Tuesday, December 19, 2006

POLITICS - Yet Another Example of What the Bush Administration Protects

"EPA relaxes rules on reporting of release of toxic chemicals" by JEFF MONTGOMERY, The News Journal

The Environmental Protection Agency approved new rules today that will quadruple the amount of some toxic pollutants that companies can release before they have to reveal the amounts to the public.

...there's more

Yap, protect big busine$$ OVER the public and environment. An example of Bush ethics.

IRAQ - Powell's Opinion

"Powell: We Are Losing In Iraq" Former Secretary Of State Says More Troops Are Not The Answer, CBS News

The United States is losing the war in Iraq but sending more troops to Baghdad is not the best way to change course, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Face The Nation.

Powell said he agreed with the assessment of the Iraq Study Group co-chairmen, Lee Hamilton and James Baker, that the situation in Iraq is "grave and deteriorating," and he also agreed with recently-confirmed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that the U.S. is not winning the war.

"So if it's grave and deteriorating and we're not winning, we are losing," Powell told Bob Schieffer in an exclusive interview. "We haven't lost. And this is the time, now, to start to put in place the kinds of strategies that will turn this situation around."

President George W. Bush is considering several options for a new strategy in Iraq. The most likely choice would be to send tens of thousands of additional troops for an indefinite period to quickly secure Baghdad.

A 3,500-man brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division will be sent to Kuwait soon after the holidays, CBS News correspondent David Martin reported on Friday. The troops would be available immediately should the president order a surge into Iraq.

There are about 134,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now.

Powell, also a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he did not see the military benefit of flooding Baghdad with American troops.

"I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for the purposes of suppressing this communitarian violence, this civil war, will work," he said, adding that the Iraqi government and security forces must take over.

"It is the D.C. police force that guards Washington, D.C., not the troops that are stationed at Fort Myer," Powell said. "And in Baghdad, you need a police force to do that, and in the other cities, you need a police force to do that, and not the American troops."

Another voice of reason that I doubt Bush will actually listen to.

I admit, I'm pessimistic. Even now you can see the virtual claw-marks-on-the-floor as Bush is being dragged by many to change his policy in Iraq, which in Bush's eyes = "I was wrong." Am I the only one who has noted how dragged-out and tired Bush looks of late? This is a man who still resists, with all his might, the admission that he could possibly be wrong. In the end I think Bush will choose a policy on Iraq that will pay only lip-service to a policy change. His "new" policy will be only window-dressing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

ENVIRONMENT - Yet Another Fine Example of Bush Administration Protection

"Bush Administration to Close E.P.A Libraries in San Francisco and Nationwide" by Sara A. Fox, M.L.S.‚ BeyondChron

The 2007 Federal Budget proposed by the Bush Administration and currently before Congress includes a budget cut that would entirely eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s 27 libraries nationwide, including San Francisco’s own EPA Region 9 library. The Region 9 library provides the public, free of charge, with environmental data on CA, AZ, NV, HA and the lands of 140 tribal nations. The importance of this library cannot be understated. The importance of this library cannot be understated in providing citizens with scientific data about pollutants, wildlife, and energy resources in our city, state and beyond.

The San Francisco Region 9 library has already had its hours reduced and is limiting public access. This is especially bad news for the often low-income, immigrant and minority communities in San Francisco, and their advocates, who reside in some of the city’s most polluted neighborhoods, to whom environmental information is critical to their health and safety.

The bulk of the library's work is in serving the EPA's scientists, researchers and policy makers, providing them with the information that they need to make informed decisions, and under the Bush Administration's plan, both the documents and the information specialists who organize and provide it to the EPA's staff will be gone.

Surprisingly, far from fighting the proposed budget cuts, EPA management, over the objection of 10,000 of it’s own scientists who have signed a petition in protest, started implementing a shutdown of services over the last several months, when Congress was not in session – before the Presidents proposed budget was even debated, much less approved (which it still has not).

On their own initiative, the Bush appointee led EPA has closed the libraries in Dallas, Chicago and Kansas City, MO. The library in Washington, D.C., while nominally still open to EPA staff, has been closed to the public.

The EPA has responded that it plans to put documents online, but as the Special Library Association noted, they have not put forward a concrete proposal to do so, have been discarding document originals before copies can be made, and in fact, have been deleting born-digital files from its website, a move that does not save the EPA any funding.

IRAQ - What's Really Important in the Iraq Study Group Report

In the following article the last paragraphs are most pertinent and need to be carefully considered.

"Bush's sinking ship of fools" by H.D.S. Greenway, Boston News

In the greater struggle against Islamic extremism, the most important of the study group's recommendations was that the United States appear actively involved in trying to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Reacting against his father's and Bill Clinton's efforts, President Bush removed America from its role of honest broker in his very first National Security Council meeting, Ron Suskind reports in "The One Percent Solution." Colin Powell warned Bush that by not trying to limit Israeli violence against Palestinians he was "reversing 30 years of US policy." But Bush dismissed this, saying, " Sometimes a show of force by one side can really clarify things."

Since then, neither Bush's shows of force nor Israel's have clarified much other than the limits to the use of force.

According to co-chairman James Baker, virtually everybody the Iraq Study Group talked to said that the Israel-Palestine issue was the single most important one stirring up Muslim resentment around the world, and that the best way to help moderate Muslims combat extremism was for the United States to get involved -- not necessarily to solve the issue, but to seriously address it rather than letting it drift in an angry sea, as Bush has done for six years.

Does President Bush have the flexibility to change his policies? Or will he be like our War of 1812 naval hero, James Lawrence, who was carried off the deck shouting, "Don't give up the ship" -- leaving it to others to deal with the wreckage on the burning deck.

So, is our Ship of State sinking and manned by fools?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

POLITICS - A Truly Different Federal Constitution

I ran into the following while reading other blogs. I was mildly surprised.

"Swiss Federal Constitution" from Wikipedia

The Swiss Federal Constitution has a certain peculiarity when compared to other constitutions in the world. It does not provide for any constitutional jurisdiction over any federal laws, that is, laws proclaimed by Parliament may not be struck down by the Federal Court on the grounds of unconstitutionality. This special provision in the Swiss Constitution is a manifestation of how democratic principles are held to outweigh the principles upon which the constitutional state is built. Laws proclaimed by the Federal Assembly are not to be taken out of force by a court not chosen by the people. Lately, however, as a matter of principle, the Federal Court has tended to favor international law over a federal law in cases where the two conflict. The same exclusion of constitutional jurisdiction does not apply to cantonal laws, which may be interpreted or struck down as the Federal Court deems fit.

...the last sentence in the article.....

Owing to constitutional initiatives and counter-proposals, the Swiss Constitution is subject to continual changes.

Humm.... they chose to give up stability in law to a purer democratic point of view. Changing federal law at the whim of the populace. Humm... good or bad?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

POLITICS - Another Example of Our Bought-and-Paid-For Administration

"EPA May Drop Lead Air Pollution Limits" by John Heilprin, Washington Post

The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation's biggest clean-air accomplishments.

Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits.

A preliminary staff review released by the Environmental Protection Agency this week acknowledged the possibility of dropping the health standards for lead air pollution. The agency says revoking those standards might be justified "given the significantly changed circumstances since lead was listed in 1976" as an air pollutant.

The EPA says concentrations of lead in the air have dropped more than 90 percent in the past 2 1/2 decades.

But Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, called on the agency to "renounce this dangerous proposal immediately," because lead, a highly toxic element, can cause severe nerve damage, especially in children.

"This deregulatory effort cannot be defended," Waxman wrote EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson.

However, on Wednesday night, Marcus Peacock, the Environmental Protection Agency's No. 2 official, approved new guidance to help the agency follow the law in a timelier fashion.

"Starting with lead, we're going to try to dovetail this in," Peacock said of the new guidance, which he said also would help the agency use the most up-to-date science and keep separate its scientific and policy considerations.

The health standards for air pollutants are intended to protect children, elderly and other "sensitive" populations, keep up visibility and limit damage to animals, crops, vegetation and buildings.

In July, a Washington-based trade group for all U.S. lead battery makers wrote a top EPA air quality official to urge that the agency remove lead from its list of air pollutants.

"That is not to say that air emissions of lead should be uncontrolled, or that no steps should be taken to address public health concerns arising from lead use," the Battery Council International said. "But many other regulatory vehicles exist for meeting these concerns."

BS! Another example of big busine$$ holding their profits as more important than our health, especially children, and the planet. And our fine "ethical" Administration is right there to help them.

And I'm not the only one of this opinion: "Bush was against our children breathing lead before he was for it"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

THE WAY IT SHOULD BE: Sears Does It Right

I received the following in an eMail at work:

I assume you have all seen the reports about how Sears is treating its reservist employees who are called up? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more.

Sears is VOLUNTARILY paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years. I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution.

And the story here

Now all we need is other companies to "do the right thing."

Friday, December 01, 2006

POLITICS - A Local View, Bush & Iraq

The following UseNet post is from a local San Diego (where I live) group and from a man-on-the-street. Posting here just to let my readers know how locals' see things.

Colin Powell was right from day ONE !! He told George Bush the only truth in the White House over the last maybe 14 years. Powell told Bush... if you invade a country you marry the country and all of its problems. Bush, the world worst puppet leader EVER, wouldn't listen to Powell. Bush only listened to his handlers, Rove, Cheney and big business foreign interests. The result is they had no plan for Iraq after ABOUT May 1 2003.

Just as Hitler and his Nazis i.e. handlers, were held responsible for the war crimes of World War Two, so must George Bush and his handlers. Bush and his handlers went into Iraq not knowing what they were dealing with and as a result are directly responsible for genocide in Iraq. Bush opened the door for civil war, and now genocide in Iraq. He cannot close it because it would be an admission of guilt. Therefore he continues murder our service people and Iraqis at will. George Bush is caught in a trap. He says he will not pull US troops out of Iraq before the mission is over. THERE IS NO MISSION. There never was.

So if Bush won't stop American involvement in Iraq, then we take it out of Bush's hands. It is just that simple. In California we got rid of Gray Davis because he lied to the voters about a problem in the budget, which proves governmental officials can be replaced in ONE manner or ANOTHER. Bush has to be replace. And likewise Cheney, and a number of White House MURDERERS including the entire cabinet.

Paul, you will have a problem with this, but I say any person who is not strong enough to stand up to a horrid president is a coward. And since Powell stayed on as Secretary of State after it was clear Iraq was a total mistake, then Colin Powell is a coward too. Powell should have stepped down in early 2004 and exposed Bush for the fraud he is....... but no ....Colin did not.

But to answer the bigger problem, there is no good that US can do in Iraq now, UNLESS.... the entire rest of the world agrees to change Iraq. The world cannot decide what to do in the Sudan, so that is unlikely. Americans are stuck with another Vietnam for ever and ever and ever.

Brian David Smith, San Diego, California

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

POLITICS - Das Fuhrer's (aka Bush) Right-Hand Man

"Gingrich raises alarm at event honoring those who stand up for freedom of speech" by RILEY YATES, Union Leader

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich yesterday said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism.

Gingrich, speaking at a Manchester awards banquet, said a "different set of rules" may be needed to reduce terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message.

Gingrich spoke to about 400 state and local power brokers last night at the annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award dinner, which fêtes people and organizations that stand up for freedom of speech.

I had to look up "fêtes" to make sure the meaning, as I read it, in the context of the last paragraph above was correct.

French, from feste, n.:
- to honor (a person) or commemorate (an event) with a fête (feted) : ENTERTAIN when the circus came to town ... he would welcome the train in the railway yards, fête the performers

One has to wonder how this organization reacted to Gingrich's comments. He is defiantly not standing up for freedom of speech.

Gingrich is also affirming just how dumb the GOP is when it comes to understanding the Internet. They do not understand that any law or restriction under American law can apply only within the USA and not to the Internet as a whole. The Internet is global and not in the control of any one state.

Gingrich and the GOP also miss on another account......

I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. It cannot be so easily discovered if you allow him to remain silent and look wise, but if you let him speak, the secret is out and the world knows that he is a fool. So it is by the exposure of folly that it is defeated; not by the seclusion of folly, and in this free air of free speech men get into that sort of communication with one another which constitutes the basis of all common achievement.

WOODROW WILSON, “That Quick Comradeship of Letters,” address at the Institute of France, Paris, May 10, 1919

Freedom of speech provides the greatest protection against all evils, INTERNAL and external. If they are really concerned about terrorists' ability to use the Internet to "recruit and get out their message" they need to look in the mirror and ask why they cannot use the Internet to get out their message and counteract terrorists. I've got a oft used phrase that applies, "Dumb & Dumber."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

WORLD - Says It All

POLITICS - HAY! Bush & the GOP, A Lesson For Ya

Here's a lesson you failed to learn....

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programmes by their intentions rather than their results.

Milton Friedman

MEDIA: Ah, the "Liberal" Media Shows Its Chauvinistic Colors

Of course, I'm being sarcastic in the use of "Liberal Media." Today's media is anything but liberal.

"Pelosi labeled 'Wicked Witch of the West' by Kondracke, 'shrew' by Orin-Eilbeck" from Media Matters for America

On the November 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke called House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), the incoming speaker of the House, "the Wicked Witch of the West." In a November 17 column, New York Post Washington bureau chief Deborah Orin-Eilbeck twice called Pelosi a "shrew."

In a discussion about Pelosi's handling of the Democratic leadership contest between Reps. Steny Hoyer (MD) and John P. Murtha (PA) for House majority leader, in which Pelosi backed Murtha but Hoyer emerged victorious, Kondrake stated: "[W]e had the 'Hammer' -- [former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay [R-TX] -- and now, we have the 'Wicked Witch of the West' ... Nancy Pelosi, who's twisting arms and ... having her aides making threats." As Media Matters for America has noted, the media have highlighted recent disagreements among Democrats while downplaying divisions among Republicans.

In her New York Post column -- "Call Her 'Nancy Shrew'?" -- also addressing Pelosi's handling of the Hoyer/Murtha contest, Orin-Eilbeck wrote: "Forget 'The Devil Wears Prada['] the hot show in Washington is 'The Shrew Adores Armani.' In just a few short days, House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi has turned into a caricature of the shrill, petty woman boss." Orin-Eilbeck added:

  • The stereotype of the woman boss as a self-centered witch on wheels who'll run over anyone in her path has plenty of roots in American culture -- "The Devil Wears Prada," zinging a fashion editor modeled on Vogue's [editor in chief] Anna Wintour, is just the latest incarnation.

  • So if 'Nancy Shrew' becomes the image of the highest-ranking woman ever in American politics - Pelosi will be second in line of succession to the presidency - it'll be a problem for all women politicos, including 2008 prospect Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Media Matters has documented previous attacks on Pelosi. For example, on the November 13 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked political and social commentator Mike Barnicle if Pelosi was "going to castrate Steny Hoyer" if Hoyer was elected House majority leader. On the October 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Republican pollster Frank Luntz said of Pelosi, "I always use the line for Nancy Pelosi, 'You get one shot at a face-lift. If it doesn't work the first time, let it go.' " And on October 26, in his recurring weekly segment on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, "comedian" and Fox News contributor Dennis Miller called Pelosi "intellectually ... not up to the task" of assuming the House speaker position. Miller further assailed Pelosi as a "nimrod," "a C-minus, D-plus applicant ... who no doubt would have been drummed out of the Mary Kay corps after an initial four-week evaluation period."

From the November 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

  • KRAUTHAMMER: If you're going to -- to be the boss and appoint a henchman against a Hoyer, who has been there, and who has a big constituency, you got to make sure you're going to win. You don't want to lose on day one. And when you lose 2 to 1, which she has done with Hoyer, it's not only created a number two who's -- who now has a grievance -- by his -- the -- by the amount of his win, 2 to 1, he becomes a rival. She's going to have to look over her shoulder. If she stumbles in this term, he's going to end up inheriting her spot in the next Congress.

  • KONDRACKE: Yeah. Well, so, the history on House leadership is, we had the "Hammer" -- Tom DeLay -- and now, we have the "Wicked Witch of the West," you know, Nancy Pelosi, who's twisting arms and making, you know, having her aides making threats and stuff like that.

  • BRIT HUME (host): Was that -- was that really happening?

  • KONDRACKE: Supposedly. I mean, that's -- that's -- it got heavily reported, and I've heard no contradictions of that. And, you know, the fact is that, when Tom -- Tom DeLay in his day got his way and, in this case, her first outing, she -- as Charles said -- she lost by 2 to 1.

Nah, they're not chauvinistic, strong women are OK. They watched Roller Derby back when.

Friday, November 17, 2006

POLITICS - GOP, Conservatives, and Whatnot

"Good Riddance To The Gingrichites" by Dick Meyer, CBS News

This is a story I should have written 12 years ago when the "Contract with America" Republicans captured the House in 1994. I apologize.

Really, it's just a simple thesis: The men who ran the Republican Party in the House of Representatives for the past 12 years were a group of weirdos. Together, they comprised one of the oddest legislative power cliques in our history. And for 12 years, the media didn't call a duck a duck, because that's not something we're supposed to do.

I'm not talking about the policies of the Contract for America crowd, but the character. I'm confident that 99 percent of the population — if they could see these politicians up close, if they watched their speeches and looked at their biographies — would agree, no matter what their politics or predilections.

Politicians in this country get a bad rap. For the most part, they are like any high-achieving group in America, with roughly the same distribution of pathologies and virtues. But the leaders of the GOP House didn't fit the personality profile of American politicians, and they didn't deviate in a good way. It was the Chess Club on steroids.

The iconic figures of this era were Newt Gingrich, Richard Armey and Tom Delay. They were zealous advocates of free markets, low taxes and the pursuit of wealth; they were hawks and often bellicose; they were brutal critics of big government.

Yet none of these guys had success in capitalism. None made any real money before coming to Congress. None of them spent a day in uniform. And they all spent the bulk of their adult careers getting paychecks from the big government they claimed to despise. Two resigned in disgrace.

Having these guys in charge of a radical conservative agenda was like, well, putting Mark Foley in charge of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus. Indeed, Foley was elected in the Class of '94 and is not an inappropriate symbol of their regime.

"Conservatives prove incapable of governing" by Bill Press, Progreso Weekly

Reading the tea leaves, there are several lessons to be learned from the Democrats' triumphant success on Nov 7.

Clearly, the American people have turned against George Bush's phony war in Iraq and want a change in direction. At the same time, they've lost any confidence in Bush himself. And they're disgusted with a corrupt, do-nothing, Republican-led Congress. All of which prompted voters to throw Republicans out, and invite Democrats back in.

But there's something more profound going on, too. The defeat of conservatives across-the-board, for everything from school board to U.S. senator, represents the rejection of the entire conservative governing philosophy. Starting with the Gingrich revolution of 1994, conservatives were given a chance to govern -- and they failed. They managed to capture all three branches of government. They controlled the White House, both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court. And everything they touched, they trashed.

On federal spending, they promised to balance the budget. Yet they racked up the biggest budget deficits in history, effectively burying America's future generations in a mountain of debt.

On personal liberty, they promised to get Big Government off our backs. Yet today -- with the federal government dipping into our phone, bank and library records, holding detainees without trial, torturing prisoners, controlling women's bodies, and prying into the bedrooms of gays and lesbians -- there's less personal privacy than ever before. Conservatives, who once derided the Nanny State, brought us the age of Big Brother instead.

On morality, they promised, again and again, to restore honesty and integrity to public life. Yet -- from Newt Gingrich to Duke Cunningham, Scooter Libby to Tom Delay, Don Sherwood to Mark Foley, Jack Abramoff to David Safavian, Claude Allen and Ralph Reed -- they have mired official Washington in the most widespread corruption since the days of Richard Nixon.

On international diplomacy, they promised to conduct a "humble" foreign policy. Yet, they've delivered the most arrogant and bellicose foreign policy of modern times. Treaties have been broken, old alliances have been destroyed, preemptive war has been adopted as the new way of doing business, acts of terror have multiplied, and nuclear bombs have spread into dangerous hands.

And that's just for starters. The conservative legacy to America is a government that is inefficient, inept, incompetent -- and broke.

...and whatnot.

None of these people are true conservatives. They put on the cloak of conservatism to hide their true nature, THEY ARE POWER HUNGRY. They believe in Davine Destiny and they are the implementers, and no one is to stand in their way. Barbarians at the gate, and they worship money.

They'll peek in your bedrooms; tell you what you can do, and not do, with your own body; DICTATE what moral beliefs you should practice and "burn you at the stake" if you don't; make laws to govern relationships between CONSENTING ADULTS.

You are "free" only to agree with them.

POLITICS - Mistrust of Electronic Voting

"Counting the Vote, Badly" New York Times Editorial 11/16/2006

Last week’s elections provided a lot of disturbing news about the reliability of electronic voting — starting, naturally, with Florida. In a Congressional race there between Vern Buchanan, a Republican, and Christine Jennings, a Democrat, the machines in Sarasota County reported that more than 18,000 people, or one in eight, did not choose either candidate. That “undervote” of nearly 13 percent is hard to believe, given that only about 2.5 percent of absentee voters did not vote in that race. If there was a glitch, it may have made all the difference. Ms. Jennings trails Mr. Buchanan by about 400 votes.

The serious questions about the Buchanan- Jennings race only add to the high level of mistrust that many people already feel about electronic voting. More than half of the states, including California, New York, Ohio and Illinois, now require that electronic voting machines produce voter-verified paper records, which help ensure that votes are properly recorded. But Congress has resisted all appeals to pass a law that would ensure that electronic voting is honest and accurate across the nation.

The problems with elections go well beyond electronic voting. Partisan secretaries of state continue to skew the rules to favor their parties and political allies. States are adopting harsh standards for voter registration drives to make it harder for people to register, as well as draconian voter identification laws to make casting a ballot harder for poor people, racial minorities, the elderly and students. Some states have adopted an indefensible rule that provisional ballots cast at the wrong table of the correct polling place must be thrown out.

Election reform has tended to be a partisan issue, with Democrats arguing for reform and Republicans resisting it. It shouldn’t be.

It couldn't be that the GOP are a bunch of crooks that have no problem with stealing elections, nah. It's not GOP worshipers who work phone-jamming schemes, nah. It's not the GOP attitude of win at all costs, ethical or not, nah. The GOP just firmly believes that everything having to do with the vote is just fine as long as they win.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

POLITICS - All the King's Horses, Iraq

"All the King's Horses…" by Michael Hirsh, Newsweek

It's too late for Jim Baker, Nancy Pelosi or anyone else to put this Humpty Dumpty back together again. But if Iraq is hopeless, there’s still time for Afghanistan.

This is a tale of two headlines. One comes from the marble hallways of self-satisfied Washington, where a newly humbled George W. Bush is recommending drapes to a newly cocky Nancy Pelosi, and the town anxiously waits for the sage Jim Baker to fix the mess made by the Bush family’s black sheep, who also happens to be president of the United States. The headline is: "Will Bush Talk to Iran and Syria about Iraq?" Apparently that's a big part of the Baker plan, judging from the long, convivial dinner he had the other week with Iran's ambassador to the U.N., Javad Zarif, which according to an informed source was all about Iraq.

The other headline is from Baghdad, where at least 100 people are dying each day from out-of-control sectarian hatred. "National Catastrophe," the headline reads. That's the description given today by the head of the Iraqi parliament's education committee to the latest outrage in downtown Baghdad, which is coming to resemble Mogadishu. Masked gunman wearing Iraqi police commando uniforms abducted up to 150 staff members of a government research institute, deepening the reign of terror that has led a good part of Iraq's educated elite to flee the country. This is when states fail of course: when everyone with a brain runs away.

The U.S. response to Iraq reminds me of those TV ads about the comically slow suitor who, after his girlfriend asks him if he loves her, waits long minutes until she has stalked out of the restaurant before answering "yes" to the empty chair across the table. Bush and Tony Blair are now arguing about whether to talk to Iran and Syria? Two or three years ago it might have made a difference, before the Sunni insurgency that was supplied and supported from outside the country spiraled into sectarian warfare. Back then, had you engaged Syria fully, you might have stopped the cross-border depots and training centers that kept a flow of jihadis and weapons to Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, one of the chief authors of the sectarian hatred, and the other original insurgent leaders. Back then, had you dealt with Iran as it must be—as a major regional power—you might have been able to curb the Shiite militias and their death squads, which were just getting started. But now? The sectarian killing has its own dynamic. What's happening is an internal Iraqi affair, and Iran and Syria have become, for the most part, bystanders.

It is the story of this administration, of course: the inability to adjust prefixed ideas to reality, embodied in an incurious president who is unable to get on top of a problem because he doesn’t follow up on details. Four years ago U.S. officials disbanded the Iraqi army, then sat stunned in their Green Zone bubble while the looting raged and the incipient insurgents began to poke their heads out of the rubble. Slowly the Bush administration began to rebuild the army. Too late, it came to realize it needed Iraqi police as well. Indeed, as army training faltered, U.S. officials labeled 2006 "the year of the police." But again, it was a year or two too late. And now that the police have become tools of the empowered sectarian militias, the Bush team is talking about relying on the Iraqi army again.

There's more.....

Too little, too late. Then there is Afghanistan which we have let languish and now the Taliban is back and NATO needs help. This is a chance for our government to do the correct thing in time to actually save a nation that we helped to build.

But, frankly, I believe Bush is incapable of really learning anything. He cannot learn from his mistakes because, deep at heart, he believes he did not make any mistakes.

IRAQ - War Profiteering

"Bechtel Bails on Iraq" by Antonia Juhasz, AlterNet


Last month, the Bechtel Corp. became the first major U.S. contractor to announce that it was pulling out of Iraq. Bechtel's departure marks yet another significant failure for Bush's economic invasion of Iraq. It does not mark, however, the end of Bechtel's adventures in the Middle East as the company looks to take advantage of the Bush administration's expanding U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area.

Bechtel received a quiet "request for proposals" from the Bush administration more than a month before the war began, which ultimately yielded the company $2.4 billion for work on electricity, water, sewage treatment, bridges, highways, airports, hospitals, schools and more.

It is virtually impossible to assess the performance of any one company working in Iraq. Only one independent monitoring agency exists, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (SIGIR), a congressionally mandated office tasked with oversight of all U.S. spending on Iraq reconstruction. Of the 13,578 projects planned and paid for by the U.S. government for work in Iraq, SIGIR has assessed just 65.

But even this limited oversight allows us to debunk claims made by Bechtel. For example, the company reports that it rebuilt "war-damaged bridges on key highways." But SIGIR's October report to Congress finds that "no bridge or expressway projects have been completed" in Iraq.

Bechtel also claims that it failed to build a key maternal and children's hospital in Basra because of "security concerns." While SIGIR, on the other hand, makes clear that it ordered Bechtel to be dropped from the $50 million project after the company misreported its progress and went $90 million over budget and a year and a half behind schedule.

SIGIR's October report also allows us to clearly assess the overall failure of U.S. reconstruction in Iraq. In the electricity sector, less than half of all planned projects in Iraq have been completed, while 21 percent have yet to even begin. The term "complete," however, can be misleading as, for example, SIGIR finds that the electricity sector has been hampered by the failure of contractors to build transmission and distribution lines to connect new generators to homes and businesses. Thus, nationally, Iraqis have just 11 hours on average of electricity a day, and in Baghdad, the heart of instability in Iraq, there are between four and eight hours on average per day.

What went wrong? U.S. Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, author of a U.S. government study of the likely effect that U.S. bombardment would have on Iraq's power system in 2003, answered the question well when he said, "Frankly, if we had just given the Iraqis some baling wire and a little bit of space to keep things running, it would have been better. But instead we've let big U.S. companies go in with plans for major overhauls."

Companies like Bechtel entered Iraq with hopes of cashing in on much more than reconstruction contracts. As Cliff Mumm, head of Bechtel's Iraq operation, said in December 2003, Iraq "has two rivers, it's fertile, it's sitting on an ocean of oil. Iraq ought to be a major player in the world. And we want to be working for them long term."

Bechtel's vision was part of a larger Bush administration plan to transform Iraq from a state- to a market-controlled economy virtually overnight and by U.S. fiat. The administration implemented new laws in Iraq (virtually all of which remain in place today) allowing for, among other things, the privatization of Iraq's state-owned enterprises and for American companies to receive preferential treatment over Iraqis in the awarding of contracts.

So, Bechtel was hired instead of the Iraqi companies who had successfully rebuilt their country after the previous U.S. invasion. And, since Bechtel's contract guaranteed that all of its costs would be covered, plus a set rate of profit, it took its time, spending its first five months in Iraq doing a countrywide assessment rather than rebuilding. Bechtel then worked on expensive new facilities that showcased its skills and would serve its needs were it to run the systems itself one day (and which have proven far too expensive for Iraqis to run). The Iraqis, meanwhile, knew that the Americans had received billions of dollars for reconstruction, that Iraqi companies had been rejected, and that the country was still without basic services. The result was increasing hostility, acts of sabotage targeted directly at foreign contractors and their work, and a rising insurgency.

I ran into this article as referenced on the Usenet, alt.politics.bush. The poster's closing comment was:

Iraq is a greedy war profiteer's pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The rainbow, in this case, is made up of dead bodies.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

RELIGION: "Good" Christians

"Good Christians" by Dr. Forbush, Bring it On!

On Sunday all “good” Christians go to church. I don’t know if I would be so bold to declare myself a “good” Christian, but going to church on Sunday continues to be something our family rarely misses. As I have said before, I am Catholic, so the guilt of weekly attendance has been worked deeply into my psyche.

The mixture of politics with religion has always troubled me. Politics always seemed to be man’s business, while religion always seemed to be God’s business. The main problem tends to be that collecting God’s answers on every perceivable issue is mostly impossible. Jesus tells us to take care of the poor and sick, but he doesn’t tell us how we should do that. Man has created many ways to take care of the poor and sick, but it isn’t always clear that giving handouts to people is always the most effective way to persuade someone to contribute to society. And, when power comes to the battle, individuals will push their own ideas over the most effective ideas for society. And, worst of all, when someone declares that their own personal idea is the “Christian” solution or God’s solution there is no possible way to know if that is true or not, because man can not ever know what is in God’s mind.

It bothers me when any religion expends an enormous amount of energy fighting for an issue that isn’t even a critical issue. Abortion and homosexuality come to mind quickly. These two issues have very little support in the Bible, and it is clear that religious people that have opinions on these issues use bizarre Biblical readings to support the conclusion they have already decided in advance. The proof of this is in the lack of such a strong response to issues that are out rightly declared in the Bible. For example, divorce, war and the care for the poor and sick are declared as critical issues many more times in the Bible than the “evils” of homosexuality and abortion. But, religious groups have used abortion and homosexuality as litmus tests to determine whether someone is a “good” Christian. Does this even make any sense?

...there's more.

He is correct. These people believe themselves to be "good" Christians but support the Iraq war? They are "good" Christians but allow and support a law that prevents Medicare from negotiating drug pricing? They are "good" Christians but don't fight to raise the minimum wage, for years?

You are correct, Dr. Forbush, it does not make sense. It is a self-righteous facade.

POLITICS - "Neocons" = "Dead-Enders"

"Neocons dissolve into chaos after GOP defeat" by CHARLOTTE RAAB, Capitol Hill Blue

Neo-conservatives, who laid out the intellectual underpinnings for US President George W. Bush's foreign policy, are in disarray following the Republicans' midterm election defeat.

Already battling with each other over continuing US military setbacks in Iraq, "neocons" are now more divided than ever following Tuesday's election nightmare which saw Republicans lose control of both houses of Congress.

Neo-conservatives essentially believe in America's ability to shape the world in its own image, and see the United States as a "benevolent hegemony" with the power to compel other nations to adopt liberal democracy.

That ideology was extended to Iraq which was supposed to become ultimately a bastion of democracy in the Middle East.

"Huge mistakes were made, and I want to be very clear on this -- they were not made by neoconservatives, who had almost no voice in what happened, and certainly almost no voice in what happened after the downfall of the regime in Baghdad," said noted neocon Richard Perle in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine.

Another top neocon, Ken Adelman, had assured the administration in February 2002 that "liberating" Iraq would be a "cakewalk," but today disavows all responsibility with how the venture has turned out.

"I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national security team since (president Harry) Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era," he laments in the same Vanity Fair piece.

Joshua Muravchik, a leading conservative scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, agreed that the neocon role has been overstated.

"In reality, of course, we don't wield any of the power that contemporary legend attributes to us. Most of us don't rise at the crack of dawn to report to powerful jobs in government," he said in an article in Foreign Policy magazine.

"But it is true that our ideas have influenced the policies of President George W. Bush, as they did those of President Ronald Reagan. That does feel good. Our intellectual contributions helped to defeat Communism in the last century and, God willing, they will help to defeat jihadism in this one."

Even well-known proponents are beginning to back away from the neocon label, most notably Francis Fukuyama in his recently published book "America at the Crossroads, Democracy, Power and the Neoconservative Legacy."

"I have concluded," he writes, "that neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something that I can no longer support."

"Neo-conservatism has now become irreversibly identified with the policies of the administration of George W. Bush in his first term and any effort to reclaim the label at this point is likely to be futile."

Bold emphasis above is mine

Ah, Neo-conservatives, another group in denial. They will not admit that their philosophy is just wrong. No "one image" can be forced on the world, no matter how "powerful" a nation thinks it is. Dictators and conquerors have tired for centuries, and in the end, always have failed. The Roman Empire no longer exists, this is the history lesson on world domination.

Now it is the Islamic Extremists that need to relearn this.

Monday, November 13, 2006

HORROR SHOW - Radical Islam

Below is a link to a article with a 12min clip of, frankly, a horror movie. I highly suggest viewing this clip is a must for ALL Western nations, it is a warning.

"Obsession: Radical Islams's War Against The West" by Marlo, Marlo's Musings

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

POLITICS - Election 2006

The following article was published on 11/20/2006 but I held off quoting it until after the elections. I wanted to see just how predictive of voter sentiment it was.

"GOP Must Go" from The American Conservative

The meaning of this election will be interpreted in one of two ways: the American people endorsed the Bush presidency or they did what they could to repudiate it. Such an interpretation will be simplistic, even unfairly so. Nevertheless, the fact that will matter is the raw number of Republicans and Democrats elected to the House and Senate.

It should surprise few readers that we think a vote that is seen—in America and the world at large—as a decisive “No” vote on the Bush presidency is the best outcome. We need not dwell on George W. Bush’s failed effort to jam a poorly disguised amnesty for illegal aliens through Congress or the assaults on the Constitution carried out under the pretext of fighting terrorism or his administration’s endorsement of torture. Faced on Sept. 11, 2001 with a great challenge, President Bush made little effort to understand who had attacked us and why—thus ignoring the prerequisite for crafting an effective response. He seemingly did not want to find out, and he had staffed his national-security team with people who either did not want to know or were committed to a prefabricated answer.

As a consequence, he rushed America into a war against Iraq, a war we are now losing and cannot win, one that has done far more to strengthen Islamist terrorists than anything they could possibly have done for themselves. Bush’s decision to seize Iraq will almost surely leave behind a broken state divided into warring ethnic enclaves, with hundreds of thousands killed and maimed and thousands more thirsting for revenge against the country that crossed the ocean to attack them. The invasion failed at every level: if securing Israel was part of the administration’s calculation—as the record suggests it was for several of his top aides—the result is also clear: the strengthening of Iran’s hand in the Persian Gulf, with a reach up to Israel’s northern border, and the elimination of the most powerful Arab state that might stem Iranian regional hegemony.

The war will continue as long as Bush is in office, for no other reason than the feckless president can’t face the embarrassment of admitting defeat. The chain of events is not complete: Bush, having learned little from his mistakes, may yet seek to embroil America in new wars against Iran and Syria.

Meanwhile, America’s image in the world, its capacity to persuade others that its interests are common interests, is lower than it has been in memory. All over the world people look at Bush and yearn for this country—which once symbolized hope and justice—to be humbled. The professionals in the Bush administration (and there are some) realize the damage his presidency has done to American prestige and diplomacy. But there is not much they can do.

Note, this is from a conservative magazine.

Well, as I type the results are:
  • House = +27 seats for Democrats, they now have control

  • Senate = 49 Republican to 47 Democrats, too close to call and this does not include 2 "Other"

Remember, for the House, Democrats needed only 15 seat win, they got 27!

In the Senate races, there is still a possibility the Democrats could squeak-out a win and get control. Even then, depending on how the 2 "Other" vote, the GOP may have a hard time pushing the OLD agenda.

The final statement by voters is, in my words, "time for a change" and "congress, get with it and do something." The GOP arrogant dictatorship of the federal agenda is ended. Both parties will have to cooperate to get anything done, which is what voters have mandated.

If EITHER party fails in this, they will pay in 2008.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

POLITICS - Media's Total Failure to Protect America

I could not believe the comments in the following article. Our media no longer thinks it has an obligation to act as watchdogs on the body politic. Our media has become totally an entertainment industry because the media corporations are concerned only with profit.

"Midterms and the Media" from FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)

Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources (11/5/06), CBS reporter Jim Axelrod explained that reporting valuable information about candidates is not the media's top priority—and voters can get all that stuff someplace else anyway:

  • "In this Internet age, there's no shortage of places to go if you want to read position papers or hear what candidate are holding forth about the economy, education, the environment, anything like that. But our job, especially in the last four or five days, is to take everything that's coming in and crystallize it through a filter of what is popping, what seems to be the most--I guess, what you'd call man biting dog, what's out of the ordinary."

Fox News Channel anchor and managing editor Brit Hume explained (Broadcasting & Cable, 11/6/06) why journalists shouldn't evaluate political advertising for accuracy:

  • "I don't like the reporters that try to police them, tell you what's true and what's not. Most political ads are arguably true and arguably false. It you start trying to get into issues of truth and falsity, you end up doing what the candidates do, which is arguing. My view is, let 'em play. The truth is, negative ads work."

ABC political director Mark Halperin, on the other hand, seems to think that fact-checking the candidates and tracking stealth campaign techniques is simply too difficult (Slate, 10/30/06):

  • "The networks don't spend anything like they used to on covering elections, but we still have as many resources as anyone else devoted to trying to hold the candidates and campaigns accountable to the public interest. But it isn't easy. Even with all the modern technology out there, tracking new television ads is merely really, really hard, while tracking radio ads, church fliers, and those robo-calls that come at the very end is nearly impossible. And once you get a hold of the content, figuring out how to truth-squad the item, and then report it in context, is among the toughest tasks in daily journalism."

Judging media coverage of elections is often reduced to asking whether the press was fair to this candidate or that. The better question, though, is whether the press was fair to the American voters.

The old media is dead, killed by profit motivated corporate owners of our media outlets. Gone are the days of Woods & Bernstein and media as the "5th estate," there to be a watchdog for the American people. If we had today's media back then, Nixon would never had to resign.

Sad, very sad.

Monday, November 06, 2006

POLITICS - California Style, Jerry Brown

"Jerry Brown Is At It Again" by Daniel B. Wood, Christian Science Monitor

Jerry Brown calls himself "the most durable politician in the Western hemisphere next to Fidel Castro." And he doesn't even smoke a cigar.

Outside the state, he is perhaps best remembered as the Jesuit seminarian who, in 1974, became California's youngest governor at age 36. While in office he dated singer Linda Ronstadt and lobbied for state use of communications satellites back when cell phones were the size of canned hams.

Here in California, Mr. Brown is known as one of the most visionary and uncategorizable politicians in state history. Now mayor of Oakland, Brown has served two terms as governor, run for president three times, and now at age 68 appears poised to become the state's attorney general, the second-most powerful politician in America's most populous state.

A Democrat, Brown was 24 points ahead of his Republican rival, state Sen. Charles Poochigian, in an Oct. 19-27 Hoover Institution poll.

"Jerry Brown is the most unusual politician I've come across in 50 years of politics," says Joe Cerrell, a veteran national and California Democratic strategy analyst. "If elected, he will be the most critical and visible attorney general the state has ever had."

Boy! Is that last paragraph an understatement. Like him or not, it's true.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

POLITICS - Becoming a Human

From an article, "The Emergence of Intelligence" by William H. Calvin, Scientific American 2006

"The first sign that a baby is going to be a human being, and not a noisy pet, comes when he begins naming the world and demanding the stories that connect its parts."

"Once he knows the first of these he will instruct his teddy bear, enforce his worldview on victims in the sandlot, tell himself stories of what he is doing as he plays and forecast stories of what he will do when he grows up."

"He will keep track of the actions of others and relate deviations to the person in charge."

"He will want a story at bedtime."

- Kathryn Morton, writer

"Our abilities to plan gradually develop from childhood narratives and are a major foundation for ethical choices, as we imagine a course of action, imagine its effects on others and decide whether or not to do it."

Humm.... Did G.W. Bush ever learn this lesson?

If not, is he a human?


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

POLITICS - A Fine Example of Believing in Free Speech, NOT!

Tue, Oct 31, 2006 1:07pm EST

ABC memo reveals Air America advertiser blacklist An internal ABC Radio Networks memo obtained by Media Matters for America, originally from a listener to The Peter B. Collins Show, indicates that nearly 100 ABC advertisers insist that their commercials be blacked out on Air America Radio affiliates. According to the memo, the advertisers insist that "NONE of their commercials air during AIR AMERICA programming."

Among the advertisers listed are Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Federal Express, General Electric, McDonald's, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Navy.

The memo appears below, and an enlarged version can be viewed HERE


Nice guys, eh? The United States of America, eh?

Harry Hope, alt.politics.bush

Of course any company has the right to say what their advertising is associated with, but if these companies really believe in the principle of free speech embodied in our Constitution, you have to wonder why they don't support it with their actions.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

POLITICS - Manipulation of the Voter

In the linked article below there are several paragraphs that address a comment made by a reader of Lean Left blog. These paragraphs are very good points addressing my title for this post.

My readers may not agree with "tgirsch", but these points are worth thinking about.

"More on 'Meaningless' Midterms" by tgirsch, Lean Left

  • [T]hat surfaces another flaw in your original premise: general opinion surveys don’t often account for the relative importance of various issues or for the strength with which people’s views are held.

Comment by David Opderbeck

He goes on at quite a bit greater length, and I responded to him in the comments there, but there are several things about this that I felt needed to be flushed out in greater detail. First, and most important, is that I think David is consistently conflating ignorance with stupidity. The fact is, most people just don’t pay all that close of attention to politics. In this regard, we bloggers and blog readers are the exception, not the rule. Don’t believe me? Start randomly asking people on the street to name five current Supreme Court justices, or how their representative/senators voted on a particular issue, or to even name their representatives and senators. You won’t get a very good success rate here.

But a more basic problem, I think, is that David is operating from a poor (or maybe naïve) understanding of human psychology. What do I mean by this? I think that his arguments are predicated on two flawed basic assumptions: first, that the typical voter is reasonably well informed about the issues and where each candidate stands on those issues; and second, that voting is a purely (or at least primarily) rational act.

David would be right, and it would be accusing voters of “stupidity” to suggest that they’ve gotten informed about all the issues, considered everything rationally, and decided to vote against their interests. That’s not what I’m suggesting at all. What I’m suggesting, instead, is that because candidates spend a great deal of time manipulating the emotions of the electorate, and obfuscating both their own positions and the positions of their opponents, voters often make ill-informed, irrational decisions.

  • [T]hat surfaces another flaw in your original premise: general opinion surveys don’t often account for the relative importance of various issues or for the strength with which people’s views are held.

Another Comment by David Opderbeck

This, at least, is a good point, but David’s problem here is that he ignores the extent to which these preferences and strength-of-views can be manipulated. Again, this is not “stupidity,” it’s human nature. Ask anyone who works in advertising or public relations just how easy it can often be to get human emotion to trump rationality, or how easy it is to manufacture preferences that didn’t previously exist. That’s what I’m saying is a threat to democracy, and that’s why I suggest that there’s often such a stark disparity between poll results and the way people vote.

One more thing of note on this is that over the years, the Republicans have gotten very, very good at recognizing which issues they poll well on, and then making the election all about those issues, avoiding those issues where they don’t do so well. And the latter generally far outnumber the former. At the outset of the election season, such issues may not be high on the list, and the GOP has excelled at making them high on the list. They managed to make the 2002 election all about Iraq in this manner, even though Iraq (rightly) was nowhere in the public consciousness at the time. They worked hard to put it there, to the exclusion of virtually all other issues. In 2004, with the Iraq war already starting to lose support, the bogeyman of gay marriage arose, and was pounded repeatedly.This, by the way, is where our terrible news media have failed us miserably. They’re the only ones who have any ability to cut through the partisan BS (on either side) and don’t do this. They’re the ones who could effectively keep politicians from changing the subject, and they don’t do this.

The last paragraph above is the devil in our politics. The GOP, the party of big business, has become the best users of advertising agency manipulation of the "buyer," in this context the voter. They are selling politics like they sell soap or cars or TVs. Add to that the media's lack of true oversite in the area of American politics, gives politicians (especially GOP) an escape from transparency and ethical truthfulness.

Of course in the end, it is voter laziness in NOT studying the issues or candidates, and allowing themselves to be manipulated.

POLITICS - A Very Applicable Quote For Today

"An election is a moral horror, as bad as battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned."

- George Bernard Shaw

IRAQ - View From A Baghdad Citizen

The following is from an ordinary citizen of Iraq. Not Iraqi nor American "experts" or politicians. We Americans need to pay attention to what ordinary citizens are experiencing.

"The Lancet Study" by Girl Blog from Iraq, 10/18/2006

This has been the longest time I have been away from blogging. There were several reasons for my disappearance the major one being the fact that every time I felt the urge to write about Iraq, about the situation, I'd be filled with a certain hopelessness that can't be put into words and that I suspect other Iraqis feel also.

It's very difficult at this point to connect to the internet and try to read the articles written by so-called specialists and analysts and politicians. They write about and discuss Iraq as I might write about the Ivory Coast or Cambodia- with a detachment and lack of sentiment that- I suppose- is meant to be impartial. Hearing American politicians is even worse. They fall between idiots like Bush- constantly and totally in denial, and opportunists who want to use the war and ensuing chaos to promote themselves.

The latest horror is the study published in the Lancet Journal concluding that over 600,000 Iraqis have been killed since the war. Reading about it left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it sounded like a reasonable figure. It wasn't at all surprising. On the other hand, I so wanted it to be wrong. But... who to believe? Who to believe....? American politicians... or highly reputable scientists using a reliable scientific survey technique?

The responses were typical- war supporters said the number was nonsense because, of course, who would want to admit that an action they so heartily supported led to the deaths of 600,000 people (even if they were just crazy Iraqis…)? Admitting a number like that would be the equivalent of admitting they had endorsed, say, a tsunami, or an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale, or the occupation of a developing country by a ruthless superpower… oh wait- that one actually happened. Is the number really that preposterous? Thousands of Iraqis are dying every month- that is undeniable. And yes, they are dying as a direct result of the war and occupation (very few of them are actually dying of bliss, as war-supporters and Puppets would have you believe).

For American politicians and military personnel, playing dumb and talking about numbers of bodies in morgues and official statistics, etc, seems to be the latest tactic. But as any Iraqi knows, not every death is being reported. As for getting reliable numbers from the Ministry of Health or any other official Iraqi institution, that's about as probable as getting a coherent, grammatically correct sentence from George Bush- especially after the ministry was banned from giving out correct mortality numbers. So far, the only Iraqis I know pretending this number is outrageous are either out-of-touch Iraqis abroad who supported the war, or Iraqis inside of the country who are directly benefiting from the occupation ($) and likely living in the Green Zone.

The chaos and lack of proper facilities is resulting in people being buried without a trip to the morgue or the hospital. During American military attacks on cities like Samarra and Fallujah, victims were buried in their gardens or in mass graves in football fields. Or has that been forgotten already?

We literally do not know a single Iraqi family that has not seen the violent death of a first or second-degree relative these last three years. Abductions, militias, sectarian violence, revenge killings, assassinations, car-bombs, suicide bombers, American military strikes, Iraqi military raids, death squads, extremists, armed robberies, executions, detentions, secret prisons, torture, mysterious weapons – with so many different ways to die, is the number so far fetched?

There are Iraqi women who have not shed their black mourning robes since 2003 because each time the end of the proper mourning period comes around, some other relative dies and the countdown begins once again.

Let's pretend the 600,000+ number is all wrong and that the minimum is the correct number: nearly 400,000. Is that better? Prior to the war, the Bush administration kept claiming that Saddam killed 300,000 Iraqis over 24 years. After this latest report published in The Lancet, 300,000 is looking quite modest and tame. Congratulations Bush et al.

Everyone knows the 'official numbers' about Iraqi deaths as a direct result of the war and occupation are far less than reality (yes- even you war hawks know this, in your minuscule heart of hearts). This latest report is probably closer to the truth than anything that's been published yet. And what about American military deaths? When will someone do a study on the actual number of those? If the Bush administration is lying so vehemently about the number of dead Iraqis, one can only imagine the extent of lying about dead Americans…

JOBS - America Looses Again

"US job outsourcing on rise" by anhracafe on Café.com, New Delhi, India

US engineering jobs that are being 'offshored' to countries like India and China, is 'gaining momentum', according to a recent study, made by the Durham, NC-based Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering Research.

The study titled 'Industry Trends in Engineering Offshoring', challenges the often-accepted view that China and India 'graduate 12 times the number of engineers as the US.

Until recently, the most commonly cited statistics were that the US graduates 70,000 engineers a year versus 600,000 in China and 350,000 in India.

It said that a more realistic comparison of total bachelors and sub-baccalaureate engineering, computer science and information technologies for 2004 was 222,335 (in the US), 644,106 (in China) and 215,000 (in India).

This study interviewed 78 senior executives of major US firms. 75 percent of US firms surveyed say that India has an adequate to large supply of entry level engineers - even more than in the US and China.

This study was presented at the US National Academy of Engineering.

Now, ask yourselves just what has this Bush Administration, and the GOP, actually done to stem this hemorrhage of American jobs via education and penalties for American companies who give away American jobs? Not rhetoric, but action. Nada, nothing, zero!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

POLITICS - The Terrorists at Home, the GOP

The following are two links that, in my opinion, prove that we do have terrorists right here in America, the GOP.

First, the Republican National Committee TV ad, These Are The Stakes

"Special Comment: Advertising terrorism" by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC

Everyone should view the full 10min video via this link. The comment begins with....

Tonight, a special comment on the advertising of terrorism – the commercial you have already seen.

It is a distillation of everything this administration and the party in power have tried to do these last five years and six weeks.

It is from the Republican National Committee;

It shows images of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri;

It offers quotes from them—all as a clock ticks ominously in the background.

It concludes with what Zawahiri may or may not have said to a Pakistani journalist as long ago as 2001: His dubious claim that he had purchased “suitcase bombs.”

The quotation is followed (by sheer coincidence no doubt) by an image of a massive explosion.

“These are the stakes,” appears on the screen, quoting exactly from Lyndon Johnson’s infamous nuclear scare commercial from 1964.

“Vote—November 7th.”


The dictionary definition of the word “terrorize” is simple and not open to misinterpretation:

  • “To fill or overpower with terror; terrify. To coerce by intimidation or fear.”

Note please, that the words “violence” and “death” are missing from that definition.

The key to terror, the key to terrorism, is not the act—but the fear of the act.

That is why bin Laden and his deputies and his imitators are forever putting together videotaped statements and releasing virtual infomercials with dire threats and heart-stopping warnings.

But why is the Republican Party imitating them?

A very, very good question Mr. Olbermann. I have an answer, the GOP is desperate to keep power and they do not care how they do it. They are willing to use Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri as spokesmen for the GOP, to scare Americans into voting GOP.

The GOP has become the lowest of the low and are, in fact, American terrorists.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

POLITICS - Guns In America

"Gun violence: An American way of death" by BERND DEBUSMANN, Capital Hill Blue

It's an American way of death. More than 30,000 people die from gunshot wounds every year, through murder, suicide and accidents.

That is an average of 82 a day, and prospects for reducing the toll are dim.

The debate between gun control advocates and the pro-gun lobby was reignited briefly this month by four school shootings between September 26 and October 9.

In one, a man carrying a pistol, a shotgun and 600 rounds of ammunition shot 10 girls execution-style at an Amish school in Pennsylvania, killing five of them, and then killed himself. In another, a 13-year-old took an AK-47 assault rifle to his school in Missouri, pointed it at administrators and other students and fired it into a ceiling.

At a hastily arranged White House Conference on School Safety on October 10, panelists covered topics ranging from metal detectors and school bullies to the value of religious beliefs and good communication between parents and schools.

But the word "gun" was not mentioned until a plucky teenager pointed out to a panel moderated by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that the common factor was easy access to high-powered firearms. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush attended separate parts of the conference but avoided mention of guns.

...bold emphasis mine.... and....

"The U.S. level of lethal violence is far out of line with those of other industrialized nations," said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. "The fact that most of our lethal violence involves firearms lends credence to the hypothesis that the prevalence of guns is a prime reason."

That hypothesis, widely accepted in much of the rest of the world, is hotly contested by American advocates of unfettered access to guns, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), who say that the second amendment to the Constitution gives all law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms.

Proponents of tighter gun controls see things differently. "Congress has been in denial about gun violence ... and is moving in the wrong direction," said Joshua Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. He noted that the annual death toll from gun violence in the United States is ten times the total of U.S. combat deaths, to date, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Statisticians say such comparisons are misleading but the parallel has been drawn before, most notably by then president George H.W. Bush, the present president's father, after the end of the first Gulf War.

  • "During the first three days of the ground offensive, more Americans were killed in some American cities than at the entire Kuwaiti front," Bush said at the time.

    "Think of it, one of our brave National Guardsmen may have actually been safer in the midst of the largest armored offensive in history than he would have been on the streets of his home-town."

That was in 1991, when the U.S. murder rate, driven by turf wars between crack dealers, reached an all-time peak of 24,700, according to FBI statistics. It declined steadily in the 1990s and stood at just under 17,000 last year. Guns accounted for two thirds of the killings.

I am also coming to agree that access to high-powered guns is a big problem. We are not talking hunting rifles here. We, the American people and especially the NRA really need to reexamine our stance on high-powered guns. Is the risk to our children and communities really worth NOT putting some limits on the type of guns are allowed on our streets?

Is the right to bear arms really unlimited, or is it like "free speech" where there are recognized limits?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

POLITICS - Bush, Making America "Safe" NOT

"Dear Leader Brings It On" by Robert Scheer, Truthdig

Well, Bush showed them, didn’t he?

Over the past six years, our “my way or the highway” president blew up a crucial nonproliferation agreement which was keeping North Korea’s plutonium stores under seal, ended bilateral talks with Pyongyang, squashed Japan’s and South Korea’s carefully constructed “sunshine policy,” which was slowly drawing the bizarre Hermit Kingdom back into the light, and then took every opportunity to personally insult the country’s reportedly unstable dictator because it played well politically at home.

If you shun them, they will shape up—this was the essence of President Bush’s non-diplomacy, as it was in regards to Iran, Lebanon and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The result? Cold War-style brinkmanship that has left the United States helpless.

The policy options left are dumb and dumber: Either passively accept Pyongyang’s defiant threats and ability to slip weapons-grade plutonium around the world, or launch an invasion that could spark a devastating attack on Seoul.

Thank you, Mr. President. I feel so much safer now that we have a wannabe cowboy in charge of the free world.

...there's more....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

POLITICS - Announcement: Bush Does NOT Make Mistakes

"Snow Says It’s ‘Silly’ And ‘Gratuitous’ To Ask If Bush Made Any Mistakes On North Korea" from Think Progress

The Washington Post reported that North Korea’s apparent nuclear test “may well be regarded as a failure of the Bush administration’s nuclear nonproliferation policy.”

Today, a reporter asked if President Bush believes he has made any mistakes with respect to North Korea. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow responded, “Oh, my goodness…it’s a silly question.” Later, he called the question “gratuitous.” Snow explained that “you need to give presidents the benefit of the doubt when national security is involved.”

This article has both a video & transcript of Tony Snow's comments.

POLITICS - Bush Administration = Warmongers

"US takes unilateral stance in new space policy" by Jeff Hecht, NewScientist.com

The US has issued a new national space policy that reflects a more aggressive and unilateral stance than the previous version issued a decade ago by former president Bill Clinton.

"There is definitely a difference in approach and mentality," says Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information in Washington DC, US.

The earlier statement said US operations should be "consistent with treaty obligations". But the new one, issued on Friday, flat-out rejects new agreements that would limit the US testing or use of military equipment in space.

The new version also uses stronger language to assert that the US can defend its spacecraft, echoing an air force push for "space superiority" made in 2004. The new policy states the US has the right "to protect its space capabilities, respond to interference, and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests".

And it seems to open the door to a new anti-satellite arms race. One idea already in development is a robotic spacecraft that could approach a satellite to check it out, then sabotage it if it seems a danger to US interests.

Another concern is plans by the US Missile Defense Agency to orbit a small fleet of rockets with heavy heads to act as kinetic-energy interceptors. Although nominally intended for missile defense, Hitchens told New Scientist they would also be effective anti-satellite weapons. So far, however, she sees no signs of "a bucketload of money going to war fighting in space".

Other puzzles remain. The document includes a long section on which government agencies will administer space nuclear power systems, which will be used if they "safely enable or significantly enhance space exploration or operational capabilities". The question is whether the systems are part of president George W Bush's plans for crewed missions to the Moon and Mars, or potential power plants for some new kind of military satellite.

Ever since the "Space Race" started enlighten people have recognized that allowing the arming of space, space weapons, do no one any good. A "Space Weapon Race" only endangers every nation on earth.

This action by the Bush Administration just shows how ideological and dumb they are, America has the right to do ANYTHING it wants without any restraints. There is no common good in the world community. This is an arrogant stance of an arrogant Administration.

POLITICS - Rats Abandon Sinking Ship

From a Newsgroup (misc.activism.progressive) post:

When loyal Republicans like George Will, William F. Buckley, Pat Buchanan, and now this guy (Doug McIntyre) have nothing good to say about Bush--- he has only fear-mongering in his toolkit to rally support for truly the worst President in our history.

This comes from Doug McIntyre. For those who are unfamiliar with McIntyre, he's a Republican radio talk show host on KABC, Los Angeles. McIntyre read this on his ABC radio program recently.

"I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. I believe George W. Bush is unarguably the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. A case can be made he's the worst President, period. I reached the conclusion he's either grossly incompetent, or a hand puppet for a gaggle of detached theorists with their own private view of how the world works. Or both."

"After September 11th, I believed President Bush when he said we would go after the terrorists and the nations that harbored them. I supported the President when he sent our troops into Afghanistan. I supported the war in Iraq because I believed Colin Powell at the UN, and trusted Tony Blair."

"The President said Iraq was an urgent threat, and after 9-11, the risk seemed too real. But in the months and years since shock and awe I have been shocked repeatedly by a consistent litany of excuses, alibis, double-talk, inaccuracies, bogus predictions, and flat out lies. I have watched as the President and his administration changed the goals, redefined the reasons for going into Iraq, and fumbled the good will of the world and the focus necessary to catch the real killers of September 11th. The President says the commanders on the ground will make the battlefield decisions, and the war in Iraq won't be run from Washington. Yet, politics has consistently determined what the troops can and can't do and any commander who does not go along with the administration is sacked, and in some cases, maligned."

"I was wrong about everything associated with Iraq. We're not in the "waning days of the insurgency." We're about to slink home with our tail between our legs, leaving civil war in Iraq and a nuclear-armed Iran in our wake. And Bin Laden is still making tapes. It's unspeakable. The liberal media didn't create this reality, bad policy did. James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Warren Harding were all failed Presidents, but the damage this President has done is historic. His mistakes have global implications, while the other failed Presidents mostly authored domestic embarrassments."

"And speaking of domestic embarrassments, let's look at President Bush's domestic record. He cut taxes and I like tax cuts. But tax cuts combined with reckless spending and borrowing is criminal mismanagement of the public's money. We're drunk at the mall with our great grandchildren credit cards. We traded tax and spend Liberals for borrow and spend Conservatives. Bush created a giant new entitlement, the prescription drug plan. He lied to his own party to get it passed. It was written by and for the pharmaceutical industry."

"So much for smaller government. In fact, virtually every tentacle of government has grown exponentially under Bush. Unless, of course, it was an agency to look after the public interest, the environment or worker's rights. His open border policy is a disaster for the wages of working people-- he debases the work ethic, "jobs Americans won't do!" He doesn't believe in the sovereign borders of the count he's sworn to protect. And his devotion to cheap labor for his corporate benefactors, along with his worship of multinational trade deals, makes an utter mockery of homeland security and calls into question his commitment to sovereignty itself."

I guess Bush and the follow-the-leader-GOP never learned the hypocrisy doesn't last long.

Friday, October 06, 2006

IRAQ - Letter Translation Opens Window to al-Qa'ida

"Letter Exposes New Leader in Al-Qa`ida High Command, 25 September 2006"

On 7 June 2006, American military forces executed an air strike on an al-Qa`ida safe-house near Baqouba, Iraq, killing Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, al-Qa`ida‘s commander in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi forces subsequently acquired numerous documents from that safe-house. On 18 September 2006, the Iraqi National Security Advisor, Muwaffaq al-Rabi`i, released one of those documents to Iraqi media. As part of an ongoing collaboration with the Department of Defense to declassify, collect, and disseminate documents that provide new insights into the internal functioning of salafi-jihadist organizations, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has made this letter available at http://ctc.usma.edu.

The captured letter sheds new light on the friction between al-Qa`ida’s senior leadership and al-Qa`ida’s commanders in Iraq over the appropriate use of violence. The identity of the letter’s author, “`Atiyah,” is unknown, but based on the contents of the letter he seems to be a highly placed al-Qa`ida leader who fought in Algeria in the early 1990s. `Atiyah's letter echoes many of the themes found in the October 2005 letter written to Zarqawi by al-Qa`ida’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri; indeed, it goes so far as to explicitly confirm the authenticity of that earlier letter. `Atiyah’s admonitions in this letter, like those of Zawahiri in his letter to Zarqawi, also dovetail with other publicly available texts by al-Qa`ida strategists.

This article contains a full translation of the letter which in itself is interesting reading, but difficult. For a letter that states "Dear brother, I will be brief and rely on God Almighty," it is anything but brief. It is full of so much religious reference that one has difficulty gleaning what is being said.

But for those who wish to get an idea of what al-Qa'ida is all about, I highly suggest reading the translation.

POLITICS - Go Right On Criticizing This Administration

Thanks to the Detroit Free Press

POLITICS - Excerpts For Thinking Americans

The following are excerpts from two articles I ran into on the UseNet. They should provoke thoughts for Americans that have not been brainwashed by either political party.

1) "The Tipping Point" by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

Congressman Henry Waxman, minority chair for the House Government Reform Committee, released a massive batch of emails from Abramoff to various Washington DC power players. In one, dated March 18, 2002, Abramoff wrote, "I was sitting yesterday with Karl Rove, Bush's top advisor, at the NCAA basketball game, discussing Israel when this email came in. I showed it to him. It seems that the President was very sad to have to come out negatively regarding Israel, but that they needed to mollify the Arabs for the upcoming war on Iraq."

"The upcoming war in Iraq," wrote Abramoff casually, one year and two days before the invasion was undertaken. It seems those "few staff-level meetings" availed Abramoff of some significant information. How this criminal came to know war in Iraq was coming before the rest of the world did is something that deserves a great deal of intense scrutiny.

"Intense scrutiny" like hell! It is just more evidence that Bush intended to invade Iraq in the first place and 9/11 was only a convenient excuse.

2) "Clinton shows Democrats how to fight back" by Bill Press, Progresso Weekly

Most of the time, Democrats are too nice. They want to be friends. If somebody slaps them on the cheek, they remember their Gospel -- and offer them the other cheek.

Well, I'm sorry, but this isn't religion, this is politics. And there's a big difference.

In politics, if somebody slaps you on the cheek, you don't turn the other cheek. You punch him in the nose. Then you punch him in the gut. Then you kick him in the groin. Then you crack a chair over his head. Then, just to make sure, you jump up and down on top of him with both feet.

In other words, when Republicans get mean and nasty and accuse you of being soft on terror, don't cave in. The only way to win is to fight back.

If Democrats follow that advice, they'll win every time. If not, they don't deserve to win.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

POLITICS - 6 Reasons the GOP Can't Win the War on Terror

What follows is the article in its entirety with minor formatting changes. Also there is an error in his title, he list 6 reasons.

"Five Reasons Republicans Can't Win The War on Terror" by RJ Eskow, Smirking Chimp

The reports are in and the debate is over: The Republican Party, that bastion of hard right ideology, has fumbled the war on terror. The question is no longer whether conservatives are failures in the national security arena. What's important to understand now is why they've done such a poor job. While many factors contribute to their dismal record, there are five key reasons conservatives are ill-equipped to protect our nation.

First, a quick review of the facts: It's now clear that they ignored the flashing red lights warning of an imminent terrorist attack in 2001. We'll never know if 9/11 could have been prevented, but the evidence demonstrates that they failed to do their jobs properly to avoid it.

What's happened since then? Worldwide terrorist incidents have skyrocketed in the last three years alone. They've grown exponentially - from 165 in 2003, to 655 in 2004, then exploding to 11,111 in 2005. Holy Katrina! That's a lot of incompetence.

The President has declared a "Global War on Terror." The result is global collapse of antiterrorism.

The Iraq war has spawned a lot of anti-US hatred and created quite a few new terrorist recruits, as many predicted. Even so, Iraqi incidents only accounted for approximately 30% of the 2005 figure. Even if you exclude war-related acts, there were 44 times as many terrorist attacks last year as there were in 2001. Those figures reflect four years of GOP mismanagement.

But we haven't been hit since 9/11, comes the conservative response. That's like driving with your eyes shut and bragging that you haven't hit anything yet. Let's look at the facts: Our ports are no safer. We're only inspecting a tiny fraction of cargo containers coming into the US. And for all the theatrics at airport screening locations, the government has yet to respond to two reports that indicated their TSA efforts have made us no safer we were on September 10, 2001.

If this crowd stays in power, it's just a matter of time until the next attack.

That's the what. Now for the why. Here are the five reasons why the Republican record on national security is one of failure:

  1. They don't believe in government.

  2. National security is a government initiative. It requires an interlocking network of well-functioning agencies, led and staffed by the most competent people available. The Republican Party has been hijacked by extremists who, with Grover Norquist, want government small enough that "you can drown it in a bathtub" -- or the floodwaters of New Orleans.

    It's not an accident that I refer to last year's hurricane. Giving leadership of FEMA to a political crony was a typical Republican act, and organizations like FEMA have a critical role to play in protecting the American people. The GOP believes that government posts are favors to be given to their political pals, and contracts are candy to be given to their friends. (More about that later.)

    Most Americans understand that government has a role to play. This crowd doesn't. Their hostility toward the institution of government itself weakens their ability to use that institution to protect the American people.

  3. They help their contractors get rich off the American taxpayer, at the expense of the public.

  4. The Republicans have run the country as their private piggy bank, with favors to be dispensed to their rich friends. The Iraq war's been one such get-rich-quick scheme, and some of our soldiers have lost their lives so that Republican cronies can get rich. (See this report on faulty bullets, then read about how the guy who sold defective body armor for our troops spent $10 mil on a party for his daughter.) America's coffers have been plundered by GOP-aided profiteers.

    Don't believe me? Then ask yourself why Sen. Patrick Leahy's anti-profiteering bill has been defeated by the Republican leadership over and over, ever since the Iraq war started.

    Still don't believe me? Then read this story on how the hiring of TSA screeners turned into yet another get-rich-quick orgy for contractors, complete with anecdotes charging the government $1,500 to rent 14 extension cords for three weeks. (They also paid $5.4 million to hire an executive for nine months to do "event logistics" - I wonder which party gets his contributions.)

  5. They wear ideological blinders.

  6. People who use buzzwords usually aren't thinking. People who think in terms of old-fashioned ideological terms, like equating the anti-terrorist struggle to past world wars, are truly the ones with a "pre-9/11 mindset." The Republican Party is so infatuated with pie-in-the-sky think tank mentalities that it can't see reality. That's why Cheney thought we would be "welcomed as liberators" in Iraq, or why they thought we wouldn't need a post-war military presence. They've read too many papers by flaky right-wing professors.

    They need to take off the rose-colored glasses and take a cold, hard look at the real world - but they won't.

  7. Their "moderates" aren't moderate.

  8. The extremist ideology of the radical right has hijacked their party from top to bottom. The party's so-called "moderates," like John McCain, are themselves deeply in thrall to extremism. (The recent cave-in on basic American principles regarding torture and habeus corpus demonstrates that.)

    Even those Republicans who haven't yet drunk the Kool-Aid can't win or keep elective office without bending their knee to the cultists. That means that, when it comes to stepping outside their comfort zone and reaffirming our values, they won't do it. And, in the end, our Americanism - honored and respected worldwide - is our best weapon in the anti-terror fight. Sacrifice that, as they have done, and you've made us immeasurably weaker.

  9. They're "flip-floppers" - about everything except their own power and influence.

  10. Tragically, you can't take a Republican at his word when it comes to the fight against terror. Take Bill Frist. He was "for fighting the Taliban's supporters before he was against it." The GOP was against the Department of Homeland Security before it was for it. They wanted to kill Bin Laden before they outsourced the job at Tora Bora, then they didn't care whether they got him or not. And on and on and on ...

    Why the flippety-flops? Because today's GOP has shown that it will say or do anything it needs to do to stay in power. Guys like that will never lead a consistent and effective fight against terrorism. Their half-assed management of the Afghan war (a country from which we were attacked), proves it. Sadly, so do the results.

  11. They've politicized the war on terror.

  12. This is the crime for which today's Republican leadership will forever stand in disgrace. America's national security has never been a matter for partisan political gain. The nationwide unity after 9/11 was unprecedented. But the Republicans saw the opportunity to rescue an already-failing Presidency, and they jumped on it.

    The result was spectacular success in political terms, but profound failure in national security terms. Their relentless effort to exploit every circumstance for their own gain led to blunder after blunder. The most recent example is the British investigation into possible hijacking plans from that nation. Published reports indicate that British intelligence was disturbed by US interference in the case, and by our government's insistence that they move to make arrests before the investigation was complete.

    The infamous manipulation of "orange alerts" during the 2004 campaign is another such example. By using our national security apparatus as a political dirty trick, they undermined national confidence and unity at a critical time.

That's more than just a disgrace. In my book, it's treason. Loyal Americans of both parties need to throw this Congressional regime out of power in November. Its executive cabal - a syndicate that's deeper and more permanent than whoever happens to occupy the Oval Office - needs to get the boot in 2008.

Then, and only then, can we begin to rebuild our national security apparatus - and the principled and idealistic America it's designed to defend.