Wednesday, January 31, 2007


From the Houston Chronicle:

Noted Texas liberal Molly Ivins dies

Molly Ivins, the irreverent nationally syndicated columnist from Texas who rankled conservatives and delighted liberals, died late this afternoon after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. She was 62.

A self-described leftist agitator, she infused her writings with both passion and wit. Her career spanned some 40 years, and in that time she thought nothing of calling President George W. Bush "Billy Bob Forehead," and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry "Governor Goodhair." Her columns drew such attention that her picture once graced billboards in North Texas above the words, 'Molly Ivins Can't Really Say That, Can She?' (That later became the title of one of her best-selling books).

Ivins sided with underdogs. In an interview last year with the Houston Chronicle, Ivins said she made a career writing about "who was getting screwed and who was doing the screwing." She was a diehard liberal in a state that turned from Democrat to Republican in the span of a decade and she hardly ever let an opportunity pass to lament the change.

Click here for the rest.

Ah, bloody hell.

I really loved Molly Ivins. I first discovered her writings not long after I had decided that I was a liberal, and she taught me that there was nothing anti-Texan about moving toward the left. Indeed, she showed me how to be a Texas liberal: be loud and in-your-face; be smarter than the conservatives; be funny. Fuckin' A! She's the one who wrote that great Ann Richards line about the first President Bush, "Poor George, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth." This is so sad. She was so fucking great, and she was just too young to die. Not only has Texas lost one of its best, the whole damned country has good reason to mourn.

Farewell, Molly.


Audit: Millions in Iraq reconstruction aid wasted

From the AP via CNN courtesy of AlterNet:

Tens of millions of U.S. dollars have been wasted in Iraq reconstruction aid, some of it on an Olympic-size swimming pool ordered up by Iraqi officials for a police academy that has yet to be used, investigators say.

The quarterly audit by Stuart Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, is the latest to paint a grim picture of waste, fraud and frustration in an Iraq war and reconstruction effort that has cost taxpayers more than $300 billion and left the region near civil war.

"The security situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, hindering progress in all reconstruction sectors and threatening the overall reconstruction effort," according to the 579-page report, which was being released Wednesday.

Calling Iraq's sectarian violence the greatest challenge, Bowen said in a telephone interview that billions in U.S. aid spent on strengthening security has had limited effect. He said reconstruction now will fall largely on Iraqis to manage -- and they're nowhere ready for the task.

The audit comes as President Bush is pressing Congress to approve $1.2 billion in new reconstruction aid as part of his broader plan to stabilize Iraq by sending 21,500 more U.S. troops to Baghdad and Anbar province.

Click here for the rest.

I have a hunch that when all this is finally sorted out, perhaps decades from now, the amount of money lost to fraud and corruption will be counted in the billions rather than millions. But for now, millions is bad enough. Bad enough for what? If you've ever wondered exactly why things have gone so badly in Iraq for the United States, I think it's safe to say that there are numerous causes, but certainly mismanagement by Pentagon contractors is one of them. Clearly, lots of taxpayer money that's supposed to be going into reconstruction isn't actually making it, which, by itself, is a cause of instability. Furthermore, the Iraqi government that we created and dominate appears to be wildly corrupt. Bush's "surge" is supposedly going to clear the way for that puppet-government to finally take responsibility for governing, but how the hell is it supposed to do that when so many officials seem to be on the take? These stories about missing money and waste in Iraq aren't simply about US taxpayers getting the shaft: in between the lines is the guarantee that the occupation will continue to be a spectacular failure.

But we already knew that, didn't we?


Tuesday, January 30, 2007


From the Huffington Post courtesy of AlterNet:

Fox Takes Fair And Balanced Look
At Weather "War"...With One Side

FNC's "Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocey did a piece on the "War over the Weather" this morning in advance of Friday's United Nations report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with guest Sen. James Inhofe, ranking minority member on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (and formerly its highly underqualified chair), so Inhofe could once again hold forth on his views on climate change and global warming, namely, that it's entirely normal and natural and not at all a man-based problem and anyone who suggests otherwise is a nefarious tool of the radical left. For his part, Doocey offered leading questions which also called out the "left wing", creating a segment that was actually not at all unlike an informercial.

Click here for video.

And from AlterNet:

Bush appointee unable to utter the words "Global Warming"

This first video details the hysterical-yet-sad story of John Negroponte, back when he was Bush's Director of National Intelligence, attempting to avoid the wrath of the White House by mentioning the words "Global" and "Warming" back to back.

Apparently, it was something of a game to get him to say them in the same sentence...

Click here for video.

I'm thinking that the reason Negroponte was unable to say "global warming" is because the White House prefers their term, "climate change," because they think it sounds less sinister. At any rate, such semantic games, and the Fox propaganda piece (aren't they all propaganda pieces over at Fox?) are simply minor manifestations of what appears to be an all-out attack on the science behind global warming. And this isn't simply harsh and misleading rhetoric: a second video in the AlterNet post shows Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman interviewing a government scientist whose reports on global warming weren't simply censored; rather they were rewritten to mean the opposite of what they originally said, that global warming is real, imminent, and man made.

You know, if there really is controversy about the subject among scientists, which isn't the case but conservatives assert it anyway, then why not let the scientists duke it out among themselves? Why does this supposedly unresolved scientific issue need to be addressed by politicians at all? I'm not certain of the answers to those questions, but I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that global warming is in reality uncontroversial among most climatologists, and right-wingers, scared as hell that reality is going to force them to lose money, are heavily engaged in wishful thinking.


Monday, January 29, 2007


From Emphasis Added:

The Punchline

We are currently living through the rein of someone history will regard as one of the great failures in American history. What has been apparent to some since the moment Bush took office has now penetrated the consciousness even of Beltway insiders and other slow-witted creatures.

A recent Newsweek poll confirms this. Following last week’s miserable State of the Union speech, fully 58% say they wish the Bush presidency were “simply over.” (hat tip, Kos).

Well, guess what? That can happen. In a country where we impeached a President for an incidental offense stemming from illicit sexual conduct and removed the governor of our largest state because the people there just kinda felt like it, why is it not both possible and desirable to bring an end to the Bush-Cheney regime with its endless list of trespasses against the Constitution, common sense and American values – by this summer, say?

After surveying the damage of the last six years, spending two more years waiting for Bush to go away is too big a risk. Every day these criminal clowns remain in office brings us closer to another futile war, this time with Iran, and continues the parade of incompetence, intransigence and partisan mischief that will take us years or decades to recover from.

Click here for the rest.

Rascally Rob Salkowitz, who writes the always interesting and thought-provoking Emphasis Added, is decidedly to the right of me. I mean, he's decidedly to the left of what we generally tend to think of as conservative these days, but, for instance, he's no Noam Chomsky fan. That's why I'm utterly fascinated and excited by this unambiguous call for impeaching Bush. Personally, I've been calling for impeachment since 2003, but then I also think we need to completely dismantle the public school system and start over from scratch: I'm pretty close to radical on lots of issues, so my views in no way can be perceived as any sort of touchstone for where educated Americans are in their thought processes at the moment. But, like I said, Rob is more moderate, closer, I think, to where most thinking Americans are at the moment. For me, this is good news. It means we may very well start hearing respected American voices call for ousting Bush before his term ends.

God, I hope so!


Minimum Wage Increase Is Good for Business

From AlterNet:

For many business owners, paying their workers well is common sense. "Trying to save money by shortchanging my employees would be like skimping on ingredients," said Kirsten Poole, a petition signer and co-owner of Kirsten's Cafe and Dish Caterers in Silver Spring, Md. "I'd lose more than I saved because of declining quality, service, reputation and customer base. You can't build a healthy business or a healthy economy on a miserly minimum wage."

A growing body of evidence shows that successful businesses that are "built to last" don't skimp on wages. "It is a sound business decision to increase the minimum wage," said venture capitalist Adnan Durrani, president of Condor Ventures in Stamford, Conn. "I have found that without exception in the successful ventures we've backed, providing sustainable living wages yielded direct increases in productivity, job satisfaction and brand loyalty from customers, all contributing to higher returns for investors and employers."

Research by the Economic Policy Institute validates the theory that raising the minimum wage will have a positive effect for low-wage workers without a negative effect on the economy.

Click here for the rest.

Yeah, it's definitely time to dispel the minimum wage myths that have crippled debate on the subject for years. While it sounds reasonable that requiring businesses to pay more than the "labor market" value for workers cuts into the bottom line and retards economic growth overall, the reality stands in stark contrast to what appears to be common sense. For starters, workers aren't capital; they're people. Treating them as money or raw materials or heavy equipment is nutty from the get-go. People have souls, minds, desires, etc. Consequently, there is much more to labor than the value economists assign it. And I'm not talking about some sort of touchy-feely, new age, abstract value: I'm talking about dollars and cents. That is, when you treat your workers like human beings, they're better workers, producing more, and have a much higher value than when they are treated simply as capital. Furthermore, when you pay all workers more money - the minimum wage tends to have an upward effect on all wages - that money invariably comes back to the companies paying workers in the first place. In other words, higher wages means more consumer spending, which stimulates economic growth. That's why the states that have already raised the minimum wage on their own have seen more, not less, economic activity than states that haven't followed suit.

Raising the minimum wage is the real common sense. We've got to stop listening to these naysayers. They're full of shit.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Experts: Latest climate report too rosy

From the AP via Yahoo courtesy of AlterNet:

Early and changeable drafts of their upcoming authoritative report on climate change foresee smaller sea level rises than were projected in 2001 in the last report. Many top U.S. scientists reject these rosier numbers. Those calculations don't include the recent, and dramatic, melt-off of big ice sheets in two crucial locations:

They "don't take into account the gorillas — Greenland and Antarctica," said Ohio State University earth sciences professor Lonnie Thompson, a polar ice specialist. "I think there are unpleasant surprises as we move into the 21st century."


Those scientists who say sea level will rise even more are battling a consensus-building structure that routinely issues scientifically cautious global warming reports, scientists say. The IPCC reports have to be unanimous, approved by 154 governments — including the United States and oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia — and already published peer-reviewed research done before mid-2006.

Click here for the rest.

You know, I read this stuff and just become infuriated with the irresponsibility of conservatives who stoke the bogus "controversy" among scientists about whether global warming exists or whether it's man made. There is a controversy, it seems, but it's about how bad and how quickly global warming is happening, not whether it exists. Needless to say, given the financial and ideological power the global warming flat-earthers wield, we're sure to be having the same stupid argument as the water starts to cover our ankles, and the economy falls to pieces.

It's no wonder that George Carlin has given up hope for the human race.


Tens of thousands in D.C. demand end to war in Iraq

From the Washington Post via the Houston Chronicle:

A raucous multitude of protesters, led by some of the aging activists of the past, staged a series of rallies and a march on the Capitol on Saturday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq.

Under a blue sky, tens of thousands of people angry about the war and other policies of the Bush administration danced, sang, shouted and chanted their opposition.

They came from across the country, and across the activist spectrum, with a wide array of grievances. Many seemed to be under 30, but there were others who said they had been at the famed anti-war protests of the 1960s and 70s.

They came to Washington at what they said was a moment of opportunity to push the new Congress to take action against the war, even as the Bush administration is accelerating plans to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq. This week the Senate will begin debating a resolution of disapproval of the president's Iraq policy, setting up a dramatic confrontation with the White House.

Click here for the rest.

I've been noticing that this particular round of demonstrations is getting much more press coverage, and much more favorably so, than the demonstrations before the war back in early 2003. That's got to be evidence that mainstream America no longer supports this foolish imperial adventure. Actually, I'd go so far as to say that this is how it's always been: Americans don't like war. I mean, when we really need to fight, we will, and we'll throw ourselves into it wholeheartedly, as with World War II. But when there really is no threat, when we're fighting for the wealthy elite, Americans traditionally loath war. It's laudable, I suppose, that the nation was willing to give the President the benefit of the doubt, and trust his claims that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a great danger to the world. But now everybody knows that Bush lied to them, and that Iraq was never a threat.

It's so weird. A scant four years ago, opposing the Iraq war was considered to be utterly unpatriotic. Now the reverse is true.


Saturday, January 27, 2007


Like I keep saying, grad school is finally getting to the point that it's really interfering with my blogging. I've got to have the first draft of my thesis ready in just a few weeks, and, of course, I'm way behind. We're also rehearsing Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, and I'm really lucky to be playing Shylock, the villain, but this too is taking up lots of time. So it's occurred to me that because I've been blogging for four years now, I've built up lots of content: why not run some old posts when I'm too busy to scour the internet for blog fodder? That also strikes me as a good idea what with Real Art's archive access being disabled due to issues associated with the new Blogger--I have access, of course, but nobody else does.

So, anyway, get ready for some retro-Real Art. Hopefully, I won't be doing this everyday, but it will give me some extra time to deal with my life. I hope. God, I hate having this thesis hanging over my head.


Forced by Blogger

Well, as I mentioned last night, Blogger's forcing everybody to move over to the new Blogger. That is, they've got some big new software or server thingy going on, and they're making all their clients, which obviously includes me, switch to it. Whether they like it or not. This is probably not really much of an issue for most people posting on Blogger, but it is for me. I've been using Blogger since 2002, some months before Google bought the service, and my blog uses one of what they're now calling "classic templates." And my "classic template" is apparently not entirely compatible with the superfangled new Blogger. That's why my page, never an aesthetic delight in the first place, now looks like shit. My archives are unavailable, too, with the great new Blogger.

So now I have to choose a new template for Real Art.

The problem with that is that I've spent years, on and off, tweaking that "classic template" to suit my own tastes. I've even learned some html basics in doing so, which is a pretty good thing I guess, but it's time consuming. And that's what I'm faced with now. When I eventually adopt a new template, all those tweaks will be gone, and I'll have to start over from the beginning. I suppose that's not really much of a big deal, but like I said, it's going to take some time, which I don't really have at the moment. So, for about six weeks or so, I'm just going to have to deal with a crappy looking blog until I can bring whatever my new template will be up to speed.

Arrgh! This is really annoying. In the meantime, I've started up a new blog strictly for experimentation in the way of tweaking my new template. For now, I'm thinking that the new Real Art is going to look something like this:

What do you think? I'm not sure myself, but it does tend to retain much of the old look's generic flavor. Drop a comment and give me some advice if you like.



So Blogger's pretty much forced me to switch over to their new version, which has somehow scarred up my blog's template. At the moment, I have no idea what to do about it, or if anything can even be done. And, for god's sake, my archives are misssing. Meanwhile, I'm in heavy rehearsals for Merchant of Venice here at LSU, and master's thesis deadlines are looming.

I don't know when I'll have the time to get this straightened out. Bastards.


Twilight Zone: "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street"

From Wikipedia:

As the aliens state, the central theme is how irrationally people act under stress and, in particular, it serves as an allegory for the Red Scare, particularly the House Committee on Un-American Activities which began as a congressional inquiry into the political inluences of the Soviet Union but rapidly degenerated into a witch-hunt. This is especially prevalent near the end, when shifting the suspicion to someone—anyone other than oneself, innocent or guilty—becomes a way of survival; ultimately, everyone is suspected of being an alien in one form or another, and the town descends into total chaos.

Click here for the rest.

I don't think I saw this one in early childhood, although it's possible because I did see quite a few with my Mom, who loves the show. Instead, I had to wait until sixth or seventh grade for my first memory of "Maple Street," when we read the teleplay in my language arts class as part of a science fiction unit. The episode's lesson, that human beings freak out and turn on each other when they're extraordinarily frightened, is simple enough to digest, and most Americans probably understand such a concept in the abstract. Unfortunately, the freak out part tends to make people completely forget what they know about human nature. That is, even though Americans know that extreme fear makes people irrational, once they become extremely afraid, they behave irrationally, and such knowledge becomes irrelevant. Case in point: 9/11. American fear of terrorism, stoked by the endless airing on televison of burning World Trade Center footage, has made us imprison Muslims without cause and invade Iraq needlessly. It made us reelect the worst President in US history. It's turned us into torturers.

Like those who were alive when JFK was assassinated, I clearly remember where I was and what I was doing when I first learned what had happened. I was at the school where I taught high school theater that day, and as students and faculty alike ran around ranting and raving about the terrorist threat, my only thought was something to the effect of "I'm much more afraid of the reaction of the American people than I am of any Islamic terrorist." Time has proven me right--just look at the mess we're in now, created by us, rather than terrorists. Actually, I knew I was right that very moment.

Probably because I had watched The Twilight Zone when I was young.

Anyway, Throw away your TV's got the full episode available for viewing. Go check it out. It's great.


Friday, January 26, 2007






Be sure to check out Modulator's
Friday Ark for more cat blogging!


Thursday, January 25, 2007

2006 and the plutocracy

From ZNet:

Corporate concentration through global mergers and acquisitions reached a record at the close of 2006. In our daily life this means that companies are becoming ever fewer but also ever larger with greater power to impose their products and norms of consumption on us, dictate labour conditions (and unemployment) and exercise every kind of pressure on legislators, governments or international institutions so as to achieve the rules and legislation they consider necessary. What they cannot achieve through market mechanisms they can impose through laws favourable to them as has happened on many occasions in the year just past as well as previous ones.

Click here for the rest.

In other words, all my rantings about how our democracy is a theatrical sham, about how we actually are ruled by a plutocracy, are not only true, but getting worse. This is no filthy goddamned hippie rant. We vote, yes, but we vote for candidates from a menu of choices pre-approved by corporations and the wealthy elite. We have elected representatives, yes, but because the cost of campaigning is astronomically high, each and every one of them is greatly beholden to the corporations and wealthy elite who fund their campaigns--this affects Democrats and Republicans alike.

When I was a kid, there were a number of movies predicting that corporations would ultimately do exactly what they are doing now. That is, taking over. The great 1975 science fiction sports flick starring James Caan, Rollerball, envisions a future where we aren't citizens, but rather employees. There are no governments, only corporations who decide where we will live, who we will marry, what we will do with our lives. 1979's Alien shows a similarly bleak futuristic society. But the best articulated vision of the corporate dominated future comes from the decidedly non-scifi film, 1976's dark anti-television comedy Network.

Ned Beatty has a badass monologue:

There are no nations! There are no peoples! There are no Russians. There are no Arabs! There are no third worlds! There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars! petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars!, Reichmarks, rubles, rin, pounds and shekels! It is the international system of currency that determines the totality of life on this planet! That is the natural order of things today! That is the atomic, subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? (pause) You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen, and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and Dupont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.
Those are the nations of the world today. And it just keeps getting worse.


Dinesh D’Souza’s Bizarre New Book

From the Progressive:

Dinesh D’Souza is at it again.

In his new book, “The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” conservative ideologue D’Souza blames the American left for Sept. 11. Here’s how his reasoning goes: The Muslim world is angry at the United States for the moral and cultural breakdown that liberals brought about in this country, and then exported to the Middle East. In addition, the left exhibits an anti-Americanism in its critique of U.S. policy that is quite similar to the worldview of Islamic fundamentalists.

“The cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world,” D’Souza writes in the portion excerpted on the book’s back cover. “Without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.”

Click here for the rest.

D'Souza, as the essay observes, is one of the more polite conservative pundit weirdos on TV, and you'd probably recognize him because he's one of the few non-white faces in this category. But that doesn't make him any less of an idiot. The essay, if you click through to it, does a good job tearing down D'Souza's "arguments," if you want to dignify his rantings by calling them that--I mean, really, if he's right about American morality motivating Islamic terrorists, which he's not, implicit in his view is that we ought to make all women wear head coverings and not drive and whatnot. So if you really need a rebuttal, go check out the essay. What bugs me, however, is that mainstream news organizations actually treat D'Souza and his ilk as worthy of a seat at the discussion table, while at the same time utterly marginalizing serious far-left voices. It makes a mockery of public discourse.

It's probably a very good thing that my bottom of the line cable package doesn't provide CNN.


Israeli settler abuse compared to pre-Holocaust Europe

From AlterNet:

The head of Israel's largest Holocaust memorial, Holocaust-survivor Yosef Lapid, said that the behavior of some of Israel's settler's toward Palestinians reminded him of the anti-semitism before WWII.

Referring to a recently televised incident in which: "a Hebron settler woman hiss[ed] "whore" at her Palestinian neighbour and settler children lobb[ed] rocks at Arab homes," the sometimes fiery Lapid commented on Israeli radio:

"It was not crematoria or pogroms that made our life in the diaspora bitter before they began to kill us, but persecution, harassment, stone-throwing, damage to livelihood, intimidation, spitting and scorn," he said.

"I was afraid to go to school, because of the little anti-Semites who used to lay in ambush on the way and beat us up. How is that different from a Palestinian child in Hebron?"

Click here for more.

An apt comparison that, given the politically charged and overly propagandized climate in both the US and Israel, only an Israeli could make. That is, AIPAC and Christian Zionists have politicians and the media so cowed in the US, that any sympathy at all toward the Palestinians is viewed as being anti-semetic, which is why one must be obviously not anti-semetic in order to speak the truth. The bottom line is that the days of any serious terrorst threat to Israel's existence are long gone--I mean, Palestinian terrorism is a very real thing, and some of their loudmouths run on about destroying Israel and all, but they just can't be taken seriously anymore; Israel won, decisively, many years ago, and their real enemies, their immediate Arab neighbors, are either friends or impotent. Today, Palestinian terrorists strike because Israel treats their people like shit, ghettoizing them, breaking promises, stealing from them, murdering them. I'm sure you get the idea: Palestinians are to Israel as Native Americans once were to the United States, a huge problem that needs to be removed.

It really is intolerable, and our tax dollars are paying for it. Thus, we bear responsibility.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bush's SOTU: Nixon Would Have Been Proud

From AlterNet:

Earlier yesterday, when asked by reporters what the best part of the speech was going to be, White House Spokesman Tony Snow replied, "You know, it's difficult to say. It's like looking in a drawer full of diamonds."

But those who were expecting some glittering bling-bling would have been disappointed; what made last night's SOTU noteworthy is that George W. Bush simply had nothing to say. It might have been the first time in American history.

Of course, everyone will pretend he said something important -- that it was a major address. The media will pick it apart and discuss its "significance"; lawmakers from both parties will quote bits and pieces of it to support or oppose this or that legislation; bloggers will remind us of what he said when he actually does the opposite and so on. But all you really need to know is that last night president George W. Bush could have come out on stage and, after pausing to let the ovation die down, he might have looked at the cameras with those beady little eyes and said, simply, "Folks, I got nothing. G'night!"

Click here for the rest.

Yeah, I don't even make an attempt to watch these things anymore, although I do regret missing Charlie Rangel reportedly laughing when Bush started talking about balancing the budget. But that just makes my point for me. It's all theater, and with Bush these days, it's not even very interesting theater. I suppose the SOTU right before the Iraq invasion was interesting, but that had more to do with what was so obviously on the line, and less to do with anything he was actually saying. Of course, in retrospect, those eleven or seventeen or whatever words about uranium and Niger have much more theatricality today, but, again, that has nothing to do with Bush himself. For all I know, he totally believed what his speech writers had fed him. Anyway, if anything, this latest state-of-the-union speech just drives home the reality that he's now a total lame duck. Nobody really believes his new bipartisan rap. I mean, after six years of sticking it to the Democrats, how can anybody take his hand of friendship seriously?


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Report has 'smoking gun' on climate

From the AP via Yahoo courtesy of AlterNet:

Human-caused global warming is here — visible in the air, water and melting ice — and is destined to get much worse in the future, an authoritative global scientific report will warn next week.

"The smoking gun is definitely lying on the table as we speak," said top U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, who reviewed all 1,600 pages of the first segment of a giant four-part report. "The evidence ... is compelling."

Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist and study co-author, went even further: "This isn't a smoking gun; climate is a batallion of intergalactic smoking missiles."

Click here for the rest.

Over Christmas, a conservative friend of mine hit me with the latest right-wing attempt at global warming denial: a majority of scientists may believe in man made global warming, but not a majority of climatologists. Well, I suppose that's a move in the right direction--the last piece of misinformation on the subject he was feeding me was complete denial of the scientific consenus on "climate change." Anyway, his comment disturbed me and made me want to find some quick info on the consenus issue.

Wikipedia is always handy:

A small minority of climate scientists and scientists in related fields have expressed opposition to the scientific consensus on global warming.

Click here for more.

My bet is that, if I had another debate with my conservative pal and confronted him with the Wikipedia article, he would then attack Wikipedia itself as being unreliable, which it sometimes is. Of course, a study done by the science magazine Nature back in 2005 found Wikipedia's science articles to be approximately as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica. Of course, a few months later the Encyclopedia Britannica fired back, asserting that the Nature study was deeply flawed. Jesus!

You know, when the global warming flat-earthers have to resort to epistemological arguments to make their case, then they're probably on the ropes, anyway. Unfortunately, most Americans can't hang long in an argument about the nature of knowledge itself, so I expect the controversy to continue for some years to come. Not even this latest round of studies is going to change that.

I'd better start thinking about moving to higher ground and boning up on survivalism.



From WAFB TV in Baton Rouge:

Some Saints Fans Say the Weather in
Chicago Wasn't Nearly as Cold as the Fans

Just to be clear, the fans Avery spoke with say the majority of people in Chicago were very nice, but you know what they say about a few bad apples and it appears some were very bad.

It's easy for Saints fans to push away Bears fans that interrupt their interview, but pictures like this one hit much deeper.


One Saints fan says she has a memory she can't bleep out. This is what she says a Bears fan had to say at her hotel.

Susan Joly says a Bears fan said, "'Oh yeah, you thought Katrina was bad' and just really not giving them any chance to say, you know, the man lost his wife and child in Katrina and they were ragging him over that and it was just terrible."

Click here for the rest.

Of course, there are low class assholes everywhere, but this is certainly worth a mention, if only to illustrate this creeping feeling that I've had for months now: much of the country has no fucking idea just how badly Katrina hit New Orleans. I mean, to be fair, I've stuck my foot in my mouth in almost the same way on more than one occasion, especially when I was younger. But, whoa, this is pretty hardcore:

Fucking assholes. The only thing I can think is that these kids, and others, too, because it was definitely more than just the people in this picture, had absolutely no idea what they were actually saying. Like I said, I really get the feeling that many Americans just don't know what happened and is still happening. But when all is said and done, this hurt, and I'm not even from New Orleans.


Monday, January 22, 2007


From the blog of Middle Eastern studies scholar Juan Cole courtesy of AlterNet:

Lawrence Wilkerson, an aide to Colin Powell when he was secretary of state says that Iran in 2003 offered to help stabilize Iraq and to cut off aid to Hizbullah in Lebanon and to Hamas. Wilkerson says that the State Department was interested in pursuing the offer, which presumably came from reformist president Mohammad Khatami. He says that when the issue was broached with VP Richard Bruce Cheney, Cheney shot down any notion of "talking to evil." As if Mohammad Khatami is evil and Richard Bruce Cheney is not. (Cheney's lies about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and connection to 9/11 have gotten hundreds of thousands of people killed).

Because Khatami kept promising that his reforms would make Iranians better off, and because the US rejected all his overtures and left him with no achievements to show for them, the Iranian electorate turned against the reform movement and put Mahmud Ahmadinejad into power, a loud-mouthed braggart of a sort that Cheney's Likudniks could then build up into a bogey man to frighten Americans with. Cheney created Iran as a menace.

Click here for the rest.

This comes as absolutely no surprise at all. Indeed, when it became absolutely clear to Saddam Hussein in Iraq just how serious the Bush administration was about its saber-rattling, he gave unprecedented access to weapons inspectors. That is, he caved, but we invaded anyway. These guys just don't care about US security; they've clearly got their own imperial agenda, and pursuing it means turning potential friends into enemies in order to justify it all. Bottom line: the White House lies to everyone about everything. It should just be assumed that everything they say is a lie. I mean, okay, I'll accept that they're going to send 20,000 more troops to Iraq, but I feel pretty sure that even they don't believe it's going to make much of a difference in the way of stability.

Who knows what they're really up to? They're certainly not telling.



From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

2 super coaches make a breakthrough

Indeed, Dungy has come a long way since those formative years. So has the NFL.

The leader of the Indianapolis Colts awoke today as a Super Bowl coach — one with a rapidly growing legacy. In two weeks, he'll face one of his proteges, Chicago's Lovie Smith, for the league championship. They'll be the first black head coaches to pace the sidelines in the NFL's biggest game.

"I've been thinking about my generation of kids who watched Super Bowls and never really saw African-American coaches and didn't think about the fact that you could be a coach," Dungy said of the black kids who grew up in the 1960s. "Hopefully, young kids now will say, 'Hey, I might be the coach some day.' That's special."

Click here for the rest.

I guess the real landmark game was the first time an African-American became head coach at all, and this Super Bowl is simply a necessary consequence of that barrier being torn down first. On the other hand, there were only seven NFL black coaches this past season, and the number tends to fluctuate from year to year; it's usually lower, so maybe this is a pretty big deal. You gotta admit, one way or the other, it's pretty cool. What's really interesting to me is that, as the article observes, the Colt's coach Tony Dungy made a strong conscious effort when he first became head coach for the Buccaneers a few years back to recruit and groom African-Americans as assistant coaches, getting them "into the pipe," as it were--the payoff is that he'll be facing one of those black former assistants on Super Sunday. That's a major testimony to what one man can do to change entrenched institutional attitudes when he gets into a position with some power.

Actually, given my utter hatred for massive institutions at the moment, I ought to think about Dungy's example for a bit. I so often feel like big organizations are so extraordinarily monolithic that working within them is a waste of time. Perhaps I'm wrong.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lake Peigneur: The Swirling Vortex of Doom

From Damn Interesting courtesy of Throw Away Your TV:

Shortly after they abandoned the $5 million Texaco drilling platform, the crew watched in amazement as the huge platform and derrick overturned, and disappeared into a lake that was supposed to be shallow. Soon the water around that position began to turn. It was slow at first, but it steadily accelerated until it became a fast-moving whirlpool a quarter of a mile in diameter, with its center directly over the drill site.


Clearly, the salt dome which contained the mine had been penetrated by the drill crew on the lake. Texaco, who had ordered the oil probe, was aware of the salt mine's presence and had planned accordingly; but somewhere a miscalculation had been made, which placed the drill site directly above one of the salt mine's 80-foot-high, 50-foot-wide upper shafts. As the freshwater poured in through the original 14-inch-wide hole, it quickly dissolved the salt away, making the hole grow bigger by the second.


After three hours, the lake was drained of its 3.5 billion gallons of water. The water from the canal, now flowing in from the Gulf of Mexico, formed a 150-foot waterfall into the crater where the lake had been, filling it with salty ocean water.

Click here for the rest, and here for some documentary footage.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Sort of a cascading disaster, with each successive event worse than the one before it. I'm kind of blown away by my never having heard of this, especially because it happened in my lifetime, back in 1980, only an hour and a half's drive away from Baton Rouge, where I live now, on the other side of the swamp outside of New Iberia.

Actually, it's somehow fitting that such an engineering disaster happened so close to the Louisiana swamp. While marshes and lowlands occur naturally in the southern half of the state, longtime and widespread use of levees has made swamps much more common than they would be otherwise. Meanwhile, decades of oil drilling has made the land drop even lower. Eventually, large sections of Louisiana will be covered by the Gulf of Mexico, and it's all due to human re-engineering of the environment.

The Lake Peigneur disaster is kind of a micro-version of what's happening all around here very slowly, everyday.

The Gulf of Mexico flowing upstream into the temporarily empty Lake Peigneur.


Saints' magic-carpet ride hits a stone wall in Chicago

From the AP via ESPN:

The Chicago Bears know how to make a Super Bowl memorable. They're making this one historic long before it's played.

Dissed all season long, Rex Grossman and Co. are heading to the big game for the first time since 1985 after rolling over the New Orleans Saints 39-14 Sunday, and Da Coach leading them there makes it all the more special.

Lovie Smith's arrival in Miami will make him the first black head coach to reach the marquee game in its 41 years.

Click here for the rest.

Make that one of the first black head coaches to go to the Super Bowl, now that we know he'll be facing Tony Dungy who heads the Colts.

Anyway, the Saints had a damned fine run. They even had a shot there for a while after that Reggie Bush 88 yard TD catch. But they turned the ball over four times, and I've heard coaches and commentators alike assert many times that if you turn the ball over that much you don't deserve to win. On the other hand, such football philosophy can end up being a bit funny. The Fox sports guys calling the game were in agreement that it was the turnovers, rather than the cold and snow, that killed the Saints. But what the hell do they think was most responsible for all those fumbles? Bad luck?

At any rate, the Saints'll be back next year. I think I'm a fan now.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Brown: Politics played role in Katrina

From the AP via Yahoo courtesy of AlterNet:

Brown, speaking at the Metropolitan College of New York, said he had recommended to President Bush that all 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast affected by the devastating hurricane be federalized — a term Brown explained as placing the federal government in charge of all agencies responding to the disaster.

"Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking, 'We had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic governor, and we have a chance to rub her nose in it,'" he said, without naming names. "'We can't do it to Haley (Barbour) because Haley's a white male Republican governor. And we can't do a thing to him. So we're just gonna federalize Louisiana.'"

Brown, 52, declined to say who in the White House had argued for federalizing the response only in Louisiana. He said that he'd later learned of the machinations through Blanco's office and from federal officials.

Blanco reacted sharply to Brown's remarks.

"This is exactly what we were living but could not bring ourselves to believe. Karl Rove was playing politics while our people were dying," Blanco said through a spokeswoman, referring to Bush's top political strategist. "The federal effort was delayed, and now the public knows why. It's disgusting."

Click here for more.

Amazingly, I'm still loving this. The White House hung Brown out to dry, totally scapegoating him. I mean, okay, Brownie did not do "a heckuva job," but in retrospect the guy was set up, a political appointee in a job for which he wasn't qualified; ultimately, that's Bush's fault much more than Brown's. When they tried to make him take the fall for the federal government's jaw-dropping failure in New Orleans, he broke ranks and squealed, like any normal human being would do, which probably says a lot about guys like former CIA chief Tenet and others who kept their mouths shut while the Oval Office stuck it up their ass. At any rate, this latest info from Brown is very interesting, to say the least: we now know that the White House wasn't paralyzed by indecision or anything along those lines while the Big Easy descended into Hell; they were hard at work trying to figure out how they could fuck their political enemies. It's pretty clear that the Bush White House has never been serious about the role of the Presidency. Instead, they've used the office exclusively for their own purposes, not giving a single shit whether the nation lives or dies.

These are some truly evil people.


New Orleans of Future May Stay Half Its Old Size

From the New York Times courtesy of AlterNet:

Hurricane Katrina may have brutally recalibrated the city’s demographics, setting New Orleans firmly on the path its underlying characteristics had already been leading it down: a city losing people at the rate of perhaps 1.5 percent a year before Hurricane Katrina, with a stagnant economy, more than a quarter of the population living in poverty, and a staggeringly high rate of unemployment, in which as many as one in five were jobless or not seeking work.

Political leaders, worried about the loss of clout and a Congressional seat, press for people to return, but a smaller New Orleans may not be bad, some economists say. Most of those who have not returned — 175,000, by Mr. Stonecipher’s count — are very poor, and can be more easily absorbed in places with vibrant job markets, they say.

Large-scale concentrations of deep poverty — as was the case in New Orleans before the storm — are inherently harmful to cities. The smaller New Orleans is almost certain to wind up with a far higher percentage of its population working than before Hurricane Katrina.

“Where there are high concentrations of poverty, people can’t see a way out,” said William Oakland, a retired economist from Tulane University who has studied the city’s economy for decades. “Maybe the diaspora is a blessing.”

Others, however, worry that permanently losing so many people threatens the city’s culture — its unique way of talking, parading and eating.

Click here for the rest.

I fear they may be right about this. I mean, the situation could be altered, but it would take a massive governmental effort directed at changing the circumstances that created New Orleans' dire poverty in the first place. That is, millions of dollars would have to be poured into those poor neighborhoods, not just for reconstruction, but for education, welfare, and economic stimulus--if the powers that be had no interest in doing that before the hurricane, then they're certainly not going to do it after; indeed, the powers that be, both locally and nationally, are no doubt quite happy with the way things are now, none of those dirty, lazy, po' folk to mess up their way of doing business. It makes me sick. It really does mean the end of the Big Easy's utterly unique way of life. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that N.O. needed poverty in order to be the city I loved, but I am saying that all those cool, old African-American neighborhoods were what fed all those cool, old New Orleans traditions. After all, Louis Armstrong didn't come up in the Garden District.

This isn't easy to accept, but I'm afraid I don't have much of a choice.



From the New York Times courtesy of AlterNet:

Departing Chief Warns G.O.P. on Outlook for 2008 Races

In his farewell speech after two years as chairman, Mr. Mehlman said that the 2006 elections, in which Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress, was not a fluke that could be attributed to the calendar, a few scandal-tainted candidates and the tough going in Iraq.

“Each of these factors combined to create an environment that was unfavorable for Republicans,” said Mr. Mehlman, one of the chief architects of President Bush’s two national election victories. “But, folks, these factors cannot be an excuse.”

He said that if Republican officials shrugged off the repudiation of the party in the 2006 elections they would lose the White House in 2008 and remain in the minority in Congress indefinitely. He said the party had to recommit itself to political reform, fiscal restraint and personal ethics.

Mr. Mehlman addressed the roughly 170 members of the Republican National Committee at their annual winter meeting, a rather glum affair at a downtown hotel here. Party members are still nursing the wounds of the mid-term elections and are riven by divisions over Iraq, immigration and other issues. Members are also beginning to take sides in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Click here for more.

Well, if Mehlman's right, it's playing out as I had hoped after Kerry lost in '04: the power drunk Republicans would overplay their hand, disgusting the country with conservatism for years to come. And there may be some truth the the former party chief's warning: I heard some talking heads on PBS earlier this evening discussing how Senate GOPers seemed totally unfazed by their stunning election loss in their opposition to the just passed ethics reform bill. If they keep that shit up for long, they really will become political dinosaurs. On the other hand, one should never misunderestimate Democratic willingness to sit in a corner and masturbate when there's work to be done. The Republicans lost, yes, but it in no way had anything to do with the Democrats beating them.


Friday, January 19, 2007




Sammy and Frankie

Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

House Democrats pass bill withdrawing oil breaks

From the Houston Chronicle:

Most House Republicans, along with four Democrats, including Rep. Nick Lampson of Stafford, voted against today's measure on grounds it would blunt domestic oil exploration and cost industry jobs, while increasing dependence on foreign energy producers.

The bill would wipe out between $5 billion and $6 billion worth of tax incentives set up in recent years by Republican-controlled congresses which supporters had said were necessary to encourage domestic exploration.

The legislation also would bar oil and gas companies from enjoying a tax deduction that would effectively reduce their corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 32 percent by 2009.

The White House opposes that provision, arguing "It is inappropriate to single out this industry from all others for punitive tax treatment."

The bill also takes aim at those oil and gas producers that have refused to renegotiate botched lease agreements signed with the U.S. Minerals Management Service during the Clinton administration in 1998 and 1999.

Those agreements failed to include language that would force producers operating in the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico to pay royalties to the federal government when oil and gas prices reached certain levels.

That bureaucratic bungling involving 1,032 leases already has cost American taxpayers more than $1 billion. And the Government Accountability Office has estimated the gaffe could cost more than $10 billion.

Click here for the rest.

A few observations.

First, The oil industry is currently enjoying record yearly profits counted in the billions. Withdrawing tax breaks doled out during the Bush years will most definitely not "blunt domestic oil exploration" or "cost industry jobs." I feel insulted that I even have to point that out. Further, there is now pretty much no such thing as "foreign" oil or "domestic" oil. These companies are multinational, owing no allegiance to any one nation, and often using their vast economic strength to twist a given nation's policies in a more favorable direction. Worrying about "foreign" competition is stupid from the get-go.

Second, taxes are not "punitive." Taxes are what businesses owe the state for use of the legal and economic circumstances, which it sets up and maintains, that make business possible--citizens also owe taxes for similar reasons, which have more to do with day-to-day existence than with making money. In short, taxes are like a bill for services rendered. To call them punishment is so much bullshit right-wing propaganda.

Third, these royalty, or "lease," agreements, when not "botched," are pretty close to being sweetheart deals, anyway. That is, we're practically giving this oil away in the first place. It's amazing, indeed, that Big Oil would have the balls to whine about renegotiation. I guess those are just the times in which we live.


Study: Children living near Houston
Ship Channel have greater cancer risk

From the Houston Chronicle:

The results of an 18-month study released today identify for the first time a link between cancer risks and hazardous air pollutants being released in Harris County.

In particular, the study conducted by the University of Texas School of Public Health found that children living within two miles of the Houston Ship Channel had a 56 percent increased risk of contracting acute lymphocytic leukemia when compared to children living more than 10 miles from the channel.

In addition, children who were living in areas with increased emissions of 1,3-butadiene from petrochemical industries were found to have an increased risk of developing any type of leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia.

Click here for more.

This comes as no surprise, what with a wildly understaffed and underbudgeted EPA, reliance on industry self-reporting of toxic emission levels, and Texas' own laws mandating "voluntary compliance" with pollution standards. And, oh yeah, let's not forget about the way Republicans have gutted citizens' ability to sue companies that injure them.

A company is a collective entity, treated by the law in many ways as though it were a human being, but, having no soul, it does not behave like a human being. Companies necessarily have no morals or ethics--certainly, the individuals working for companies have morals and ethics, but they are also contractually bound, and receive payment, to think of their employers first, and everything else second. That is, the only thing guiding business behavior is the bottom line.
That's why these emissions in Houston are killing kids. These polluting companies, which are completely aware of what they're doing, are able to save a great deal of money by releasing toxins into the environment because there is no financial consequence for doing so. They don't really care about the life lost. It's not their problem. And as long as they contribute heavily to politicians who are totally dependent on corporate cash to stay in office, it will continue to not be their problem.



Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Psychology Behind the Worst Possible President

From AlterNet:

The propaganda that Bush's sponsors and handlers have poured forth has ceased to persuade the voters but succeeded beyond all measure in convincing the man himself.

He will tell himself that God is talking to him, or that he is possessed of an extra measure of courage, or he that he is simply compelled to do whatever it is. The soldiers will pay the price in blood. We will pay the price in money. The Iraqis will pay the price in horror. The Iranians will pay the price, possibly, in the almost unimaginable terror of nuclear attack. Probably, the Israelis will pay the price, too.

Little George isn't the same guy he was in 2000, the guy described by Gail Sheehy in her Vanity Fair profile -- hyper-competitive and dyslexic, prone to cheat at games, always swinging between screwing up and making up, hating criticism and disagreement, careless of others but often charming. He is no longer the guy who the Republicans thought they could control (unlike, say, McCain).

The small pathologies of Bush the candidate have, thanks to the purposes of the neocons and the religious right, been enhanced and upgraded. We have a bona fide madman now, who thinks of himself in a grandiose way as single-handedly turning the tide of history.

Click here for the rest.

I've been reading Greg Palast's recent book Armed Madhouse, which I got for Christmas, and the section I'm on right now is putting together a pretty compelling argument about how the White House managed to fail so spectacularly with Iraq's occuption. The long and short of it is that the neo-cons and the oil industry, both of whom enjoy to this day incredible influence with the Oval Office, both had competing plans for Iraq's oil. The neo-cons, driven by "free trade" ideology, wanted to privatize Iraq's oil fields, double or triple production, and break OPEC's back, which would ultimately lower oil prices greatly. The oil industry, however, just loves OPEC, which is able to artificially inflate oil prices by keeping production down, because Big Oil can make much more money with the cartel in power--in order to keep a lid on production, oil reserves must be state-owned; otherwise, each individual oil company would produce as much as it could in order to maximize it's own profit, rather than looking out for the industry as a whole. Instead of choosing one plan over the other, Bush enacted both plans, which obviously cannot mix well together. The resulting confusion infected and botched all levels of the reconstruction, which essentially made daily life for Iraqis totally miserable, which, in turn, made desperate people even more desperate. Under such chaotic circumstances, mass insurgency was inevitable. So was sectarian strife.

The point is that, in this case, it appears that Bush was either unable to or uninterested in resolving the differences between these two very influential groups.

That's why I think making general declarations about what's actually going in the President's head is jumping the gun. From all outward appearances, yes, Bush seems to be delusional. But there is just as much evidence suggesting that he's simply allowing himself to be pushed around by his advisors, or that he knows he's in over his head and has simply withdrawn from the decision making process. For that matter, there appears to be just as much evidence to support that he's simply stupid. There's just no way of knowing right now what's really going on.

I mean, we know it's pretty bad within the executive branch, but that's about all we really know.

But one day, the sad tale will be known to all. I can't wait. You know it's got to be fascinating, however it turns out.



From the New York Times courtesy of AlterNet:

What $1.2 Trillion Can Buy

For starters, $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign — a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.

Combined, the cost of running those programs for a decade wouldn’t use up even half our money pot. So we could then turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also receive a huge increase in reconstruction funds.

The final big chunk of the money could go to national security. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that have not been put in place — better baggage and cargo screening, stronger measures against nuclear proliferation — could be enacted. Financing for the war in Afghanistan could be increased to beat back the Taliban’s recent gains, and a peacekeeping force could put a stop to the genocide in Darfur.

All that would be one way to spend $1.2 trillion. Here would be another:

The war in Iraq.

Click here for more.

It's a bit confusing with all those zeroes, but I tried to calculate what that trillion dollar price tag comes to per person: the US currently has over 300 million in population, according to Wikipedia; rounding that down, and rounding down $1.2 trillion dollars, I get $3,333 dollars for every man, woman, and child in the country. And, like I said, that's rounded down, and includes a lot of people who don't pay taxes. The actual price per tax-paying citizen is somewhat bigger-- the article also observes that the actual expenditure over Iraq may come closer to two trillion, which would double that per capita price.

You know, that's more than ten times the lousy tax refund Bush handed out back in 2001.

Obviously, we don't really have much to show for our money. Terrorism is still a big threat. Oil prices are higher, not lower, and the entire Middle East is in much more turmoil now than before. It's like we've paid a lot of money to have somebody come and hit us on the head repeatedly, except worse. Anyway, by this one standard, a cost-benefit analysis, Iraq has been a spectacular failure for the US, and bales of dollars continue to be thrown on the fire.

So much for the overrated Republican ability to spend money intelligently.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

34,452 civilians killed last year in Iraq

The United Nations said today that more than 34,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in sectarian violence last year, nearly three times the number reported dead by the Iraqi government.


"Without significant progress in the rule of law sectarian violence will continue indefinitely and eventually spiral out of control," he warned.


It pointed to killings targeting police, who are seen by insurgents as collaborating with the U.S. effort in Iraq. The report said the Interior Ministry had reported on Dec. 24 that 12,000 police officers had been killed since the war started in 2003.

The report also painted a grim picture for other sectors of Iraqi society, saying the violence has disrupted education by forcing schools and universities to close as well as sending professionals fleeing from the country. At least 470,094 people throughout Iraq have been forced to leave their homes since the bombing in Samarra, according to the report.

Click here for more.

And from MSNBC courtesy of AlterNet:

Saudis consider sending troops to Iraq

Saudi Arabia believes the Iraqi government is not up to the challenge and has told the United States that it is prepared to move its own forces into Iraq should the violence there degenerate into chaos, a senior U.S. official told NBC News on Tuesday.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal made no effort to mask his skepticism Tuesday about President Bush’s proposal to send 21,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq to stem sectarian fighting.


Saudi officials reassured Rice on Tuesday that they had no intention of getting in the middle of the dispute between Iran and the United States. Rice emphasized that the U.S. campaign to disrupt Iranian networks threatening U.S. forces in Iraq would be confined within the boundaries of Iraq, officials said.

Click here for the rest.

Here's the mess that the US has created in Iraq. The government we've created over there is wildly corrupt and highly infiltrated by insurgents and Shiite militia men. In some respects, it is simply a lumbering organization sucking in and wasting billions of dollars while providing cover in the sectarian civil war against the Sunnis. Meanwhile, Iran, which is predominately Shia, licks its lips, waiting for the US to leave so it can move in and take over, creating a "Shiite Crescent" of domination from Tehran to Southern Lebanon, which is why the Saudis are now threatening to enter the conflict themselves. And while all this is going on, US soldiers continue to be targets, and Iraqis are dying in droves. Like I said, a big fucking mess, and all Bush has to offer is hope and 20,000 more troops, who were already there during the recent Iraqi elections, and didn't really manage to stabilize the place any better than the way it is now.

If things continue as they are, Iran and the Saudis may not wait for the US to leave, making the conflict expand to much of the Middle East region while we just sit and watch. The situation would be totally unprecedented in modern times. And it's all our fault.

As Henry Kissinger recently observed, there is no military solution in Iraq, as if Bush's paltry 20k surge, a number chosen much more for troop availability than for strategic concerns, didn't make obvious. We just can't manage the situation, whether we're there or not. It's time for some hardcore diplomacy, with everybody. We've got to bring everybody to the table, the major players in the region, and the major players in Iraq, and the UN. We've got to give up on the notion of making Iraq an easily dominated client state. Screw the oil, 'cause we'll never control it anyway. Whatever the neo-cons, or the oil industry, or both wanted to get out of this in the first place is now unobtainable.

It's time to punt the ball and hope for some good field position. It's fourth and twenty, and Coach Bush, who played when he was younger without a helmet, wants to fucking go for it.