George Bush on Vietnam

August 23, 2007 at 8:20 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Congress, corruption, Democrats, George W Bush, Iraq, Vietnam | 1 Comment

all the gory details. Apparently comparisons to Vietnam only work when they are politically convenient for you.

The really sad part is that Senate and House Democrats will cower to this idiot. Com’on boys and girls, show some guts! Stand up to the Boy Emperor and let the world know just what a weak idiot is running our country these days. Or forever be remembered in history as enablers of this madman.

George W. Bush Is A Jerk And Pretty Stupid Too

August 13, 2007 at 1:16 pm | Posted in American politics, family values, George W Bush | Leave a comment

From the Plank:

Dick Armey, the House Republican majority leader when Bush took office (and no more a shrinking violet than DeLay), told me a story that captures the exquisite pettiness of most members of Congress and the arrogance that made Bush and Rove so inept at handling them. “For all the years he was president,” Armey told me, “Bill Clinton and I had a little thing we’d do where every time I went to the White House, I would take the little name tag they give you and pass it to the president, who, without saying a word, would sign and date it. Bill Clinton and I didn’t like each other. He said I was his least-favorite member of Congress. But he knew that when I left his office, the first schoolkid I came across would be given that card, and some kid who had come to Washington with his mama would go home with the president’s autograph. I think Clinton thought it was a nice thing to do for some kid, and he was happy to do it.” Armey said that when he went to his first meeting in the White House with President Bush, he explained the tradition with Clinton and asked the president if he would care to continue it. “Bush refused to sign the card. Rove, who was sitting across the table, said, ‘It would probably wind up on eBay,'” Armey continued.

And courtesy of Dick Pohlman, your president, ladies and gentlemen:

The place was Tampa, Florida. The date, Feb. 4, 2005. A woman has asked about the hefty transition costs of moving Social Security into the private realm. Bush replied:

“Because the – all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There’s a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be – or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It’s kind of muddled. Look, there’s a series of things that cause the – like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate – the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those – if that growth is affected, it will help on the red. Okay, better? I’ll keep working on it.”

Karl Rove Resigns

August 13, 2007 at 12:14 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, karl rove, King George, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

So Karl Rove will leave the White House at the end of August. Many are wondering why, what’s with the quick departure. Me, well, I believe that he is leaving in order to shield the White House from some very strong storms about to come from the numerous investigations into law-breaking that came out of Rove’s strategies, from politicizing US attorneys, to the Abramoff scandal, to the Hatch Act violations.

These of course, are still minor things. They are not the meat of the violations that the Bush administration has committed under the direction of Karl Rove. Let us not ever forget that the war in Iraq, while architected and dreamed up by Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, was used by Karl Rove as a political lever. He told Republicans in January of 2002 to use the impending war against Democrats. The 2004 election, strategized by Karl Rove, was all about the war. The May Mission Accomplished landing on the aircraft carrier in 2003 was all about the 2004 election. Starting the war in March of 2003 (and not waiting around until the summer, or late fall) was all about the 2004 election. The war in Iraq was all about getting Bush reelected and about creating a permanent Republican majority, Karl Rove’s wettest dream. Building on the false perception that Democrats were militarily weak, Rove and the Republicans pressed for the worst things of the war, just for political points. This is the legacy of Karl Rove. This is the legacy of George W. Bush. This is the legacy of these Republicans today.

The unfortunate part is that our media today is most complicit in this bamboozle. So Americans won’t get a clear picture of what is really going on. You have to look at sources outside of America to see things clearly. It is very unfortunate that it really has come to this, but this is the consequence of divisive politics.

The True Terrorists of America

August 5, 2007 at 9:02 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, Republicans, secret combinations, Terrorism, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Have you guys noticed how often the Republicans have said this past week that if Congress didn’t pass the FISA bill, terrorists would attack us? Note Mitch McConnel and Lamar Smith who say:

“Al-Qaida is not going on vacation this month,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “And we can’t either until we know we’ve done our duty to the American people.”

“I hope that there are no attacks before we are able to effectively update this important act,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

Then there is Trent Lott scaring up the whole town of Washington DC with this:

In light of the heightened threat, Congress can either amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or all of us can run screaming into the inferno.

Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) ominously advised Thursday that Congress needed to pass changes to terrorist surveillance laws before leaving for the August recess and warned that otherwise “the disaster could be on our doorstep.”

Further demonstrating his counterterrorism sagacity, when asked if people should leave Washington, D.C., during the month of August, Lott replied that “I think it would be good to leave town in August, and it would probably be good to stay out until September the 12th.” By contrast, a former Capitol Hill chief had the temerity to note that, according to U.S. intelligence analysis he’d been privvy to, “Americans tend to be much more oriented toward anniversaries and the jihadists seem to be less so. I’ve seen over the years where we concentrate on dates and the analysts say, ‘Don’t get wrapped up in dates because our terrorist jihadist enemies bide their time.'”

The American Heritage Dictionary defines terrorism as such:

n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

One has to ask himself, just why would these Republican leaders use such threats of possible attacks to rush through a law without proper debate or even real consideration of the effects of the new law? It’s time to be quite frank. These Republican leaders are using terrorism to frighten Americans into submission. They use their favorite boogeyman, Al-Qaeda, to threaten Americans. Pass this law, or we just might be attacked, they claim. As if not passing this law means we will be attacked. Note the logic in that. It gives the feeling that Republicans can control this boogeyman, and can assure that we will not be attacked if this law is passed, but if this law is not passed, there is no guarantee that we will not be attacked. Does that sound familiar to anybody? Who else uses such threats? Anybody remember The Godfather Part II? What did that Italian mob boss try to do to Don Corleone? It’s called extortion. Wikipedia defines extortion as such:

Extortion is a criminal offense, which occurs when a person either obtains money, property or services from another through coercion or intimidation or threatens one with physical or reputational harm unless they are paid money or property. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence or a lawsuit which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence or lawsuit is sufficient to commit the offense. The four simple words “pay up or else” are sufficient to constitute the crime of extortion. An extortionate threat made to another in jest is still extortion.

This commentator, I think says it best.

You know, when I hear people like Tom DeLay and other miscreants talking about how The Terrists are about to do something that could make Washington a really dangerous place to be if Democrats don’t instantly cave in and sign over whatever else Bush wants, it sounds to me like it’s not so much a warning as a threat. And therefore, I expect Democrats to stand right up and say, “Are you threatening us?”

Because constantly trying to terrify people with the threat of violence really is terrorism, and it’s not Al Qaeda that’s doing that to us right now.

So my next question would be: “Why would Al Qaeda want to launch a terrorist attack on America just in time to give a bomb-happy executive the opportunity to suspend the elections so he can take out half the Muslim world?”

I would just love to hear the Democratic leadership stand up and ask what the Republicans are up to when they start terror-threatening over legislation. They could say:

“I thought you said you were keeping us safe. If that’s true, why are you so sure we’re about to be attacked? Aren’t you planning to stop it? Are you saying you will refuse to ‘keep us safe’ if we don’t support your bills?”

Or they could say:

“My, it sure is convenient for you that Al Qaeda is always about to attack us right before you want us to vote for your bills that we haven’t even had time to read. Are they on your payroll or something?”

Indeed. It also is so surprising that in a country like ours these Republicans can actually get away with terrorism like they do. And our Democratic leaders really are pansies of the worst kind. Com’on guys get some balls! Bin Laden is probably taking notes from them on how to effectively terrorize a population to capitulate and do their will for them.

Poor Relations Between Iraqi PM and General Petraeus

July 27, 2007 at 11:14 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

The Marine Corps Times is reporting on poor relations between the two men who have most to lose if the surge fails, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki and General Petraeus. The problem is that the two actors want two different things and both are talking past each other. General Petraeus has to satisfy his boss back home who has to deal with domestic pressures while Maliki’s priorities are, well, not the same as that of General Petraeus and the Americans. The article lists the problems they face:

— Al-Maliki, a Shiite who spent years in exile under Saddam Hussein, hotly objects to U.S. tactic of recruiting men with ties to the Sunni insurgency into the ongoing fight against al-Qaida. He has complained loudly but with little effect except a U.S. pledge to let al-Maliki’s security apparatus vet the recruits before they join the force. He also has spoken bitterly, aides say, about delivery delays of promised U.S. weapons and equipment for his forces.

Of course he’s complained about this. There is no way he can ever trust Sunnis in power anymore. That was the whole purpose of his backing the American removal of a Sunni dictator by the name of Saddam Hussein.

— Petraeus is confronted with an Iraqi military and police force, nominally under al-Maliki’s control, that has in many cases acted on sectarian — namely Shiite — not national Iraqi interests. He has faced a significant challenge in persuading al-Maliki to shed his ties to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who runs the Mahdi Army militia.

Heh, I think General Petraeus might have an easier time getting Bill Kristol to renounce neo-conservatism and turn against his best buddy Fred Kagan.

It’s fine for such leaders to really dislike each other and find it difficult to work together. We don’t need to sit at a campfire and sing kumbayas in order to get things done; sometimes you’ve got to slap people around to get them to do what they need to do. The problem in Iraq (out of the bazillions of problems plaguing that poor cursed country) is that even the sharp disagreements are not getting real long-lasting progress done. One really has to wonder why the city of Baghdad after FOUR YEARS still only gets less than one hour of electricity a day! You’d think a far advanced country like ours would have the ability to do this.

So what should happen? Well General Petraeus and PM Maliki do not have to get along, but General Petraeus must be clear (and this should come from General Petraeus’s boss, Mr. Bush who will never do the right thing) that there is a severe consequence if Mr. Maliki refuses to press forward with the political resolutions. The real threat of withdrawal should do the job, or force Maliki out for being too weak. Iraq needs a leader. Maliki is not proving to be a good one. Unfortunately General Petraeus will also not do the right thing, as smart a man as he is. He has for too long towed the Bush neo-con line, and is basically the wrong man for the job. I mean, he’s not even following his own counterinsurgency principles in this surge!

The sad thing is that even in 2009 when (not if) a Democratic leader becomes president, they also won’t remove the troops, nor remove the failed leaders out of power. At least, I’m gearing up for extremely low expectations hoping to finally be nicely surprised by politicians. I’m learning though that upon getting an opening to do bad things, even the most good-hearted politician will choose the bad. So sad.

Conservatives Gaining a Conscience on Torture

July 26, 2007 at 6:28 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Gitmo, King George, Military, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | 10 Comments

This is a breath of fresh air, albeit quite late in the game, but two conservatives from the Reagan administration, one the commandant of the Marine Corps, the other a lawyer in the Reagan White House, have now officially and publicly come out against Bush’s latest executive order, which really didn’t change anything about how the CIA (mis)treats detainees.

One of us was appointed commandant of the Marine Corps by President Ronald Reagan; the other served as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and has vigorously defended the constitutionality of warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps, presidential signing statements and many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism. But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.

Awww, they still feel Bush has the imperial power, just as long as he doesn’t torture.

In April of 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote to President George Washington that nations were to interpret treaty obligations for themselves but that “the tribunal of our consciences remains, and that also of the opinion of the world.” He added that “as we respect these, we must see that in judging ourselves we have honestly done the part of impartial and rigorous judges.”

To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam — where we both proudly served twice — America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections.

The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm’s way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously “interpret” key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are “war crimes” for which everyone involved — potentially up to and including the president of the United States — may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.

In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.

It’s nice to see them hearkening back to our Founding Fathers, but…well, I wonder, where were you two in 2004? Abusive interrogations were known BEFORE the 2004 general election. I wonder why you two have waited until now to speak out. You quote Thomas Jefferson who said: “It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side.” Did we not lose that moral right at Abu Ghraib? The evidence was clearly there that that incident was a direct result of President Bush’s orders vis a vis detainees and the Geneva Conventions. Why did you NOT speak out then, dear sirs?

Sure it is easier to speak out now, when the nation is clearly against this president. But true courage is to stand up to evil from the BEGINNING!

As per the conversation with ECS below, I have uploaded the Bismullah Brief here: (Bismullah Brief). It is a Word doc.

Raw Power vs The Rule of Law, or Why Democrats Can’t Do a Single Thing About Bush

July 19, 2007 at 9:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, liberals, Media, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Scooter Libby, secret combinations, Thoughts, Torture, violence, Voter Suppression, War, War on Terror, Washington DC, World Events | 8 Comments

I have closely observed the goings on of my government (as best as I can seeing how secretive they want to be) these past five years, ever since Bush decided to go to war with Iraq back in the summer of 2002. (Read Bill Schneider’s “Marketing Iraq: Why Now?” where you can read Andrew Card’s comment: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” They decided over the summer to attack Iraq. The rest was all a matter of marketing, selling it to the American public). They got the war rammed down Americans’ throats, with an extremely complicit media rooting the Administration on, damned be anyone that stood in their way.

The corrupting influence of raw power began immediately after 9/11. I’m sure in the very first seconds of realizing the potential power the Executive could yield, the Administration probably had good intents, but those were just a few seconds. They realized just how much power they really had: raw power. And they realized they must keep it a secret, for if it really got out, they would be forced to follow the rule of law, and not the rule of raw power. They took advantage of all the support (90% approval ratings and support from many nations around the world) and ran with it as far as they thought they could go. Karl Rove told Republicans in January of 2002 to run with the war in the November elections and they would win seats. They did and they won seats. They got the war they wanted, on the cheap, small force, shock and awe military might that defeated a ragtag worn down Iraqi military in three weeks. No surprise there. No wonder so many neo-conservatives and their allies chortled after the war, and drank in their wine of success.

Reports and studies, however, were there from the beginning that all was not well, and that continuing down this path would lead to serious problems for America. The most serious is the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Unchecked, the Bush administration began, right from the start, right from 2001 and early 2002, to employ power beyond what is written in the Constitution. Why? Because they saw what raw power there was in the Executive Branch and they took it. Even so, they knew they were doing wrong, or they wouldn’t be so secretive about it. Only those with something to hide, hide something. So right from the start, the United States of America began torturing people, employing techniques learned from the Soviets and the Nazis. They kept this as much of a secret as they could. For they knew if this were to get out, they would be in trouble. The American public still had more raw power over the administration, at least until after the 2004 presidential election. Once that election passed and Bush won, their raw power achieved the ultimate. For the next four years, no one could stop them. So some of their secrets could get out. In fact, by slowly getting out, the secrets became acceptable. Like any watcher of pornography, you can justify the soft porn at first, but you cannot justify the hardcore. Once you get enough of the soft porn, the hardcore becomes acceptable and even desirable. It soon becomes a part of who you are.

In 2006 something wonderful happened. America broke out of the spell of this administration and its evils. A lot of Democrats and liberals (and many independents) were hopeful to see a change.

Unfortunately that is not going to happen. You see, the Bush administration has tasted of raw power and they will not let go. In fact, even if the Democrats get a veto proof majority in these next 18 months, there is nothing to hold back the Bush administration from simply defying the veto overrides of Congress. Note with what impunity the administration is telling private citizens not to show up for Congressional subpoenas! They even claim executive privilege over documents related to Pat Tillman’s debacle. Why? Because they can. There is no raw power above them, so why should they listen to anyone or do anything for anyone? They answer to none but themselves.

We must realize that there is only one thing that can actually end this raw power by this administration over these next 18 months and that is a full on revolution where the American people rise up and kicks this administration out of power. Congress has no raw power to impeach this president. He will simply defy their will. Why should he bother with Congress? He has no incentive. He has nothing to lose.

America has not been in as dangerous and precarious position as it is today. We must go back to the rule of law. For the rule of law to have any real effect, those who broke the rule of law must be punished and held accountable. Otherwise, what is the purpose of law? Without any punishment, there is no law. Unfortunately this will not happen, and we will have to deal with the administration as currently constituted for the next 18 months. We will have to deal with a possible military strike on Iran. We will have to deal with attempts by this administration to fix the next election so that they ensure a Republican president and a security and secrecy over what they have done these past six years. What Republican candidate today is going to actually hold anyone in the Bush administration accountable for their crimes? What Republican candidate today will punish anyone in this administration?

For that matter, what Democrat will truly do what needs to be done? I bet that even they will come up with some rationale about healing the wounds of Bush’s divisiveness and let them get away with it. Again, if there is no punishment, can there really be a law? If there is no law, what do we have?

Jack Balkin writes about why this is so important:

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

This administration is by far the worst that America has ever seen. But it is far more dangerous than that. Their policies and their use of raw power has done serious and potentially permanent damage and harm to the rule of law and the Constitution. Note for example the audacity of Sara Taylor claiming her oath to the president rather than to the Constitution. When corrected, now how smugly she replied:

Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you’re correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what–

Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

Taylor: I did not. I–

Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

Leahy: No, the oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know that the President refers to the government being his government — it’s not. It’s the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the President, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.

This was an unscripted moment showing the reality of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Loyalty is NOT to the Constitution, but to the president. Because the real raw power is not in the Constitution, but in Bush and Cheney. Note also Cheney’s ludicrous claim that is was not part of the executive branch, and thus cannot be held in check by any rules or regulations. These are but a few examples of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. (Heck, let’s not even bring up Scooter Libby!).

What can be done? At this point we must continue to reveal the secrets, show Americans just how much the Bush administration is not for the Constitution they took an oath to uphold. Continue forcing them to explain themselves. History will be the judge. If the administration attempts to start a fight with Iran, we must take to the streets and say NO! It won’t do much to actually stop them, but that’s all we can do, unless we’re riping for a real revolution.

A Realistic Assessment on Progress in Iraq

July 14, 2007 at 5:23 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Media, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | 3 Comments

Whatever you do, if you want a real assessment about the situation in Iraq, do NOT listen to the President of the United States. Read Patrick Cockburn instead, for example. What will you learn? You’ll learn that, yes, Iraqis did progress on a few of the 18 benchmarks, but all the areas where they improved were insignificant, and the areas where Iraqis must have improved, about six benchmarks, Iraqis made absolutely no improvement at all. Things like security and politics. The very important stuff. No improvement at all.

The White House yesterday sought to suggest possible change for the better in Iraq by saying that there had been satisfactory progress on eight of the 18 goals set by Congress. Unsatisfactory progress is reported on six, unsatisfactory but with some progress on two and “too early to assess” on a further two.

The picture it hopes to give – and this has been uncritically reported by the US media – is of a mixture of progress and frustration in Iraq.

The wholly misleading suggestion is that the war could go either way. In reality the six failures are on issues critical to the survival of Iraq while the eight successes are on largely trivial matters.

Thus unsatisfactory progress is reported on “the Iraqi security forces even handedly enforcing the law” and on the number of Iraqi units willing to fight independently of the Americans. This means that there is no Iraqi national army but one consisting of Kurds, Shia and Sunni who will never act against their own communities. Despite three years of training, the Iraqi security forces cannot defend the government.

Set against these vitally important failures are almost ludicrously trivial or meaningless successes. For instance, “the rights of minority political parties are being defended” but these groups have no political influence. The alliance of Shia religious and Kurdish nationalist parties that make up the government is not keen to share power with anybody. This is scarcely surprising since they triumphantly won the election in 2005.

There have been some real improvements over the past six months. Sectarian killings in Iraq have declined to 650 in June compared with 2,100 in January. So-called “high-profile” bombings, including suicide bomb attacks on Shia markets, fell to 90 in June compared with 180 in March. But it is doubtful if these are entirely or even mainly due to the US surge.

The fall in sectarian killings, mostly of Sunni by Shia, may be largely the result of the Mehdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr being told by their leader to curb their murder campaign. It is also true that last year, after the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006, there was a battle for Baghdad which the Shia won and the Sunni lost.

Baghdad is more and more Shia-dominated and the Sunni are pinned into the south-west of the city and a few other enclaves. As Sunni and Shia are killed or driven out of mixed areas, there are less of them to kill. Some 4.2 million people in Iraq are now refugees, of whom about half have fled the country.

The real and appalling situation on the ground in Iraq has been all too evident this week. Thirty bodies, the harvest of the death squads, were found in the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday. The figure for Tuesday was 26 and, in addition, 20 rockets and mortar bombs were fired into the Green Zone killing three people. This was significant because they were fired by the Mehdi Army, who had been upset by criticism made on them by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. By way of gentle reproof they shelled his offices in the Green Zone.

What does this mean? It means that the surge is not having the intended effect. That is, if the intended effect was indeed a progress in security and political resolutions in Iraq, the surge has not succeeded, and probably will not succeed no matter how long we continue pressing this surge. The problem we are facing here at home is two fold. The public is now dead set against the war, and the military does not have any new fresh troops for the fight. A government cannot go to war without the nation behind it. Once it loses the nation, it will fairly quickly lose the war. The reason is that the soldiers come from the nation. Now, the military will run out of new soldiers to send to Iraq next April. Once April comes around what is the military going to do? They don’t say. Why not? Because their civilian bosses at the White House order them to remain silent. Why? Because it would hurt them politically.

Listen guys, the Republicans, by continuing this charade will lose badly in the November 2008 elections. They don’t seem to realize this. They believe that the American public will somehow never ever consider dropping them all. They figure that the more they filibuster Democratic legislation the more they can paint the Democrats as unable to rule. But this time the Americans will not forget (as they usually do with their massively short term attention span) that it was the Republicans who pressed for this war. This is important because if it were not for the Republicans, we’d get more honest assessments about this war and about what to do with our dear soldiers who fight for us. Instead, April will come around and well, we’ll still be living in denial while our soldiers come home wounded and weakened, stretched to the limit, and not the fighting force that can or will win our battles for us. This is very dangerous. Republicans would rather not talk about that. Neither their cohorts who control the media (see for example this latest evidence that even the New York Times would rather portray a political situation in Republican light—liberal media indeed).

What should happen?

In the real world, what should happen, especially when it comes to war, is to end the politicization. Republicans must stop using the soldiers as political fodder against Democrats. It must end. Were regular Americans to realize just how much the soldiers have been used by Republicans for political points, well, maybe many of them, the conservative kind, don’t mind the hypocrisy. In any case, it must end. It won’t unfortunately. But this is what should happen. We should look realistically at our situation now. We should assess just where this war has taken us, just what the costs have been. Will we actually do that? Not likely. Why not? Because partisan politics has gripped our nation at just the wrong time. Who is to blame for that? Karl Rove of course. As long as he is still employed we will never get an honest assessment.

The best solution for America right now in regards to Iraq is to begin talking about a way out of Iraq. The British were able to do so. We could learn a lot from the British it seems. One of the lessons is that you have to plan a good escape from the situation. The problem with Vietnam, and unfortunately the problem we will face with Iraq, is that we did not have a good plan of escape. So in the end you had a helicopter on top of the embassy with thousands of people trying to take it. What a shameful way to leave. Who is to blame for that? None other than Nixon of course. He orchestrated the ending of the war so that it would cast a bad light on the Democrats. But it was he, in the end, who left Vietnam the way he left it. George Bush does not wish to talk about how to leave Iraq. He would rather punt that on to the next administration (at this point assuredly a Democratic one). The moment the next administration withdraws the troops, he, from the sidelines, will criticize and demonize the next administration for failing in Iraq, and for not continuing his “grand crusade—er mission.” Why would he do this? Because in his heart, George W. Bush does not care about the troops as much as he cares about scoring political points for his Republican party.

The British withdrawal from southern Iraq also opens a window into our future for us to see what would happen with a withdrawal of foreign occupying troops. The Shi’ite militias turn on each other. This is the expected outcome. Why? Well, we go back to our realistic assessments. We keep pretending to believe that somehow the new Iraqi “army” will be loyal to the “government.” But please, let’s be honest. The real power lies in the militias, and will do so until the Americans leave to let the militias work it out on their own just how to run a large country the size of Iraq. What may really end up happening is that Iraq breaks down to tribal groups, as before World War I. Who knows, that may be what is actually best for a region like Iraq. The problem is that our world today prefers the nation-state. How would tribal organizations manage in such a system? Especially one like Iraq with all those lucrative resources?

In any case, Iraq will not fall to Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida’s presence in Iraq is small, and homogeneous. Their power is nowhere near that of the Shi’ite militias or the Kurdish militias. Will the Shi’ites try to murder all the remaining Sunnis? Not if the Sunnis have their own militias who protect their own. Also, if Iraq goes tribal, it won’t remain so for long. Here is where you get into the danger of a possible regional conflict. Iran will most likely eat up the Shi’ite south and east while Saudi Arabia will take in the Sunnis in the west. Will Saudi Arabia (or the United States) allow Iran to take possession of such a large amount of land with oil? Of course not. What about Turkey and Kurdistan? Turkey does currently have 140,000 troops on the border with Kurdistan. Turkish leaders have to think more of domestic politics than their obligations to foreign powers. The domestic politics demand action against the Kurds.

It really is unfortunate, and very tragic that we cannot have a realistic assessment about our actions in Iraq. The American people deserve to know the entire situation so they can make a realistic decision on whether or not to follow the president’s plan or some other. Whipping up the frenzy of Al-Qaida does nothing to solve the problem. I really hope Republicans can understand this. At this point, I am not holding my breath.

On Lies, Credibility Gaps, Friedman Units, Good Christian Conservatives Gone Bad, and Approval Ratings

July 10, 2007 at 12:51 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Evangelicals, family values, friedman units, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations | 3 Comments

For any but the hardcore conservative, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is nothing but a proven liar. Well evidence has come to light showing just how badly he has lied to the American people and under oath to Congress. You see, in April 2005 he testified to Congress the following:

“There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse.”

When talking about the FBI’s new powers under the Patriot Act. Well, that was a lie.

As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse,” Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.

Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.

The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI’s use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department’s inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.

This is America’s top law enforcer.

Next comes General Kevin Bergner, a Bush administration operative who is now the spokesman in Iraq who said the following:

The U.S. command in Baghdad this week ballyhooed the killing of a key al Qaeda leader but later admitted that the military had declared him dead a year ago.

The incident shows the eagerness of the command to show progress in dismantling al Qaeda at a time when Democrats and some Republicans are pressing President Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, has declared al Qaeda enemy No. 1 in Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner began his Monday news conference with a list of top insurgents either killed or captured in recent operations. He said they had been eliminated “in the past few weeks” and were “recent results.”

“In the north, Iraqi army and coalition forces continue successful operations in Mosul,” he told reporters. “Kamal Jalil Uthman, also known as Said Hamza, was the al Qaeda in Iraq military emir of Mosul. He planned, coordinated and facilitated suicide bombings, and he facilitated the movement of more than a hundred foreign fighters through safe houses in the area.” All told, Bergner devoted 68 words to Uthman’s demise.

Uthman was indeed a big kill, and the military featured his death last year in a report titled “Tearing Down al Qaeda.”

The Bush Administration wishes so badly to inform us that we’re fighting “Al-Qaida in Iraq” that they are willing to tell us that they’ve killed the same guy again a whole year later. Anybody wonder why some of us do not trust a single word that comes out of the mouth of a military spokesman?

Friedman Units. Those fun six month periods so generously created by Mr. Tom Friedman of the New York Times, where the most vital period in our conflict in Iraq is always the “next six months.” Well, today is July 10. Six months ago, Bush unveiled his “surge” strategy. Let’s see what proponents said six months ago about this new strategy. (Courtesy of Atrios):

Senator Kerry and Michael O’Hanlon:

So my question to each of you, in sum, is if there isn’t sufficient evidence of this kind of summitry and diplomacy — if there isn’t a sufficient political process in place — and I want your judgment as to whether or not there is — will more troops have any chance of, in fact, getting what we want, or is it going to make matters worse? And if it does, where are we after putting them in in six months if it hasn’t worked? Mr. O’Hanlon?

MR. O’HANLON: Senator Kerry, very tough question. I like your idea of a ledger. On the positive side of the troop surge proposal, I would say we all know tactically there have never been enough troops in Iraq to clear and hold. So that’s the tactical argument for this case. It would have been a much more compelling argument three and four years ago than it is today, but I think it remains at some level in the plus column. On the negative column, of course, we know that there is no political resolution of these very sectarian divides —

Brigadier General James “Spider” Marks:

FOREMAN: Six months from now, are we going to look at this area right here where most of them are going to go and say we’re better off or worse off?

MARKS: We need to say we’re better off.

ZAHN: We need to, but will we?

MARKS: There are ways to achieve that. And it’s not mutually exclusive. It’s not a political solution better than a military solution. All of these are essential ingredients to a solution. So it’s not a military strategy.

CBS News:

Pentagon officials expect US troops to stay in the streets for about six months before turning security over to the Iraqis. `If it hasn’t happened in six months,’ one official said, `we’ll know it’s not working.

Tim Russert:

Unless considerable progress is made in Iraq in a relatively short time, you will see Republicans crossing over and joining Democrats in challenging his Iraq strategy in a bipartisan way. This is a dead serious six months we’re approaching.

Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think it`s his last stand. I think it`s the second to the last stand. I think asking for more troops suggests hope that if we try a little harder, it will work. I think the next go-around, six months from now, or a year from now, perhaps, you`ll see the president come back to the American people and say, give me one last shot at this. I think he has one more chance after this. It`s not the end of the game.

This is the second to the last battle, I believe, of this war politically. But I do believe his numbers will continue to go down. I think we`ll see casualties in the streets of Iraq, Baghdad. It`s going to be a bloody campaign and I don`t think it`s going to yield stability.

Michael O’Hanlon:

He has one last shot, and that’s the way to look at it, I think. It’s Hail, Mary time.

Mary Matalin:

But we will be able to know in the next six months, although the sustained effort has to take longer than six months.

David Kerley:

You know, we’ve talked about that before here, Sam, on this program, that this is, the President believes, his last shot.

Pat Buchanan:

BUCHANAN: He has said it this time. The last test is right now.

This is why I`m saying, look, this is the last chance for Maliki, the last chance for the Americans. The acid test is whether they go after the Mahdi army, which I think knows we will go after them. And that`s why I think it may very well run to earth for the next six months.

SCARBOROUGH: We have to — we have to do that. We have to go after al-Sadr. We have to go after the Mahdi army. And, if we are, in fact, trying to start a democracy over there, and bring justice to Iraq, then, we have to arrest or kill al-Sadr.

Who still believes these bamboozlers?

Next, Good Christian Conservatives Gone Bad. I give you Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. He is a person found on Deborah Palfrey’s list of persons seeking, uh, companions, yeah, that’s what they are called…

Funny thing is that Senator Vitter has been one of the most outspoken people on banning same-sex marriage, because it is destructive to the family and all. Blah Blah Blah. It’s truly a Shakespearean comedy of errors, especially when you put into perspective what his wife said back in 2000 when talking about President Clinton’s West Wing escapades with one intern named Monica:

Asked by an interviewer in 2000 whether she could forgive her husband if she learned he’d had an extramarital affair, as Hillary Clinton and Bob Livingston’s wife had done, Wendy Vitter told the Times-Picayune: “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

Heh, the good Senator should probably get a good iron chastity belt ready.

The ironic thing is that Senator Vitter got his position after Senator Livingston resigned after his affair was disclosed. Senator Livingston, as some may recall, was one of the strongest voices against Clinton’s White House escapades with one intern named Monica. Ironic indeed.

Finally, the news gets good for those who dislike Bush. His disapproval rating is as bad as Nixon’s. That’s right, no presidents have been as disliked than George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. Both have disapproval ratings at 66%. Nixon was lucky to have resigned when he did. Assuredly his numbers would have tanked even worse with impeachment proceedings going on. It is indeed a wonder how impeachment proceedings have not begun yet on George W. Bush, with all that has been said and done. But no worries, Bush still has 18 months to go even lower than Nixon and become America’s most hated president ever.

Redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for the FIFTH Time

July 9, 2007 at 11:48 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, War on Terror, World Events | 5 Comments

An Army Reservist in Miami is being ordered back to Iraq for a fifth time. He’s not upset at being sent back, as he finds his duty to his country honorable. But he is suing the Army to hold off his redeployment so he could finish up his degree in engineering, and to make sure he doesn’t lose his house (which he would if he were redeployed).

The United States military, as currently designed, an all-volunteer force with only so many, can only handle so much continuous fighting before they become a “broken” military. Apparently that end will come next April when the military will basically run out of soldiers. This is scary stuff. Our military is so badly weakened by our actions in Iraq that, well, if we are tested by a truly powerful enemy, we really won’t have the capability to defend ourselves.

General Michael Rose wrote: (h/t Hellmut at Headlife)

It is hardly an overstatement to say that had Britain not ended the American War of Independence when it did, it could never have been in a position to defeat Napoleon.

Today, of course, the United States finds itself in much the same position as Britain in 1781. Distracted and diminished by an irrelevant, costly and probably unwinnable war in Iraq, America could ultimately find itself challenged by countries like China and India. Unless it can find a leader with the moral courage of Pitt, there is a strong probability that it will be forced to relinquish its position as the global superpower — possibly to a regime that does not have the same commitment to justice and liberty that the United States and Britain have worked so hard to extend across the world over the past two centuries.

The sound of the first shot fired at Lexington in 1775 echoed across the world. So too did the firing of the last shot six years later at Yorktown. That second echo brought salvation for Britain, and ultimately great benefit to the entire world.

Smart thinking says that we should be far more concerned about our national security than the national security of another nation. The greater threat lies not from the cave-dwelling terrorists, but from other nations who might just take advantage of our weakened position to increase their power vis a vis us.

There really is nothing more we can do in Iraq right now that is worth the cost we are incurring. We must reduce our costs if we are to ensure our position in the world stays the way it is. Otherwise in perhaps just a few years, we will find ourselves no longer in charge of the direction of this world. And that is a far scarier position for us to be in than with an unstable Iraq.

The Ugly Side of George W. Bush

July 8, 2007 at 7:13 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

In the wake of the Scooter Libby commutation (and eventual pardon—come January 2009—unless we impeach him before then), it must be shown that George W. Bush was never a nice man. In fact, back in 1999, we got to see his dark, real side.

In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker’s] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. “Did you meet with any of them?” I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. “No, I didn’t meet with any of them,” he snaps, as though I’ve just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. “I didn’t meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like ‘What would you say to Governor Bush?’ ”

“What was her answer?” I wonder.

“Please,” Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, “don’t kill me.”

This charming little vignette comes from Tucker Carlson’s profile of George W. Bush in the premiere issue of Talk. Carlson’s attitude toward Bush is clearly positive. But the profile is nonetheless devastating, because Carlson is a good reporter who’s captured his subject’s unattractive aspects as well as his appealing ones.

Carlson’s major theme is that Bush is “comfortable with himself” and “doesn’t give a damn what you think of him.” (Message: I don’t care.) He has risen above the obsession with what other people think that marks most politicians. Yet the Bush who emerges from the profile is remarkably thin-skinned. Carlson notes that while “the Larry King–Karla Faye Tucker exchange Bush recounted never took place” on television, “Tucker did imply that Bush was succumbing to election-year pressure from pro-death penalty voters. Apparently Bush never forgot it. He has a long memory for slights.” If this is what Bush considers payback, remind us to stay on his compassionate side.

For sheer ugliness, nothing else in the article matches Bush’s remarks on the death penalty. (When he sees Carlson’s horrified reaction, Bush “immediately stops smirking”: ” ‘It’s tough stuff,’ Bush says, suddenly somber, ‘but my job is to enforce the law.'”) But the section other Republicans in the race are likely to seize on comes when Carlson asks “whether the number of abortions has gone up or down since he’s been governor. ‘I don’t know,’ he shrugs. . . . ‘Probably down. Not because of anything we’ve done, though. We haven’t passed any laws.'” Where Carlson sees a refreshing reluctance to exaggerate accomplishments, others — including a lot of pro-lifers who have been giving Bush the benefit of the doubt — are likely to see a breezy indifference to what Bush says he considers to be the taking of innocent human life. (The abortion rate in Texas, incidentally, has declined slightly since 1994.)

Apart from specific gaffes, conservative readers may conclude that Bush just doesn’t seem presidential — at least by pre-Clinton standards. He swears, a lot, in public. He cries. In response to a question after a speech, Bush mentions that he was not a virgin when he got married. How different is this from Clinton’s having answered the boxers-or-briefs question, for which he’s been pounded for years?

Bush, according to Carlson, “believes that his connection to his softer emotional side is part of the key to political success.” But in this profile, his flippant, vulgar, and arrogant side is more visible. No wonder Bush’s aides are trying to undercut the story. Says spokesman Scott McClellan, “In some areas it reflected the governor’s personality and in others we felt the writer misread the governor.” As for Karla Faye Tucker’s execution, “Anyone who knows the governor knows that it was a very emotional and agonizing decision he took very seriously.” He’s not saying Bush was misquoted.

Fascinating isn’t it. My how even the National Review has changed, and now fully support all the president’s worst decisions, those where he obviously is obstructing justice.

Just note, conservatives, how poisonous George W. Bush has been to your political ideology. One of your most conservative leaning publications could look at George Bush’s most ugly moments and call it what it was. Today? Heh, it’s okay if George Bush obstructs justice. No worries for conservatives. That’s normal business.

“No One Can Fight the Power of the Government”

July 8, 2007 at 6:41 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Pakistan, secret combinations, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

So says General Musharraf of Pakistan, the man George W. Bush would rather defend than attack Al-Qaida.

US Aborted Strike On Al-Qaida Because of Musharraf in Pakistan

July 7, 2007 at 5:41 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Military, Pakistan, Republicans, secret combinations, War on Terror | 1 Comment

Well well well, it seems the United States under George W. Bush would rather protect a military dictator who holds nukes and nearly used them on his rival than take out Al-Qaida.

A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Al Qaeda’s leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected the 11th-hour appeal of Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

So here’s the question. What is Bush’s top priority if it isn’t taking out those who attacked us on 9/11?

“I Will Restore Honor and Dignity to the White House”

July 6, 2007 at 6:03 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, Republicans, Scooter Libby, secret combinations | 3 Comments

So said George W. Bush during the 2000 Campaign:

What I am saying is America wants somebody to restore honor and dignity to the White House. That is what America is looking for.

How’s he done, y’all?


(courtesy of Anne Telnaes)

Remember that conservatives are saying that, hey, Clinton did it too, in pardoning Marc Rich at the end of his term. Remember, Marc Rich’s lawyer was one named Scooter Libby.

This is the “honor and dignity” of the Bush White House. Pardon those who have damning information about your secret combinations so that your own crimes and lies are hidden still. That’s their honor and dignity. Really, America, do you need further evidence that this is the most crooked and worst administration in the history of our fine nation? Richard Nixon has nothing on George W. Bush. When all the facts come out, we’re going to look fondly at the innocent days of the Nixon administration.

PS: Other good posts on this travesty are from Guy Murray and Scarecrow at Firedoglake.

The American Young Lean Left

June 27, 2007 at 5:34 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, George W Bush, Iran, Republicans | Leave a comment

Despite all of Karl Rove’s deceitful attempts to undermine democracy and create a permanent majority of Republican rule, the strong majority of America’s youth lean left on practically all topics. Republicans need to take some notes on how to best convince their fellow Americans that their way is the “more excellent way.” One really small thing, but so important, is that it usually does not do you any good to call your fellow Americans who disagree with you anti-American terrorist lovers. Just a small bit of advice.

In the meantime, we must bear with patience these next 17 months or so until this horrible administration is finally history, and pray they don’t do anything else stupid, like say, start a war with Iran. And I can tell you exactly what has ruined it for the Republican party. It is one small four letter word: Iraq. I hope it was worth it guys, because out of the multitude of costs, the biggest one you will feel will be when you sit back and languish with, say, 30 Senators in the Senate.

High School Presidential Scholars Tell Bush to Stop Torture

June 26, 2007 at 5:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Education, George W Bush, Gitmo, King George, secret combinations, Torture | 3 Comments

Ouch, this must have stung! High schoolers who visited the White House signed a letter to President Bush urging him to stop his administration’s torture policies. He apparently was unaware that they were going to present this letter.

President Bush was presented with a letter Monday signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program urging a halt to “violations of the human rights” of terror suspects held by the United States.

The White House said Bush had not expected the letter but took a moment to read it and talk with a young woman who handed it to him.

I wonder what was going on through his mind. He was live to the world, probably couldn’t step out of the scripted scenario.

These students are Presidential Scholars, the top of the top high schoolers in the nation. They probably prepared this before the Washington Post’s amazing section on Dick Cheney’s torture regime. Future Americans will look back at our generation and be embarrassed.

The handwritten letter said the students “believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions.”

“We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions, and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants,” the letter said.

The designation as a Presidential Scholar is one of the nation’s highest honors for graduating high school students. Each year the program selects one male and one female student from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Americans living abroad, 15 at-large students, and up to 20 students in the arts on the basis of outstanding scholarship, service, leadership and creativity.

Well done, young men and women. Well done. The future is looking brighter than before.

Bush At 26% Approval

June 21, 2007 at 3:14 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations | 8 Comments

Only three points separate Mr. Bush from the lowest of the low, that good ol’ Republican, Mr. Nixon. And Bush has over a year and a half to reach that point. Mr. Bush’s approval rating stands at 26%.

You know what I say, Bush, keep pressing those immigration reforms that right-wing talk radio just loves so much to talk about. Keep doing it, Mr. Bush. Let’s see if you can do the ultimate flip-flop. You once had 90% approval. Can you make it only 10% near the end of your term? Heck, your buddy in Israel, Olmert, is still stuck at 2% approval! Just keep offending everyone, left and right. Let’s hear more from people like Peggy Noonan who previously praised your Highness but now pout:

Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens?

Keep it up, Mr. President. Who knows, we might even impeach you.

Failed States, the Legacy of the Bush Administration and Republicans

June 19, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, Somalia, Syria, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

Republicans and the Christian Right should be well familiar with this particular verse from the Bible, Matthew 7:15-20:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

By their fruits, ye shall know them. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. A corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. Any Christian knows this parable. What does this mean for our world today? Let’s look at the fruits of the Bush administration and the Republican party.

Iraq

A failed state. The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have released their annual report of the world’s failed states. Iraq is the second worst failed state in the world, only two points better in the rankings than the world’s worst failed state, The Sudan. We’re now well over four years into our war in Iraq. Let’s put that in perspective. World War II, if started on March 20, 2003, would have ended last December or so. What is worse about this is that unlike The Sudan, America has pumped billions of dollars into Iraq with so little to show for it.

That is not to say that all failing states suffer from international neglect. Iraq and Afghanistan, the two main fronts in the global war on terror, both suffered over the past year. Their experiences show that billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy. Just as there are many paths to success, there are many paths to failure for states on the edge.

So I ask you, Americans, and especially Christian conservatives, what do these fruits tell you about the tree from which they come? Now some of you may say, the tree really is terrorism. The answer to that is, no. The tree is America. We entered Iraq with the supposed intent to recreate the Middle East, and Iraq itself. After four years, what are the fruits of our labors? An utterly failed state. Jesus said, evil fruit cannot come from good trees.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Afghanistan

Recently a US airstrike killed seven children along with many others. More than one hundred die in three days of heavy fighting. The Taliban (living over in neighboring Pakistan) continue to plague the Americans now SIX YEARS after we attacked them. Six years. And they are still around? Afghanistan is ranked as the 8th worst failed state in the world, behind only The Sudan, Iraq, and a bunch of African states.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Pakistan

The Bush administration continues to support the highly corrupt and repressive military dictator, Musharraf, regardless of how much he punishes reformers in Pakistan. Pakistan is ranked as the 12th worst failed state in the world. Only Haiti, Central African Republic and Guinea separate Pakistan from her neighbor Afghanistan.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Lebanon

Poor, poor Lebanon, the world’s pawn, played by all parties against her own will. Israelis bomb her to the stone age. Hezbollah is a parasitic virus, destroying the country from within. Syria assassinates her leaders. The United States sacrifices her democracy on the altar of supposed Israeli preference (though if the United States were smart, they would have reined in Israel last summer, because it is in Israel’s best interest to have a stable country to her north. Now because of their idiotic bombing campaign, Lebanon is failing). Lebanon is ranked as the 28th worst failed state in the world.

Palestine

Not a state (and apparently not ever going to be a state), this is probably the worst of Bush’s failures. Is it really in the best interest of our ally, Israel, to have a failed non-state as her neighbor? Is it really in Israel’s best interest to have 1.4 million starving raving lunatics in a 25 mile strip of land right on her border? Is this Condoleezza Rice’s idea of “birth pangs?”

Why are these failed states so important to the world? The Foreign Policy magazine states it well in their introduction:

It is an accepted axiom of the modern age that distance no longer matters. Sectarian carnage can sway stock markets on the other side of the planet. Anarchic cities that host open-air arms bazaars imperil the security of the world’s superpower. A hermit leader’s erratic behavior not only makes life miserable for the impoverished millions he rules but also upends the world’s nuclear nonproliferation regime. The threats of weak states, in other words, ripple far beyond their borders and endanger the development and security of nations that are their political and economic opposites.

These are the fruits of the Republican philosophy to the world. These are the fruits of neo-conservatives. These are not the fruits of good trees. These must be cast into the fire, metaphorically speaking. We must do what needs to be done with these kinds of philosophies, let them pass the way of the dodo bird, to be a relic of history, never to be seen again. At least, if Americans want a better world.

Supposed Suicide Bomb Teams Sent to US

June 18, 2007 at 6:30 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

from Pakistan of course. Uh, so er, just what are we doing in Iraq?

Doing Little To Take Care of Our Wounded Soldiers

June 18, 2007 at 7:42 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, gay bomb, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, secret combinations, violence | 2 Comments

The tragedy continues, and gets worse and worse. The government has not been giving the soldiers in Iraq the best protection, has done a piss-poor job at treating wounded soldiers at Walter Reed (and numerous other facilities around the nation), and now we read in yesterday’s Washington Post that again at Walter Reed, soldiers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder are getting short-changed and mistreated. Here’s a small snippet, though the whole article is a MUST read.

On the military plane that crossed the ocean at night, the wounded lay in stretchers stacked three high. The drone of engines was broken by the occasional sound of moaning. Sedated and sleeping, Pfc. Joshua Calloway was at the top of one stack last September. Unlike the others around him, Calloway was handcuffed to his stretcher.

When the 20-year-old infantry soldier woke up, he was on the locked-down psychiatric ward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A nurse handed him pajamas and a robe, but they reminded him of the flowing clothes worn by Iraqi men. He told the nurse, “I don’t want to look like a freakin’ Haj.” He wanted his uniform. Request denied. Shoelaces and belts were prohibited.

Calloway felt naked without his M-4, his constant companion during his tour south of Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division. The year-long deployment claimed the lives of 50 soldiers in his brigade. Two committed suicide. Calloway, blue-eyed and lantern-jawed, lasted nine months — until the afternoon he watched his sergeant step on a pressure-plate bomb in the road. The young soldier’s knees buckled and he vomited in the reeds before he was ordered to help collect body parts. A few days later he was sent to the combat-stress trailers, where he was given antidepressants and rest, but after a week he was still twitching and sleepless. The Army decided that his war was over.

Every month, 20 to 40 soldiers are evacuated from Iraq because of mental problems, according to the Army. Most are sent to Walter Reed along with other war-wounded. For amputees, the nation’s top Army hospital offers state-of-the-art prosthetics and physical rehab programs, and soon, a new $10 million amputee center with a rappelling wall and virtual reality center.

Nothing so gleaming exists for soldiers with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, who in the Army alone outnumber all of the war’s amputees by 43 to 1. The Army has no PTSD center at Walter Reed, and its psychiatric treatment is weak compared with the best PTSD programs the government offers. Instead of receiving focused attention, soldiers with combat-stress disorders are mixed in with psych patients who have issues ranging from schizophrenia to marital strife.

Even though Walter Reed maintains the largest psychiatric department in the Army, it lacks enough psychiatrists and clinicians to properly treat the growing number of soldiers returning with combat stress. Earlier this year, the head of psychiatry sent out an “SOS” memo desperately seeking more clinical help.

Individual therapy with a trained clinician, a key element in recovery from PTSD, is infrequent, and targeted group therapy is offered only twice a week.

Young Pfc. Calloway was put in robes that first night. His dreams were infected by corpses. He tasted blood in his mouth. He was paranoid and jumpy. He couldn’t stop the movie inside his head of Sgt. Matthew Vosbein stepping on the bomb. His memory was shot. His insides burned.

Calloway’s mother came to Walter Reed from Ohio and told the psychiatrist everything she knew about her son. Sitting in the office for the interview, Calloway jiggled his leg and put his head in his hands as he described his tour in Iraq. His mental history was probed and more notes were taken. The trivia of his life — a beagle named Zoe, a job during high school at a Meijer superstore, a love of World War II history — competed with what he had become.

“I can’t remember who I was before I went into the Army,” he said later. “Put me in a war for a year, my brain becomes a certain way. My brain is a big, black ball of crap with this brick wall in front of it.”

After a week in the lockdown unit, Calloway was stabilized. They gave him back his shoelaces and belt. On the 10th day, he was released and turned over to outpatient psychiatry for treatment. And Calloway, a casualty without a scratch, began the longest season of his young life.

It is absolutely reprehensible that our nation and our government does not take care of those who supposedly fight for our very existence, but let them languish in their mental horrors. Then again this should tell you how much the Pentagon truly understands the human mind.

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