One Veteran's Voice

29 December 2005

Karl Rove is most likely a sociopath (think positive in 2006)


Interesting article at the Washington Post detailing Bush's recent strategy aimed at convincing the American public that he is not hopelessly incompetent.

I would say that this strategy is working ok.

I mean, this guy has blatantly flaunted the constitution, admitted to the American public that he did it, and then said, "Hey, trust me, we're just doing it to the terrorists before we extradite them for torture in Syria, one of the nations who we also claim supports terrorism and trains foreign jihadists to fight in Iraq. Oh yeah, Iraq. Well, hey, that's going all right. Look at the purple fingers. Cute little Iraqis. Aww, look at them killing each other in sectarian violence. It's a fledgling democracy, Laura. What's that? Iran is going to try and create a theocratic super-state in the mid-East? Get the nukes ready..."

America's response: Pass the turkey, change the channel, and worry about something inane, like bird flu.

See, we don't have a draft, even though we probably need one, and that means that most Americans don't have any personal stake in the Iraq war. If you're under 25 or so, you might want to pay special attention to how this country is being run. If we find ourselves in a war with Iran, North Korea, or one of the other members of the 'axis of evil' that is actually more of a threat to this country than Iraq, you might find yourself in a foreign land getting shot at by people who hate you because they think Americans are all like our president. Yeah, there are some bad people out there, kids, and war is real, and not just great reality television. You might want to pay attention and vote next time.

I hadn't been sure of it, but I am now convinced that Karl Rove is a force of almost pure evil. There may be some humanity and benevolence left in his twisted, campaign oriented mind, but I have not seen it yet.
Although Rove raised concerns about giving critics too much ground, the younger-generation aides prevailed. Bush agreed to try the approach so long as he did not come off sounding too negative. Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University specialist on wartime public opinion who now works at the White House, helped draft a 35-page public plan for victory in Iraq, a paper principally designed to prove that Bush had one.

Bush went into campaign mode, accusing Democrats of hypocrisy for voting to authorize the war and then turning against it. When Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) proposed pulling troops out of Iraq, the White House issued an unusually harsh and personal response comparing him to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore. The original draft, officials said, had been even tougher.

So the president has one of his smarter monkeys crank out a piece of apologistic fluff proving that his imperial majesty is, in fact, wearing his clothes. And now everything is supposed to be ok. His majesty is wearing his clothes. And if we intercept any communique that should indicate otherwise, well, we don't torture, but we do interrogate with extreme prejudice.

They voted. Hooray for the cute Iraqis. Let's hope they can learn to live in peace and democracy in this coming year (and sell us a lot of oil on the cheap).

Think positive in 2006-- it's the year that the American people are going to reclaim our legislature from the corrupt sell-outs in both parties who have been ruining this country. I'm talking about everyone connected with a slimeball like Jack Abramoff in any way. I'm talking about all the democrats who voted for war in Iraq even when they knew or had suspicions that all was not as it should be, out of fear of speaking out. Most of all, I'm talking about the great leader. Investigations into the President's abuse of executive power must take place. The truth will come out eventually, it always does. Bush is going to fight to the end, and the final battle will likely come in the Supreme Court, over the constitutional legality of the wiretaps. Shit, wasn't the supreme court the bunch of out of touch old codgers who got us in this mess in the first place by choosing the president? Shit shit shit

Getting my passport ready for 2006.

Just kidding.

Maybe

tags
Current Events, Iraq, Bush, Karl Rove, Politics

26 December 2005

Building walls


An article in today's Washington Post about the situation on the ground in Samarra, Iraq, reminded me of my own battles.

Most of the combat I was involved in during Operation Iraqi Freedom II was against the Mahdi Army, an anti-American Shiite militia led by a radical young cleric with ties to Iran, Muqtada al-Sadr.

Nowadays, the streets of Sadr City where those battles took place are controlled by that very same militia (often wearing the uniforms of Iraqi police or security forces, because they happen to be members of both organizations). The Mahdi army provided security during the elections in January. I would imagine they did the same during the recent elections.

So did we "win" in our fight against the Mahdi Army?

By any conventional military assessment, the answer is no. Despite heavy combat, we never seized control of the slum of Sadr City by military means after the uprising of April 4, 2004. We blinked when al-Sadr holed himself up in the Iman Ali mosque in Najaf. Thank God Sistani was able to negotiate a face saving de-escalation of the situation, or a more widespread Shiite uprising could have been the result. Several weapons buyback programs with the Mahdi Army were initiated in and around Sadr City, but they are still heavily armed. The truth is that the Mahdi Army were rooted too deeply in the Shiite culture and community for us to confront them militarily.

The violence of 2004 in Sadr City, while some of the heaviest of the war so far, never quite reached the all out pitch of Fallujah. The marines leveled Fallujah. This is not to say that a great deal of damage wasn't done to Sadr City's infrastructure by both sides, but when faced with the choice of all out urban war or letting the illegal militia exist and even control the disputed territory, the higher-ups chose the latter option.

In my view, this was a wise choice. When the cease-fire was enacted with the Mahdi Army in late summer of 2004, the daily mortar attacks on our base all but stopped. IED attacks continued (hard to tell who's behind them), but the pitched urban battles in and around Sadr City more or less ended. The Mahdi Army turned in some of their weapons. They begin rebuilding Sadr City, instead of destroying it. Civic government and reconstruction efforts, both totally non-existent during the fighting, were restarted.

The Mahdi Army is not comprised of terrorists. Its members aren't interested in traveling to the United States to wage jihad on Americans (although they might be sympathetic to that cause, especially now). It is a radical Islamic organization, and there's no love for the United States to be found there, but it was not a serious threat to our constitution or way of life. The same could be said about most of the insurgent groups and militias fighting US forces in Iraq. By Bush's own admission, they are mostly comprised of Iraqis. They are young, male, poor, extremely angry, and they fight against US forces that they believe are occupying their nation for selfish and imperialist purposes. Many are Islamic in name and ideology, and use the rhetoric of jihad to recruit and justify their fight. But not all Islamic militants are terrorists, and not all terrorists are Islamic militants. There are die hard terrorists in Iraq, to be sure, and they must be dealt with-- ideally by the Iraqi people and government. Killing innocent people to prove a political point is unacceptable, and must be stopped.

The US military is not geared to fight an urban guerilla war. It can do it, sure, and hold its own, but when the people we are trying to protect generally despise us and want us gone, military force is not going to change hearts and minds. Building a wall around a city and shooting anyone who approaches is not going to create a democracy. When we clear and hold one area, the insurgents who don't get killed flee and start again somewhere else. They don't wear uniforms, they don't have a single leader, and there is no shortage of arms in Iraq for them to use in their campaign. They can and will fight indefinitely, as long as their will remains.

The first step in solving the Iraq situation is for US forces to move outside the urban areas in Iraq. Day to day tensions with checkpoints, run-ins with heavy-handed US patrols, and convoys that hog the road (or worse, I saw countless Iraqis run off the road by overzealous US drivers), have been alienating the average Iraqi for years. Iraqi security forces simply have to pick up the ball and run with it-- and very soon. Every wall we build is the new best recruiting tool for the insurgency.

George Bush would call me a defeatist, but I don't believe I am. I am a realist. I am his worst nightmare in some ways, because I've actually been there and done it, and I'm not afraid to say what's going wrong in Iraq. They can't dismiss me as some kind of anti-American leftist, because I've fought for America (something George Bush never chose to do). Rest assured, America, that if an occupying army ever arrives on our shores, I will be one of the sons of liberty fighting for freedom in the streets with my AK. I'm deadly serious.

It's true that we've got some great things going for us in Iraq. Number one is our military, which will fight to the death when ordered, and will never surrender. We must be careful how we wield that power, however. We are so large and powerful that we can easily be perceived as a bully.

Number two good thing is an Iraqi population that genuinely seems to be excited about democracy, even though they haven't all learned that violence among sectarian or political factions is unacceptable. The Iraqi security forces will fight twice as hard when they actually realize that they, and not us, are the only thing standing between anarchy and tranquility.

Number three good thing is that the Sunnis are beginning to join the political process, with some Sunni insurgents going so far as to suspend attacks and provide security against al-Queda bombers during the recent elections.

As a realist, I am aware that we need to be in Iraq for a little longer. Sadly, the inept way in which the campaign was handled has left us in a bad situation. We have the responsibility to insure that Iraq does not descend into anarchy and all out civil war. We can do this with air power and moderate numbers of US troops stationed as a quick reaction force at bases around Iraq. We don't need to be driving up and down the streets looking for IEDs that we find when they blow up in our faces.

There is a large US military presence in Kuwait. Most of the camps are out in the middle of the desert. We're not the Kuwaiti police or army, we stayed there to act as a deterrent against Saddam and other Mid-east despots after Gulf War I. It worked pretty well against Saddam, but not against Osama. That's because Osama is not a country. An invasion is not going to defeat Osama, or al-Queda. Freedom and economic prosperity will. Bullets may be needed for some, but an army of occupation in Iraq is not helping our cause.

What do you think?

tags
Current Events, Iraq, Mahdi Army, Terrorism

Merry Christmas from Iraq


MC Ortiz
Originally uploaded by Luodanli.



tags
Flickr, Iraq

24 December 2005

Merry Christmas from Iraq


Mc Group
Originally uploaded by Luodanli.



tags
Flickr, Iraq

23 December 2005

Merry Christmas from Iraq


Merry Christmas 2005
Originally uploaded by Luodanli.



tags
Flickr, Iraq

21 December 2005

From flickr


Oil Leak Recon
Originally uploaded by YourLocalDave.


Soldiers watching oil burn.

tags
Flickr, Iraq

Spies, spooks, rats, and Bush

Judge Quits Spy Court in Protest

I have been glad to see at least a few Republicans in the senate stand up and say enough is enough.

"Word of Robertson's resignation came as two Senate Republicans joined the call for congressional investigations into the National Security Agency's warrantless interception of telephone calls and e-mails to overseas locations by U.S. citizens suspected of links to terrorist groups. They questioned the legality of the operation and the extent to which the White House kept Congress informed.

Sens. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) echoed concerns raised by Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has promised hearings in the new year."

How hard is it to get a warrant on a suspected terrorist, especially when you can do it after the fact? Maybe they're not really watching terrorists. I've read some interesting speculation that this project is not your daddy's wiretap, but some kind of big data mining program that searches through the phone and computer data from many, many, Americans-- looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack (i.e. Osama's phone number, like he still has one). I have a feeling that Bush is going to go down for this one in the end.

Like the disease ridden rat that he is, Jack Abramoff is going to flip and testify against the corrupt politicians that he once worked for.

Hopefully they'll put a few of these bastards in jail, and hopefully they'll be raped and killed there.

Damn, did I just write that? I am getting too bitter, even for my own taste.

Thanks to the person who gave me a dollar yesterday, whoever you are.

You and I are the only true patriots left.

Fuck all the rest of you.

Bah, humbug.

Tags
Abramoff, Corruption, Civil Liberties, Current Events, President Bush

20 December 2005

"The VA is grossly underfunded"

This afternoon I went down to the financial aid office at the University of Missouri to make sure that everything was straight with my GI bill. The GI bill pays roughly a thousand dollars a month, as long as you are enrolled in school. I will be starting school in January, and was hoping that I might start getting the money I was promised by the government around the same time. Unfortunately, after making sure all my paperwork was in order, the counselor warned me that I should expect not to get paid till March.

"Don't worry," she said, "If you get strapped for cash, the financial aid office offers short term loans for veterans."
"Oh good. Why does it take so long for them to start payment when the certification process is online?"
"Well, when they first came up with the online system I was excited. But you know what? When I click on this and certify that you are enrolled here and eligible for benefits, it transmits the data to Philadelphia. It gets printed out there, and mailed back to St. Louis. In St. Louis, a staff of eighteen people take that printed information and data entry it back into the system. Those eighteen people process all the VA claims in the mid-west, so they have a huge backlog."
"Wow," I exclaimed, "That's about the worst system I ever heard of."
"Yeah, the VA is grossly underfunded."

The insanity of it all still boggles my mind. The system is so inefficient that it's almost as if it is designed to be as slow as possible. The VA is underfunded and overwhelmed with claims from newly separated veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

This President cuts taxes, fights an unpopular war, and takes care of our veterans. Yeah, and he's going to pull a rabbit out of his ass for the second act. Americans are being misled.

So my first contact with the government institution that purports to care about me was a big downer. Luckily I expected as much.

By the way, if you want to help out with the whole tuition thing, click here.

Tags
Veteran, VA, Veteran's Affairs, GI Bill, Current Events

19 December 2005

Daily dose of W

President Bush's address on Iraq (You'll need RealPlayer)

Watching Bush's propaganda exhausts me so much that I'd rather let other people offer the rebuttal this time. Suffice to say that Bush's address is chock full of inaccuracies, misleading statements, and platitudes, as per usual.

Senate Democrats' on Iraq and Patriot Act

Tags
Iraq
Video
President Bush
Senate
Patriot Act

Flickr photo of the day


cartman
Originally uploaded by Luodanli.
I thought this was funny, especially if you're into South Park.

My photos on flickr

Tags
Iraq
Flickr

18 December 2005

I'm telling them what I think so they don't have to bother spying on me

"Since October, news accounts have disclosed a burgeoning Pentagon campaign for "detecting, identifying and engaging" internal enemies that included a database with information on peace protesters."

How is the illegal surveillance of peace protesters in any way related to keeping Americans safe from terrorism?

President Bush wants to know what I'm thinking, reading, who I'm calling and when-- not because I'm a terrorist, but because I oppose his policies, most importantly the war in Iraq. Peace protesters are dangerous. People might not support the war if they can get the truth without government interference. How are these internal enemies "engaged"? When I used to engage an enemy, it involved blowing them away with high explosives or shredding them with metal bullets. How are peace protestors being engaged? Why?

If you trust the crap that is spewed out of Bush's mouth at this point, whether it's about Iraq, his domestic spying, his knowledge of pre-war intelligence, whatever-- you are a moron. This guy is like Nixon but with a bigger chip on his shoulder. What happened to the America I went to fight for?

Tags
President Bush
Peace
Civil liberties

16 December 2005

Big Brother

"This is as shocking a revelation as we have ever seen from the Bush administration," said Martin, who has been sharply critical of the administration's surveillance and detention policies. "It is, I believe, the first time a president has authorized government agencies to violate a specific criminal prohibition and eavesdrop on Americans."

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said she is "dismayed" by the report.

"It's clear that the administration has been very willing to sacrifice civil liberties in its effort to exercise its authority on terrorism, to the extent that it authorizes criminal activity," Fredrickson said.

If this is true, is it an impeachable offense? I'm not a lawyer, but if the President authorizes illegal government spying, is that impeachable? The problem with impeaching Bush is Cheney. Damn it.

The Patriot Act is a load of b.s.-- kill it.

Those who would give up their freedoms to these worms in exchange for the promise of safety are not patriots, they are cowards.

Don't let the United States become a police state.

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller


Tags
President Bush
Current Events
Civil liberties

WAR IN IRAQ WON!

That would have been the headline over at the Washington Post if I were editor in chief. Instead, this is.

Ok, well congratulations America. We did it. They all voted. There were reports of insurgents providing security for polling stations.
"This is our future. This is our destiny," Ammar Ahmed, a self-described supporter of the insurgency, said in Fallujah, a western Sunni city devastated by war. Tens of thousands there streamed to the polls. "If we don't want to live like this, we can't leave it to others," Ahmed said.

The war is over. Democracy is in place. The Iraqi people are free. Time to start bringing some of our troops home.

Tags
Elections in Iraq
Iraq
Current Events

15 December 2005

Let's play spin the war

More from the Washington Post on the President's recent messages to America regarding the war in Iraq.

The strategic ambiguity also reflects hard experience inside a White House that has repeatedly miscalculated Iraqi resistance to the United States. After predictions that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators, Bush's "Mission Accomplished" aircraft-carrier speech and Vice President Cheney's assertion in June that the insurgency was in its "last throes," Bush advisers have learned to stay away from forecasting imminent victory.

"Having been burned with estimates before . . . we are being very, very careful not to give specific month or even year horizons that we could be stuck with," said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record. "It's not as if we have a secret ersatz timetable and we just won't say what it is."


This is what was previously called the "stay the course" philosophy in Iraq. Now the spin doctors in the White House are calling it "The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq"

Seems like the same product in new packaging.

As part of its new communications strategy, the White House has tried to impose new terminology to cast those resisting U.S. forces in a more sinister light. After Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he no longer liked the word "insurgents," the word was struck from Bush speeches. And the president has begun using "Saddamists" to refer to supporters of ousted president Saddam Hussein, a word he that used only once in public until two weeks ago but now appears in every speech.

Bush's speaking tour over the past two weeks has also attempted to reposition the president as more realistic about the war. Even as he maintained that victory, however it is defined, is inevitable, he acknowledged setbacks in detail, often agreeing with critics about points where the effort has gone wrong.


This is little more than propaganda. In fact, I'll just go ahead and say that it is propaganda.

insurgent-- a member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment.


How is the word insurgent not an accurate description of the forces fighting us in Iraq?

Voting is once again taking place in Iraq. I hope that things go smoothly, and they have locked down the country pretty tight, so hopefully they will. I remember the day of the first elections, we patrolled the streets in tanks. A city-wide curfew on driving was enforced by US and Iraqi forces to prevent car bombers from targeting polling stations and creating mass hysteria. Success in Iraq is ultimately defined not by what percentage of them vote, but if they can learn to police themselves, welcome the Sunnis back into the government, and convince the hard line Baathists to lay down their arms. The Iraqi people must step up and rid themselves of the twisted men like Zarqawi who have hijacked Islam and slaughtered fellow Muslims to make a political statement.

A US troop presence in Iraq accomplishes none of these goals, unless it is to train Iraqi forces, or joint US-Iraqi special forces raids on high value al-Qaida targets. Only a small fraction of US soldiers, however, have any part in the training of Iraqi security forces. We are there to do the grunt work, the real fighting. Partly because the Iraqi forces still don't have the stomach for it, partly because they are still poorly supplied, but mostly because we haven't forced them to step up. The Iraqi people are courageous and admirable people, and their urge to be free is genuine. I encourage them to participate in their democracy not just by voting, but by creating a climate where sectarian violence is not tolerated. I urge the American government to, as a measure of good faith in the Iraqi people's earnest desire for real democracy, begin to seriously draw down troop numbers and the US military's presence in the cities.

It's not too late to step back from the brink of madness that we are teetering on.

Bush's recent statement of responsibility for the invasion of Iraq, and the acknowledgement that the intelligence was faulty are not real news. Of course he's responsible for the war, he's the Commander in Chief. Duh. Of course the intelligence was faulty, we never found WMDs or a link between Saddam and al-Qaida. Bush is still not answering the real questions. Was there a coordinated effort by the administration to sell the war to the American people by saying the war was about one thing (which they expected to find), when in fact it was foreign policy that had been planned for before 9/11? Was there an attempt by Rumsfeld, Cheney, and others to discredit and silence government officials who questioned the rationale for war? Did they lie about it afterwards? Was the president aware of it?

I see an isolated man who just doesn't get it. I see a fractured administration that is blatanly using propaganda to try to sway public opinion for more war in Iraq. I see troops being used as the backdrop for politics, because the president is so unpopular that he can't speak in front of a crowd of random Americans for fear of being confronted with questions like the ones I have asked here. Military crowds don't boo or ask questions, they just cheer at the right times. By the way, attending a purely political event in uniform is against DOD regulation. If a soldier was caught at an anti-war protest in uniform, I think he would be doing some extra duty, or maybe worse with the way this administration has handled dissent. I am shocked that it has taken years for Bush to publicly admit that as the commander he is responsible for the mission's failures as well as its successes.
"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq, and I am also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities and we're doing just that."

President Bush needs to take responsibility for a lot more, starting with the lives of the soldiers he commands. How many more are going to be sacrificed while we wait for this elusive and indefinable "victory against the terrorists"? I guess I don't have the patience for death that Bush does, but my patience with the situation in Iraq and the way it has been bungled by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld is about at its end.

Iraq
President Bush
The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq

14 December 2005

power of the blog

"The Post is primarily a local newspaper, no matter how or where it's read. Its circulation, as reported in September, is 671,322 daily and 965,920 Sunday. The Web site's reach is huge -- 8 million unique visitors a month, about 1.3 million of them local."

I really enjoyed reading this article about the recent controversy surrounding WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing.".

Froomkin is certainly biased and critical of the White House, but he's not being duplicitous about his bias. He's reporting facts, and giving his opinions. Perhaps, as suggested in the article, a disclaimer could be added, or a counter-blog offered.

I love the feature on the Washington Post site that displays a real time Technorati feed as to what bloggers are saying about the article being viewed. It's not surprising to me that it makes certain tight-ass reporters and the corporate hombres at the newspaper nervous. They have no control over what people might say about one of their articles, and that scares them.

Any idiot with a computer and a minimal amount of know-how can create a blog, and that's part of the beauty of it. If they have nothing insightful to say, few people will read it. Some bloggers are popular in spite of the fact that they suck. Michelle Malkin sucks, not because of her conservative bias, but because I can pretty much tell what she's going to write about any given story/issue/event before she writes it. It's boring. On the other hand, this makes her popular because her readers feel vindicated after they read her posts.

As I look into my crystal ball, I see a future where more and more people are online, more people are getting their news online, and more people are getting their news from independent journalists, bloggers, and freelancers. Why get a job at a newspaper when a journalist can create a blog that could theoretically rival the Washington Post in circulation? The journalistic ethics (supposedly) applied by newspapers are important, and newspapers will still be relevant in this future world, but only if they get with the program and really do a bang up job with their online content.

I get pissed when newspapers want me to register to read their online stories. I'm pretty sure they're making enough through the plethora of ads crammed on their pages to support themselves without selling my email address or soliciting me in some other way.

As more people get wired, bandwith goes up, and home entertainment and computing become totally integrated, the lines between the journalist and the blogger will blur even more. As someone who is more inclined to agree with him than not, I appreciate Froomkin's efforts to counter the propaganda put out by the Michelle Malkins of the world. I would urge the Washington Post not to bow down too much to people who simply disagree with Froomkin's opinions. Froomkin can call his column what he wants to call it, and if the post gives him too much shit, he should go independent. I'd still read him, anyway.

Froomkin
Media Bias

13 December 2005

Your daily dose of W

Click here to watch the latest from the President on Iraq (you'll need RealPlayer). This time his majesty actually answers questions.

The comparison to the American revolution is irrelevant and a little ridiculous.

If one wants to make that analogy, the average Iraqi sees American soldiers as the redcoats. It doesn't matter how Bush sees it, or how Suzy soccer mom sees it, or how I see it. A large majority of Iraqis view us as an unwelcome military occupier. Most of the insurgents are Iraqis, and not foreign al-Qaida jihadists.

The biggest logical flaw in Bush's arguments is that we have a choice between surrender and stay the course in Iraq. I am no friend to Islamic radicals. I've killed a few, and I'm pretty sure Bush hasn't. Bush is incompetent. He shirked service in Vietnam, just like Cheney. Bush is a chickenhawk. Bush is about oil. He's about Saudi Arabia and Israel. President Bush is unable to constructively integrate opposing points of view into his policy.

The terrorists didn't choose Iraq as the central front in the war on terror, Bush did. He made a big mistake. The world is a worse place for his decision. America's image is tarnished. The invasion of Iraq radicalized many who could have been reasoned with in the Islamic world. It has provided in Iraq's anarchic streets THE training, recruiting, and media base for al-Qaida. It is, as Murtha has said, "A flawed policy wrapped in illusion." How are we going to make it right?

President Bush
Iraq
Current Events

Did Tookie deserve to die?

Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

J.R.R. Tolkien


Tookie Williams
Death penalty

12 December 2005

Shoot the messenger


"When the policy doesn't work, shoot the messenger," Halberstam says. "When the policy doesn't work or is seriously flawed, you go after the press, and certainly that happened in Vietnam. What was particularly odious is that if we were writing pessimistically, they'd say we were insulting the soldiers of an ally and insulting the U.S. military. As the people in the field were suppressed, they turned to the journalists, and we became their outlets."
The reason the press reports on car bombs, killings, assasinations, white phosphorus, phoney news stories, suicide bombers, and all the bad things is that if they didn't, the public would never hear about them. You think this administration would tell you? It's hard enough to get the truth out of them under oath. Another choice quote from the article.
"I understand there may be great pressure on many of them to tell a dramatic story," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week. "And while it's easy to use a bombing or a terrorist attack to support that interest, it is not always the most accurate story, or at least not the full story."
Would the Secretary of Defense tell the press to start looking on the bright side if a suicide car bomb exploded in Times Square? It's news, it's dramatic, and all the violence isn't some media creation.
Michael Ware, Time's Baghdad correspondent, calls this administration spin.

"It is so far from the truth on the ground it's almost indescribable," he says. "The defining quality of the Iraq story is the horror. It is a war, and it is awful, and bloody, and vicious, and brutal on all sides. To devote your energies to making that day's story the opening of a health clinic is almost irresponsible."
Let me just say that unless things have changed drastically in the last few months, we're really not doing that much reconstruction in Iraq. Electricity production (the number 1 bitch/gripe I heard from Iraqis, especially in the summer) is still less than under Saddam. It's been years since the invasion. We give away shitloads of money to these Iraqi and US contractors to build stuff, and sometimes it gets built. Sometimes the money gets embezzled. Sometimes there is too much fighting going on to get anything constructive done.

Rumsfeld would like nothing more than for all those stories to just go away. Ignorance is bliss.

I thought the comparison to Robert McNamara was interesting. If you haven't seen it, it's worth checking out The Fog of War. A well done cinematic look at how an otherwise sane and rational man can get sucked into flawed policy and end up looking like an ass.

10 December 2005

questions

I've got to hand it to the Iraqis; they care about their democracy. Too bad they haven't learned to stop killing each other yet, perhaps that will come in time. What are the losing parties going to do after the election? Will they disband militias? Is it going to be a theocracy disguised as democracy? Is an American presence helping or hurting the democratic process?

Fuck Iraq


This is the blast wall surrounding the UN compound in Baghdad. One company from our battalion was detailed on a rotating basis with guarding the UN compound. A worthy mission, you might say.

Except for the fact that the compound was empty. After Zarquawi's car-bombing, the UN left Iraq. The US Army and the Iraqi National Guard were left guarding a large, empty, bombed out complex. Seemed like a waste of manpower at the time to me, and it still does. One soldier expressed his frustration with a can of spray paint more succinctly than I have here .

When the mission has become totally fubar, the captain of the boat has turned out to be totally incompetent at his best, and malicious and vindictive at his worst, it's ok to end it. Give Iraq back to the Iraqi's. They can run it ok. And if they don't, we have missiles. I'm sure the American people won't mind killing people of other nationalities as long as our troops are safe.

Right?

09 December 2005

U.S. Military Probing Video Of Road Violence

Click here to watch a quicktime version of the video in question.

Looks like murder to me.

These "security companies" are mercenary forces paid for with taxpayer money. They mostly employ ex-cops, special ops, navy seal types. Obviously they were having a little too much fun blasting unsuspecting motorists and video-blogging it to realize that the rest of the civilized world might not get as big a kick out of it as they did.

It's democracy in action, folks.

This is just one of those little hiccups on the way.

08 December 2005

Insane fiscal policy

The great GOP congress, working hard to cut spending, just to give it all back and then some in tax breaks to business.

For the record, I'm not opposed to allowing deployed troops to cash in. Tax cuts, increased combat pay, whatever. Combat pay is pretty low. Some soldiers with families can qualify for food stamps. Shameful. Meanwhile the defense contractors and their civilian employees make bank off the Iraq war. It was pretty insulting to me, an American soldier in Iraq, that the government (through KBR) payed some guy $70-90k to be the foremen of a construction crew of cheap Phillipino labor (how's that for imperialism) in Iraq, but they paid me, an NCO trained to lead troops into battle, about a third as much. Our soldiers shouldn't be mercenaries, but good god, why isn't anyone talking about the ridiculous profits these defense contractors are racking up? And are the profits going into R&D, to make our weapons and defenses more effective? Nope. They're funding the excessive lifestyles of people who get rich off of human suffering. How did Cheney, Bush, and co. make all their money again? Oh yeah...

All this hurricane tax relief is a load of bullshit. Already insured businesses are going to get more tax breaks, while the displaced masses wait for someone to care again. It's trickle down economics, and it doesn't work folks. Why?

Cause the rich are greedy. Nothing trickles down.

When you give poor people money, they generally send it right back into the pockets of the rich. When you give the rich money, it stays in their pockets. Screw these guys. Giving out tax cuts to the wealthy, defense contracts to their old golfing buddies, pay raises for themselves, bribing, stealing, extorting. Just another day in the land of the fat, home of the cowardly. Neurotic fucking soccer moms cruising around in their SUV's while some poor bastard gets his head popped like a melon for the oil to run them. Yeah, we're doing just fine America.

Enjoy the fucking tax cuts.

07 December 2005

the dogs are running the show

Click here to watch the White House holiday video. (You'll need Real player).

We are living in strange times.

The puppet on the left more accurately represents my views





Democrats fear backlash at polls over anti-war remarks. That's what the Washington Post is reporting, anyway.

And this is why I'm not a democrat. They just can't get it together, can they? For the first time since President Clinton's national blowjob, they have the moral high ground. And they still fail to present any type of cohesive message. Not even a vague cohesive message, like the Republicans are capable of. Some say pull out this instant; some want out soon, on a schedule; some want later, on a schedule; some want sooner rather than later, but not on a schedule, because that would embolden the terrorists.

Give me a fucking break.

Who's emboldening whom here? They're emboldening me to kick their fucking asses right out of Washington. And not even with violence, because that would be too easy. It'll be with what they all keep touting in Iraq, democracy. A lot of people are going to lose their Congressional seats next year. And they are going to lose them to whoever presents the most sound argument about what to do in Iraq. I'll give you a little clue, it's not going to be staying the course. Neither will it be to the person who believes we can never win.

My vote is going to go to whoever can present a sound plan on how to end the war as soon as possible with the least risk to US forces and greatest chance of success in creating a true democracy. What about yours?

06 December 2005

No questions

Check out this article

Do not question the leader.

The leader is always right.

The leader has a plan.

Do not question the plan.

Questioning the plan is unpatriotic.

couldn't have said it better

I saw Lieutenant General (ret.) Odom on CNN the other day advocating immediate strategic withdrawal. He made some intelligent arguments, summarized here. This was written back in August. It's taken so long for people to get a clue about Iraq.

Odom was the head of the NSA under Reagan. Not exactly a radical, raving, Michael Moore type liberal. What's so wrong with Michael Moore, anyway? The guy might be a little out there, but he has the right idea. Watch Fahrenheit 9/11 again. Seems eerily prophetic.

Q&A with myself

"You mean they never found the WMDs?"
"Right."
"So the reason we went to war was bullshit?"
"Right."
"So the president's a liar?"
"Well, maybe. Some people he works with are accused of lying."
"So why are we still in Iraq?"
"We're helping create democracy and fighting the terrorists there so we don't have to fight them here."
"Oh. Didn't they already vote?"
"Yeah, but they're voting again."
"Oh. So there must be a shit-ton of terrorists in Iraq, huh?"
"Oh yes."
"Were they there before we invaded?"
"Not really."
"Where did they come from?"
"Well, you know, a lot of the suicide bombers come from saudi arabia. Most of the insurgents are angry Iraqis, though."
"So why don't we get them while they're being indoctrinated in saudi arabia?"
"Shhhhhh. Don't talk so loud about Saudi Arabia. They're our friends."
"ah. So if we left, do you think the Iraqis would follow us to America and kill us?"
"Probably not."
"Hmm. How do you fight against an IED, anyway?"

05 December 2005

Who they really represent

An old article, but relevant.

And this is the stuff they're allowed to do.

02 December 2005

It's the Economy,

The President's address on the economy

Click to watch the Real video file courtesy of CSPAN.

The whole thing has the tenor of a middle-schooler giving a report on the science fair project that his daddy Greenspan really built. But the numbers don't lie, the American economy is growing.

No one is denying that some big businesses are doing very well (it helps if you're in the oil or defense industries). This is good. But what about all the GM and Ford employees whose holidays have been ruined by the recent job cuts? Jobs are being created overall, but what kind of jobs are they? How many of them are being filled by illegal immigrants working for exploitative wages?

I'm not an xenophobe, but I am afraid of wage slavery. In the debate over illegal immigration, the pro-amnesty group's argument is often "American's don't want those jobs anyway, so we'll be doing everyone a favor by letting the central American nationals come and take these jobs legally, without the promise of future citzenship." In the meantime these indentured servants will be working, assimilating, having kids which will be natural citizens. What happens after their amnesty ends? We need immigration reform. Immigration has never hurt this country, but it has to be done in some kind of orderly fashion.

To me the real issue is not immigration, but the corporate mentality that forces people to work for exploitative wages. Why is it that many Americans won't take the corporate farming, construction, and service jobs that the illegals will? The pay is horrible, the benefits are non-existent, and the conditions are bad. For someone used to a few dollars a day, five dollars and change an hour might not be that bad. I am shamed as an American that our federal minimum wage is still below six dollars. We are saying as a society that people can work a full time job and still not have any real safety net for their family in terms of ability to save money or provide medical care. These people are forced to work overtime and often work multiple jobs, just to rise above the poverty line. And some still won't have health care for their kids unless they pay for the insurance. It is unacceptable, and the only way to really fix the problem is for the government to force the corporations to reform. Corporations will continue making as much money as they are allowed (and then some). The shareholders might benefit, but the workers don't. It's true that it doesn't take much skill to flip burgers, pour concrete, or pick strawberries. Perhaps the market does set the minimum wage, but we are not animals. The market is darwinistic, and brutal. Government is created to check mankind's more primitive urges to rape, pillage, and plunder. But what happens when the government becomes the rapist, the thief, and the murderer?

I am not a communist. I am not a facist. I am not really even a radical. I believe in one of the fundamental tenets of capitalism-- that people will work harder, more readily, and to greater effect if they work for themselves. Consumerism has quality of life benefits, and it is true that America's poor are much better off than the average world citizen. The issue of illegal immigration is, however, a very telling one that is indicative of something much larger. The people pressing for solutions like the wall, completely closed immigration policy, no benefits for illegals, and likeminded populist reform are misguided. The people who refuse to reform the current system out of fear of seeming xenophobic are equally wrong. The solution is the economy, stupid. The outsourcing of jobs to Mexico. The people who hire undocumented workers to save a buck. The fact that the standard of living for the great American middle class is getting lower. George Bush, as always, tries to appease the vocal and radical right while really doing what is best for his corporate buddies that footed the bill for his misguided campaign. So he says he is going to crack down on illegals while at the same time offering amnesty. Is this the compassionate conservatism we were promised? I know that I, for one, have had about enough.

Waiting for his majesty



Stolen from Jesus' General

01 December 2005

Your daily dose of W....

Watch the complete speech by the president at the Naval Academny here(look under 'Recent Programs'). I'm glad that CNN and other MSM outlets are finally starting to call President Bush out over his non-stop political grandstanding in front of military audiences. But it's pretty hard for the President to get a crowd of a few thousand people together that won't boo him nowadays, so I totally understand. Plus, he likes the salutes, respect, and honor that he has never earned. It makes him feel good, like he is doing the right thing. The sad thing is that some of the kids in the audience watching him are going to give up everything for him. Is it worth it?

Read what the President didn't say about Cpl. Star in his speech.