Friday, August 31, 2007

The Rest of the Foreclosure Story....

There is more than meets the eye here.... "Bush to Offer Proposals To Ease Mortgage Crisis." (WaPo)

Yes, The Decider and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, will propose changes in the Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance program that will allow more people to refinance with FHA insurance if they fall behind on adjustable-rate mortgages.

You know, those are the mortgage loans made at an initial low interest rate...."come into my financial web" said the mortgage loan spider.... and then balloon to stratospheric rates after a few years.

In the next two years, it is estimated that 2 million more mortgage loans to risky, or sub-prime, borrowers will adjust upward fueling what is already a tsunami of foreclosures.... so the government is taking steps to rescue some financially floundering homeowners from opportunistic lenders and prop up our destabilized economy.

But there's a lot more to the story.

In April it was estimated that 50 percent of Blacks, and 40 percent of Hispanics had sub-prime loans.... loans usually made to people with low incomes and/or poor credit.... in the last decade, Hispanic home ownership has shot up by nearly 70 percent!

But, now sub-prime loans with either high interest rates or balloon payments have become unsustainable for those lured into them. Groups like the NAACP and National Council of La Raza have been calling for action, and pressuring the government.

And, herein is the story behind the story.

In 2005, CNN reported: "Banking on Illegal Immigrants." Are you surprised? Yes, banks want their business. A bad idea in more than one way, because besides sending the message to illegal immigrants: break our laws and we'll reward you with a home.... many worried that "lack of knowledge on the part of illegal immigrants could pave the way for abuse in the form of predatory lending."

Prescient.

How was this possible? The government issues ITIN's which are a nine-digit tax processing number, given by the IRS to people who don't qualify for a social security number. And, as legal residency isn't required to obtain an ITIN.... "many illegal immigrants use this form of identification to pay U.S. taxes and buy homes."

Alenka Grealish, manager of the banking group at Celent, an independent research firm, said, "Illegal immigrants are here to stay and banks are recognizing that. If you do a niche market well and know how to price it, banks can have some attractive margins. Banks are counting on the fact that we do a lousy job with interior enforcement.... the chances of being deported are very slim. Banks are banking on that."

In other words, banks can make sub-prime loans with the full faith and knowledge that Bush's government, with a complicit Congress, won't enforce immigration laws, and in fact encourage illegal immigration with their ITINs and no-oversight of usury lending practices.

A back door amnesty policy... now a national financial albatross and a reality check on the American dream for the exploited illegal immigrants.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Will Froggy Fred Blink or Swim?

Is Fred Thompson finally going to forsake his safe lily pad and jump into the brisk waters of the presidential candidate pool?

If rumors are true, he'll stop just testing the waters and be in the GOP swim of things by next week... a do-or-bye date for raising campaign funds. (WaPo)

Newt Gingrich has advised him to announce via video, a' la Hillary, but we wonder if this is good advice. After all, the public expects the Law & Order guy to be up-front, on the firing line so to speak, not hiding behind lip gloss and cue cards.

Speculation is that he'll travel to California on announcement day in a bid to seize the "Reagan mantle" that the GOP hopefuls are fighting over. A tricky icon to emulate, and one that might lead to...."Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine..... " (you know the rest).

Next week the tide of speculation will reach its high point, so Thompson must "pluck your magic twanger froggy" and plunge in, or drift into the sunset of expectations.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Craig: "Spend Time With Your Family"

After making what could be termed an almost comical Freudian slip, Sen. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig welcomed those attending his news conference yesterday by saying he was glad they "all came out," and then went on.... "Idaho Senator Asserts: 'I Never Have Been Gay'. " (WaPo)

Craig just doesn't get it.

His "crime" isn't that he may be gay, or the hypocrisy of his ultra-conservative senate gay-bashing career..... no, his crime is that he was arrested for lewd behavior in a public men's restroom, and.... if the article in The Idaho Statesman is correct.... it wasn't the first time he sought gay sex in a public restroom.

And, it's more than just investigative reporting about past incidents in his home state newspaper. The video replayed last night on MSNBC's Chris Matthews Hard Ball of Craig in 1999 calling then President Clinton a "nasty bad naughty boy" is more than creepy. His inflections and demeanor are, well.... salacious.

Craig has already pleaded "guilty" to the Minnesota ugliness. Now, we need "Wide Stance".... his explanation for his foot wandering into the stall of the undercover cop.... to give the U.S. Senate a wide berth and resign.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hypocrisy, Thy Name is "GOP Values"

If you want to learn more about the married, father of three, Sen. Larry Craig's (R-ID) solicitation for sex in a Minnesota airport men's restroom to a man who turned out to be an undercover police officer.... you can read about it here, "GOP Senator Pleaded Guilty After Restroom Arrest." (WaPo)

But, what you may get to not read, is this excerpt from Craig's impeachment statement about then President Clinton.... released to the Congressional Record, February 12, 1999:

"..... But I would submit that if a generation of young people are taught by our actions in this case that a lie carries no consequences, then the nation is at risk. If our citizens conclude that lawlessness in the highest office is acceptable, that their elected representatives are complicit in that corruption, and that nothing can be done to stop it, then the nation is at risk.

Craig rhetorically built his over 20-year senate career around GOP conservative "family values" and anti-gay legislation.

Addendum: In a statement today, Craig said he regrets his rash decision to plead guilty, making it sound as though he made a hasty decision. He pleaded guilty one month after his arrest.

He also said his poor decision to plead guilty was because a home state newspaper, The Idaho Statesman, had been hounding him, when in truth, an article about previous alleged gay sex encounters, including an underage male page, was suppressed by the newspaper until Craig pleaded guilty to the charge in Minnesota.

Here is the police report from Minnesota.

Bush's Muddy Mess

Yesterday, President Bush mourned the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales, charging that Gonzales's... "good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons." (WaPo)

So, let's review why it was past time for Gonzales to go.

"There have been no verified civil liberties abuses in the four years of the act's existence." December 15, 2005, op-ed piece by Gonzales, urging Congress to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act.

FACT: Internal FBI documents show that Gonzales had been informed of at least a half-dozen instances of legal or procedural violations of the Patriot Act. In May 2007, Gonzales's former deputy, James B. Comey, disclosed that he and several colleagues had concluded that the program was so illegal that he and other officials at Justice and the FBI were ready to resign unless it was altered.

"There has not been any serious disagreement, including -- and I think this is accurate -- there's not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed." Gonzales, February 6, 2006, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency.

FACT: There was a nighttime showdown over the program in March 2004 in the hospital room of then Attorney General Ashcroft.... Gonzales, as White House counsel, tried to get an ill and "barely articulate" Ashcroft to certify that the program was legal.

"We never had any intent to ask anything of him if we did not feel that he was competent." Gonzales, July 24, 2007, Senate testimony about the visit to Ashcroft's hospital room.

"I have not been involved, was not involved in the deliberations over whether or not U.S. attorneys should resign." Gonzales, March 26, 2007, interview on "NBC" Nightly News.

FACT: Three days later, Gonzales's former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, testified that he had conferred with Gonzales at least five times about the plan to remove federal prosecutors and that Gonzales had attended the final meeting on the topic.

"I haven't talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven't wanted to interfere with this investigation and department investigations." Gonzales, April 19, 2007, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the U.S. attorney dismissals.

FACT: Gonzales's former senior counselor, Monica Goodling, testified before Congress that in early April, Gonzales ..."laid out for me his general recollection" of the "process regarding the replacement of the U.S. attorneys... and then he asked me if he thought - if I had any reaction to his iteration.... I did not know if it was appropriate for us to both be discussing our recollections of what happened...."

"I don't recall - I don't recall exactly when the decision - I made the decision." Gonzales, April 19 Senate Judiciary hearing on the firings, at which Gonzales said nearly 70 times that he did not know, could not recall or was unsure about various information.

So...although Gonzales repeatedly insisted.... 70 times.... that he could not recall key events in the prosecutor dismissals including a meeting he held with Bush and adviser Karl Rove..... and, although Gonzales testified that there were no internal Justice Department disagreements over a domestic surveillance program, even though top Justice and FBI officials had judged it illegal and threatened to resign unless it was altered.... it was all just dirty politics according to Bush.

Even the conservative National Review in March said of Gonzales, "We have never seen evidence that he has a fine legal mind, good judgment, or managerial ability.... Nor has his conduct at any stage of this controversy gained our confidence." (WaPo)

Gonzales legacy will be that he lied before Congress, interpreted the law to match his boss's political wishes and the White House perception that the Constitution gives the president much more authority than Congress or the judiciary.

He contended that international treaties like the spurned Geneva Convention are subject to "situational" adherence, and signed off on harsh treatment of U.S. detainees. He crafted legal memos that allowed for torture and authorized military tribunals that the Supreme Court later ruled weren't legally authorized, and defended transfers of detainees to harsh interrogation nations.

And, lest we forget, it was Gonzales's U.S. attorney who prosecuted and imprisoned two border agents trying to apprehend a drug runner from Mexico.... giving the drug smuggler immunity to testify against the agents.

A perversion of justice Bush refuses to overturn, although he commuted the sentence of VP Cheney's chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby even before Libby had served a day of his sentence for what passes at the White House as business as usual.... perjury and obstruction of justice.

Gonzales excuses lawbreaking and violent Latino gang members as "individuals who have run into a spell of tough luck," and approved immigration reform legislation that included putting them on the fast track to citizenship on their word that they had renounced gang activity.

While our president mourns the loss of his legal political enabler Gonzales.... we mourn that Bush's Justice Department, the safeguards of our Constitution and the rule of law lay broken at his feet.... trampled into the mud by the actions of his own administration.

Monday, August 27, 2007

At Last... Bedtime for Gonzo

The resignation of our disgraced Attorney General Gonzales feels like a hollow victory.... just like it will feel when we at last rid ourselves of The Decider and the rest of his toxic administration. Because, even with their leave taking, the destruction they wrought will remain far, far into the future....

.... The politicizing of the law. The breaking down of Constitutional safeguards. The distrust of government. The sullying of our reputation around the world. The backbreaking debt. The unbridled rise of corporate influence and corruption. The gutting of our manufacturing base. The weakening of the middle class. The trashing of our the environment.... and the reckless, unwinnable, deadly, costly war in Iraq.

The thought most expressed about the "legacy" of this administration is, "will our country survive?"

No, there's no joy in Gonzo's departure. Especially when the first name mentioned for his replacement is the head of the department as discredited as Justice, Michael Chertoff, who heads the bloatedly-inept political creation of this administration, the Department of Homeland Security.

As the old saying goes, you can tell a lot about a person by his friends, or in the case of a president, by those he trusts and with whom he surrounds himself. The Decider's first-named ally was Vice President Cheney, the demented wizard behind the curtain. The cabal surrounding the deadly duo allowed no justice to escape their power-grabbing black hole.

Thus Gonzo, as the most powerful law enforcer in the country, was the perfect tool for this administration, placing his loyalty to the White House and their political agenda above and beyond the very law he took an oath to uphold, and was himself the object of congressional investigations into misconduct.

Goodbye Gonzo. We desperately hope we'll never see your like again.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

When Primaries Collide

It's refreshing to see the Democratic party stepping up to their role as traffic cop in it's primary process.... "DNC Strips Florida of 2008 Delegates."

That's right. The Democratic National Committee makes, and enforces, the party primary rules.... and yesterday they sent a strong message.

The DNC stripped Florida of their nominating presidential delegates because they crashed into line, accelerating their primary date to January 29, creating a bumper-car confusion among the scheduled early primary and caucus states.

Allowed to stand, Florida's maneuver would push New Hampshire to an earlier primary date, and Iowa's first-in-the-nation January caucus would carom forward to either early January or even the December holiday season.

But Florida can still decide to count.... if they want their Democratic delegates reinstated, they have 30 days to reschedule their primary to after February 5.

Making a stand for orderly process, DNC member Garry Shays of California reminded the states, "Rules are rules. California abided by them, and Florida should as well. To ignore them would open the door to chaos."

Michigan is also revving up for a possible early primary run.... "Michigan's legislature is on the verge of approving a January 15 date - a move that would violate the same Democratic rule that Florida faces punishment for breaking. The Michigan Republican State Committee voted yesterday to endorse the new date."

So, will Michigan have two primaries? Will the Democratic party opt to lose their delegates and go with the earlier date?... hopefully not.

Reason tells us that the point of the primary process for presidential elections is to accumulate enough delegates to win the party's nomination. That's why the belligerent statement of Florida's Democratic party chair, Karen Thurman, is so inane , "Whether you get a delegate or don't get a delegate, a vote is a vote.... That is what Floridians are going to say is important."

Oh really? Having no representation in the selection of the Democratic presidential nominee is of no importance? Having the Democratic candidates skip campaigning in the fourth-most-populous state because they don't have any delegates isn't important?

We nominate Karen Thurman for Florida's Election Process Hall of Shame.... joining the 2000 election GOP capo Katherine Harris, and Chad who was hanging around anyway.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ware's Straight Talk

When you see his boxer's nose and direct no-nonsense stare at the camera, you stop to listen to his Australian "mate"-accented rapid-fire delivery as he reports his blunt assessments.... because you know you're going to hear from CNN correspondent Michael Ware the real facts on the ground from the only correspondent who has been in Baghdad since before the the U.S. invasion.

He knows the score, and seldom agrees with the White House version of events.

On the civil war in Iraq.
When the Bush administration bristled at the Iraq war being called a civil war, Ware pounced... "....it's easier to deny that this is a civil war, when essentially you live in the most heavily fortified place in the country within the Green Zone, which is true of both the prime minister, the national security adviser for Iraq and, of course, the top U.S. military commanders.

"However, for the people living on the streets, for Iraqis in their homes, if this is not civil war, or a form of it, then they do not want to see what one really looks like."

On Sen. John McCain's statement that Americans could "go into some Baghdad neighborhoods in a secure fashion."
Upon hearing McCain's boast, Ware lamented on the loss of McCain's credibility and challenged.... "To suggest that there's any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous. I'd love Senator McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll."

On the effectiveness of the U.S. troop "surge."
When asked if the Bush administration claim that the escalation of troops had an impact on sectarian violence in Iraq, Ware scoffed.... "No, not really. It's forced [al-Qaeda] to displace.... So deaths are down because it's much harder to kill each other until the Americans withdraw and the real battle begins."

And, yesterday when CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked him about the "big picture" regarding the disintegrating government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Ware put the rose-colored-glasses claims of the Bush administration in their proper perspective:

"Well, Wolf, I mean, really, there's never been an Iraqi government. I mean, it's never been a so-called entity. It's been an apparition from the beginning, a loose coalition of militias, most of them according to western intelligence, backed by Iran, jammed together. So really, there's never been a functioning government there."

And, Ware's gritty assessment of the consequences of the action that Sen. Warner (R-VA) and others are suggesting, to start a drawdown of American troops (you're not going to want to hear this):

"I'm sorry, but with all respect to Senator Warner, he is absolutely kidding himself. If... withdrawing 5,000 troops is going to send any kind of a message.... the strongest message that would send is an American defeat.

"And if you want a clear-cut example of both the power of that message, and what happens on the ground, just look at Basra in the south. The Brits have all but been forced to abandon Basra. What's happened? Rival sparring, brawling, Iranian-backed militias have taken over and it's turning into an absolute disaster. That's a glimmer of Iraq's future without American forces."

The only response one can make to this jarring no-win reality-check is the one given by Blitzer, "Pretty depressing information."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cracks Appear In Iraq Support.....


The influential former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. John Warner (R-VA) "Calls for Pullouts By Winter," the first time he has named a date certain, and another telling break in the Bush ideological damming of rational policy in Iraq.

Warner's pivotal role of finger-in-the-dike support seems over, as he recommends beginning the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by Christmas, undoubtedly prompted by his recent visit to Iraq and the bruising assessment by the just-released National Intelligence Estimate over the lack of political progress there.

Another leak in The Decider's "the generals are making the decisions" justification-bulwark appears as, "Gen. Pace may urge U. S. troop cut in Iraq: report." The retiring chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff is expected to urge a cut U. S. troop levels in Iraq by almost half, contending keeping "more than 100,000 troops in Iraq through next year would severely strain the military."

The Decider did not nominate Pace for a second term as chairman, and he leaves his position at the end of September. Another case of killing the messenger like the other generals who pointed out an elephant in the war room.

With the ever shifting goals for Iraq.... liberation of Iraq became democracy with a unity government became the "surge" for stability.... in desperation, The Decider this week made the heretofore spurned connection between Iraq and Vietnam and the horrific consequences of our leave-taking. But, this desperate rhetoric is "Bush's Vietnam Blunder."

Rather than a rationale for continuing military involvement, "his words invite examination of the mounting damage that his approaches to the war in Iraq, and to national security in general are doing to U. S. institutions..."

As the Iraq policy dam continues to crumble, The Decider's supporters.... even Bush's brain Karl Rove.... are running for their political lives before they are swamped by the floods of accountability.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Facing Facts on Iraq

Consider, this is the public report issued today, not the more highly-sensitive full report the White House and key Congressional leaders see, that still reaches the inescapable verdict.... "NIE: Iraq 'Unable to Govern' Itself Effectively."

Even without the full NIE report, the bare facts are inescapable.... the government of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki "will continue to struggle" while the civil war grows ever more violent.

No wonder members of the Armed Services Committee Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who did see the full report before today, called for the Iraqi parliament to oust Maliki.

The NIE, National Intelligence Estimate, which is a consensus judgment of the CIA and 15 other U.S. intelligence agencies, concludes.... If U.S. forces continue their current strategy, security "will continue to improve modestly" over the next six to 12 months but violence will remain high and political reconciliation will remain elusive.

How many more military lives is The Decider going to recklessly put in harms way for a cause even the currently vacationing political leaders of Iraq don't have the will to successfully pursue.

As The Decider likes to points out, we can't control what the "democratically elected" Iraqi parliament does (or doesn't do).

But, as the disaffected American public is loudly pointing out, we can decide to end our futile military involvement in Iraq. Now!

Maliki a Dangerous Scapegoat

Today's Washington Post editorial asks, is Iraqi's Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki an "Easy Scapegoat"?

Seems so. But Maliki's cozying up to Shiite Iran and Syria asks a more disturbing question. Is Maliki an honest but ineffectual partner in Iraq, or a dangerous tool of neighboring countries waiting to gobble up Iraq while the Bush administration neocons flail around looking for a saleable political excuse to be there in the first place.

The bratty Maliki threatens the Bush administration that Iraq can "find friends elsewhere,"..... and, after his visit with madman Ahmadinejad in Iran crowed that "he appreciated Iran's positive and constructive stance on Iraq."

Maliki even threw a fit and insisted on the removal of U.S. commander Gen. Petraeus, and threatened to launch Shiite forces against our troops because of the General's "neighborhood watch" approach of utilizing local Sunni forces against al Qaeda.

The Decider's response to Maliki's outrageous behavior was to tell him to "calm down," and publicly refer to him as a "good guy." A good guy!

In a CNN report yesterday, front-line U.S. Generals in Iraq openly questioned whether democracy can be the goal in Iraq, one of the Bush administration's ever-changing justifications for the invasion of Iraq, and the need for Maliki's power-grabbing "democratic" government.

And, in a devastating blow to the Bush justification campaign, the Iraq national intelligence assessment to be released today questions whether or not Maliki is up to the job.

Seems as though the recently-hyped progress estimate on an Iraq led by "good guy" Maliki has evidently been a calculated attempt by the White House to blunt the negative assessments of both our mission in Iraq, and Maliki's leadership.

But, in the fairytale being woven to salvage the Bush legacy, the White House will need a scapegoat.... why else keep the two-faced Maliki around?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"W" Stands for Wimpy

Evidently "Darth" Cheney took The Decider to the neocon woodshed.

Just one day after his comments at the North American summit where he expressed disappointment at Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki's lack of political progress, now "Bush Offers Support for Embattled Iraqi Leader." (WaPo)

Gone is Bush's common-sense approach to Maliki's political failures.... "If the government doesn't respond to the demands of the people, they will replace the government".... a fate undoubtedly awaiting the GOP next November.

Instead, in an about-face today, Bush fell into line and saluted the Maliki flag, terming him a "good man with a difficult job, and I support him."

Maliki, evidently determined to bite the hand that feeds him, today snapped at his U.S. critics after his three-day visit to Syria, "No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by the people..... We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere." Like Iran or Syria?

In case there was ever any question, The Decider is definitely not the swaggering cowboy taking on the international bullies.... Mexico's presidents push him around, thumbing their nose at our immigration laws, dumping their destitute and criminal population into our lap.

And now Maliki.... who last year flippantly stood up The Decider for dinner.... is slapping around the United States as we pour our lifeblood and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into Iraq to prop up his pitiful government.

Our Cheney-puppet president is allowing ugly comments from the forked tongue of a double-dealer like Maliki to go unanswered. And worse, plays up to him as a "good guy."

Maybe The Decider needs to remove himself to a shelter for battered leaders. He's no longer able to stand up for himself, or for our scorned country.

Congress.... it's time for an intervention.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Get Tough, and Get Out

The GOP loves to accuse the Democrats of wanting a "nanny state".... a federal government that does everything for citizens instead of insisting they do things for themselves.

So.... why is it that the White House can't make the same connection on Iraq.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday called for Iraqi's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ouster and urged Iraqis to replace their leaders. (WaPo)

It was after his recent three-day trip sizing up the situation on the ground in Iraq, that Levin called for the Iraq parliament to vote the Maliki government out of office and replace it with a less sectarian and more unifying prime minister and government.

Such a move toward political stability, Levin reasons, would then allow the ten (soon to be eleven) trained and ready divisions of the Iraqi army to take control of security, which won't happen until U.S. troops relinquish the job.

But the White House is unwilling to make the tough-love connection, and continues their nanny-state support of the ineffectual Maliki.... thus stalling political progress.... and the day when they stand up, so we can stand down.

Monday, August 20, 2007

In D.C. the Superficial Runs Deep

The headline perfectly captures what is wrong in U.S. politics today.... "A Rush To Frame Views on Congress... Ads Start Before Presidential Race Consumes Voters." (WaPo)

We learn of the push by Democrats and Republicans to "define the story line of the 2008 congressional election" before voters are "swamped" by the presidential campaign.

Let's face it, the 2008 election is the Democrats to lose. Seldom has a president and administration been so widely despised, even by many in their own party.

While Congress flounders in their self-made voter perceptions, the GOP presidential candidates are running away from The Decider as fast as their flip-flops will take them.

And, seldom has a newly-installed majority in Congress so misread the fury of the electorate who shouted loud and clear in 2006.... remember us?

While the Democrats can point to some successes, and plans that were frustrated by not having a veto-proof margin in Congress, there were many things they could.... and didn't.... control.

Earmarks. The new Democratic congress just couldn't resist the lure of pork. The voters were hoping for better, and were bitterly disappointed.

Immigration. Lots of time was wasted pandering to the pro-illegal alien lobbyists, and President Bush, on an issue that addressed the concerns of illegals and illegal-employing companies more than those of their besieged citizens. Dumb.

More warrantless wiretapping power handed to The Decider. Puzzling and scary.

The public sees that the congressional political game in D.C. has evolved into running for office, raising money and planning for the next run for office. Their legislators have forgotten the vital piece in between.... good governance.

The best thing the Democrats could do to show they have heard the voters is to replace Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) with more middle-of-the-road leaders, not power-grabbing opportunists playing to the left fringe.

Just roll up their sleeves, listen to citizen concerns and craft common-sense legislation and the Democrats won't have to manufacture "a story line."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Democratic Dustup in Des Moines

It was , "Yea! Rah! Rah! _______" (fill in the blank) outside the Democratic presidential debate at Drake University in Des Moines, as the Democrats easily won the candidate-support "sign off" when compared to the tepid few who showed up two weeks ago for the GOP debate.

While Hillary Clinton continued her smooth, no mistakes performance, and Barak Obama "drew fire" from his rivals but held his own, several other candidates more than rose to the occasion.

Bill Richardson rekindled his flame, and had his best debate performance thus far. A memorable line, and one that set him apart on education, was just to scrap No Child Left Behind. Others just fiddled with Bush's failed education program at the edges.

John Edwards advocated powerfully for labor, and was unequivocal that he wouldn't "negotiate with lobbyists," but just take their power away. Right on!

Obama slyly sniped at Clinton, advocating that the country needs to break out of the red and blue-state patterns of the last 20 years.... and just in case you weren't paying attention..... he added it was a problem that predates the Bush administration.

Joe Biden was convincing on Iraq, and the other candidates thought so too, often referring to "Joe's" proposed plan. When all the candidates were asked if there was a time when they didn't tell the whole truth about an issue, the once-verbose Biden self-deprecatingly said that his problem "is saying too much about what I think."

Chris Dodd's impressive angle on neglected small farms was to have a Justice Department that deals with antitrust issues because that impacts across the board.... media, corporations and conglomerates that have accumulated too much power. Let's chant: "No more Gonzo! No more Gonzo!"

An ignored Dennis Kucinich's best line in response to a question on the candidates reliance on God to solve problems was, "I've been standing here praying to God you were going to call on me."

Mike Gravel showed up to throw bombs at his fellow candidates, but instead bombed.

(Drum roll)....The trophies go to: Found "fire in the belly": Richardson. Stepford delivery: Clinton. Clinton swipes: Obama. Iraq guru: Biden. Perry Mason persuasion: Edwards. Sincerely yesteryear: Dodd. Quixotic solutions: Kucinich. Biggest waste of debate time: Gravel.

Perhaps Obama's best defense of his relative new-comer status was, "Nobody had more experience than Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and many of the people on this stage that authorized this war." Sis-boom-bah!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Starting Gate Shuffle

It's a strange election season. The horses are trying to line up, but the race promoters keep changing the position of the starting gates.

This coming week, "NH awaits Michigan primary decision," to see if Michigan will elbow out South Carolina and hold its primary on January 15, which would push New Hampshire's to no later than January 8 and Iowa's first starting gate position to early January or the Christmas season.... not a jolly prospect.

While this hokey-pokey is going on, some of the candidate horses have worked themselves into a lather, pawing the ground and running from one gate to another.... sometimes even frantically galloping around the track in false starts.... while others are still in the stables munching on hay while their trainers curry and fuss over them.

Fabled Fred Thompson is just now being saddled up, and race fans are asking, "Is It Too Late for the Late Show?"

So far, bets placed on the horses give Fabled Fred the second-best odds, but many are nervous because he hasn't run in a while.... even left the tracks to play a police horse on TV. Many bettors are worried that he isn't in racing form and will fade long before the wire.

A few of the intrepid race fans are calling encouragement from the stands, but most are still in the parking lot, and, wanting to back the right horse in the most important race of their lifetime.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Gonzo's Caught Out

So, who to believe?

Notes taken at the time of the incident by the then Director of the FBI Mueller.

Or, the word of Gonzo, the Bush administration's political bag man now masquerading as Attorney General.

In "FBI Director's Notes Contradict Gonzales's Version of Ashcroft Visit," the clash of stories unfolds. Gonzo told the Senate Judiciary Committee about his nighttime visit to the sickroom of Attorney General Ashcroft, that Ashcroft was "lucid" and "did most of the talking."

However, the notes of Mueller.... who was called by an upset Deputy Attorney General Comey to come to Ashcroft's hospital room and observe for himself that Ashcroft wasn't up to the kind of pressure being applied by the White House over the wiretapping program.... tell a far different story.

To quote from Mueller's notes: "Wednesday 3/10/04 @2010: Saw AG. Janet Ashcroft in the room. AG in chair; is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed."

These words were written just minutes after Gonzo and White House Chief of Staff Card had visited Ashcroft to try to get him to sign a certification that would overturn the Justice Department's decision not to approve the continuation of the wiretapping program in its present form.

While this despicable behavior is bad enough, it's this sentence in WaPo's story that really sums up this arrogant administration.... "After the meeting concluded without success, the Bush administration decided to proceed with the program anyway."

If it hadn't been for the fact that Comey, Mueller and half a dozen other Justice Department officials threatened to resign if changes weren't made that.... "President Bush agreed to make the changes, Mueller and others have testified, but the changes have never been described."

As always with this deceitfully willful White House, the ends justify the means. And the ends are whatever The Decider says they are.

That is why the self-serving utterances issuing from the lackeys in this administration are to be rejected.... and the lying Gonzo should follow Bush's "Turd Blossom" Rove out the door.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rove Gets Out of Dodge


The reason for Karl Rove's departure from the White House may be as simple, and self-serving, as Duffy suggests in his cartoon in today's Des Moines Register.

In the face of the disintegration of the Maliki government and the civil war raging in Iraq, regardless of the lipstick the White House will try to put on the September report ....

An economy tottering on the edge of a Grand Canyon of debt, volcanic stock market instability, a plummeting dollar and the financial choke hold of China....

And, Congressional investigations daily uncovering Rove's fingerprints on the flagrant abuses of power by the Bush administration....

Rove discovers that he "needs to spend more time with his family" in Texas.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Bush "Vision"

It was just a small part of a conversation on Hardball yesterday between host Chris Matthews and White House correspondent April Ryan.

But, it is probably one of the creepiest things I've ever heard said about The Decider. And, that is saying something.

Matthews set the stage: "Does the president listen to whispers like St. Joan of Arc, April, because the question, when you read him lately, is that he seems to be a man possessed of a messianic purpose in the Middle East. We're fighting a war for god, for democracy, for freedom. He says that all the time. Yes? April?"

Ryan: "....The president has said, you know, that he believes in symbols. He has talked about the issue of being out of this country and seeing the bible, the pages of the bible flip when he was at the Pope's funeral. He has also talked about--"

Matthews: "What does that mean?"

Ryan: "It's a symbol. I don't know. He thought it was a symbol of god. You know, at a certain point the sun came out and he saw the pages of the Bible flip open. And he is basically saying look, that was a symbol. He started talking--"

Matthews: "A sign, you mean?"

Ryan: "A symbol, sign, whatever you want to call it. He has also talked about other issues. But he really has said that faith has helped him move through life, and he believes he is in the Oval Office for a purpose. He believes he's got a--"

I wish Matthews, the serial interrupter, would have let Ryan finish her thought. But what she did say was Twilight Zone enough.

The President of the United States thinks God is giving him a sign when he sees the pages of the Bible flip at Pope John Paul II's funeral.

The Pope's funeral was attended by the leaders of almost every nation in the world... but, the sun came out, and the pages of the Bible flipped and viola... God was sending a message to The Decider alone. Chilling.

We're used to the super-egos of our presidents and self-important Poo Bahs of all types. But we're not talking about ego here, we're talking about psychosis, delusions of grandeur and false beliefs.

Maybe The Decider isn't stupid after all.... is it possible instead that he's just unable to meet the challenges of his presidency? It would explain so many things that seem so.... weird.

His stubborn unwillingness to listen to counsel. His belief that he alone is The Decider, and that his decisions trump all. His messianic vision of a Western democracy in the Middle East, no matter the cost.

It has to be said.... are we being led, not just by an incompetent, but by a madman?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rule By State Secrets

It's no secret, in a way.

President Bush and his aides have confirmed that the National Security Agency (NSA), beginning in late 2001, monitored overseas electronic communications without warrants. The question is just exactly who, what and how data was collected under the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

Now, in a legal battle in a federal appeals court over this controversial spying program, the charge is being made that "NSA efforts were not limited to overseas e-mail communications and included the collection of purely domestic traffic." (WaPo)

There are dozens of legal challenges to the NSA program to determine the extent of any abuse in their data mining operation.

But, the Democratic-controlled Congress has not been helpful in getting to the bottom of what many feel is the Bush administration's illegal application of the spying program.... Congress "acceded to the demands of the Bush administration for expanded NSA authority to conduct spying efforts on U.S. soil, effectively approving many of the practices at issue."

Gonzo's Justice Department argues that these cases cannot be pursued anyway because the evidence needed to litigate is a matter of national security. No evidence, no case.

It's the perfect Catch-22 setup for government abuse of privacy.... if there is a rule, no matter what the rule, there is always an exception to the rule. And the D.C. rulers make the rules, and the exceptions.

The courts will have the last word, and that word will probably eventually come from the Supremes. But the deck is stacked.

Against the might of "state secrets" protected by the Bush administration, his Justice Department and the Democratic Congress is the Constitution's protection of citizen rights.

Will the Bush-packed Supreme Court uphold the Constitution, or allow the continuing slide toward a Catch-22 fascist state.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove is Beached

There is something off about the out-of-the-blue announcement of the departure of Bush's "brain," Karl Rove.

Rove likes to cast himself as the GOP's "Moby Dick".... the favorite target of Democrats who he says are "after me." "Rove: Departure Unrelated to Investigations" (WaPo) is how he likes to frame his departure. He doesn't want to leave the impression that he was chased out of town with the posse on his heels.

Still, the announcement and hastily-called press conference today in front of the president's departing helicopter seemed awkward. As the joke goes about guests who have over-stayed their welcome, "here's your hat and coat, what's the rush." It felt like that.

When Rove departs the White House at the end of the month, the loudest sigh of relief won't come from Democrats who accuse him of many devious and untoward things, but from a GOP anxious to turn the page on the sullied record of this administration and its enablers.

Rove was Bush's political brain who engineered for his buddy two terms as the governor of Texas, and then two terms as president. But count the cost.

He wasn't able to engineer for Bush a shining legacy, or public approval above abysmal.... nor, to build a powerful Republican party which instead he now leaves in a shambles.

Will he join another campaign? Maybe. But probably not publicly.

In the end, Bush's "Turd Blossom" was harpooned by his own hand. Few will be sorry to see him go.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Where's GOP Straw Boss?

This is the final Straw... at least it should be.

All the hype, all the money, all the bus fumes wafting from the parking lot.... for what?

Most of the major players... Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and the unannounced Fred Thompson... didn't pay to play. The turnout didn't turn out for the GOP Straw Poll in Ames, posting a measly 14,302 vote tally today.

The prediction two weeks ago of 40,000, was reduced before the event to 30,000..... not even close.

The final indignity, or perhaps irony, the voter-distrusted electronic machines "had difficulty" and the somewhat breathless main-stream media was left, and left, and left in front of the deadline altar for ninety minutes.

Now at last, however, it can be announced.... the winner as expected after investing millions of dollars and months of effort.... Mitt Romney with 4516 votes, or 31.5 percent.

In a close tussle for second, Mike Huckabee 2587, and, Sam Brownback third with 2192 votes.

Nipping at their heels in fourth place, Tom Tancredo who garnered 1961 votes, while the fifth place Ron Paul showing was a disappointing 1305 tally.

Wisconsin's Tommy Thompson, who vowed to quit if he didn't place high, may be the first to bow out of the competition after his 1039 sixth-place finish.

The numbers plummet from there... 7th Fred Thompson 203, 8th Rudy Giuliani 183, 9th Duncan Hunter 174, 10th John McCain 101, and 11th John Cox with 41 votes.

The GOP must be in a cold panic after the lukewarm showing in hot Iowa..... and, they must be asking of their lineup....is there no there, there? No candidate to set a fire in party bellies?

Romney's expensive win, instead of having the ring of success, seems instead to toll for a GOP brought low by Boy George and his nasty neocons.

The Turkey In The Straw

There was one common theme from all of the GOP presidential candidates who showed up in Ames for the Straw Poll... things would be different if there was a Republican president in the White House.

Wait a minute, there IS a Republican president in the White House. Along with no-shows Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and the coy Fred Thompson, The Decider was absent in the day's political palaver. It's as though the last almost 7 years never were.

No mention of the record of crazy Uncle George in the attic who has gutted our military, shipped jobs off shore, and allowed the invasion of millions of illegal aliens over our borders. Mostly the themes were oatmeal familiar... pro life, pro military, pro family, pro lower taxes.

A few observations you may not hear anywhere else. Laura Ingraham, the TV and radio shock-jockess, was in charge of introductions. All of the candidates got respectful comments from her except Ron Paul who she rudely ridiculed.

What was most remarkable about Ron Paul, besides the fact that he listed the many things he wouldn't do as president, was the youthfulness of his supporters. What was remarkable about Tom Tancredo's storm troopers was also their age... mostly old codgers.

Speaking of supporters, it was a white man's world. You could count the number of blacks among the supporters on the fingers of one hand.... actually three fingers. None appeared on the podium.

Mitt Romney gave his usual perfect performance, and after his speech paraded his perfect family onto the podium amidst perfect applause. Perfectly perfect.

Speaking of perfect, John Cox of no discernible resume, showed up with his perfect trophy wife on his arm, carrying in his arms what he termed his "trophy daughter." He never got out of the gate.

The most Wizard of Oz moment was Mike Huckabee's line.... "A straw poll isn't about electing a straw man." Seems a decent guy in an Ozish way.

Duncan Hunter was reliably commanding. Promising to marshal our military, economy, industrial base and build the border fence in 6 months.... and, the only one to call China out for cheating on trade as they "step into Russia's superpower shoes."

Tommy Thompson hung his speech on the "global medical diplomacy" peg, while Brownback hammered home the issues dear to the far-right base.

We are now waiting to see which candidate has the most straw, the largest bale.... who floats the vote boat.... and they're off.

Who Knows What "Evil" Lurks....

David Frum, claimed in his "insider" book about the Bush presidency, The Right Man, that he came up with the infamous "axis of evil" idea for Bush's 2002 State of the Union speech.

Frum's idea was to charge North Korea, Iran and Iraq as the "axis of hatred." But, it was supposedly Michael Gerson.... hailed as Bush's phrase-crafting chief speechwriter and advisor from 1999 until he left the White House last year.... who tweaked it by changing "hatred" to "evil."

Now.... Matthew Scully in an article in latest issue of The Atlantic... paints a blistering portrait of Gerson, saying that Gerson accepted credit for words he did not write.

Scully, who worked with Gerson for five years, accuses Gerson of glory hogging, claiming, "Few lines of note were written by Mike, and none at all that come to mind from the post-9/11 addresses-- not even 'axis of evil.' "

Scully claims, as reported in "Bush's Muse Stands Accused," (WaPo) that after Frum came up with "axis of hatred," that he, not Gerson, was the one who came up with the change to "evil."

So it turns out these fateful words, the birth of which shaped our disasterous foreign policy and presaged our trumped-up invasion of one of the anointed evil triplets, Iraq, is the creation of shallow wordsmiths, each seeking some attribution credit.

These strawmen are still unwilling to soberly reflect on the consequences of their word creations.... no shame, no regret, no second-thoughts.... as they bicker over paternity.

In the incurious and ideologically-driven White House, the true meaning of nations in an "axis".... an alliance of two or more nations to coordinate their foreign and military policies.... wasn't the point.

After all, Iran and Iraq were warring enemies.... North Korea an internationally isolated pariah. Nothing close to an axis.

But, in the propaganda buildup to the invasion of Iraq, what better image to stir the collective national memory than World War II's holocaustic Axis... Germany, Italy and Japan.

Instead of fighting over authorship of this fateful phrase.... or any of the demagogic utterances from The Decider... this axis of weevils - Scully, Gerson and Frum.... should instead scurry into the shadows of anonymity.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Decider Babbles On...

President Bush held a press conference yesterday.... asserting that the economy is strong.... in the real world the stock market DOW was in the process of losing almost 390 points.... and then took questions, or should we say listened to questions and then drifted off into la-la land when answering.

Example.

QUESTION: "Given the decision to commute the sentence of Libby, given the performance of Iraqi leaders, is it fair for people to ask questions about your commitment to accountability."

BUSH: [After declaring himself "deliberate in my decision-making" and a "fair person"... he wandered back to his favorite subject, Iraq.] ..... "It matters if the United States does not believe in the universality of freedom. It matters to the security of people here at home if we don't work to change the conditions that caused 19 kids to be lured onto airplanes to come and murder our citizens.

"The first question one has to ask on Iraq is: Is it worth it? I could not send a mother's child into combat if I did not believe it was necessary for our short-term and long-term security to succeed in Iraq."

Whoa! Work to "change the conditions" that caused "19 kids" to be "lured" onto airplanes on 9/11. That sounds like clowns handing out lollipops to beardless innocents.

First of all, the terrorists weren't kids. They ranged in age from the early twenties to 33.

And, to "change the conditions" that caused the terrorists to act we should have invaded Saudi Arabia. Of the nineteen "kids," fifteen were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon.... none were from Iraq.

Bush was asked about Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's current (and photographed) hand-holding visit with Iran's madman President Ahmadinejad, where it was reported that Maliki said "he appreciated Iran's positive and constructive stance" on Iraq.

Bush's delusional reply, "Now if the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have a heart to heart with my friend, the prime minister. Because I don't believe they are constructive.

"I don't think he, in his heart of heart, thinks they're constructive either."

Oh no.... The Decider is looking into another Putinish soul and opining.

Will someone please tell Bush his hair is on fire! That we are fighting Iran's war for them in Iraq.... that both Maliki and Iran are Shiites.... and, that as soon as we turn our backs Maliki will rush into Iran's arms... if not sooner.

Eugene Robinson in his op ed today, "Just Another Vacation From Reality" (WaPo) asks why Iraq or any nation would appreciate being invaded, occupied and having Western democracy imposed at the point of a gun?

They wouldn't. But, The Decider justifies.... "I firmly believe it is an ideological struggle. And I believe it's a struggle between the forces of moderation and reasonableness and good and the forces of murder and intolerance.

"And what has made the stakes so high is that those forces of murder and intolerance have shown they have a capacity to murder innocent people in our own country....."

The Decider won't recognize that the "forces of murder".... no longer "kids," I guess.... weren't from Iraq, but from Saudi Arabia.

What he "thinks," and his neocon ideology justifies, is clear. As long as he is in office he'll wage war in Iraq, regardless of the facts on the ground or the price our country is paying.

Bush turns a deaf ear to the American public's answer "NO" when he asks... "Is it worth it?."

As Robinson says.... "if you think Bush is going to care what [Gen.] Petraeus's report says in September, get out of the sun immediately and drink lots of water. You're delirious."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

China's Games

While Victor Cha wonders in his op ed piece about the Olympics "Countdown in Beijing, The Choice for China: Propaganda or Positive Change?" (WaPo) .... others are worrying about the unsporting China.

Cha asks, "Will the 2008 Games be like the 1936 Games in Berlin, where the goal was to validate a flawed domestic system before the world? Or, in the coming year, will we see whether Beijing is ready to mark the Games as a watershed for China's constructive role in the community of nations?"

Contrast this Quixotic view with this headline today in the United Kingdom's Telegraph.... "China threatens 'nuclear option' of dollar sales."

"The Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of U.S. treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation."

The warning that Beijing may use it's $1.33 trillion of foreign reserves to blackmail our government, or worse, is described as China's "nuclear option." It could trigger a "dollar crash at a time when the U.S. currency is already breaking down through historic support levels."

Such an action would cause a spike in U.S. bond yields, "hammering the U.S. housing market and perhaps tipping the economy into recession. It is estimated that China holds over $900 billion in a mix of US bonds."

In other words, China is financing the Bush administration's much touted "booming economy," and if we don't dance to their tune....

It's hard to know just how far China will go to eclipse America and secure their coveted place as a world power, but they're certainly making the moves to "let the games begin."

Chicago Showdown

Another debate, and debate they did last night.

The Democratic presidential candidates met at the home of Chicago's NFL Bears, Soldier Field. The right venue for the scrapping rivals.... "Obama and Clinton Take the Gloves Off in AFL-CIO Debate." (WaPo)

There was a lot of the verbal pushing and shoving between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama defended his earlier threat to take unilateral military action inside of Pakistan in pursuit of al-Qaeda terrorists if President Musharraf, one of our staunchest allies, didn't.

As the wiser adult, Clinton sent Obama to the woodshed for a time out, scolding, "I think it is a very big mistake to telegraph that, and to destabilize the Musharraf regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamist extremists who are in bed with al-Qaeda and Taliban."

Sen. Chris Dodd weighed in with Clinton on Obama's hypothetical willingness to unilaterally invade a friendly nation, calling it irresponsible... and, a clearly irritated Sen. Joe Biden pointed out the debate was already settled U.S. policy.... "It's time everybody start to know the facts - the facts" he reprimanded.

While Chicago is Obama's stomping ground, Clinton scored on him time and again, and indirectly punched holes in his thin resume by pointing to her front-line experience.... "For 15 years I have stood up against the right-wing machine, and I've come out stronger. So if you want a winner who knows how to take them on, I'm your girl."

There were other dustups.... a particularly nasty one was between former Sen. John Edwards and Biden. Edwards tried to paint himself as the champion of labor. Biden issued a scathing putdown, pointing out his three-decade fight for labor as opposed to Edward's running-for-president union support. Ouch.

The impish Rep. Dennis Kucinich lightened the mood, calling himself the "Seabiscuit of this campaign," pleasing the union audience with his no-holds-barred pro labor agenda of ending NAFTA and taking the U.S. out of World Trade Organizations.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson showed up.... the wallflower at the lively candidate rumble. He didn't seem to connect with the boisterous audience, although he promised to banish "union-busting" Department of Labor and OSHA attorneys.

Lots of elbows were thrown, but Clinton made it clear the real target is the Bush administration because America needs change.... she "wants a united Democratic party that will stand against the Republicans."

Her opponents showed up for a practice scrimmage, but, Clinton took the field with steady authority. Like it or not, she's probably going to be the Democrat's girl come next November.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Slogging Toward.... What?

Iraq is a "country" of tribal factions, cobbled together by colonial rulers, and, until the U.S. invaded, held together only by the choke hold of maniacal strongman Saddam. So.... "As British Leave, Basra Deteriorates, Violence Rises in Shiite City Once Called a Success Story." (WaPo)

The International Crises Group recently reported that Basra is plagued by "the systematic misuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighborhood vigilantism and enforcement of social mores, together with the rise of criminal mafias that increasingly intermingle with political actors."

Sounds lovely, doesn't it. The question becomes.... can you by the force of arms make centuries-warring people into Golden-rule, latte-drinking citizens?

As a senior U.S. intelligence official said recently in Baghdad, "The British have basically been defeated in the south."

All Bush administration propaganda aside, Iraq has fatal fractures, and, is splintering and becoming more tumultuous each day that the political realities aren't addressed.

"Iraqi Crises Deepens as 5 More Ministers Quit Cabinet Meetings, U.S. Announces Deaths of Nine Soldiers, Four Killed on Monday in Diyala Province." (WaPo)

The five ministers who resigned are a mix of Sunnis and Shiites. Shiite-leaning Prime Minister al-Maliki's government now has no Sunni ministers whose resignations are a protest against their marginalization in the Bush-propped-up Maliki government.

Besides the awful loss our our nine brave troops, yesterday a truck bomb in a Shiite village near a northern city killed 31 people and wounded scores more... Bush's "oasis of stability".... and, south of Baghdad a roadside bomb exploded in a bus station, killing 8 people and wounding 10.

In this mounting turmoil our troops are paying the price for Bush's ill-conceived and ill-executed occupation, and stubborn insistence on "winning" a war against Iraqis locked in the medieval mindset of centuries-old tribal and religious blood feuds.

It's bad enough our depleted and over-extended military are caught in this relentless crossfire, but get this.... "Weapons Given to Iraq Are Missing, GAO Estimates 30% of Arms Are Unaccounted For." (WaPo)

That's right, the Pentagon has "lost track" of 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005 because as the GAO says, distribution was haphazard and didn't follow established procedures when given to Iraqi forces for training by..... none other than Gen. David Petraeus, who now commands all U.S. forces in Iraq.

Our soldiers are now looking down the barrel of this negligence... and the fingers on the triggers are, for example, the Fallujah brigade which "quickly dissolved in September 2004 and turned its weapons against the Americans."

The Bush administration keeps us mired in the shifting quicksands of Iraq, allowing our country to be sucked ever further into its abyss of hatreds.... criminally unwilling to change course and commit to a political solution.