Wednesday, November 30, 2005

No More Theatre

Tonight while cruising the blog world that I have time to peruse I haven't found anyone that has anything positive to say about the Bush speech this morning in front of another captive audience. Granted I don't visit the whack sites like Clownhall etc. but even the more centrist sites have nothing good to say.
I think Bush needs a new schtick. The problem is that the 'people' have figured out that he is just mouthing the words submitted by some speech writer and there is no sense that what he is saying is what he would say if he were using his own, unscripted words. In other words...he is not coming across as sincere.
I have an idea, that he can have for free, that will convince at least some of the people that he actually understands the import and ramifications of his words and actions.
When Bush steps up to the podium and before he opens his prepared speech he should look the audience/camera and recite from memory the names and hometowns of the last 20 American soldiers to die in his elective war on Iraq. This might convince enough people that he actually cared about those lost in his war and actually had spent some time internalizing the losses we are suffering.
Note that I say 'his' war instead of 'the' war or 'our' war. The polls reflect the American feelings toward this adventure and they are telling us that we are tired of the losses and lack of direction and that it is time to get the hell out as soon as we can do it consistent with minimizing losses.
The net of this rather ranbling post is that I am tired of the SOS(same old shit) and I don't want to see any more empty rhetoric. I want to see committment and resolve to reduce our force in Iraq consistent with good military strategy. I don't want to hear anymore theatre about embolding the enemy or building a democracy in Iraq.

Plan to Cover Ass

Just got out of the shower and turned on CNN. I was just in time to hear Bush invoke 9/11 in the first minute of his "Plan for Iraq". So far all he has talked about is the GWOT. Notice also that this another speech if front of captive audience. How long has it been since he has spoken in front of a civilian audience?
Now we get the invocation of Al Qaeda and Osama as part of the justification and once again 9/11 is brought to the fore and the murder of children. Uh oh there is the appeasement word and the insistence on "complete victory". Please define Mr. Bush.
Here comes the strategy. Build a democracy, Iraqi forces to lead the fight and reconstruction. So far nothing new.
Still harping on the terroists even after he just said that they are the smallest group of people we are fighting in Iraq. Now comes the pump up of the Iraqi forces and how much progress they have made. Wow 30 Iraqi battalions have now taken charge of many areas of Iraq and as much as 90 square miles of the capitol. Spending an awful lot of time talking about how the training of Iraqi troops and police has been improved and I would imagine this will be used to justify a drawdown plan in a few minutes. Still taking about how well we have trained them.
Now he is beginning to talk about bringing troops home and reiterating that the military commanders are driving troop strength but there is still no clear timetable or benchmarks.
All decisions are for the military to make and not by politics.
Now he invoked Lieberman as justification for not setting any deadline for withdrawal so I guess that clinches it. Joe has blessed the plan so we are gold on staying the course.
Gotta get dressed and get out of here but I will be surprised if there is any new information or a clear plan forward.
So much for this opportunity to show leadership. I am not so sure this is the speech the American people want to hear. We'll see.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Inauspicious start

The week is not starting out too well. Just got to the airport for my 945 PM flight and it has been delayed until 11. If things don't get any worse I may be able to crawl into bed in Sunnyvale by 3 am. The joys of holiday travel. The Atlanta airport is a zoo. Oh well, nothing to do but watch the people. You can sure tell who is not a regular traveler by how much crap they haul with them and the kind of zombie look they have. I hope everyone gets a good nights rest. Loads of fun here.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

Update: Tuesday Morning 10am PST

It got worse. Didn't leave Atlanta until 0020...mostly due to weather. Finally got to SFO at 0220 local time. By the time I got the rental car and drove to Sunnyvale it was 0330. In bed by 0345 and at the client by 0900 this morning but tired. One good thing about having to hang out in the Crown Room for so long is that I got a chance to meet Wolfgang Puck. He was on his way home after the grand opening f the new Aquarium. His company(s) are doing the catering for it. Seems like a nice guy and was very friendly though he was obviously tired and just as cranky about the delays getting out as everyone else. A little lagniappe after an otherwise miserable travel day.

Merry Christmas..Take That!

Grace over at Scriptoids points us to a post by Doug Giles whining about the persecution of Christians over the wishing of Merry Christmas to non-Christians. While I dutifully posted a comment, the more I thought about it the more irritated I became. Therefore, I will re-post the bulk of my comment here. (Of course, I have amplified and corrected my spelling.)

Thankfully, Grace seems to be of a stronger constitution than I and regularly alerts us to the rantings over at Townhall.

Here is a snippet of Doug's whine:

The Christmasphobia seems to have seeped outside of the Pubic Fool System and has also hit the streets. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve got to think for 30 to 40 seconds about how I am to wish one well during the Christmas season for fear that the ACLU will send some soulless lawyer to my house to sue me because of an insensitive greeting.

Before, I just used to say, “Merry Christmas.” Now, I have to do CIA-like profiling trying to figure out what religion said person is before I launch a holiday howdy. Are they Christian? Muslim? Satanist? Atheist? Do they look like they have enough money to take legal action against me if I get the greeting wrong and they become deeply wounded by my well wish? It’s madness. To remedy the situation, now I just blow off saying anything aside from, “Wassup?”

I must be missing all of the reports about individuals being sued for wishing some non-christian Merry Christmas. You'd think it would be all over the news.

The truth is that Doug is so insecure in his own beliefs and maybe even ashamed of them that he is afraid to wish someone Merry Christmas and possibly being confronted by someone not of his own obviously shallow faith. I can see where the rare possibility of someone, say of the Jewish faith, might smile and respond "Thank you for the well wishes and a Happy Hannukah in return." and poor Doug would be mortified and devastated by the awful truth of his faux pas. It is truly something to avoid at all costs.

What does he think I will do if he wishes me a Merry Christmas? I am not a Christian per se but, then again, I don't wear my faith on my sleeve. Would I lash out with a terrible and cutting diatribe accusing him of persecution and disrespect for my beliefs? Of course not. I would respect his apparent beliefs and wish him a Merry Christmas right back.

I have celebrated Christmas since I was a baby,being raised in a Christian family, and it was only in later years that I grew spiritually beyond the need for a desperate, fearful belief in Jesus. That doesn't, however, mean I don't like Christmas in spirit and it doesn't hurt me at all to wish another human Merry Christmas. I do it all the time to all kinds of people and don't ever remember hesitating, fearful of insulting their beliefs. Since when did wishing someone a Merry Christmas equate to religious persecution?

The reality is that Doug is just a wimp and I imagine that if he sincerely wished another person Merry Christmas and truly implied the good wishes meant by the holiday greeting that, regardless of faith, the other person would respond in kind and not be offended. If someone was offended by such a sincere greeting then they have some issues and some insecurities around their beliefs as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Wine Adventure

Off for an adventure this afternoon. Going up just north of Dahlonega, Georgia to Wolf Mountain Vineyards for a special wild game dinner and wine tasting. The menu is supposed to include Buffalo Chili, Grilled Quail, Rabbit Stew, Venison Sausage and Exotic Mushroom Strudel. I've tasted the wines and they are quite nice. The other vineyards here in Georgia produce a mixed bag of wines, some good and some not so nice, but everything I have tried from Wolf Mountain has been good.

The owner and founder of the winery is a long time acquaintance and this has been a decade plus long project for him and a partner. It looks like it might be successful. Looks like it will rain but there is something refreshing about the North Georgia mountains even with less than ideal weather.

This was supposed to be a little treat for our English friends who have had to delay their visit but we found another couple that thought it sounded like fun so we're off.

Find the Light

This kind of news is not helping me deal with my sense of frustration and disgust over the Chimpinator's adventure in Iraq. Every time I get to the point of convincing myself to drop the anger and focus my energy on the positive something like this pops up. The last was the white phosphorus.

LONDON, England -- Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein if not worse, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has said.

"People are doing the same as (in) Saddam's time and worse," Allawi said in an interview published in Britain on Sunday.

"It is an appropriate comparison," Allawi told The Observer newspaper. "People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things."

Until we can accept the past, recognize the tragedy for what it was and redirect our negative feelings into positive action we are going to short change the energy we can project into actions we have to take now. We cannot continue to dwell on the past and spend all this emotional energy on the past and over something which is done. The immenseness and ramifications of everything that has happened are continuing to bounce back at us.
The mental image I keep having is one of us struggling to crawl out of a pit of filth, covered in death, greed and stupidity, the offal of war, and there is Bush and Cheney and the whole clan with long poles pushing us back down.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

More Black Helos

Don't miss this post over at Democratic Veteran by Jo Fish. It is getting worse by the far away is 2006 again?

The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world.


Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the data-sharing amendment would still give the Pentagon much greater access to the FBI's massive collection of data, including information on citizens not connected to terrorism or espionage.

The measure, she said, "removes one of the few existing privacy protections against the creation of secret dossiers on Americans by government intelligence agencies." She said the Pentagon's "intelligence agencies are quietly expanding their domestic presence without any public debate."

Failure = Success

I can see the CNN headlines now. Something to the effect of

"Latest Evaluations Indicate Iraq is Better Prepared for Own Security Than Previously Thought"

Now that the American people have decided that it is time to figure out how to get the hell out of Iraq with a minimum of further loss and Dubya's handlers have finally realized that they are not going to be able to spin it away we have a new story line.

The LA Times has an article that pretty well summarizes the amazing change of situation.

In a departure from past statements, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week that the training of Iraqi troops has advanced so far that the current number of U.S. troops probably will not be needed for much longer.

President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in which aides say he is expected to proclaim the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for withdrawing U.S. forces.


Some analysts say the emerging consensus might have less to do with conditions in Iraq than the long-term strain of the deployment on the U.S. military. And major questions over the readiness of Iraq's fledgling security forces pose risks for any strategy that calls for an accelerated American troop withdrawal.

As recently as late September, senior U.S. military commanders told a congressional hearing that just one Iraqi battalion, about 700 soldiers, was considered capable of conducting combat operations fully independent of any U.S. support. Administration officials now dismiss that measure of military readiness, saying more Iraqi units are able to perform advanced operations each day.

Josh Marshall also comments that it is now just a matter of spinning the news to make it seem like it was the Administrations idea all of the time.

I'm going to way out on a limb and take James Fallows' word over the president's and assume that there's been no radical turnaround in the training and functioning of the Iraqi Army over the last couple months.

And if that's true, it clarifies this essential point: there is no debate about withdrawing American troops from Iraq. That's over. What we have is posturing and positioning over the political consequences of withdrawal. The White House and the president's partisans will lay down a wall of covering fire, calling anybody who considers withdrawal an appeaser, to allow the president to go about the business of drawing down the American presence in Iraq in time to game the 2006 elections.

Finally, over at Mahablog Barbara notes that if the Dems are not careful Bushco will change the dialogue and use this against them in the 2006 election. We should never overlook the fact that this administration is totally driven by politics. Every decision is colored first by the political aspects and results and not what is in the best interest of the country.

Friday, November 25, 2005

New People, New Thinking

Let's talk about Iraq. Over the last week or so there has been a lot of discussion about withdrawal, whether immediate or phased and the likely effects on the future of Iraq and the "war on terror" and the middle east as a whole. There are also a lot of side issues about whether we were lied to about the whole thing.

It is extremely important to think clearly and without any preconceived answers.

First, it doesn't matter whether you were for or against the war it is now a "done deal" and there is nothing, at this point, to be gained by allowing this to bias our thinking.

Second, it doesn't matter whether the the war was the right or wrong thing to do. Again, it is a "done deal" and should not be allowed to cloud the question of what we should do or not do now.

Third, it doesn't matter if the war was precipitated on false pretenses. Spilt milk.

Stop thinking about the above as they are a waste of time and while important on some level are not actually germane to solving the problems that Cheney and the other neocons have created for the U.S. and the world.

There are really only two questions that need to be addressed:

1. Will an American withdrawal from Iraq create more or less stability in the Middle East?

2. Will a withdrawal increase or decrease the threat of additional terrorist attacks here and elsewhere?

Any other questions are actually side issues of the above two fundamental questions. If we cannot answer those two questions with some assurance of accuracy then we have not gotten a grasp on the situation.

I want us out of Iraq, and the sooner the better, but I am not so sure I am prepared to pay the long term price of an ill considered "cut and run" nor do I think we can "stay the course". There has to be an answer in between these two extremes. There has to be some new thinking.

The other key point to remember, as we go forward, is that we should not look to the current administration for the answers. They have proven themselves incapable of creative thought when it comes to the future of the middle east and therefore cannot be expected to suddenly have the answers needed. There have to be new players.

While I do not have the answers I do want to make sure we are thinking clearly about the options.

  • An "American style" democracy may not the the appropriate solution for Iraq or any other country in the middle east.
  • Patriotism has absolutely nothing to do with what is right or wrong for Iraq.
  • "Christian" values have no intrinsic value when it comes to the correct solution for the current mess.
  • We cannot "undo" anything done so far.
  • Al-Qaeda(or its equivalent) exists and our actions will either empower it or weaken it.
  • We may have screwed up so badly and pushed the situation so far toward disaster that only massive upheaval can create the conditions necessary for progress.
  • No solution is going to be perfect.
  • More people, Iraqi, American, British, Jordanian, man, woman and child are going to die before we begin to see light and hope.
  • Peace and stability are possible but are going require effort, courage and treasure.

Let's get going on trying to find our way.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

It's A Sickness

Here I am about ready to start in on my Thanksgiving cooking. It's just Madam and I this year as our planned guests had to cancel. The daughter is working as she always volunteers to work on such holidays so the firefighters with children can be off. I am still going to cook though. I can't help myself.
I did manage to hold myself back and only bought a small turkey breast this year and even that is still going to produce a week or more of leftovers. You just can't pass this holiday by without turkey and dressing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, squash casserole, hot rolls, gravy, green beans and. of course pumpkin pie. I am fortunate in that I have an extra fridge in the basement so I will be able to store all of the leftovers. I have to hit the road again on Monday so Mrs. Fallenmonk will have plenty to eat while I am away.

I hope everyone has what they want this Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Santa's Little Helper

I was thinking this morning about how we really don't do a very good job when discussing the cost of the Iraq war. People don't really understand numbers of dollars in the billions. It doesn't have any context in their day to day world.

I went looking for some answers and Googled the website of the National Priorities Project. It is a fascinating site that allows you to put some context around the horrendous monies we are wasting in Iraq.

A little background is in order and then we'll play with the numbers a little.

In October of this year, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) concluded that $251 billion had been obligated or appropriated for the Iraq War. The research was based not just on Congressional appropriations, but on the Department of Defense's (DOD) DFAS monthly obligations reports.

So let's pretend that this money is ours to spend on something other than killing Iraqis and ourselves and making Halliburton et al richer. It is coming up on the Christmas season, after all, so let's take this $251B out for a spin and see what we can do with it.

We could go crazy and drop the whole wad in one place. What if we decided to tackle something huge like world hunger. Is that big enough? Here are some facts:

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2003 estimates that over 800 million people worldwide are hungry and undernourished. The FAO has also stated that an annual increase of $24 billion in anti-hunger efforts would reduce world hunger by half (to 400 million people) by 2015.

There you go...we could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by half over the next 10 years. Not so bad.

Maybe we should spread it around a little more? How about immunization? Here are some facts:
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has estimated the additional monies needed to immunize every child in the developing world at $2.808 billion annually. The report (Table 8) calculates that 3 million children die annually from vaccine preventable diseases.

Rounding off to $3B annually we could immunize every child in the world every year for the next 10 years and only spend a lousy $30 Billion. Chump change for Dubya and we still have $220B in the bank. Such a deal.

Think we should spend a little in the neighborhood?

How about we build 500 thousand units of affordable housing? Estimates are that it would cost about $100 thousand a pop so it would cost us a cool $50 Billion so that will leave us with only $170B. (Just ignore the jobs created.)

Let's throw in some health insurance for kids. Estimates are that it would cost 1,800 bucks or so a year per child. Let's do a million kids for ten years and squander another $1.8B per year for a total of $18 Billion and we are left with only $152 Billion.

Maybe we need some more teachers if we are going to have all these healthy kids? How about 50,000 and we pay them what they are worth and say $75K a year and we guarantee them a 5 year contract. There's another $3.75B per year for total of $18.75B and we have spent all but about $130 Billion.

Whoops! Forgot Public Safety. Let's do the same with First Responders like Fire Fighters and Paramedics. There goes another $20B or so. Still money left over!

You can see how this is going and I'll leave it up to you to spend the remaining $100B.

Before some bean counter or economist jumps up and down. Yes, I know this is unsophisticated and that this is just funny money and that we really don't have this money to spend since all of it has been borrowed from the Asians in the first place. I'm just rying to put the cost of Iraq into human terms and opportunity lost. Somebody else can figure out the true economic impact of spending this kind of dough at home on jobs and the quality of life.

If you go the National Priorities Website you can see how the cost of the war is impacting your state specifically. Very interesting.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Better Play the Trump Speedy

You gotta hand it to these clowns...when the Iraqis sling more feces at the rotary ventilation and basically tell us to get the hell out and soon, they whip out Jose Padilla after three long years of being held and try and steal the headlines.

Is anyone in the MSM going to deal with this or are they going to let the administration steal the show with an indictment? Read carefully and note that the charges do not include conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in the United States.

How long do you suppose they have been holding this "trump"?

A Day to Remember

Mustang Bobby at BBWW reminds us that today, Novemeber 22, was the day in 1963 that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. Only those of us over 50 can probably remember exactly what we were doing and where we were that day. I, for one, can mark that time so clearly that I get a lump in my throat if I dwell on it too long.
I had just two months before turned 14 and was sitting in my favorite class, biology, when the principal came over the intercom to announce that Kennedy had been shot and was dead in Dallas. This was in Wilmington, North Carolina. It was warm for November and I can remember that the big windows in the old school house room were open. A gorgeous fall day. That announcement changed the atomosphere in the room from pleasant to tortured. I don't remember if I cried but there was a lot of it going around. They must have dismissed school early that day but I don't recall.
The next thing I clearly remember was the days of black and white TV and the funeral.
Sometimes I can point to this moment in time and see that it was a cusp of sorts for many things that would eventually impact my life and who I am today.

It was an important day and worth remembering.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bush Boom On You

The Bush boom is striking close to home. Included in the 30,000 job cuts announced today by GM 3,000 of so are right down in the road in Doraville, Ga. For those of you not familiar with Metro Atlanta, Doraville is a city that is in the northern burbs of the Metro area. Things shouldn't shut down completely there until sometime in 2008.
See how good the GOP is for business.

Shoulda Known

Max Blumenthal over at HuffPo has done the research on who the Marine Colonel is that the slut from Ohio quoted as cover for her cowardly attack on John Murtha.

Seems Colonel Danny Bubp is a right wing whacko from way back and has been hooked up with the witch for some time. Battling against all the jumped by Jesus bugaboos. He is obviously as bat shit crazy as she is and doesn't even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as John Murtha.

Here is a snippet.
A quick glance at Bubp's background reveals him to a low-level right-wing operative who has spent more time in the past ten years engaged in symbolic Christian right crusades than he has battling terrorist evil-doers. And throughout his career, Bubp's destiny has been inextricably linked with Schmidt's. Bubp may be a Marine, but his view of Murtha as a "coward" is colored by naked political ambition. He is nothing more than cheap camouflage cover for the GOP's latest Swift-Boat campaign.

March 1999 marked the beginning of a brilliant career. It was then that Bubp became pro-bono legal counsel for Adams County for the Ten Commandments, an ad-hoc Ohio group formed to keep 10 Commandments monuments displayed in local public schools after the ACLU filed a lawsuit demanding their removal. Bubp was assisted by a Who's Who of Christian right leaders, including James Dobson, Don Wildmon, Judge Roy Moore and Jay Sekulow. The campaign was organized primarily by Rev. Rob Schenck, a former leader of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, who was once detained for threating Bill Clinton's afterlife at the National Cathedral.

No Dragons Or Wizards This Time

I never really and for truly thought this whole Iraq thing was going to turn out well. I was fairly well convinced from the get go that W and company would take the whole gloriously bad idea of a pre-emptive war and totally screw the pooch. When has war ever really been a good idea? Sometimes, I guess, it has been apparently necessary but never a good idea.

I always hoped though, somewhere is the unrealistic part of my brain that enjoys science fiction and wishes there were still dragons and wizards and that Hogwarts was for real, that something good would happen. Somehow, I thought, all these lives lost or maimed cannot have been spent for naught. All this pain and treasure cannot have been just simply wasted.

The ugly reality of it all is beginning to be too much to wish away or see beyond, however, and the harsh truth is that this whole adventure by the neocons is possibly one of the worst political and humanitarian disasters of all time. I can't see any positives. I can't see any elevation of the human condition.

Mr. Krugman does his usually clear job of explaining the situation in Monday's column.
So the question isn't whether things will be ugly after American forces leave Iraq. They probably will. The question, instead, is whether it makes sense to keep the war going for another year or two, which is all the time we realistically have.

Pessimists think that Iraq will fall into chaos whenever we leave. If so, we're better off leaving sooner rather than later. As a Marine officer quoted by James Fallows in the current Atlantic Monthly puts it, "We can lose in Iraq and destroy our Army, or we can just lose."

And there's a good case to be made that our departure will actually improve matters. As Mr. Murtha pointed out in his speech, the insurgency derives much of its support from the perception that it's resisting a foreign occupier. Once we're gone, the odds are that Iraqis, who don't have a tradition of religious extremism, will turn on fanatical foreigners like Zarqawi.

The only way to justify staying in Iraq is to make the case that stretching the U.S. army to its breaking point will buy time for something good to happen. I don't think you can make that case convincingly. So Mr. Murtha is right: it's time to leave.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Man in Black

Went to see Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Walk The Line this afternoon. I can highly recommend it. If Reese doesn't get an Oscar nomination for her protrayal of June Carter something is really amiss. Joaquin did and admirible job as well but Reese stole the flick. Both of them did their own vocals and I must say Reese sings amazingly well and much better than June Carter ever did. Then again, June always said she couldn't sing.

Update: 9pm fixed stupid spelling mistakes

Done Deal

Via Steve Gilliard

Steve has posted a chunk of Frank Rich's column from the pay side of the Times which I will steal and post below. It points out something I have been trying to quantify for some time.

The American people have already decided what is going to happen in Iraq. 52% want the troops out within 12 months. The 2oo6 election is the deadline since most of the people running for office, while morally suspect, aren't necessarily stupid. Regardless of the catalyst or the exact timing, the withdrawal from Iraq is effectively already underway, at least emotionally, with the American people. Representative John Murtha just managed to put it into words.

They know the voters have decided the war is over, no matter what symbolic resolutions are passed or defeated in Congress nor how many Republicans try to Swift-boat Representative John Murtha, the marine hero who wants the troops out. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup survey last week found that the percentage (52) of Americans who want to get out of Iraq fast, in 12 months or less, is even larger than the percentage (48) that favored a quick withdrawal from Vietnam when that war's casualty toll neared 54,000 in the apocalyptic year of 1970. The Ohio State political scientist John Mueller, writing in Foreign Affairs, found that "if history is any indication, there is little the Bush administration can do to reverse this decline." He observed that Mr. Bush was trying to channel L. B. J. by making "countless speeches explaining what the effort in Iraq is about, urging patience and asserting that progress is being made. But as was also evident during Woodrow Wilson's campaign to sell the League of Nations to the American public, the efficacy of the bully pulpit is much overrated."

Mr. Bush may disdain timetables for our pullout, but, hello, there already is one, set by the Santorums of his own party: the expiration date for a sizable American presence in Iraq is Election Day 2006. As Mr. Mueller says, the decline in support for the war won't reverse itself. The public knows progress is not being made, no matter how many times it is told that Iraqis will soon stand up so we can stand down.

On the same day the Senate passed the resolution rebuking Mr. Bush on the war, Martha Raddatz of ABC News reported that "only about 700 Iraqi troops" could operate independently of the U.S. military, 27,000 more could take a lead role in combat "only with strong support" from our forces and the rest of the 200,000-odd trainees suffered from a variety of problems, from equipment shortages to an inability "to wake up when told" or follow orders.

Sobering Thought

Here's a snippet from The Independent on the glaciers in Greenland and the rapid increase in the melt. This is serious business folks. Can you just imagine the financial impact of the world's oceans rising by 20 or so feet? Good bye London, Hong Kong, Sydney, New York, Boston, etc., it is a very sobering thought. Not only will a major portion of the UK disappear under water but the climate in Northern Europe will drastically change for the worse without the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream.

Granted, it is probably too late to do anything about it but we should at least begin planning for the upheaval.

Greenland's glaciers have begun to race towards the ocean, leading scientists to predict that the vast island's ice cap is approaching irreversible meltdown, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

Research to be published in a few days' time shows how glaciers that have been stable for centuries have started to shrink dramatically as temperatures in the Arctic have soared with global warming. On top of this, record amounts of the ice cap's surface turned to water this summer.

The two developments - the most alarming manifestations of climate change to date - suggest that the ice cap is melting far more rapidly than scientists had thought, with immense consequences for civilisation and the planet. Its complete disappearance would raise the levels of the world's seas by 20 feet, spelling inundation for London and other coastal cities around the globe, along with much of low-lying countries such as Bangladesh.

More immediately, the vast amount of fresh water discharged into the ocean as the ice melts threatens to shut down the Gulf Stream, which protects Britain and the rest of northern Europe from a freezing climate like that of Labrador.

Poor Porgy

Well, Porgy and Bess was not too thrilling. There were a few moments, but overall I think it was a less than inspired performance. The two lead female vocalists were good and managed to get their voices out and intimate with the audience. Not so for the males.
I was a nice evening out with friends so it was not a waste...just a little disappointing.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

More to Come I Think

Do you think it just coincidence that Congressman Murtha offered his resolution when he did and that so shortly thereafter General Casey offered a plan for a drawdawn? I seriously doubt it. Murtha has alwasy been close to the Pentagon and I wouldn't be surprised in the least bit if he was chosen to deliver the message to Congress. It is very career limiting for this kind of talk while you are still active service and using a surrogate of such impeccable credentials would make sense.

I don't think we are going to see the last of this issue just because of the stunt pulled by the GOP last night.

Well, off to dinner and the Atlanta Opera and Porgy and Bess. I will catch you on the flip side humming Gershwin.

The Whole Story...Not!

ABC has an article up that "reveals" what the "enhanced interrogation techniques" are that I mention in an earlier post.

The techniques they list are:

1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

This information is supposedly direct from the CIA. This is a very interesting article because what it is trying to do is separate these "techniques" from torture per se and getting the public used to the idea. They are supposedly only used in limited cases and are carefully monitored.

Don't believe it folks, as this is just more "sunshine up your kilt". You can see that none of these things sound like "real" torture. Water boarding is the most extreme and nobody is actually hurt right? I guess we are supposed to conveniently forget about the broken bones, bruises, scars and dead bodies. If these things are so tame why do we feel it necessary to haul these guys off to foriegn countries to "gently persuade them to lie to us".

Think it through. The people that volunteered to be trained in these techniques, and the other ones we are not being told about, are more than likely sociopaths already. Who the hell volunteers to inflict pain and fear in another person? Do you honestly think, knowing what you know of human nature, that these folks stop here? Do you think all the photos and stories we are seeing are fakes?

For the most part, the article is ABC News carrying water for the adminstration once again. If you take it at face value you are a sucker.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Same Old Tricks

I have been encouraged lately by what seemed a more balanced approach to reporting the news by CNN recently but teaser paragraphs like this just show me that they are still marching to the Whitehouse media machine's beat though slighly out of step. The quote below connects the latest suicide strikes to Murtha's comments yesterday about withdrawal. This is by association and not directly but it will have the same effect in many minds. If you read the entire article you will get a different picture but to a large degree all of the damage is already done by the lead in.

Suicide bombers killed dozens of people today in Baghdad and near the Iranian border in Khanaqin. The U.S. military said 55 people were killed; Iraqi police reported 65 dead. The blasts came a day after Rep. John Murtha, a Democratic hawk on defense issues, sparked a firestorm of debate when he called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
As a side note, there is a quote from Scott McClellan that gives us a preview of the latest administration psyop tactic for attacking the questioners of the Iraq debacle.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan compared Murtha with anti-war filmmaker Michael Moore and echoed earlier statements by House GOP leaders in accusing him of "surrender."
Linking the concept and word "withdraw" with the emotionally loaded word "surrender". If you talk about withdrawal you are talking about the U.S. losing in Iraq and surrendering to Osama.

This is psyops and brainwashing at its finest. Keep and eye out for other examples, which there will be, of the Whitehouse taking legitimate words used in the Iraq discussion and linking them to emotionally charged words such as "losing", "surrender" and "defeat".

This kind of stuff only works if you accept the linkage and legitimize it in your mind.

President of the World - Good Idea

Esquire magazine has chosen the Big Dog as "The Most Influential Man in the World". I hope the little bastard wandering around the far east reads this, though I know he doesn't read. Maybe someone will leave a copy in the john and he'll just accidently pick it up. I can just see him running to Condi or Karen and telling them to do something about it.

Since leaving office, Clinton has been so active that his post-presidency amounts to "a third term" for the Democrat who held the White House from 1992 to 2000, the magazine said. He has tackled global issues from AIDS, poverty and global warming to the recovery from last December's Indian Ocean tsunami.

Esquire editor David Granger argued that Clinton was poised to become "something like a president of the world or at least a president of the world's non-governmental organizations."

In spite of some less than progressive things I still consider Bill Clinton the greatest President of my lifetime. It still angers me to think of the wasted opportunities that resulted from Bill having to spend so much time fending off the whacko right. Seeing the contrast between Dubya and Clinton just makes me more convinced of that.

Thanks to Charles2 at The Fulcrum for the heads up.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sunshine Peeking Through?

The Republicans suffered another major setback today in trying to finance Bush's taax cuts for the wealthiest Americans on the backs of the poor. The Democrats stuck together and 22 moderate Republicans voted down this awful bill that included all kinds of cuts to programs that help the poorest in the nation including large cuts in the heating assistance program just when we are looking at an upcoming disaster with respect to people being able to afford to heat their homes this year. All I can say is it's about time.

WASHINGTON -- Legislation to fund many of the nation's health, education and social programs went down to a startling defeat in the House Thursday, led by Democrats who said cuts in the bill hurt some of America's neediest people.The 224-209 vote against the $142.5 billion spending bill disrupted plans by Republican leaders to finish up work on this year's spending bills and cast doubt on whether they would have the votes to pass a major budget-cutting bill also on the day's agenda.

Democrats, unanimous in opposing the legislation, said it included the first cut in education funding in a decade and slashed spending for several health care programs. "It betrays our nation's values and its future," said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland. "It is neither compassionate, conservative nor wise."

On and On and On

10 more lives in the last two days. Goddess it's getting real hard not be incapacitated by this tragedy.

BAGHDAD (AFP) - The US military announced the death of a US soldier killed in Iraq, the 10th serviceman to die in two days at a time when US opinion is turning against the war.

The latest victim, who died Wednesday of wounds sustained in a Baghdad bomb explosion, brings to at least 2,080 the number of US military personnel killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, according to an AFP tally based on the independent Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

Cautionary Tale

For those of you not familiar with Mark Morford of the SF Gate. His columns are always good and sometimes great. Regardless, his prose is just good to wade through. Here is an excerpt from his latest concerning Bill O'Reilly and his recent comments about SFO.

Here's the takeaway, the only thing you need to know: Bill O'Reilly is a walking, snorting cautionary tale. For those of us who occasionally tread similar terrain of barbed political commentary (tempered, I hope, with satire and hope and sex and humor and fire hoses of divine juice), he is the Grand Pariah, the threshold, the Place You Do Not Want To Go as an intellectually curious human soul. He is the guy you can always look to, no matter how bad it gets, and say, Wow, at least I'm not him.

Evidence of Desperation

Josh Marshall is making a very important point this morning that bears repeating. Despite the absurdity of their arguments with respect to the run up to the Iraq debacle the Whitehouse is now backed into a corner with a great majority of Americans now convinced that they have been lied to and that invading Iraq was a huge mistake. All that is left to them is that 30 - 40% of people who are obviously not capable of anything resembling coherent thought. You know, the Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to market, wrestling on TV is real, Bud is beer crowd. The Whitehouse is just trying to get them worked up and give them some talking points. It doesn't matter to this crowd that the words they utter bear no semblance of truth or reality...they just need something to say to the "I told you so" crowd. Anything will do. We just need to take every opportunity to keep them silent and make them feel stupid for regurgitating the Whitehouse spin and the silence will soon win out.

Here is the essence from Josh:

Virtually all of the arguments the White House is now advancing are transparently ridiculous on their face to anyone who has closely followed this evolving debate over the last three years.

But that doesn't matter. The White House doesn't need to win any debates. What they need is for their core supporters to have something to say. Anything. And to be able to say it loudly. The one thing that would be fatal for the White House from its defenders would be silence

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pile On!

Confirming that the wheels have fallen off the Bush administration Senator Hagel takes his turn at tinkling on Dubya'a parade. When your own team begins to kick you when you are down you are basically toast. Good one Chuck.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) strongly criticized yesterday the White House's new line of attack against critics of its Iraq policy, saying that "the Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them."....

Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and a potential presidential candidate in 2008, countered in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations that the Vietnam War "was a national tragedy partly because members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late."

"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic," Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."

Hagel said Democrats have an obligation to be constructive in their criticism, but he accused the administration of "dividing the country" with its rhetorical tactics.

Compassion Overflows

I guess it is not too surprising but here is another example of GOP compassionate conservatism. Bush and Congress are reneging on part of the promise of aid to NY for the care of 9/11 first responders.

WASHINGTON - Congressional budget negotiators have decided to take back $125 million in Sept. 11 aid from New York, which had fought to keep the money to treat sick and injured ground zero workers, lawmakers said Tuesday.
The tug-of-war over the $125 million began earlier this year when the White House proposed taking the money back because the state had not yet spent it.
Put this relatively small amount of money in contrast to the 2 BILLION dollars we are spending per day in Iraq and you get the full measure of the slap to New York.
Keep the picture of the Chimperor standing at ground zero pledging whatever it will take to help NY respond to get the full effect.

False Alarm

More excitement in Tennessee this morning. After managing to dodge the tornadoes yesterday afternoon I now get jolted out of a sound sleep this morning at 4 by the hotel fire alarm. False, but still got to stand outside on a very cool morning for a while. Does wake one up. I should apologize to the alarm clock which I rather brutally tried to turn off until I realized it was the fire alarm. Still seems to be functional so maybe I didn't kill it. let's see what the rest of the day brings. I hope this weather front moves on through Atlanta this morning and I don't have to fly into it this afternoon on the way home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Volunteer State

Tennessee bound today and away from the net pretty much all day. I will see you later from a hotel in Jackson. You boys and girls be good.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Going Somewhere

Spoke too soon!. Getting launched to the wilds of Tennessee tomorrow for an overnight. Some client meetings. Have to fly to Memphis and then drive to the central part of the state around Jackson. Very strange travel day evidently... no coach seats on any plane to Memphis tomorrow or coming back Wednesday... had to book first class. It's the price they pay for short notice trips or it could be a plot by the airlines to make you pay out of the nose if you have to book for next day travel. They know they have you and can squeeze all they want. Stranger still was Hertz had no cars available in Memphis tomorrow. I believe that is the first time I have been told that there were no cars available. Did find hotel rooms in Jackson on the first try so maybe it is a local Memphis thing. Maybe something going on I am not privy to? Is Elvis coming back?

Anyhow, so much for my week of non travel.

Euphemism Warning

Here we go again. We are getting manipulated by the "word smiths" again. This time they are attempting to take some of the sting out the word "torture".

In this article discussing Stephen Hadley's chicken dancing around the President's "do not torture" statement last week. A new term is weaseling it's insidious way into the dialogue. The new phrase they are trying to make stick is "enhanced interrogation techniques". Does that make you feel a little better about it? "Enhanced interrogation techniques" sounds a lot less forbidden than "torture". It doesn't automatically bring to mind bamboo manicures, electric penis clips or the big favorite "Palestinian Cross".

We can't let them use these weasel phrases to take the focus off the fact that torture is wrong. There is no "torture light". If you torture or condone torture in any fashion you are a war criminal plain and simple.

A good example of how we have been brainwashed by the use of euphemism to soften the reality of something unpleasant is how we now refer to the nervous collapse in soldiers too long in combat as PTSD or "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder". That sounds a lot better than the original term used in World War I..."Shell Shock". Shell Shock is too brutal for today's sensibilities it is simple and pussy footing around. Tells you everything you need to know...Shell Shock.

In WW II "Shell Shock" evolved into "Battle Fatigue". That's a little softer, not so brutal. "Fatique" is better than "Shock" you know it doesn't sound nearly as bad. "Battle Fatigue" still wasn't soft enough though for the war mongers because in the Korean Conflict it evolved yet again into "operational exhaustion" ... still a little softer and less alarming. In Vietnam we finally managed to weasel "shell shock" into "PTSD" and not only did we totally take all of the simplicity and directness out of the phrase we now had something that was easy to abbreviate and remove that last vestige of emotional baggage.

This is what they are attempting to do with "enhanced interrogation techniques". Take all of the emotional baggage associated with "torture" away so it will be a little more palatable for the sheep who really don't like to "dirty their beautiful minds" with "torture".

You will see the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques" more and more as this unbelievable discussion around how much torture is enough torture proceeds.

An example is from Republican Senator Kit Bond, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who told Newsweek magazine that "enhanced interrogation techniques" had worked with at least one captured high-level Al-Qaeda operative, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, to thwart an unspecified plot.

The article goes on to state that compromise discussions are underway between the White House and the Senate on the language in the McCain ammendment.

I guess it is OK to consider a compromise if you are only talking about "enhanced interrogation techniques" while it would be unheard of to talk of compromise over "torture".

Don't be distracted by the arguments that the ends justify the means and that they are only doing it to protect us. The argument over torture is not about any of this.. it is about who we are as a country. If we continue to torture or condone torture we surrender all moral authority over human rights anywhere and anytime. Holy Keerist one of the many excuses Dubya used to justify attacking Iraq was because Saddam tortured people. There is absolutely no gray area here... it is a totally black and white issue. Yes or NO.

Going Nowhere

For the first time in several months I am looking at two weeks straight of no travel. My engagement for the week was cancelled and nothing else was on the burner so here I am. Next week I had scheduled vacation for the first 3 days and Thanksgiving takes care of the rest.

Originally friends from the UK were coming for a stay and we were to take them to Cumberland Island for a day and then on to St. Augustine for the holiday. Nothing special...just relaxing and beach and some downtime. A family emergency put their trip on hold so we are now at ends as to what to do. Mom has made other plans for the holiday, since we were not going to be coming home, so that is out too. Might be a very quiet holiday unless something pops up and there is something to be said for that as well.

I've got plenty to keep me occupied however, so don't worry that I might go cabin crazy. If it doesn't get too cold I might actually get some golf in as well. Right now they are predicting 71 today in the Atlanta area and for November that is nice. I love this time of year anyway and this kind of weather makes it even better. It doesn't have to get cold at all and I will be happy. The heating bills are going to be bad enough as it is. I am just glad I live this far south and am not having to look forward to a full blown winter with snow and week upon week of freezing weather.

Hope everyone has a great Monday. I guess Dubya is off to the far east to piss those guys off too. I will be interesting to see how badly he steps on his crank this trip.

Deplorable Plot

Mustang Bobby rightfully has joined Bryan over at Why Now? in deploring the effort by skippy the bush kangaroo to set up a Google bomb for Bill O'Reilly as payback for his suggestion that terrorists should strike San Francisco because they have passed a ban on handguns. Skippy wants us to label Bill O'Reilly as a terrorist sympathizer.

I don't agree thatBill O'Reilly is a terrorist sympathizer either. I've never called him a terrorist sympathizer, and without any proof that he is a terrorist sympathizer I wouldn't do it. Truthfully, I doubt that there's anyone, left or right, blogging today that can justly call Mr. O'Reilly a terrorist sympathizer.

It is important for our credibility as bloogers that we defend Bill O'Reilly from being called a terrorist sympathizer unjustly. I am taking a special effort to say on this blog that "Bill O'Reilly is not a terrorist sympathizer." Just because he is an opinionated bag of wind and does kinky things with falafel doesn't warrant accusing him of being a terrorist sympathizer. Just because he he feels it somehow necessary to loudly and vigorously attack one of the great cities in America doesn't mean he should be called a terrorist sympathizer either.

Far be it for me, however, to restrict your right to call Mr. O'Reilly a terrorist sympathizer if you feel you need to. This is America, after all, and we are free to express our opinions, right or wrong. So if you wish to call Bill O'Reilly a terrorist sympathizer and take part in the Google bomb plot being foisted by skippy by posting the "terrorist sympathizer" link on your site, that is your right as a freedom loving American. You are free to do as you please and I won't or can't stop you. You will just have to let your conscience by your guide.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Weakening the Foundation

Below are five names you should mark in your little book. You may not need them this year or next but it won't be too many years before you can point to them and say with authority that these were the Senators that sold our most fundamental right down the river. These are the Senators that spat on the civil right considered so important by our founding fathers that it alone was embodied in the Constitution where the others were attached in the Bill of Rights.

These are "opposition party" Senators that voted with the Republican majority that threw out the right of Habeas Corpus for the foriegn nationals being held in Guantanamo that was so recently upheld by the Supreme Court.

Kent Conrad - North Dakota
Joe Lieberman - Connecticut
Mary Landrieu - Louisiana
Ben Nelson - Nebraska
Ron Wyden - Oregon

Why should we be concerned that this fundamental right to grievance was eliminated for these "so called" enemy combatants? They are not citizens. The right still applies to citizens.

One of our founding principles is that "all men are created equal" and the right of habeas corpus which dates back to the Magna Carta is fundamentally intertwined with that concept. Any action by government that weakens or moves away from this fundamental principle is setting a dangerous precedent that will make it that much easier to weaken its application to ordinary citizens.

The right of habeas corpus is our protection from unfair imprisonment by the majority... if you are arrested under false pretenses or without charges you have a right to petition a court to have the charges against you spelled out and justified with respect to the laws of the country. If the state cannot justify its right to hold you lawfully, you must be set free.

While this new Senate law only applies to foriegn nationals it is asking us to accept some mighty big assumptions and with the latest revelations on torture, false imprisonment, lying and general lousy and untrustworthy behaviour they are mighty assumptions indeed.

One, the Senate wants us to assume that the our govenment is "doing the right thing" without supervision of the courts or other outside monitor. No thanks.

Two, we are supposed to believe that everyone being held is absolutely guilty and doesn't deserve any other legal consideration. No thanks.

Three, we should trust the military tribunals to completely address all of the constitutional issues with respect to the detainees especially considering how they have had little or no legal counsel. No thanks.

Four, we are to just blindly agree to accept one standard of justice for ourselves and another for foriegners. No thanks.

Five, we are supposed to assume that just because we do not honor our acceptance of the Geneva Conventions and the Annex to the Hague Conventions we expect other govenments to do so when handling our citizens. No thanks.

It is these little "nibbles" at our civil rights that we must be most diligent about. They don't individually seem to amount to much but each one takes a stone or two from the foundation of our civil liberties. Each stone removed from the foundation weakens it and sooner or later the structure of our democracy will collapse because of it.

ReddHedd over at Firedoglake has done an excellent job of discussing this and since she is a lawyer has a much better take on it than I.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Lies Beget Lies

Your Momma told you that lies beget more lies and that when you start lying about things you will just have to keep lying more and more to hide the lies that you already told.

Bush didn't listen to his Momma. He spent his time yesterday disgracing the honor of our fallen telling more lies to hide the lie upon lie he has already told.

This article in the Washington Post pretty clearly spells out the lies and half truths from yesterday's Pennsylvania speech. A most disgusting speech... even for Dubya.

Here is some meat from the Post's take down. Good journalism.

President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

Neither assertion is wholly accurate....

Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

It is an excellent article and you shouldn't miss reading the whole thing.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remember Why

Surburban Guerrilla reminds us about why we observe this date.

Abraham Lincoln
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Remember all that have fallen or sacrificed for this idea of America when you throw up your hands in disgust at what our leadership is doing and country has become under it. Remember the above words and harden yourself to fight on in whatever way you can, small or large. We are more than George Bush ever dreamed and if we let his dark soul and distorted vision permanently change the principles of this country then we have prostituted what our forefathers sacrificed so much for. Remember.

Escaped Again

Fallenmonk has once again escaped from the evildoers in Gropinator land. This time via the highly suspect San Jose airport. I thought I had been spotted when our first approach to Atlanta was waved off at the last moment but they were evidently after someone else as I made it through baggage claim and to the off airport parking without incident. I then managed to lose myself and my sanity in the 5pm Friday afternoon traffic in Atlanta.
I see I missed another day of Bush lying and trying to scare the rest of the country into continuing to support his war. Note that it is "his war" now and not "our" war or the war. Always remember to call it by it's proper name. It's "His War".
He is really getting good at lying isn't he? No hesitation and a firm set to the jaw as if he almost believes this drek himself. His writers have latched on the half truth ploy. Tell some of the truth but not all and defininetly not anything that would dispute your underlying prejudices.
Yes, everybody saw the NIE but not everybofy saw both the good and the bad parts. You know, the intelligence that questions or negated the stuff used to justify the invasion. What a maroon!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Defined By A Sentence

Everything you ever needed to know about the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist can be deduced from one sentence he threw up today concerning secret torture "Gulags".

Frist was asked if that meant he was not concerned about investigating what goes on in detention centers.

"I am not concerned about what goes on and I'm not going to comment about the nature of that," Frist replied.

Every once in a while such moments happen and usually without warning.

If you aren't one of the 'chosen' or in other words, wealth and white then your life and everything about it is of no consequence to me. I am way too busy trying to spin the Iraq cluster fuck into some half baked tale of global salvation. i can't be bothered with this smaill stuff.

Stay Away from Dover, PA

This is just a fair warning. It comes from an absolute authority and it is beyond question.

Stay the hell out of Dover, Pa.'cause we are looking at a disaster of "biblical" proportion. The shit is going to hit the fan and God is going to sit back and laugh and watch you suffer and after you die some horrible death he is going to make sure you go to hell.
You dumb sumabitches have voted God right out of your town and you know how carefully God follows the local elections is small town PA.
What was on your mind? Do you get some kind of thrill flaunting God's word? How could you reject the idea that the world was started by a couple of nekkid people and a talkin' snake.
Man you are so fucked.

Ticket to Ride

The Wednesday night polls released by NBC and the Wall Street Journal are impressive in their broad denunciation of the Bush presidency.

NBC/WSJ has Bush at all-time lows across the Board:

  • Overall: 38%
  • Economy: 34%
  • Foreign policy: 35%
  • Terrorism: 39%
  • Iraq: 32%
If this isn't a horse the Democrats can ride then I can't imagine a better opportunity to seize the initiative on everything...Iraq, economy, environment, security, taxes, whatever. If the Dems screw this pooch then there is no hope.

We are not talking about a weekly dip here. This is a trend and I can imagine it getting worse for Bush. These things kind of have a momentum that is virtually impossible to stop. It's the snowball effect.
The following indicates a major paradigm shift in the thinking of the American people.

Fifty-seven percent believe he deliberately misled people to make the case for war, compared with 35 percent who say he gave the most accurate information he had. In addition, 58 percent are less confident the war will come to a successful conclusion, and 57 percent say the United States should reduce the number of U.S. troops there.
I can seriously see the word "impeach" becoming something you begin to see in the daily MSM narrative. Whatever "political capital" Dubya thought he earned in the last election has been squandered two fold. It's taken way too long for the American people to wake up but they appear to awake now. Jolted awake is more like it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bad News - Worst Case

Susie at Suburban Guerrilla has the scoop and it confirms what I mentioned, and didn't want to believe, a couple of days ago. there is no longer any question that the U.S. used white phosphorus against both civilians and insurgents in the attack on Fallulah. This report from the Army itself also proves that the U.S. State Department was lying when it said the WP was only used for illumination.

From the “The Fight for Fallujah – TF2-2 IN FSE AAR: Indirect Fires in the Battle of Fallujah” in the March/April ‘05 edition of Field Artillery Magazine :

“The munitions we brought to this fight were . . . illumination
and white phosphorous (WP, M110 and M825), with point-detonating (PD), delay, time and variable-time (VT) fuzes.”

“WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.”

This according to Captain James T. Cobb, First Lieutenant Christopher A. LaCour, and Sergeant First Class William H. Hight, the authors of the article. Their article fundamentally disagrees with the statement by the U.S. State Department on the matter.

There are also numerous reports from embedded journalists that WP was fired on Fallujah, such as this one from the North County Times:

“Bogert is a mortar team leader who directed his men to fire round after round of high explosives and white phosphorus charges into the city Friday and Saturday, never knowing what the targets were or what damage the resulting explosions caused.
The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call “shake ‘n’ bake” into a cluster of buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week.”

The use of white phosphorus is not specifically banned by any treaty, however the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (Protocol III) prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilian populations or by air attack against military forces that are located within concentrations of civilians. [2] The United States is among the nations that are parties to the convention but have not signed protocol III.

I don't know all the details about Protocol III and I am no lawyer but a nation that wants to claim the morale high ground has absolutely no business using such a weapon against combatants or anyone else. If you want to read more about WP here is the Wikipedia entry.

I am just disgusted.

Update #1: For and impassioned take on this story you can't go wrong by reading Hunter's diary over at Dkos.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Kansas Freak Show Redux

The Kansas Board of Education has rapidly reloaded and shot itself in the foot again. This time they had to resort to changing the definition of science in order to get intelligent design foisted upon Kansas' youth. Here is the salient paragraph...
In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.
I guess that will show the scientists that if you make the scientific method so rigorous as to eliminate the possibility of total bullshit being passed off as science, then they will just take their ball and go home.
If you live in Kansas it must be embarassing to be the laughing stock of the world.

Update: looks like the voters in Maryland are actually thinking and acting accordingly. Via Susie at Surbrban Guerrilla. Here is the quote:
DOVER, Pa. – Voters in this rural school district Tuesday ousted eight school board members who backed a controversial policy to introduce high school students to “intelligent design,” which critics say is a form of creationism.

Voters replaced the GOP incumbents with a Democratic slate that called for removing intelligent design from Dover’s science curriculum, returns from all six precincts showed.

There is hope I guess.

Lower the Bar One More Time

Via Americablog

Sounds like another brilliant plan from the Pentagon.
"We have clear experience from the 1970s with recruiting a sizable number of people from the lowest mental categories," said White. After the Vietnam War, the Army accepted a higher proportion of low-scoring recruits, leading to training and discipline problems, he added.

To achieve last month's recruiting targets, 12 percent of those accepted by the Army had the lowest acceptable results. They scored between 16 and 30 points out of a possible 99 on an aptitude test that quizzes potential soldiers on general science, mathematics and word knowledge.

Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey told reporters last month that the Army would begin accepting more people who scored in the bottom third on the military's aptitude test, increasing the proportion to 4 percent from 2 percent. The Army had kept the figure at 2 percent since 1990.
Do they not have any pride in the quality of their forces? Do they think it will somehow solve their problems if we lower the standards for military service? What happened to the FEW good men meme?
Is the problem that the only people they can find to sign up are the ones that will score lowest on these apptitude tests? If they don't lower their standards does that mean that we have to give up and get our folks home?

I can just see the ads now. "Are you dumb enough to join todays Army? Can't find your ass with both problem we can make a target out of anybody and the dumber you are the easier it is. Can't find the recruiter's problem, just have your little brother or sister dial the number on your screen and we'll come to you."

I am being a smart ass and the truth is that it takes smart people to survive in a combat theatre. People that can think on their feet and improvise quickly in order to save their life and the lives of their comrades. Lowering the standards is going to mean higher casualties...I guarantee it.

Another in the seemingly endless chain of tragedies our current misadministration is visiting upon us. Goddess help us all.

Where Do I Sign Up?

Please, Please Karl can I be on your list? I know I am probably too small a fish to be on the list but I would like to sign up if that's possible. It really would mean a lot.

Via Capitol Hill Blue
White House keeps dossiers on more than 10,000 'political enemies'
Spurred by paranoia and aided by the USA Patriot Act, the Bush Administration has compiled dossiers on more than 10,000 Americans it considers political enemies and uses those files to wage war on those who disagree with its policies.The “enemies list” dates back to Bush’s days as governor of Texas and can be accessed by senior administration officials in an instant for use in campaigns to discredit those who speak out against administration policies or acts of the President.
Those on the list include former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, former covert CIA operative Valarie Plame, along with filmmaker and administration critic Michael Moore, Senators like California’s Barbara Boxer, media figures like liberal writer Joe Conason and left-wing bloggers like Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga (the Daily Kos)
Update: I see in my rush to get this posted I neglected to credit Susie at Suburban Guerrilla for pointing this out. My most humble apologies.

Good Blogging

Congratulations to Bobby Cramer over at Bark Bark Woof Woof on his second anniversary at blogging. As the volume of bloggers increases it is nice to know there are bloggs you can rely on as such as BBWW. Not too big and not too small.

The Hits Keep Coming

Just in case the last post wasn't sobering enough then take a look at the disheartening account of the death of a prisoner in Iraq at the hand of Americans by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker. Here is just snippet.

Jamadi’s bruises, [a forensic pathologist who examined the case records] said, were no doubt painful, but they were not life-threatening. Baden went on, “He also had injuries to his ribs. You don’t die from broken ribs. But if he had been hung up in this way [with his hands tied behind him in a painful position known as a "Palestinian Hanging"] and had broken ribs, that’s different.” In his judgment, “asphyxia is what he died from—as in a crucifixion.”
I guess this is why Cheney is pushing so hard to exempt his boys from McCain's torture retrictions. Maybe Cheney is channeling Pontius Pilate? Maybe they think crucifixion is OK since it is in the Bible?

The bad dream continues.

Tell Me It Is Not So

It's just after 4am here in the West Coast and I am obviously still on East Coast time. It's not so bad because it does give me a chance to wander around and see what is going on. The bad thing is it allows me to stumble upon things like this.

While this is only one report I distinctly remember seeing something about white posphorous earlier in the Iraq debacle. I probably discounted it back then as some wild rambling and so over the top that it had to be just a bad rumor.

This is the Independent and it is not to be grouped into the National Enquirer crowd. If this is true and, I am sad to say, I am finding it harder and harder to disbelieve anything I see around our war crimes in Iraq then we will be paying for these crimes until the end of time.

The quote from the American soldier sure has the ring of truth...
"I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete.

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for."

A telling paragraph in the article is the following:
In December the US government formally denied the reports, describing them as "widespread myths". "Some news accounts have claimed that US forces have used 'outlawed' phosphorus shells in Fallujah," the USinfo website said. "Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes.
This kind of double talk is typical of Pentagon misinformation. It admits that white phosphorus was used but for illunination which will discount any direct evidence of its use in theatre. If evidence of its use against combatants or civilians is presented then they can use the old collateral damage dodge.
I don't want to even think that we used this horrible weapon against other human beings. I'll reserve my judgement until I see more independent verification but somehow I get the sense that there is some flavor of the truth here.
How sad.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Gropinator Land

Sorry for the quiet here but it has been a busy weekend. Off to Sunnyvale on the other coast tomorrow morning for another week. Should be the last trip until December when we will take the application live. Rumor has it that I will be somewhere in Tennessee the week after but only rumor so far, though I was told not to make flight reservations for Indianapolis for week after. Something is in the wind. They'll wait until the last minute to tell me and then complain because I didn't get the best airline fare.

If you haven't or don't read the comments here there is one you should read on the previous post. It's by a another blogger Kristie of Just Venting. She is a perfect example of the type of people who will be hurt by the " make believe we are fiscally responsible" assholes in the Congress. Everything that they are doing to "save money" is a bad joke that will hurt real people. The real budget problems such as the Medicare Drug Benefit, war, defense etc. are not being touched. God forbid that that bridge in Alaska that goes nowhere be put on the back burner just so some stupid American babies won't be malnourished. Halliburton Forbid!

Friday, November 04, 2005

No Child Left Hungry

I was being snarky, or trying to be, in my last post. The cuts coming down the pipe are going to be disastrous for the low and middle class in this country. I'm talking about the people that have a job (or two or three) and are still just one or two missed paychecks from ruin.
A quick look at the "opportunities" for the working poor that are coming up courtesy of our Rethuglican lovers is a clear demonstration that these folks don't give a damn about the poor children in this country and by all evidence would just as soon see them dead.

Congressional Budget Office says:
The upcoming food stamp cuts in the House measure would cut almost 300,000 people off nutritional assistance, including 70,000 legal immigrants.

About 40,000 children are going to lose eligibility for free or reduced-price school lunches.

Another $5 billion would be saved by a scale back of federal administrative aid to state child-support enforcement programs. Translation: Less child support for those that need it most.

Another House provision rolls back a court-ordered expansion of foster care support and denies foster care payments to relatives who take in children removed from their parents' homes by court order. This provision reduces the foster care coverage for to about 4,000 children a month.

While I have been lucky to always have food on the table I have experienced personally the reality that I am one of the lucky ones. I dare say a million children in this country go to bed hungry at least one night a week and these new measures passed by the Republicans are going to insure that this number goes up dramatically.

These assholes are passing "broad brush" laws to try and trim a few dollars here or there so that they can kill more Iraqis or other brown skinned people to be named later. Hello folks but the public defense budget for the coming year is 500 billion dollars. They are so concerned that some poor mother is getting an extra few dollars of milk money that they are ready to kill the whole system.

Yeah, I know there is a war on blah, blah, blah. but defense spending now repents over 50% of the government's discretionary spending. This is not chump change.

Update: 11/5 at 0830: Fixed typos.

Update II 11/5 at 0900 : Firedoglake is on this as well and there are some excellent comments.

Brilliant Idea

The Rethuglican Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter, wants to spend 8 billion dollars to build a 2000-mile fence between the United States and Mexico:
Mr Hunter's plan for the fence envisages a dual-layer construction equipped with electric sensors stretching from the Pacific Ocean across to the Gulf of Mexico.

The events of 9/11 convinced him that his plan was necessary, Mr. Hunter said:
He said that the lessons of 11 September 2001 taught Americans that immigration was a national issue that required national solutions.

This plan is brilliant, an inspired GOP stroke of genius. How else were we going to use some of that 54 billion dollars we have stripped from food stamps,Medicaid, student loans, agriculture subsidies and child support enforcement? Hell we can probably fund the whole thing from the money we are stripping out of Medicaid and Medicare.

Now that you mention it, and with all that money we will have, we should just go ahead and build a fence across the Canadian border as well. Those Canadians are just as likely to be hiding terroists and other people who don't like us. Don't forget that Canadians are just as capable of taking good jobs aways from Americans as the Mexicans are. Damn straight.
The fence across the Canadian border would have one more big benefit and that would be to keep those cowards that don't want to fight for the democracy in Iraq down here in the lower 48 where we can get to them.

I like it! It's direct and forceful. Guaranteed to keep out foreigners. Create some jobs. What's not to like?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't Want to See It

OK here are the latest numbers from the CBS Poll

The question asked is:
"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"

The overall approval comes out at 35% but when you look at the breakdown of responses between the Repubs and Demos you get quite a spread.

Among Republicans the approval is 77% approve and 19% disapprove and for Dems the numbers are 11% approve and 83% disapprove. Independents come in at 31% approves and 56% disapprove.

Just what in the hell does Bush and compancy have to do to make Republicans disapprove of his job performance. Think about it. Can you even envision the disaster that this country will have to be before the Republicans wake up and actually disapprove of Bush's performance. While I can't quite get my head around such a gruesome picture, just pondering sends shudders up my spine.

I don't know about you but I never want to see the Republican approval numbers below 50% because that will mean roving bands of storm troopers are moving through the country randomly killing small children and anyone of color.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pile On!

ME in the comments over at Firedoglake has started a media campaign and I think it is an excellent idea. I will do my part tonight after I finish the day with the client. Below is the complete text of the comment over at Firedoglake. If any of you have some time and participate in any part of the campaign it will help. There is "blood in the water' and we cannot allow the MSM or the Bush Cabal to stifle the momentum.

I have been working today on getting the message out. It's a lot of work, but it is worth it. I have collected some MSM and right wing media emails, and some direct links to online forms.

I have been using the statement from Senator Reid as the base text. I have been adding a header with a comment/opinion, pasting in the text, then putting my full name, addy, and phone at the end. The Reid text can be copied from the link below: #152806

Below are two on-line forms for USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor: type=18

List of valid email addresses:

Please take time and complete the "No More Pardons" form to be presented by the Hon. John Conyers if you have not already done so: 7D

You should also take a minute and contact your local and state representives. I have been sending them all the same message: co...enators_cfm.cfm

Some Senators need special attention (ADD/ADHD kids ya know, they don't want to hear)

Bill Frist:

Pat Roberts: mail_pat.html

Rick Santorum: conta...contactform.cfm

(add you favorite gooper target here)

And then the good guys, send em some love ;)

"Give em hell Harry" Reid:

Richard Durbin did a great job today:

I am going to be reposting this on a fairly regular basis... Please don't get upset. Everybody should take a few minutes (or more) and help get the message out. You can't expect government to work from the top down, and this message will have to be _beaten_ into the MSM. It's up to us.

Thoughtful Voices

Got some sad news when I checked on the Adgitadiaries blog this morning. MandT have decided to end their contibutions to the blogospehere. While I am not privy to their reasons for going quiet I am sure they are reasoned and sincere.
They have been a regular visitor and contributor to the comments and I appreciated all the input. I hope they continue to stop by and contribute but if nothing else let us all know how they are doing.

While we haven't been as diligent in supporting them as we should have been we are very sad to hear that their thoughful and meaningful contributions will end. I just want them to know that if they feel the urge to blog this space will always be available. An email is all that is required [the.fallenmonk at gmail dot com].

Additionally, I would love to have an email contact as well and if they would share that at the above email I would be most honored and I will reciprocate with my "real life" email.

Here is hoping that they reconsider their decision to go silent and we get the opportunity to hear from them via some vehicle.

Much Love and Peace guys.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Harry's Showing His Colors

Well! I thought this was going to be a slow week for news after all the excitement of last week. Walk in to my hotel room this evening and turn on CNN and see Hary Reid giving Bill Frist a shellacing big time. Don't have time to get all the details right now but from what I can see Harry is finally forcing the Senate to take up it's contitutionally mandated role to provide oversight to the executive branch I hope this is the beginning of the much needed transition back to a clear separtation of powers.
Go Harry. This is exciting.

Quiet Week Here

Probably be a quiet week here since I don't have Internet access except at night in the hotel. Raining here in the "Heartland" so not much walking around and scouting the territory. Not as big a place as I expected. A few tall buildings but not a metropolis by any measure. Hotel is right downtown by the dome so if the weather improves and I can escape maybe I can get a few pictures.
Everyone have a great day.