Sunday, December 31, 2006

happy new year, mr. president

3000.1, 2, 3

1 according to the iraq coalition casualty count.
2 the count continues to stand at 3002.
3 identifies the 3000th casualty as "specialist dustin r. donica, 22, of spring, texas, killed thursday by small arms fire in baghdad."

minus one


1 (the count continues to stand at 3002)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

minus two


that didn't take very long.

1 (the count continues to stand at 3002)

minus three

2997.1, 2

1 (december is now the deadliest month of 2006)
2 (the count continues to stand at 3002)

the nth man? is now reporting that 3002 u.s. servicemen have been killed in iraq.

for my countdown i have been tracking the numbers at the iraq coalition casuality count, which, since my last update and for the first time that i have noticed, have been reduced by one for a current total of 2995.

Friday, December 29, 2006

minus four


1 (now tied with october as the deadliest month of 2006)

minus seven


minus eight


Thursday, December 28, 2006



blood on the shoulder of narcissus


as little as a week ago, it did not seem likely, but the number of u.s. deaths in iraq may pass 3000 before the year's end.

while december's deaths (101 so far) are still lower than october's high (106), the casualty rate (3.68/day1) has picked up dramatically and has already surpassed october's (3.55/day2).

that number will sit like a vulture on bush's shoulder during his coming state of the union address.

1, 2 (includes all coalition deaths)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

the most beautiful christmas ever

today iraq's highest appeals court upheld the conviction and death sentence of unrepentant deposed president saddam hussein. the court ruled that the verdict must be carried out anytime in the next thirty days. sic semper tyrannis.

sixteen years ago, caught in the debris of the dramatic collapse of the soviet union, romanian head-of-state and communist party leader nicolae ceausecu found himself in a hauntingly similar situation during the holiday season of 1990:

nicolae and elena ceausescu scoffed when a romanian military tribunal sentenced them to death, and even as they faced their executioners they believed that state security police would rescue them at the last minute, their attorney said in a published report yesterday.

nicu teodorescu, in an interview printed in the times newspaper, said he tried to prevent the christmas day execution of the ceausescus by advising them to plead mental instability to charges of corruption, embezzlement and murder.

"when i suggested it, elena in particular said it was an outrageous setup," said teodorescu, who was hastily-summoned to a military barracks to conduct the ceausescus' defense. "they felt deeply insulted, unable or unwilling to grasp their only lifeline. they rejected my help after that."

teodorescu, one of bucharest's most prominent lawyers, told the times that nicolae ceausescu showed "absolutely nothing but contempt" when the tribunal delivered its verdict of death, telling the prosecutor, "'when this is all over, i'll have you put on trial.' we all laughed."

about 15 minutes after sentencing, soldiers marched the couple out of the barracks and into a yard, he said. the ceausescus believed that they were being taken to a cell but instead were hastily gunned down by a rabble of soldiers, and not an organized firing squad, he said.

"the first they knew they were about to die was when the bullets hit them," said teodorescu, who said he was about 90 feet from the site. "elena and nicolae fell head to head. as they fell their bodies spun slightly around and they fell close to each other, about 30 centimeters apart."

his account differed from that of film shown on state-run television, which showed the blood-splattered couple propped up against a wall.

the newspaper said it was possible that the bodies were moved for the benefit of the camera.

"ceausescu was convinced all along his securitate [secret police] would rescue him," teodorescu was quoted as saying. "i always thought that elena was the dominant force in the partnership, but i soon came to realize nicolae was in command. they complemented each other perfectly, like a monster with two heads."

the lawyer said he agreed to defend the ceausescus because "it seemed an interesting challenge." the tribunal comprised three civilians, five judges and assessors, two prosecutors, two defense lawyers and a cameraman, reported teodorescu, the only member to give a public account.

"when i saw [the ceausescus] dead, as a lawyer i didn't feel anything at all," he said. "but as a citizen, i, like everybody, rejoiced. it was the most beautiful christmas in my whole life."

as much as hussein justly deserves his fate, in the wake of the ever-spiralling death and chaos his ouster precipitated, there can be little doubt that many in both washington and baghdad quietly regret the impetuous decision to invade. as the only living person known to have been able to contain iraq's violent passions, the idea of turning back the clock, however utterly fantastic, must be sorely tempting.

from the bonus trivia corner: hussein's november 5th death sentence is not his first such conviction. for his role in the 1959 cia-supported attempted ouster of iraqi prime minister abdul karim qassim — who had himself come to power the previous year in a military coup that deposed and executed iraq's last royal family — saddam hussein was sentenced to death in absentia while he lived in exile in cairo on the largesse of the cia.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

a very substantial revolution in thinking

(updated below)

1968 secretary of defense clark clifford, speaking in the oscar award-winning 1974 documentary "hearts and minds":

in the beginning of 1968 general westmoreland needed 206,000 more troops. we met hour after hour after hour in the pentagon, and i started in and asked the joint chiefs of staff:

how long do you think that we'll still be in the war?

none of them knew.

do you think that the 206,000 men will be enough?

nobody knew.

well, uh, might we have to send more men?

well, possibly.

well, in six months?

we don't know.

a year? eighteen months?

i couldn't get answers to these questions. by the end of that four day interrogation i was getting down by the end of it, into very serious questions. like:

do any of you men, as you look at it objectively, do you find any diminution in the will of the enemy to fight?

well, they said, no, we guess we don't.

are they sending the same number of men down through the ho chi minh trail?

well, yes, and even there might be a little more.

and, how about our bombing? we've placed great reliance on our bombing, is our bombing stopping them?


well, what is the amount of attrition that our bombing has caused?

well, maybe ten to fifteen percent.

i remember asking one question: well, if a north vietnamese field commander in south vietnam needed 1000 men, [ inaudible ], if he asked for say, 1200 men, 1000 would get through?

well, that's right.

well, then he'd have the 1000 he really needed.

well yes, that's so.

well, this type of interrogation — finally, by the end of four or five days, i must say that my thinking had undergone a very substantial revolution.

at that moment in 1968 it was the joint chiefs who were pushing to further escalate the war — today, in a curious historical reversal of roles, it's only the white house and their dwindling enablers who are trying to justify a "surge" in iraq, to the unanimous consternation of the chiefs and a very disapproving public.

if the iraq study group report did nothing to impede the prosecution of the occupation — much less revolutionize the thinking of the president — at the very least it seems to have finally taken any talk of "victory" from his smirking lips.

(hat tip to steve gilliard and in particular to his commenter bohica for the life cover.)

update (12/20/06):

president bush acknowledged for the first time yesterday that the united states is not winning the war in iraq and said he plans to expand the overall size of the "stressed" u.s. armed forces to meet the challenges of a long-term global struggle against terrorists.

as he searches for a new strategy for iraq, bush has now adopted the formula advanced by his top military adviser to describe the situation. "we're not winning, we're not losing," bush said in an interview with the washington post. the assessment was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the november elections, declared, "absolutely, we're winning."

Friday, December 15, 2006

na ga ha pen

for those of you going all a-twitter (or for others, going all a-slaver) at the prospect of the stillborn loss of next year's democratic senate majority:

take a deep breath.

it ain't that easy, according to jonathan singer @ mydd:

little to no precedent for forcibly unseating incapacitated senators:

the only way the senate can remove a member is by a vote to expel, and there has never been any desire to do that for a health-related cause.

sen. karl mundt (r-s.d.) suffered a debilitating stroke in 1969 but refused to resign and stayed in office until his term expired in january 1973 — although he never showed up for work following his infirmity. republicans pressured mundt to step down shortly before the 1970 elections, when it appeared the gop was going to lose the governorship, and with it their ability to appoint a senate successor. there was never talk of a motion to expel, though the republican conference eventually did strip him of his committee assignments. in november of that year, a democrat was elected governor, so the republicans who were urging mundt's resignation turned to hoping he would serve until his term expired.

there were other, similar situations. rep. john grotberg (r-ill.) lapsed into a coma in january 1986 after participation in an experimental program for his colon cancer caused him to have a heart seizure. his family and staff refused to consider resignation, and the house took no action. he even won re-nomination to the house in the march gop primary that year, but his family finally relented and announced he would not run again. he remained a member of the house until his death in november 1986.

in the spring of 1964, sen. clair engle (d-calif.) was dying of brain cancer, but refused democratic entreaties to resign. in june, when the senate voted to break the filibuster that had stymied the civil rights bill, the dying engle was wheeled onto the senate floor to vote for cloture by motioning with his hand. he died a month later.

in the spring of 1943, sen. carter glass (d-va.) was 85 years old, in poor health and simply stopped coming to work. he died in may of 1946, still a senator but no longer a visitor to capitol hill. and according to sen. robert byrd's ( invaluable book of senate historical statistics, sen. james grimes (r-iowa) suffered a stroke in 1869 and remained in office as an invalid until his death in february of 1872. but there was no move in the senate to declare any of the aforementioned seats vacant.

the only instance i can think of where lawmakers took action involved gladys spellman of maryland. the democratic house member suffered a massive heart attack in october of 1980 while campaigning that left her in a semi-conscious, coma-like state from which she never emerged. she won re-election with ease, but once it was determined that there was no prospect for recovery, the house voted to declare the seat vacant in february 1981.

still, what this inquiring mind wants to know is: if johnson should fall into a "persistent vegetative state" (though, according to his most recent diagnoses, johnson is thankfully "recovering without complications", making this outcome increasingly unlikely), like the now-famous terry schiavo, for whom the republicans brought congress to a standstill, should we expect the republicans to agree to allow him to take his seat?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

the young person's guide to net neutrality

a public service brought to you by henry rollins of the independent film channel's the henry rollins show:

freedom is under attack — under attack by hysterical and well-funded christian psychotics. intellectually undernourished leaders who lie and manipulate information. overfed baby huey coward bitch motherfuckers like karl rove and their suck-up weakling apologists like sean hannity.

to question authority is to be somehow unpatriotic, un-american and in league with terrorists worldwide?

fuck you!

with even election results becoming more and more questionable, the constitution a thing to be manipulated, ignored and frivolously amended, even democracy itself seems to be on the run.

so where's the one place you can go and tell your version of the truth, rail against liars, fakes and propagandists with your own unique propaganda, sign your name to it and let the whole world know how you feel?

that's right. the internet.

perhaps responsible for the most substantial shifts in culture in the last several decades. there's so much freedom and potential on the worldwide web that one is barely able to get one's head around it.

who in their right mind would dare to regulate or charge websites to be on the internet? who would dare to rain on a parade so fantastic that many of us would not know what to do without our high-speed connection and our lives on the internet?

actually, some very powerful forces.

telco companies want to make you pay for your site to be carried on the internet. if you can't afford to pay, guess what?

that's right, you're cyber-history, pal!

the bush administration wants major internet and phone companies to keep track of where their customers surf, all in the name of the "war on terror", don't you know. how much do you wanna bet they want the internet regulated, contained and thrown into a cell at guantanamo bay?

for a country that talks so much about freedom being on the march, seems to me that some people want anything but!

if they come for your freedom, you must not only resist, you must strike back with a vengeance that will stun them.

on this front, if your anger and outrage are not at the forefront, then you're already dead! dead to me, anyway.

fuck these cowards! these traitors! these ENEMIES of democracy!

thanks for watching the show this season.

never relent.

note: in an otherwise solid introduction to the developing struggle over net neutrality, henry mistakely mischaracterizes the telcos' plan as wanting to burden the end user with excess access fees.

what the telcos really want is to get their fees directly from the access providers, who in response would create segregated tiers of access, rewarding the affluent with state-of-the-art high speed high bandwidth content while relegating the rest of the population to the equivalent of the internet ghetto.

today competes for your attention on the same playing field as, but the telcos want to apply the corporate television model to the internet, which rewards institutional media outlets with disproportionate impact, benefits and profits relative to their resource-starved public-access brethen.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

mission creep

for those of you who haven't been paying attention, jim henley @ unqualified offerings has been keeping score:

defining catastrophe up

a rhetorical change i'm noticing since the isg [iraq study group] report came out is that we have to stay in iraq "to prevent a wider regional war," aka "the new thirty years' war" and so on. that suggests that our mission is no longer preventing "full-blown civil war," which used to be what we had to prevent, or "increased sectarian strife," which is what we had to prevent before that, or "increasing insurgent violence" which is what we had to prevent before that. the pattern has always been:

  1. declare that we must stay in iraq to prevent some bad thing from happening.

  2. bad thing happens anyway.

  3. declare that we must stay in iraq to prevent some worse thing from happening.

  4. worse thing happens anyway.

  5. reiterate sequence.
at no point does the "sensible center" consider that the previous failures implicate our ability to fulfill the new mission, which is always paradoxically grander in scale while being a retreat from previous ambitions.

henley did leave out a crucial step, however, one that the administration has never missed — signaling its utmost importance — the step that falls between the last bad thing happening and the next declaration of commitment:

  • launch a grandiose speaking tour to roll out our minty fresh new war slogan!