Daily Archives: April 22, 2007

UPDATED:Germans want Wolfowitz out; sounds like ‘church’ to me.

Paul “Spitcurl” Wolfowitz better start lining up paid speaking engagements, cause the Germans want him out of the presidency of the World Bank. The man is a walking example of how not to act. I mean, for heaven’s sake, the staff are wearing blue “dump Wolfowitz” ribbons.


The situation, as it is, is no longer acceptable,” German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, told the Financial Times Deutschland (FTD), in an early release of an article to run in its Monday edition.

“My conclusion is that Wolfowitz should do the bank a service and take the consequences himself. The sooner, the better.”

The FTD headline to the story read: “Government expects Wolfowitz’s resignation.” Wieczorek-Zeul is Germany’s minister responsible for World Bank issues.

*”church’: idiomatic expression meaning, “it’s over.”

UPDATE: Serious dogpiling by 42 ex World Bank officers.

LONDON (Reuters) – A group of top former World Bank executives has urged Paul Wolfowitz to resign, as the bank’s watchdog warned his actions were undermining the ability of the institution to carry out development work.

The 42 senior executives wrote a letter to the Financial Times, published on Monday, advising Wolfowitz to give up the presidency for the good of the bank following a controversy over the promotion of his girlfriend.

“We believe that he can no longer be an effective leader,” said the letter, which was signed by former World Bank No. 2 under Wolfowitz Shengman Zhang, amongst others.


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Atrios on Friedman


suddenly it occurs to me that only one man is truly qualified to be the Czar of All Iraq War Czar.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the moustache of understanding himself. Tom Friedman.


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Frank Rich on the cancer of cronyism in the Bush White House

NY Times Select:

…What’s being lost in the Beltway uproar is the extent to which the lying, cronyism and arrogance showcased by the current scandals are of a piece with the lying, cronyism and arrogance that led to all the military funerals that Mr. Bush dares not attend. Having slept through the fraudulent selling of the war, Washington is still having trouble confronting the big picture of the Bush White House. Its dense web of deceit is the deliberate product of its amoral culture, not a haphazard potpourri of individual blunders.

Mr. Gonzales’s politicizing of the Justice Department is a mere bagatelle next to his role as White House counsel in 2002, when he helped shape the administration’s legal argument to justify torture. That paved the way for Abu Ghraib, the episode that destroyed America’s image and gave terrorists a moral victory. But his efforts to sabotage national security didn’t end there. In a front-page exposé lost in the Imus avalanche two Sundays ago, The Washington Post uncovered Mr. Gonzales’s reckless role in vetting the nomination of Bernard Kerik as secretary of homeland security in December 2004.

Mr. Kerik, you may recall, withdrew from consideration for that cabinet post after a week of embarrassing headlines. Back then, the White House ducked any culpability for the mess by attributing it to a single legal issue, a supposedly undocumented nanny, and by pinning it on a single, nonadministration scapegoat, Mr. Kerik’s longtime patron, Rudy Giuliani. The president’s spokesman at the time, Scott McClellan, told reporters that the White House had had “no reason to believe” that Mr. Kerik lied during his vetting process and that it would be inaccurate to say that process had been rushed.

THANKS to John Solomon and Peter Baker of The Post, we now know that Mr. McClellan’s spin was no more accurate than his exoneration of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the Wilson leak case. The Kerik vetting process was indeed rushed — by Mr. Gonzales — and the administration had every reason to believe that it was turning over homeland security to a liar. Mr. Gonzales was privy from the get-go to a Kerik dossier ablaze with red flags pointing to “questionable financial deals, an ethics violation, allegations of mismanagement and a top deputy prosecuted for corruption,” not to mention a “friendship with a businessman who was linked to organized crime.” Yet Mr. Gonzales and the president persisted in shoving Mr. Kerik into the top job of an already troubled federal department encompassing 22 agencies, 180,000 employees and the very safety of America in the post-9/11 era.

Mr. Kerik may soon face federal charges, and at a most inopportune time for the Giuliani presidential campaign. But it’s as a paradigm of the Bush White House’s waging of the Iraq war that the Kerik case is most telling. The crucial point to remember is this: Even had there been no alleged improprieties in the former police chief’s New York résumé, there still would have been his public record in Iraq to disqualify him from any administration job.

The year before Mr. Kerik’s nomination to the cabinet, he was dispatched by the president to take charge of training the Iraqi police — and completely failed at that mission. As Rajiv Chandrasekaran recounts in his invaluable chronicle of Green Zone shenanigans, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” Mr. Kerik slept all day and held only two staff meetings, one upon arrival and one for the benefit of a Times reporter doing a profile. Rather than train Iraqi police, Mr. Kerik gave upbeat McCain-esque appraisals of the dandy shopping in Baghdad’s markets.

Had Mr. Kerik actually helped stand up an Iraqi police force instead of hastening its descent into a haven for sectarian death squads, there might not now be extended tours for American troops in an open-ended escalation of the war. But in the White House’s priorities, rebuilding Iraq came in a poor third to cronyism and domestic politics. Mr. Kerik’s P.R. usefulness as a symbol of 9/11 was particularly irresistible to an administration that has exploited the carnage of 9/11 in ways both grandiose (to gin up the Iraq invasion) and tacky (in 2004 campaign ads).

Mr. Kerik was an exploiter of 9/11 in his own right: he had commandeered an apartment assigned to ground zero police and rescue workers to carry out his extramarital tryst with the publisher Judith Regan. The sex angle of Mr. Wolfowitz’s scandal is a comparable symptom of the hubris that warped the judgment of those in power after 9/11. Not only did he help secure Shaha Riza her over-the-top raise in 2005, but as The Times reported, he also helped get her a junket to Iraq when he was riding high at the Pentagon in 2003. No one seems to know what she actually accomplished there, but the bill was paid by a Defense Department contractor that has since come under official scrutiny for its noncompetitive contracts and poor performance. So it went with the entire Iraq fiasco.

You don’t have to be a cynic to ask if the White House’s practice of bestowing better jobs on those who bungled the war might be a form of hush money. Mr. Wolfowitz was promoted to the World Bank despite a Pentagon record that included (in part) his prewar hyping of bogus intelligence about W.M.D. and a nonexistent 9/11-Saddam connection; his assurance to the world that Iraq’s oil revenues would pay for reconstruction; and his public humiliation of Gen. Eric Shinseki after the general dared tell Congress (correctly) that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to secure Iraq after the invasion. Once the war began, Mr. Wolfowitz cited national security to bar businesses from noncoalition countries (like Germany) from competing for major contracts in Iraq. That helped ensure the disastrous monopoly of Halliburton and other White House-connected companies, including the one that employed Ms. Riza.

Had Iraqi reconstruction, like the training of Iraqi police, not been betrayed by politics and cronyism, the Iraq story might have a different ending. But maybe not all that different. The cancer on the Bush White House connects and contaminates all its organs. It’s no surprise that one United States attorney fired without plausible cause by the Gonzales Justice Department, Carol Lam, was in hot pursuit of defense contractors with administration connections. Or that another crony brought by Mr. Wolfowitz to the World Bank was caught asking the Air Force secretary to secure a job for her brother at a defense contractor while she was overseeing aspects of the Air Force budget at the White House. A government with values this sleazy couldn’t possibly win a war.

Like the C.I.A. leak case, each new scandal is filling in a different piece of the elaborate White House scheme to cover up the lies that took us into Iraq and the failures that keep us mired there. As the cover-up unravels and Congress steps up its confrontation over the war’s endgame, our desperate president is reverting to his old fear-mongering habit of invoking 9/11 incessantly in every speech. The more we learn, the more it’s clear that he’s the one with reason to be afraid.


Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iraq, Karl Rove:Bush's brain or Bush's as'hole?, Politics

Infant mortality rates rise in the South

Seems to be mostly affecting blacks. Don’t think for a minute that this can be brushed off…Infant mortality is generally regarded as the best single indicator of the quality of healthcare. This should give us all pause. This is third world kind of stuff.

While the rich have never been richer, the poor have never been poorer. More Medicare and Medicaid cuts are being proposed by the Bush administration.

America should take a look in the mirror. This is national disgrace, and a reflection of our national priorities.

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Australia’s drought about to go critical: no more water for irrigation

Hot, dry areas are getting hotter and drier.  I’m lookin at you, Australia. And yet Prime Minister John Howard is the biggest denier in the world outside of George “gut feeling” W. Bush.  Six years into a drought, Australia’s rivers are drying up, and reality is getting a toe hold.


The Murray-Darling basin in south-eastern Australia yields 40 per cent of the country’s agricultural produce. But the two rivers that feed the region are so pitifully low that there will soon be only enough water for drinking supplies. Australia is in the grip of its worst drought on record, the victim of changing weather patterns attributed to global warming and a government that is only just starting to wake up to the severity of the position.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, a hardened climate-change sceptic, delivered dire tidings to the nation’s farmers yesterday. Unless there is significant rainfall in the next six to eight weeks, irrigation will be banned in the principal agricultural area. Crops such as rice, cotton and wine grapes will fail, citrus, olive and almond trees will die, along with livestock.

A ban on irrigation, which would remain in place until May next year, spells possible ruin for thousands of farmers, already debt-laden and in despair after six straight years of drought.

Too many knucklehead leaders at a time when the world can’t afford it.

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How long before the Shiites/al Sadr strike back?

al-Sadr’s decision to go to ground in the face of the “surge” may soon be reversed, as Sunni attacks on Shiites are now largely unopposed.


Massive bombs were detonated at a checkpoint in Sadr City, the working class stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and in a busy market in Sadriya. Smaller explosions occurred outside a hospital in the upper-class Shiite suburb of Karrada and on a bus in Rusafi, one of city’s main retail districts before the 2003 invasion. In each case, the objective was to indiscriminately kill as many Shiite civilians as possible.

Until the Bush administration announced its Baghdad “surge” in January and declared it would crackdown on Shiite militias, all of the targeted areas had been defended to some extent by the Mahdi Army. However, on the urging of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his fighters to go to ground in order to avoid clashes with the US military.

Sunni extremists, embittered by the rise to power of Shiite sectarian parties since 2003, have taken advantage of the militia stand-down over the past two months to carry out repeated sectarian atrocities.

In Sadr City, a suicide bomber was able to exploit US security measures directed against the Mahdi Army. He detonated his explosives-filled car while waiting in a queue of vehicles to pass through a recently erected check-point. At least eight cars were destroyed, 35 people killed and another 75 wounded. One of the US “security stations” that have been established in the Shiite working class district over the past month was less than 200 metres away.

In Karrada, a car bomb left parked outside a hospital was exploded at noon, killing 11 people and wounding 13. The blowing up of a bus in Rusafi killed four and wounded six.

The largest death toll on Wednesday was caused by the bombing of a market in the predominantly Shiite suburb of Sadriya. At least 140 people were killed and another 150 wounded. The number of dead made it the single worst suicide bombing since the US occupation began.


Survivors and rescue workers vented their anger against American and Iraqi troops deployed on the scene, pelting them with rocks. Crowds chanted “Down with Maliki”. Journalists heard a man scream: “Where’s Maliki? Let him come and see what is happening here.” Others shouted: “Where’s the security plan? We are not protected by this plan.”

The US military’s crackdown on the Mahdi Army was also condemned. A merchant told the Guardian: “How is it that everyone knows where these killers are coming from, yet nobody can do anything to stop them?” A Mahdi Army commander stated: “Washington calls us the greatest threat to peace in Iraq, but who is defending our citizens from Al Qaeda and the takfiris (Sunni sectarian extremists)?”

The outpouring of anger highlights the reasons for the resignation of six members of Moqtada al-Sadr’s political movement from Maliki’s cabinet on Monday.

The Sadrists derive their support from the Shiite working class and urban poor in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities, who are overwhelmingly hostile to the US occupation. Since ending a short-lived uprising in 2004, however, Sadr’s movement has played a pivotal role in supporting pro-occupation Shiite parties, including Maliki’s Da’wa Party and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The Sadrists have channelled working class opposition behind the Shiite-dominated Maliki government, promising it would improve living standards, guarantee security and set a clear timetable for the withdrawal of the despised foreign forces.

Less than 12 months after they helped form Maliki’s government, it has become untenable for the Sadrists to claim that the US puppet government can meet any of the aspirations of the Iraqi masses. To hold onto their own social base, they have been compelled to somewhat distance themselves. The Sadrists still form part of the ruling Shiite coalition and remain in parliament.

The purpose of the US occupation is not “democracy” but to ensure that the Iraqi government, regardless of who heads it, is subservient to the long-term US objectives. In defiance of the will of the overwhelmingly majority of Iraqis, Washington is demanding the sell-off of the country’s state-owned oil industry and the sanctioning of permanent American military bases that will facilitate US acts of aggression against Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.


In horrifying figures published on Tuesday, the World Health Organisation estimated that 80 percent of the population does not have effective sanitation or sewage; 70 percent have no clean water; 40 percent have no access to public food distribution; chronic malnutrition affects 21 percent of children; and preventable illnesses such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections cause two-thirds of deaths among children under five. Working class areas are the worst affected.

Responding to the rising popular anger, Sadrist leaders issued scathing condemnations of the occupation following Wednesday’s bombing. Nassar al-Rubaie, one of the ministers who resigned at the beginning of the week, declared that Sunni extremists “target everything that has life in Iraq—universities, schools, neighborhood centres, markets, gas stations and bus stations—but the occupation forces and the government stand still, doing nothing, and let the terrorists play”.

Sadr’s spokesman, Abdul Razaq al-Nadawi, stated: “The Iraqi government is incapable of establishing security as long as occupation forces are still present. We are pessimistic and afraid of the coming days, because Iraqis are getting fed up. And when nations are provoked, governments cannot stop them.”

The pent-up hostility among Shiites against the US occupation and the government is clearly reaching breaking point. An estimated one million people assembled in the city of Najaf on April 9 to take part in an Iraqi nationalist rally called by Sadr to demand the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. Between 20,000 and 30,000 took part in a Sadrist protest in Basra last week…

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The US and Iran: Elliot Abrams’ sandbox; Abrams wants to change the propaganda rules

Elliot has been taking a bit of a beating recently, what with Secretary of Defense Gates, the European Union, and now the Arabs coming out for negotiations with Iran:

Speaker of the Transitional Arab Parliament Mohammad Jassim al-Saqr said on Saturday that Iran plays a key role in the Middle East.

Al-Saqr, who is also a member of the Kuwaiti Parliament, added that the Islamic Republic of Iran plays decisive role in relations with Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon.

After holding talks with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, he underlined that the Transitional Arab Parliament is to bolster Arab-Iranian talks.

“Holding collective discussions with the Islamic Republic will be fruitful,” he noted.


And, of course, Bush is having a harder and harder time selling his lies about Iraq. Even with the capable help of John “I misspeak a lot” McCain.

Consequently, Abrams, Cheney, and their neocon pals are gonna bully Alberto “I’m not in charge” Gonzales to permit the use of their lying propaganda within the US.

During the Vietnam War, military news conferences were derided as the “five o’clock follies” because of misleading or irrelevant information provided to the news media. Since then, Army public-affairs officers adopted practices that disavowed the use of misleading or deceptive information.

The military instituted its formal Information Operations effort in the 1990s, bringing together an array of activities including deception, psychological operations and electronic warfare.

The changes proposed by Petraeus have reignited a wider debate within the Pentagon regarding the use of information during the Iraq war.

In one highly controversial information-operations undertaking, the U.S. military used the Lincoln Group, a Washington defense contractor, to pay Iraqi editors to publish articles casting the American military in a favorable light. Although the articles, written by U.S. troops, were truthful, some public-affairs officers criticized the practice after it was revealed in the Los Angeles Times in 2005, because it appeared as if the military was peddling propaganda to journalists.

Elliot just doesn’t have enough war to make him happy.

The Creep.

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