Bush’s surge strategy based on less preparation

Strykers will go to Iraq without usual training | TheNewsTribune.com | Tacoma, WA:

A Fort Lewis Stryker brigade will leave for Iraq in April instead of May as part of the “surge” of U.S. forces aimed at reversing sectarian and insurgent violence in Baghdad.

The 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will skip a previously scheduled trip to the National Training Center in Southern California and instead conduct its last pre-deployment rehearsals at Fort Lewis, a brigade official told reporters Thursday.

The unit of some 4,000 soldiers will be the fifth Stryker brigade to go to Iraq, and the first without the benefit of a test run “in the box” at either Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert or the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.

President Bush should be ashamed to allow the rushing of troops through to deployment to Iraq without the training they need. DIsgraceful.

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An admirable meditation on evil

History News Network: (Read the whole thing, this is an excerpt)

When we debate estimates of Iraqi civilian casualties, we see that war in any form makes even the good side complicit in harming innocents. This knowledge is so disturbing to us that we use the euphemism “collateral damage” to soften its impact.

It is also hard to call people and what they do evil because we are so used to compromising in our daily lives. Compromise, in its good sense of meeting people halfway, is arguably the chief (and now forgotten) art citizens and leaders in a democracy must know and use. But evil is uncompromising.

In Vietnam, My Lai was evil. Of all the soldiers at My Lai on March 16, 1968, few had the uncompromising moral courage of Hugh Thompson. Thompson, who died in January, forcefully intervened to stop his fellow soldiers from massacring old men, women, children, babies. He later explained, “I didn’t want to be part of that. It wasn’t war.”

Others, however, succumbed to a mode of thinking that William Eckhardt, chief military prosecutor of William Calley in the My Lai courts martial, came to know too well: “Evil doesn’t come like Darth Vader dressed in black, hissing. Evil comes as a little bird whispering in your ear. ‘Think about your career. I’m not sure what’s going on. We’ll muddle through.’ ”

If and when you see “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Last King of Scotland,” or read the books on which they were based, contemplate evil, and consider what it means that Calley, after spending three years in house arrest, one month for every 10 villagers he killed, at last report was married and working at a jewelry store in Columbus, Ga.

We are eager to see monsters everywhere, except among us. Rational skeptical debate demands we see our flaws, as well.

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Thoughts on Sam Alito

I’ve been watching and listening to the Alito hearings. It’s pretty clear that Alito, like many Bush nominees, is a guy who says what his bosses want to hear. His bragging about being a proud member of the Conservative Alumni of Princeton was certainly what the Reagan-era DOJ wanted to hear, even if he had to disavow those principles later to appear more moderate. Likewise, his “shucks, I forgot to recuse myself from the Vanguard case” defense of breaking an explicit 1990 promise to the committee he faces today rings hollow from a man of his reputed intellect.

Clearly, he’s a smart man. He’s going to get on the Court, unless there is a Herculean effort by the Democrats, which isn’t going to happen. And he’ll eventually work with Antonin Scalia to interpret the Constitution as it was written rather than as a living document to eliminate rights the Founders could not have imagined we would need in order to live up to the promise of American liberty.

And, he’s disingenuous. Saying, as he does below, that he made a promise not to rule on cases involving Vanguard expecting that promise would expire, is emblematically Bushian:

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Judge Samuel Alito’s Nomination to the Supreme Court:

ALITO: Senator, the name “Vanguard” certainly appears on the briefs. And it appeared in the draft opinion that was sent to us by the staff attorney’s office. I just did not focus on the issue of recusal when it came up. That was an oversight on my part, because it didn’t give me the opportunity to apply my personal policy of going beyond what the code requires.

KENNEDY: So the individuals that responded on the ethical issues that were involved in this case, did they know that you had pledged and promised to this committee that you would recuse yourself?

ALITO: I believe that they did. I believe that some of them at least addressed that specifically in…

KENNEDY: Do you know specifically whether they did or not?

ALITO: I believe they addressed it in their letters, so they must have been aware of it.

KENNEDY: They understood that you had promised this committee that you would recuse yourself? Your testimony now is that those that made a comment upon your ethical behavior knew as a matter of fact that you had pledged to this committee that he would recuse yourself from the Vanguard cases?

ALITO: Professor Hazard I know addressed that directly in his letter. I think Professor Rotunda addressed it in his letter. So, obviously, if the letters addressed the issue, they were aware of what was said on the Senate questionnaire.

KENNEDY: And the final answer — we’ll move on — is that you saw the name “Vanguard” on the briefs and you obviously saw them on the opinion. You’re the author of the opinion. But your testimony here now is even though you saw the names on that, it did not come to mind at that moment that you had made the pledge and promised to this committee that you would recuse yourself?

ALITO: I did not focus on the issue of recusal, I think, because 12 years had gone by and the issue of a Vanguard recusal hadn’t come up.

And one of the reasons why judges tend to invest in mutual funds is because they generally do not present recusal problems. And pro se cases in particular generally don’t present recusal problems.

ALITO: And so no light went off. That’s all I can say. I didn’t focus on the issue of recusal.

KENNEDY: Well, this is important, when the lights do go on, and when the lights do go off. Because actually the accumulation of value of Vanguard had increased dramatically during this period of time, had it not?

ALITO: It had, Senator, but I had nothing to gain financially by…

Financial gain isn’t the issue. Rather it was a matter of keeping his word about Vanguard specifically.

If he pledges today to “keep an open mind” about abortion, the Commerce Clause and other elements of 20th century constitutional decisions, can we trust him to keep his word for three years or the duration of his service on the highest court in the land? Judging from his statements about what he believed in the past, which uncategorically dismissed the right to privacy covering abortion and his endorsement of the belief that Princeton’s standards were slipping because more women and minorities were being admitted, the reality is that he’s simply playing to his current audience, saying what he thinks they want to hear.

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And I had to pick today to quit coffee…

If you’ve ever talked to me before my three shots of espresso in the morning, you know I am not particularly cogent when I get up. If you’ve run into me after I’ve had my fifth or sixth shot, then you know I get a little shaky and strange. My wife says my lips turn blue and I am sure it aggravates my back, which is riddled with damage from skiing, climbing and falling off motorcycles. So, I decided to quit drinking coffee today and, if I could think, would be kicking myself for having forgotten what this is like.

I suppose Diet Coke would count as coffee methadone, but that would be a cheat, too. So, I am at a loss for words and wonder what kind of a god could put a spigot in the back of my head that, when left open, lets my brains run down into my shoes.

The truth is as scary as the spin

I almost used the original photo without the doll today, because it conveys the same creepiness as the doll…. Apparently Mr. Bush has no respect for personal space or the sanitary requirements of food preparation. See the reporter’s notebook sitting on the counter? The President is leaning over someone else’s sandwich as it is being wrapped. Ewww, Bush cooties.