Thursday, September 28, 2006

With Friends Like This...

Back to Iraq. It seems to generate more interest, which is understandable because it is a war. Sometimes we forget that. Anyway, these poll numbers from our new "partner" in the war on terror need to be seen.

WASHINGTON - 61% of Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S. led forces, and slightly more than that want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year, according to a poll in that country.

The Iraqis also have negative views of Osama bin Laden, according to the early September poll of 1,150. More than half, 57 percent, further disapprove of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The poll, done for University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, also found that almost 4 in 5 Iraqis say the U.S. military force in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents.


61% of Iraqis support the continuing slaughter of American troops as they try to police their country to prevent bloodshed. Nice to know. No wonder the insurgency still isn't in its "final throes" as Dick Cheney said well over a year ago.

Furthermore, in spite of the popular support for violence targetting U.S. troops, note how Osama Bin Laden is not a popular figure in Iraq. Perhaps the "war on terror" isn't as homogenous as the administration leads us to believe? Hmmm. And perhaps Osama did not have an ally in Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people afterall? Who would've thunk that?

Finally, note how Iran's President Ahmadinejad also carries a low approval rating amongst the Iraqi people. Too bad the new U.S. backed government doesn't share these feelings. Prime Minister Maliki can't get enough hugs from Mr. Ahmadinejad, that is when he's not busy bonding with Sheik Nassrallah over in Lebanon, of course.

This stuff keeps getting worse. I suppose we could look at this more optimistically, like Bush, and say that our 2,700 dead, 20,000 wounded, and $450 billion spent has led to a 39% of the Iraqi people opposing the killing of American troops?!? At that rate, we just might win this war on terror in a few centuries.


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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In Defense of George Allen

With 2,700 dead U.S. soldiers in Iraq, mounting loses from the War in Afghanistan, legitimate questions of national security, a senile Secretary of Defense, a border being overrun by invaders, record federal budget deficits, corruption in Congress, and no national energy or health care policies....apparently the #1 issue in American politics is still race. Senator George Allen's re-election campaign is on the ropes. If I lived in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I think I might vote for challenger Jim Webb myself. Afterall, I respect the man's credentials and agree with his position on Iraq.

However, Allen's detractors don't want to focus on that. Instead, after a series of incidents beginning with the "macaca" story, the vultures are circling overhead of the Senator's fallen body. And it seems now they're going in for the kill after digging up an unsubstantiated allegations that he used the word "nigger" in college 30 years ago.

I'm so tired of this. Not only is there a double standard concerning the use of that word (we sure do love that rap music), but its use can be alleged without any credible evidence. And then everyone will stop and take note in order to prove that they care, that they're above this sort of thing. Heck, I'm even doing it here! Chris Matthews - who I respect more than most of his peers - spent a full 30 minutes on this topic today. And history has proven that it can indeed swing a close election.

I sure hope the Webb campaign isn't fueling the fires here. I'd like to think the former Reagan aide is above that. I saw an interview with Allen's old "buddy" from the UVA football team who felt the voters of his state needed to learn of Allen's supposedly racist past. And so he talked and alleged some pretty mean stuff. And yet when asked why he hadn't come forth sooner, this buffoon responded that he had been hoping Allen would go away and he wouldn't have to do this.

Let's see: the man serves 4 years as Governor, another 6 as Senator, and there have been longtime rumors of a forthcoming presidential campaign. But none of that mattered. What counted was that Allen's politcal blood was in the water. And someone thought it was time to use every bullet in the gun. Even if doing so was the wrong thing to do. More of the typical sad state of American politics.

I don't know if George Allen said the "n" word or not. Unlike most, I don't care. I do care about his position on Iraq where Americans of all colors are dying. And I would care about his legislative record if there was a history of prejudice. But apparently those things just aren't as sexy as a two-syllable unsubstantiated remark supposively uttered 30 years ago.

What a country! We literally give 2nd and 3rd and 4th chances to criminals (that was actually my job for awhile). We literally re-elect politicans who lie, cheat, and steal. And Ted Kennedy literally has a job for life no matter what he does - rabble rouse at best, murder at worst. But don't you dare say a bad word. Especially that one.

Snoop Dogg for president!


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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ahmadinejad

I don't have it in me to editorialize more thoroughly because my thoughts on the matter of Iran are still developing. The main comment that I can offer is that of all the lessons learned from Iraq, I hope our president (and America) resists the notion that this is a black-and-white issue. It's so tempting to say "we're good" and "they're bad."

But that doesn't make it right. If nothing else, Ahmadinejad's words remind me that the same old-school Cold War attitude that hurt us in Iraq still doesn't apply to this latest of the new 21st century struggles. New ideas and new directions are needed -- quickly.

Emphatically, no, I do not want Iran to have a nuclear bomb. And I would rejoice if the people of Iran showed their religious dictators the boot and returned that nation to acting once again like the jewel of a culture it has historically been since the time of Alexander the Great. But I also know we cannot impose a government on them that they do not want. And I realize it's a precarious position to be the world's largest nuclear state and then dictate to others that they cannot use that same nuclear power.

Ahmadinejad is not a fool. His words indicate to me that he's sharper than Saddam Hussein ever dreamed of being while he played dictator for 3 decades. We're in a tough spot here, especially after Iraq. I genuinely hope President Bush can navigate it better this time. Even the most bitter of this administration's critics should not want to see him mess up on this one. There's way too much at stake.


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"We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening."

No, the quote that I used for a title is not a line from a Blues or Country song, it is the actual words of the Hungarian Prime Minister. Mind ye, he had no idea those words would be made public... but still...

"Mr Gyurcsany's comments, which sparked the violence, were heard in a tape of a meeting he had with his MPs a few weeks after April's election, and leaked to local media on Sunday.

In excerpts broadcast on state radio, Mr Gyurcsany says harsh economic reforms are needed.

'There is not much choice. There is not, because we screwed up. Not a little, a lot. No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have.

Evidently, we lied throughout the last year-and-a-half, two years... You cannot quote any significant government measure we can be proud of, other than at the end we managed to bring the government back from the brink. Nothing.'

In a speech sprinkled with obscenities, Mr Gyurcsany says: 'We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening.'"

What is this? Remorse? Honesty? Among the ruling class of a Western Democracy?

Sheesh... What's next? Faithful execution of thier duties? What is this world coming to!!!


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Monday, September 18, 2006

Freedom

Neal Boortz recently met with President Bush for an off-the-record roundtable with several other noted conservative radio talk show hosts. Boortz has stated that he will not quote from president per the rules of the 90 minute dialogue. However, he did provide this observation that I thought was worthy of some thought.

I came away from the meeting with some clear impressions. President Bush is a man of deep religious faith, and strongly believes that anyone who truly believes in God will also have a burning desire to live free.

I'm not sure how I feel about this seemingly harmless statement. And I admit that if we weren't bogged down in a gruelling war in Iraq, it would be a non-issue. But we are. And so I challenge interested readers and co-bloggers to ask themselves, free of personal bias, whether this is a fair assessment of both the current state and also the history of mankind? Do we really have that burning desire to live free? I realize that questioning such a notion almost sounds anti-American by nature. And, speaking as a gun owner, I personally like my freedom as much as the next guy. But when we look at a history filled with consolidation of power (yes, even right here in America), I'm not sure this notion is as imprinted on the DNA of God-fearing people as much as the president thinks. And I'm even more dubious that it's as common in that part of the world from Morocco to Malaysia where conformity appears valued above freedom.

Thoughts?


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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Forgotten Lebanon

I wanted to briefly turn our attention back to Lebanon today. Damage from the 34 day conflict this summer is estimated to be at a cost of $3.6 billion. More than 15,000 homes were destroyed or damaged, as well as substantial infrastructure including 80 bridges and 94 roads. The Beirut airport and most seaports were severely damaged or disabled. Combined with the Israeli blockade that was lifted only this past week, this has actually resulted in an economic boom for none other than Syria. Diverted cargoes worth millions have been sent away from Beirut's port to Syria's harbors at Latakia and Tartous.

The economic cost of rebuilding will naturally be difficult for a small country that already carries a foreign debt of $34 billion from its rebuilding efforts over the past two decades. Lebanon's manufacturing sector is limited and its strongest industry had actually been tourism, which naturally was dealt a crippling blow by the war. The government had projected 1.6 million visitors to Lebanon this year. This will certainly not happen now or anytime soon.

To that end, representatives of more than 60 nations met recently in Sweeden to raise $500 million for Lebanon. Sadly neither the U.S. or Israel has taken the lead in this initiative. That's right - despite all the sentiment from Israel that it was at war with Hezbollah and not the Lebanese people - for all my research for this piece, I was able to find no evidence of Israeli aid to the people of Lebanon.

Lebanon has received grants of $500 million from Saudi Arabia and $800 million from Kuwait. In comparison, President Bush proposed $230 million in aid. However, a legislative hold was immediately put on the measure by Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos. Lantos instead intends to introduce bipartisan legislation to provide more aid to Israel, which already receives more than $2 billion annually in assistance from the United States. Great!

In contrast, one group who is doing something is Hezbollah with the backing of Iran. Each of 5,000 families made homeless by the war has received a $12,000 grant from Hezbollah. Hezbollah's efforts are not limited to dispersing funds. They have taken the lead in the dirty work of rebuilding - clearing rubble, arranging for construction, and providing temporary housing. And they're actually doing it very well as 35% of devastated southern Lebanon is again considered habitable following its utter destruction only 2 months ago.

So who wins here? Once again it is Hezbollah, naturally. And Iran too. Afterall, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah's charitable activities (as well as his military efforts) are largely funded by money from Iran. "No one has ever paid attention to us Shiites here," an elderly Lebanese man Hassan Karut recently told the Christian Science Monitor, "except Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah."

And so far it looks like the U.S. loses. Whether Bush is hands-on (Iraq) or hands-off (Lebanon), his foreign agenda in the Middle East has been disastrous. Yet again the hearts and minds of more Muslims are won by groups openly hostile to America. Does it have to be this way? In most cases, I still don't think so. And the lesson learned is that unquestionably supporting the actions of Israel may not in our best interests afterall.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Radical Stupidity

One of the most difficult aspects of opposing the war in Iraq is knowing that I must share a position with Rosie O'Donnell. Don't get me wrong. That's about all I share with Rosie, except perhaps a strong sexual attraction to women. Yesterday, however, Ms. O'Donnell turned her opposition to the war in Iraq into a segway for one of the most vicious attacks on Christians I've heard from the mainstream media in some time.

On the Tuesday edition of her new show, The View, Rosie stated in response a co-host's seemingly innocuous comment that militant Islam poses a grave threat that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America."

Wow. What an insult to all Christians when you consider that from the perspective of someone in Rosie's world, a radical Christian hardly needs be another Pat Robertson or Bishop Fulton Sheen. So are we everyday radical Christians here in America as threatening as radical Islamists in the Middle East? Let's briefly compare:

Radical Islam:

-- Hijacking airplanes
-- Car bombs
-- Terrorist training camps
-- Bombs planted on mass transit systems
-- Unprovoked attacks on embassies
-- Widespread use of houses of worship to store armaments
-- Proliferation of opium in order to fund terrorism
-- Open opposition to human and equal rights


Radical Christianity:

-- The occasional and widely denounced quack like David Koresh leading a suicide cult
-- The occasional and widely denounced quack like Paul Hill murdering a doctor who performs abortions
-- The Gideons taking up all that valuable hotel drawer space
-- Televangelists monopolizing all that good Sunday morning television
-- Traffic cops preferentially disrupting the flow of traffic to allow cars to leave church parking lots
-- The killing of billions of innocent trees in order to make the Bible the best-selling book in history


Or we could just crudely compare body counts over the past few decades? That may be especially appropriate since Rosie O'Donnell made this insulting remark just one day after the 5 year anniversary of 9/11. Does she not realize that the families of the slaughtered largely turned to those very same "radical" Christian churches to deal with their grief?

And I'm actually one who may be more sympathetic to the broader point. You see, I'm not ready to declare World War 3. I'm not ready to invade Iran. And I think there's even some hope for common ground with the Muslim world. However, let's not confuse the issue as Rosie has. Radical Islam is a BIG problem. Radical Christianity is NOT. Even if you disagree with Jerry Falwell or Pope Benedict, I'm pretty sure their words this Sunday morning won't include instructions on rigging an IED for maximum casualties. That's not to say all Muslim clerics preach like this, but a lot do.

This radical Christian hopes that Ms. O'Donnell makes a goodwill trip to visit the Taliban since they're merely as threatening as any old Methodist in Rosie's world. She can even bring along her wife too. I'm sure Mullah Omar would have a warm welcome planned for them. Especially if she's into whips and chains. I'm pretty sure they could arrange that!



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Watch This...

Of a certain predisposition to be sure, but nevertheless one of--if not the, most powerful television commentaries (and I would argue above politics, but that's just me) I have ever seen. From Keith Oberman of MNSBC's "Countdown" on the 5th anniversary of 9/11…click "Launch" to watch the video.


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Monday, September 11, 2006

Noonan on 9/11

I posted this the other day at the Cranky Conservative, but figured it would be appropriate here on 9/11. This is Peggy Noonan's column discussing some of the final words and phone calls those murdered that day made to their loved one. Here's the part that moved me the most:

I think too about the sounds that came from within the buildings and within the planes--the phone calls and messages left on answering machines, all the last things said to whoever was home and picked up the phone. They awe me, those messages.
Something terrible had happened. Life was reduced to its essentials. Time was short. People said what counted, what mattered. It has been noted that there is no record of anyone calling to say, "I never liked you," or, "You hurt my feelings." No one negotiated past grievances or said, "Vote for Smith." Amazingly --or not--there is no record of anyone damning the terrorists or saying "I hate them."

No one said anything unneeded, extraneous or small. Crisis is a great editor. When you read the transcripts that have been released over the years it's all so clear.

Flight 93 flight attendant Ceecee Lyles, 33 years old, in an answering-machine message to her husband: "Please tell my children that I love them very much. I'm sorry, baby. I wish I could see your face again."

Thirty-one-year-old Melissa Harrington, a California-based trade consultant at a meeting in the towers, called her father to say she loved him. Minutes later she left a message on the answering machine as her new husband slept in their San Francisco home. "Sean, it's me, she said. "I just wanted to let you know I love you."

Capt. Walter Hynes of the New York Fire Department's Ladder 13 dialed home that morning as his rig left the firehouse at 85th Street and Lexington Avenue. He was on his way downtown, he said in his message, and things were bad. "I don't know if we'll make it out. I want to tell you that I love you and I love the kids."

Firemen don't become firemen because they're pessimists. Imagine being a guy who feels in his gut he's going to his death, and he calls on the way to say goodbye and make things clear. His widow later told the Associated Press she'd played his message hundreds of times and made copies for their kids. "He was thinking about us in those final moments."

Elizabeth Rivas saw it that way too. When her husband left for the World Trade Center that morning, she went to a laundromat, where she heard the news. She couldn't reach him by cell and rushed home. He'd called at 9:02 and reached her daughter. The child reported, "He say, mommy, he say he love you no matter what happens, he loves you." He never called again. Mrs. Rivas later said, "He tried to call me. He called me."

There was the amazing acceptance. I spoke this week with a medical doctor who told me she'd seen many people die, and many "with grace and acceptance." The people on the planes didn't have time to accept, to reflect, to think through; and yet so many showed the kind of grace you see in a hospice.

Peter Hanson, a passenger on United Airlines Flight 175 called his father. "I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building," he said. "Don't worry, Dad--if it happens, it will be very fast." On the same flight, Brian Sweeney called his wife, got the answering machine, and told her they'd been hijacked. "Hopefully I'll talk to you again, but if not, have a good life. I know I'll see you again some day."

There was Tom Burnett's famous call from United Flight 93. "We're all going to die, but three of us are going to do something," he told his wife, Deena. "I love you, honey."

These were people saying, essentially, In spite of my imminent death, my thoughts are on you, and on love. I asked a psychiatrist the other day for his thoughts, and he said the people on the planes and in the towers were "accepting the inevitable" and taking care of "unfinished business." "At death's door people pass on a responsibility--'Tell Billy I never stopped loving him and forgave him long ago.' 'Take care of Mom.' 'Pray for me, Father. Pray for me, I haven't been very good.' " They address what needs doing.

This reminded me of that moment when Todd Beamer of United 93 wound up praying on the phone with a woman he'd never met before, a Verizon Airfone supervisor named Lisa Jefferson. She said later that his tone was calm. It seemed as if they were "old friends," she later wrote. They said the Lord's Prayer together. Then he said "Let's roll."


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Memories of 9/11/01

Doing something different to remember 9/11/01 -- 5 years ago today. For me it seems even longer, only because my life has since gone through so many changes. But in other ways, the memories are fresh. I was in my 'Research, Writing and Analysis' class a mere month after entering law school at Georgia State. I hated that class and my initial reaction was one of glee when a custodian walked into the room mid-class and informed the professor classes had been cancelled for the morning. Naturally, my feelings soon changed. I walked over to the Irish Pub in Underground Atlanta and chased a shot of Jamison with a pint of Guinness while I watched the news.

5 years later I live in Charlotte County, Florida. It's 1200 miles from New York and a totally different world too. Yet even here I'm reminded how 9/11/01 touched all Americans. 3 of the highjackers actually spent their final months in this area learning how to fly planes. They lived in nearby Venice, the town where my wife works and one that hasn't seen a murder in 6 years. Ziad Jarrah, Marwan al-Shehhi, and Mohammed Atta each earned their wings at the Venice Municipal Airport and would then pilot 3 of the 4 doomed planes on 9/11. But in the summer of 2000, they came to Venice and blended right into our community. They lived in local rentals, attended flight school, and even drank in local bars. After class they went for beers almost every night at The Outlook Bar. According to bartender Lizsa Lehman, Atta was gruff and aloof and frequently expressed disapproval of the presence of women servers behind the bar. But al-Shehhi was apparently friendly and jovial and always eager to interact with bartenders and patrons.

Amazing. So with a vigilant eye towards the future and one of sorrow towards the past, let's reflect on the horrors the fallen of 9/11/01 went through, especially the heroes who died ascending those burning stairs. Let's also remember that for all our efforts in the Middle East, Osama Bin Laden remains free. Whether it be by this administration, the next, or even one 20 years from now, I pray that f*ucker gets justice G. Gordon Liddy style. And whether we're on the Right or the Left or somewhere in between, we can all agree on this, GOD BLESS THE USA!



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Friday, September 08, 2006

Are Our Politicians/Leaders Stuck in a Rut?

Heeding Conservobabe’s comment to BDJ’s recent posts regarding the war, I’ve struggled to come up with anything interesting to write about. If it hasn’t been painfully obvious by now, that’s generally my criteria for posting; what is interesting to me. Thankfully, much of the time, though not always, what meets my criteria is also interesting to not only some of our readers, but also my co-bloggers as well. My recent silence, albeit also caused by a busy spell at work, is also due to my own general apathy about the state of our political landscape. As to the root causes of this apathetic feeling, well just take a gander around, read the blogs, the news/current events magazines, and the newspapers, it’s all the same all the time (note, I’ve purposefully left cable news off my list as that drivel has gotten so bad in recent months I don’t even attempt to watch it), elections, war, elections, terrorism, war, elections, elections, war, elections.

I know, I know, these things are important, but that doesn’t make them interesting. In fact, for the most part, in my opinion, they are downright boring. We all have entrenched positions about the war, good, bad, or in my case indifferent, which are not going to change. Unless you live in one of the states with an actual “contested election,” i.e., Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Montana, New York (interesting congressional races, especially upstate), Tennessee, or Virginia (if you believe the more recent polls, which I don’t) then you probably could care less about that as well. Besides, it’s not really like any of the candidates say anything anyway. I can’t tell you what kind of election crap I see/receive here in Maryland where there is both an open senate seat for the first time in decades, and a gubernatorial race that is important. I mean, come on, if I hear one more TV ad or see one more flyer about health care and/or No Child Left Behind; I’m going to throw-up. Freshman Senators alone can’t balance the budget, can’t end the war, can’t fully fund education, and can’t fix Medicare, who are we kidding here. They are at best on more vote in a caucus, and maybe they get some appropriations tossed there way as a thanks for winning gesture, but lets tell the truth for once, just once, a Freshman Senator has about as much power and influence over national policy as, well, as a bump on a log. Moreover, governors are equally as impotent on many of the so-called “campaign issues,” especially in a state like Maryland that is so totally controlled by Democrats that it is no wonder the state legislature didn’t override every single solitary one of Governor Bob Erlich’s vetoes just because they could. Even better they could have immediately repealed any law he actually signed, just to be truly obstanate. Now that would have at least been interesting.

I guess my point is that we’re stuck in a rut. Election year politics bring out the absolute worst of everyone, most of all the pundits, who seem to find a never ending way of saying the same things over and over again. Are we as a country really totally bereft of any new ideas? Have we really achieved as close to nirvana as we can get, save for some minor tinkering around the edges? Let’s be honest, tinkering around the edges is really all we’ve been doing for years. Medicare reform, welfare reform, education reform, banking reform, you name it, they are all nice sounding names for things that really are no more than a tweak here and/or a minor pull there. We haven’t seen a really earth shattering, ground breaking proposal about anything for quite some time now. It’s the politics of the median voter theory, the politics of the I don’t want to offend too many people who contribute money to my campaign school, and the politics of the scared to loose my safe cushy job way of thinking. Sure, at times it can be intriguing to watch the squishy middle of the road folks like Snow, Collins, Chaffee, and Specter squirm under pressure, but even with those examples one has to admit that as frustrating as they may be to the true conservative believers, they represent their constituencies, which are mostly to the barely left of center, fairly accurately.

Once, just once, over the next month or so, I’d like to hear someone say something really radical, really controversial, in the policy sense of course (we get plenty of the socially controversial stuff thanks to guys like Burns and Allen, that’s boring too, really boring, not to mention stupid, which in my book is a double whammy). At this point, I don’t really care if it’s a liberal or a conservative who says it, just please somebody say something worth talking about. Take a stand, be strong, come up with an idea and actually mean it, rather just simply trudge out the same old platitudes that have been sterilized, scrubbed, and focus-grouped to death. I’d so rather see someone try something new and loose bad than have to continue to hold my nose and vote for the candidate whose old, bad ideas are least offensive to me.

Both sides have thousands of old, bad ideas, why can’t one of them come up with a new idea, even if it’s bad? Doesn’t seem so hard does it? Maybe it is. Maybe we’re really at the point where there are no major changes worth taking. Maybe as a county we’ve done as well as can be done, the only things left are to make the edges smoother and ride out the brief hiccups along the way. I sure don’t believe that we’ve gotten anywhere close to this point, but our politicians sure seem to. I wonder where I can get some of what they’re drinking and smoking, because that would sure make my days more interesting.


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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Let He With Sin Cast The First Boulder



"Here's how brazen Mr. Rumsfeld was when he invoked Hitler's appeasers to score his cheap points: Since Hitler was photographed warmly shaking Neville Chamberlain's hand at Munich in 1938, the only image that comes close to matching it in epochal obsequiousness is the December 1983 photograph of Mr. Rumsfeld himself in Baghdad, warmly shaking the hand of Saddam Hussein in full fascist regalia. Is the defense secretary so self-deluded that he thought no one would remember a picture so easily Googled on the Web? Or worse, is he just too shameless to care?" --Frank Rich, The New York Times, 9/3/06.

H/T to MQA Blog


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Notes and Commentary

It feels like this place is becoming more of a personal journal these days! Regardless, I'm just trying to keep it going today with a few diverse notes until perhaps the busier schedules of my TPS colleagues ease. In the meantime, we're still getting good hits here. So I'll try to stir things up to generate some comments!

Tony Blair confirms his forthcoming retirement in 2007 from the Prime Minister post of Great Britain that he has held for a decade. Personal views on Blair aside, I believe this will have a major (and possibly negative) impact on America's current global policies. Blair has been a strong ally of two American presidents in a series of diverse struggles. None has been bigger than the fight in Iraq. And he's taken a lot of heat for it at home but always had the politcal capital to survive. Blair is evertyhing Bush isn't in so many ways. He sounds like he could charm the pants off any womam and then sell a bottle of snake oil to her husband on the way out. And communication is so very important in pursuing the new war on terror - one of our own administration's biggest shortcomings. I wonder if Great Britain will have America's back after Blair is gone? Whether his Tory opponents take power or the more liberal elements of the Labor Part remain in control, I don't see Britain being as pro-active in the Middle East. Thoughts?

So did the rest of ya'll in those other 49 states see the results of our Florida primary? I have mixed thoughts on the outcome. Apart from the Gold Coast stretching from Melbourne to Miami, the Florida Republican party is very strong on the local level. Charlie Crist won the GOP nomination to run for Governor and all signs indicate that the outgoing Attorney General would be a worthy successor to the popular Gov. Jeb Bush. However, in equally discouraging news, Katherine Harris of Sarasota County indeed won the primary to run against Senator Bill Nelson. Challengers Bill McBride and LeRoy Collins entered the race late and with little experience. Sadly Harris' name recognition motivated 49% of Republicans to vote for her. While I am planning to support my Republican Congressman Connie Mack, Jr (who faces no real opposition), I also intend to vote for Senator Nelson. It will be my first ever vote for a Democrat and I feel a very worthy choice.

Any thoughts of George Bush's "War on Terror" speeches? I notice he continues to talk "terror" and not "Iraq." I know, I know - they're one in the same. Silly me! But the admission by Mr. Bush of his knowledge of and role in developing these CIA prisons is long-in-coming. I'm surprised it's getting very little play on the news. I don't have problems with this development in principle. These prisons and even the use of some draconian methods may be a necessary evil. But why cover it up? However, once again, the real problem here is that the administration has lost its credibility through our follies in Iraq and that taints other legitimate security measures.

Finally, as the administration trumpets handing over limited control of the Iraqi army to the Iraqis, let's continue to remember our fallen. This is very important, especially for those of us opposed to an endless mission in Iraq and who believe our troops should be coming home by now. 8 US soldiers have died in Iraq this month alone. It's only September 7th, people! I recommend this site where you can learn more about those who have fallen and remember their sacrifices. On a personal note, I got a phone call yesterday from a buddy of mine stationed in Iraq. He sounded ok - at least as good as one can sound when fighting in a war zone. This guy entered the Army way back in January 2006! And now he's fighting this war in Iraq? I hope people are aware of dynamics like this. Some who have less familiarity with the military may think we have nothing but willing, professional, well-trained, and battle-tested troops in Iraq. There may be some, but there are also a lot of kids like my friend. Guys and gals who needed a job and literally have no clue who the prime minister of Iraq is or for what the letters WMD stand. Let's remember these are the very folks who are waging the war in Iraq. Yes, they are good troops. No, they are not all-powerful and certainly not able to make a mound of gold from of a pile of crap -- that flawed neo-conservative dream for Iraq and beyond being proved more and more futile everyday.


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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

To Quote Bob Marley -- Everywhere Is War, Me Say War

So if George W. Bush is taking credit for helping win the war on terror, I have a question for his hawkish supporters here at TPS. If America is ever seriously attacked by terrorists down the road, should George Bush or the then-president be blamed for losing the war on terror? And where does this put the attacks on 9/11 given that they happened while Bush was commander-in-chief and responsible for leading this war on terror?

I'm fine with security. But when police arrest a child molestor here in Port Charlotte and help keep my kids safe, I don't look at it as "another victory in the war on child molestors." When I'm walking through a not-so-nice part of downtown Tampa and see an empty crack vile lying in the curb, I don't blame the Hillsborough police for "losing the war on drugs." And when a grocery store clerk over at Publix checks my identification to see that I'm the named person on my check, I don't pat her on the shoulder saying, "Well done, you're winning the war on check fraud."

All these actions keep us safer, to varying degrees. But let's not reduce the meaning of the powerful word war and all those terms that go along with it such as troops, homefront, and casualties. Let's not equate the sacrifice of boys dying in Iraq or Afghanistan with US travelers having to wait a few extra minutes at the airport. But I'm afraid that's what Bush wants to do to divert attention from a real war in Iraq and create a better atmosphere for Republicans here at home.

My point is that I'm still not ready to accept a military state, even if there are legitimate threats to our homeland security. And the more our leaders talk about a "war" here in America, the more I fear an errosion of our liberties. Yes, I want our leaders to guard against foreign and domestic threats. But I also want to preserve our way of life. Europe and Japan of 1942 were wars. Vietnam was a war. Iraq sadly is a war. Our security measures here in America are not part of a war, in my opinion. They're perhaps worthy actions taken by the government to protect our security by using its police powers. But is this really a war???

If you think so, ask yourself how your own life was affected on this very day by the continuing war? Because in a real war, all aspects of life are touched. War is called hell for a reason - just ask folks from Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Serbia, Darfur, or Chechnya who have all experienced war recently.

Yes - let's limit terrorism's ability to disturb life in America. And if our military needs to fight an actual war overseas that hinders legitimate promoters of terrorism (i.e. Afghanistan) then I'm all for that too. But my grandparents told me all about this nation being at war in the 1940s. And, in my mind, this is not the same. Ask yourself that when you vote this November....because this president doesn't even call it a "war" when our porous borders are literally being trampled.

UPDATE A - It was noted on cable news tonight that never before has the United States waged a major war without raising taxes to fund the fight and also increasing the size of the military to supply troops for the fight. Without thoroughly checking the history books, that sounds about right. And in this case, we've actually cut taxes, ran up massive budget deficits, and slashed the military - in its size, spending, and bases. So I ask once again, are we really fighting a war?

UPDATE B - After listening to the further commentary of several tv talking heads (and in answer to the above question), if we are indeed fighting a broad war against terror on all fronts foreign and domestic, then are we winning? If so, how are we winning? And if not, where is the accountability for failing to win?


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Friday, September 01, 2006

Another Defector

The Republican Congress continues to distance itself from the White House on the volatile issue of Iraq and the handling of the war. Congressman Pat Tiberi from Ohio is the latest to break ranks with the president and Secretary of Defense.

By way of background, Tiberi has been a strong supporter of the war until this point. He's in his 3rd term serving Ohio's 12th district after replacing Rep. John Kasich in the Columbus-area and Republican-leaning seat. But Tiberi is now facing a decent challenge this November from Democrat Bob Shamansky, who recently announced that he had committed $1 million of his own money to his campaign. Like a growing number of Congressional Republicans, Tiberi must be seeing the poll numbers on Iraq and getting a little concerned. Today he told the Columbus Dispatch:

"I can’t defend how the president laid out the need for going to war in Iraq. I don’t support Rumsfeld."

Asked whether Bush has operated above the law regarding government surveillance, Tiberi's response was brief, but telling:

"He might have."

Tiberi must be taking some heat for coming over to this wimpy, ball-less, unpatriotic, best-friend-of-Osama side of mine from the White House and supporters because he has already posted an response to today's article on his Congressional website.

I have not called on Secretary Rumsfeld to resign or urged the president to remove him. Since December of 2005 I have stated publicly that I believe we need new leadership in the Pentagon. I believe this president can be better served.

Now that's some first rate double talk! Even if you can't stand how I rail against the Secretary of Defense here at TPS, at least give me some credit for offering a solitary, well-defined opinion on the issue. This guy says he isn't calling for Rummy's resignation, but also believes we need new leadership at the Pentagon because we're not being well served?? Last I checked, the Sec of Def is still in charge at the Pentagon! Another sign that the end of the GOP Congress may be near.

Oh well. Politics aside, I hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend. We here in South Florida got Ernesto's rain a few days ago. It wasn't that bad. Here's hoping he also goes easy on those in the Northeast and allows for one last weekend at the beach!


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