Category Archives: Michelle Malkin’s latest brain fart

Where your kids’ savings are going

NY Times

Nonstop Theft and Bribery Are Staggering Iraq

Jobless men pay $500 bribes to join the police. Families build houses illegally on government land, carwashes steal water from public pipes, and nearly everything the government buys or sells can now be found on the black market.

“Everyone is stealing from the state,” said Adel Adel al-Subihawi, a prominent Shiite tribal leader in Sadr City, throwing up his hands in disgust. “It’s a very large meal, and everyone wants to eat.”

Corruption and theft are not new to Iraq, and government officials have promised to address the problem. But as Iraqis and American officials assess the effects of this year’s American troop increase, there is a growing sense that, even as security has improved, Iraq has slipped to new depths of lawlessness.

One recent independent analysis ranked Iraq the third most corrupt country in the world. Of 180 countries surveyed, only Somalia and Myanmar were worse, according to Transparency International, a Berlin-based group that publishes the index annually.

And the extent of the theft is staggering. Some American officials estimate that as much as a third of what they spend on Iraqi contracts and grants ends up unaccounted for or stolen, with a portion going to Shiite or Sunni militias. In addition, Iraq’s top anticorruption official estimated this fall — before resigning and fleeing the country after 31 of his agency’s employees were killed over a three-year period — that $18 billion in Iraqi government money had been lost to various stealing schemes since 2004.

The collective filching undermines Iraq’s ability to provide essential services, a key to sustaining recent security gains, according to American military commanders.

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MSNBC poll: 89% want Bush impeached

at this moment, close to 600,000 votes have been cast.

Freakin impressive.

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Glenn Greenwald gets whacked-out email from Petraeus’ spokesman

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Greenwald publishes a barely coherent, hostile letter from Col. Steven A. Boylan, the Public Affairs Officer and personal spokesman for Gen. David G. Petraeus.

Sample:

The issues of accuracy, context, and proper characterization is something that perhaps you could do a little research and would assume you are aware of as a trained lawyer.

I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible. Since a great deal of this post is just opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions, I will not address those even though they are shall we say — based on few if any facts. That does surprise me with your training as a lawyer, but we will leave those jokes to another day. . . .

You are either too lazy to do the research on the topics to gain the facts, or you are providing purposeful misinformation — much like a propagandist. . . .

Politicization of the military is very disturbing; but this goes beyond that… to the “disturbed…”

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The excrable Malkin does a pratfall

It takes a lot to get a rightwinger busted by the Wall Street Journal editorial page. And when it happens, bad things probably lie ahead. Witness the stumbling of the truly disgusting Michele Malkin. Billy O’Reilly is a clown, and Ann Coulter just talks. But Michelle Malkin, well….

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Blackwater mercenaries cost 6x US soldiers

The Iraq War is one without purpose, other than to make a profit. What few Americans volunteer, are used, USED up and cast aside, along with their broken families. The rest of the manpower needs are met by mercenary contractors like Blackwater. Walter Pincus, in the Washington Post looks at the cost structure; no wonder the latest request is for $200 billion more. This money is just for profit, and for destruction. The American taxpayer is being taken for a ride, and can’t even get decent healthcare.

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Bob Cesca: America used to be really goddamned awesome

link

On watching Ken Burn’s The War:

One day long ago, it was okay to wish for an end to a war, without being accused of hating the soldiers who were fighting it. It was once a given that socialized public education, police, fire departments, roads, parks, national defense and the constitutionally mandated General Welfare & Domestic Tranquility were simply a part of the American way of life and would always be there.

And when our nation had to go to war, we would be there for her.

Conversely, when we crumble to the pressure of our reactionary and authoritarian elements, we get Japanese internment camps, the rise of the military industrial complex, and men turned away from service due to the color of their skin. Some of our greatest failures have been conceived when our irrationality, fear and lust for power overrule our traditional American ideals — even during our finest hours as a nation.

And now, 50 years later, in our lives and times, we get President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

The Bush Years have been a monumental, cataclysmic failure on most fronts due to its inattention to what has, historically, made American great. The president and his thinning ranks of fawn-eyed Hannities don’t understand this yet. They don’t understand it mostly because they’re too ignorant — blinded by sloganeering — to the very basic reality that Bush Republican style government, in practice, is about as successful and practical as a paper condom. It always has been.

Nowhere is this more apparent than when they compare the Bush Wars to World War II. It’s a desperate notion, one that seeks to conflate our current president with greatness he doesn’t deserve and an historical legacy he will never achieve. It’s also meant to inflate our current “enemies” to Hitler status, and thus proving the case for war.

The comparison is pure horseshit.

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John Pilger on the state of journalism

John Pilger is an outspoken British author, journalist and filmmaker.  He recently spoke on the state of journalism.  His remarks are particularly applicable to the recent Scott Thomas Beauchamp kerfuffle.

Ironically, I began to understand how censorship worked in so-called free societies when I reported from totalitarian societies. During the 1970s I filmed secretly in Czechoslovakia, then a Stalinist dictatorship. I interviewed members of the dissident group Charter 77, including the novelist Zdener Urbanek, and this is what he told me. “In dictatorships we are more fortunate that you in the West in one respect. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and nothing of what we watch on television, because we know its propaganda and lies. Unlike you in the West. We’ve learned to look behind the propaganda and to read between the lines, and unlike you, we know that the real truth is always subversive.”

One of the oldest clichés of war is that truth is the first casualty. No it’s not. Journalism is the first casualty. …

In Iraq the Pentagon invented the embedded journalist because it believed that critical reporting had lost Vietnam.

The very opposite was true. On my first day as a young reporter in Saigon, I called at the bureaus of the main newspapers and TV companies. I noticed that some of them had a pinboard on the wall on which were gruesome photographs, mostly of bodies of Vietnamese and of American soldiers holding up severed ears and testicles. In one office was a photograph of a man being tortured; above the torturers head was a stick-on comic balloon with the words, “that’ll teach you to talk to the press.” None of these pictures were ever published or even put on the wire. I asked why. I was told that the public would never accept them. Anyway, to publish them would not be objective or impartial. At first, I accepted the apparent logic of this. I too had grown up on stories of the good war against Germany and Japan, that ethical bath that cleansed the Anglo-American world of all evil. But the longer I stayed in Vietnam, the more I realized that our atrocities were not isolated, nor were they aberrations, but the war itself was an atrocity. That was the big story, and it was seldom news. Yes, the tactics and effectiveness of the military were questioned by some very fine reporters. But the word “invasion” was never used. The anodyne word used was “involved.” America was involved in Vietnam. The fiction of a well-intentioned, blundering giant, stuck in an Asian quagmire, was repeated incessantly. It was left to whistleblowers back home to tell the subversive truth, those like Daniel Ellsberg and Seymour Hersh, with his scoop of the My-Lai massacre. There were 649 reporters in Vietnam on March 16, 1968-the day that the My-Lai massacre happened-and not one of them reported it.

In both Vietnam and Iraq, deliberate policies and strategies have bordered on genocide. In Vietnam, the forced dispossession of millions of people and the creation of free fire zones; In Iraq, an American-enforced embargo that ran through the 1990s like a medieval siege, and killed, according to the United Nations Children’s fund, half a million children under the age of five. In both Vietnam and Iraq, banned weapons were used against civilians as deliberate experiments. Agent Orange changed the genetic and environmental order in Vietnam. The military called this Operation Hades. When Congress found out, it was renamed the friendlier Operation Ranch Hand, and nothing change. That’s pretty much how Congress has reacted to the war in Iraq. The Democrats have damned it, rebranded it, and extended it. The Hollywood movies that followed the Vietnam War were an extension of the journalism, of normalizing the unthinkable. Yes, some of the movies were critical of the military’s tactics, but all of them were careful to concentrate on the angst of the invaders. The first of these movies is now considered a classic. It’s The Deerhunter, whose message was that America had suffered, America was stricken, American boys had done their best against oriental barbarians. The message was all the more pernicious, because the Deerhunter was brilliantly made and acted. I have to admit it’s the only movie that has made me shout out loud in a Cinema in protest. Oliver Stone’s acclaimed movie Platoon was said to be antiwar, and it did show glimpses of the Vietnamese as human beings, but it also promoted above all the American invader as victim.

I wasn’t going to mention The Green Berets when I set down to write this, until I read the other day that John Wayne was the most influential movie who ever lived. I a saw the Green Berets starring John Wayne on a Saturday night in 1968 in Montgomery Alabama. (I was down there to interview the then-infamous governor George Wallace). I had just come back from Vietnam, and I couldn’t believe how absurd this movie was. So I laughed out loud, and I laughed and laughed. And it wasn’t long before the atmosphere around me grew very cold. My companion, who had been a Freedom Rider in the South, said, “Let’s get the hell out of here and run like hell.”

We were chased all the way back to our hotel, but I doubt if any of our pursuers were aware that John Wayne, their hero, had lied so he wouldn’t have to fight in World War II. And yet the phony role model of Wayne sent thousands of Americans to their deaths in Vietnam, with the notable exceptions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

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