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."

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.

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.

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

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?

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?

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.