Monday, December 31, 2007

Converting To A Photo Blog A Good Idea?

Thinking about a transition to a photo blog. How do you like this image. I had one thought, if you were to purchase a full resolution digital file of this picture that I took a few days ago, what would it be worth to you? I've been thinking about posting to some of those photo stock pages that earn you cash as it's downloaded. I thought people might like to get these images direct from the source. What say you?

Happy New Year All.

Blog on friends, Blog on all.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Who Is Smarter Than The President?

I finally got my sea legs back from this calf injury I've been nursing for months - gradually building up to my usual Sunday Long Run ~over 1 hour through the park mainly on trails. I got to thinking. I know, you hate it when I start regurgitating thoughts thunk up on my dawn related run-infused musings. But hey, I do my best cogitation out on the AM jaunt through the woods.

So, I got to thinking. For the first time in history, we finally have a sitting president by comparison whom I actually feel a grade smarter. This is not that I've gotten smarter, but that this President, Bush, actually seems substantially more dim witted than your average president.

Carter, I remember, as he ushered us through the Bicentennial. By comparision, I'm a slacker in the humanitarian smarts.

Reagan - again, smarter than me. He brought us the me generation through the 1980s effectively killing financial aid to college students and squashing my right to drink legally every year one day before I could be grandfathred in. He was a brilliant PR guy, practically perfecting the "plausible deniability" genera of presidential acting.

Bush after him, proved himself extremely smart by not actually going to Baghdad, unlike his son. In a quiet, subdued way, he was able to mastermind a very successful middle-east intervention. Definitely smarter than me.

And Clinton, the master of spin, providing the leadership to pull our country out of massive debts built over time by Republican Leadership. Seriously more smart than me.

Bush, on the other hand, has proven time and again that he is one of the most foolish people to lead our country of all time. He still thinks his cause in Iraq was right, and it's accomplishing the goal of keeping our country "safe." The debt accrued to pay for the "war" alone will sag like a 2 ton albatross hung around lady liberty's neck. He thinks the illusion of security and the charade of protection is a fair trade for the freedoms we have sacrificed for his "noble" cause.

Have a look at recent article about the TSA and the problems with traveling by air today:
How we got to this point is an interesting study in reactionary politics, fear-mongering and a disconcerting willingness of the American public to accept almost anything in the name of “security.” Conned and frightened, our nation demands not actual security, but security spectacle. And although a reasonable http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifpercentage of passengers, along with most security experts, would concur such theater serves no useful purpose, there has been surprisingly little outrage. In that regard, maybe we’ve gotten exactly the system we deserve.
Even so, the President is still working hard to lever the case for his "war" in Iraq off the backs of the GIs he sentenced to die there:
Dan and Maureen Murphy are two of these people. In June 2005, their son—Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL—was conducting surveillance in Afghanistan when his four-man team came under attack. Lt. Murphy moved into a clearing where he could get a signal to call for help for his men, knowing it would make him a target. As he made the call, he came under heavy fire that cost him his life. In a meeting before I presented Maureen Murphy with her son’s Medal of Honor, she spoke of the boy she’d raised to manhood. I came away from that day hoping that Lt. Murphy’s story would inspire all Americans to live lives worthy of the sacrifices that have been made for our freedom.
Proving once again, that, not only is Bush one of the most foolish presidents of the modern era, but that he will sink to lows without limit to promote his war. Using dead GIs and his parents to support his agenda is perhaps the most reprehensible political parlor tricks and ploys I've experienced from this man. And In my book, makes him not only foolish, but stupid for thinking that we still buy this gambit.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fun Quote For The Day

Scratch-off tickets are to the lottery what crack is to cocaine.
- ELIOT SHAPLEIGH, Texas state senator.
I had a good chuckle on this one. Obviously Mr. Shapleigh doesn't realize that all forms of lottery are really just a voluntary tax on people who are bad at math (statistics, generally, and probability in the specific sense).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Atrocity

I don't usually cut and paste whole emails into blog entry's. I haven't done the veracity check on this yet, but it sounds plausible to me and equally atrocious that this happened in every sense of what is gratuitously wrong with our whole approach to Iraq.
Jamie Leigh Jones was a 20-year-old woman working in Iraq for a subsidiary of Halliburton when she was drugged and brutally gang-raped by several co-workers.

The next day, Halliburton told her that if she left Iraq to get medical treatment, she could lose her job.1

Jamie's story gets even more horrific: For the last two years, she's been asking the US government to hold the perpetrators accountable. But the men who raped her may never be brought to justice because Halliburton and other contractors in Iraq aren't subject to US or Iraqi laws. They can't be tried for a crime in any court.2

This is one of the most disturbing stories we have come across in a while. We're calling on Congress to investigate Jamie's case, hold those involved accountable, and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law so this can't happen again. If hundreds of thousands of us speak out against this outrageous story, we can force Congress to take action.

Can you sign the petition? The text is in the blue box at the right. Clicking below will add your name.

http://pol.moveon.org/contractors_accountable/o.pl?id=11800-4861130-Yyk1Bd&t=3

After you sign, please forward this email to friends, family and colleagues—we all need to speak out together.

When you get an email from us, it doesn't usually include a graphic description of a brutal attack. But when we heard this story, we knew we had to do something about it.

Here's how Jamie described what happened after the attack:

I awoke the next morning in the barracks to find my naked body battered and bruised. I was still groggy from whatever had been put in my drink. I was bleeding... After getting to the clinic and having a rape kit performed...I was locked in a container with no food, no way to call my parents, and was placed under armed guard by Halliburton.3

Jamie's attackers aren't the only ones exploiting a legal loophole to get away with their violent crimes. Another female employee of Halliburton says she was raped by her co-workers in Iraq.4 Employees of Blackwater, another private contracting firm in Iraq, were accused of killing innocent Iraqi civilians, and that incident turned into an international scandal. Worst of all, they may never be punished.5

Private contractors in Iraq are making massive amounts of money, operating above the law and are accountable to no one. This has to stop.

Congress needs to act now to bring these contractors under the rule of law. If they don't, nothing will prevent a case like Jamie's from happening again. No man or woman working in Iraq should have to fear that they can be attacked without consequences.

Please sign on to the petition: "Congress must investigate the rape of Jamie Leigh Jones and others, hold those involved accountable, and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law." Clicking below adds your name:

http://pol.moveon.org/contractors_accountable/o.pl?id=11800-4861130-Yyk1Bd&t=4

Thanks for all you do,

–Nita, Wes, Karin, Marika, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Friday, December 14th, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Meanwhile, The Iraq Sands Turn Another Shade of Red

While the President is busy demonstrating how much he doesn't like children, we find that his "freedom spreading" experiment in Iraq is still stuck in the you've got to bleed for freedom mode.

Three car bombs exploded in quick succession in Amarah on Wednesday, killing at least 41 people and injuring 128 in what has been a relatively calm Shiite Muslim city, police and hospital officials said.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Burning Torture Tapes Is Good For America

Is any one getting tired of the usual line from the Whitehouse as they try to get forgiveness for their transgressions? Before you jump into this blurb from today's Whitehouse Press Briefing given by the vivacious and lovely Dana Perino, be sure to put on your deja vu goggles. If you think you have heard these deflections before, it's because you have.

Let's have a look:
Q Dana, there's an ongoing debate in the country about sort of where the lines are, as regards torture, and -- or enhanced interrogation. And I'm wondering if you feel that this report -- which I don't think anyone's contesting that the destruction of the tapes took place -- does this undermine the administration's position?

MS. PERINO: I think I would say -- I would take this opportunity, though, to take a step back and remind people about this interrogation program, which was put in place to deal with a very limited number of people; the most intransigent of terrorists. This program has saved lives. It is legal, safe, effective; it is limited, it is tough, and it has led to the capture of individuals -- terrorists -- who had information that was able to lead us to others. These are the -- General Hayden has talked about this several times, in terms of how many people -- we had this debate earlier this year, and the program is critical to the safety of the country.

Q And if it's so defensible, then why destroy any part of it?

MS. PERINO: Again, I'm not going to comment on that. The CIA has made its comment. They've said that they -- that the agency made its decision, and it was based -- and it was done in consultation with their legal counsel. And let's let the CIA Director gather those facts, and we'll see what they come up -- what they say after that.

Q Dana, what were the circumstances of General Hayden telling the President about this? Was it a report? Was Bush asking about the report? Was it --

MS. PERINO: All I know, Wendell, is that yesterday in the President's briefing with the intelligence folks, of which General Hayden is the one who comes to brief the President, that's when he was told about it.

Q Dana, when you say the President supports General Hayden, you're specifically singling out the current director, not the previous one who actually made the decision --

MS. PERINO: Well, I didn't ask the President about that. But I don't have any reason for -- I think -- I don't think that we have any reason to doubt what the CIA's legal counsel -- the advice that they gave to the CIA at the time. I said I think that those facts need to be gathered before that can be said.
Wow, if it really was safe, and good for saving lives, where's the proof and why did they need to destroy the tapes? Sounds awful fishy to me. Of course, they are not going to comment any further beyond the comments they are shoveling that try to absolve the president and his administration of any wrongdoing, and try to convince us, once again, that torture is good for America, but not her enemies.

Any one out there holding their breath for a full explanation of the leak about Valarie Plame case should know full well that there will be no forthcoming explanation about this matter either. You see, the President has a whole series of promises broken to prove me right. Near as I can tell Scooter's case is closed, but has the President explained what really happened in the Whitehouse around the Plame controversy? Nope.

Well, then. No comment during an on going investigation really means "fuck you America, we don't have to explain nothing to you..." or am I getting my translation mixed up.

Here's An Interesting Man

Have a gander:



Here's his location where you can follow the progress.

Blog on friends, blog on all.

If The President Was Regularly Putting Your Family Members In The Grave For No Reason, You Would Start To Sour On His Agenda Sooner Than Later, No?

The military families I know have had a strong distaste for Bush and his cronies for a great long while. It's not enough that he's "all hat and no cattle," but he's putting people into harms way for no real legitimate reason and continues to toss good money after bad to the tune of billions of dollars owed to the Chinese that our following generations will be working on paying down until their grandchildren have grandchildren.

I'm not certain why this is now news (well, it's because some person decided to run a poll to sell newspapers), but for those of us with friends and family that have served our country know the support for Bush was extinguished quite some time ago.

Families with ties to the military, long a reliable source of support for wartime presidents, disapprove of President Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq, with a majority concluding the invasion was not worth it, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll has found...

...Nearly six out of every 10 military families disapprove of Bush's job performance and the way he has run the war, rating him only slightly better than the general population does.

And among those families with soldiers, sailors and Marines who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 60% say that the war in Iraq was not worth the cost, the same result as all adults surveyed.

"I don't see gains for the people of Iraq . . . and, oh, my God, so many wonderful young people, and these are the ones who felt they were really doing something, that's why they signed up," said poll respondent Sue Datta, 61, whose youngest son, an Army staff sergeant, was seriously wounded in Iraq last year and is scheduled to redeploy in 2009. "I pray to God that they did not die in vain, but I don't think our president is even sensitive at all to what it's like to have a child serving over there."

Patience with the war, which has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II, is wearing thin -- particularly among families who have sent a service member to the conflict. One-quarter say American troops should stay "as long as it takes to win." Nearly seven in 10 favor a withdrawal within the coming year or "right away."
Military families tend to be relatively quite of their disdain for this man because they are used to doing their duty, as promised. Even so, it's dramatic when a sitting president fails the military he was "elected" to lead.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The President Has A Sick Sense Of Humor

The man makes me ill. Sometimes his ten-gallon-all-hat-and-no-cattle mentality leaves me feeling like he is vapid and arrogant all at the same time. His humor reveals how callous and shallow he really is. Remember, "what is said in jest is oft meant in leisure."

Here's his response to the only question asked of him today while he was on another Presidential Propaganda Catapulting Mission in Omaha Nebraska (leaving an hour before a local terrorist took his own brand of sick and twisted logic to a mall):
Q Iran’s President said the NIE is a victory for Iran. They want an apology from the United States, and compensation, sir. Will you do that? Is the NIE a victory for Iran?

THE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) You can mark down I chuckled.
Nice, sensitive man, the President. Granted the question was rather stupid, but the answer was equally such. Makes me want to wretch.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Simple Simon Was The...President?

If you ask me, we shouldn't speculate and guess about certain intelligence facts and use that as a basis to take our country to war with Iran. That's a fool's bet, much like Iraq was and is.

Just ask yourself how many billions of dollars are being borrowed as a future tax on your grandchildren's grandchildren for the president's Iraq "Freedom Spreading Experiment." Can you fathom how much it would cost to open up a can o' whoop ass on Iran? Can we afford it?

I don't think we aught to double down, particularly because we are already owning the loan sharks from China a sizable chunk of our per capita income for generations to come. It would suck if China calls in the marker because they would most certainly have to break our knee caps just for Iraq alone. Lastly, I wouldn't want to send our GIs into harms way when OBL isn't any where close to Iran, or is he? Hell, why haven't we brought him in for justice? Could it be we are too distracted by Iraq?

Well, if we take the simpleton logic that our president uses to make decisions, we are going in some time before the end of his term is up.
Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.
What a fool. Any one with internet access can acquire the knowledge to make nuclear weapons. By his measure, the bombing should "start in five minutes."

Are you ready to double down on the Middle East with our blood, sweat, tears, and payola (read hard earned and easily forfited taxpayer dollars) based on the word of a president who's logic is as sophomoric as Simple Simon? Remember who the poster children were for WMD in Iraq?

Not in my name!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Nature Deficit Disorder"

You are not the only one who believe children today don't get to play outside in nature enough these days. There is one organization working hard to get youth out doors, particularly those who don't have a chance or the wear-withal to do so.

This organization does great things to educate urban youth about the out-of-doors. Do you have a hard time getting your teen child to turn off the computer and operate in the primary life rather than the second (virtual) life? Support BAWT by donating time or money now.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Whom Do We Trust?

If we cannot trust our existing government to lead us, or even the intelligence that our president uses to go to war, whom can we trust? The DoD?
At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY.

The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.
If you cannot trust the numbers put out by the institutions who are charged with doing it, how is it that people who are for the "war" in Iraq base their support and continued trust laden in the existing leadership?

Incidentally, the coalition of the willing is about to shrink by another ally:
Also Friday, Poland's new prime minister said he plans to withdraw troops from Iraq next year.

In a three-hour speech to parliament, Donald Tusk said that by the end of 2008, Poland will withdraw its 900 troops from Iraq, where it leads an international contingent of about 2,000 soldiers from 10 nations in the south-central part of the country.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Iraq Quotient

Out for my post T-Day run this AM. Sunny, but brisk. Thought hit me directly between the eyes. Perhaps there is a direct correlation between those that support the war and those making money from it.

Of course there is no calculus behind this equation, but perhaps there is an Iraq Quotient as follows. That is, your enthusiasm for the war is exponentially connected to the amount of profit you make off it. The more you more the more enthusiastic you are about it.

On the opposite side, perhaps those who don't support the war are vehemently against it because they are not profiting by it...and are being exploited by the former population.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, is the surge working?
Two bombs exploded hours apart Friday in a central Baghdad pet market and a police checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing 26 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

The attacks were among the deadliest in recent weeks, underscoring warnings by senior U.S. commanders that extremists still pose a threat to Iraq's fragile security despite a downturn in violence since a U.S.-Iraqi security plan began in mid-February.

The blast in the capital's popular weekly al-Ghazl animal bazaar occurred just before 9 a.m., shattering the festive atmosphere as people strolled past the stalls.

At least 13 people were killed and nearly 60 wounded, including four policemen, according to police and hospital officials. Several shops also were damaged.

About 1:30 p.m. in Mosul, a suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint, killing three policemen and 10 civilians, said police Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Wakaa.

The al-Ghazl market, where sellers peddle birds, dogs, cats, sheep, goats and exotic animals such as snakes and monkeys, has been targeted in the past. On Jan. 26, 15 people were killed when a bomb hidden in a box of pigeons exploded as shoppers gathered around it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hells Angels: Getting To Be A Holiday Tradition

I did my usual homeless census on my AM run as is my habit it seems on T-Day. My route was shorter than usual as I'm nursing a calf injury, which is much better after taking the better part of a month and a half off from running completely. Even so, the tally is 26 Homeless, and a dozen Hells Angels lined up along the sidewalk at the same cafe they were at last year.

For a while, I was thinking the Mayor's programs to clean up the homeless issue was working, but really, they are just dislocated. There were not the same congregations of homeless in the places they were last year. This year, they were spread out, outside of the park on city streets. It's astonishing.

Homelessness has been a problem for a great long while. Why is it that people can figure out how to provide free search engines and email accounts, but can't fix the homeless problem? No wait, I know. It's because there's no money in it, unlike some unpopular wars in foreign lands I know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Got Your IED?

A friend of mine tossed me this link. Pay particular attention to the graph mid way on the page and ask yourself: Is the surge working?

Environmental Thought For The Day

I joined the local Bike Coalition last month...certifying that I will never be electable in any category if I ever dared run for any kind of political office. People mistakenly label bikers in my town as extremists (as to why they don't label us true conservatives is beyond me - e.g. I'm too cheep to pay for gas to drive my car or even pay the fare for local public transit; so my car sits idle most the year round unless I'm toting my windsurfing gear to the launch, but I digress).

I now get their e-news letter. In this last one, they linked up to a fun article that brings us to today's environmental thought for the day:
The biggest con running in the auto industry right now is the notion that hybrids represent some sort of quantum leap in green transportation. Not only is this patently untrue -- hybrid technology is actually decades old -- but it shamelessly plays to the hypocrisy of our society. If we really wanted to save the planet, instead of buying hybrids we would start walking. Or riding bikes. Maybe a few more of us would try public transportation. How about starting with slowing down to the speed limit on the freeway?
I rode my bike to work today. How about you?

Enjoy this little fun clip:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's Your War, But "The Country Doesn't Want It."

The broader question is why would any one support the funding of the Iraq conflagration if they really felt it was time to bring the troops home.

Helen Thomas hits Dana Perino, the effervescent presidential spokesmodel, over the head with her customary cast iron fry pan a couple of times. Read and listen for the clang as it hits hard:
Q How many billions have we spent already for the Defense Department?

MS. PERINO: The Defense Department says that they need this funding in order to keep the war running, as well as to keep these civilians -

Q Maybe they don't want the war to keep running.

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that that has been --

Q The country doesn't want it --

MS. PERINO: I think that Americans have seen what our troops have been able to do this year, in trying -- is starting to turn things around in Iraq. We've got a long way to go, but they have started to make some significant gains, and to pull the rug out from under them now seems to be -- seems irresponsible.

Q To keep killing you mean.

MS. PERINO: Helen, every -- the security situation in Baghdad is vastly improved, because of what our troops have been able to do, working alongside of the Iraqis. I can't imagine that they would not want to fund these troops before they go home for Christmas. They have gone to Iraq, many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, have gone to Iraq. They've seen for themselves what's happening on the ground there. They've had briefings from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. They are working very hard to make sure that they -- these trends that we're starting to see can actually take hold and be cemented, and so that they can continue the progress --

Conscience Raising: Could It Be The President Led His Spokesperson To Lie To The American People?

Could it be former Whitehouse spokesmodel Scotty McMessage McClellan is growing a conscience? Have a gander:
In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

"There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Tuesday. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Safer, But Not Yet Safe:" Symptoms Of A Larger Problem

Get a load of this statement from today's press washing from the Sexy Dana Perino:
MS. PERINO: They've had conversations 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?

I Thought Elephants Had Long Memories

In case you long for the days before we were an intractable situation in Iraq, let's dose you with some nostalgia:



Of course, you could sign up and help if you care about the outcome in Iraq. To those who suggest Iraq is the right place to be right now, I say pony up and enlist:



Meanwhile, more GIs and Civilians are creamed in Iraq. This aught give you a flavor of how it's going for the W, Rove and Co in their Iraqi freedom spreading experiment:
Officials in the southern city of Samawah said a U.S. Army convoy opened fire Sunday in an unprovoked attack on motorists who were trying to get out of its way, injuring four and destroying a truckload of sheep.

In Baqubah, the capital of Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, three U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday in an assault involving a suicide vest, the military said. The military released no further details, but witnesses in the city, where American troops had lengthy battles with insurgents this summer, said there appeared to be military casualties when a roadside bomb exploded near a group of children clustered around soldiers on foot patrol. Three children were killed and seven others were wounded in the incident.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Slinging Blame Like Only A President Can

Ross Perot was spot on when he dubbed the Whitehouse "the Bully Pulpit." You will remember a while ago when the current batch of bullies in this pulpit were suggesting that playing the "blame game" was inappropriate and claimed to take the moral high ground by disavowing said game. Of course, today, in his weekly Radio Address (admit it, you listen like Harry Potter in your closet underneath the stairs so no one knows you do), the President and head bully is slinging blame like only a president can.

It's convenient when you can load up heaping doses of blame for a failure you generated on some one else other than one self. Have a look:
It is clear that Congress's failure to adjust the AMT for inflation was a mistake. Unfortunately, Congress seems determined to compound this original mistake by making another one. Last week, the House passed a bill that provides relief from the AMT -- but raises other taxes. Congress should not use legislation that millions of Americans are counting on to protect them from higher taxes in one area as an excuse to raise taxes in other areas. I will veto any bill that raises taxes as a condition of fixing the AMT. Members of Congress must put political theater behind them, fix the AMT, and protect America's middle class from an unfair tax hike.
Who's to blame that the taxes are too low to cover the cost of a majority of what the President is trying to accomplish? How are we paying for the conflagration in Iraq? Is it fiscally responsible to require the funds to pay for the operations of a government or to hock our nations' future to pay for a war on a nation we never needed to wage?
Congress is also failing to meet its responsibilities to our troops. For months, Congress has delayed action on supplemental war funding because some in Congress want to make a political statement about the war. On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that once again has Congress directing our military commanders on how to conduct the war in Iraq as a condition for funding our troops. We do not need members of Congress telling our commanders what to do. We need Congress listening to our military commanders and giving them what they need to win the war against extremists and radicals. Congress knows I'll veto this bill. During this time of war, our troops deserve the full support of Congress -- and that means giving our troops the funding they need to successfully carry out their mission. I urge Congress to work quickly and send me a clean bill so we can fulfill our obligation to our brave men and women in uniform.
Really, who's fault is it that we are in an intractable war that we are serving in a co-dependent relationship facilitating the current dysfunctional Iraqi government? Who's to blame for getting our country to where it is today? The culpable are usually those that protest and point the fingers the strongest. Threatening a veto and slinging blame, in particular, is a strong signal that the Presidential wagging finger of blame need be pointed in a mirror.

But of course, every good Presidential radio address needs to point to solutions right?
With both of these delays, congressional leaders are choosing political posturing over the priorities of the people. These choices have real-world consequences for our taxpayers and our troops. When members of Congress return from their two-week-long Thanksgiving vacation, they will have only a few weeks left on the legislative calendar before they go home again for their Christmas break. I call on Congress to use the time that is left to do what is right -- and pass AMT relief and fund our troops in combat.
Who is doing the posturing in a political way Mr. President? Last I checked, the priorities of the American people were to bring our troops home from Iraq, but then again, I live in the real world.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Values Of Our President

Education Bad; War Good

"Fully Embolden Our Enemies?"

The President and his knuckleheads in charge can barely hold together a solid exuse for the folly in Iraq let alone truly know what "emboldens" our enemies. When some one suggests that the reason for not liking a particular bill is based on something they could not know and is truly subjective, you know they are desperate.
Today the House of Representatives passed on a largely party-line vote legislation that would only partially fund our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but fully embolden our enemies. Once again, the Democratic leadership is taking this debate down a well-worn path that calls for arbitrary withdrawal from the battlefield, despite the gains our military has made over the past year. These votes, like the dozens of previous failed votes, put the interests of radical interest groups ahead of the needs of our military and their mission. If legislation comes to the President in this form, he will certainly veto it.

Congress has had ample time to pass legislation to fund our troops. The original supplemental request was made in February and augmented in October. But because Congressional Democrats insist in going through another round of political votes and vetoes, Pentagon planners will be forced to focus on accounting maneuvers instead of military maneuvers.

Before Congress leaves for recess in December, it should send to the President a clean emergency funding bill, without arbitrary withdrawal dates.
Perhaps the President, not listening to the will of the people is really the problem here.

Really, if you are going to make such a sweeping claim as to say that a bill that sets deadlines for troop redeployment emboldens our enemies, you aught to provide the logic and proof with in which that statement rests. The trouble is the W, Rove and Co has leaned on the "trust us" strategy for so long, they don't realize it's not working any more. Simply because the President's Press secretary says it's so doesn't make it such, does it?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

No Heroes For Our Vets

With President Bush flinging blame anywhere but at himself, we find no heroes for our vets this Veterans Day:
Congress can also meet its responsibility to our veterans by passing a clean Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. Unfortunately, Congressional leaders let the fiscal year end without passing this bill they know our veterans need. So I urged Congress to pass this bill by Veterans Day -- and they still have failed to send me this vital legislation. The time to act is running out. There are now just four days left on the legislative calendar before Congress leaves town for their Thanksgiving break. The best way members of Congress can give thanks to our veterans is to send me a clean bill that I can sign into law.
So, whose fault is it that our vets continually get screwed? Of course it's politically advantageous for Bush to sling blame at Congress, but it's also a signal of failed leadership and diplomacy on his part that there was nothing worth signing into law.

Why do I get the feeling that the only reason Bush wanted this bill to sign on Veterans day was that he needed to appear the hero by signing a bill on Sunday? Denied the chance, he's not happy. The feeling is mutual.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What If It Were Illegal For You To Marry?

What if you desperately wanted to marry the love of your life and it was illegal?



Why the freedom to choose to marry is as important for GLBT folk as it is for straight folk (hint: it's about love):



One of my favorite related quotes is from Sharon Stone, who said at the NCLR gala fund raising event a long while back, "Marry, if you must."

I don't believe my marriage is diminished in any way if two other people decide to tie the knot. I have yet to see any plausible argument that proves gay marriage is wrong. In fact, the interesting question for me is thus: What is it about straight marriage that needs protection?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Meanwhile, Back In Iraq

More GIs continue to get slaughtered for no particular reason. Here's one Green Beret I wouldn't mess with:
'I Don't Think This Place Is Worth Another Soldier's Life'

You're right Sergeant, it isn't...it never was.

We have failed you young man. You trusted us to never send you into harm's way unless absolutely needed for the defense of your country, and we all betrayed that trust by allowing a morally bankrupt psychopath on the payroll of Big Oil to take charge of our brave volunteers.

Can you ever forgive us?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What? No Prenup? It Reveals True Republican Values

Just when you thought the hypocrisy of the right wingers, defenders of marriage couldn't get any more clearer, you find another example of why hetero-marriage is not better than any other kind. Have a look at this article:

Looking for a perfect little weekend vacation this fall? Here's a travel tip you don't hear very often: Head to Pittsburgh. Right away.

Seriously, get in the car and read this story later, because when you're done reading, you'll wish you'd left 10 minutes ago. There are towns with better vistas, sure, and there are getaways with more sunshine. But only Pittsburgh is the scene of the fabulously tawdry and surpassingly vicious spectacle that is the divorce of Richard Mellon Scaife.

Remember him? The cantankerous, reclusive 75-year-old billionaire who's spent a sizable chunk of his inherited fortune bankrolling conservative causes and trying to kneecap Democrats? He's best known for funding efforts to smear then-President Bill Clinton, but more quietly he's given in excess of $300 million to right-leaning activists, watchdogs and think tanks. Atop his list of favorite donees: the family-values-focused Heritage Foundation, which has published papers with titles such as "Restoring a Culture of Marriage."

The culture of his own marriage is apparently past restoring. With the legal fight still in the weigh-in phase, the story of Scaife v. Scaife already includes a dog-snatching, an assault, a night in jail and that divorce court perennial, allegations of adultery.

Oh, and there's the money. Three words, people.

No. Pre. Nup.
Read on if you dare to discover what good old fashioned republican values are all about.

Say What Mr. President?

Is any one still tracking "Bushisms?" Here's one I found today:
All I can tell you is when the Governor calls, I answer his phone
Gee whiz George, I sure hope your not reaching into Ahnuld's pocket to answer his phone. That might end up with you getting slapped with some kind of sexual harassment suit.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Blame Game: Hey, I Thought W Didn't Like People Playing It?

You remember a bit ago when people started pointing fingers around the leak situation and Valarie Plame, no?

You remember the W, Rove and Co chastising a wide assortment of people for "playing the blame game" revolving around the Fed response to Katrina, don't you?

You remember the Presidential spokesmodel, Scotty McMessage McClellan saying we don't "play the blame game," and suggesting that people shouldn't do it otherwise they would receive the Parental Look of Disdain from the President, among others?

Well, of course, here's the president just the other day doing what? Of course, it couldn't be "playing the blame game," could it? Let's have a look:
Q Is it all their fault that these bills aren't moving, that you've got these veto threats out?

THE PRESIDENT: I think it is their fault that bills aren't moving, yeah.
What? That doesn't sound like a heaping load of blame to you? But really, the veto is a last resort for failed diplomacy. Who is not bending to the will of the people here?

Let's have a look at how he justifies his actions:
As I said, I'm not a part of the legislative branch. All I can do is ask them to move bills. It's up to the leaders to move the bills. And you bet I'm going to put veto threats out. Of course, I want to remind you, I put a lot of veto threats out when the Republicans were in control of Congress. I said, now, if you overspend I'm going to veto your bills, and they listened, and we worked together. Whether or not that's the case, we'll find out.
Now if that doesn't sound a lot like the spoiled child taking his ball and going home because he is not winning the game, I don't know what does. Really, that's not how I understand the history of the President's relationship with the prior congress. But of course, I'm critical of a man who brought us into an unnecessary, protracted, bloody, expensive war with and inside of Iraq. I can't rightly and most certainly don't trust him to act in our best interest.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mandatory Reading For Iraq War Supporters: Five Years After The Biggest Mistake Ever Made By A Sitting President

Every time I type the phrase "supporter" I remember the quote from Animal House: "If you can't be an athlete, be an athletic supporter." A friend of mine sent along a link to a very interesting letter posted by 12 former Army Captains.

No doubt, the reichwingers will be in full tilt to try and smear these folks, but I think we should all read this article. Have a look and tell me what you think. It's short, so I pasted the whole thing in:
Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.

As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out.

What does Iraq look like on the ground? It's certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

Iraq's institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

The inability to govern is exacerbated at all levels by widespread corruption. Transparency International ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And, indeed, many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers. Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq's oil industry, which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq's reconstruction. Yet holding people accountable has proved difficult. The first commissioner of a panel charged with preventing and investigating corruption resigned last month, citing pressure from the government and threats on his life.

Against this backdrop, the U.S. military has been trying in vain to hold the country together. Even with "the surge," we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely and building sustainable institutions. Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents' cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances. Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are and vote with their feet -- moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely. Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.

U.S. forces, responsible for too many objectives and too much "battle space," are vulnerable targets. The sad inevitability of a protracted draw-down is further escalation of attacks -- on U.S. troops, civilian leaders and advisory teams. They would also no doubt get caught in the crossfire of the imminent Iraqi civil war.

Iraqi security forces would not be able to salvage the situation. Even if all the Iraqi military and police were properly trained, equipped and truly committed, their 346,000 personnel would be too few. As it is, Iraqi soldiers quit at will. The police are effectively controlled by militias. And, again, corruption is debilitating. U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals and support the very elements that will battle each other after we're gone.

This is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reality we experienced. This is what we tried to communicate up the chain of command. This is either what did not get passed on to our civilian leadership or what our civilian leaders chose to ignore. While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out, the Iraqis prepare for their war -- and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer.

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

America, it has been five years. It's time to make a choice.
I think these folks, closer to the boots on the ground than the W, Rove and Cos. hand picked "generals," are better informed and yield still better advice than will be headed the the suits in charge, no doubt.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Coalition Of The Willing Shrinking Like America's War Libido

Looks like the "Coalition of the Willing" is about to shrink.
Britain will halve its force in Iraq to 2,500 troops from spring next year, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday against a backdrop of noisy anti-war protesters outside parliament waving "troops out" banners.

Any one can do the math, but it sure seems like when the W, Rove And Co spouted their anthem, "coalition of the willing," it really seems like it's more like the coalition of the hangers on, and then only by the slimest of margins. Five thousand troops pales in comparision to the number of folk we have risking it all for the great Bush's Iraq Democracy and Freedom Spreading Experiement.

Well, this we can say, it sure seems like the American public isn't the only country that is having it's war libido doused by the cold shower that is Iraq. Just wondering, for those of you who swing "right," is this an "artificial" or a "real" deadline?

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, it doesn't seem to be progressing all that well:
Some potential progress toward reconciliation has run into recent trouble. The U.S. effort to recruit Sunni tribesmen to join the police force and fight the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq was strongly opposed last week by Shiite officials, who asserted that the Sunni recruits were killing innocent people under the guise of fighting insurgents.

"We demand that the American administration stop this adventure, which is rejected by all the sons of the people and its national political powers," the leading Shiite political coalition said in a statement. "Their elements are criminals who cannot be trusted or relied upon."
Just one small question to close with, which I have asked in a similar vein a number of times. When recruiting new police officers from the ranks of qualified Iraqi's, how do we tell which Iraqi is our friend and which is our foe?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

F! The Dead Iraqi Civilians, Our Guys Are The Good Guys

I suppose that rationalizing the killing of civilians is why the CEO of Blackwater gets paid the big bucks:
"We have 1,000 guys out in the field. People make mistakes, they do stupid things sometimes."

ERIK D. PRINCE, chief executive of Blackwater USA
"Oops.Sorry we killed your uncle...Ahmed."

Friday, September 28, 2007

"No President Would Have Been Better"

A friend of mine pointed me to some interesting commentary. This particular quote left me laughing, in that "it's the sad truth of it" sort of way.

And by that, I literally mean NO president. That is, if the office were just left vacant for 8 years, the country would be in profoundly better shape.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

War, Indeed, Is Hell

But the question remains, are we executing a proper strategy in Iraq?

Imagine this. Your Iraqi. You have an 8 year old son. He's walking home from school one day and spies some interesting yellow chord on the side of the road. He stoops over, examines the piece. Finding it interesting, he puts it in his pocket for his collection of cool found items at home. As he takes his third step away from the location, thwack. His head splatters about and his body falls to the sniper's rifle.

In a place where it is extremely challenging to tell who the good guys are from the enemies you so want dead, when would this scenario play out? When the US snipers lay bait.

How would you feel if you were the sniper doing your job and you come to find out, you've just killed one of the newly minted Iraqi police departments officer's sons. What do you think think this father would have to say about our presence in Iraq?
A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of "bait," such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.

The classified program was described in investigative documents related to recently filed murder charges against three snipers who are accused of planting evidence on Iraqis they killed.

"Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, said in a sworn statement. "Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces."
Nice.

Calling It Quits At 50,000 hits?

Call me crazy, but I'm thinking about tossing in the towel on this blog, or seriously revamping the format. If you look on over to the site meter, I'm nearing 50K hits, and that may be a good time to bow out.

Certainly, blogging is addictive, but I think I've run out of new things to say. One alternative I've thought of was to go to a once a week format - posting, say only on Tuesdays, or some such thing. Or, another option would be to start photo blogging - where folks who spotted my work might order up an image or two for a small fee depending on resolution of the image.

What's your two cents on the matter.

Is Freedom Salve Enough To Cure What Ails the Globe?

When GW suggested that he was engaged in the defining ideological struggle of the 21st century, he wasn't kidding. If you take a look at his address delivered today at the UN, it's riddled with unbridled rhetoric designed...well, to do what?

When W suggest that to the UN General Assembly that
This great institution must work for great purposes -- to free people from tyranny and violence, hunger and disease, illiteracy and ignorance, and poverty and despair. Every member of the United Nations must join in this mission of liberation.
two things strike me: 1) Is this enough to fix what ails the globe? And 2) Isn't this what the UN technically is already supposed to be doing?

Really, if freedom is the salve that cures situations such as Iraq, how long should we give it? Is our model for spreading freedom the right model?

If "spreading freedom" is your aim, might there be another, more effective way to do it than raining death upon a nation in the name of said freedom?

Friday, September 21, 2007

What Is A Radical Liberal Organization?

The one that is condemned for condemning war, apparently. The Irony should not escape us.

Have a look at these videos for a fun juxtaposition:



The Rovian spin masters have learned well:



"Victory is America's only choice?" Holy smokes, we are knee deep in rhetorical horse manure.

Well, you have got to love a President who finds freedom of speech disgusting.



Fortunately, the first amendment protects people who say things that the President may find objectionable. Even so, do you think the good general needs protection from Move On dot org?

And to complete the rhetorical offensiveness trifecta. Let's have a look as Olbermann condemns the condemnation that W delivered on the condemnation of the General advert from MoveOndotorg:



And so is Olberman, MoveOn or GWBush radical? If so, what is it that these displays of free speach really done to produce damage on America? If these advertisements are truly damaging to the American people, I'd like to see the evidence - you know, real concrete empirically derived evidence, not the rhetorical spew from those who inhale deeply on the GOP Political Crack Pipe.

Really, think about it. Mr. Bush's propagandist speech writers must have creamed their shorts when they came up with the idea to use a rather benign advertisement by a left wing agency to advance their own political agenda. There is no proof that the Good General needs protection from Move On Dot Org, nor are they radical. Move on is not putting spikes in trees in hopes to maim the lumberjack here.

Really, who is playing politics here and who should be condemned?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why Is It The President Still Thinks It Was "Kids" That Brought The Planes Down On Us?

You know, our strategy in dealing with these extremists who still want to attack us is on the one hand, chase them and find them and bring them to justice; and on the other hand, help change the conditions that caused 19 kids to get on airplanes and come and kill nearly 3,000 citizens on our soil.
If W is suggesting that he has a strategy for fixing those conditions, it's not obviated in his overt actions. I sure wish he would let us know how he's changing the conditions, but I'm not overly optimistic. He's not made a dent in the gangland shootings in our town and the conditions that cause teenagers to join gangs. As to what makes him think he can change the conditions that make people sign up to be suicide bombers, I have no clue.

Proof That Humans Have Been Brutal For Eons

Found this link to a National Geographic web location that has pics of bodies recovered from the bogs of Northern Europe. It's definitely proof that, while the weaponry may have "improved," the brutality of people toward other people doesn't change much.

An Historic Day For The US Economy?

A friend of mine from Canada sent me this comment in an email. Thought I'd share it with folks in the blogosphere. Let me know what you think:
Today the Canadian dollar is trading on par with the US dollar, something not seen since 1976. That's bad for me as I used to buy Canadian dollars for much cheaper. A little more than 5 years ago the cost was as little as 62 cents. Now I would be better off working in Canada to better afford living expenses and mortgage. I think this is just the first strong economic signal revealing how badly Bush has lead the country. Now I'm curious to see how the US will manage to finance its debt as foreign investors continue to dump the US dollar.
Interesting when you open your window to perspectives not driven by the US spin doctors. And of course, The W is on rapid fire with the Presidential Propaganda Catapult fully loaded:
Q Mr. President, economists say that the nation is at increasing risk of recession. What do you say?

THE PRESIDENT: I say that the fundamentals of our nation's economy are strong.
Proving once again that simply because the President says something doesn't make it true. Try convincing some one who just had their house foreclosed on them if they think the economy is strong.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How Do We Know Who The Enemy Is: Repirse

I've got a new dentist. She's awesome. But I get ahead of myself.

I had my regular cleaning slated last week. Every six months if I need it or not. Never had a cavity, and every dentist I've had says that it's pretty much going to stay that way. "It's the gums you have to worry about," they preach. So, I floss. Daily. Whether or need it or not.

I've often had a sneaky idea to play a prank on the dentist and walk into the office one day for a cleaning after having eaten a whole bag of Oreos. Smile, "ready for my cleaning!" Haven't done it yet, but maybe in six months.

So, I walked into my dentist's office last week expecting to see my regular person. Nope. The old dentist has been in the biz for nearly 30 years and she brought in a new doc since the last time I was there. So, I get a new hygienist and a new Doc. The doc, in order to get to know the patients, opts to do my cleaning instead of subjecting me to the new hygienist. I've never actually had my teeth cleaned by the Doctor.

As we begin, she introduces herself, and the usual casual banter. I ask her politely, where she was before this to get a sense of how much experience she has. It's my subversive way to measure if I should put my teeth in her hands. Turns out she was a dentist for several years in the Military. Achieving a high rank, she got the free trip to the big kitty litter boxes we know as Iraq and Kuwait.

She was stationed in Falujia for a stretch. The only female around for miles. She worked on our GIs, as well as contractors working at the various bases. I asked her how that was, in a society that doesn't really respect females in general, to rip out the teeth of some big burley Iraqi and various Arab males. She laughed.

I then asked, "how did you know you weren't working on a terrorist?" She said, "Well, you couldn't really think about that much. You had to put it out of your mind. Otherwise, you would drive your self crazy. But, I don't know. I might actually have aided and abetted a terrorist by pulling an abscessed tooth or two. I'll never know. That and I had no way of knowing if one day, some one with a bomb strapped to his chest wasn't sitting in my chair. Yeah, I had to put those things out of my mind."

Over all, she did a fantastic job. And I walked out of the visit with a new found respect for this petite, blond, rock hard Dentist who risked it all and survived. I told her she must have been very lucky, "because not many come out of Iraq whole." She said, yes, indeed.

It brought to mind for me the question I raised a while back: How do we know who the enemy is in Iraq?

Don't Despise The Deserter

In a melancholy mood about the wars our governments believe are beneficial to our society? Here's a great tune to consider:
The Deserter, by John Richards

Here I stand in a land
That isn't my own
Far from the country
That I know as home

Sent here by the government
And armed by a King
I'm told I must kill men in order to bring
Peace to a foreign land

There he lies on a land
No longer his own
In the grey of the country
He once called his home

He was sent here by government,
Might not agree
And if someone must kill him
God, why is it me?
To bring peace to a foreign land

Don't despise the deserter
Don't despise the deserter
Who ran from the war

Don't despise the deserter
Don't despise the deserter
Who ran from the war

I went down to drag him
Away from the wire
But there were rifles to the left
And we started to fire

He was riddled with bullets
I was smothered in blood
And I can't see how murdering somebody could
Bring peace to a foreign land

Don't despise the deserter
Don't despise the deserter
Who ran from the war

Don't despise the deserter
Don't despise the deserter
Who ran from the war

So I ran from the fighting
And threw down my guns
I ran with the moon
And slept by the sun

Arrested by government
And charged by the King
To be shot 'cos I can't kill in order to bring
Peace to a foreign land

Don't despise the deserter
Don't despise the deserter
Who ran from the war

Don't despise the deserter
Don't despise the deserter
Who ran from the war

© John Richards

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Where Are The Pissed Off Republicans And Why Are They Not More Vocal?

Letters to the Editor are fun. Here's a few that cause me to ponder the question that is the title to this post. I'm pasting in the whole of the one's from today's SF Chronicle because the breadth if interesting juxtaposed with each other.

Enjoy:
The Republican Party has left me

Editor - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is right on target in his criticism of the Republican Party. I registered as a Republican in 1946, on my 21st birthday. I was a Republican before most of the delegates to the Republican convention were born. I have not left the Republican Party. The party has left me.

To me, a conservative is someone who wants to conserve what is good, and change what is bad. That is not what it means to the people who now dominate the party. They want a way of life that may be consistent with life in 1807, but has nothing to do with 2007. They are completely out of touch with reality. Global warming? A myth spread by left-wing tree-huggers. Evolution? An anti-Christian creed spread by atheists.

The Republican Party needs new leaders: people who accept science, and are not locked into fundamentalist religion. If it does not change, it will go the way of the Whigs, the Know Nothings, and other vestiges of the past. I am not comfortable with the Democratic Party, but I find that now I am even more uncomfortable with the Republican Party.

ALFRED HEXTER
Kensington
Really, I don't find much conservative about the current batch of supposed "compassionate conservatives" either.

Certainly, those worried about getting killed by foreign terrorists don't live in our nation's ghettos:
At a crossroad

Editor - For the people of Richmond:

I am a slave
To the man in the grave
"It's revenge I crave,"
say the young and the brave

Spending the best years
Wiping your mother's tears
Soothing your sister's fears
Until the moment nears

When you have a gun in your hand.
Your future is planned
You're not taking a stand
When others demand,

"It's an eye for an eye."
Do you ask why?
If you don't ask why, another will die.
Is it time for another drive-by?

You walk closer to the ride
A symbol of gang pride
The last man who sat there died
Your two worlds collide

Your conscience or the gun
Your mother's last son
The clock has begun
To stand or to run

To lock and load
You're at a crossroad
The clock has slowed
Courage showed

I was a slave
To the man in the grave
Then I forgave
It was my life to save

ANTHONY OERTEL
San Rafael
And this reader raises an interesting question about the supposed "coalition of the willing."
Help from abroad

Editor - If the sole remaining rationalization for leaving U.S. troops in harm's way in Iraq is to prevent more inter-sectarian bloodshed than we've already unleashed by bumbling in, why is our president not calling on the international community - especially the Arab states - to help quell the violence?

ALLAN MANN
Alameda
And, in the odd event you've not known Phil Frank's work, you may want to google the man. His comic strips were splendid.

Missing Phil Frank

Editor - I cried Friday morning, reading the front page of The Chronicle on my way upstairs with the paper. Like many other members of the Bay Area comics community, I knew Phil Frank. Like his beloved strip, he was warm, funny, politically right-on, and very San Franciscan, without one ounce of mean-spiritedness. If The Chronicle can continue to run Peanuts in perpetuity, can't you do the same for Farley?

TRINA ROBBINS
San Francisco

Friday, September 14, 2007

Iraq: A Lot Like Katrina and NOLA, But Without The Acts Of God

I finally figured out what the strategy was/is for George Bush's Iraq Democracy Freedom Spreading Experiement (IDFSE), which by the way was originally primarily a WMD eradication effort. Even so, we now know that was the bait for the grand bait and switch they played on us regardless. But, I digress.

Over the past two mornings, on my AM run, I've been ruminating about what the real purpose of the illegitimate Iraq invasion was. Simultaneously, I've been watching some of Spike Lee's footage from his documentary on Katrina, tivo-ed ever so faithfully via HBO. Then, for some reason, the confluence of strategies slapped me like a bee sting on the back of the neck. Stick with me here for a bit.

The W, Rove and Co strategies for handling NOLA's existing disaster sparked by Katrina is much the same as the IDFSE except that GW and his team decided to act like god to initiate the destruction. Think about it.

Katrina came in, and only the wealthy were really able to vacate the premises. Those that remained behind - the sick and the infirmed, the poor, those with no wherewithal - were left to fend for themselves. Some of them couldn't walk out on their own power, or were waiting for buses that never arrived.

Katrina hit, the levees broke, and large swaths of NOLA were laid to waist. Those with the money were able to move out, and stay out. Those that remain are the leaches that feed off the misfortunes of others, the good Samaritans trying to help, and those who don't have anywhere else to go. All of whom are left to pick themselves up by their own broken bootstraps.

Forgedabout the raft of broken promises of FEMA, GW, and never-you-mind about the trailers sitting on the tarmac at some remote locations still waiting to be distributed two years later. Essentially, the poor are left to their own devices, to clean up a mess they didn't create. And we would have to say, at this point, it's not going well.

This is not to negate the position that perhaps it's unwise to rebuild NOLA given that it's located in the greased pathway for many future hurricanes, or that it's built below sea level. That's the subject for some one else's post. The W, Rove and Co's ability to solve the Katrina problem is much like their ability to extinguish the Iraq conflagration.

First, Iraq had it's own period of destruction - re: the initial invasion and bombing of the country that led W to stand in front of a Mission Accomplished banner oh, so long ago. They were not gods, but they acted like god did in NOLA. The aftermath was similar.

Much of the rich and well-to-do in Iraq left. Some of the well-to-do have still not returned to either location. Those that remained were left to fend for themselves and had to fight to survive. Those that profit off the destruction are the leaches screwing the poor because they can.

Of course the big difference between Iraq and NOLA is that now there are terrorists and civil war being waged in one place rather than the other. But the end remains the same, those that remain are left with a giant mess to clean up and no end in sight to the work necessary to produce satisfactory results.

When you listen to the President discuss either one, I only hear the blaming of others, and the manufactured spewing of statistics that suggest they have done all they can. Obviated by the current climate in both locations, they only amount to excuses. Of course the President says:
The principle guiding my decisions on troop levels in Iraq is "return on success." The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home. And in all we do, I will ensure that our commanders on the ground have the troops and flexibility they need to defeat the enemy.

When the President says that when there is success, he will withdraw troops. But what should and does "success" look like? If it mirrors the "successful" assistance of New Orleans residents in need, I don't think that the Iraqi's, those that remain, have a prayer.

So, what's the W, Rove and Co. umbrella strategy? On it's face (the prima facie for those who fancy Latin), it looks a lot like this: lay waist to a place, provide only a modicum of recovery assistance, and then let the poor, those who don't have the means to leave, the random Good Samaritans and the leaches remain to mix it up and clean up the mess they didn't create.

Is this strategy successful in either location? You be the judge.

Blog on friends, blog on all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

If Martyrdom Is Good Enough For His Followers, Why Is It Not Good Enough for Osama?

I've got some questions for the blogosphere today. Let's call this...drum roll please...

Windspike's Wednesday Wonderings...



I found this article today where OBL (who is still alive and kicking although W promised us his head dead or alive)astonishingly asks his followers for something he's not willing to do himself. Thus, I came up with a few questions as I ruminated on this comment where OBL urges all followers to:

join the "caravan" of martyrs

Well, if your thinking about joining that particular caravan, you should ask your self why OBL isn't jumping on the same one. This leads me to my first questions.

  1. Really, if martyrdom good enough for you, why isn't Osama blowing himself up for the cause? If he really believed his own words, he should do it too, no?

  2. Given the good general's testimony over the past few days, I also came up with another question for the blogosphere. I known there are people on all sides of this, but one letter to the editor asks a pointed questions:
    Editor - Bottom line, a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, whatever the timeline, will end in the collapse of any modicum of civil order in that country. We have fathered an illegitimate democracy in a nation lacking the cultural and institutional foundations for self-rule. To be sure, as Gen. David Petraeus reports, the surge has had an impact. But as a Colin Powell observed before the act of conception, a preemptive strike would result in our ownership as responsible parents. So, then, the question persists: when will we cut the umbilical cord of this ill-fated democracy?

    This leads me to my second question. I know it's a hypothetical, but it might be fun to mull it over amongst one another.
  3. If you were suddenly appointed CEO and Chief of the Iraq Experiement - not just a subsection of some arm of the enormously profitable Halliburton - how would you build a business case for what you wanted to do to resolve the situation?


    blog on friends, blog on all.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Instead of Deploying A Retro "Not Me" Strategy, Perhaps Bremer Could Have Played Iraq Differently

I had one reaction to Bremer's recent op-ed in the NYTimes. One ex-Marine has a several good points laced with real boots on the ground knowledge of what happened, actually:
“How I Didn’t Dismantle Iraq’s Army,” by L. Paul Bremer III (Op-Ed, Sept. 6), about his role in firing the Iraqi Army in May 2003, is an exercise in bureaucratic finger-pointing.

I was on the ground in Iraq involved in combat operations when he did it. We marines were all left scratching our heads in disbelief.

I find it ludicrous that Mr. Bremer asserts that his releasing members of the old Iraqi Army to the wind and not reconstituting the force was right. With a pen stroke, he disbanded the Iraqi Army, releasing more than 400,000 heavily armed, mostly Sunni, soon to be very angry men. Overnight they lost their role in Iraqi society, their income and their promise of a pension.

The worst thing you can do to any Arab man is humiliate him. Mr. Bremer and his advisers humiliated nearly half a million Iraqi men. These Iraqis typically supported extended families of seven to eight others, derived their status from their service and possessed little or no other means of income. Mr. Bremer beggared more than three million Iraqis overnight.

Surprise of surprises that within weeks, a Sunni-led insurgency using military-issue weapons was ambushing convoys and being paid to plant bombs?

Mr. Bremer should have guaranteed all pensions for former Iraqi Army members, paid soldiers to muster at barracks, tallied their names and skills and involved them in reconstruction.

If only more veterans and fewer combat innocents were to be found among the civilian leadership today, especially among those who got us into and mismanaged this fiasco in Iraq to date, we’d likely get into fewer wars, and the ones we did, we’d prosecute them to win.

Paul Kane
Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 6, 2007
More proof that the W, Rove and Co. "strategy" to "win" the "war" in Iraq was flawed to begin with.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Caio Luciano!


I've always loved Pavarotti. I did get a chance to see him perform at the Met in NYC while on a High School Field trip. It was a a dress rehearsal for Luisa Miller. I'll never forget it. His voice was simply captivating. He will be missed.

How Do We Tell Who The Enemy Is?

This is a new twist in the supposed anti-blame game W, Rove and Co. and the people that used to work for them. I call it the "Not It" strategy.

In an effort to not get pinned for any kind of responsibility for how bad things are in Iraq, Paul Bremer is stepping up to proclaim he's Not It and shouldn't be held accountable for how it's going.
...we were right to build a new Iraqi Army. Despite all the difficulties encountered, Iraq’s new professional soldiers are the country’s most effective and trusted security force. By contrast, the Baathist-era police force, which we did recall to duty, has proven unreliable and is mistrusted by the very Iraqi people it is supposed to protect.
So, the bigger question is how the hell is any one of our GIs supposed to tell who the enemy is in Iraq?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Windspike's Wednesday Wonderings: Are We Better Off Today Than We Were Before We Invaded Iraq?

As we creep up on George Bush's artificial deadline of 15 September and the MSM salivates over the run up to the General's report, we forget the real question of import:

Are we better off today than we were before we invaded Iraq? Here, I'm using the royal "we" as in We the people...of the United States....

I know, I've wondered this aloud before (and some have suggested it's too early to tell), but it crept back into my head after a friend of mine forwarded one powerful sentence that I think the blogosphere aught consider:
The problem with Iraq is that when you're doing the wrong thing there's no right way to do it.
What say you?

Any folk out there betting how big the magic pill will be as it's delivered on 15 September with all the fanfare the President's Political Propaganda Catapult the American people will tolerate?

Blog on friends, blog on all.

Monday, September 03, 2007

You Like The "War" In Iraq? Take A Couple Of Doses And Call Me In The Morning

A friend of mine sent me these vids. Let me know what you think (some of the video may not be for those who are squeamish or under the age of 18):

Iraq Part 1:


Iraq Part II:



You can bet that GW didn't have a walk around such neighborhoods on his latest PR stunt. I'm wondering how much that little "morale booster" side trek to Iraq cost us American Task payers, but that's besides the point.

Some on should ask Bush to view these and let us know which one of the locals are our allies?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Like A Dose of Strong Brew

Alfred Peet died. Perhaps the one single person most responsible for people shunning weak, watery coffee. Also, responsible for the birth of Starbucks. His legacy will live on.

Me, I'm going to honer him with a nice double machiato the next time I'm in a Peet's.

Blog on friends. Blog on all.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Say What, Mr. President?!? Interpretation Needed

Have a look at this from the President and see if you can tell me what he's trying to say:
Q So you need those Australian troops there.

THE PRESIDENT: We need all our coalition partners. And I would hope that -- and I understand, look, everybody has got their own internal politics. My only point is, is that whether it be Afghanistan or Iraq, we've got more work to do. We, the free world, has got more work to do. And I believe those of us who live in liberty have a responsibility to promote forms of government that deal with what causes 19 kids to get on airplanes to kill 3,000 students.
The reporter was asking about the 500 Australian troops in Iraq. Did the reporter get a satisfactory answer? Can you tell me how I should interpret what the president did say here?

I'll leave you with a fine quote from our president as you contemplate your comment to the above:
Freedom yields peace. Asia is peaceful. Why? Because freedom is prevailing, that's why.
And...it's peaceful in Iraq because....

Another Rat Jumps The W, Rove and Co Ship: Tony Snow Gets Replaced By A Fair Beauty

I didn't catch this on the AM MSM reporting today. Did you?

Apparently, Tony the snow Job has had enough. Good news: Dana Perino is taking over. She is definitely easier on the eyes, as Dave Letterman would say.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good afternoon to you.

Tony Snow informed me he's leaving. And I sadly accept his desire to leave the White House, and he'll do so on September the 14th. He is -- it's been a joy to watch him spar with you. He's smart, he's capable, he's witty. He's capable of -- he's able to talk about issues in a way that the American people can understand.

And I don't know what he's going to do -- I'm not sure he does yet, either. But whatever it is, it's going to be -- two things: One, he'll battle cancer and win. And secondly, he'll be a solid contributor to society.
Have a look at what Tony had to day and see if you believe it...particularly about the statement that it was an enormous amount of fun:
MR. SNOW: Just a couple of quick comments. First, Mr. President, thank you and thanks for the honor of serving. This job has really been a dream for me and a blast. I've had an enormous amount of fun and satisfaction, and I'm proud to be working for you, and will continue after I leave working for the White House, to speak out about issues I care about.
And for the second time in the same day, the President leaves a very interesting question unanswered with a "Thank You."
Q How do you feel about losing everybody?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all.
As the rats jump the ship, the house of cards that Rove built tumbles.

The Answer Not Given Yields A Most Revealing Question

Many of you know that W was busy trying to paint some lipstick no the economic pig that's been growing because the lenders are no longer dolling out bad loans to bad risks. Of course, the usual propaganda spew comes a day late and a dollar short. Remember, this is the Administration that supported the change in Chapter 11 policy that forced a large number of people into very difficulty places.

Even so, I thought the one question that managed to get asked today was rather revealing.
Q Sir, what about the hedge funds and banks that are overexposed on the sub-prime market? That's a bigger problem. Have you got a plan?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Thank you? My goodness. Sounds like a good question that a president and his crack team should be able to answer, no?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Real People Doing Real Things To Help Real People

The good thing about America is that when you can't depend on your government, you can depend on the people of America.

While the president is busy providing excuses, placating his audiences by citing statistics and pontificating about how wonderful he and his administration are, there are actually real people out there. Doing real things to help real people.

Watch this (note, the original video used to pop on every time folks hit my page. I change to a youtube version of another video, but you get the idea):

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The tragedy is thus: For some reason we can muster billions of dollars to spend on Iraq, but we can't fix NOLA in two years or less.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Flush: The Sound Of More Taxpayer Dollars Wasted Because Of The Actions Of The W, Rove And Co.

In case you didn't know it, the W, Rove and Co continually tosses good taxpayer monies after bad. No, I'm not talking about the billions of dollars being flushed into Halliburton's coffers by way of Iraq via no-bid contract awards. No, I'm not talking about the pallets of dollars lost in trying to bribe people in Iraq and Afghanistan to be our friends.

And no, I'm not talking about the FEMA trailers still undistributed to the people of NOLA, or the like. I'm talking about the law suit settlements to people who are mistreated and have their rights violated by the W, Rove and Co.

No doubt, this settlement discussed today will be the first of many:
Q Does the President have any regret that $80,000 in taxpayer funds is being paid to a couple that was forcibly removed from a presidential appearance in West Virginia in 2004 and sued the government and the government arranged this settlement?

MR. JOHNDROE: I've not discussed it with the President, so I'm not familiar.

Q Do you know if the Presidential Advance Manual is being modified in any way so that people who do nothing more than have an anti-Bush slogan on their tee shirt are removed from presidential events?

MR. JOHNDROE: I'm not aware of whether the manual is being revised or not. I think there are rules that govern the conduct of activities at presidential events and people try to adhere to them and, I think, for the most part, do.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Flip Flops Are Okay If The President Does It

Tuesday, the President was asked the following question:
Q Thank you all. Mr. President, yesterday, Senator Levin, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that the Iraqi parliament ought to oust Prime Minister Maliki and his government for being politically unable to deliver political unity there, for utterly failing on that point. I'm wondering what your reaction is to Senator Levin's comment, and whether you think Maliki has lost credibility.
Here's the flip response:
There are two types of political reconciliation that can take place in a new democracy: One is from the top down, and one is from the bottom up. Clearly, the Iraqi government has got to do more through its parliament...and now their government has got to perform. And I think there's a certain level of frustration with the leadership in general, inability to work...
Wednesday, as W was shooting another load off the Propaganda Catapult we witness the flop:
Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job, and I support him.
Well, that just about sews up the fate for Maliki, no? Might he go the way of Brownie and all the others that W supports? Fortunately, for us:
And it's not up to politicians in Washington, D.C. to say whether he will remain in his position -- that is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy, and not a dictatorship.
We shall see what they do with Maliki...but should we tollerate the presidential flip flopper?