Monday, April 30, 2007
As fighting in Iraq enters its fifth year, an increasing number of experts in foreign policy and national strategy are arguing that the biggest difference may be that the Iraq war will inflict greater damage to U.S. interests than Vietnam did.
"In terms of the consequences of failure, the stakes are much bigger than Vietnam," said former defense secretary William S. Cohen. "The geopolitical consequences are . . . potentially global in scope."
"It makes Vietnam look like a cakewalk," said retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald, a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Iraq is worse than Vietnam "in so many ways," agreed Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., a retired Army officer and author of one of the most respected studies of the U.S. military's failure in Vietnam. "We knew what we were getting into in Vietnam. We didn't here."
Gary Solis, who fought as a Marine in Vietnam and more recently taught the law of war at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said he is hearing more such discussions. "Most of my military acquaintances agree that the issues in our departure from Vietnam will pale beside those that will be presented by an Iraq withdrawal," Solis said.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Success or failure? I don't know.
It has given me an outlet. A couple of thousand visits to the site have been recorded.
I've enjoyed the opportunity to hear from people around the world.
I think the experiment will go on.
As always, your comments are encouraged.
Thanks to all who have already given feedback and made this an interesting year.
If you have a thought- send me a comment.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
The threat of terrorism is growing.
Who says? The Pilgrim? No. The US State Department (who apparently aren't getting their talking points from Karl Rove).
Terror attacks up 29%, report says
A State Department report on terrorism due out next week will show a nearly 30 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide in 2006 to more than 14,000, almost all of the boost due to growing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday.
Based on data compiled by the U.S. intelligence community's National Counterterrorism Center, the report says there were 14,338 terrorist attacks last year, up 29 percent from 11,111 attacks in 2005.
Forty-five percent of the attacks were in Iraq.
Worldwide, there were about 5,800 terrorist attacks that resulted in at least one fatality, also up from 2005.
I don't think he will end up the Democratic nominee (there are some who say he's really running for Secretary of State). But I hope he continues to influence the process.
Car bomb attack near Shiite shrines kills dozens
At least 58 people were killed in a car bomb attack Saturday between two Shiite shrines in the Iraqi city of Karbala, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said. The Interior Ministry called the attack, which also injured more than 100 people, a suicide bombing.
No one is safe in Iraq. Not anywhere.
And we can't even tell exactly how much damage is being done in that nation in terms of loss of life. The Iraqi government is covering up the numbers.
The United Nations is unable to determine how many Iraqi civilians have been killed so far this year because the Iraqi government won't share the information, a U.N. agency said in a Wednesday report. The report also contains a laundry list of human rights concerns. (Full report -- PDF)
This is why a timetable for withdrawl is necessary. I understand that we made them mess in Iraq- but we seem completely incapable of fixing it. We need to offer assistance to the Iraqi people and government to let them do the best job they can in restoring order.
We also need to move into a new way of thinking about Iraq. The Bush Administration has created the new Afghanistan. Iraq was not a threat before the invasion. It is a threat now. The containment regime imposed on Saddam was nothing compared to the vigilance that will be required to be certain that elements from within Iraq cannot threaten US interests in the Middle East, or the US itself.
Here's the irony, when Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice/Wolfiwitz were telling us that al-Qaeda was in Iraq and we needed to go to war, they were wrong (or lying).
The contention by Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that al-Qaida terrorists were in Iraq and allied with the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before the invasion has been disproved on numerous fronts.
In September, a Senate Intelligence Committee report found that Saddam rejected pleas for assistance from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and tried to capture another terrorist whose presence in Iraq is often cited by Cheney, the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
"Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al-Qaida to provide material or operational support," the Senate report said.
Now al-Qaeda is in fact in Iraq. This Administration has created the very threat they said they were going to protect us from. That is failure in the largest sense of the word.
The basic approach now must be- withdraw ground troops in short order; train and advise Iraqi military and police forces; leave military assets in the region in order to bring air power into play should any major group (Iran, organized Iraqi militias, etc.) seek to create a power base in Iraq or overthrow the Iraqi government; apply intelligence assets (human and technological) to the nation to keep tabs on the al-Qaeda presence.
It won't be pretty. But it is the only way. And the ugliness can be laid squarely at the feet of George W. Bush, for he is the one who took a situation that was a matter of concern but managable and turned it into a situation that is a grave concern to the US and will prove very difficult to manage in the years ahead.
Friday, April 27, 2007
For example, he says,
The CIA warned the Bush White House seven months before the 2003 Iraq invasion that the U.S. could face a thicket of bad consequences, starting with “anarchy and the territorial breakup” of the country...
The agency analysis painted what Tenet calls additional “worst-case” scenarios: “a surge of global terrorism against U.S. interests fueled by deepening Islamic antipathy toward the United States”; “regime-threatening instability in key Arab states”; and “major oil supply disruptions and severe strains in the Atlantic alliance.”
Why would I be quick to believe that the agency that was so wrong on WMD and on the Al-Qaeda connection to Iraq was dead on about the consequences of war? In the MSNBC story they use the word "prescient." I would accept that if he had spoken publicly about the chaos in Iraq before it occurred. Isn't that what prescient means? Saying this now, after all that we've seen in the last 4 years? I remain a skeptic of his prescience.
Some of what Tenent says about the Administration rings true with what we see/hear in other areas- particularly their 'lack of curiosity.' So, maybe there's something to be gained from this book. I'll wait at least until I can buy it off the remainder rack at a book store.
Until then, I hear he will be on '60 Minutes' on CBS this Sunday. You can watch and judge for yourself.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
It's time, as well, for a President who can build a consensus at home for this ambitious but necessary course. For in the end, no foreign policy can succeed unless the American people understand it and feel a stake in its success – and unless they trust that their government hears their more immediate concerns as well. After all, we will not be able to increase foreign aid if we fail to invest in security and opportunity for our own people. We cannot negotiate trade agreements to help spur development in poor countries so long as we provide no meaningful help to working Americans burdened by the dislocations of a global economy. We cannot expect Americans to support placing our men and women in harm's way if we cannot prove that we will use force wisely and judiciously.
But if the next President can restore the American people's trust – if they know that he or she is acting with their best interests at heart, with prudence and wisdom and some measure of humility – then I believe the American people will be ready to see America lead again.
They will be ready to show the world that we are not a country that ships prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far off countries. That we are not a country that runs prisons which lock people away without ever telling them why they are there or what they are charged with. That we are not a country which preaches compassion and justice to others while we allow bodies to float down the streets of a major American city.
That is not who we are.
America is the country that helped liberate a continent from the march of a madman. We are the country that told the brave people of a divided city that we were Berliners too. We sent generations of young people to serve as ambassadors for peace in countries all over the world. And we're the country that rushed aid throughout Asia for the victims of a devastating tsunami.
Now it's our moment to lead – our generation's time to tell another great American story. So someday we can tell our children that this was the time when we helped forge peace in the Middle East. That this was the time when we confronted climate change and secured the weapons that could destroy the human race. This was the time when we brought opportunity to those forgotten corners of the world. And this was the time when we renewed the America that has led generations of weary travelers from all over the world to find opportunity, and liberty, and hope on our doorstep.
Democratic Primary: National Poll
Monday, April 23, 2007
Students attend school's first integrated prom
ASHBURN, Georgia (CNN) -- Students of Turner County High School started what they hope will become a new tradition: Black and white students attended the prom together for the first time on Saturday.
In previous years, parents had organized private, segregated dances for students of the school in rural Ashburn, Georgia, 160 miles south of Atlanta.
But this year's upperclassmen -- 213 students total --voted to have just one official prom.
But not everyone in the town of 4,400, famous for its peanuts and Fire Ant Festival, was breaking with the past.
The "white prom" still went on last week.
The decline in support for the New York Senator has already begun. Watch this video from Gallup to see what the trend has been.
Within 24 hours of a shooting spree that left 33 dead at Virginia Tech, countless right-wing commentators took the opportunity to call for increased access to guns on campus. Some on the Right have also used the tragedy to launch less-expected tirades.
American Family Radio, a part of the American Family Association, read over the air an anonymous e-mail, updated to include this latest tragedy, that blames school shootings on the lack of school prayer and Bible-reading in public schools, on abortion and access to condoms, and on the Lewinsky affair. "We reap what we sow."
WorldNetDaily.com published an article featuring letters from readers outraged that a Muslim spoke alongside President Bush, Gov. Kaine, and others at Virginia Tech's convocation after the events: "How are we to know this wasn't a signal to a sleeper cell?"
And AFA's news website offered the warnings of "a full-time creation evangelist" and apparent kitten-hater, Grady McMurtry of Creation Worldview Ministries, who pinned the blame on evolution:
For years, he says, public schools and universities have taught the theory of evolution as fact, with no opposing viewpoints -- and the result, he contends, is a lack of respect for human life.
Therefore, he asserts, people should not be surprised when mass shootings occur, such as the one on the Blacksburg university campus on Monday. "And at Virginia Tech, what do we have?" he asks rhetorically. "We have a person who, unfortunately, thought that humans had no more value than cats and dogs -- and unfortunately, I think, probably felt the same way about themselves."
The creationist continues explaining his premise. "And so what happens? If we are nothing but thinking animals, [and] if you have excess people, then you can just put them in a bag, throw them in the river the way you would too many kittens or too many puppies."
Saturday, April 21, 2007
[Westboro Baptist Church] says in its press release: "God hates Virginia Tech, Virginia, and America.
"The 33 killed at Virginia Tech died for America's sins in persecuting WBC for 16 years," the release added.
Westboro Baptist alleges that America has persecuted the Kansas "church" with search warrants, vandalizing, assault, arrest and mocking of their message that they say is from God.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
This is Iraq today. Now think of the justified rage many feel at the VT campus police chief and university president for misjudgments. Now imagine them presiding over several more massacres in the same place. Ask yourself: why do we not feel as enraged by those responsible for security in Iraq? Are those victims not human beings too? Are they not children and mothers and fathers and sons? Are we not ultimately responsible for them, having destroyed the institutions of order in their country?
More expeditious and clear, concise standards are needed to quickly implement carbon capture and storage, experts at a hearing in Washington said Monday.The United States leads the world in the technology of CO2 injection to recover oil from depleted oil reservoirs -- a process known as enhanced oil recovery, said George Guthrie, program director for fossil energy and environment at Los Alamos National Laboratory at the second panel of a full hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
"I'm very worried about why it is taking us so long to get where we are, and I think I understand, now having heard the testimony of the three of you, how difficult it is to move along very fast," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., ranking member of the committee.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Why would they assume that the shooting in a dorm at about 7:15 was a completely isolated incident that did not require warning the rest of the campus? How could they have any confidence, as they seemed to, that the shooter had left campus? Why, without a suspect and only mere minutes of investigation, did they decide the shooting was 'domestic' and tell no one on campus- except those who lived in the dorm itself?
These decisions especially make no sense since some tentative warning went out- a mass email- two hours later. Ironically, this warning went out just minutes before the far deadlier shooting episode.
"I'll say on the record I'm outraged that someone died in a shooting in a dorm at 7 in the morning. The first e-mail about it, no mention of locking down campus, no mention of canceled classes, they just mention they're investigating a shooting a few hours later at 9:26," said student Jason Piatt. (Warning e-mails to students)
"Meanwhile, while they sent out that e-mail, [more] people got killed."
What if they had sent out warnings and shut down campus immediately after the 7:15 shootings? Would more than 30 lives have been saved? We can't know for sure, but certainly a campus 'lock-down' would have been the prudent move.
I know it's easy to 'Monday Morning Quarterback' on an issue like this. But the assumptions of the first responders make no sense in light of the fact that we have had so many mass/random shooting episodes in our country.
As a high school teacher, I've seen first hand the changes in policy that K-12 institutions have made to deal with a 'school shooter' threat.
Colleges- and the police that deal with them- need to re-examine their policies and catch up.
Gunman shot people in a dorm, second building; suspect among dead
I have never come to understand the madness that leads to these type of shootings. I've read reports on school shootings- as a teacher it is in my self-interest to do so. But how a person comes to feel that killing people at random in this way serves their interests in any way... I just don't get it.
So very sad.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
And the problem continues to grow, as we make no serious national effort to deal with the looming crisis.
I think we should tune in next week to see what they have to say.
Peter Steinfels says that Commonweal and First Things will offer online two different views on the just-war doctrine and Iraq next week.
For over four years, George Weigel, staunch supporter of President Bush and biographer of Pope John Paul II, has never ceased to insist that the war in Iraq meets all the traditional moral criteria for a just war. And most leaders and thinkers among Mr. Weigel’s fellow Roman Catholics, along with many non-Catholic proponents of just-war thinking, have never ceased to disagree.
Still another view is offered by Msgr. Robert W. McElroy, a pastor in San Mateo, Calif., who is the author of “Morality and American Foreign Policy: The Role of Ethics in International Affairs,” published by Princeton University Press in 1992. His article is scheduled for publication in the April 30 issue of the Jesuit-edited weekly America.
(The Commonweal editorial and America article, both obtained in advance, will be posted on the magazines’ Web sites next Monday and Friday, respectively.)
Friday, April 13, 2007
Not exactly a new story, but I do hear people mention it from time to time, and some people still seem to believe it somehow.
Here's a CNN report dismantaling the lie.
He seems about to do it by discussing Iran- and the need to keep the US out of a possible war w/ Iran. He could, by focusing on this issue, tease out of other politicians their stand on Iran, perhaps getting them to make clear that a war with Iran would not be in the national interests.
Instead, he chooses to muddy the water by raising the issue of impeachment.
Watch the videos.
There is no way that impeachment is going to happen- even if it were warranted, which I don't believe it is. Even if it were a possibility, why would we spend the last years of the Bush presidency going through an impeachment battle? Why not focus our attention forward? Why not focus on what the current field of candidates would do if president, rather than try to make a legal case about what an outgoing president did do?
Kucinich is wasting time.
Note to Kucinich: You can't win. So, if you're going to run, make your candidacy mean something by focusing on a substantive issue that could keep an important topic in the speeches of the other candidates and on the minds of voters. If you won't do that, just walk away.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Chicago and Los Angeles will likely face increasing heat waves. Severe storm surges could hit New York and Boston. And cities that rely on melting snow for water may run into serious shortages.
"Canada and the United States are, despite being strong economies with the financial power to cope, facing many of the same impacts that are projected for the rest of the world," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, which co-founded the panel.
"Heavily-utilized water systems of the western U.S. and Canada, such as the Columbia River, that rely on capturing snowmelt runoff, will be especially vulnerable," the report said.
A temperature warming of a few degrees by the 2040s is likely to sharply reduce summer flows, at a time of rising demand, it said.
By then, the panel estimated that Portland, Ore., will require over 26 million additional cubic meters of water as a result of climate change and population growth, but the Columbia River's summer supply will have dropped by an estimated 5 million cubic meters.
Meanwhile, it said, just over 40 percent of the water supply to Southern California is likely to be vulnerable by the 2020s due to losses of the Sierra Nevada and Colorado River basin snow packs.
More potential impacts are reported.
The poorest in the world will be hurt most, but we will all suffer.
Unless we ACT.
Did he drive his Hummer to the arena to make the speech?
I hear his Hummer is somehow modified to make it environmentally friendly. Don't know the details.
Unless he's not.
Now he seeks a 'War Czar.'
The White House is considering creating a "war czar" post in the National Security Council and has put out feelers to some retired generals to see if they would be interested.
But no takers so far. The Washington Post said at least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks had turned down the position.
First, what is our facination with having Czars? Seems kind of contrary to democratic ideals. A Intelligence Czar after 9/11. A Drug Czar before that.
More importantly, isn't this what the President is supposed to be? The commander-in-chief? How is this supposed to improve anything? The President surely does not lack for advisers. He has a Sec. of Defense (at least now he does that Rumsfeld is gone), as well as the Joint Chiefs, a CIA director, and the list goes on. How could adding one more layer of bureaucracy, one more choke point for information, going to improve the situation on the ground?
It won't. Which is part of the reason no one seems willing to do the job.
So why the position? Probably for Bush to try to find a relatively high profile military man to provide him with some political cover for his botched job in Iraq. Which is probably the other reason that no one seems willing to take the job. What retired general wants to be the whipping boy for this mess?
Certainly not retired Marine Gen. John "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who rejected the White House overture. He says, "The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going."
Rep. Rahm Emanuel hit it on the head with his criticism of the White House for wanting to create a war czar, "Someone needs to tell Steve Hadley that position is filled, it's the commander-in-chief, unless the decider's become the delegator."
He's lost much of that in his most recent bid for the White House.
His recent trip to Baghdad (see here and here) and his comments about it clearly show he's no longer a 'straight talk' candidate.
Today, his judgment seems seriously in question.
About the Iraq War, today he says, "It is necessary and just."
On what grounds? The WMD that were not there? The Al-Qaeda connection that was not there? The nuclear material from Niger that was not there? The civil war that we unleashed? The thousands of Iraqis killed? The thousands more now refugees from their homeland? Abu Grahib, Gitmo and the evasion of the Geneva Conventions?
There is simply no logical, reasonable argument- none at all- that can be made supporting the statement that the war was necessary. This war was a war of choice- chosen to 'show the world' that the US intended a broad 'war on terror' beyond just Afghanistan.
Just? Only by adopting the lowest of all possible standards. The government of Iraq today, and the US involvement with it, is not brutal as Saddam was. No question. Even with the reports of torture- still better than Saddam. But, that's hardly a great claim.
But what about by the standards of justice we expect for ourselves? Safety. Security. A government that can provide us w/ these, while also being democratic. Equality under the law regardless of ethnic/religous background. A system of justice that routinely catches and impartially tries those who commit crimes, especially murder. Do Iraqis have these?
Being better than an evil dictator like Saddam... being better than the terrorists... that's just not good enough. That's not what the Pilgrim calls justice.
If what we see in Iraq today is what McCain believes is "necessary and just", well, he's out of the running for the Pilgrim's support.
- Thomas Merton
The suffering of Iraqi civilians is worsening and there is no sign yet that a security crackdown in Baghdad is bringing relief, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday.
Hospitals were stretched to the limit by daily mass casualties, malnutrition was on the rise and power shortages were becoming more frequent around the country, the relief agency said.
"The humanitarian situation is steadily worsening and it is affecting, directly or indirectly, all Iraqis," the ICRC said.
Thousands of Iraqis continued to be forced out of their homes owing to military operations, generally poor security and the destruction of houses, it said.
Monday, April 09, 2007
A log of developments from across the country on fourth anniversary of Baghdad's fall. A total of 25 people were killed or found dead in Iraq on Monday, according to police and morgues.
_4 a.m. Police in Baqouba said U.S. forces shot at an ambulance, believing someone in the vehicle had opened fire on them. The driver and the patient were not hurt.
_4:30 a.m. Clashes erupted again in Buhriz, about 35 miles north of Baghdad, between gunmen and al-Qaida in Iraq fighters. Thirty civilians and gunmen were wounded, Diyala provincial police said. Al-Qaida casualties were not known.
_9 a.m. A roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. patrol in the Al-Nile district, 12 miles north of Hilla. There were no known casualties, police said.
_9:30 a.m. Police in Hilla south of Baghdad found the bullet-riddled, handcuffed and blindfolded body of an unidentified man, a spokesman for the Babil provincial police said.
_10 a.m. A roadside bomb targeting an American patrol exploded in Jebala, 40 miles south of Baghdad. A Babil province police spokesman said it was not known if there were any U.S. casualties because American forces sealed the areas.
_10 a.m. Gunman in a car shot and killed a civilian in Musayyib, 40 miles south of Baghdad, according to Babil provincial police.
_10 a.m. Diwaniyah police south of Baghdad said U.S troops raided the Badr Brigade militia office and detained four guards. The militia is the military wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the most powerful Shiite political party in the country, with deep links to Iran U.S. and Iraqi forces continued patrols of two Diwaniyah neighborhoods in the fourth day of an operation there to clear it of Mahdi Army militia forces loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
_10 a.m. Gunmen ambushed the car of Dr. Abdul Hamza Hameed as he was on his way to work at the al-Hashimaya hospital in Hilla. The physician was pulled out of the car and spirited away, Babil province police said.
_10:15 a.m. Tens of thousands of demonstrators started their march from Kufa toward the old city of Najaf. They were carrying Iraqi flags and handing out leaflets reading: "Yes to Iraq. Yes to Islam. Yes to Muqtada. Occupiers should leave Iraq." Police were massed in concentric cordons around the demonstration.
_10:30 a.m. A mortar round hit Baghdad's southern Dora district near the al-Sadreen Shiite mosque, killing one person and wounding two others, a Dora police officer said.
_10:30 a.m. Baqouba police reported finding the body of Sheik Ahmed Ibrahim, the imam at the al-Twubaa Sunni mosque. Police said the sheik was shot in the head and chest and had been tortured.
_10:45 a.m. A sniper shot and killed a civilian and a policeman in the Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood, Iraqi police said.
_11 a.m. Police in Diwaniyah said U.S. and Iraqi forces detained 24 militants.
_11:30 a.m. A U.S. patrol was targeted by a roadside bomb in central Diwaniyah. It missed the soldiers but killed one civilian and wounded four, police said.
_1 p.m. The demonstration in Kufa and Najaf ends without incident after three hours.
_2 p.m. The U.S. military reported capturing "14 suspected terrorists during operations Monday targeting al-Qaida in Iraq foreign fighter facilitators and members of vehicle-borne improvised explosive device cells." The operations were north and west of Baghdad in Beiji, Tarmiyah and Karmah.
_3:20 p.m. Diwaniyah police said the toll from the U.S.-Iraqi operation there against the Mahdi Army was 14 dead and 47 wounded since Friday. The figure includes both militants and civilians but gives no breakdown.
_4 p.m, Iraqi soldiers set fire in 2 civilian cars in central Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad. The solders apparently feared the cars contained bombs, police said. The blazes were extinguished by the owners of the cars.
_4:08 p.m. U.S. Army Col. Michael Garrett, with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry Division, told reporters in Diwaniyah one American soldier was killed and U.S. forces continued operations there.
_5 p.m. Drive-by shooters killed Sheik Gelan Abdullah, member of Khalis city council and the preacher at the Sunni mosque. He was killed near his home in Hibhib, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, police said.
_9:10 p.m. The Interior Ministry says police found seven bodies in Baghdad that were shot after being tortured. All were handcuffed and blindfolded.
_10:03 p.m. Col. Tariq Yousif Theeyab, head of security forces in Anbar province, said 12 trucks loaded with chlorine gas have been seized at the border with Syria Nine trucks carrying ammonium oxide also were held. The truck manifests said the chemicals were for the Ministry of Water Resources, but because of a series of suicide truck bombings using chlorine, the shipments were impounded while further checks were made.
_10:06 p.m. Hadi al-A'tabi of Kut morgue said the facility had received three bullet-riddled, tortured bodies that were pulled from the Tigris River near Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad.
Today, a protest against US occupation marked the occassion.
"In four years of occupation, our sons have been killed and women made widows," cried Ahmed al-Mayahie, 39, a Shiite from the southern city of Basra.
"The occupier raised slogans saying Iraq is free, Iraq is liberated. What freedom? What liberation? There is nothing but destruction. We do not want their liberation and their presence. We tell them to get out of our land."
Again I ask... Just who has benefitted from this war?
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
We did say we were taking democracy to Iraq, right?
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Watch the video to see them announce the results- but look closely at the graphic on screen at the end.
Did you miss the 'Fair and Balanced' method of coverage that we can count on from Fox?
They said Britney Spears was most foolish, but here's the graphic which clearly reads (with the Pilgrim's circle added):
Even when trying to have a little fun, FOX News has to follow it's own version of political correctness.
Couldn't possibly admit those numbers. That President Bush beat Britney Spears by 7 percentage points.
Probably the only poll he's leading these days.
He's completely unable to recognize, and admit, that by failing to follow the Geneva Conventions, we encourage others to do the same- and put Americans and our allies in danger.
When he talks over her, she says, "I served my country 29 years, how many did you serve?"
His reply, "Cut her mic."
Andrew Sullivan has his say on this here.
People like O'Reilly would be quick, under different circumstances, to say that the US is a leader in the world. And we are. Are we going to be a leader for good, or for ill? That is the key question.
This should be of great concern, as diversity can relate directly to health- for humans. If plants that we use for food, for example, do not adapt well to increasing temperatures, then the diversity within that plant species grows more limited. In such a case, that plant species is more likely to be severly damaged, even wiped out, but a 'blight' of some sort, thus causing problems in terms of feeding populations.
Add this to the issues of potential drought due to global warming, and concerns about taking care of the human species grows.
Too often people reject concerns about biodiversity as the worries of tree-huggers who want to save owls (I'll never forget the first President Bush criticizing Gore saying that if Gore were elected (w/ Clinton) 'We'll be out of work and up to our neck in owls").
The fact is, biodiversity is important to us.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke refused to reconsider a magistrate's ruling in September to admit Padilla's statements to the FBI as evidence in his trial starting on April 16 on charges of conspiring to aid Islamist extremists overseas.
Padilla [was arrested and charged] based in part on information provided by two prisoners held at the U.S. military jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Abu Zubaydah and Binyam Muhammad...
Muhammad has claimed in court documents that he gave false confessions implicating Padilla while held in a Moroccan prison, where he was beaten and slashed on the chest and penis with scalpels before being sent to Guantanamo.
Zubaydah was transferred to Guantanamo in September, along with 13 other "high-value" captives who had been held in secret CIA prisons. The New York Times has said his interrogators stripped him naked, held him in an ice-cold room and subjected him to deafeningly loud music.
All three of the key individuals in this case claim to have been tortured. Given what we have learned about US treatment of prisoners over the past three years, those claims deserve serious examination. Any information based on torture should not be allowed in any court- civilian or military.
Vice-president Cheney has declared that waterboarding (a 'dunk in the water') is a "no-brainer" and not torture. See the clip below. With this sort of support, why wouldn't interrogators continue to cross the line?
In this more extended piece from MSNBC there is some commetary on Cheney's remarks, and a demonstration of what 'waterboarding' is- and it's not a dunk in the water.
Must we become terrorists to combat terrorists? Must we sell our soul to win against those who have sold theirs to hatred?
Note how widespread the violence is across Iraq as McCain visits.
Also note the violence in the market he toured before and after his visit (discussed near the end of the piece).
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Japanese automakers are driving Americans toward a cleaner environment, while their U.S. counterparts are producing cars and trucks ranked among the worst when it comes to smog emissions and global warming, according to a report released Tuesday by an environmental group.
Toyota Motor Corp., on pace to become the largest U.S. automobile manufacturer, was the other, compiling the best global warming scores in six of 10 categories, better-than-average scores in the remaining categories. It came within 3 percentage points of earning the group's top overall ranking.
The notion that environmental protection and good business are necessarily at odds is demonstrably wrong. We simply lack the will to make changes.
In the second segment, he makes a compelling argument regarding the Congressional authorization. He says that resolution authorized:
- Removal of Saddam
- Ridding Iraq of WMD
- Bringing Iraq into compliance with UN Resolutions.
Those goals have all been accomplished (with the small matter that the WMD did not exist).
Thus, the President's authorization is expired. The Congress is right to act in such a fashion to bring this war to an end.
Both the Senate and House have now passed measures with timetables for a 'phased redeployment.' The President threatens a veto. Now Sen. Majority Leader Reid says he will then move to cut off funding. I doubt that he will follow through, but it is good to see the Congress making an eff0rt to exert its proper constitutional role. While cutting off funding for troops in the field must be an absolute last resort (not the sort of 'last resort' that Bush used to put us in Iraq), applying the threat may keep the pressure on an administration that seems incapable of self-evaluation and persuasion by logic. Pressure may be the only lever available.
For the ever rising cost of the war (and what exactly are we getting for our investment?), see the Iraq War cost ticker in the left margin of this page.
Warming ruling squeezes Bush from both sides
The Supreme Court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to explain why it has refused to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from cars, putting the Bush administration under pressure from an unusual coalition of environmental groups and leaders of the auto industry to move quickly on global warming.
In a 5-to-4 decision, the court rejected the administration’s argument that it had no legal authority to limit carbon dioxide released from new cars. In a ruling described as a landmark victory for environmental activists, it decided that the EPA does have such authority and that it must give better reasons for not using it than the “laundry list” of “impermissible considerations” it has offered until now.
Stevens sided in unusually strong language with scientists who say that U.S. car emissions do contribute to greenhouse gases, leading to global warming. In doing so, he rebutted the contention of some energy industry officials and Republicans in the administration and Congress that there is no proof of global warming.
The contribution of American cars to global warming is so significant, Stevens wrote, that strong regulations “would slow the pace of global emissions, no matter what happens elsewhere in the world.”
Earthjustice was a part of the coalition that led the fight against the inaction of the Bush Administration. They issued a statement that said, in part:
"Today is a great day for the environment. In one of the most important environmental cases of its history, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed what we have been saying all along: The Clean Air Act gives EPA authority to fight global warming. The EPA must act immediately and issue regulations that limit greenhouse gases from motor vehicles that contribute to global warming.
"While this case has worked its way through EPA and the courts, scientific evidence of global warming has continued to mount -- so much so that the scientific debate is over. Our climate is warming, and pollution from human activities is a major cause. Harms include rising seas that submerge coastal lands, stronger hurricanes, more drought, melting ice caps and degraded ecosystems.
"To combat this most urgent environmental crisis, strong and comprehensive U.S. action is crucial. EPA must use its existing Clean Air Act authority to require control of greenhouse gas emissions -- by motor vehicles... '
Monday, April 02, 2007
- Confirmed U.S. military deaths as of April 2, 2007: 3,244.
- Confirmed U.S. military wounded as of April 2, 2007: 24,314.
- U.S. military deaths after the Baghdad security crackdown beginning Feb. 14, 2007: at least 55 U.S. military deaths occurred from incidents in Baghdad; at least 70 U.S. military deaths occurred from incidents outside Baghdad.
- Iraqi civilian deaths: Estimated at more than 60,000
- Cost: More than $413 billion. Combined with the conflict in Afghanistan and operations against terrorism elsewhere, the cost has topped at least $500 billion. (Check the cost 'ticker' on the left side of this page for constant updates of Iraq war costs.)
- A recent study by Linda Bilmes of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government put the total projected cost of providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan at $350 billion to $700 billion.
- Utilities: With the exception of electricity in Baghdad, most services are markedly better now than under Saddam (water, sewer, phone, etc.).
- Refugees: Prewar: 500,000 Iraqis lived abroad. April 2, 2007: Approximately 2 million live abroad.
Biden has created a website to contrast his approach to Iraq with that of other candidates. Of course you cannot expect his portrayal of the other candidates to be most generous. If nothing else, you certainly cannot expect the loquacious Biden to give his opponents equal time. But you may want to take a look at the site: Head-to-Head '08.
McCain travels around a market in Baghdad dressed in a flak jacket (images here) accompanied by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead” and proclaims that the media doesn't understand just how safe Baghdad is.
Watch this video piece. McCain provides the 'Neverland' assessment. Michael Ware from CNN tells it straight.