Saturday, July 22, 2006

We've Won the Iraq War!

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It's official. We are no longer fighting terrorists in Iraq.

I have it on no less an authority than Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner.

First, a little background. Recently, the Democratic House Campaign Committee ran an ad entitled "Things Have Taken a Turn for the Worse." The ad showed, among other things, flag-draped coffins coming back from Iraq. It also showed the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the idea being that things aren't going so well, either here or abroad, under total Republican control.

Well, if there's one thing that the Republicans can still do competently, it's get huffy, and huffy is exactly what they got over the ad, which they claimed "politicized" the war and "insulted" military families.

"For the Democrats, everything is about politics, so nothing they have done over the last three years to shamelessly politicize the war in Iraq has shocked me, but this crosses the line," said Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York, chairman of the House Republican campaign committee. Republican leaders demanded loudly that the ad be removed from the DCCC Web site.

Some Democrats recalled, however, that there was a pretty famous campaign ad for George Dubbya Bush that featured flag-draped coffins being carried from the ruins of the World Trade Center. Why, they asked, is it "politicizing" those who died in Iraq, and not "politicizing" when Republicans show the dead being carried out of the WTC?

What was even more surprising was that certain members of the long-dormant press got off their duffs and actually asked the same question. This was a significant departure from the usual run of lazy reporting, which normally consists of "Republicans said 'A.' Democrats said 'B.' Now here's Tom with the sports."

Someone actually put the question to the highest Republican member of the House of Representatives, the aforementioned Rep. Boehner. According to a story in The Cincinnati Enquirer, Boehner was railing against the Democrats and their evil commercials, saying it was "appalling" to "use those images to rally Democrats and raise money."

At that point, one reporter spoke up. What, he asked Boehner, was the difference between the Democratic ads and the ones showing the flag-draped coffins at Ground Zero?

I like to imagine that at that moment, a hush fell over the room and all eyes turned in shock to gaze at the reporter who dared to ask an actual tough question of a Republican in power. But that's just me being dramatic. We do know, from the Enquirer story, that Boehner seemed "tongue-tied."

"These were American citizens killed by terrorists," he said. "That is a very different policy issue than American soldiers dying on the battlefield protecting the rights and freedoms of American people."

Then a reporter did something even more astounding. He asked an actual follow-up question. "How so?"

"How so?" Boehner sputtered. "You want me to describe the difference between men and women of the military out there defending the American people, and victims -- victims -- of terrorist activities?"

Well, yeah, I thought when I first read this. Especially since, after all the other rationales for the Iraq war have proven false, we keep hearing about how our soldiers and pilots are fighting terrorists. Iraq, George Dubbya has said over and over, is the "central front" in the War on Terror. We're fighting them "over there" so we don't have to fight them "over here." Ergo, the ones killed in that fight are, it would seem, "victims of terrorist activities."

But when a reporter pointed this out, Boehner got a little testy: "The World Trade Center victims were victims of a terrorist act here on our shore," he said, "and I think all Americans were appalled that this did in fact happen. But I think the differences, in terms of the images, are as clear as night and day."

So, what do we learn from this? It's OK to wave the bloody shirt when the victims were killed by a "terrorist act." But when you're showing victims of IEDs and insurgent attacks in Iraq, the difference is "night and day." So, what can we conclude? Anyone? Anyone?

We can't just say that Boehner meant that it's OK for Republicans to use images of the honored dead and not Democrats. That, after all would be nothing less than sheer hypocrisy. It would be the most shameless, bald-faced and cynical type of double standard. No one would dream of Republicans acting like that, would they?

The only alternative explanation is: American casualties in Iraq weren't killed or wounded by terrorists. Therefore, we've won.

So can they come home now?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mountain Lions Again...With Extra Weirdness

The Cougars were put here by the Guvmint:

A local doctor says he was told several years ago by a government worker, whose name he does not remember, that a wildlife agency released two mountain lions in Moore County, possibly to control the deer population.

***

Lineberger couldn’t say for sure, but he recalls that the reason given was to control the deer population.

“What I remember is that the question probably arose, ‘Why would you do that? Why would you release mountain lions in Moore County?’” Lineberger said. “And it wasn’t to control the golfers.”

While Lineberger initially thought the worker was from the U.S. Forest Service, he is not positive that is the case.

“What I do remember is the guy told me he’d been working for whoever it was for 20, 25 years, and it was certainly a government agency,” Lineberger said. “I just can’t remember which one.”

So...were they dropped from rogue helicopters?


Monday, July 17, 2006

What's the Big Deal?

Considering the simple-minded bullshit Dubbya spouts on a regular basis, this little gem doesn't even make the Top Ten.

The mouthful of food's a nice touch, though.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bush Pulls the Rug Out From Under the Raving Right

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It must be tough to be a right-wing loony these days.

I mean, imagine this. You're a right-wing commentator or blogger. For the last four and a half years you've been loudly shrieking (in a manly and patriotic way, of course) that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison weren't protected by the Geneva Convention's prohibitions against mistreatment.

Take this statement from Ann Coulter wannabe Michelle Malkin: "[The Los Angeles Times'] suggestion that suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan are covered by the Geneva Convention is absurd."

"If the barbarians get all of the benefits of the Geneva Convention without obeying any of its rules," insisted National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg, "then it becomes not merely quaint, not merely worthless, but instead a useful tool for those who wish to overthrow all it stands for."

Even the recent Supreme Court decision that the "military tribunals" established by Dubbya violated not only military law and U.S. law, but also "common Article 3" of the Geneva Conventions, didn't faze the frothing right wing.

As one blogger known only as "Misha" put it, the solution was simple: "Five ropes, five robes, five trees," he suggested, referring to the 5-3 decision. "Some assembly required."

In short, this loyal American suggested lynching Supreme Court justices, including Republican appointees. (And they call leftists unhinged.)

In short, if you were a right-wing pundit, last Monday night you went to bed, secure in the knowledge that (1) George Dubbya Bush is the Lord Protector of the American Nation, and (2) anyone, including the U.S. Supreme Court, who asserted that the Geneva Convention applied to suspected terrorists held by U.S. groops is traitorous and most likely receiving daily instructions not only from al-Qaida, but also from the French themselves.

After all, it was Dubbya's very own attorney general who called the Conventions "quaint."

Then, last Tuesday, the world turned upside down. The Bush administration, through Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, pulled the rug out from under the pro-torture punditocracy. England sent a memo to all branches of the armed forces instructing them "to ensure that all Defense Department policies, practices and directives comply with Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions governing the humane treatment of prisoners."

Whoa. So who do we hang now? Deputy England? Secretary Rumsfeld? Dubbya his ownself?

I mean, if the military has to abide by Common Article 3, that means no more "outrages upon personal dignity." No more "humiliating and degrading treatment." No naked prisoner piles. No more terrorizing prisoners with vicious dogs. No more "waterboarding," the interrogation technique where a prisoner is made to feel like he's drowning.

Of course, White House mouthpiece Tony Snow insisted that this memo, which flatly contradicts the previous administration position on the Geneva Conventions, signaled any kind of policy change. And for all I know, they may be right.

After all, this president is famous for his "signing statements," issued at the time of signing bills into law, in which the president essentially states he feels free to disregard the law whenever he feels it's in the interests of national security. For all I know, there's a signing statement in the president's double secret spiral notebook declaring that he doesn't really mean all that silly Geneva Convention stuff. And since the memo covers only the military, we'll always have the CIA. Torture fans can take comfort in that.

But for the time being, I'll take the administration at its word. It may be a reversal of policy (or in Bush-speak, a "flip-flop"), but not all flip-flops are necessarily bad. For the past few years, this administration has had a policy on treatment of detainees that has amounted to "we do whatever we feel like, because these are dangerous terrorists."

This argument got a lot less compelling when the government freed more than 200 of these people who were once "too dangerous to even identify" from Gitmo, and over 1,000 from Abu Ghraib. The lack of standards or guidance as to what's acceptable and what's not led directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib (which, as we may remember, Dubbya said he was "sickened" by, even as his supporters like admitted drug addict Rush Limbaugh insisted they were no worse than "fraternity pranks." They just can't depend on him at all for backup, can they?)

Now, at least, the administration seems to have realized what the Supreme Court has been trying to tell them all along: There are laws, even in war, and even the president has to abide by them, and not just because he feels like it today and may not tomorrow.

True, the terrorists don't follow those laws. That's why they're the bad guys. Slowly, slowly, it seems we're rediscovering that the rule of law, including the much-maligned laws of war, is one of the things that make us the good guys.