Sunday, March 30, 2008

The explosion of fighting this week among Iraq’s leading Shi’a militias and political factions is the latest episode in a long-standing intra-Shi’a civil war. This latest violence highlights that the Bush administration’s surge of combat troops into the country last year has temporarily masked tensions between rival groups competing for power, instead of creating a sustainable security and political solution to Iraq’s conflicts.

What does the Dalai Lama actually stand for?


Friday, March 28, 2008

Another excuse to keep troops in Iraq.

U.S. Appears to Take Lead in Fighting in Baghdad
U.S. Forces Battle Mahdi Army in Sadr City, Aircraft Target Basra

By Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, March 28, 2008; 11:59 AM

BAGHDAD, March 28 -- U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in the vast Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, and military officials said Friday that U.S. aircraft bombed militant positions in the southern city of Basra, as the American role in a campaign against party-backed militias appeared to expand. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the Sadr City fighting, as U.S. troops took the lead.

Four U.S. Stryker armored vehicles were seen in Sadr City by a Washington Post correspondent, one of them engaging Mahdi Army militiamen with heavy fire. The din of U.S. weapons, along with the Mahdi Army's AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, was heard through much of the day. U.S. helicopters and drones buzzed overhead.

The clashes suggested that American forces were being drawn more deeply into a broad offensive that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, launched in the southern city of Basra on Tuesday, saying death squads, criminal gangs and rogue militias were the targets. The Mahdi Army of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite rival of Maliki, appeared to have taken the brunt of the attacks; fighting spread to many southern cities and parts of Baghdad.

As President Bush told an Ohio audience that Iraq was returning to "normalcy," administration officials in Washington held meetings to assess what appeared to be a rapidly deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country.

U.S. forces were involved in about a dozen firefights Thursday in Baghdad alone, with fighting spread across six neighborhoods, according to information released by the U.S. military Friday morning. U.S. ground patrols in such areas as Kadhamiyah and New Baghdad repeatedly came under attack from small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, responding with their own weapons and in one case calling in helicopter support. In that incident, the helicopter fired a hellfire missile into a group of militants that had attacked U.S. troops manning a checkpoint in Kadhamiyah, killing three of them. When the militants renewed their attack, the helicopter returned and killed 10 more using a 30mm gun, according to a U.S. military release.

In all, U.S. troops killed 42 in Thursday's Baghdad fighting, a sign of their growing engagement in the Iraqi-designed offensive.

Thursday night, American aircraft dropped bombs on two locations in Basra in support of Iraqi ground forces, said Maj. Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman. He said coalition forces would continue to make airpower available at the request of Iraqi troops. Coalition reconnaissance jets have been flying over the area for the past three days, but Thursday's action was the first airstrike.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, released details Friday on a fight that erupted Wednesday in Hillah, in which U.S. special forces joined with an Iraqi unit that had come under heavy assault. The Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics unit lost nine men after a large force of militants attacked a road checkpoint. U.S. troops joined the battle, and a U.S. helicopter tracked the militant force as it pulled back and regrouped near a mosque. A hellfire missile strike killed five of them, and the rest of the group dispersed, according to a U.S. military statement.

Maliki decided to launch the offensive without consulting his U.S. allies, according to administration officials. With little U.S. presence in the south, and British forces in Basra confined to an air base outside the city, one administration official said that "we can't quite decipher" what is going on. It's a question, he said, of "who's got the best conspiracy" theory about why Maliki decided to act now.

In Basra, three rival Shiite groups have been trying to position themselves, sometimes through force of arms, to dominate recently approved provincial elections.

The U.S. officials, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said that they believe Iran has provided assistance in the past to all three groups: the Mahdi Army; the Badr Organization of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Iraq's largest Shiite party; and forces loyal to the Fadhila Party, which holds the Basra governor's seat. But the officials see the current conflict as a purely internal Iraqi dispute.

Some officials have concluded that Maliki himself is firing "the first salvo in upcoming elections," the administration official said.

"His dog in that fight is that he is basically allied with the Badr Corps" against forces loyal to Sadr, the official said. "It's not a pretty picture."

Elements of Sadr's militia have fought fiercely, including rocketing the Green Zone, the huge fortified compound in Baghdad where the U.S. Embassy, Iraqi government offices and international agencies are located.

Starting about 5:25 p.m., the Post reporter heard the launch of 14 rockets, which Mahdi Army officers in the area said were aimed at the Green Zone. U.S. officials reported that 12 rounds hit the zone in that time frame, including six that fell inside the embassy compound. An American civilian contractor was killed in a residential area of the embassy compound, and another death was reported in the zone's U.N. compound.

Further volleys landed Friday, striking the office of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi. A guard was killed. Hashemi was not in his office at the time. U.S. officials in the Green Zone have been advised to stay indoors and wear body armor when they venture out.

Several Mahdi Army commanders said they had been fighting U.S. forces for the past three days in Sadr City, engaging Humvees as well as the Strykers. By their account, an Iraqi special forces unit had entered Sadr City from another direction, backed by Americans, but otherwise the fighting had not been with Iraqis.

"If there were no Americans, there would be no fighting," said Abu Mustafa al-Thahabi, 38, a senior Mahdi Army member.

In August, Sadr ordered his militia to observe a cease-fire, a move widely credited with helping to reduce violence across Iraq. In recent days, Sadr officials have said the cease-fire remains in force. But in practice, his fighters and Iraqi and U.S. forces are waging full-scale war in places. Further fighting with his men could slow U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq.

American commanders said in recent days that their units were taking only a backup role in the offensive and that Iraqi forces were growing strong enough to shoulder the country's security needs.

Maj. Mark Cheadle, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said he could not make an accurate assessment of what the Post reporter saw without knowing the precise location. He underlined that U.S. troops were playing a backup role in the offensive but that on a battlefield that is "360 degrees," it might seem at times that they were out front. If an Iraqi unit was about to be overwhelmed by an enemy, "of course we are going to assist."

On Thursday, thousands of followers of Sadr turned out for a peaceful demonstration in Baghdad. Iraqi television channels carried crowd scenes in which people carried a coffin draped in flags and decorated with a portrait of Maliki. They denounced him as a "new dictator" and chanted: "Maliki, keep your hands off. People do not want you."

Gunmen wearing police commando uniforms stormed the Baghdad home of a well-known member of Maliki's government, Tahseen al-Sheikhli, and took him hostage, according to the Information Ministry. Sheikhli is a chief spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, in charge of building public support for government efforts to quell violence in the city.

As fighting continued in Basra, saboteurs blew up one of the city's main oil pipelines. Gunmen opened fire on the city's police chief, wounding him and killing three of his bodyguards.

Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Mohammad, director of military operations at Iraq's Defense Ministry, said the Basra operation would continue until security forces captured the outlaws or wiped them out. He said the Iraqi military planned to seal and search every neighborhood to capture suspected criminals and confiscate weapons.

But an adviser to Iraqi security forces, who had predicted that the fight in Basra would take 10 days, said it could go on much longer. He also said Iraqi forces were calling on U.S. and British forces for help. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he said he was not authorized to speak with reporters.

"I think the government can't win this battle without interference of Americans or British," he said. "I think the aid or assistance is on the way." In his view, the Iraqi military needed air coverage and help with logistics and intelligence.

The fighters "are opening many, many fronts against the army," he said. The adviser said the militia's weapons, some of them made in Iran, are more powerful than those of the Iraqi army.

So far, casualties in Basra on all sides have totaled about 400 killed and 300 wounded, he said.

Holloway, the British military spokesman, said Iraqi security forces were "consolidating their current positions" and preparing for the next stage of the offensive. They were cordoning off areas and trying to gain control of the city "bite-size chunk by bite-size chunk."

Residents in Basra said they observed Mahdi Army militiamen gathering in their neighborhood stronghold of Jumhuriyah, assembling men and weapons while dodging gunfire from Iraqi army snipers at intersections.

Staff writers Karen DeYoung and Howard Schneider in Washington and special correspondents Naseer Nouri, Zaid Sabah, K.I. Ibrahim and Dalya Hassan in Baghdad contributed to this report.

On Wednesday, John McCain delivered what was billed as a “major foreign policy” speech and today, David Brooks gushed that it was “as personal, nuanced and ambitious a speech as any made by a presidential candidate this year.” In particular, Brooks said that the speech demonstrates just how different McCain’s foreign policy approach is from that of Bush/Cheney: “Anybody who thinks McCain is merely continuing the Bush agenda is not paying attention.”
The reality is exactly the opposite.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Joseph Galloway:Shame on Them and Shame on Us : This week, the Iraq war claimed its 4,000th American killed in action, but that sad and tragic milestone came as the war seems to have slipped off the evening news, off the front pages and from the minds of the American people.

Amy Goodman:Body of War : We just passed the grim milestone of 4,000 U.S. military members killed in Iraq since the invasion five years ago. Still, the death toll climbs.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Resurging Iraqi Violence

Shi’a Civil War One of ManyLatest outbreak of fighting among Shi’a rivals is emblematic of multiple conflicts still raging across the country, writes Brian Katulis.
What can and cannot be spoken on television
Americans are subjected to a narrow and highly controlled range of opinion regarding Iraq and the U.S. occupation.
by Glenn Greenwald

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

By Matthew Rothschild

He is the Great Unaccountable One. And looking for empathy from Cheney is like searching for remorse from OJ. FULL STORY
Conservatives Beware
By E.J. Dionne —
What’s the matter with conservatism? Its problems start with the failure of George W. Bush’s presidency but they don’t end there.

Greed Is Not Good
By Marie Cocco —
The housing crisis brings to mind Gordon Gekko, that fictitious ambassador of Wall Street whose words, then and now, reminds us why uninhibited capitalism just doesn’t work.

The Next 4,000
By Eugene Robinson —
Four thousand. When U.S. military deaths in Iraq hit a round number, as happened Sunday, there’s usually a week or so of intense focus on the war—its bogus rationale, its nebulous aims, its awful consequences for the families of the dead. Not likely this time, though.
So? . . . a note from Michael Moore

It would have to happen on Easter Sunday, wouldn't it, that the 4,000th American soldier would die in Iraq. Play me that crazy preacher again, will you, about how maybe God, in all his infinite wisdom, may not exactly be blessing America these days. Is anyone surprised?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

by John Nichols

The president's Easter Weekend radio address sounded like a sermon rather than an address by the chief executive of a secular state.
Bush Gutting The Endangered Species Act

Rich man, poor man..

March 23, 2008
Gap in Life Expectancy Widens for the Nation

WASHINGTON — New government research has found “large and growing” disparities in life expectancy for richer and poorer Americans, paralleling the growth of income inequality in the last two decades.

Life expectancy for the nation as a whole has increased, the researchers said, but affluent people have experienced greater gains, and this, in turn, has caused a widening gap.

One of the researchers, Gopal K. Singh, a demographer at the Department of Health and Human Services, said “the growing inequalities in life expectancy” mirrored trends in infant mortality and in death from heart disease and certain cancers.

The gaps have been increasing despite efforts by the federal government to reduce them. One of the top goals of “Healthy People 2010,” an official statement of national health objectives issued in 2000, is to “eliminate health disparities among different segments of the population,” including higher- and lower-income groups and people of different racial and ethnic background.

Dr. Singh said last week that federal officials had found “widening socioeconomic inequalities in life expectancy” at birth and at every age level.

He and another researcher, Mohammad Siahpush, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, developed an index to measure social and economic conditions in every county, using census data on education, income, poverty, housing and other factors. Counties were then classified into 10 groups of equal population size.

In 1980-82, Dr. Singh said, people in the most affluent group could expect to live 2.8 years longer than people in the most deprived group (75.8 versus 73 years). By 1998-2000, the difference in life expectancy had increased to 4.5 years (79.2 versus 74.7 years), and it continues to grow, he said.

After 20 years, the lowest socioeconomic group lagged further behind the most affluent, Dr. Singh said, noting that “life expectancy was higher for the most affluent in 1980 than for the most deprived group in 2000.”

“If you look at the extremes in 2000,” Dr. Singh said, “men in the most deprived counties had 10 years’ shorter life expectancy than women in the most affluent counties (71.5 years versus 81.3 years).” The difference between poor black men and affluent white women was more than 14 years (66.9 years vs. 81.1 years).

The Democratic candidates for president, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, have championed legislation to reduce such disparities, as have some Republicans, like Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said: “We have heard a lot about growing income inequality. There has been much less attention paid to growing inequality in life expectancy, which is really quite dramatic.”

Life expectancy is the average number of years of life remaining for people who have attained a given age.

While researchers do not agree on an explanation for the widening gap, they have suggested many reasons, including these:

¶Doctors can detect and treat many forms of cancer and heart disease because of advances in medical science and technology. People who are affluent and better educated are more likely to take advantage of these discoveries.

¶Smoking has declined more rapidly among people with greater education and income.

¶Lower-income people are more likely to live in unsafe neighborhoods, to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior and to eat unhealthy food.

¶Lower-income people are less likely to have health insurance, so they are less likely to receive checkups, screenings, diagnostic tests, prescription drugs and other types of care.

Even among people who have insurance, many studies have documented racial disparities.

In a recent report, the Department of Veterans Affairs found that black patients “tend to receive less aggressive medical care than whites” at its hospitals and clinics, in part because doctors provide them with less information and see them as “less appropriate candidates” for some types of surgery.

Some health economists contend that the disparities between rich and poor inevitably widen as doctors make gains in treating the major causes of death.

Nancy Krieger, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, rejected that idea. Professor Krieger investigated changes in the rate of premature mortality (dying before the age of 65) and infant death from 1960 to 2002. She found that inequities shrank from 1966 to 1980, but then widened.

“The recent trend of growing disparities in health status is not inevitable,” she said. “From 1966 to 1980, socioeconomic disparities declined in tandem with a decline in mortality rates.”

The creation of Medicaid and Medicare, community health centers, the “war on poverty” and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 all probably contributed to the earlier narrowing of health disparities, Professor Krieger said.

Robert E. Moffit, director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said one reason for the growing disparities might be “a very significant gap in health literacy” — what people know about diet, exercise and healthy lifestyles. Middle-class and upper-income people have greater access to the huge amounts of health information on the Internet, Mr. Moffit said.

Thomas P. Miller, a health economist at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed.

“People with more education tend to have a longer time horizon,” Mr. Miller said. “They are more likely to look at the long-term consequences of their health behavior. They are more assertive in seeking out treatments and more likely to adhere to treatment advice from physicians.”

A recent study by Ellen R. Meara, a health economist at Harvard Medical School, found that in the 1980s and 1990s, “virtually all gains in life expectancy occurred among highly educated groups.”

Trends in smoking explain a large part of the widening gap, she said in an article this month in the journal Health Affairs.

Under federal law, officials must publish an annual report tracking health disparities. In the fifth annual report, issued this month, the Bush administration said, “Over all, disparities in quality and access for minority groups and poor populations have not been reduced” since the first report, in 2003.

The rate of new AIDS cases is still 10 times as high among blacks as among whites, it said, and the proportion of black children hospitalized for asthma is almost four times the rate for white children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last month that heart attack survivors with higher levels of education and income were much more likely to receive cardiac rehabilitation care, which lowers the risk of future heart problems. Likewise, it said, the odds of receiving tests for colon cancer increase with a person’s education and income.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Galloway: Most Americans content to think about anything except . . . Iraq. Here we are in the final throes of the Bush administration and someone has foolishly let Darth Cheney off his leash again.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Howard Zinn:Beyond the New Deal

Imagine the response a Democratic candidate would get from the electorate if he or she spoke as follows:
“Our nation is in crisis, just as it was when Roosevelt took office. At that time, people desperately needed help, they needed jobs, decent housing, protection in old age. They needed to know that the government was for them and not just for the wealthy classes. This is what the American people need today."

Editorial: Socialized Compensation

The continuing bailout of the financial system underscores the extent to which financial barons socialize the costs of private bets gone bad.
"Black and More Than Black": Obama's Daring and Unique Speech on Race

The iconic author objects to Newsweek’s obituary of his onetime rival, William F. Buckley, a “knightly man” who stood up to “bullies” like Gore Vidal ... by verbally gay-bashing him on national television.


It’s time to relearn the lessons of the 1930s, and get the financial system back under control. Otherwise, the next few years will surely be the worst slump we’ve seen in decades.

John McCain's gaffe about an Iran-al-Qaida connection revealed how he and his hard-line allies are itching to target the mullahs next.

By Joe Conason

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The strange case of conservative pundits and their love for Barack Obama

by Wayne Barrett

That idiotic “what me worry?” look just never leaves the man’s visage. Once again there was our president, presiding over disasters in part of his making and totally on his watch, grinning with an aplomb that suggested a serious disconnect between his worldview and existing reality.

The Latest Casualty

By Christopher Platt

The latest casualty of our war in Iraq and Afghanistan is … public interest in these protracted, brutal conflicts. It’s gone. News coverage of the two-front war is now spotty, and sporadic, at best. A brief, glaring retrospective this week only, on the 5-year anniversary, and that will about do it. Casualty reports for US troops – arguably the most-meaningful news that slouches off the battlefields to strike more and more Americans in their homes – are given about as much space and consideration as, say, a truck crash on a snowy mountain highway.

The media now has other subjects it considers more important – like the economy … the elections … racism … the peckerdillos (I like this spelling better) of assorted “upright” elected officials, and the resulting career prospects of the objects of their paid affections … and drug-taking by professional sports figures. Yes, these are mighty distractions, and it makes sense that some of these stories could bump the war off the front pages – or the first 20 minutes of a news broadcast.
But it’s the first item on the list that really shouldn’t claim pride of place. That’s because, I believe, the much ballyhooed Recession, in which we either find ourselves mired, or on the brink of, depending on which economist you talk to, was fabricated with the sole purpose of taking the war out of first place in our national consciousness, to get America to turn its attention away from our pathetically inadequate prosecution of an intractable conflict… and to get America to largely forget about the war abroad, by getting it to focus on “the war at home.”
But wait! Doesn’t this sound sort of familiar? Well, yes. A decade ago, there was a movie called Wag the Dog, based on a novel published several years earlier, entitled, American Hero, by Larry Beinhart. In case you missed the film, or didn’t get your copy of Beinhart’s clever novel, says “In Beinhart's wacky satirical thriller, Hollywood and the GOP stage the Gulf War in order to salvage George [H.W., that is] Bush's reelection campaign.” In other words, our government manufactures a potent distraction far from home for the American public, so the public doesn’t see what’s happening right under its nose. We all knew the book was fiction because the thing they were trying to cover up was a Bush presidential sex scandal. Still, the idea of fabricating a distraction made perfect, perverted sense, otherwise.
As funny and biting as Wag the Dog turned out to be, it wasn’t the first literary treatment of such a conspiracy and cover-up. In George Orwell’s prescient 1984, published in 1949, the meta-nation of Oceania, comprising North America, South Africa, Australia, and Airstrip One (formerly England), with its ally, Eastasia, is supposedly at war with the superstate of Eurasia. At other times, Oceania is allied with Eurasia against the superstate of Eastasia, or Oceania finds itself pitted against the combined forces of Eurasia and Eastasia.
The hero, a schlub named Winston Smith, works for the Ministry of Truth. His job consists of constantly changing all recorded and written mentions of the war to reflect only the name of the current ally and the current enemy. There is, it transpires, no foreign war at all. The phony, interminable conflict allows the government to keep the people under its thumb, and to mute any criticism of how the government oppresses its brainwashed citizens.
The term Doublethink is Orwell’s term for a thought-control process that allows people to come to believe, even to assert, statements that are patently and obviously false. Wikipedia describes it thus: “To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies.”
When much of what was predicted in 1984 failed to materialize on-schedule, many of us shook our heads thankfully, and quickly forgot the message of the story. But some took Orwell’s lessons to heart. Karl Rove, who perfected the rhetorical tactic of staying “on message” relentlessly, regardless of the reality the message might conflict with, certainly did. How many times have we heard Rove, or Bush, or Cheney, or Rice, or Rumsfeld, tell the same tales over and over? Weapons of Mass Destruction? Hussein was in bed with Osama bin Laden? The surge is working? Fictions repeated endlessly can have two effects. First, they start to sound like the truth. Second, they become inaudible or invisible.

Why would our leaders want to distract us, and why pick Recession as the distraction of choice? The first part is easy. By any measure, civil or military, our engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan has been an utter disaster. We’ve lost thousands of our young people and seen tens of thousands more permanently crippled and disfigured by a conflict without end. The two nations we’ve invaded have endured perhaps a hundred times as many deaths and dismemberments. Peace is NOT at hand. The surge is NOT working. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and the only bright spot in Iraq comes from a small cadre of our former enemies, who miraculously decided that Al-Qaeda in Iraq is a bigger threat to them than we are. Our once-mighty military has been drained beyond comprehension, and has neither been re-staffed nor re-equipped. And yet our leaders (and some of our presumptive future leaders) are turning their jaundiced eyes towards our next “enemy,” Iran. You might say they are getting ready to send our precious youth off to do battle with the evil Eastasia, having declared an imaginary victory over Eurasia.
So, why Recession? Sheer genius. Instead of fabricating a war to distract us from a moribund economy, the administration created the spectre of an economic debacle, to distract us from this miserable war. The problem is that they’ve gotten us into a war that many acknowledge cannot be won. Yet we cannot afford to lose it, either. And just throwing up our hands and walking off the battlefield is a lousy option, too. There’s nothing we can do that makes any sense, nothing that will have any effect on the war anytime soon. Its inherent intractability is exacerbated by the heightened visibility the war has been accorded by the media, effectively rubbing our leaders’ noses in their mess.
That same genius brought our spineless Democratic Congressional leadership into the game. Since they had nothing to show for all their puffery since getting elected on the promise of ending the war, their slip was showing, too. They jumped on it.
In previous wars, one big government problem was managing “the war at home.” Shortages, rationing, economic restrictions, all were necessary, yet all had to be minimized or at least played down, lest they distract the people’s attention to supporting the war effort. But our current war is different. Our 21st century economy has been strong enough to shrug off -- until now, anyway -- a war that so far has cost about $504 billion. We have sustained a half-trillion-dollar war with little visible impact or strain, until now. No shortages, no rationing, no economic dislocation. Until now. Why?
Because of that damned intractability, our leaders now want us to feel enough pain to forget the endless war. How to do that? Hit ’em in their pocketbooks! The economy is already sagging badly, so let’s just push it over a cliff! Start rumors flying that a recession is looming, that savings and investments will be devalued, that formerly stalwart financial institutions may be in big trouble because of greed (not hard to convince us of that), and that we will no longer be able to afford those things that make life in America so worthwhile. Oil speculators got the message first, helping to set up the conditions needed to take down a flailing, but not-yet mortally wounded, economy.
Now, repeat the message, over and over. Stay on-message, day after day, as more and more economists – who should know better – start rechecking their numbers and redefining the classic definitions. Stay on-message until the fiction becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Keep chattering until every American knows exactly how bad our economy has stumbled – and has forgotten utterly about that inconvenient war. Now, of course, the Recession really may be upon us.
And look what else has happened. A new poll from the respected Pew Research Center (read it here: sees an amazing decline in public awareness about the number of deaths in Iraq. Pew says, “Public awareness of the number of American military fatalities in Iraq has declined sharply since last August. Today, just 28% of adults are able to say that approximately 4,000 Americans have died in the Iraq war.”
As of March 17, the Department of Defense had confirmed the deaths of 3,990 U.S. military personnel in Iraq. The Pew people didn’t ask about deaths in Afghanistan, but – for the record – that number is 418 on the day I write this.
The report continues, “In August 2007, 54% correctly identified the fatality level at that time (about 3,500 deaths). In previous polls going back to the spring of 2004, about half of respondents could correctly estimate the number of U.S. fatalities around the time of the survey.” And, finally, “The drop in awareness comes as press attention to the war has waned. According to the News Content Index conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the percentage of news stories devoted to the war has sharply declined since last year, dropping from an average of 15% of the newshole in July 2007 to just 3% in February.” In January 2007, it had averaged 23%!
In case there was any doubt that the Recession gambit has paid off, the Pew researchers conclude, “As news coverage of the war has diminished, so too has public interest in news about Iraq. According to Pew's News Interest Index survey, Iraq was the public's most closely followed news story in all but five weeks during the first half of 2007; however, it was a much less dominant story between July 2007 and February 2008. Notably, the Iraq war has not been the public's top weekly story since mid-October.”
Finally, after five years, our leaders can justify crowing, “Mission Accomplished!” But this mission, to change the hearts and minds of America, and distract us from the tragic and wasted loss of young lives, to destroy our economy just to save face amid the ruins of a failed war, is a victory for Doublethink, nothing else.

# # #

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Lockstep
Posted by Michael Link

We're not going to let John McCain get away with trying to rewrite history. Fact is, he stood with this administration on Iraq from the beginning, as our latest video shows:

Five Years of Iraq Lies

How President Bush and his advisors have spent each year of the war peddling mendacious tales about a mission accomplished.

By Juan Cole

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Red State Update: Primary do-overs

Monday, March 17, 2008

China is sealing off Tibet and other areas of unrest from outside scrutiny by expelling all foreign media as its midnight ultimatum to protesters to hand themselves in approaches.
Ben Stein deeply disturbed by Spitzer investigation
Filed by Nick Langewis and David Edwards

"Like every other American, I was stunned by the fall of Eliot Spitzer," opens Nixon speechwriter, notable Brat Pack-era cinema actor, comedian, lawyer and former game show host Ben Stein.

Stein is troubled by what he calls the actions of a few "nosy civil servants" using evidence gained from wiretaps to unravel the career of the outgoing New York Governor, and undo a majority vote by the people of New York.

"Something sinister is happening," he says, "and it scares me."

"Men hire prostitutes by the thousands," Stein continues, "maybe tens of thousands, every day. They also bring women across state lines for sex every day.

"The punishment for the men who hire hookers is usually nil, or at most, a small fine, close to what you'd get for a traffic ticket."

Spitzer, on the other hand, was humiliated and run out of office as punishment, with Stein protesting a small number of federal officials having what he essentially calls veto power over the electoral process. Spitzer, he continues, has been stripped of his career for something picked up on a wiretap that was not a high crime like terrorism or treason.

"Having elected officials kicked out of office by appointed officials is a very dicey proposition," argues Stein.

He concludes: "Elections are a lot more important than call girls."
U.S. Markets Volatile After Fed Actions
Stocks got off to a rocky start on Monday as Wall Street weighed a stunning series of weekend developments that confirmed investors’ worst fears about the fragile state of the financial industry.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Election Madness
By Howard Zinn

The very people who should know better, having criticized the hold of the media on the national mind, find themselves transfixed by the press, glued to the television set, as the candidates preen and smile and bring forth a shower of clich├ęs with a solemnity appropriate for epic poetry. FULL STORY
Republicans See Storm Clouds Gathering

Week of Bad News Highlights Difficult Challenges for GOP in Fall Elections

By Jonathan Weisman

Bush Economy Speech Misses the Mark

Amid rising foreclosures and Bear Stearns' rescue, Bush's speech shows he lacks solutions to the housing crisis, writes Andrew Jakabovics.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's the War Economy, Stupid!
The Editors The US spends billions on the war in Iraq but neglects domestic needs.

The Wages of Peace
Robert Pollin & Heidi Garrett-Peltier Spending on the war in Iraq is a job killer. Ending the war would be the real stimulus package.


In a scenario that many Americans never imagined -- or understood -- Puerto Rico is poised to play a crucial role in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee.

Friday, March 14, 2008

House Democrats reject telecom amnesty, warrantless surveillence
Finally, we have some genuine resolve and defiance in favor of the rule of law and basic constitutional protections.
by Glenn Greenwald
The Silver Lining
By E.J. Dionne —
Now that the aggressive Eliot Spitzer has resigned in disgrace, New York state reformers are hoping that a progressive agenda will be preserved by a man with a very different style, David Paterson.

Remembering What Nixon Learned
By David Sirota —
In 1958, the GOP took a shellacking after the vice president used an anti-worker scheme in trying to win votes for his party. Now, right-wingers are resurrecting that failed strategy in Colorado, a key “swing” state.
Bush Closer to Bombing Iran
By Matthew Rothschild
Fallon’s fate as a weathervane for a war with Iran has been clear since the time of his confirmation, when he told a source that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch.” His watch just stopped. FULL STORY

Thursday, March 13, 2008

America's Tilt Left
By Ruth Conniff

Historic levels of dissatisfaction with the economy, foreign policy, and the direction of the country make this a particularly ripe moment for change. FULL STORY
David Paterson Talks About Albany's 'Prostitutes'
Posted by Duncan Meisel at 4:00 PM, March 13, 2008
During Lt. Governor David Paterson's first press conference since Eliot Spitzer was revealed to be "Client 9" of a ring of high-end call girls, an intrepid reporter asked the question on everyone's mind: Did Paterson have any experiences with prostitutes that the press corps should know about now?

"Lobbyists," quipped Paterson who will be sworn to office on Monday as the first African-American and visually-impaired chief executive of the Empire State.

Paterson was met by applause from the press corps in his first press conference since Spitzer’s resignation.

“This has been a sad few days in the history of New York, and for me it has been sadder—my heart goes out to Eliot Spitzer, his wife Silda, his two daughters, his parents” he began, calling Spitzer’s parents his “other family.”

His responses to questions seemed to occasionally trail into silence, and his legislative agenda remained somewhat vague, perhaps evidence of what has been a rollercoaster of a political week. He took questions in good humor, fielding questions with calm wit after turbulent times.

The conference made evident the stylistic differences between Paterson and Spitzer, with the Lt. Governor deferring to negotiation and further study to address several pressing statewide issues. He revealed that he asked Spitzer to delay his resignation so that Patterson may more quickly establish an agenda for the remaining legislative session.

"We cannot afford to waste another second, we have a budget that is due and we cannot waste another cent" he said.

When asked about congestion pricing, perhaps the most pressing New York City agenda item, he dodged the question, only saying that the plans have “evolved, changed and mutated at different points” and that he would be “taking a look at it.”
Goodbye Spitzer, Hello Paterson
by John Nichols

Gov. Spitzer has officially resigned, and an experienced progressive will soon hold New York's top job.

By Robert Scheer —

Tell me again: Why should we get all worked up over the revelation that the New York governor paid for sex? Will it bring back to life the eight U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq that same day in a war that makes no sense and has cost this nation trillions in future debt?

By Farhad Manjoo

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Based on his policies and the company he keeps, this year's Republican presidential candidate sounds a lot like the guy who ran in 2000 and 2004.

By Juan Cole

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring
Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute, according to a person briefed on the inquiry.
Spitzer's Scandal
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer might be facing federal felony charges for his involvement in a prostitution ring.
Eliot Spitzer: Screwed
It's always stupid for a pol to pay for sex. For Spitzer, the scourge of Wall Street, it was especially so. — By Stephanie Mencimer
Spitzer bombshell: bad for Clinton, good for New York Dems.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

GOP Loses Former Speaker Hastert's House Seat
Dem. Wins Election to Fill Hastert Seat
The Washington Post reports that the upset is a major setback for the House GOP:
Tucker Carlson unintentionally reveals the role of the American press

The MSNBC TV personality attacks a British reporter for doing something "hurtful" to the powerful.

by Glenn Greenwald

Thursday, March 06, 2008

While everyone focuses on its abortion decisions, the Roberts Court is merrily revoking a century of legislation protecting citizens, consumers, workers, and minorities against business.

by Simon Lazarus

By Joe Conason —

Whatever their true private beliefs, presidential candidates in America are constantly required to provide proofs of faith, often through their connections with various religious figures. Benedictions from the pulpit bestow an aura of righteousness—except, of course, when the pastor or minister is a disreputable kook whose endorsement should be an embarrassment.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bush's HHH
by smintheus

John McCain increasingly is looking like the hapless Hubert H. Humphrey of 1968. Captive to his own partisan support for a disastrous war; too timid to stake out an agenda for change; passively permitting an unpopular president to embrace him as heir; squandering what little was left of his good repute in shabby political maneuvering. It's Humphrey all over again. McCain is busy tying a dead weight around his shoulders that he imagines is the mantle of the presidency. The endorsement today by Bush went a long way toward sealing his fate.

During the rest of the campaign the president's embrace will become painful, paralyzing and toxic, just as it did for HHH. The press conference today gave a glimpse of what it will look like.

The thing that stands out most, apart from McCain's cringing presence, is how he passively allows Bush to dominate the event. Bush jumped on the first question to box McCain in as heir to his Iraq policy. It was in response to a question posed to both McCain and Bush, "how the Republican Party... is going to make the case that you're going to provide the change that the voters seem to want, both on Iraq and the economy?" Ignoring the economy (how typical), Bush gave a rambling version of his fear-mongering GWOT talk.

Finally, Bush permitted McCain to explain how he would offer voters the change they want.

SENATOR McCAIN: Thank you, sir. I don't have anything to add.

Heh, how Humphreyesque. No surprise, a chagrined McCain is already trying to figure out how to embrace his president while simultaneously ditching him.

Q Senator McCain, given President Bush's low approval ratings, will this be a negative or a positive for you? And how much do you hope he'll campaign for you on the trail?

SENATOR McCAIN: I hope that he will campaign for me as much as is keeping with his busy schedule.

Yeah, me too.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Brodner's Person of the Day: John McCain
Illustration and Text By Steve Brodner

Mutt of the Day

Robert L. Borosage: McCain: The Way Out of this Hole is to Keep Digging
John McCain enjoys a fawning press and a maverick reputation. He likes to describe himself as a conservative populist. Straight talk is his boast. But when it comes to the economy, he's peddling the same poisonous brew that is sapping this country's strength.
March 4, 1933
by Katrina vanden Heuvel

Today marks the 75th anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's inaugural as President.

On a cold day at the tail of winter, Roosevelt looked out over a nation gripped by Depression, incapacitated by fear, and confronted by threats as grave as any we face today. He spoke, reassuringly, of how we had nothing to fear but fear itself. The New Deal policies he launched transformed nearly every aspect of American political, economic and cultural life. As important, they restored hope, work and a measure of dignity to millions.

It is that spirit of grounded realism and determined idealism that we need to reclaim today. It is that spirit which offers an antidote to those who rule as if they have nothing to fear but the end of fear itself.

As we wait for the results from today's primaries in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont, it's worth asking if the party of Roosevelt can recapture the imagination and nerve to offer solutions on a scale equal to the problems we face?

Tonight, after the voting booths and caucus halls close, we will hear many words. Some will soar and seek to sound themes reminiscent of a time when our social contract was rewoven.

Here are a few words, from that first Inaugural Address, I'd like to hear 2008 variations on this evening: "The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths, The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit....This Nation asks for action, and action now...Our greatest primary task is to put people to work..." (To read the entire text of Roosevelt's first Inaugural Address. click here.)

In the time "it took FDR to deliver those words on a bleak and unpromising day in Washington," writes Richard Parker in our "New New Deal" issue out later this month, "[Roosevelt] described a politics, an economics, and a morality at once--and thereby told Americans how they could and should make change, that he would lead them in doing so, and who would oppose them."
Jeff Healey, Guitarist and Singer, Dies at 41

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Israel strikes Hamas PM's office
Nearly 70 Palestinians killed in two days; U.N. chief condemns offensive
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli aircraft sent missiles slamming into the office of the prime minister of Hamas-ruled Gaza before dawn on Sunday, pressing forward with an offensive that has killed nearly 70 Palestinians in two days of fighting. A 21-month-old girl was among the dead in new violence.
George Bush feigns surprise when questioned about four dollars a gallon gasoline. According to Mr. Bush, nobody told him. Just like nobody told him that al Queda was not in Iraq, the possibility of passenger planes being used as weapons of destruction, Scooter Libby was outing secret agents, Darfur was a problem, hurricane Katrina had it's sights on New Orleans, the mortgage meltdown, Exxon/Mobile’s forty billion dollars net profit, Halliburton’s no bid contracts, and the perpetual condition of the cost of living going up. The question should be what does he know? I’m sure that would be a much shorter list.
"Offended" Buchanan stands up for "white males," claiming only "white males" died at Gettysburg, Normandy

After MSNBC's Tucker Carlson noted that Howard Dean reportedly said that the Democratic presidential field "looks like America," while the Republican field, made up of white males, "looks like the 1950s and talks like the 1850s," Pat Buchanan reported being "offended" by Dean's remarks and said: "[W]hat did white males do? OK, they were the only guys signing the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, all the dead at Gettysburg, all the dead at Normandy." In fact, "nearly 2,000" African-Americans took part in the Normandy invasion, at least some of whom apparently died as a result, and at least one woman and one African-American were reportedly killed in the the Gettysburg campaign. Read More

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