Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Cassie Blogging

Most likely you go your way and I'll go mine...

with special guest star, Buena!


Larisa Alexandrovna has an article posted on Juan Cole's site, Saddam's Execution and the Iran Option.

She believes the rush to execute Saddam is part of a strategy of escalation that will include a strike on Iran.
What the Bush administration appears to be waiting for, stalling for, while they allegedly mull over the Iraq question is for the naval carriers and other key assets to fall into position. This will happen in the first week of January. Saddam Hussein is being executed (and I would not be surprised if every major networked aired it) to enrage tempers and fuel more violence in Iraq. This violence will justify an immediate need for a troop surge, although I think it will be described as temporary. Remember too that the British press has for the past week done nothing but report that Britain will be attacked by the New Year. Clearly they are preparing themselves for a contingency and that contingency is the massive violence that will erupt across the Muslim world as they watch (and I really believe it will be televised) Saddam's hanging and just before the New Year.
This is all too plausible. The signals I've seen, the arrest of the Iranians in Iraq, Joe Lieberman's OpEd today in the WAPO, the constant drumbeat for war with Iran from outfits like the AEI all point to a concerted effort to blame Iran for our Iraq debacle, and if things get worse after Saddam's execution, we can expect that chorus to become deafening.

If this does come down, it's hard to imagine what the consequences will be.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


will be our Gerald Ford for Iraq?
Will there be one?
Here's hoping.

Monday, December 25, 2006

RIP James Brown

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 22, 2006

Our allies?

The LA Times has an article about the failure of the six-party talks about N. Korea's nukes.

There's the title:
U.S., allies frustrated in disarmament talks with North Korea
There's the first paragraph:
Disarmament talks with North Korea recessed Friday in another round of frustration for the United States and its allies, with analysts saying there appears to be little hope in the foreseeable future that Pyongyong will agree to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
There is no further mention of 'allies'. Who are they? All the other members of the talks, China, Japan, Russia, S. Korea? Or just some?

Doesn't this violate some hallowed law of journalism?

Friday Cassie Blogging

Grazin' in the grass is a gas, baby can you dig it?

Iran and Central Asia

Laura Rozen (of War and Piece, an excellent blog) has written an article for TAPPED, Gunboat Diplomacy. In it, she reviews the upcoming steps by the US to either pressure Iran, or to go to war.

Meanwhile, over at the Asia Times, M K Bhadrakumar reviews the latest events in Central Asia, the rollback of US influence and the portends from the death of Turkmenistan's leader Niyazov in The Great Game on a razor's edge.

I'm firmly of the opinion that the Iraq war and the potential Iran war are part of a failing US policy set by the VP in the early days of the administration. Rather than increase US influence and wealth through the establishment of US military bases and beneficial contracts with the major western oil companies, Iran and Central Asia are busily setting up bilateral deals that cut out the US and the oil companies. Russia just booted Shell out, and has now set its sights on ushering out BP. Iraq, of course, has agreed to open up development for private (read US) oil exploration and development, but the necessary stability is lacking, and the expense of providing it far outweighs any potential profit.

The ISG was certainly on the same page as the administration on the basic policy goals of continuing US dominance of world oil production and distribution, based on the liberal world oil market. They did perceive, however, that the current strategy of pursuing 'victory' in Iraq, and pushing Iran on the nuclear card was doomed to failure, and asked for a rethinking by the administration.

Clearly, this request has been dismissed. Six years of failure have not been enough to dissuade Cheney from his belief in his 'take no prisoners' strategy, and the stage is being set for the Iran adventure. I'll be very surprised if Gates can come back with any meaningful proposals for Iraq, so this spiral into destruction can only continue, and worsen.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's Winter

So, theoretically at least, the days start getting longer.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Planless in Lebanon

Uri Avnery reports that an Israeli investigation of the latest Lebanon war found that the Israelis lacked a plan, at both the political and military level.
He also argues that the continued occupation of the West Bank is a grave threat to Israeli security.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Welcome to Hell, Pt. 2

Just three months, not three years like Padilla.
Of course, it's just a total coincidence that Donald Vance was whistleblowing to the FBI. Welcome to Iraq, Donald.

Cringing Cowards of the CIA

The Washington Note is following the strange case of Flynt Leverett, ex-CIA, NSA, DoS, who now works for the New America Foundation.
He wrote an OpEd for the NYT which was submitted to the CIA Publications Review Board which said that it was A-OK, not strange since it was based on an already published paper that you can download and read.
After it was cleared, however, the White House reviewed it and sent it back to the CIA, which then redacted key parts of the article.
Meanwhile, Ken Pollack, a leading cheerleader for the Iraq adventure, and supporter of the current Iran policy, wrote the same info in an OpEd, which of course was NOT censored.
The Washington Note has a statement by Mr. Leverett, read it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Lest We Forget

If you're going to be flying over the holidays, clutching the clear plastic bag that holds your toiletries as you pass through security, you might want to give a thought to that dastardly plot that was about to blow up scads of airplanes with 'immense' loss of life with bombs made from common household liquids.
Seems the alleged mastermind has been freed by the Pakistanis, seems the British didn't really want to extradite him, seems that the alleged plotters in Britain are being freed and one is being paid damages by the newspapers that slandered him, and it seems the newspapers have forgotten the whole sad story.
Craig Murray has the details.

Kitten Madness!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Cassie Blogging

Called on the carpet:

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Robert Parry at consortiumnews thinks that the resignation of Turki al-Faisal as the Saudi ambassador to the US was a softening, on the part of Turki, to what amounted to a recall of the ambassador:
The unceremonious departure was seen as another signal of Saudi anger over Bush’s regional policies. In that view, Turki’s resignation was akin to the recall of an ambassador between two hostile states, albeit softened by Turki’s insistence that he was leaving to spend more time with his family.
If correct, this adds weight to the perception that the Saudi's are really frightened by the latest maneuvers from the US administration. Withdrawal of an ambassador is traditionally the step before a declaration of war.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Afghanistan, the vultures are circling

Anthony Cordesman has an OpEd in the NYT today, One War We Can Still Win. Said war being our ongoing adventure in Afghanistan. Basically, the article does a review of the current situation, and finishes with a plea for an extra 5.9 billion dollars to stave off disaster and win one of the two wars the US and its allies are currently losing.
Meanwhile, over at the Asia Times their guy in Pakistan, Syed Saleem Shahzad, has managed to visit with the Taliban, and the situation isn't pretty for NATO:
In the plains of southwestern Afghanistan, confident Taliban move around openly with their weaponry, to the frustration of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Afghan National Army (ANA) troops who can see them, but seem helpless in containing them.

Indeed, foreign troops are mostly held hostage in their bases, and their alternatives are stark: conduct aerial bombings in which civilians would surely be heavy casualties, or pull out.

The mood on the ground in Afghanistan is that the latter option will prevail.
Not only do the Taliban move around openly, they have a less than high opinion of their foes:
"It was really fun to fight with the Soviets [in the 1980s], but not so with the Americans. I remember once, three Soviet soldiers were besieged by mujahideen. They were injured and they had the chance to retreat and be airlifted. But they refused and fought till their last. They had a certain level of conviction. The Americans do not have this," Khuda-i-Rahim told Asia Times Online.

"They [Americans] hear the sound of a single bullet fired in the air and they do not dare to go to the place where the bullet was fired. The Russians stayed in Afghanistan for 11 years because of their conviction, but against the determination of the Afghan resistance they finally withdrew. I don't see a chance that once there is a national uprising like the one against the Russians, the Americans will stay for a few months," said Khuda-i-Rahim.
Even if NATO put in the resources that we're squandering in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan would be lost. It's unfortunate that major policy players like Cordesman cannot accept the fact that ideals and slogans are just that, and not the way to determine policy. When our nuclear armed buddies the Pakistanis tell us to accept defeat by the Taliban, maybe they're giving good advice.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December Follies

The Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US, Prince Turki al-Faisal, has resigned. He served for 15 months in that role, following his predecessor's 24 years. The embassy said it was 'to spend more time with his family'.

Possible reasons:

1. He'll be the new Saudi foreign minister, his brother who currently occupies that position is said to be ailing.

2. It's a signal from the Saudis that they are displeased with Feckless Leader's 'policies'.

3. He pissed off the Saudis by having his guy (Obaid) say (in a WaPo OpEd) that the Saudis will support the Sunnis in Iraq if the US backs the Shiites.

4. He pissed off the Americans by having his guy (Obaid) say (in a WaPo OpEd) that the Saudi's will support the Sunni's in Iraq if the US backs the Shiites.

Looked at in the context of Cheney's visit last month to Riyadh, I'd say that there are definite bumps in the usually smooth road of American-Saudi relations. But beyond this, we'll just have to wait and see.

Also today, Feckless Leader has postponed his December 18th speech on Iraq that was to have been a distillation of the ISG and all the other reports, studies, round tables and consultations that have been going on. Any connection?

Monday, December 11, 2006

True Confessions

Uri Avnery confesses that he was wrong, and also that he likes Jim Baker.
His committee proposes the immediate start of negotiations between Israel and "President Mahmoud Abbas", in order to implement the two-state solution. The "sustainable negotiations" must address the "key final status issues of borders, settlements, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the end of conflict."
No wonder the AIPAC crew are freaking out and calling Baker an anti-Semite. The right of return is a totally forbidden subject in the USA, just mentioning it puts Baker in league with the terrorists.
It's almost as bad as Gates referring to Israel's nukes, I mean, how dare he speak the truth, and to Congress!

Dillon Beach Blogging

Supper time?

Actually, Cassie and I didn't go to Dillon yesterday. I had some work related stuff in the afternoon, so we drove out to the Bodega headlands (the photo shows the headlands from Dillon, taken a couple of weeks ago) and checked out the big waves and took a short walk.

Hence we missed all the excitement at Dillon Beach, a shark attack that fortunately went well for the surfer involved.

I love to body surf and boogie board, but I've always waited for trips to S. California or Hawaii to indulge. Here it's too cold for my delicate constitution, plus though I know that the drive out to the beach is more dangerous than shark attacks, the fact that there are great white sharks out there looking for vittles bugs me. Though they prefer seals and sea lions to surfers, maybe I'm plump enough that they might make an exception if I gave them a chance.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thanks, Glenn

I was going to write a post today about the ISG and what it meant and didn't mean about future US policy in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. However, before getting to work on it, I read Glenn Greenwald's post and it says just about everything that needs to be said, so read it!

Just as an additional thought, Glenn notes that Marty Peretz of The New Republic calls Baker an anti-Semite. This comes on the heels of Jimmy Carter being called an anti-Semite. While the charges against Carter have been well publicized in the media, I've heard no one defend him. The fact is, the US media does not allow any discussion of US policy in the Middle East that has even the mildest criticism or questioning of Israel and its policies. What makes this particularly annoying to me is that the Israeli press is free to have these discussions. It's just another example of the media's 'dysfunctional conduct'.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Cassie Blogging

Is it edible, is it crunchable?

Bonus, probably the most photographed barn in Sonoma County.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Surrender Monkeys

The New York Post by Rupert Murdoch, elevating the national discourse:

But do they eat cheese?
(h/t Crooks and Liars)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


So Gates is in, Rummy out. Only two senators voted nay, Santorum(R, PA) and Bunning(R-KY), two of the finest of the lunatic fringe.

The ISG report has no magic bullets, there ain't none, but it refrained from the magical thinking talk that has passed for policy. That's a threat to the administration, that's their main bone for the media and the public, and it is been challenged.

Cheney/Rove know very well how to wait, however. A day or two, maybe a little more, and we should see a serious counterattack. What will it be?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

All part of the plan

As usual, the US went into a meeting about sanctions on Iran talking tough:

UnderSecretary of State Nicholas Burns said deliberations among the major powers on what to do about Iran had been going on for far too long.

"It's time for Russia and it is time for China to agree a sanctions resolution. We need to send a strong message," he told reporters in Brussels at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

As usual, the US got nothing:
Diplomats from six world powers failed on Tuesday to agree on a draft resolution for a sanctions plan on Iran for its nuclear program, but major European nations said they wanted such a pact by the year's end.
While this might displease you or I or Condi, Gareth Porter at the Asia Times speculates that Cheney will be pleased:
According to an article by the neo-conservative Lawrence F Kaplan in The New Republic on October 2, aides to Cheney have been convinced from the beginning that Rice's Iran strategy would not be an obstacle to their own plans because they knew it would fail.

The aides to Cheney insisted that the administration was not yet prepared politically for a shift to the military track, according to Kaplan. But once Rice's diplomatic effort becomes a highly visible failure, Cheney and his allies in the administration are poised to begin the process of ratcheting up pressure on Bush to begin the political planning for an eventual military attack on Iran.
The Europeans are now saying that maybe by the end of the year an epiphany will occur and Russia and China will sign up for their proposal. Temporizing is all they (and Condi) have left. How long is Cheney willing to wait?

Opening the trap door

Hurrying to show Rumsfeld the door beneath his feet is the best explanation I have for this quick work:
Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Gates.
Full Senate approval might come as soon as tomorrow, I'd think Rummy will be gone soon after, even if it means he won't set the record as longest serving SecDef. Boo-hoo.

A New Coalition?

My speculation below about the reason for the Maliki/al-Hakim meetings gets a confirmation and an amplification at Missing Links, a valuable site that has items from the Arabic language press.
This comes at a time when Sunni Arabs of Iraq, Shiite Arabs of Iraq, and non-Arabs of Iraq are trying to form a coalition within the elected Iraqi parliament to force an end to the American occupation, summarized here and here, among other places. But what you hear in America is just the endless drumbeat of sectarian polarization.
If Sadr can come to an agreement with the Sunnis and others to pass a parliamentary resolution calling for US withdrawal, the Cheney strategy will have taken a body blow. It wouldn't surprise me if that was the main theme of Cheney's visit to Saudi Arabia, either.


Josh Marshall departed from his usual equanimity a week or so ago. Laying into a piece by Mort Kondracke, he uttered this shrill observation:
This is noxious, risible, fetid thinking. But there it is. That's the story they want to tell. The whole place is rotten down to the very core.
'They' being pundits and 'place' being Washington.

There's more and more recognition in even the middle of the political spectrum that the national news media is not 'fair and balanced'. But the reasons given for their bias and omissions is rarely explored, when it is, the most usual explanation is similar to that of Bob Somerby, who over the years has done yeoman's work in documenting the greatest hits of the media circus.

In the wake of Sunday’s reports in the New York Times about the Judith Miller matter, many observers have clucked about the paper’s, dysfunctional conduct. But the Times has been a dysfunctional mess for years—at least back to its still-unexplained Whitewater stories, which began in 1992. In fact, the perfumed stars of our mainstream “press” have been weirdly dysfunctional for years. We’d guess that that’s the inevitable result of too much fame and too much money—but the clownishness has been standard for years. For some reason, most career liberals kept their mouths shut when this clowning was aimed at Clinton and Gore. Now, liberals sometimes protest a bit too much—and profess an amazing amazement at the press corps’ dysfunctional habits.
Somerby calls the NYT and the press corps 'dysfunctional' and guesses that is caused by "too much fame and too much money".

I propose another way of looking at the situation, the press corps is very functional, and the fame and money are the rewards of being functional. The difference here is, what is functional, and what is dysfunctional, in other words, what is the function of the press in our society?

Is it to inform the public about the most important events of the day and the functioning of government? Or is it something else?

The function of the press is to generate public opinion. It is to selectively take the events of the day and the functioning of government and generate a world view, and then place the reader in that world view and to tell him what to think, what to get excited about, and what to ignore.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Are you lonely tonight, Dick?

No, not me.

Rumsfeld down, Cambone down, Bolton down, is Cheney really on the ropes?

As a side note, the only reason I can see for Feckless Leader's meetings with Maliki and al-Hakim is to build an anti-Sadr Shiite front.

Why the US would prefer someone in the hip pocket of the Iranians to an Iraqi nationalist is beyond my understanding, was this some of Cambone's 'intelligence'?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Welcome to Hell

There comes a time that you have to realize that the sickness cannot be denied. We've gone into very deep water here, the future is uncharted, and all is dark and silent.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Cassie Blogging

Cassie waits patiently as I try some vino:

Today only! Bonus old Ford truck blogging: