeas corpus in doing so. The Senate's response (and remember, the Senate, as the upper chamber, is supposed to be where cooler heads prevail) was not on strict party lines: Republicans and Democrats supported it. According to the roll call, here, there were a dozen Democrats who sided with the majority. Had they sided with the rest of their party (and one Republican and one Independent), there might have been a possibility of blocking the vote. But no, 65 Senators decided it was better to sell the nation's heart and soul, as defined by the greatest document of the Western Hemisphere, than to have faith that we have the tools, will, and stamina to wear out the terrorist threat.
I know it's a cliché, but the terrorists won today, and Bush and the Congress were their willing tools. With this entire effort, the government basically admitted to being pawns of fear.
Oh, give me a break. Powerline's John Hinderaker concludes his review of President Bush today with this: "As usual, the President stands head and shoulders above his critics." Yes, the President is a tall man, John, and he stands so tall that he refused to testify before the 9/11 Commission without Cheney by his side. He stands so tall that he ignored the August 6 PDB. He stands so tall that he was completely paralyzed in a classroom in Florida when the jets struck and preferred to stay with a bunch of schoolchildren, putting their lives at risk.
What planet is Condoleezza Rice on?
Her assertions that
the Bush White House was just as aggressive at targeting al Qaeda
as the Clinton White House was are patently absurd. (See here and
here for more...) One of the things I find galling is her
statement that "The notion somehow for eight months the Bush
administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false,
and I think the 9/11 commission understood that." Try as she
might to spin the 9/11 commission's findings, the way Kerrey
grilled her over Bush's supposed impatience over swatting flies
is famous: pressed by Kerrey, she couldn't come up with a single
thing. And their ringing note that they could find no evidence
that there was any reaction to the August 6 PDB! What planet is
she on, to even make a claim that they were "at least as
aggressive" as Clinton prior to 9/11?
So now it's not an exact science. Portions of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and terrorism were released today, but only three pages out of perhaps thirty; a White House spokesperson says, though, that the released portion offers 95% of the "key judgments." One of the problems with that, of course, is that prior to the Senate vote to authorize Bush's use of force against Iraq (fall of 2002), the declassified portions of a key report which were shared with Senators didn't include all the caveats over the conclusions; Senator Bob Graham (D, Florida), who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee just could not get the Administration to be open with the Senate. Graham was one of the few Senators who knew all of what the report contained, and one of the few to vote against it.
The pieces which have been released from the current report have contents which lend support to the idea that terrorism is a continuing threat, and we're naturally curious about the gap between the stark conclusions reported by the New York Times over the weekend and what's in the current release.
But I was struck by this portion of the Times' account over the extracts released this afternoon:
See, the funny thing there is that when the Administration wanted to claim progress in the war against Tara back in 2004, Condoleezza Rice was more than happy to claim...
We have broken up 75 percent of the al Qaeda known leadership.
...without having any clue as to what the denominator for the percentage was. Maybe "tens." Maybe 100. But whatever, she just knew we'd broken up (whatever 'broken up' is) 75 percent.
Now, of course, the White House spokesperson is in a major effort to defend the track record, and this time in order to bolster the perceptions of success, are relying on ambiguity again. And our gullibility, too.
Phenomenally shiftless jerks. I looked long and hard for a safe-for-work alternative for jerks, but couldn't find a suitable one: certainly not one which captured all my feelings about the capricious way in which the Bush Administration has wasted human lives and how its defenders have rallied to its cause, in effect saying "more! more of this! I want even more!" It's easy to imagine the profane terms I wanted to use here, but it's not so easy to invoke the proper vocabulary for such an occasion as we have today: the best U.S. intelligence resources have written a report which concludes that we are not safer than we were before 9/11, and we can look at our invasion of Iraq and how that has exacerbated the desire to make us a target.
I really think that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have a safe solution for the horribly irresponsible throw-of-the- dice which our "winging it" President made in early 2003 (or late 2002, or late 2001...). But any putz with half a brain would recognize that with or without a better plan, the path to this point was wrong, completely wrong. Recognizing that would at least allow you the position that you're cognizant that mistakes were made, and give you some ability to claim you're in a position to see the future. However, if you don't acknowledge the lessons of the past, you look like an alcoholic who continually makes excuses for a bad path which has gone on for far far too long.
Here's an example of how it played out on the Talking Heads news programs Sunday morning:
For those of you who are reading from other countries, Frist is a Republican, and a Republican toadie at that, the kind of doctor who tries to leverage his overestimated credibility as a "doctor" to do remote diagnoses of brain-dead patients via VHS tapes. So there you go.
And where we are, of course, is faced with a vote. We need to choose on a party which will serve us best: not just regarding Iraq, but one which will serve us best on how our tax dollars are spent, how the poor are addressed, whether or not we're safer, and so on.
But even if you think (as so much of the MSM seems to claim)
that the Democrats have no plan, what can you say on behalf of
the Republicans? Certainly no show. So how are their plans doing
We can explain it, so it's OK. I noticed this post over at Horsefeathers, providing a quick excerpt of a Reuters item on yesterday's violence in Iraq: "A bomb killed 34 people in Baghdad's Sadr City Shi'ite slum on Saturday as Iraq's minority Sunnis began the fasting month of Ramadan, which U.S. commanders said might see a rise in sectarian bloodshed." (The same appears at the end of this article in the Washington Post.) It occurred to me that U.S. authorities constantly seem to be in an effort to come up with reasons for escalating violence: their elections, their constitution, our elections, and so on and so on, and now Ramadan. On top of that there was the recent seeming reduction in violence which was ultimately revealed to be simply a change in the criteria for what gets counted.
You're used to this when you hear Bush invent, yet again, a new rationalization for why we're in Iraq. (Yeah, well read this one, Mr. President: we're not safer, thank you very much.) You may even have seen blog posts where Bush's 20-plus reasons for invading Iraq have been listed out: and in that clarity, they sum to someone shuffling their feet nervously, trying to make excuses and find the one that might stick.
Have you noticed this, over and over? "I warn you there will
me more violence in the days to come" and so on. They rarely (and
we know why) alert us to an upcoming abating of the violence;
claims like "last throes" don't go down well. They are only left
with continuing, ongoing violence; and the hellish nightmare of
needing to appear that they know what they're talking about.
Election shenanigans: There've been a number of articles in the past couple days about the efforts to control who gets to vote and how. Here's a round-up, with a little synopsis to help you pick what to read:
The fall back response for the Democrats? So far as I know, no one in the hierarchy of the Democratic Party is going to see this post, so this is more or less whimsical speculation on my part. But in light of the capitulation which Republican Senators Warner, McCain, and Graham seem to have done over the interrogation of internees and the Geneva Convention, after what seemed such a principled stand, the Democrats are at a strategic crossroads: the Democrats didn't join the fight, seeming to prefer to stand out of the crossfire, and now that it looks as if the truly principled position isn't being supported by anyone in a leadership position in the leader party, the Democrats have to either scramble for a sensible path to the Moral High Ground, or themselves capitulate in the interest of seats in the November elections.
It is an unpleasant dilemma, but it's one that the Dems forced on themselves for not taking a stronger position earlier. Had they put themselves into the negotiations ("at the table") earlier, they would now be in a position of at least saying that the present compromise is a partisan compromise, recognizing only the views of one party. But by ceding its role, well, you know. That path is now barred.
Simply put, the Democrats have one considerable pile of mud on their faces over this. It was really irresponsible of the leadership to delegate its moral pursuit to anyone. This was not the kind of issue where you "let the other guy do it." If you believe in the cause, you support the other guy, you don't twiddle your thumbs. That way, at least you're building pressure on the other guy: Warner, McCain, and Graham know that when they succumb to compromise (sell-out) that they are not being bi-partisan. But when the other side doesn't even seem to care, where could Warner, McCain, and Graham look for an anchor? Certainly not the Democrats. That's the quandary. As I said earlier this week, the Democrats ceded the moral high ground to this trio, who, without any other anchor, could define the moral high ground by the moment. A problem, certainly.
Suggesting an out for the Democrats here (even though in practical terms it will have no impact, with them not reading it) has an ill stench of enabling the reprobate: we don't really want to enable them, we want the greater good to succeed and prosper, but is the way we want the alliance to proceed, when they don't understand basic tenets of morality?
OK, preamble over. Here's the deal: so far as I can tell, the
only way the Dems could conceivably spin this loss is this: they
put their faith in the best of the GOP, and while they were
reluctant to do so, they felt that the 'best' of the GOP had a
stronger position in this argument than they did. The Dems hoped
as best they could, as a lot of Americans have in the past and
will surely continue to do so: but little did they know how empty
even the best of the GOP were. And that having been said:
if this is how soft the foundation is which underlies the
best of the GOP, what's to be said for all the rest?
Absolutely vapid. I just passed
through the room at 7:20 ago when the "Today" show was on, and
they were covering the possibility, years
down the road, that McDonalds might start selling its breakfast
items all day. Full of movie clips, an interview with some
breakfo-hungrologist or something, and nice juicy shots of their
foods. What a segment! This is why we need TV!