Tuesday, February 28, 2006


The Coast Guard was one of the few stellar examples of competence in the wake of hurricane Katrina. This competence seems to have been the result of ignoring the instructions of the bureaucratic self-congratulators appointed by president Bush. They simply saw Americans were stranded by mother nature and abandoned by cronyism and helped them, consequences be damned.

That's what I call leadership to be proud of.

I mention this because the folks over at the Coast Guard do not like the Dubai ports deal and are saying so. Their judgment was better than Bush's in our last crisis and I'd assume cast my lot with them this time too:

Intelligence gaps limited ports deal threat assessment

Perhaps a solution to the problem is to say that only NATO members will be considered appropriate buyers of our national security infrastructure.

Extravagant delusion

I have been know to complain about US mainstream media because they seem to have become something other than objective truth tellers. There are things that are True and there is balance, but Truth should not be subservient to balance.


I have yet to watch a nightly news broadcast that espouses that the cartoon Tom and Jerry was a cunning propaganda campaign of the Jews, or that Walt Disney himself was an anti-Semite:

Iranian news

I worry our press is becoming like Iran's (perhaps because Americans are becoming like Iranians) but I see that our press has a long way to go yet.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Bush’s Poor Leadership in Terror War

It is too bad that many news outlets took the first five years of George W. Bush's presidency off. If they hadn't we might be led in our time of need by John Kerry and John Edwards, rather than the bumbling, tumbling, jumbling, fumbling, flops we have now.

Sour grapes on my part?


However, it is good to see the mainstream press exhibit awareness of the fact that Republican leadership has been corrupt, wrong, or incompetent at a time when it needed to be a trustworthy servant of the public interest.

And it is pleasant, I admit, to see a major publication like Newsweek open up a can of whoop-ass on George "Mission Accomplished" Bush's distinguished record of failure.

Hirsh Bomb

While I'm at it I should also like to point out this piece by Paul Krugman, which explains the port fiasco by charging that the president is this time a victim of his own fearmongering.

The harvest of sown fear

Now if the press can focus their attention on one Mr. Murtha, while simultaneously calling for impeachment of the Bush administration we might turn this country around.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Guantanamo is dishonorable

While I conceed that war is by necessity a dishonest undertaking, there are honest allies and I think the US should strive to be one.

While I conceed that wars are evil by nature I do not conceed that they are of necessity dishonorably fought, and I believe that to torture or murder detainees under any circumstances is dishonorable. It may be necessary in extremely limited situations (aka the credible ticking-bomb scenario), but it remains a dishonorable act even then and should not be engaged casually.

While I conceed that civilians always die in war zones I do not accept the death of innocents as Just, and not even in necessary or unavoidable situations. The fire-bombing of Dresden or the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima may have been necessary, but they were not Just acts.

Good does not harm.

But people are not very good by their natures and seldom improved much with the application of nurtures. The best that we can hope for seems to be to resist our inner temptations to perform evil acts using virtue ethics to guide us. That is, to act "as if" we loved our neighbors seems like our challenge.

I find myself wondering today why so many otherwise decent Americans don't seem to care that their government tortures other human beings.

I know that our allies do not dismiss the Geneva conventions as "quaint". Here is an editorial that appeared in the Toronto Star:

Free U.S. Captives or Charge Them

George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice and their ilk are torture-apologists and seem irredeemably corrupt.

Why don't we care enough to stop them?

Thursday, February 23, 2006


John Lennon called on us to imagine a world where all the people were living life in peace. He claimed it was easy if we tried.

I have been trying but it ain't easy to picture at all.

Perhaps this is because the first president I remember as a wee lad is Richard Millhouse Nixon.

Perhaps this is because my favorite president, Jimmy Carter, was a one termer and vilified.

I wonder what a world would look like without possessions and everyone was living for today.

So far, I can't do it.

Perhaps the way to go about this is to imagine my own behavior in an ideal world (my ideal of course), then extrapolate that behavior into societal behavior and see what happens.

My ideal people are:

Jesus Christ
Mohandas Ghandi
Martin Luther King
Hopi chieftain Dan Evehama
Dr. Paul Farmer
Johnny Cash?

What would the world look like if it were made up of people that loved their neighbors?

Can you imagine it?

I can't.

All the people sharing?!?

The closest I've encountered to this ideal is the aftermath of the Tsunami.

We used our armies to help people.
We used our voices to comfort them.
We used our money to feed them.

It didn't last.


I wish I knew.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More cowering

In its continuing effort to fight the truth wherever it is found on American soil the Bush administration is now seeking authority to jail reporters that pass classified information to "persons not entitled to receive it" (i.e. their readers).

The Washington Monthly

America under Bush continues to become less free, more pathetic, less brave, and more cowardly. At a time when our enemies challenge our free speech rights should our president pander to their wishes?

Our Constitution, our very freedoms, demand Courage. It is a mistake to cower in fear against these threats.

It is George Bush's largest misconception about American power.

Freedom isn't free, but neither is it weak.
Freedom is not subservient by definition.

'President's gone insane' - 9/11 dad

Here comes another chop from lifelong Republicon Peter Gadiel:

President's gone insane

"Gone?", sez I.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

60 minutes on 12 cartoons

60 Minutes did a piece on Denmark's cartoon controversy that was quite good.

Here's a link:

Muslim Outrage

Chop chop

There were two voices recently raised against the methods of George W. Bush which are further evidence of conservative dissatisfaction with today's Republicon party.

The first protestation comes from columnist George Will who tells us why he thinks the president's case for wiretapping without warrant is unwarranted:

Faithfully execute the laws

The second protestation is much more robust and comes from Reagan-era conservative Bruce Bartlett. He wrote a book whose title is "Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy".

Here is a short review of the book:

Kevin Drum enjoys it

And here is a link where you may purchase a copy (I hear they make nice presents for conservative Republicans).

Amazon Hardcover

Who but Bush dead-enders on Fox News are left to support Mr. Bush in Baghdad-Bob-like desperation?

Monday, February 20, 2006


The ACLU has put together a powerful ad highlighting what total invasion of privacy looks like:

I became a card-carrying member recently and was surprised to see that a cheesy cardboard cutout was their idea of a "card". I did what I could to take pride in carrying it, but confess it was a letdown.

This ad made me card-proud.

Invasion Pizza

Be a matador

Even if you accept that the jihadis must be stopped in order to preserve America for future generations, it should still be admitted that George Bush has us making war on the wind.

Are we to simply thrash around incompetently while getting angrier and angrier?

That is the strategy by which the bull makes war on the matador.

Are we at war with all Arabs?

Are we at war with all Muslims?

Who are we at war with?

Isn't that a rather important question left twisting in the wind?

America needs to stop lashing out at red flags.

What America needs now is leadership that is intelligent, focused, disciplined, and tough (in that order).

You know what happens to the bull.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Little cat feet

If it is true that the truth sets us free, then what does a "crackdown on truth-tellers (aka whistleblowers)" make us other than less truthful and less free?


What kind of American intelligence officer spies on Americans and hunts the truthful among his fellows?

An enemy of Truth and therefore of Justice too?

We used to ridicule the Russians for their yes-men and their service to falsehood. Now look at what we have become.


I think that what the Bush administration fails to realize is that the Truth is we Americans have a lifestyle worth fighting for and worth defending upon its merits, or that is, its Truth.

To seek to keep the Truth from Americans at a time of war is to suppress the will to fight.

That's a daft thing to do.

Sam Harris on Islam

Is it true that, "Muslim extremism is not extreme among Muslims"?

Is it true that, "Mainstream Islam itself represents an extremist rejection of intellectual honesty, gender equality, secular politics and genuine pluralism"?

I hope not, but in this article Sam Harris argues exactly that:

The Reality of Islam

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cheney, man in black

Johnny Cash fans will get a kick out of the juxtaposition of Dick Cheney live in Folsom prison.

This satire contains coarse language and I am fairly certain it is decidedly politically incorrect:

Stuck in Corpus Christi

Valerie Plame

Was Valerie Plame working on Iranian WMD proliferation before she was betrayed by the Bush administration?

Why, yes she was...

Is there any connection between her betrayal and the top secret information Ahmed Chalabi passed to the Iranians?

It seems likely

Is high treason in service to a war wish to be excused by partisanship?


I have been thinking about the cartoon controversy flaring up around the world and it seems to pose a few questions.

What is the result when everyone tolerates free speech?

Freedom of speech for all.

What is the result when everyone tolerates the free speech of the intolerant?

Violence followed by the spread of intolerance. In other words, freedom of speech for the intolerant alone.

So, what is the proper response of advocates of democracy (civil society) in the face of the intolerant?

To defend free speech against the intolerant, since tolerance demands intolerance of intolerance.

Why, then, haven't American papers supported the Danish cartoonists in the same fashion as European papers?

Why should anybody appease those spreading intolerance by claiming the cartoonists were unreasonable?

What can we gain by tolerating intolerance?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Somebody pinch me

After the Iraq war has outlasted our involvement in WWII, and after 2400 US soldiers have been killed, and after 400 billion dollars have been spent, it is apparently still inappropriate for Hillary Clinton to be upset at the way things are going in Iraq and not going for Osama bin Laden.

How long must we wait?
How long must we hesitate?
Until it's too late?
Until it's 2000 and 8?

We all know how refined, polite, and genteel conservatives are when someone does something they don't like. It is such a pity, such a crying shame for the state of public discourse, that democrats cannot hold themselves up to the same high standards of politeness as Tom Delay, Rush Limbaugh, Jack Abramoff, Dick Cheney, and Anne Coulter.

Is that what I'm hearing?


I don't know what raised Hillary's hackles at long last, but thank God a prominent democrat is going to smarten up and follow John Murtha's example. Hopefully she'll show as much meaningful tenacity and honorable dissent as Mr. Murtha too.

Hillary Clinton blasts Bush on war

She's too angry?

She isn't angry enough I sez!

Our troops in Iraq need leadership of the type absent from the president. This is not a game they're playing in Iraq. People are shooting real bullets at them.

I'd rather have president Bush blow up every day over rhetorical explosive devices than lose more of our troops to actual ones. An American politician needs to answer for the results of his decisions whether he is president or county water commissioner. That's what makes America "Greeeeeeat!".

Go get him Hillary.
About time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney's Got A Gun

When the vice president shoots a 78 year old man in the face it is "unbelievably easy" for someone like Jon Stewart to do his work.

How easy?

"The kind of easy that makes you want to return your paycheck."

This clip comes in two parts, commentary and analysis. The commentary is terrific but the analysis rises to the level of greatness.

Quail of a good time


To the point

This article by John Atcheson fingers el presidente Bush for his illegal spying on Americans. It is how I wish Democrats would speak when they spoke about the issue. It is how I wish the mainstream media would address the issue.

This is a grab for power by one unable to check his lust for it. This is another lie by a man that has lied repeatedly, broadly, demonstrably, and without shame, to get what he wants, which in this case is power.

Ours to Give, Not His to Take

When the president doesn't have to subject to the rule of law, then why should I?

When the Attorney General doesn't have to swear an oath to testify, then why should I?

When the president doesn't have to tell the truth, then why should I?

It is time for democrats, the party of Justice, to defend what is left of the rule of law before all we have is the rule of men.

Perhaps the play's the thing wherein you'll catch the king?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cheney shoots hunter

Vice President Dick Cheney, while out quail hunting, shot a fellow hunter in the face.

With stories like this I feel so bad for the satire industry. Their efforts seem so pale and unimaginative compared to the ridiculous true achievements of the Bush administration.

Cheney shoots Whittington

Perhaps Mr. Cheney ought to consider taking a hunter safety refresher course?

Dammed if you do

I think the strongest argument against Republicon (i.e. neocon) policy decisions are the results they secure.

Osama is still free.
Our Mission is decidedly not Accomplished in Iraq.
Nuclear weapons are proliferating in Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran.
Our coalition of allies keeps shrinking.
Americans are now being spied upon by other Americans.

Now we may add that Iran is making threats to seal off middle-eastern oil exports if the UN intervenes to stop their nuclear program.

Iran making threats

Those that take the time to measure outcome against bravado cannot fail to notice a discrepancy.

Friday, February 10, 2006

BIG NEWS: White House Knew of Levee's Failure on Night of Storm

I am told that some Americans exist that hold president Bush in high regard.

After this story gets out I expect we ought to send teams of sociologists and biologists to study them because they may be threatened with extinction.

Do you remember that when New Orleans was being turned from a city surrounded by a swamp into a swamp surrounded by a city that President Bush was playing a guitar at a fundraiser?

Here is a picture: See here

Do you remember how glad he seemed that New Orleans had "dodged a bullet"?

Do you remember how the director of Homeland Security, Boris Karloff or Michael Chertoff (I forget which worked for Hollywood), was at a conference in Atlanta?

How do you think even Bush dead-enders will feel when it is realized that news of the levee break had "reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight"?

This means, you see, that...

The whitehouse knew the levee broke 14 hours before president Bush played guitar in the land of make believe. You know how important those fundraisers are!

This means, you see, that...

The director of Homeland Security knew the levee broke the night before he went to a conference in Atlanta on avaian flu. You know how important those conferences are!


I know our president is a liar.
I know our president is incompetent.
But, I didn't expect he'd piddle around while Americans drowned.

That's unforgivable.
It's time to impeach this bum.

Harold Von Schmidt, 1944 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 09, 2006

We are all Danes now

Well this has been a pretty good week for righteous indignation, particularly for passions inflamed in ignorance.

Many Americans are positively patriotic all of a sudden about the right of a Danish paper to print cartoons which the bulk of them haven't seen, whereas they cheered when Cindy Sheehan was tossed from the State of the Union address for wearing a t-shirt with a message on it.

Go figure.

At least I shall do my part to insure the indignation doesn't continue to be ignorant indignation by providing this link to the offending cartoons (viva la internet):

Muhammad Cartoons

Here is an editorial by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe that takes American papers to task for failing to defend freedom of speech in the wake of the Muslim indignation. It has been a long time since I have seen freedom of speech in particular, or the Constitution in general, vigorously defended in print.

Somebody pinch me.

We are all Danes now

I suppose this should be taken as a direct challenge to editors of the Boston Globe to reprint the Danish cartoons or risk looking like fools.

Speaking of which, four New York editors resigned because their publisher refused to reprint the offending cartoons for fear of offending the offended:

Quitting before cowering

In other righteous indignation news...

Conservatives are once again complaining about the way a funeral for an ally of the poor failed to generate favorable press for themselves. The insolence! The impudence! The horrible display of manners!

Boo hoo.

Of course most of this righteous indignation is also inflamed in ignorance since many have not seen the footage of Coretta Scott King's funeral. That too is easily remedied. Here is a link:

Compassionate Conservative has no clothes

What a week!

Maybe now the Iranian president ought to say something really stupid and Paul O'Reilly can say something inflammatory in response.

How the hell did human beings manage to keep from killing each other this long?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Something I enjoy

I enjoy knowing that Franklin Roosevelt had the following words of John Adams (offered in prayer on November 2, 1800) inscribed above the fireplace in the State Dining Room of the Whitehouse in 1934:

"I pray Heaven bestow the best of blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof."

I am curious to know if there are snickers whenever visiting dignitaries are seated for a meal with Mr. Bush.

Don't hurry. Be happy

It took me a little while to understand that when Aristotle said, "A wise man is never in a hurry" he wasn't talking about acting quickly. To be "in a hurry" is a state of mind akin to panic and leads to unnecessary errors while providing no benefit. It is better to face problems calmly and tackle them without hurrying. This can be most clearly seen (watched) in the better athletes. Study their calmness, their focus, their ability to take more time with the ball/puck/pigskin than their teammates. Think about Michael Jordan's calm demeanor, or how athletes lose their edge when an opponent "takes them off their game".

It has taken me a little while longer to understand that tyranny is as much a state of mind as hurrying. If you think you aren't free (even when you are) then you are not free because such a conclusion will prevent you from organizing, from acting, from speaking, or from enjoying happiness. If you think you are free (even when you aren't) then you will not censor your actions to suit external forces and are thus free indeed. People given free reign in a tyrannical state, however, might still be no good.

The best case scenario is to think yourself free, and to indeed be free, which is why our Constitution adamantly protects the qualities of the free mind.

We are not free from desires, we are not free from our emotions, but we are free when we think and act in opposition to them. Similarly, we are not free from external desires (unless we live alone), and we are not free from external emotions (dogma), but we are free when we can think and act in opposition to them.

Freedom is a rational decision not to accept tyranny, and what is tyranny but authority masquerading as Truth. It is this Truth that frees.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The one that got away

The more I learn about John Edwards the more I harbor the distinct feeling that he is "the one that got away".

I understand that he's young.

I understand he talks in that condescending style (which I personally cannot stand).

I understand that he has a lawyers smile.

But, he is a tireless advocate for people less fortunate, and if you believe the Bible fighting poverty makes Jesus happy.

If you take the time to read "The America We Believe In" perhaps you will wind up feeling as I do. That here is the man we should have elected, not Bush.

We all know there are two Americas.

But do we know how bad it is for, say, those claiming an Earned Income Tax Credit?

John does.

And he has simple effective ideas to turn things around, which he calls a "working society".

The America We Believe In

Monday, February 06, 2006

Cindy Sheehan: What Really Happened

Cindy Sheehan was arrested during our dear leaders dear discourse on the State of the Union. She was arrested for being a "protestor". She was a "protestor" because she wore a shirt that said, "2245 Dead. How many more?".

Cindy Sheehan's Side Of the Story

Is this America worth defending?

What happened to "the land of the free and the home of the brave"?

What happened to "live free or die"?

What happened to "Give me liberty or give me death"?

What happened to "Freedom isn't free"?

How did America become so unworthy a standard-bearer for liberty?

How do we restore what has been lost?

America without liberty, America without freedom, America without bravery might be George Bush's America but it isn't mine. 'Tis nothing but an unfertile seed.

I think Bush's America the paranoid, America the fearful, America the totalitarian is doomed to failure because it promotes control over competence, and fear over hope, and power over ideas.

When are we going to have courage again?

When are we going to reclaim our pride in our freedoms and view them as strengths?

When are we going to be glad that an American citizen can sit in the same room as the president of the United States and respectfully dissent?

If we give up these things why should we bother to defend ourselves against our enemies since they represent our worth?

What land will our troops come home to?

When are we going to realize that toleration, liberty, education, and freedom are necessary to scientific advancement and therefore military strength? That to expect to forgo the former and maintain the latter is to be near a painful wisdom?

What is wrong with our Congressmen that an American citizen can be hauled away in their midst and they should not only tolerate it but stay and cheerlead the one most responsible for it?

This type of thing is a symptom of a disease that is afflicting what America means, and consequently what it means to be an American.

Think of the fearlessness of Lady Liberty as she stands on Ellis Island, breaking chains of oppression and holding her flame of liberty high above her head so that all the world can see it.

She does not cower.

She does not tremble.

She does not hide in a bunker.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The big lie

Is it human nature to disbelieve that which you don't wish to believe?

It strikes me that this is so, because even now many Americans obstinately persist in their delusions that the war in Iraq is somehow justified by 911.

Doesn't it annoy anyone else that lots of our troops signed up to "focus their fury" on Osama after 911 but wound up diverted to Iraq?

Don't we betray their courage and abuse their trust by sending them after the wrong villain?

Is that why so many are not reenlisting?

Or, is that because every reason we were given to attack Iraq was a bald-faced, calculated, disingenuous, self-serving lie.

Bush told Blair we're going to war, memo reveals

If you do not maintain your honor then you cannot maintain your morale. You do not promote morale by shouting-down the whistle blowers, you promote morale by keeping the honor clean of the US marine.

Frankly president Bush disgusts me. The nation united after 911 as I had never seen and he used it as an opportunity to advance a personal agenda.

I can't believe he was reelected.

I guess I answered my own question.

All we need?

It seems to me that most problems can by solved by Love, even those problems that currently seem most intractable.

For instance, it seems inarguably true that if the Palestinians loved the Israelis and the Israelis loved the Palestinians that neither side in that conflict would be capable of perpetuating violence against the other.

If people loved unilaterally, then how could racism be possible?

Why is it, then, that Love itself is never seriously considered as a solution to a conflict?

Is it because we cannot carpet bomb an enemy with love?

Is it because we cannot fashion an atomic compassion?

Philosophers have studied love for ages and many seem to tell us that the pathway to love is to imitate love via the great virtues. That is, to practice prudence and temperance and courage and justice and generosity and compassion and mercy and gratitude and humility and simplicity and tolerance and purity and gentleness and good faith and humor is to practice the causes of love and therefore it leads one to it.

Shall we drop Spinoza's Ethics, an improving book in Jeeves parlance, on humanity?

Jesus, when asked, said you must feed your enemy. I like to joke that the words "to the lions" were the rest of the sentence and somehow lost to history.

But, is there wisdom in that viewpoint that we should feed our enemies?

Doesn't desperation spread fanaticism? Isn't it true that when a society practices social uplift and generates a large middle-class and keeps economic inequality in check that strife decreases?

Wasn't that the case under Bill Clinton?

What makes hatred so easy and love so difficult?

I am happiest when I am in love and I assume the same holds true for others.

Why then don't we allow love to direct our actions more often?

Why have we organized our economies and societies in such a way that hate and haters are vigorously spreading?

A Devil's delight, a clash of cultures, a ball for barbarians, an awful Armageddon seems headed our way and Love looks like the most effective defense.

How do we nourish it before it's too late?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

This is great!

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio is the new Majority Leader in the House of Representatives:

Introducing John

This means I now get to say "Bush", "Dick", and "Boehner" all the time, as in:

Three guys walked into a bar,

and Boehner.

Bush said, "Hey Dick, I really think I'm going to like working with this Boehner."

Things like this make me think that if there is a God he has a hell of a sense of humor.


Ha ha.

Turd Blossom.

Too much.

Who's next, Senate majority leader Mike Hunt?

A press secretary named Ben Dover?

I can't wait for the comedians to get a hold of this Boehner.


Amen Mr. Murtha

It doesn't pay to piss off a tenacious man like Mr. Murtha. Here is his latest missive, which I reproduce in its entirety and take the time to highlight a particularly jaw-dropping section.

Also I would like to say thank you to Mr. Murtha for sticking up for our troops and ask other democrats to wake up and follow his lead.

Wednesday February 1, 2006
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

This March will mark the beginning of the 4th year of the war in Iraq. In contrast, U.S. involvement in WWI came to an end after 19 months. Victory in Europe was declared in WWII after 3 years 5 months. In the Korean War, a cease-fire was signed after 3 years and 1 month. But after more than three and a half years into the war in Iraq, your administration finally produced what is called a "Plan for Victory" in Iraq.

Iraq is not the center for the global war on terrorism. I believe Iraq has diverted our attention away from the fight against global terrorism and has depleted the required resources needed to wage an effective war. It is estimated that there are only about 750 to 1,000 al-Qaeda in Iraq. I believe the Iraqis will force them out or kill them after U.S. troops are gone. In fact, there is now evidence that Iraqi insurgent groups are increasingly turning against al-Qaeda and other foreign terrorists.

Our country needs a vigorous and comprehensive strategy for victory against global terrorism. The architect of 9/11 is still out there but now has an international microphone. We must get back to the real issue at hand - we have to root out and destroy al-Qaeda's worldwide network.

There are 4 key elements that I recommend to reinvigorate our global anti-terrorism effort: Redeploy, Replace, Reallocate, and Reconstitute.


The war in Iraq is fueling terrorism, not eliminating it. Our continued military presence feeds the strong anti-foreigner fervor that has existed in this part of the world for centuries. A vast majority of the Iraqi people now view American troops as occupiers, not liberators. Over 80% of Iraqis want U.S. forces to leave Iraq and 47% think it is justified to attack Americans. 70% of Iraqis favor a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces, with half favoring a withdrawal in the next six months. In fact, 67% of Iraqis expect day-to-day security for Iraqi citizens will improve if U.S. forces withdraw in six months and over 60% believe violent attacks, including those that are ethnically motivated, will decrease. Our military presence is the single most important reason why the Iraqis have tolerated the foreign terrorists, who account for less than 7 percent of the insurgency. 93% of the insurgency is made up of Iraqis. Once our troops are re-deployed, the Iraqis will reject the terrorists and deny them a safe haven in Iraq. The Iraqis are against a foreign presence in Iraq of any kind.

The steadfast and valiant efforts of the United States military and coalition partners have provided the Iraqi people with the framework needed to self govern. The Iraqis held elections that have been touted as highly successful, based primarily on the accounts of Iraqis who went to the polls. But our continued military presence in Iraq, regardless of the motives behind it, is seen by Iraqis as interfering in Iraq's democratic process and undercuts the chances for the newly elected government to be successful. Recently, Iraq's National Security Adviser accused U.S. negotiators of going behind the back of the Iraqi government on talks with insurgents, saying the process could encourage more violence. He said, "Americans are making a huge and fatal mistake in their policy for appeasement and they should not do this. They should leave the Iraqi government to deal with it... The United States should allow the new Iraqi government to decide on how to quell the insurgency."

In December 2005, an ABC News poll in Iraq produced some noteworthy results. 57% of Iraqis identified national security as the country's top priority. When asked to rate the confidence in public institutions, they gave Iraqi police a 68% confidence level, the Iraqi army 67%, religious leaders 67%. But the U.S./U.K. forces scored the lowest, a mere 18%.

The longer our military stays in Iraq, the more unwelcome we will be. We will be increasingly entangled in an open-ended nation building mission, one that our military can not accomplish amidst a civil war. Our troops will continue to be the targets of Iraqis who see them as interfering occupiers.

Redeploying our forces from Iraq and stationing a mobile force outside of the country removes a major antagonizing factor. I believe we will see a swift demise of foreign terrorist groups in Iraq if we redeploy outside of the country. Further, our troops will no longer be the targets of bloody attacks.


The ever-changing justifications of the war in Iraq, combined with tragic missteps, have resulted in a worldwide collapse of support for U.S. policies in Iraq.

The credibility of the United States of America will not be restored if we continue down the path of saying one thing and doing another. We must not lower our standards and tactics to those of the terrorists. In order to keep our homeland secure, we must hold true to the values that molded our American democracy, even in the face of adversity. Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, said it best during a speech in March 2004 to the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies: "America knows we cannot seek a double standard. And, America knows we get what we give. And so we must and will always be careful to respect people's privacy, civil liberties and reputations. To suggest that there is a tradeoff between security and individual freedoms -- that we must discard one protection for the other -- is a false choice. You do not defend liberty to forsake it."

Restoring the world's confidence in America as a competent and morally superior world leader is essential to winning the war on global terrorism.

A recent pubic opinion poll, conducted jointly with Zogby International and taken in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, found that 81% said the war in Iraq had brought less peace to the Middle East. A majority of the respondents said they view the United States as the biggest threat to their nations.

Mr. President, I believe in order to restore our credibility, you must hold accountable those responsible for so many missteps and install a fresh team that demonstrates true diplomatic skill, knowledge of cultural differences and a willingness to earnestly engage other leaders in a respectful and constructive way. This would do much to reinvigorate international participation in a truly effective war on global terrorism.


The Department of Defense has been allocated $238 billion for the war in Iraq, with average monthly costs growing significantly since the beginning of the war. In 2003 the average monthly war cost was $4.4 billion; by 2005 the average monthly cost had reached $6.1 billion.

Despite the urgent homeland security needs of our country, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission issued a dismal report card on the efforts to improve our counter-terrorist defenses. Even the most basic of recommendations, such as the coordination of fire and police communication lines, still have not been accomplished.

In the face of threats from international terrorists, we need to reallocate funds from the war in Iraq to protecting the United States against attack. A safe and swift redeployment from Iraq will allow us to do just that.


The U.S. army is the smallest it's been since 1941. It is highly capable. But this drawn out conflict has put tremendous stress on our military, particularly on our Army and Marine Corps, whose operations tempo has increased substantially since 9/11.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report in November 2005 addressing the challenges of military personnel recruitment and retention and noted that the Department of Defense had been unable to fill over 112,000 positions in critical occupational specialties. This shortfall includes intelligence analysts, special forces, interpreters, and demolition experts-- those on whom we rely so heavily in today's asymmetric battlefield.

Some of our troops have been deployed four times over the last three years. Enlistment for the regular forces as well as the guard and reserves are well below recruitment goals. In 2005, the Army missed its recruitment goal for the first time since 1999, even after offering enlistment bonuses and incentives, lowering its monthly goals, and lowering its recruitment standards. As Retired Army officer Andrew Krepinevich recently warned in a report to the Pentagon, the Army is "in a race against time" to adjust to the demands of war "or risk 'breaking' the force in the form of a catastrophic decline" in recruitment and re-enlistment.

The harsh environment in which we are operating our equipment in Iraq, combined with the equipment usage rate (ten times greater than peacetime levels) is taking a heavy toll on our ground equipment. It is currently estimated that $50 billion will be required to refurbish this equipment.

Further, in its response to Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard realized that it had over $1.3 billion in equipment shortfalls. This has created a tremendous burden on non-deployed guard units, on whom this country depends so heavily to respond to domestic disasters and possible terrorist attacks. Without relief, Army Guard units will face growing equipment shortages and challenges in regaining operational readiness for future missions at home and overseas.

Since 9/11, Congress has appropriated about $334 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the insurgents have spent hundreds of thousands. We have seen reports estimating that the total cost of the wars may reach as high as $1 trillion. These estimates are said to include such costs as providing long-term disability benefits and care for injured service members. It is estimated today that over 16,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in Iraq, 10,481 of whom have been wounded by "weaponry explosive devices."

But while war costs continue to climb, cuts are being made to the defense budget. As soon as the war is over there will be pressure to cut even more. This year, even while we are at war, 8 billion dollars was cut from the base defense spending bill. You ordered another $32 billion in cuts to the defense budget over the next five years, with $11.6 billion coming from the Army. The Pentagon told Congress only last year that it needed 77 combat brigades to fulfill its missions, but now insists it only needs 70. In fact, 6 of the 7 combat brigades will be cut from the National Guard, reducing its combat units from 34 to 28. Even though all of the National Guard combat brigades have been deployed overseas since 9/11, your Administration has determined that, because of funding shortfalls, our combat ground forces can be reduced. Not only will these cuts diminish our combat power, but our ability to respond to natural disasters and terrorist threats to our homeland will be adversely affected. It is obvious that the cost of the war, in conjunction with the Army's inability to meet recruitment goals, has impacted this estimate. My concern is that instead of our force structure being based on the future threat, it is now being based on the number of troops and level of funding available.

I am concerned that costly program cuts will lead to costly mistakes and we will be unable to sustain another deployment even if there is a real threat. The future of our military and the future of our country could very well be at stake. The high dollar forecasts of our future military weapons systems and military health care add pressure to cut costs on the backs of these programs. As our weapons systems age, the concern becomes even greater.

During a time of war, we are cutting our combat force, we have not mobilized industry, and have never fully mobilized our military. On our current path, I believe that we are not only in danger of breaking our military, but that we are increasing the chances of a major miscalculation by our future enemies, who may perceive us as vulnerable.


Member of Congress

ADDENDUM: Here is video of John Murtha responding to the State of the Union Address: Amen

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Disciples of a jackass

I remember a quote from a PBS program "I'll fly away", that has stuck with me. The quote was this, "Just because I see a jackass standing in a field braying doesn't mean I should stop and bray back."

On some level that resonates with me, but what happens when you see a jackass standing in a field braying and drawing disciples that bray along? Should you still walk on by, or should you stop and help the disciples see they're following a jackass?

Keith Olbermann ridiculed Paul O'Reilly on MSNBC with this piece which tortures him with truthfulness and smites him with smiles. I suppose he felt that it was right to stop and help the disciples.

Truth vs O'Reilly

Untruthful Testimony

Remember how mad, irate, and inconsolable Conservatives were at Bill Clinton because he lied about his personal sexual relations?

Why then are they so complacent when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is caught lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee about wiretapping American citizens?

Gonzales Is Challenged on Wiretaps

Tisk. Tisk.

It seems unseemly, but power politics has reformed these former champions of virtue.

Ethics, I say with increased conviction, ought to be taught in our schools since honesty is no longer practiced faithfully in public life.

If Truth and Justice are indeed pillars of the American way, then what happens when the pillars crumble? What are we left with? Is it worth having?

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin