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Obama from the Bullpen

by Jeff Huber

Navy skippers immemorial wrote "He hit the deck running" on their new junior officers' fitness reports until the phrase became, well, ship-worn. You mean that the officer just checked aboard, seems eager, if a bit much so, has done a nice thing or two, but it's not time to recommend him either for your job or for immediate transfer to civilian command. In other words, it's an expression that sounds impressive but doesn't really mean anything, something common to at least 95 percent of Navy writing.

But the expression appears to mean something in the case of Barack Obama, whose orders just showed up on the message board, as we say in the NAV, and who doesn’t even check aboard for two more months. In the past week he's made three significant interrelated foreign policy moves that involve Iraq, Iran and Russia that have potential to look good, go bad or turn ugly, depending on how he follows up on them.

A Nation of Suckers

Bumped and promoted. Originally posted 2008-09-18 09:33:30 -0500, from the same person who brought you Christians Who Hate Christ. Enjoy. -- GH

Imagine you bought a used car back in 2003 and after driving it around for a few months you discovered that the odometer had been rolled back, the airbags had been deployed and never replaced, the spare tire in the trunk was bald and the transmission had been so badly abused that it burnt out in six months.

Would you buy another used car from the same salesman?

Hopefully, after getting burned by the same salesman once, you would never trust him a second time. Sadly, people in America seem to like being suckered.

Before 9/11 - Taliban - al Qaeda

The National Security Archive has just released a Load of Files Electronic Briefing Book No. 253 Posted - August 20, 2008 under the title: 1998 Missile Strikes on Bin Laden May Have Backfired with a subtitle: Extensive 1999 Report on Al-Qaeda Threat Released by U.S. Dept of Energy, Taliban Told U.S. They Wanted to Bomb Washington

With backlinks to the PDF's and more links in the sidebar on the left.

Hegemon Hijinks

On Friday August 15 the Bush administration sent Condoleezza Rice to meet with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili as a "show of U.S. support." Yikes. They sent Condi? Talk about giving somebody the goodbye look. If this were a Marty Scorsese movie, Saakashvili would have been sleeping with the fishes come Saturday morning. You'd think Keystone Kondi would have lent sufficient slapstick to the Georgian situation, but no. Adding to the antics, John McCain announced on Friday August 15 that he would send along as his personal representatives Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, the Bea Arthur and Betty White of neoconservatism. Then, to cap things off, McCain himself dropped the atomic punchline: "In the twenty-first century, nations don't invade other nations."

You could hear irony clawing at its coffin lid.

The bananastans are going bananas, Iran's down the can, al Qaeda is a more dangerous enemy than ever and our "victory" in Iraq has gone off in our faces like a joke shop cigar. Less than a decade into the New American Century, young Mr. Bush and the neoconservatives who promised us an empire have squandered everything our forefathers achieved in the America's first two and a quarter centuries as a nation. Yet, incredibly, bewilderingly, stupefyingly, a septuagenarian Senator who steals Christian prisoner stories from Alexander Solzhenitsyn and promises to protract the Bush foreign policy fumble-rama is a viable contender for the presidency of the United States.

We live in hysteric times.

Petraeus Goes Bananastan

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to spend $20 billion to double the size of Afghanistan's army as part of a program designed to bring the country that was once the "crown jewel" of our woebegone war on terror under control. We might be better served by simply bribing the Taliban and al Qaeda elements in Afghanistan to take a little breather. That's how General David Petraeus got the Sunni militias in Iraq to play ball with him, and that only cost us about $216 million. As peace making measures go, it's cheaper to buy guerillas than it is to make soldiers, so why not take the path of least resistance?

Of course, the cost of victory through bribery in the bananastans could get twice as expensive now that "top Bush administration officials" are looking to step up ground force forays into Pakistan. I guess the top officials finally realized that bombing Pakistani weddings with nuclear submarines isn't getting the job done.

Not to worry, though. General David Petraeus, young Mr. Bush's "main man," is about to take charge of the bananastans, and if he can't win there, nobody can.

Terror Error

You probably already knew this, but sometimes it's nice to get affirmation that yeah, you were right. A recently released study by the non-partisan Rand Corporation titled How Terrorist Groups End shows that young Mr. Bush's anti-terror strategy hasn't significantly undermined al Qaeda's capabilities.

As news goes, that's hardly shock or awe, is it?

Iraq Event Horizon

event horizon: the boundary of a black hole beyond which nothing can escape from within it

-- Merriam-Webster Online

After five years and change of turned corners and dead enders and last throes, is it possible that we're approaching an event horizon in our Middle East miasma? Stuff seems to happen faster than anyone can deny it occurred these days, and from the sound of things, it won't be too long before we're committed to getting out of Iraq in smart fashion or sucked into staying there until kingdom come.

Iran? No! Pakistan? Yes! Forgotten Conflict Soon To Expand and Escalate Dangerously!

I was going to post a followup to a recent post I had done referancing some disturbing news, but suspected, out of Afganistan. That post, a few days ago, followed the extremely sad news about the loss of the nine soldiers, fifteen injured, in a battle at a small fire base they held by Afgan insugents. This U.S. Abandons Site of Afghan Attack is a recent report on that and as the title says the American forces abandoned the base.

Open Thread: Supply Emergency Edition

So, according to a piece in Reuters, George W. Bush said:


...there was no quick fix to lowering record fuel prices and that oil in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve should be saved for supply emergencies.


Would an airstrike on Iran interrupt supply long enough to constitute a "supply emergency" -- and could that be why there's such a push for more oil-drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

How long would it take from the time the ink dries to the time the first rigs would be able to start pumping oil out of the ground? ...and would the Strategic Oil Reserve hold us over until then?

If so -- even if only just so -- then perhaps we have yet another piece in place for the games masters to edge closer toward their goal of one more strategic bombing campaign...

This is an Open Thread.

Iran + Iraq = Ironic

"As this law [of extremes] begins to lose its force and as this determination wanes, the political aim will reassert itself."

--Carl von Clausewitz

Young Mr. Bush has managed to irretrievably lose his Iraq misadventure, saving his successor the trouble of trying to put off defeat indefinitely.

Last week, at a meeting with ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki proposed a short-term memorandum of understanding on the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq that includes a formula for American troop withdrawal.

The Bush administration bull feather merchants accelerated to full pluck.

When Did Iran Start Beating Its Wife Again?

originally posted 2008-04-28 10:19:13 -- as DEFuning says in the comments, this one is scarily prescient. -- Cho

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created the Office of Strategic Influence shortly after the 9/11 attacks to bolster support for the Bush administration’s war on terror. Air Force Brigadier General Simon P. Worden, OSI’s director, envisioned the organization as having "a broad mission ranging from 'black' campaigns that use disinformation and other covert activities to 'white' public affairs that rely on truthful news releases."

The furor over his establishment of what amounted to an Orwellian Ministry of Truth caused Rumsfeld to disband the OSI in February 2002, but he later promised that when it came to manipulating public perceptions to suit his agenda, “I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.”

There’s one nice thing you can say about Rumsfeld: he keeps his word.

Spy vs. Congress

I have known and served with many military intelligence officers. A handful of them were brilliant. The preponderance of them validated the adage that says military intelligence is to intelligence what military music is to music.

I have also known and worked with many Air Force officers, and every one of those bug lovers is dedicated to the Air Force's primary mission, which is to prevaricate its way into possession of the entire defense budget.

Since CIA director Michael V. Hayden is an Air Force intelligence officer and a Bush appointee to boot, anything he says tends to be standard issue effluvium, and what he's saying now about his agency's right to privacy stinks to high heaven.

Army study says Iraq occupation was understaffed

No Kidding?

U.S. army study says Iraq occupation was understaffed
DENVER - A nearly 700-page study released Sunday by the army found that "in the euphoria of early 2003," U.S.-based commanders prematurely believed their goals in Iraq had been reached and did not send enough troops to handle the occupation.


More below...

Edumacating The Masses: Boob-Tube To The Rescue -- Schoolhouse Rock!

Governments in the modern world are far from perfect -- sometimes, they must engage in activities that aren't exactly wholesome. But when these activities are controlled and underscored by justifications that come across as complete hypocrisy juxtaposed against the realities of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, things get really messy.

With the recent misadventures of the US in the Middle East, and this recent story by Seymour Hersh (hat-tip FWIW), our nation is now showing itself to be one of the biggest hypocrits on the planet -- all courtesy of the Bush Republicans and their enablers. And, unfortunately, those other members of Congress who have failed to stand against them and decry their actions (and inactions).

Oddly enough, this does seem to be a rather stark departure from the nation born under these sentiments:

We're a nation formed under the concept of preserving rights and liberties, and to this end our founding fathers had defined a system of checks and balances to keep our three primary branches of government in a rough balance. Under the George W. Bush Administration, this system of checks and balances has begun to take on too many qualities of a three-ring circus...like this one, in fact:

Pay particular attention to when the judiciary is introduced, and "wrongs" are balanced against our "rights" -- interesting imagery.
I almost started to wonder and ask when they would send in the clowns, but then I realized I shouldn't bother: they're already here.

Schoolhouse Rock videos as found on YouTube.

Bomber Obama

There may be such a thing as absolute truth, but evil is, without question, a relative commodity, especially when it comes to elections. I rejected Hillary Clinton as a suitable presidential candidate because of her penchant for kissing up to the neocons. She was going hook, line and sinker for their Iran narrative the same way she took the bait on Iraq. As president of the United States, John McCain would be the most dangerous human being in the history of civilization, so he made for an even worse candidate than Hillary.

On May 19, the (then) least of three evils made the most rational foreign policy statement uttered by a presidential candidate since World War II: "Iran, Cuba, Venezuela—these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us."

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