March 19, 2008 archive

Petraeus Construction Co. soldiers on: a one-act play

You want fiction?  Here’s some to mark today’s 5th Anniversary of the Iraq War.

Scene 1

September, 2006:  Brothers George, John, and Ringo stand together in the front hallway on George’s house.  They have just answered the door, greeting Petraeus, President of a local construction company.  They exchange greetings and lead him to the kitchen table, where the conversation begins.

GEORGE:   We’re, uh, glad you could come to see us, Mr. Petraeus.  As I think my brother John told you when he called, it’s about the house we’re having built on the lot we inherited from our parents.

PETRAEUS: Yes, I’ve taken a look at the house and I’ve talked to the contractors, and the contractors before that, and the original contractors.

JOHN:     Well, as you should know then, you can see that the construction process has been a complete disaster.

GEORGE:   I wouldn’t say it’s been a disaster, exactly.


Pony Party: Won’t Get Fooled Again

The Who

Katrina: The latest embarrassment

…also at orange

It seems our great national embarrassment, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina,  is the gift that just keeps on giving.


George W Bush on Iraq: Read it and weep

Lest you think that five years of bloodshed in Iraq, with perhaps a million dead and 4 million more displaced from their homes, has given The Decider any pause, today he said the war is “noble, necessary, and just.”  Some pertinent excerpts from his speech today at the Pentagon on the first day of Year 6 in Iraq.

The battle in Iraq has been longer and harder and more costly than we anticipated — but it is a fight we must win….

Defeating this enemy in Iraq will make it less likely that we’ll face the enemy here at home…

There’s still hard work to be done in Iraq. The gains we have made are fragile and reversible…

The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around — it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror…

The challenge in the period ahead is to consolidate the gains we have made and seal the extremists’ defeat. We have learned through hard experience what happens when we pull our forces back too fast … General Petraeus has warned that too fast a drawdown could result in such an unraveling — with al Qaeda and insurgents and militia extremists regaining lost ground and increasing violence.

Men and women of the Armed Forces: Having come so far, and achieved so much, we’re not going to let this to happen…

Any further drawdown will be based on conditions on the ground and the recommendations of our commanders — and they must not jeopardize the hard-fought gains our troops and civilians have made over the past year.

The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable …  

More than 4,400 men and women have given their lives in the war on terror. We’ll pray for their families. We’ll always honor their memory.

The best way we can honor them is by making sure that their sacrifice was not in vain. Five years ago tonight, I promised the American people that in the struggle ahead “we will accept no outcome but victory.” Today, standing before men and women who helped liberate a nation, I reaffirm the commitment. The battle in Iraq is noble, it is necessary, and it is just. And with your courage, the battle in Iraq will end in victory.

In short, we are “winning”, whatever that means — and the way to honor those who have died is for even more to die.

Friday is Iraq Moratorium #7.

You know what to do.

Four at Four

Today’s Four at Four will be long, but worth your time to read.

  1. What is the real death toll in Iraq?
    By Jonathan Steele and Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

    Lieutenant General Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan during his time as head of US Central Command, once announced, “We don’t do body counts.” This blunt response to a question about civilian casualties was an attempt to distance George Bush’s wars from the disaster of Vietnam. One of the rituals of that earlier conflict was the daily announcement of how many Vietnamese fighters US forces had killed. It was supposed to convince a sceptical American public that victory was coming. But the “body count” concept sounded callous – and never more so than when it emerged that many of the alleged guerrilla dead were in fact women, children and other unarmed civilians.

    Iraq was going to be different. The US would count its own dead (now close to 4,000), but the toll the war was taking on Iraqis was not a matter the Pentagon or any other US government department intended to quantify. Especially once Bush had declared “mission accomplished” on May 1 2003 – after that, every new Iraqi who died by violence would be a signal that the president was wrong, and would show that a war conducted in the name of humanitarian intervention was exacting a mounting humanitarian toll of its own.

    But even though the Americans were not counting, people were dying, and every victim had a name and a family. Wedding parties were bombed by US planes, couples driving home at night were shot at checkpoints because they missed a flashlight warning them to stop, and hundreds of other unarmed civilians were killed for no legitimate cause. In just the last three weeks of April 2003, after Saddam’s statue and his regime were toppled, US forces killed at least 266 civilians – a pattern of overeager resort to fire which has continued to this day.

    So five years after Bush and Tony Blair launched the invasion of Iraq against the wishes of a majority of UN members, no one knows how many Iraqis have died. We do know that more than two million have fled abroad. Another 1.5 million have sought safety elsewhere in Iraq. We know that the combined horror of car bombs, suicide attacks, sectarian killing and disproportionate US counter-insurgency tactics and air strikes have produced the worst humanitarian catastrophe in today’s world. But the exact death toll remains a mystery.

    The article examines the various estimates that range from “100,000 dead to well over a million”. It is well worth the time to read.

Four at Four continues below the fold looking at the five year anniversary of the war in Iraq and its occupation.

What If War Was NOT An Option?


Asked about two thirds of Americans’ opposition to war, Cheney says, ‘So?’

“War is merely a continuation of politics by other means.” Though Clausewitz didn’t intend it to be used this way, the quote has gained a life of its own for the bald truths contained within it. First that war is always a choice (though, rarely, the only other choice is surrender) and second….that it is a choice made by politicians.

My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

George Bush, March 19, 2003


What if that choice didn’t exist? What if war was not an option for politicians?



America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

George W. Bush

We can’t allow the world’s worst leaders to blackmail, threaten, hold freedom-loving nations hostage with the world’s worst weapons.

George W. Bush

We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace.

George W. Bush

I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.

George W. Bush

Though Clausewitz was merely reflecting the reality of our times…he was wrong. War is not a continuation of politics, it is the failure of politics, and of diplomacy, and reason, and imagination…and most importantly, will. It is the choice of dullards. Dullards who inevitably, somehow, manage to profit from their failures to achieve peace. War is always…..a failure.

All They Know Is War

I remember reading a story in the New York Times magazine, in October of 2004 about terrorism and John Kerry’s view on it.

Kerry had a far different view of what should be done to counter terrorism:

But when you listen carefully to what Bush and Kerry say, it becomes clear that the differences between them are more profound than the matter of who can be more effective in achieving the same ends. Bush casts the war on terror as a vast struggle that is likely to go on indefinitely, or at least as long as radical Islam commands fealty in regions of the world. In a rare moment of either candor or carelessness, or perhaps both, Bush told Matt Lauer on the ”Today” show in August that he didn’t think the United States could actually triumph in the war on terror in the foreseeable future. ”I don’t think you can win it,” he said — a statement that he and his aides tried to disown but that had the ring of sincerity to it. He and other members of his administration have said that Americans should expect to be attacked again, and that the constant shadow of danger that hangs over major cities like New York and Washington is the cost of freedom. In his rhetoric, Bush suggests that terrorism for this generation of Americans is and should be an overwhelming and frightening reality.

When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. ”We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance,” Kerry said. ”As a former law-enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.”

This analogy struck me as remarkable, if only because it seemed to throw down a big orange marker between Kerry’s philosophy and the president’s. Kerry, a former prosecutor, was suggesting that the war, if one could call it that, was, if not winnable, then at least controllable. If mobsters could be chased into the back rooms of seedy clubs, then so, too, could terrorists be sent scurrying for their lives into remote caves where they wouldn’t harm us. Bush had continually cast himself as the optimist in the race, asserting that he alone saw the liberating potential of American might, and yet his dark vision of unending war suddenly seemed far less hopeful than Kerry’s notion that all of this horror — planes flying into buildings, anxiety about suicide bombers and chemicals in the subway — could somehow be made to recede until it was barely in our thoughts.

Remember?  Remember when Bush said he didn’t think the “war on terror” could ever be won?  Remember when he and Cheney were running around on every talk show and media newshour one could think of, telling Americans we should live in fear, that it wasn’t just probable but inevitable that we would be attacked again?

I remember it very well.

I Tried. I Really Tried.

But I couldn’t think of anything to say that I didn’t say last year on March 19 when I posted this at Edgeing, or think of anything to say that hasn’t been said many times before, and by many other than myself.

Bush’s Iraq and Mid-East Debacle – Four… sorry, FIVE Year Anniversary

Tomorrow marks the four FIVE year anniversary of the attack on and invasion of Iraq as American missiles hit targets in Baghdad on March 20, 2003 in the start of a US led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein. In the following days US and British ground troops entered Iraq from the south and over the next few weeks rather quickly overcame the little resistance the Iraqi Army was able to offer.

On May 1 of that year George W. Bush, in a needlessly theatrical stunt, landed in a jet on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, and wearing a flight suit in a staged attempt to look as macho as possible for the photo opportunity, announced that “In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed”, standing with an enormous banner displaying the words “Mission Accomplished” as the backdrop for a ridiculous, deceitful propaganda event.

Since “Mission Accomplished” more US soldiers have died in Iraq than the number of Americans who died in the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, an event that George W. Bush and the White House propaganda machine has repeatedly tried to insinuate was carried out with the backing and involvement of former Iraq President Saddam Hussein as part of their attempts to justify the Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation as being the central front in Bush’s so-called War On Terror, which I have often renamed the “War On Thinking”.

Since “Mission Accomplished” tens of thousands of American soldiers have returned home to their friends and families crippled, blinded, burned, poisoned, and maimed, or dead.

Since “Mission Accomplished” the invasion and occupation of Iraq has become known as George W. Bush’s Iraq and Mid-East Debacle.

Since “Mission Accomplished” nearly one million Iraqis, about seven hundred and fifty thousand of them defenseless Iraqi children and women, have died needlessly.

Since “Mission Accomplished” George W. Bush’s accomplishments have become “in horrible reality a cowardly War on Women and Children, a War on Asian Women and Children and a War on Muslim Women and Children.”

Phoney LIberal Websites Ignore WINTER SOLDIER. America is a “NAZI” NATION


All the pathetic liberal websites whose information almost always comes from the State Controlled Mass Media, Keith Blabberman, Chris Mathews ….and almost never from alternative sources like Democracy Now!, Flashpoints, Indymedia, Pacifica…the list of independent sources is endless….have almost entirely ignored WINTER SOLDIER.

This is the biggest story of the year for America. America ignores it.

And the reason is…..The mass media who you have all become unwitting slaves to is ignoring it. You people imagine you are different. You are not. 1 Million Iraqi dead, almost all civilians killed at the instigation of the entire nation of a concscience -less America.

All these liberal websites disgust me. America is disgusting.


Via Raw Story:

Iraq war protesters arrested at IRS headquarters

Police arrested more than a dozen people Wednesday morning who crossed a barricade and blocked entrances at the Internal Revenue Service building, the start of a day of protests marking the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.


Via Docudharma! We’re going to shut down the IRS! MARCH 19, 2008 by: OPOL



Things I’d like to see, Part 2: Kucinich as U.S. Senator

You may or may not remember him, or even heard of the man, but former Ohio senator Howard Metzenbaum passed away last week at the age of ninety. reports of his eighteen-year tenure as the United States senator from Ohio:

During 18 years on Capitol Hill, from 1977 to 1995, Metzenbaum came to be known as “Senator No” and “Headline Howard” for his abilities to block legislation and get publicity for himself.

He was a cantankerous firebrand who didn’t need a microphone to hold a full auditorium spellbound while dropping rhetorical bombs on big oil companies, the insurance industry, savings and loans, and the National Rifle Association, to name just a few favorite targets.

Unabashedly liberal, the former labor lawyer and union lobbyist considered himself a champion of workers and was a driving force behind the law requiring 60-day notice of plant closings.

When other liberals shied away from that label, Metzenbaum embraced it, winning re-election in 1988 from Ohio voters who chose Republicans for governor and president, and by wider margins than either George Voinovich or George H.W. Bush.

And the New York Times reports:

Mr. Metzenbaum’s success in passing social legislation on issues like workers rights and adoption policy, in blocking pork-barrel excess and tax loopholes, and in inventing new ways to use the filibuster – long the tool of Southern segregationists – were unquestioned.

Finally, the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes:

He once filibustered for two weeks against a bill to lift price controls on natural gas. When debate was cut off, Metzenbaum, who was to prove himself a master of Senate rules, invented a new stalling tactic. He introduced hundreds of amendments and called for a time-consuming roll call vote on each one.

Metzenbaum built a reputation as a Horatio at the bridge. He was credited with saving taxpayers millions of dollars by standing in the way of “Christmas tree bills,” adorned with costly favors for a given state or corporation. Metzenbaum was often at the forefront of Democratic opposition to Reagan administration cabinet and Supreme Court nominees.

This is precisely the sort of leadership we so desperately need in the U.S. Senate.  Since Metzenbaum and former senator John Glenn retired, we’ve been saddled with corrupt Republicans who are beholden not to their constituents, but corporations and the rigid GOP system of discipline that keeps any member from breaking ranks without incurring harsh consequences.  To be sure, in 2006 we were able to oust Mike DeWine from office in favor of Democrat Sherrod Brown.  But even Brown has not exactly been a leader in the Senate.

So why not make a concerted effort to convince Dennis Kucinich, currently representing Ohio’s 10th Congressional District, to run against incumbent George Voinovich in 2010?  Can you imagine the brand of leadership he would bring?  I can, and the more I think about it, the more I like the idea.

There is, to be sure, great risk for Kucinich in making such a run; this year he faced a surprisingly stiff primary battle, mostly from moneyed opponents who think he shouldn’t be running for any higher political office.  And considering how vicious an opponent Voinovich — who ran a nasty campaign for mayor against him in 1979 — is, the battle would most certainly be a tough one.  But I think it’s worth consideration.

West “Tones Down” Criticism of China, Reports of Tibet Protest Spreading

“Economically, we depend much more on China than they do on us,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Wednesday. “It is an essential partner for pretty much every country in the world.

“When you conduct foreign relations with countries as important as China, obviously when you take economic decisions, sometimes it’s at the expense of human rights,” he told France’s BFM television.


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