Wednesday, January 31, 2007

IRAQ - The Bush Administration's Idea of "Supporting" Our Troops

"U.S. Troops Short On Crucial Supplies" KUTV, opens with:

(AP) WASHINGTON Hundreds of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced shortages of key protective equipment including armored vehicles, roadside-bomb countermeasures and communications gear, a Pentagon survey released Tuesday shows.

See the rest at link.

IRAQ: Americans Against Escalation 1/11 Press Conference

Courtesy of

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

POLITICS - Nazi "Heydrich" in Our Justice Department

On Mon, 29 Jan 2007 14:31:40 -0800, sdnet.politics, Brian David Smith, San Diego, California

Alberto Gonzales infiltrating prosecutors

During World War 2, Reinhard Heydrich helped Hitler 'dig up dirt' on many political opponents. Later, as the Nazis took over Germany, Heydrich teamed up with Heinrich Himmler. Together not only did they built up the hideous Nazi SS, but they focused on infiltrating civil police forces in Germany.

The same thing is happening today. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is using a loophole in the Patriot Act to transform the ranks of the nation's top federal prosecutors. In Heydrich-like fashion, Gonzales is systematically firing the federal prosecutors and then replacing them with loyalists from the Bush administration's inner circle.

Essentially that is what happened to Carol Lam in San Diego. Obviously putting Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham in jail did not ingratiate Lam with Bush's modern-day version of Himmler and Heydrich. Perhaps Lam is lucky. She could be wearing concrete shoes at the bottom of San Diego Bay.

Any day now, I expect to see a huge gleaming brass swastika atop the Washington monument just like the one that once stood atop the Nuremberg parade grounds in Hitler's rallying stadium.

It is sad that history repeats itself.

And the GOP Regressives (far Right) salute.

CLIMATE - An Aussie View

"Fears for Great Barrier Reef" Queensland Newspapers, Australia

THE Great Barrier Reef will become functionally extinct in less than 20 years if global warming continues at its current pace, a draft international report warns.

A confidential draft of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), obtained by The Age, says that global warming will cause billions of dollars of damage to coastal areas, key ecosystems and the farming sector without massive greenhouse gas emission cuts.

In a chapter on Australia, the draft IPCC climate impacts report warns that coral bleaching in the Barrier Reef is likely to occur annually by 2030 because of warmer, more acidic seas.

The reef is one of several iconic areas of Australia identified in the report as key hot spots for climate vulnerability. Others include the Kakadu National Park's wetlands, the Murray-Darling Basin and alpine zones in southern Australia.

Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry said the report was a big wake-up call.

"They are saying our beloved Barrier Reef is at grave risk," Mr Henry said on Sky News.

"We've got a major economic and environmental problem unless we heed the call of these scientists.

"I think the science is getting clearer about how just how serious and urgent it is."

RELIGION - Talking to God

"Talking to God" by Milt Shook

OK, Milt's article is a tong-in-cheek view of God and religion. Here is an excerpt....

I spoke to the Lord a few years back, when the threshold was only $100 million and the dollar limit was $10, and He told me that He probably wouldn't let me win the lottery at all, but he most certainly wouldn't let me win when I wasted my money like that. He told me the only money I would likely receive in my lifetime would be money I earned by working my ass off. (And yes, he used the word "ass." That surprised me, too, but in all of my discussions with him, God is actually quite earthy in his tone; once, I actually had to ask him to stop using certain language around my young nephew. He just laughed, however, and advised me that they were only words, and that those who claim He had a problem with them are talking out of their asses, because He really doesn't care.) He told me to take special note of the types of people who win those jackpots, and asked me if I really wanted to be like them. When I said yes and called Him a selfish bastard, He smited me -- it was just a minor smite, mind you, on my butt, nothing serious -- so I apologized and immediately adjusted my lottery spending habits.

....there's much more and suggested reading.

One comment for Milt, he may want to invest in a bunker somewhere and move in. If enough Christian Zealots read his article, he may need it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

POLITICS - "Living" Wage

This is a personal comment on just what a "Living Wage" is. I am tired of GOP Conservatives claiming not to know what this means. I am sure my readers know just what a Living Wage would be for them.

Living Wage: What you need to earn to purchase minimum goods and services in the area WHERE YOU LIVE.

This means that the implementation of Living Wage standards must meet specific requirements to be feasible:
  • You CANNOT have a one-shoe-fits-all approach (aka the Federal Government cannot mandated fixed amounts nation wide)

  • You must look at what the Cost of Living actually is in given locals, and we do have government statistics for this, both State & Federal.

  • Let the States determine the just how to decide what the Cost of Living is for areas in their state and use this figure to be the base for a Living Wage.

All the above requirements are doable. The Federal governments job would be to gather the information (Living Wage amounts and areas they apply to) from our states and apply this to the Federal Tax Code as the basic deductible.

That is, you deduct the Living Wage amount FOR WHERE YOU LIVE from your taxes at the top, then any other deductions by tax code that apply, and you pay tax only on what remains, if any.

It could be that simple folks.

As for other standards, in conjunction with state input when such a law is written, the Living Wage Law could set standards for:
  • The applicable area; Congressional Districts, the state's legislative districts, let the Census Bureau divide each state by population count, etc.

  • Living Wage = COST_OF_LIVING + a small percentage, like using the current inflation rate.

In addition, this could be used to address the issue of the poor. Poor being, in this case, all people who DO NOT earn a Living Wage. You have a welfare program that pays them the difference between the Living Wage in their area and what they earn every year. Welfare$ = Earnings - Living_Wage

Side issue: It is my belief that one of the basic problems with tax codes (state & federal) is DEDUCTIONS MADE FROM THE TAX YOU OWE. My opinion is all deductions should be made only from your gross income. Think about it, this would be a much fairer way to tax. If you do this EVERYONE WHO EARNS TAXABLE INCOME WOULD PAY SOME TAX.

In the present system, the rich can get away from paying little or no tax because of deductions that are made from the amount of tax they owe.

Of course the GOP Conservative Fascists will howl about the nanny-state and the Free Market (aka make the super-rich more rich and to hell with everyone else) but, frankly they can..... well I'll be nicer than usual and let you fill-in the explicative.

The Mage

POLITICS - Another Example of What Iraq "Costs"

"9-year-old stays as family deploys to Iraq" by Greg Barnes, Fayetteville Observer
(archived article, no longer freely available link)

They have all left 9-year-old Breanna Bodden now — mother, father, stepfather — to fight in Iraq.

Breanna’s stepfather, Fort Bragg soldier Ted Hagler, left in July. Her mother, Army Reservist Rebecca Hagler, headed overseas on Oct. 1. Her father, Marine Capt. Henry Bodden, shipped out Wednesday. Breanna has been left with a family friend, Deborah Clark.

There's more in the article, but the bottom line is, in the non-caring Bush-world our troops not only have to risk their lives for HIS WAR, but leave their children with friends.

This is not right (like in "correct," not GOP-right), even if it is a good and trusted friend.


A local view:

On Thu, 25 Jan 2007 06:57:50 -0800, in "sdnet.politics" Brian David Smith, San Diego, California, wrote:

Cheney lied on CNN

Yesterday, in an interview on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Dick Cheney said, "After 9/11, we learned that we have a vested interest in what happens on the ground in the Middle East." Cheney said to remember what happened in Afghanistan. Cheney said, "The United States was actively involved in Afghanistan in the '80s, supporting the effort against the Soviets. The Mujahedeen prevailed. Everybody walked away. And, in Afghanistan, within relatively short order, the Taliban came to power. They created a safe haven for al Qaeda. Training camps were established, where some 20,000 terrorists trained in the late '90s. And, out of that, out of Afghanistan, because we walked away and ignored it, we had the attack on the USS Cole, the attack on the embassies in East Africa, and 9/11, where the people trained and planned in Afghanistan for that attack, and killed 3,000 Americans. That is what happens when we walk away from a situation like that in the Middle East."

Cheney's key phase is, "After 9/11, we learned that we have a vested interest in what happens on the ground in the Middle East." Specifically Cheney is saying the U.S. has reason to monitor the Middle East and circumvent terrorists from developing safe havens, i.e. training and deployment camps.

Fair enough! That seems rational. Why give terrorists a foothold to establish themselves? Why take the chance?

Here is the problem. On January 17 2007, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have requested an increase in U.S. force levels to handle an expected upsurge in Taliban violence. Essentially, an estimated 15,000 Taliban fighters are preparing for battle. The Taliban is going to use guerrilla-like techniques that they adopted last year.


After 9-eleven, didn't the U.S. go into Afghanistan and clean out the Taliban? YES!

Didn't the U.S. stand up Hamid Karzai as the head of the transitional government of Afghanistan? YES!

Further, didn't Hamid Karzai become the first democratically elected head of state in Afghanistan in late 2004? YES!

So why is the Taliban back with 15,000 troops requiring the U.S. to amp up troop strength in Afghanistan?

Apparently, according to Dick Cheney's position, the U.S. must have stopped supervising Afghanistan in the last couple of years because the Taliban is back with 15,000 troops scaring the hell out of the American commander in Afghanistan.

What this truly says is the U.S. must keep constant, ongoing surveillance over the Middle East to prevent terrorists from coming back. Whether it is this year, next year, ten years from now or even further down the line, the U.S. must continually police the Middle East. Otherwise what Cheney claims happened in Afghanistan will reoccur. That is, terror groups will continue to re-establish safe havens and launch attacks.

As such, Cheney is saying the U.S. must continue to fight in the Middle East forever and forever. It is never going to end. The Iraq war will never end because there is a chance the terrorists will be back. The fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan will never end. On and on and on.

Bush and Cheney claim their new "surge" plan in Iraq will leave U.S. troops behind in Baghdad to prevent the terrorist from sneaking back in. Well, for how long? Bush and Cheney established the Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan and apparently, the Taliban is back. So who is to say the Maliki government in Iraq will do any better?

It is all hogwash on the part of Bush and Cheney! Just standing up governments in the Middle East is not enough. Otherwise, the Taliban wouldn't be back in Afghanistan. Furthermore, neither would warring elements continually repopulate the Anbar province, Fallujah and Baghdad as they have repeatedly over the last four years.

Essentially, "getting the job done" in the Middle East will require American occupation forever and ever because the terrorists will be back. When Cheney says, "But the fact of the matter is, we need to get the job done," Cheney is disingenuous.

There is no getting the job done!

It will be a continuing occupation!

Did the American public sign on to sacrifice their sons and daughters in an ongoing occupation of the Middle East? NO!

Did Americans sign on to fund a continued war-level American presence in the Middle East? NO!

Essentially, Cheney, and therefore Bush, have lied once again. They do not intend to end U.S. aggression in the Middle East. It will be ongoing and will eventually include Iran and Syria.

So, when Cheney says, "The fact is, we can complete the task in Iraq. We're going to do it. We have General Petraeus taking over. It is a good strategy.It will work. But we have to have the stomach to finish the task," that is not Cheney's intention at all. He lies.

I totally agree with the red paragraphs above. No truer words have been spoken.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

POLITICS - Bush's State of the Delusion

"Bush's State of the Delusion and Jim Webb's True State of our Union" by A. Alexander, Progressive Daily Beacon

What is the true state of George W. Bush's grimly imposed American reality? Indeed, what is the State of the Delusion?

George W. Bush would have been well served if he had packed in his notes and left the chamber immediately following the words, "Madam Speaker." Sadly, however, he did not stop there. But then again, good judgment has never been this President's calling card.

And really, what more needs to be said about the annual ritual that has become George W. Bush's State of the Delusion? Indeed, what more could possibly be said that he hasn't all ready said, in one form or another, on at least 100 previous occasions? In other words, most of what the President had to say wasn't exactly new or newsworthy.

Since the President's last State of the Delusion speech, most of the changes aren't really related to anything he had to say. This past November the Democratic Party swept both Houses of Congress. Apparently though, just like before the election, Mister Bush has been in denial over this new political reality. He continues to behave as though Congress exists simply to rubberstamp whatever decisions he makes. To put it bluntly Mister Bush hasn't figured out yet, that he really isn't 'The Decider' ...........

Enough said. You can read the whole article yourself.

"The World Agrees: Stop Him" by Robert Scheer, Truthdig

Stop him before he kills again. That is the judgment of the American people, and indeed of the entire world, as to the performance of our president, and no State of the Union address can erase that dismal verdict.

President Bush has accomplished what Osama bin Laden only dreamed of by disgracing the model of American democracy in the eyes of the world. According to an exhaustive BBC poll, nearly three-quarters of those polled in 25 countries oppose the Bush policy on Iraq, and more than two-thirds believe the U.S. presence in the Middle East destabilizes the region.

In other words, the almost universal support the United States enjoyed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been completely squandered, as a majority of the world’s people now believe that our role in the entire world is negative.

"The State of the Union" New York Times Editorial

The White House spin ahead of George W. Bush’s seventh State of the Union address was that the president would make a bipartisan call to revive his domestic agenda with “bold and innovative concepts.” The problem with that was obvious last night — in six years, Mr. Bush has shown no interest in bipartisanship, and his domestic agenda was set years ago, with huge tax cuts for wealthy Americans and crippling debt for the country.

Only people with no brains or on hallucinogens like what Bush had to say, or believe him.

OPPS, I forgot, the $people$ who pay his party like what he had to say.

POLITICS - State of the Union 2007, Consumer's View

"A Consumer’s Guide to the 2007 State of the Union Address" Public Citizen ORG

The article opens with...

After seven years of State of the Union addresses from the Bush administration, the American public has learned that President Bush’s policy recommendations are often based on misinformation. As such, Public Citizen has prepared the following guide to the 2007 speech so consumers can get complete and accurate information about the issues.

...then has subject sections with What Bush Said vs What Public Citizen Says.

Readers, I suggest you view the full article and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

POLITICS - Heathcare According to Bush

The New York Times - Jan 22, 2007

Gold-Plated Indifference

By Paul Krugman

President Bush's Saturday radio address was devoted to health care, and officials have put out the word that the subject will be a major theme in tomorrow's State of the Union address. Mr. Bush's proposal won't go anywhere. But it's still worth looking at his remarks, because of what they say about him and his advisers.

On the radio, Mr. Bush suggested that we should "treat health insurance more like home ownership." He went on to say that "the current tax code encourages home ownership by allowing you to deduct the interest on your mortgage from your taxes. We can reform the tax code, so that it provides a similar incentive for you to buy health insurance."

Wow. Those are the words of someone with no sense of what it's like to be uninsured.

Going without health insurance isn't like deciding to rent an apartment instead of buying a house. It's a terrifying experience, which most people endure only if they have no alternative. The uninsured don't need an "incentive" to buy insurance; they need something that makes getting insurance possible.

Most people without health insurance have low incomes, and just can't afford the premiums. And making premiums tax-deductible is almost worthless to workers whose income puts them in a low tax bracket.

Of those uninsured who aren't low-income, many can't get coverage because of pre-existing conditions - everything from diabetes to a long-ago case of jock itch. Again, tax deductions won't solve their problem.

The only people the Bush plan might move out of the ranks of the uninsured are the people we're least concerned about - affluent, healthy Americans who choose voluntarily not to be insured. At most, the Bush plan might induce some of those people to buy insurance, while in the process - whaddya know - giving many other high-income individuals yet another tax break.
While proposing this high-end tax break, Mr. Bush is also proposing a tax increase - not on the wealthy, but on workers who, he thinks, have too much health insurance. The tax code, he said, "unwisely encourages workers to choose overly expensive, gold-plated plans. The result is that insurance premiums rise, and many Americans cannot afford the coverage they need."

Again, wow. No economic analysis I'm aware of says that when Peter chooses a good health plan, he raises Paul's premiums. And look at the condescension. Will all those who think they have "gold plated" health coverage please raise their hands?

According to press reports, the actual plan is to penalize workers with relatively generous insurance coverage. Just to be clear, we're not talking about the wealthy; we're talking about ordinary workers who have managed to negotiate better-than-average health plans.

What's driving all this is the theory, popular in conservative circles but utterly at odds with the evidence, that the big problem with U.S. health care is that people have too much insurance - that there would be large cost savings if people were forced to pay more of their medical expenses out of pocket.

The administration also believes, for some reason, that people should be pushed out of employment-based health insurance - admittedly a deeply flawed system - into the individual insurance market, which is a disaster on all fronts. Insurance companies try to avoid selling policies to people who are likely to use them, so a large fraction of premiums in the individual market goes not to paying medical bills but to bureaucracies dedicated to weeding out "high risk" applicants - and keeping them uninsured.

I'm somewhat skeptical about health care plans, like that proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, that propose covering gaps in the health insurance market with a series of patches, such as requiring that insurers offer policies to everyone at the same rate. But at least the authors of these plans are trying to help those most in need, and recognize that the market needs fixing.

Mr. Bush, on the other hand, is still peddling the fantasy that the free market, with a little help from tax cuts, solves all problems.

What's really striking about Mr. Bush's remarks, however, is the tone. The stuff about providing "incentives" to buy insurance, the sneering description of good coverage as "gold plated," is right-wing think-tank jargon. In the past Mr. Bush's speechwriters might have found less offensive language; now, they're not even trying to hide his fundamental indifference to the plight of less-fortunate Americans.

I hope the NY Times does not object to quoting the entire article, but I'm not a subscriber to their Select program so I CANNOT link directly.

POLITICS - Minimum Wage

"Minimum Wage Rises, Sky Does Not Fall" by Barbara Ehrenreich, AlterNet 1/23/2007

Washington (State), with the highest minimum wage in the country ($7.63 an hour), could hardly be expected to have affordable restaurants or a functioning economy of any kind. Notable conservative economists have almost unanimously predicted that an increased minimum wage would result in wild price increases and mass unemployment, and I had a suitcase full of clippings to prove it.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived, ham-less, in Seattle to find it fully functional, if not positively bustling. Restaurants were packed, and I could still get a grilled salmon sandwich for $7.95 at a cafeteria-style place overlooking the sound. My hotel was amply staffed with congenial people and - perhaps only because of the un-Seattle-like cold, no beggars approached me on the streets. Nor can you say the dire effects of a higher minimum wage just haven't had time to set in: Washington raised its minimum wage above the federal level of $5.15 an hour about a decade ago.

In fact, according to a January 9th article New York Times, Washington's economy is booming, generating 90,000 new jobs in the last year. Even business groups have stopped griping about the state's minimum wage. The article quotes a pizza store owner in the western part of the state: ''We're paying the highest wage we've ever had to pay, and our business is still up more than 11 percent over last year.''

Overall, 29 states have raised their minimum wages above $5.15 an hour, and -- lo! -- the sky has not fallen. Could we have some apologies, please, from the economists who predicted a retail apocalypse?

Not that a $7 or even $8 minimum wage is utopian. My book Nickel and Dimed is often wrongly described as an account of my attempts to live on the minimum wage. Far from it; I averaged $7 an hour, which, according to the federal government, is well above the poverty level for a family of one. But I couldn't get by on that, thanks to the high rents even in trailer parks and residential motels, and I never went near pricey housing markets like San Francisco or Seattle. In the Seattle area, a "living wage" (calculated to reflect local housing and other basic costs) is $11.89 an hour for a single person and $25.35 for a family of three - more than three times the current minimum wage.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

ON THE LITE SIDE - State of the Union Address 2007

Yap, "Bush" at His Best

IRAN - A War Horror Story

"U.S. plans envision broad attack on Iran: analyst" Reuters

U.S. contingency planning for military action against Iran's nuclear program goes beyond limited strikes and would effectively unleash a war against the country, a former U.S. intelligence analyst said on Friday (1/19/2007).

"I've seen some of the planning ... You're not talking about a surgical strike," said Wayne White, who was a top Middle East analyst for the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005.

"You're talking about a war against Iran" that likely would destabilize the Middle East for years, White told the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank.

"We're not talking about just surgical strikes against an array of targets inside Iran. We're talking about clearing a path to the targets" by taking out much of the Iranian Air Force, Kilo submarines, anti-ship missiles that could target commerce or U.S. warships in the Gulf, and maybe even Iran's ballistic missile capability, White said.

"I'm much more worried about the consequences of a U.S. or Israeli attack against Iran's nuclear infrastructure," which would prompt vigorous Iranian retaliation, he said, than civil war in Iraq, which could be confined to that country.

1st Witch: When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

2nd Witch: When the hurly-burly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 1

POLITICS - A Look Back - The Cook in the Whitehouse

"The Psychology Behind the Worst Possible President" by Jane Smiley, Huffington Post

The article ends with.....

The small pathologies of Bush the candidate have, thanks to the purposes of the neocons and the religious right, been enhanced and upgraded. We have a bona fide madman now, who thinks of himself in a grandiose way as single-handedly turning the tide of history. Some of his Frankensteins have bailed, some haven't dared to, and others still seem to believe. His actions and his orders, especially about Iran, seem to be telling us that he will stop at nothing to prove his dominance. The elder Bush(es), Scrowcroft, Baker, and their friends, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gerson, and the neocons have made the monster and in the process endangered the country, the Constitution, and the world, not to mention the sanity of wretches like Jose Padilla (for an analysis of the real reason Gitmo continues to exist, see Dahlia Lithwick's article in Slate, here.

Read more at link.

IRAQ - Again, A View From Baghdad

"End of Another Year..." from Baghdad Burning, Girl Blog from Iraq

I've refereed to this blog before to give Americans a view from "the other side." The following are excerpts from the full article.

  1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.

  2. Above-mentioned branch cannot be run from your country.

  3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.

  4. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.

  5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.

  6. Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.

  7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.

  8. Politicians who supported the war spend TV time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.

  9. People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.

That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

Al Qaeda? That's laughable. Bush has effectively created more terrorists in Iraq these last 4 years than Osama could have created in 10 different terrorist camps in the distant hills of Afghanistan. Our children now play games of 'sniper' and 'jihadi', pretending that one hit an American soldier between the eyes and this one overturned a Humvee.

This last year especially has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost so much. So much. There's no way to describe the loss we've experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 40 corpses are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculous- like whether your name is 'too Sunni' or 'too Shia'. Fear of the larger things- like the Americans in the tank, the police patrolling your area in black bandannas and green banners, and the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.

What has me most puzzled right now is: why add fuel to the fire? Sunnis and moderate Shia are being chased out of the larger cities in the south and the capital. Baghdad is being torn apart with Shia leaving Sunni areas and Sunnis leaving Shia areas- some under threat and some in fear of attacks. People are being openly shot at check points or in drive by killings… Many colleges have stopped classes. Thousands of Iraqis no longer send their children to school- it's just not safe.

...and she ends with....

Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so.

The only thing I can say as of this moment, the American people seem to be waking up to the same revelations as this "Girl from Baghdad."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

POLITICS - Lets Not Mince Words, Republicans

"You Have the Right to Remain Silent" by Nancy Greggs, Democratic Underground

She doesn't mince words in the article, and here are some excerpts:

Yes, elected Republicans, you have the right to remain silent. But at this juncture, I believe it is beyond a right – it is an obligation.

Within minutes of the Democrats assuming their role as the majority, the inevitable criticism of their every action, every word, every plan or idea began, delivered in the whining tone you are now famous for, and continues unabated.

Not only is this detrimental to the spirit of bipartisanship you became so enamored of in the wee hours of November 8th, it is childish, hypocritical and, more often than not, downright silly – but alas, completely expected. Such are the times we live in; such are the morals of your party.

You asked no questions; you pursued no investigation into the facts underlying the conduct of the War in Iraq, or its inevitable consequences. You quietly accepted spying on American citizens, illegal wiretaps, illegal warrantless searches, rendition, secret prisons – and eventually sanctioned the use of torture.

In fact, the only time you opened your mouths was to stand and vote “yea” on every bill that stripped the citizenry of its fundamental rights, turned our country into what has become a democracy in name only, and to support every scatterbrained idea put forward by the oh-so-obviously incompetent idiot you elevated to the presidency.

...the truth of the matter is simply this: You lost your right to criticize a long time ago, and it’s about time you woke up to that fact.

As the Democrats adopted the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission, you said, “Where will the money come from?” Don’t you think that’s pretty rich coming from people who have sanctioned the expenditure of billions of dollars in Iraq, without even a modicum of fiscal oversight, and without a single positive thing to show for it?

Don’t you think that’s an almost humorous reaction from the same people who gave tax-cuts to billionaires, and corporations making record profits? Don’t you think that is an amusing retort from a party that exercised no oversight when it came to no-bid contracts to Halliburton and other administration-connected war-profiteers?

Let me break this to you gently: Nobody’s laughing, least of all the hard-working middle-class who, along with their children and their grandchildren, will be paying off the money you handed over to Big Oil and Big Pharma without so much as blinking an eye.

To be perfectly blunt, the only explanation for your behavior while in office is the fact that the vast majority of you are blatantly stupid. Too stupid to know that voters would find a raise in the minimum wage more to their liking than the Bankruptcy Bill. Too stupid to comprehend that the outsourcing of jobs would not find its way into the hearts-and-minds of out-of-work Americans. Too stupid to realize that when you questioned the patriotism of those who oppose your policies, you just might be insulting the voters on whom your job depends. And way too stupid to have the foresight to know that the monster you have created, George W. Bush, would hang around your necks like an anchor as you struggled to keep afloat, totally uninterested in the political survival of yourselves or your party as he arrogantly played the role of omnipotent emperor – a title that you, yourselves, conferred.

In view of all of the above, I would think it obvious that it is time for all Republicans to remain silent – except, of course, when it comes to praying, something you all allegedly do every day. When asking forgiveness of the Almighty for what you have done to your fellow citizens, your country, and the world at large, you might want to pray fervently and frequently – and by all means, do it loudly, because between you and me, I don’t think God is in a listening mood when it comes to people who wrapped themselves in Christianity as they sanctioned torture and the deaths of innocent women and children, while at the same time ignoring the plight of the homeless, the hungry, the sick and the dying. put it in terms even the dumbest Republican can understand, it’s time to shut the fuck up. And if you take umbrage at that expression, remember that you found that four-letter expletive perfectly acceptable when your vice president used it on the Senate floor.

Yes, shut the fuck up. It is an expression that is crude and distasteful, and denotes a total lack of respect for those who it is aimed at – and I cannot think of a more appropriate time to use it, nor a more deserving group of people to say it to.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nancy Greggs

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

POLITICS - Iraq vs. Vietnam

"Transcript: Bush Interview, President Spoke to 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley At Camp David" CBS News

You can read the complete interview at the above link, but here is my comparison to Vietnam.


PELLEY: You think the whole region could be in play? Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait?

BUSH: Absolutely. No question in my mind. And I know this is hard for some Americans to understand. The operative phrase that I thought made a lot of sense about this war is: if we fail in Iraq, the enemy will follow us here. And the point I make is that what happens in the Middle East matters to the homeland. And that's different than in some past engagements. Secondly, chaos in the Middle East will empower extremists who hate America. And failure in Iraq, defeat of America, in quotes, will then embolden these extremists. They'll be able to recruit more. They'll be able to find more suiciders. They'll have resources at their availability, like energy if they were able to topple modern governments. In other words, these people have a plan. They have a vision of the world. And they intend to use murder to enact their vision. And I fully understand that. You know, some of my buddies in Texas say, “You know, let them fight it out. What business is it of ours? You got rid of Saddam. Just let them slug it out.” And that's a temptation that I know a lot of people feel. But if we do not succeed in Iraq, we will leave behind a Middle East which will endanger America in the future.

PELLEY: Instability in Iraq threatens the entire region?

BUSH: If the government falls apart and there is sectarian enclaves and violence, it'll invite Iran into the Shia neighborhoods, Sunni extremists into the Sunni neighborhoods, Kurdish separatist movements. All of which would threaten moderate people, moderate governments, and all of which will end up creating conditions that could lead to attacks here in America.

This is the equivalent of "the domino theory" used to justify continuance of the Vietnam war.


PELLEY: Could have been a mistake?

BUSH: Yeah. [General] John Abizaid, one of the planners, said in front of Congress, you know, he thought we might have needed more troops. My focus is on how to succeed. And the reason I brought up the mistakes is, one, that's the job of the commander-in-chief, and, two, I don't want people blaming our military. We got a bunch of good military people out there doing what we've asked them to do. And the temptation is gonna find scapegoats. Well, if the people want a scapegoat, they got one right here in me 'cause it's my decisions.

Military not responsible, not to be held responsible for mistakes in judgment?!


PELLEY: Do you believe as commander-in-chief you have the authority to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do?

BUSH: In this situation, I do, yeah. Now, I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it. But I made my decision, and we're going forward.

Shades of Nixon Whitehouse during the Vietnam war.

The President does not have to listen to anyone, including "the people." The Presidential authority to protect America overrides all other sections/clauses of the Constitution. Hail Cesar!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

POLITICS - November 2006 Elections, Comment

"Despite large Dem margin, MSNBC's Johnson wrote that 'Dems just squeaked through' midterm election" from Media Matters for America.

In a January 1 article titled "That was 2006: The Year of the Sneer," MSNBC reporter Alex Johnson wrote that Democrats "just squeaked through" in the November 7, 2006, midterm elections. That section of the article was labeled "From the jaws of defeat." In fact, as the result of the midterm elections, Democrats have a larger majority in the House of Representatives 233-202 -- than Republicans ever had after gaining a majority in the House in 1994. Republicans last held a majority of more than 30 seats in the House during the 80th Congress, which sat from 1947-1949 and opened with a 246-188 Republican majority.

Moreover, as Media Matters for America noted, Democrats not only gained control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, they did so without losing a single seat in either chamber of Congress.* The last election in which a major political party retained all of its House seats came in 1938, when Republicans took 81 seats without losing a single one of their own. That year, Republicans -- like the Democrats in 2006 -- held all of their seats in the Senate as well.

Bold emphasis, mine

POLITICS - Comment About ‘Sacrifice’

I highly suggest that my readers view the video on the following WEB page.

"Olbermann: Special comment about ‘sacrifice’" by Keith Olbermann, "Countdown" MSNBC

Here are some excerpts...

If in your presence an individual tried to sacrifice an American serviceman or woman, would you intervene?

Would you at least protest?

What if he had already sacrificed 3,003 of them — and was then to announce his intention to sacrifice hundreds, maybe thousands, more?

This is where we stand tonight with the BBC report of President Bush’s “new Iraq strategy,” and his impending speech to the nation, which, according to a quoted senior American official, will be about troop increases and “sacrifice.”

The additional men and women you have sentenced to go there, sir, will serve only as targets.

They will not be there “short-term,” Mr. Bush; for many it will mean a year or more in death’s shadow.

This is not temporary, Mr. Bush.

For the Americans who will die because of you, it will be as permanent as it gets.

The Iraq Study Group told you it would be a mistake.

Perhaps dozens more have told you it would be a mistake.

And you threw their wisdom back, until you finally heard what you wanted to hear, like some child drawing straws and then saying “best two out of three … best three out of five … hundredth one counts.”

Your citizens, the people for whom you work, have told you they do not want this, and moreover, they do not want you to do this.

Yet once again, sir, you have ignored all of us.

This senseless, endless war.

But — it has not been senseless in two ways.

It has succeeded, Mr. Bush, in enabling you to deaden the collective mind of this country to the pointlessness of endless war, against the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

It has gotten many of us used to the idea — the virtual “white noise” — of conflict far away, of the deaths of young Americans, of vague “sacrifice” for some fluid cause, too complicated to be interpreted except in terms of the very important-sounding but ultimately meaningless phrase “the war on terror.”

And the war’s second accomplishment — your second accomplishment, sir — is to have taken money out of the pockets of every American, even out of the pockets of the dead soldiers on the battlefield, and their families, and to have given that money to the war profiteers.

We ... will have to live with what — of the fabric of our nation — you have already “sacrificed.”

The only object still admissible in this debate is the quickest and safest exit for our people there.

But you — and soon, Mr. Bush, it will be you and you alone — still insist otherwise.

And our sons and daughters and fathers and mothers will be sacrificed there tonight, sir, so that you can say you did not “lose in Iraq.”

Sacrifice, Mr. Bush?

No, sir, this is not “sacrifice.” This has now become “human sacrifice.”

Our meaningless sacrifice in Iraq must stop.