Friday, November 30, 2007

RELIGION - The Anti-Science Movement

Here is another example of religious zealots trying to impose their beliefs on the general public.

They DO HAVE the Constitutional protected right to believe as they do, but they do NOT have the right to impose their personal beliefs on others.

In this instance, it is UC Berkeley that set their admission standards. Including what is, or is not, science.

It is not Christian Schools International nor the Calvary Chapel Christian School that set UC Berkeley's standards.

"In the matter of Scripture v. scholarship" by By Cathy Cockrell, UC Berkeley News

The public debate over the relationship between religion and science in the classroom figures prominently in a lawsuit against the University of California filed recently on behalf of applicants for admission from Christian high schools. Filed in federal court in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, the complaint claims that UC violated the First Amendment rights (specifically those guaranteeing freedom of speech and religion) of some Christian schools and that it practiced "viewpoint discrimination" against their students by finding that some of the schools' courses do not meet UC requirements for college preparation.

The plaintiffs are the Association of Christian Schools International, the Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, Calif., and six Calvary Chapel students (or their parents on their behalf). The defendants named in the lawsuit are Robert Dynes, as UC president and member of the Board of Regents; Roman Stearns, a special assistant to Dynes; Susan Wilber, system-wide director of undergraduate admissions; Dennis Galligani, associate vice president for student academic services; Michael Brown, chair of the system-wide Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS); and the UC Office of the President (UCOP).

At issue in the lawsuit are academic standards for admission to the university, specifically UC's process for assessing high-school courses to verify that they meet the system's college-preparatory course requirements (known as the a-g requirements). For a new or substantially revised course to be approved for the a-g list, a high school must submit a request, listing the course curriculum, textbook information, and supplemental materials, to UC for approval. Staff at UCOP review such applications to make sure that courses meet UC academic standards established by BOARS.

According to Ravi Poorsina, admissions media coordinator for UC's University Affairs division, more than four out of five course applications are approved; UCOP staff "can serve in a consultative role with the school if it wants to resubmit" courses that are initially rejected. The course-review process applies to all California high schools, be they public, private, or charter institutions. The University accepts courses from hundreds of schools affiliated with many religious faiths, and UC-bound students, after fulfilling UC admissions requirements, are free to take whatever additional courses they wish, including any religion courses their schools offer.

In a fact sheet on the lawsuit, UCOP reports that it has approved 43 Calvary Chapel courses, covering all disciplines including science, as a-g college-preparatory courses. However, the school's applications for a handful of courses in science, literature, and American government were not approved, for a variety of reasons.

Some of the rejected courses used textbooks published by two leading Christian-textbook publishers, Bob Jones University Press (BJU Press) and A Beka Books, as primary instructional materials. Although UC has approved courses that use other textbooks from these publishers, its review team concluded that the books in question did not meet UC guidelines for primary textbooks. For example, a course titled "Christianity and Morality in American Literature" was rejected because it used an anthology as its only textbook — whereas UC requires that students read assigned works in their entirety; anthologies may not be the only required texts in literature courses.

UC also disallows science courses that rely solely on BJU and A Beka Books textbooks. At issue, the fact sheet says, "is not whether they have religious content, but whether they provide a comprehensive view of the relevant subject matter...." In the BJU Press and A Beka Books science textbooks, it goes on, "the publishers themselves acknowledge that the primary goal is to teach religious doctrine rather than the scholarship that is generally accepted in the relevant fields of study."

The introduction to Biology for Christian Schools (2nd Edition, BJU Press) clearly states, for instance, that students' conclusions must conform to the Bible and that scientific material and methods are secondary: "The people who have prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second. To the best of the author's knowledge, the conclusions drawn from observable facts that are presented in this book agree with the Scriptures. If a mistake has been made (which is probable since this book was prepared by humans) and at any point God's Word is not put first, the author apologizes."

IRAQ - And the War Marches On

"Iraq Lacks Plan on the Return of Refugees, Military Says" by Michael R. Gordon & Stephen Farrell, New York Times


As Iraqi refugees begin to stream back to Baghdad, American military officials say the Iraqi government has yet to develop a plan to absorb the influx and prevent it from setting off a new round of sectarian violence.

The Iraqi government lacks a mechanism to settle property disputes if former residents return to Baghdad only to find their homes occupied, the officials said. Nor has the Iraqi government come forward with a detailed plan to provide aid, shelter and other essential services to the thousands of Iraqis who might return. American commanders caution that if the return is not carefully managed, there is a risk of undermining the recent security gains.

“All these guys coming back are probably going to find somebody else living in their house,” said Col. William Rapp, a senior aide to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, speaking at a two-day military briefing on measuring military trends for a small group of American reporters in Baghdad.

“We have been asking, pleading with the government of Iraq, to come up with a policy so that it is not put upon our battalion commanders and the I.S.F. battalion commanders to figure it out on the ground,” he added, referring to the American and Iraqi security force commanders.

And our troops will spend another Christmas in-harm's-way, and dieing.

American's MAY be looking at a Korean-like commitment in Iraq. Do we really want this? Is America being in Iraq helping the "War on Terror" or helping Al-Qaeda?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

ON THE LITE SIDE - What's Funny Today

Fred 98

Joke of the Week

During a dinner party, the hosts’ two little children entered the dinning room totally nude and walked slowly around the table. The parents were so embarrassed that they pretended nothing was happening and kept he conversation going. The guests cooperated and also continued as if nothing extraordinary was happening.

After going all the way around the room, the children left, and there was a moment of silence at the table, during which one child was heard to say, “You see, it is vanishing cream!”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

POLITICS - More on the GOP Sinking Ship

"GOP Comeback Climb Is Increasingly Steep" by Chris Cillizza, Washington Post


Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott's resignation announcement on Monday was the latest in a wave of retirements to hit congressional Republicans, making an already difficult 2008 electoral landscape even more complicated for the minority party.

Party officials insist that the retirements -- 17 members of the House and six senators -- are simply the result of individual decisions and not indicative of a broader negative sentiment within the party. "I don't hear a drumbeat that 'We're not effective and I don't like it here anymore,' " said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.).

But with so many lawmakers -- including a large number from competitive states and districts -- heading for the exits, it's hard not to point to the GOP's new found minority status in Washington, the turnover in party leadership and the perilous political environment heading into 2008 to explain the exodus.

Hay! No kidding.

Happy days a' coming...

MILITARY - More on the "Cost" of the Iraq War

It is well documented in many ways how the Iraq War has put a strain on our military. Especially the Army and Marines. But there is also a long range danger that could "cost" American its security.

"Stepped-up Army recruiting enlists many with problems" by Bryan Bender, Boston Globe


Two weeks ago, the Pentagon announced the "good news" that the Army had met its recruiting goal for October, the first month in a five-year plan to add 65,000 new soldiers to the ranks by 2012.

But Pentagon statistics show the Army met that goal by accepting a higher percentage of enlistees with criminal records, drug or alcohol problems, or health conditions that would have ordinarily disqualified them from service.

In each fiscal year since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, statistics show, the Army has accepted a growing percentage of recruits who do not meet its own minimum fitness standards. The October statistics show that at least 1 of every 5 recruits required a waiver to join the service, leading military analysts to conclude that the Army is lowering standards more than it has in decades.

"The across-the-board lowering of the standards is buying problems in the future," said John D. Hutson, a retired rear admiral, dean of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, and a former judge advocate general of the Navy. "You are going to have more people getting in trouble, more people washing out" of the service before finishing their tour of duty.

The Army Recruiting Command, based in Fort Knox, Ky., insists that it carefully reviews each applicant. "We look at the recent history, such as employment, schooling, references, and signs of remorse and changed behavior since the incident occurred" on how recruits with criminal records are regarded, the command said in a statement to the Globe.

Bold emphasis mine

Do we really want to trust the future security of America to less than top-tear troops?

Do we really believe that the Army Recruiting Command can resist cutting investigations/evaluations short to make their recruiting goals? If the misbehavior of individual Recruiters (all military services) can be used as a guideline, the answer is no.

Especially worrisome, do we want to put high-power weapons in the hands of those with a criminal past? Even if they SEEM to have changed their stripes.

Then again, considering how well street gangs are armed, the point may be moot.

Monday, November 26, 2007

POLITICS - American Foreign Policy, Will We Ever Learn

"PAKISTAN: Media Under Siege" by Beena Sarwar, IPS (Inter Press Service)


From being the liberal President under whom Pakistan’s independent electronic media was born and flourished, Pervez Musharraf is now seen as the military general who imposed emergency rule on Nov 3 and suspended the Constitution and the independent judiciary.

Musharraf also blocked all independent television channels on the cable network. There were police raids on media organizations, printing presses and bureau offices and detentions of journalists.

For many, Musharraf’s ham-handed dealing with the media over the past year, and particularly the last couple of weeks, evokes bitter memories of the late Gen. Ziaul Haq’s martial law with its strict media censorship and ‘press advice’. Newspapers in protest published blank spaces where material had been censored. Dissenting journalists were arrested and some were even flogged.

Musharraf has been comparatively benign.But this is a very different era, where independent news and views and a continuous flow of information had become the norm. In Zia’s time, there were only a handful of independent newspapers, hardly a threat, given the abysmally low 30 per cent literacy rate. Musharraf has had to contend with the independent electronic media with a huge outreach. Until now, his claim that he gave the media more freedom than ever before was true to an extent, say journalists, but it is a freedom they have fought for, and it has come with a price.

"An explosion in the number of independent TV channels boosted pluralism and the quality of news," noted the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders in its annual report of 2007. Simultaneously, since Pakistan’s involvement as a frontline state against the ‘war on terror, "the security forces radicalized their methods of repression: a score of journalists were kidnapped and tortured by the military." Almost two dozen have been killed in different incidents since.

On Nov 3, PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) officials invaded the independent FM radio station Mast 103.6’s Karachi office with a heavy police contingent. They forced it to close transmission and confiscated its broadcast equipment, citing the station’s broadcast of its hourly news bulletins and current affairs programmes from BBC as the reason. In 2004 too, PEMRA had sealed the popular radio network’s Lahore and Karachi stations.

"Unless freedom of expression is ensured, there can be no democracy," said Shamimur Rehman, a senior reporter for daily ‘Dawn’ and president of the Karachi Union of Journalists sitting at the Karachi Press Club hunger-strike camp on Nov 11 under the watchful eye of armed police and rangers who have virtually laid siege to the club since Nov 3. Rehman was among the first journalists to be arrested on Nov 20.

What do I mean by my title? America has a long history of supporting foreign governments that are NOT REALLY DEMOCRATIC, and even are dictatorships. Prime example, our support of the Shah of Iran. Our support for the Shah lead directly to the Iran we have today.

Then, further back, there was Cuba. Will the American government ever learn that supporting any government for purely our own political reasons (anti-USSR in the past or "war on terror" today) that is not fully supported by the people of the country, in the long run, is a very bad idea.

For American Foreign Policy to work, our government needs people in charge who can take the long view and see the big picture. If nothing else, we need to act on our ideals of supporting truly democratic government and NOT to compromise this for expediency.

SCIENCE - NASA, Mars Doubles in Brightness

Article Link

During the past month, Mars has doubled in brightness and it is putting on a nice show for backyard stargazers.

"Mars is starting to look really nice through my 10-inch telescope," reports amateur astronomer Friedrich Deters of LaGrange, North Carolina, who took the picture above on Nov. 17th.

The blue polar swirl in these pictures is the "North Polar Hood"—a giant icy cloud that forms over the Martian north pole during winter. Why blue? That's the color of sunlight scattered from very tiny crystals of ice (smaller than the wavelength of light itself) floating in the cloud. The blue hood vs. Mars' red terrain appear in pleasing contrast through any mid-sized backyard telescope.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

IRAQ - The "Marlboro Marine"

The story behind the picture, "Two lives blurred together by a photo" by Luis Sinco, LA Times Staff Photographer

POLITICS - The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms

"SCOTUS to Hear Major Second Amendment Case" by Adam B, Daily Kos

The above article deals with the thorny issue of the Second Amendment and....

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The "pro-gun" side says it protects the people's right to "keep and bear Arms."

The opposing side says it only protects "A well regulated Militia" having Arms.

I read the wording and see it as the people's right, and I do not consider myself pro-gun. I cannot phantom how anyone could interpret the phrase any other way, like it or not.

But (there is always a but) you can read up on Militias in general and there is a small but valid reason for taking the stance that Militias are the ones who are protected.

Although Wikipedia is NOT the best authority on this issue, here are excerpts from their "Militia (United States)" page:

A major factor that made universal militia service during this period impossible was the drastic lack of guns. The vast majority of New England men in the late Eighteenth Century did not own a working firearm. A study of probate records from that time found only 7% of white males owned a working gun. The predominate source of meat for food was either by hunting by trapping, not guns, or the slaughter of domesticated pigs and cows. Additionally there was a serious problem mobilizing the militia prior to the Revolutionary war because so few men had any experience shooting a rifle, and so few blacksmith had any experience repairing guns. The predominate source of guns was Europe, a source cut off by the British embargo.

Just prior to the American Revolutionary War, October 26th, 1774, after observing the British military buildup, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress found their militia resources to be short, "...including the sick and absent, amounted to about seventeen thousand men...this was far short of the number wanted, that the council recommended an immediate application to the New England governments to make up the deficiency...", resolving to better organize the militia.

"...they recommended to the militia to form themselves into companies of minute-men, who should be equipped and prepared to march at the shortest notice. These minute-men were to consist of one quarter of the whole militia, to be enlisted under the direction of the field-officers, and divide into companies, consisting of at least fifty men each. The privates were to choose their captains and subalterns, and these officers were to form the companies into battalions, and chose the field-officers to command the same. Hence the minute-men became a body distinct from the rest of the militia, and, by being more devoted to military exercises, they acquired skill in the use of arms. More attention than formerly was likewise bestowed on the training and drilling of militia."

In 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation to provide for States militia. Militia were only allowed be activated upon ratification of 9 of the 13 States, severely restricting federal power. Article VI of the Articles of Confederation state:

"...every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of filed pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage."

Some militia units appeared without adequate arms, as evidenced in this letter from John Adams to his wife, dated August 26th, 1777:

"The militia are turning out with great alacrity both in Maryland and Pennsylvania. They are distressed for want of arms. Many have none, we shall rake and scrape enough to do Howe's business, by favor of the Heaven."

What we have historically is an argument that the state militias armed the troops, the could not arm themselves for the most part.

I agree the states had to train and drill their Militias, but does that really mean that the people did not have the right to "keep and bear Arms?" I think not, especially when the militias of the time consisted of all able-bodied men 16 to 60.

I expect the the Supreme Court will decide this case narrowly, applying to Washington DC only.

POLITICS - ... and On the Sinking Ship.....

"“Safer, But Not Yet Safe:” Symptoms Of A Larger Problem" by Windspike, Bring It On! 11/20/2007

Get a load of this statement from today’s press washing from the Sexy Dana Perino:
  • MS. PERINO: They’ve had conversation s over the past several months. Obviously none of us would have wanted Fran to leave service. I think all of us felt safe because of her work. Of course she always says we are safer, but not yet safe. She dedicated 110 percent of her time and effort to making sure that American citizens could live free from terror. She is an excellent manager. I will say she is also a very good colleague, very supportive, very helpful.

  • And so over the past several months as she’s struggled with this decision about whether to continue her over two decades of public service or to pursue some private sector options, she and the President would talk about it. He appreciates her service greatly. And in the statement he praises her for her wise counsel. And those of us who have had the pleasure of working with her can certainly repeat that it is wise and it is always helpful. She’s very thoughtful. And we’re going to miss her a lot, and we wish her luck.

Safer, but no yet safe? Sounds to me like the mantra of the whole of the W, Rove and Co - a means of manipulating the public… Dishing fear to make excuses for never accomplishing anything of value. “She’s very thoughtful?” WTF?

Really, the Press should have been asking, what the hell did Fran do that benefited the American people besides draw a public pay check… which isn’t really a benefit for any one but her, now is it? What exactly did she accomplish on the public dole?

Let’s see what our Cheerleader President has to say about Fran:

  • Over the past four and a half years, Fran Townsend has served my Administration with distinction as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Fran has always provided wise counsel on how to best protect the American people from the threat of terrorism. She has been a steady leader in the effort to prevent and disrupt attacks and to better respond to natural disasters.

  • Fran’s remarkable career as a public servant has spanned more than two decades. She has prosecuted violent crimes, narcotics offenses, mafia cases and white collar fraud as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. During her career, Fran worked to protect the American people as the Counsel to the Attorney General for Intelligence Policy, the Assistant Commandant for Intelligence at the U.S. Coast Guard and as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism at the National Security Council.

  • With her extensive experience, intellect and candor, Fran has ably guided the Homeland Security Council. She has played an integral role in the formation of the key strategies and policies my Administration has used to combat terror and protect Americans. She has traveled the world to meet with allies in the Global War on Terror and has partnered extensively with first responders at the state and local level to enhance our preparedness. We are safer today because of her leadership.

  • Laura and I wish Fran, her husband John, and their two sons, James and Patrick, all the best.

Right, and if we are still living in the fear that the W, Rove and Co elicit every time they need a vote, what good did she do? If you ask me, this is an oft repeated story of another rat jumping the sinking W, Rove and Co ship. And, you might ask…what did Bush accomplish today?

Well, of course, he’s busy flogging the Thanksgiving holiday and holding up the Armed Services folk as a political chess piece to try and salvage any support he might have had for the Iraqi Freedom Spreading experiment he loves so dearly (and has cost us so dearly):

  • Today, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces are taking risks for our freedom. They’re fighting on the front lines of the war on terror, the war against extremists and radicals who would do us more harm. Many of them will spend Thanksgiving far from the comforts of home. And so we thank them for their service and sacrifice. We keep their families and loved ones in our prayers. We pray for the families who lost a loved one in this fight against the extremists and radicals, and we vow that their sacrifice will not be in vain. (Applause.)

Right, who’s “we” white man? And, when do we get to give thanks that not another one of our valued soldiers die in vain for W’s “noble” mission that has led so many to the slaughter?

Comments about Fran's performance and service are typical bureaucratic pablum, intended for GOP Dimwits.

ON THE LITE SIDE - On Deer Hunting

Friday, November 16, 2007

POLITICS - More on Our Lier 'n Chief

"Bush talks nonsense" Courier-Journal Opinion

Let's get this straight: President Bush, speaking Tuesday in New Albany, Ind., denounced "free-spending" Democrats in Congress who are going to push the nation toward tax increases?

Would this be the same president who in six years, from 2001 through 2006, signed more than 50 spending bills passed by the "free-spending" Republican majority in Congress that exceeded his budget requests and did not veto a single one?

Would this be the same president who led the United States into a pointless war in Iraq -- without the war tax that American presidents traditionally have demanded in order to pay for military conflicts -- that is rapidly (at the rate of about $200 million a day) approaching a price tag of $500 billion and is likely to reach $1 trillion?

And, is this the same president whose ill-advised tax cuts, skewed heavily to the wealthiest Americans, helped turn a promising federal surplus into an alarmingly high deficit?

The political calculations are obvious. Mr. Bush, whose speech coincided with his veto of a $606 billion bill to fund federal education, health and labor programs, wants voters to focus on the GOP characterization of Democrats as a "tax and spend" party, rather than on Republicans' better established "spend and borrow" record.

But there is a deeper issue: the frustration of many in the White House and in his party over the consistently sour mood of the American public about what the Republican national leadership views as a thriving economy.

The answer, as bipartisan studies by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts suggest, is that even in an economy growing in technical terms, only about a third of Americans now are upwardly mobile -- positioned to improve their overall economic standing relative to their parents'. The others are stuck where they are or even falling backward.

A consequence is a growing divide between an administration that frets about capital gains and the estate tax and a public that feels the burdens of job dislocations, spiraling health and tuition costs and oil prices nearing $100 a barrel.

Michael Gerson, author of Heroic Conservatism, wrote yesterday in The Washington Post about the Pew studies that "conservatism accepts inequality as an economic fact of life -- but it cannot accept the existence of a class-ridden society where inequality is hereditary and permanent."

But some contemporary conservatives do accept such inequality. The audience in New Albany heard from one.

What do you expect from today's GOP Conservatives? They just don't care about the lower and middle class Americans. They only care for their paymasters.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

POLITICS - On Waterboarding

Special Comment on Waterboarding
Keith Olbermann

POLITICS - The Caring Pharma Industry

Yap, here's another article pointing to just how $big-pharma$ really, really cares about the American consumer.

"Lobbying stalls generic drug legislation" by Frederic J. Frommer, AP


Legislation aimed at speeding the availability of cheaper generic drugs has stalled in Congress in the face of major lobbying by the drug industry.

The Senate bill would ban most settlements known as "reverse payments," in which a brand-name company pays a generic manufacturer to delay the introduction of the generic drug. The Federal Trade Commission, which has called on Congress to take action, says such settlements could cost American consumers billions of dollars.

An Associated Press review of lobbying reports, from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007, found that $38.8 million was spent by at least a dozen generic and brand-name companies and their trade associations on issues including the Senate legislation. The lobbying reports do not specify how much of that money was directed at the reverse payment bill, and they are not required by law to do so.

More than half of those expenses were piled up by the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, which represents brand-name drug companies. PhRMA spent $19.5 million in the 12-month period ending June 30 on in-house lobbying expenses, an increase of about $3 million over the previous 12-month period.

"Lobbyists have a lot of influence in Washington," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Herb Kohl, who chairs the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights. "If we can just get this to a vote, it will be pretty hard for people to vote against it. A vote against this is a vote against consumers."

Kohl, D-Wis., also chairs the Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he has pushed for generic drugs as a way for seniors to save money on their medications. Generic drugs are 30 to 80 percent cheaper than brand-name drugs, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

Kohl has offered the reverse payment legislation for the past two sessions of Congress. This year, House supporters introduced a similar bill, which remains in committee. Neither bill has come up for a vote, although the Senate bill did make it through the Judiciary Committee a few months ago.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has expressed concerns about Kohl's bill. Hatch issued a statement saying he voted to move the bill through committee this year "with the reservation that we find a balanced solution, one that bars anticompetitive settlements without jeopardizing the very kind of settlements that are critical to consumers and taxpayers."

Read "without jeopardizing the very kind of settlements that are critical to consumers and taxpayers." as "I want to protect the profits of big-pharma over the consumer because they are one of my paymasters."

The FTC has called on Congress to pass legislation to crack down on the reverse payment settlements, although it hasn't endorsed any specific bill.

"Such settlements restrict competition at the expense of consumers, whose access to lower-priced generic drugs is delayed, sometimes for many years," FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras said in testimony before a House task force in September.

Hummm... wonder whose side the Bush Administration is on, really? Then there's the lawyers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

REMINDER - Veteran's Day 11/12/2007

"Edwin Starr Was Wrong: War "Good" For Many" by Steve Young, Huffington Post

Singer Edwin Starr once asked and answered, "War, huh, good God, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin'!"

Besides Veteran's Day sales and kids getting the day off, my guess is that Mr. Starrand "War" lyricists, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong never expected the second Bush administration.

This week, as we mark Veteran's Day 2007, this White House continues its six year, hell-bent effort to make Starr's admonition, a disheartening whopper.

There have been the heady war dividends that have fallen to Haliburton, Blackwater, and right wing talk show hosts who use the war to split America and fill their personal war chests.

Politically speaking we need go no further than Karl Rove's caveat to GOP governors that the war would be a winner for the Republicans.

But it is the war veteran groups who have benefited the most and with the WWII members dying out, the surge of eligibles for dues-paying membership couldn't come a better time. And they don't have to look any further than the streets to find the new members.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, a new report shows the percentage of homeless veterans, numbered at 495,400, is more than twice that of the general adult population.

After using our young men and women as wedge issues and cannon fodder that this administration and their apologists prop up as treasures to hide behind only to be tossed away like second, third and fourth thoughts when they lose their political value.

Building their huge contracts on the backs of their "support" for the military, how much time do you think non-veterans O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and Beck will use their programs this week to admonish the White House for their utter disregard for the soldier they deploy - for three and four tours - in harm's way, let alone the veteran who's long since been forgotten?

Will they spend as much time berating the difficulty returning reservists have (according to Pentagon survey) in getting their old jobs back and (according to a Harvard Medical School study) the sin that nearly 2 million vets who lack health insurance as they do condemning Cindy Sheehan for attempting to end the war that killed her only child?

Oh, they'll feign tribute and patriotism and lay blame for the past six years at the doorstep of hate-America Americans. They'll slam Sheehan or Rosie O'Donnell or war veterans like Jimmy Carter and John Kerry, distracting their fans from seeing the true victims of the war: Our veterans. Whether they come home in boxes or have to live in them on the streets, once the veteran has been exploited for political purpose, the war-mongers will ignore the life-long harm they have wrought on these heroes they boisterously hurrayed into an unnecessary war.

Whether it be the debacle of an ignored Walter Reed, the attempted cuts in the Veteran's Administration budget, or slighting the veteran's homeless plight, the Lords of Loud blowhards will always take the side of the Bush-made war 'cept for a rare and anemic "mistakes are always madein war." Far more excuse than a condemnation.

The rabid Lords of Loud are famous for slamming the homeless for their unwillingness to pull themselves up by their boot strings, no matter their boots be the only remnants of their glorious service.

Actually, it's really quite brilliant. A kind of Bring the Boys Home-less Program. Follow us here? Any terrorist who takes a look at the bleak outlook for our vets once they get home will think twice about wanting to follow them here.

Starr, Whitfield and Strong's lyrical contribution was meant to send a passionate message in defense of the true victims of wars: the soldier fighting them. The contribution of this White House, and the unholy alliance of those who concede to this war's countless "one more chances," is an appalling legacy of an unrelenting influx of new veterans to be victimized. And if there's anything that dishonors the veteran, it is their victimization.

If we truly want to honor today's veteran, we do it by bringing them home and providing decent post-service care after they get there.

Leaving them homeless? Unforgivable.

The veterans' reward for their sacrifice? Absolutely nothing.

And in that, Starr, Whitfield, and Strong were right.

War! It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
War! It's got one friend, that's the undertaker
War has shattered many a young mans dreams
Made him disabled bitter and mean
Life is much to precious to spend fighting wars these days
War can't give life, it can only take it away

War! Huh Good God y'all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Say it again.

And for the sake of the veteran, never stop saying it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

IRAQ - Good Questions, From the Inside

"Is it really an independent country?" by Laith, McClatchy Blog

This question came to my mind when one of my friends wanted to go home to Falluja city west of Baghdad. He lives there but he works in Baghdad. He received a call from his brother telling him to come today to Falluja. My friend took his stuff and went quickly to the bus station. About half an hour later, he came back because he forgot the most important thing among his stuff, he forgot to take his Falluja ID.

He wouldn’t be allowed to go home without having this ID even if he is as famous as Tom Cruise. For those who like to know what is the Falluja ID, I would say its an ID issued by the US army only and specifically for the residents of Falluja city. I don’t want to know why the US army decided to issue these IDs but I only want to the answers of the following questions.

Is it something legal that the US army issue IDs for Iraqi people? Its very normal and legal to issue work IDs fro the Iraqis who work for example with the US army but its not acceptable at all to issue IDs for the residents of any Iraq by the US army or even the US government because this is Iraq, its not California. What makes me really sad that the Iraqi politicians keep repeating “Iraqi is a united independent country”. Is that true? Then why do the people of Falluja have two IDs, the Iraqi ID and the American issued ID?

So, what is the answer to her question. My personal answer is no, Iraq is not an independent country in Bush World. Emperor Bush wants Iraq to be a satellite-state of his empire so his pay-masters can rape Iraqis for their oil.

"Time" by Laith, McClatchy Blog

My trip to the U.S was like a whirl wind! It was short and to the point and I came home with a better understanding of what areas need to be covered for the regular American to better understand the situation in Iraq.

I was greatly surprised that most people didn't have an inkling of what Iraq is - was. I would have thought that as the U.S was at war in Iraq, the regular American would have some idea of what Iraq had, and thus would be better equipped to assess the loss that resulted from this war - but I found that not very many people - amongst those that I met, at least, had any clear Idea of the Iraqi society, and what the war has cost the country, in terms of how it affected our education system, our healthcare, services and infra structure. And although they were aware of the statistics of the casualties lost as a result of the collapse in the security system, the figures were so high as to become surreal - they acknowledged them in their minds but couldn't actually feel them in their hearts.

Each and every person I met was compassionate and supportive - so much so that I am at a loss - if people felt like that, why isn't there an outcry so loud that policy makers have no choice but to stop and listen?? Stop to reconsider and ask themselves the questions that need to be asked at this late stage: "What can we do to amend the mess we created?

"We cannot go back in time to save the hundreds of thousands who died senselessly - but how to save the rest?

"What can we do not only to stop but to mend the decomposition that has occurred in this stable society as a result of a war we chose to wage?

"How can we secure the borders after we decommissioned the former Iraqi Army? After all what's the use of going after al-Qaeda pockets inside the country - when the borders are open to them? Not only to them, but to any who wish to walk in and implement whatever agenda they have?"

And numerous, numerous questions that need to be asked - and answered.

Isn't it time?

Or must we lose more sons, more brothers, husbands and fathers and win nothing but heartbreak and a destroyed country?

What she does not understand is that Emperor Bush and his enablers (GPO Conservatives) DO NOT CARE about what anyone else says or believes.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

POLITICS - U.S. Economy in Bush World

"US debt tops $9 trillion for first time-Treasury" by Nancy Waitz, editing by Gary Crosse, Reuters

The U.S. Treasury Department said on Wednesday publicly held U.S. debt breached $9 trillion this week for the first time ever, just five weeks after Congress had raised the statutory borrowing limit.

At the end of September, U.S. President George W. Bush signed a measure to increase the debt limit ceiling to $9.815 trillion from $8.965 trillion, allowing the government to keep issuing debt.

The increase in the debt limit is the fifth since Bush took office in January 2001. The U.S. debt stood at about $5.6 trillion at the start of his presidency.

In approving the debt limit increase, Congressional lawmakers said the $850 billion increase should be large enough to allow the government to continue borrowing into 2009, well beyond next year's presidential and congressional elections.

The Bush administration estimated the U.S. federal budget deficit for fiscal 2007 would total $163 billion. The deficit for the year ended Sept. 30 narrowed by 34.3 percent from the $248 billion gap in fiscal 2006.

Yap, and lets flush even more money down the blackhole of the Iraq War.

POLITICS - Another Example of the Bush Administration "Supporting Our Troops"

"Study: 1 out of 4 homeless are veterans" by Kimberly Hefling, AP


Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.

The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education nonprofit, based the findings of its report on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau. 2005 data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.

In comparison, the VA says that 20 years ago, the estimated number of veterans who were homeless on any given night was 250,000.

Some advocates say the early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

In Emperor Bush's administration "supporting our troops" = "supporting my Iraq war" (aka blackhole or money-pit) but not a dime to support our troops at home.