You can be replaced, you know

(Woohoo! The hatchet is here! – promoted by buhdydharma )

Did you ever have an employee who just wouldn’t do what he was asked to do? Who just – in spite of clear and concise instructions – never managed to accomplish what it was you hired him to do? The guy who came off great in his interviews, who tossed around an impressive-looking résumé, but once he was hired, all of a sudden became the living embodiment of the Peter Principle?

You think to yourself, cheeeez, exactly how many times do I have to tell this person what to do? I mean, what does he want – a fax, for God’s sake? A written invitation? A full-page ad in the friggin’ New York Times??

But you’re patient. You work with him, holding his hand, making suggestions, gently at first, then perhaps a bit more sternly. All the while remembering Gen. George Patton’s advice on being a good boss and inspiring those who work for you:

Don’t tell people lowest price for free viagra how to do things. Tell them http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=dove-acquistare-viagra-generico-100-mg-a-Milano what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

Only thing is, the “results” you end up getting from this employee continue to be disappointing. The guy almost never fails to let you down. I mean, he continues to demonstrate – time and time again – that he couldn’t organize a dog fight.

Or, how about the guy who, in spite of having been given all the tools he needed to get the job done, still managed to weasel out of getting it done, complaining the whole time that it was impossible, that in fact he didn’t have what he needed to do it? Or – get this – that, if he were to actually http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=lasix-and-muscle-cramps do the job he was hired to do, he wouldn’t get hired again? Or – better yet – after utterly source site failing to – or failing even to attempt to – do the job that you hired him to do, this guy somehow believes you’re going to hire him again???

Or – how about the guy who manages to look busy all day, peering intently into his computer screen, talking loudly on the phone (with whom, you’re not quite certain), assiduously shuffling stacks of paper, making a great show of moving them from one side of his desk to the other – all the while somehow never managing to put any of the “agenda” he’s so mightily working on into action? An “agenda,” by the way, invented by him, not the one you hired him to carry out?

Have you ever had an employee who had no gumption, no resourcefulness, no fire in the belly, no initiative, no stick-to-itiveness? Someone who, when faced with an obstacle, simply rolled over and gave up? Someone who made excuses for not doing the hard work? Someone who gave up after – at most – one try?

What do you do with an employee like that?

Of course, it might not simply be that such an employee is incompetent or lazy. It could be that he’s got another agenda, one that he didn’t bother to share with you when you were hiring him. He could be one of those guys who somehow gets it in his head that once he starts punching the clock and using the employee restroom, somehow he’s entitled to a paycheck. You know: the guy who thinks he knows better than you. Someone who has the balls to get snippy with you, his boss?

Sometimes, once someone like that is hired, they start to play politics. They forget the real reason they were hired – the job they were brought on board to accomplish – and they instead get all wrapped up in office intrigue. Sometimes, they get so deep into it that they become deluded into thinking their real boss is someone different from the person who hired them, and that that “New Boss” somehow carries more weight than the boss whose decision it was to bring them on board in the first place.

So – just what DO you do with an employee like that?

Simple: You FIRE him.

It’s harsh, but it’s necessary. There’s work to be done around here, after all. And you feel bad having to do it, of course. I mean, it’s not like you hired the guy thinking that you were gonna hafta fire him, f’cryin’ out loud. You’re not on some big power trip – you don’t get your jollies from firing people. It’s just that, well, you hired the guy to Do. A. Job, and if he’s not gonna do it, no matter how many chances you give him, and no matter how much you hold his hand, and no matter how right and obvious the need for the work is – well, then, you’ve got no real choice. The work still has to get done – it’s just that he won’t be the one doing it for you, that’s all. I mean, it’s not like there’s any shortage of people willing to fill the position.

So, ya goofed. Made a mistake. Erred in your assessment of someone’s capabilities, their motivations, their character, their work ethic, their commitment. Don’t beat yourself up – it happens all the time. Hey, you hired the guy ’cause you thought he would help you get the work done. And you were wrong. No crime in that.

Just – let’s fix it, okay?

Now appearing in Orange, too.

My trip to a Jewish deli

reposted from daily Kos, inspired by an article there by FinckII

I was on the Upper West Side the other day.  And I went to Artie’s Deli, a fairly new Jewish restaurant.  I had a great time, and all the people there are tremendously respectful. Everybody was very nice.

And I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Artie’s Deli and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by Jews and primarily has Jewish patronship…

I had the matzoh ball soup. I had pastrami. I had pickles. It was great.  That’s right, it was like going into, say, Sylvia’s in Harlem in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn’t any kind of craziness at all.  There wasn’t one person in Artie’s who was screaming, “You overcharged me for the iced tea!  Gevalt!  I’ll never come in here again!”

I think Jewish Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They’re getting away from the Irving Kristols and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They’re just trying to figure it out: “Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.”

Next week, I plan on working up the courage to go to an Italian trattoria!  Wish me luck!

[poll id=”

74

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DD HRD SOS: ISO VIPs PDQ!!! …+OT

Today, I made a serious mistake.

After two weeks of 16-20 hour days Blogging The Launch…..I took the day off.

This was a serious mistake because I realized that there is indeed life outside of blogging. And I like it….occasionally.

Now, I have a huge cavernous head, in which I store many many things…..including spare change from various countries, dead ferns, and random Jeopardy questions…..but I think some of the stuff we are planning to do here….and the fact that you people are all smarter than me …..and produce too many good ideas….will be to big for even MY head to try to contain it all!!!

On my way back from Cabo San Lucas this afternoon (notice how casually I toss that off?)I realized we really do need…..well something that would need a good name! A Research Dept.? An Organizational Force? Someone or someones with actual organizational ability? Which acronyms into SWAOA….which isn’t good either.

Starting with the Manifesto Project of course. We need to collect and collate all the various suggestions from all the thread and start a link list for diaries like aek all over, Cosmic Debris and DallasDocs excellent contributions.

Are any of you into that sort of thing? plf515 suggested some software, several folks have suggested a wiki….all stuff that is beyond my humble ken. I am more than willing to try to do all this stuff in my own weird way…but that tends to make more organized people nervous. So if you are interested….let me know. Everyone in the Research Dept. (or whatever it’s called) gets a good parking place and free lunch in the company cafeteria. 

And a Super Bonus!

You get to make up the name! As a matter of fact…you get to make up EVERYthing!

  Ideally we would have a couple of people at least, working together… both to reduce stress and to form a nice comraderlish atmosphere that can be handed down as people burn out and strangle themselves with random bits of HTML code move on.

If you are interested please mail me….but….please do NOT feel come comprare vardenafil 20 mg online obligated to, or take this on if you already have too much happening in your life and it would stress you out.

But the cool part is….that you would be inventing the position, deciding how to do and, indeed! what to do. There is nothing stopping this nascent power from taking over the blog and ordering everyone about until we throw things at you. This sort of thing could be a huge source of good….OR EVIL….for the entire world.

You have nothing to lose but your chains….and as I said, you GET a nice parking spot.

BREAKING!!! Democrats Propose to Condemn Tooth Decay!!!

Sep 27th, 2007 | Washington, DC (BFD) In their continuing quest to demonstrate their ineptitude and irrelevance, Democrats in Congress today announced their intention to propose a resolution resolutely condemning tooth decay.

“It’s the least we could do,” said one anonymous Democratic staffer, “literally the least.”

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would not comment, but assured our reporters that the Democratic leadership would be meeting with representatives of the sugar and dentistry lobbies, to ensure precise wording that would offend no one.

“We have another year and a half in which to do as little as possible,” said one top aide to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who requested that his or her name, nickname, or species not be used. “We might win big, next year, and anything we do is certain to offend someone, so we will try to look busy while not actually being so.

“This isn’t easy,” the aide admitted, before hurrying off to a Georgetown restaurant, to dine on lobster and foie gras, at the expense of a former colleague, who is now a K Street lobbyist. “Some people expect us to do things. There’s a war and stuff. Some people just don’t understand how Washington works.”

Initial reports indicate strong bipartisan support, although Senator Joseph Lieberman (?-CT) expressed reservations.

“What this has to do with attacking Arabs and Muslims is beyond me,” the Senator whined, as reporters attempted to maintain the appearance of conscious attention. “I really don’t see the point.”

Another top Democratic staffer, whose name cannot be revealed because I’m making this up, succinctly summarized the bill’s soporific intent.

“We’re sleepwalking. Zombies. Going through the motions. We’re trying to outrage our base, and lull the majority of Americans into forgetting we’re here.

“This is important. No one wants to do anything that might upset David Broder, and everyone’s afraid of being purged from Sally Quinn’s invite list.”

The only fear is that the resolution will be so popular as to tie up too little of Congress’s time.

“We’re trying to think of what to do next,” said the imagined staffer, before rushing off to a Beltway cocktail party. “Some want us to prepare a resolution stating our firm commitment to the protection of puppies, but others are afraid that might be construed as revealing a bias against kittens.

“Compromise language might say something about hamsters, or even ferrets,” the staffer concluded. “That could give some the impression that we’re capable of thinking outside the box.”

General Clark Responds to Rush…Calls for Action

Okay…

First piece here and I just opened my email. After responding to the “sorry I didn’t come to class emails,” I found one from General Clark.

And boy…he’s not too happy with Rush…

Rush Limbaugh has never worn the uniform in his life, yet he’s got the moral standing to pass judgment on the men and women who risked their lives for this nation?

Polls have shown that the majority of troops on the ground in Iraq, and those who have returned, do not back the President’s failed policy.

Does Rush believe, then, that the majority of the US Armed Forces are “phony?”

Major Generals John Batiste and Paul Eaton left the military and have spoken out against the Bush Administration’s failed policies. These are former commanders in Iraq, and they have challenged the Administration for its stubborn refusal to listen to those commanders on the ground who have sent up warning after warning.

Does Rush believe that highly decorated Major Generals are “phony soldiers?”

Finally, recall the members of the 82nd Airborne in Iraq who wrote a New York Times op-ed, urging for a change in course in Iraq, and suggesting it was time to figure out the exit strategy. Two of them just died.

Does Rush believe these young troops are “phony soldiers?”

My challenge to you is to force Rush to invite Jon Soltz onto his show and say all of this again, right to the face of someone who served in Iraq.


This isn’t the first time that Rush’s stuck his foot into the mix by blasting one of the many troops who’ve served in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

I remember listening to the blowhard on the way home from the OH-2 Special Elections when he referred to Paul Hackett as a “desk jockey.”

Since I wasn’t in cell range of anything, I pulled off at the next exit and made a payphone call to Hackett campaign headquarters to let them know that Paul was being disparaged by none other…

General Clark’s request?

Take action now. Email Rush Limbaugh and urge him to invite Jon Soltz onto his radio show!

Clark asks

The question is, would Rush make these outrageous and offensive comments to Jon’s face?

Me? I’m thinking not…

Hatin’ on Mahmoud

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The reaction to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to the United States revealed some uncomfortable truths about the servility of the “free press” to the interests of power.

His reception consisted primarily of macho chest-thumping and tribal outrage at his “mind of evil” (oh yes, that’s a quote), which found wide expression in the good ol’ Adolf Hitler comparison – Ahmadinejad was Hitler for, among many others, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Newt Gingrich, the Daily News and David Horowitz (a political advisor to Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani), who described him as “the Persian Hitler”. “Not to mention he’s a Nazi,” Horowitz added. “Not to mention he wants to kill all the Jews”. (Some Jews, at least, appear to disagree with him on this point).

The Washington Times editorialised that, “[n]ot since the days of Adolf Hitler and  the Third Reich has a head of state spoken as openly about the destruction of Jewish people”, whilst the New York Post declared him a “thug”, a Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket “despot” and a “bloody handed villain”. Interviewing Ahmadinejad for CBS’ ’60 Minutes’, Scott Pelley plunged new journalistic depths, channeling the Bush administration to ask such ‘questions’ as “Mr. President, American men and women are being killed by your weapons in Iraq. You know this”, and “Mr. President, you say that the two nations are very close to one another, but it is an established fact now that Iranian bombs and Iranian know-how are killing Americans in Iraq. You have American blood on your hands. Why?”

The New York Times and the Washington Post did their bit, repeatedly accusing Ahmadinejad of threatening to have Israel “wiped off the map” – a lie that has long been comprehensively debunked.

Of course, the moral outrage is totally cynical. University of Columbia president Lee Bollinger bagged his 15 minutes of fame by introducing Ahmadinejad – an invited guest at the University – as a “petty and cruel dictator”. Yet in 2005, the very same Lee Bollinger introduced Pakistani military dictator and gross human rights abuser Pervez Musharraf in positively glowing terms:

“President Musharraf is a leader of global importance and his contribution to Pakistan’s economic turnaround and the international fight against terror remain remarkable – it is rare that we have a leader of his stature at campus”. (h/t the Angry Arab)

When Ariel Sharon, a war criminal and serial human rights abuser, visited the U.S. he faced no media outcry – his request to visit the site of the World Trade Center was not rejected and he wasn’t likened to Hitler. Similarly, those who this week denounced Ahmadinejad ever-so courageously for his human rights abuses were curiously silent when the Crown Prince of one the most extreme fundamentalist, oppressive dictatorships in the world met Bush at his Texas ranch for a friendly chat in 2005. As bad as Iran’s record on human rights is, that is evidently not the reason for the recent anti-Ahmadinejad hysteria.

Musharraf, Sharon, Prince Abdullah and Ahmadinejad are all repressive authoritarians. The crucial difference between them is that Ahmadinejad is an official enemy, while the others are U.S. clients. Put simply: Iran is in the cross-hairs and the establishment press is falling in line.

Iran is a target not because it poses any real threat to the security of either Israel or the United States. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, has repeatedly stressed that “Iran does not constitute a certain and immediate threat to the international community” – such insolence has earned him hit-pieces from both the New York Times and the Washington Post, which branded him a “rogue regulator” who needs to learn his place. Iran has undergone the most extensive IAEA inspections of any country in history, and no nuclear weapons programme has been found. Furthermore, Iran would pose no security threat to the U.S. or Israel even if it had nuclear weapons – both countries possess more than enough firepower to deter an Iranian attack.

Neither is Iran a target because of some principled desire to spread democracy and freedom – as mentioned above, some of the U.S.’ firmest allies are tyrannical dictatorships. As Barry Grey writes,

“the Iranian government is in no essential way different, or more repressive, than a whole number of bourgeois regimes in the Middle East and Central Asia with which the United States is allied – from Mubarak’s Egypt, to Musharraf’s military dictatorship in Pakistan, to the oil sheikdoms in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.”

In fact, the campaign of hostility being whipped up by the U.S. against Iran is firmly opposed by Iranian democrats. As Akbar Ganji, Iran’s leading political dissident, wrote in a recent open letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

“Far from helping the development of democracy, US policy over the past fifty years has consistently been to the detriment of the proponents of freedom and democracy in Iran. The 1953 coup against the nationalist government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq and the unwavering support for the despotic regime of the Shah, who acted as America’s gendarme in the Persian Gulf, are just two examples of these flawed policies. More recently the confrontation between various US administrations and the Iranian state over the past three decades has made internal conditions very difficult for the proponents of freedom and human rights in Iran.

Exploiting the danger posed by the US, the Iranian regime has put military-security forces in charge of the government, shut down all independent domestic media and is imprisoning human rights activists on the pretext that they are all agents of a foreign enemy. The Bush Administration, for its part, by approving a fund for democracy assistance in Iran, which has in fact been largely spent on official institutions and media affiliated with the US government, has made it easy for the Iranian regime to describe its opponents as mercenaries of the US and to crush them with impunity.

At the same time, use of accutane for young children even speaking about “the possibility” of a military attack on Iran makes things extremely difficult for human rights and pro-democracy activists in Iran. No Iranian wants to see what happened to Iraq or Afghanistan repeated in Iran. Iranian democrats also watch with deep concern the support in some American circles for separatist movements in Iran. [my emph.]”

Ganji continued,

“In order to help the process of democratization in the Middle East, the US can best help by promoting a just peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, and pave the way for the creation of a truly independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.

A just resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state would inflict the heaviest blow on the forces of fundamentalism and terrorism in the Middle East.”

When American politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, vow to keep military action against Iran “on the table” – a violation of the UN Charter in itself – they are actively hurting pro-democracy activists inside Iran.

Iran is a target for the same reason Iraq was a target: the U.S. wants control over its energy resources. Controlling oil reserves has long been recognised by state planners to give a country “veto power” over its rivals – the U.S.’ worst nightmare in the Middle East is, to quote Noam Chomsky,

“A loose Shi’ite alliance controlling most of the world’s oil, independent of Washington and probably turning toward the East, where China and others are eager to make relationships with them, and are already doing it.”

As the National Security Council explained (.pdf) in 1952, Iran is strategically important because of its “petroleum resources”, which if controlled by the Soviets would “[p]ermit communist denial to the free world of access to Iranian oil and seriously threaten the loss of other Middle Eastern oil” – of course, what was true for the Soviets then is equally applicable to America today.

Whether or not the U.S. will bomb Iran is debatable – the military and intelligence community is largely opposed to the idea, for starters – but it is enough to know that it is being seriously considered and planned for in high-level circles. As Prof. Juan Cole notes,

“It should also be stressed that some elements in the U.S. officer corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency are clearly spoiling for a fight with Iran because the Iranian-supported Shiite nationalists in Iraq are a major obstacle to U.S. dominance in Iraq. Although very few U.S. troops in Iraq are killed by Shiites, military spokesmen have been attempting to give the impression that Tehran is ordering hits on U.S. troops, a clear casus belli. Disinformation campaigns that accuse Iran of trying to destabilize the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government — a government Iran actually supports — could lay the groundwork for a war. Likewise, with the U.S. military now beginning patrols on the Iran-Iraq border, the possibility is enhanced of a hostile incident spinning out of control.”

Frustrated at the lack of public support for an attack, the neocons in Washington are upping the propaganda war – Afghanistan specialist Barry Rubin reports that, according to a well-placed source, Dick Cheney has issued “instructions” to “roll out a campaign for war with Iran…coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects…designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained.” The performance of the mainstream media this week confirmed once again their reliability as stenographers for power, so we can expect to see plenty more stories like this over the coming months.

Cross-posted at The Heathlander

Pony Party: One Little Mistake Edition

Somehow, the Pony Party I’d posted got nuked.  It’s not showing up, so I’m recreating it, under my own account ’cause I’m in a hurry.  Hopefully it wasn’t nuked ’cause our leader really hated it or somethin’.  But it has a real pony!

First, your pony….

And some Cab Calloway, to get the taste out of your mouth…

Be excellent to each other….jessical here (for a bit, then I must get in car and drive, drive, drive…)

Pony Party: One Mistake Edition

In the same spirt as this morning’s Pony Party…more great American art! 

Remember…not that you’d be tempted anyway, in this case…

Please don’t rec the pony parties…another will be galluping along soon…

For your afternoon entertainment…truly one of the great moments in American cinema…

And a happy song!

I’m running out of Americana…next week, my favorite angry Marxist poetry (I have lots more of that…)


Oh…gotta add one more…to sort of wash the taste out…the amazing, unforgettable Cab Calloway…

jessical in the house…be excellent to each other…

US Senate Goes Long on Iraq

While most of the sturm and drang about yesterday’s seemingly senseless Senate resolution has focused on implications for war with Iran, a closer look at the text reveals the other agenda of our Parliamentary Putzes – the codification of a long term US military presence in Iraq.

First the text: 

(b) Sense of Senate.–It is the sense of the Senate–

  (1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;

  (2) that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi’a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq;

  (3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

  (4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;

  (5) that the United States should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, as established under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and initiated under Executive Order 13224; and

  (6) that the Department of the Treasury should act with all possible expediency to complete the listing of those entities targeted under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747 adopted unanimously on December 23, 2006 and March 24, 2007, respectively.

Not just simply a tantrum against Iran, the Senate resolution is, more importantly, a formal recognition of what many US legislators have long known would be the eventual fallback plan once the Surge inevitably failed: permanent occupation of Iraq.

Plan B: ‘Go Long’.

Following Donald Rumsfeld’s long overdue departure last November, the Pentagon released a study outlining what it believed were our three remain strategic options for Iraq: Go Big, Go Long, or Go Home

Of course, they’ve already tried Plan A: Go Big, unsustainably surging their way to higher US and Iraqi casualties with no tangible effect.  And while our Senatorial swooners sure do love a man in uniform, all the bluster they could muster about Move On’s highly charged ad could not hide the fact that the Surge Protector’s triumphal visit to the Hill had already been short circuited by an obvious US power failure on the ground in Iraq.

But if you think that the unqualified failure of the Surge means the Senate is ready to skip Plan B: Go Long and move right to Plan C: Go Home, think again.  As Winston Churchill once said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” Or, as the dead cowboy might say, “Why stop shooting yourself in the foot when there is still another slug in the chamber?”

  Plan B, here we come.

Pay close attention to the first part of the first paragraph of the Senate resolution:

(1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;

Notice the wording. The US is going to ‘transition’ its ‘military presence in Iraq’.  Nothing about ‘withdrawal’ of our military presence. Simply a ‘transition’ to a new ‘structure’ in Iraq.  And here’s the kicker: ‘that will have critical long term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East’. 

Translation:  We’re not getting out of Iraq any time soon.  We’re just pulling back to those shiny new permanent bases strategically situated to protect the Iraqi oil infrastructure.

Also take a look at the fourth paragraph:

(4)to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;

Oh those sly Senators, sneaking in ‘military’ at the end of the list of ‘instruments’ of US power ‘in Iraq’, a list purposefully ordered by touchy-feeliness to invert the relative importance they place on each (as measured by Treasury expenditures).  Almost makes you think they didn’t want you to notice, huh?

The Great ‘Surge’ Con

It is becoming increasing clear that many in Congress have known all along that the Surge would fail, and that that failure has been specifically designed to pave the way for what the Senators know was the real goal of the General’s September dog and pony show on Capitol Hill.  That is, to sell Plan B: the long term occupation of Iraq. 

Indeed, even while last Summer’s propaganda blitz was gushing Go Big, the transition to Go Long was already well underway.

U.S. military officials here are increasingly envisioning a “post-occupation” troop presence in Iraq that neither maintains current levels nor leads to a complete pullout, but aims for a smaller, longer-term force that would remain in the country for years.

This goal, drawn from recent interviews with more than 20 U.S. military officers and other officials here, including senior commanders, strategists and analysts, remains in the early planning stages.  It is based on officials’ assessment that a sharp drawdown of troops is likely to begin by the middle of next year, with roughly two-thirds of the current force of 150,000 moving out by late 2008 or early 2009. The questions officials are grappling with are not whether the U.S. presence will be cut, but how quickly, to what level and to what purpose.

The thinking behind this “post-occupation” force, as one official called it, echoes the core conclusion of a Joint Chiefs of Staff planning group that last fall secretly considered three possible courses in Iraq, which it categorized as “go big,” “go home” and “go long.” The group’s recommendation to reshape the U.S. presence in order to “go long” — to remain in Iraq for years with a smaller force — appears to carry weight in Baghdad, where some of the colonels who led that planning group have been working for Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq since February.

Thus we start to get an inkling of the true reasons for the Surge. While Petraeus has been planning to Go Long since as far back as February, the oil oglers and their Senatorial surrogates see a danger that, once a draw down of US forces begins, the momentum for a complete withdrawal may be irresistible.  Thus the initial need for a preliminary surge to establish a greater presence that could then be pulled back without endangering the entire long term operation.

The group has devised a hybrid plan that combines part of the first option with the second one — “Go Long” — and calls for cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts. Under this mixture of options, which is gaining favor inside the military, the U.S. presence in Iraq, currently about 140,000 troops, would be boosted by 20,000 to 30,000 for a short period, the officials said.

The purpose of the temporary but notable increase, they said, would be twofold: To do as much as possible to curtail sectarian violence, and also to signal to the Iraqi government and public that the shift to a “Go Long” option that aims to eventually cut the U.S. presence is not a disguised form of withdrawal.

Yet another bait and switch con perpetrated on us by our own government.  They pretend we are in to win in Iraq, when all they really want to do is pave the way to stay.  Seen in this light, last Spring’s supplemental authorization of $124 billion makes perfect sense, not as a last chance throw for victory, but as a long term investment in permanent occupation.

(The concern about a runaway troop withdrawal also puts last week’s bizarre Congressional knuckle rap on ‘Move On’ in perspective.  Without a propped-up General Petraeus leading the Big Dig-In, the impetus for complete withdrawal becomes that much more powerful.  So to make the long term Iraq strategy work politically, the warmongers need to preserve Petraeus’ image as a forthright and courageous soldier ‘just doing his job’ – regardless of, or perhaps because of, the fact that the original ‘Go Big but really Go Long’ con was actually the good General’s idea from the get go.)

What about Iran?

At this point you may be asking yourself, ‘after all of the death, destruction and dismay four years of US military presence in Iraq has inflicted on that poor country as well as on our own, how can the warmongers possibly hope to justify to the American people that it is absolutely necessary to keep US troops in Iraq long into the forseeable future?’

And that’s where Iran, the Iago of International Islamic Insurgency, comes in.  According to the Senate, our newest nebulous nemesis seeks to exploit the US’s self-inflicted strategic blunders by:

(2) …turning Shi’a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq.

Notice the analogy to Hezbollah here, a reference not lost on wavering Democratic Senators worried about blowback from a certain powerful DC lobby, should any of them happen to get it into their silly Senatorial heads to vote the ‘wrong way’.

Our (new) mission in Iraq is thus clear:

(3)  to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

Again Hezbollah makes an appearance, and while Lebanon doesn’t actually border the country we are currently occupying, the threat Hezbollah poses to another non-bordering Middle East country seems, to the Senate at least, a perfectly valid reason to spend billions dollars and thousands of lives on a permanent US military presence in Iraq.

Sections (4), (5), and (6) are more Lieberman variations on the Iran theme, although as Turkana and Armando point out, some of the most offensive notes were cut from this clunker of a composition.

What Now?

The Pentagon did not wait for formal Senate approval of the Go Long strategy to announce, the day before Petraeus’ testimony, that it was building a new permanent base and  six other ‘fortified checkpoints’ on the Iraq-Iran border.

The base, with living quarters for some 200 soldiers, will be built six kilometers (four miles) from the Iranian border and will likely be completed by November, Major Toby Logsdon, the US officer overseeing the project, told the Journal, without giving a location.

The US military also plans to install X-ray machines and explosives-detecting sensors at the Zurbatiya border crossing, the main crossing between Iran and Iraq.

Also planned are six fortified checkpoints on the major highways leading from the Iranian border to Baghdad, to be manned by soldiers from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, according to the Journal.

On August 24 Lynch said some 20 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were inside Iraq training Shiite extremists to launch attacks on US and Iraqi security forces.

See that? As few as 20 Iranians inside Iraq are considered justification for locking down every road linking the two countries.  Never mind that the vast majority of US casualties are caused by attacks from Sunni militias ho receive much of their support from other Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and Jordan – two countries which, as LithiumCola points out, General Petraeus conveniently omitted when he testified about sources of Iraqi insurgent support.

Yet even though the Pentagon is going ahead on its own initiative with more brick and mortar bases, the Senate resolution is still important for the continuing viability of the Go Long strategy. Why? Because the House of Representatives, to its credit, is not quite so keen on the idea of US troops taking up long term residence inside Iraq, and recently voted to defeat a GOP amendment that would have permitted funding for permanent bases.

That is why the Senate has to be careful here.  The Senators know that the idea of permanent Iraq bases is not popular with voters, and that to actually mention funding them is bound to create a noisy ruckus with the House. So instead the Senate passes a seemingly innocuous ‘Sense of’ resolution that is a loud shout at Iran but also, and more importantly, a quiet but significant wink to (and test vote for) the Go Long strategy. 

In short, the Senate resolution is formal recognition that the foundation for our permanent occupation of Iraq has begun in earnest, regardless of what the voters, the House, or anyone else has to say.  Iran meanwhile is the distraction that makes it all happen.

(x-posted at Big Orange)

Comedian Limbaugh Attacks The Troops

Jon Soltz of Vote Vets responds to Rush Limbuagh's attack on US soldiers who served in Iraq who oppose continuing the Debacle:

Rush Limbaugh, on his show said that those troops who come home and want to get America out of the middle of the religious civil war in Iraq are “phony soldiers.” I'd love for you, Rush, to have me on your show and tell that to me to my face.

First, in what universe is a guy who never served even close to being qualified to judge those who have worn the uniform? Rush Limbaugh has never worn a uniform in his life – not even one at Mickey D's – and somehow he's got the moral standing to pass judgment on the men and women who risked their lives for this nation, and his right to blather smears on the airwaves? . . .

Time for a Congressional resolution condemning Limbaugh. Yes, I am serious. This is how the game of politics has to be played.

[UPDATE] Dems firing hard at Limbaugh.

Four at Four

This is an cheap propecia no prescription OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started.

  1. There is an uptick in news about global warming today. The Independent brings news from Washington D.C. as Bush prepares for ‘greenwashing’ climate summit. “For the first time in 16 years, a major environmental conference opens in Washington, hosted by the Bush administration. http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=vardenafil-generico-effetto-36-ore But no concrete results are expected, and that… is the point of this high-level meeting. ¶ Far from representing a Damascene conversion on climate change by… George Bush, the two-day gathering of the world’s biggest polluting nations is aimed at undermining the UN’s efforts to tackle global warming, say European sources. ‘The conference was called at very short notice,’ said one participant. ‘It’s a cynical exercise in destabilising the UN process.'” The Guardian also confirms that diplomats are accusing Bush of attempting to derail UN climate conference. “One European diplomat described the US meeting as a spoiler for a UN conference planned for Bali in December. Another… claimed that the US conference was merely a way of deflecting pressure from other world leaders who had asked at the G8 summit this year for the US to make concessions on global warming. ¶ They predicted that Mr Bush, who is to address the meeting tomorrow, will stress the need to make technological advances that can help combat climate change but will reject mandatory caps on emissions… ¶ One of those attending said the conference reflected ‘political hardball’ on the part of the Bush administration, aimed at undermining the UN, for which it holds long-term suspicion. Another said the conference was aimed at domestic politics, with vardenafil originale Sardegna Mr Bush seeking headlines and television coverage implying that he was doing something about climate change while, in fact, doing almost nothing.

    The Bush administration is doing nothing and taking credit for the work of others. The Washington Post reports the White House is taking unearned credit for emissions cuts. “Seeking to counter international pressure to adopt binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions, the Bush administration has been touting the success of three mandatory programs to curb U.S. energy consumption: gas mileage standards for vehicles, efficiency standards for home appliances and state laws requiring utilities to increase their use of renewable energy sources. ¶ But for most of the Bush presidency, the White House has either done little to promote these measures or, in some cases, has actively fought against them. Moreover, the fuel economy and appliance initiatives were first taken years ago to slash energy consumption, long before climate change became a pressing issue. ¶ The administration initially delayed plans to set improved energy-efficiency standards for 22 appliances, which led to a court battle with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. Under a 2006 legal settlement, the Energy Department is now working to finish the rules. The White House also tried to reverse strict efficiency standards for central air conditioners upon Bush’s taking office in 2001, a move the NRDC had reversed in a separate lawsuit.

  2. Spiegel brings news of the ever-increasing evidence that biofuels ’emit more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels’. “A team of researchers led by Nobel-prize winning chemist Paul Crutzen has found that growing and using biofuels emits up to 70 percent more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. They are warning that the cure could end up being worse than the disease.”

    Biofuels, once championed as the great hope for fighting climate change, could end up being more damaging to the environment than oil or gasoline. A new study has found that the growth and use of crops to make biofuels produces more damaging greenhouse gases than previously thought.

    German* Nobel-prize winning chemist Paul Crutzen and his team of researchers have calculated the emissions released by the growth and burning of crops such as maize, rapeseed and cane sugar to produce biofuels. The team of American, British and German scientists has found that the process releases twice as much nitrous oxide (N2O) as previously thought. They estimate that 3 to 5 percent of nitrogen in fertilizer is converted and emitted, as opposed to the 2 percent used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its calculations.

    Crutzen is widely respected in the field of climate research, having received the Nobel Prize in 1995 for his research into the ozone layer. The study, published in the scientific journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, finds that the growth and use of biofuels produced from rapeseed and maize can produce 70 percent and 50 percent more greenhouse gases respectively than fossil fuels.

    * Crutzen is actually Dutch according to his Wikipedia entry.

  3. Emily Wax reports for the Washington Post that boats are seen as the future in flood-prone Bangladesh. “Melting glaciers in the Himalayas are already causing sea levels to rise here, and scientists say Bangladesh may lose up to 20 percent of its land by 2030 as a result of flooding. That Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable countries on the planet to climate change is a tragedy for its 150 million people, most of whom are destitute… ¶ ‘For Bangladesh, boats are the future,’ said Abul Hasanat Mohammed Rezwan, an architect who started the boats project here and who now oversees it as executive director of the nonprofit Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, a name that means self-reliance. ‘As Bangladeshi citizens, it’s our responsibility to find solutions because the potential for human disaster is so huge. We have to be bold. Everyone loves land. But the question is: Will there be enough? Millions of people will have nowhere to go.’ … ¶ Scientists in Dhaka, the capital, predict that as propecia prescription debate many as 20 million people in Bangladesh will become ‘climate refugees’ by 2030, unable to farm or survive on their flooded land. The migration has already started. In 1995, half of Bhola Island, Bangladesh’s biggest island, was swallowed by rising sea levels, leaving 500,000 people homeless.”

  4. Finally, a double shot of Blackwater news today.

    • The New York Times reports that shootings by Blackwater exceed those of all other firms in Iraq. “Blackwater USA has been involved in a far higher rate of shootings while guarding American diplomats in Iraq than other security firms providing similar services to the State Department, according to Bush administration officials and industry officials… ¶ The State Department keeps reports on each case in which weapons were fired by security personnel guarding American diplomats in Iraq… ¶ The officials said that Blackwater’s incident rate was at least twice that recorded by employees of DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, the two other United States-based security firms that have been contracted by the State Department to provide security for diplomats and other senior civilians in Iraq… Last year, the State Department gave Blackwater the lead role in diplomatic security in Iraq, reducing the roles of DynCorp and Triple Canopy. ¶ The company employs about 850 workers in Iraq under its diplomatic security contract, about three-quarters of them Americans, according to the State Department and the Congressional Research Service. DynCorp has 157 security guards in Iraq; Triple Canopy has about 250.” So, to eliminate private security contractors from Iraq, it would take reassignment of 1257 military personnel?

    • The Los Angeles Times reports that Defense War Secretary Robert Gates has moved to rein in contractors in Iraq. “Gates has ordered U.S. military commanders in Iraq to crack down on any abuses they uncover by private security contractors in the aftermath of a deadly shooting involving American guards that infuriated Iraqis… ¶ In a three-page directive sent Tuesday night to the Pentagon’s most senior officers, Gates’ top deputy ordered them to review rules governing contractors’ use of arms and to begin legal proceedings against any that have violated military law. ¶ Gates’ order contrasts with the reaction of State Department officials, who have been slow to acknowledge any potential failings in their oversight of Blackwater USA… The Pentagon directive does not affect private security guards under contract to other agencies, including the State Department, which is investigating the Blackwater shooting.” According to the Washington Post, Gates declined to describe the contractors as mercenaries. ” Asked by a senator whether he considered the contractors ‘mercenaries,’ Gates replied that many of the security contractors in Iraq are former members of the U.S. military and do not see themselves in that light.” McClatchy newspapers reports some in the Pentagon prefer soldiers over contractors. “Within the military, there’s disagreement about the role of contractors. During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Petraeus said that he couldn’t effectively wage a counterinsurgency war without contactors, who do everything from security to food preparation. ¶ But… Navy Adm. William Fallon, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees the Middle East, said he didn’t want contractors seen as a ‘surrogate army.’ ‘My instinct is that it’s easier and better if they were in uniform and were working for me,’ Fallon said. ‘There’s a rule set out there, and these guys should adhere to it as far as action, training and accountability.'”

Of course, there is one more story below the fold…

  1. The Telegraph brings the tale of the Devil’s Bible returning to Prague. “A monumental Bible rumoured to have been written with the help of the Devil has been returned to Prague for the first time in 350 years. ¶ The 13th century Codex Gigas, which is 3ft long and weighs 165lb, is thought to be the biggest book in the world and is known as The Devil’s Bible due to a supposed satanic bargain made by its author. ¶ It was looted by Swedish soldiers from Prague castle at the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648 and taken to Stockholm, where it is the prize exhibit at the Royal Library. ¶ But until now Swedish authorities have refused to lend it to the Czech Republic, which regards the Bible as stolen property, for fear they would not get it back.”

So, what else is happening?

Heartwarming Tale About the Failure of a Business

I have this friend.  Her name isn’t Mary, but that’s what we’ll call her.  I’ve never had a really good friend named Mary, so this will be fun for me.

When I met Mary, her father was the Democratic mayor of the small town we went to school in.  We lived on opposite sides of the town, each outside the town limits.  There were railroad tracks between our homes, and we often joked about which one of us lived on the ‘wrong’ side.  hint: it was me.

Mary and I have been friends for 26 years.  When we were teenagers, she was a svelte 5’8″, blonde, a model.  We always met lots of boys, had lots of fun, got in lots of trouble.  We once dated brothers who looked exactly alike, though not twins.  I introduced her to her husband.  I taught her how to work her son’s nebulizer.  She has a big mouth; she’s always liked to pick fights, and then have me fight them for her.  She makes the snowballs, and I throw them, as my grandmother would say.  That’s the heartwarming part.  A ‘buddy’ story, of sorts.  I gotta warn you, it gets a little ugly here. 

Anyway, in the years since Mary’s father was the Democratic mayor of the small town we went to school in, he tried unsuccessfully to run for other local offices.  Maybe he got bitter.  Maybe he was always bitter, I dont know.  His most recently held public office was as a Republican…yes, Republican…councilman for the same town he was Democratic mayor of, all those years ago.  His council term ended last year, and he was not re-elected.

One of the reasons he wasnt re-elected is that, during his term as councilman of the town he was mayor of, all those years ago, he became vehemently anti-immigrant.  He didnt really seem to care about immigrants’ legal status, family situation, or civil rights.  He basically tried to legalize racial profiling in the town he was mayor of, all those years ago.  And he managed to squeeze through a couple of regulations, mostly regarding ‘abandoned’ cars and cars with out-of-state tags, parked overnight in the town (yes, the same town he was mayor of, all those years ago). 

Now, from where I live, I can drive to Pennsylvania in 20 minutes, New Jersey in 15, depending on bridge traffic.  I can be in Maryland in half an hour.  Out-of-state cars are common.  One even drove through my mother’s hedge last year during a snow storm.  But that’s a story for another day.  Suffice it to say, regulations that amounted to harassment of innocent brown people, as well as innocent car owners of all colors, didn’t make Mary’s father a popular guy in the town he was mayor of, all those years ago.

It was at about this time that Mary, who became involved in anti-immigration and anti-immigrant activities with her father, started picking fights that I didn’t want to finish for her.  Wouldn’t finish for her.  And the fight she picked this time…well…let’s just say she could have used me.  You see, Mary and her husband own a family landscaping business.  As a matter of fact, they have a contract with the small town where Mary’s father was once mayor.  And, right now, that’s the only contract they hold.  I don’t know if Mary, or her father, or her husband had the ill-conceived idea to suggest that the local landscapers who employed immigrants should be investigated for their hiring and employment practices.  I do know who had the connections to get it done. 

I told you the story got ugly.  This next part warms some hearts, upsets others.  I’m not going to tell you how to feel about it.  I’ll only say it’s true, and it worked. 

Every single other landscaper in the county where I live, in support of the hardworking legal immigrants on whose backs their livelihoods are made (and not a little bit irritated at having been investigated for their hiring practices), conspired to take turns submitting ridiculously low bids to every- and anyone whom Mary and her husband held a landscaping contract with.  They spread out the losses amongst themselves, so none of them suffered too much financially.  Mary and her husband, however, were not so lucky. 

Always optimistic, Mary and her husband already have their next business venture planned.  They’re planning to open an indoor miniature golf course.  Plastic-scaping?  Eh, who am I to judge?  I’ve already been invited to the grand opening party.  The grand opening of a business that doesn’t exist yet, to be bought with the profits from the sale of a business they haven’t sold yet.  I think Mary might be a little concerned that she’s lost more than her family business….

{….I’m aware that this story is soooo not ready for prime time.  I tell it because it is a small story about a big problem where cooperation and sacrifice made a difference.  A difference to people for whom it meant a lot.  My intention isn’t to ‘out’ Mary, or embarrass her.  I just wanted to tell a story about cooperation and sacrifice, making a difference, to people for whom it meant a lot….em}

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