June 24, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports GAO disputes claims from Pentagon report on Iraq.

    Baghdad has made scant progress toward self-sufficiency and the Bush administration has no workable strategy to achieve that goal, US government auditors said yesterday.

    The audit released by the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) painted a starkly different picture of the war than another report issued yesterday by the Pentagon…

    The GAO appeared to take a dim view of the administration’s top-secret Joint Campaign Plan (JCP) … The JCP “is not a strategic plan; it is an operational plan with limitations,” the government auditors concluded.

    The LA Times adds “the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, concluded that many political reconciliation efforts have stalled, that Iraq’s security forces remain largely unable to operate without U.S. assistance and that its central government has not fulfilled commitments to spend its own money on reconstruction. As a result, a new U.S. strategy for attaining military, political and economic goals is needed, the GAO said.”

    And this will come as a surprise to no one: “More broadly, the GAO said the Bush administration has not planned adequately for the drawdown of troops sent for last year’s buildup. Most of the additional forces are expected to leave Iraq by the end of July.” Of course Bush and McCain do not plan on the troops leaving… before the last drop of oil is gone.

  2. The Washington Post reports Four Americans were killed in Baghdad blast. At about 9:20 a.m. an explosion rocked government building in Sadr city. Two U.S. soldiers and two American civilians working for the U.S. State department were killed in the blast.

    “At least one Iraqi was killed in the explosion. Wire service reports said as many as six Iraqis died. One U.S. soldier and three Sadr City district advisory council members also were wounded in the attack, the U.S. military said.”

    The LA Times reports the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber.

    A little more is now known about the attack earlier in the week that killed two U.S. soldiers in an ambush near Baghdad. According to the LA Times, “A gunman ambushed the soldiers and their interpreter, who was wounded in the exchange, as they left the Madaen municipal building”.

    The Interior Ministry in Baghdad identified the gunman as a local official and said he emerged from the building with the Americans, pulled a Kalashnikov assault rifle from the trunk of his car and sprayed them with bullets. The man’s colleagues sought cover as the Americans returned fire and killed him, according to the ministry, which oversees the police.

    But witnesses said the assailant was a former council member who joined the Sunni Muslim insurgency after he was ousted from his job in sectarian fighting in 2006.

    “He was sitting in his vehicle right in front of the municipal headquarters and opened fire with a Kalashnikov on the Americans as they were leaving the building,” said the owner of a nearby farm equipment store, who asked to be identified by a traditional nickname, Abu Ali. “Other Americans immediately opened fire on [the man] in his car, and he was killed instantly.”

    Elsewhere in Iraq, violence continues. “At least 15 people were killed and 40 injured Sunday when a woman blew herself up at the civic center in Baqubah, Diyala’s capital, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Hours later, a volley of mortar fire slammed into a checkpoint manned by Sunni Arab tribesmen hired by the U.S. military to guard their areas against militants. Police said at least 10 people were killed and 24 injured in that attack, which took place north of Baqubah.”

    Just a reminder the GAO found Bush “has no workable strategy” to move Iraq toward self-sufficiency or bring the troops home and McCain wants to continue the Bush strategy in Iraq.

Four at Four continues with news from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and possible research that could save the world’s frogs.

You Don’t Have to be Elected to be a Leader.

The title quote comes from the movie The Shift, not yet released.  My niece is involved with it and sent me the following preview.  It was just the kick in the ass I needed to shift my doom and gloom, so I offer it here.  I considered placing it as a comment in dharmasyd’s terrific essay, but decided this is a bit too off the point of the important substance there.

I’m trying to get my feet back under me.  I’m not going to have my hope buried by the dense, unconscionable acts of the fatally fearful and greedy.  I’m going to join with the spirit dharmasyd’s essay offers.

Maybe this movie is too easy, maybe it’s as shallow as recycling, but it renewed my sense of hope.  Maybe most of our hope comes from NGO’s non-profits, informal groups, brave individuals acting alone.  Here’s what Derrick Ashong says:

Making the world a better place is not only your responsibility.  It’s your choice, it is your blessing, it’s a gift, it’s your opportunity to make your life mean something.  So take it.

Some questions about action

OPOL asked an important question in his essay Take One Last Look.

How best to fight back people?

Please share your thoughts.

I know that many of us have been pondering an answer to that question. And for me, it has spurred many additional questions. For example, in the comments, I embedded a video from This Brave Nation of a conversation between Pete Seeger and Majora Carter. I know that a lot of you don’t have 20 minutes to watch the whole thing, but I’ve been thinking alot about the portion at about 14 minutes where Seeger talks about his experience with Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. He tells of his disappointment when MLK chose the Montgomery Bus Boycott as his first action when there were other civil rights issues that had a far greater impact on African Americans in the mid 1950’s.

Seeger answers that question with this:

When you face an opponent over a broad front you don’t aim at the opponents strong points, you aim a little off to the side and you WIN IT. And having won the bus boycott, 13 months it took him to do it, then he moved on to other things.

Is this advice we should take today? I think that’s exactly what Buhdy was trying to do with the Maddow Movement. Can we stick to something like that for over a year before we see victory?  

Pony Party: Surrealistic Pony

My search for magnificent morning ponies took a turn for the bizarre when I came across this headless horse.  Not sure who the artist is or the title of the work but the picture was taken at the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art.  

photo by Mike Love Frankfurt, Germany (2007)

I thereby took it upon myself to look for more strange and surreal horse art.  Here’s the master, Salvador Dali, with Horse in Soft Composition also known as The Horse Saddled With Time. I love the melting clock saddle.

photo by Balaji Dutts in Singapore (2006)

More People Living Out of Their Cars – Welcome to Bush’s Vision of America

The economy sucks!  Yes, we are in a recession!  No, the fundamentals DO NOT look good for the economy to bounce back later this year (as per Bumbling Ben Bernanke).

As people over the past few years have lost their employment and due to that lack of income have also lost their homes, they have taken to moving into their cars, vans, RV’s, mobile camper trailers and anything up to and including a nicely appointed cardboard box.

Yes.  Even a person now living in their Camper-Van is not considered to be Homeless.  Their mobile vehicle is now considered to be a home.  Only in George W. Bushs’ America.

In George W. Bushs’ vision of America, this is OK. No problem.  Business as usual, you know.  We have the “HAVES” and the “HAVE NOTS” and never the twain shall meet, right? I mean, they will pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they REALLY want to re-join regular society.  Right?   (Insert much foul language directed at Neo-Con’s here).

Docudharma Times Tuesday June 24

Republicans Love Fear Because?

They Are Afraid Of The Dark

And Those Scary Monsters Under The Bed

Tuesday’s Headlines:

American Envoy Is Linked to Arms Deal Cover-Up  

Vatican halts John Paul II’s ‘saint factory’

Russian art evicted as money moves in with ‘land grab’

Japan threatens to resume commercial whaling

Taleban’s ‘$100m opium takings’  

Iraqi passions turn to soccer – for 90 minutes

Iran warns EU sanctions could hurt nuclear diplomacy

Nigeria: Bonga Attack – FG Orders Heightened Security for Oil

National day of mourning postponed in SAfrica  

Tackling Ecuador’s refugee buildup

Zimbabwe: more beatings, more abductions as the world watches

· UN security council says free and fair election impossible

· Opposition leader Tsvangirai seeks shelter in embassy

· Armed police take families away from opposition’s HQ

Chris McGreal in Harare and Julian Borger, diplomatic editor

The Guardian,

Tuesday June 24, 2008

The UN security council last night warned Robert Mugabe that a free and fair election in Zimbabwe was “impossible”, after the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai quit the presidential race and sought refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare amid escalating violence.

As Mugabe’s forces kept up their assault on the opposition, raiding the opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s HQ and hauling away scores of people sheltering from abductions, beatings and worse, the security council unanimously adopted a statement condemning the government’s “campaign of violence” that had “denied its political opponents the right to campaign freely”.

It was the security council’s first formal action on the crisis. South Africa, Mugabe’s strongest regional backer, had hitherto blocked UN involvement in the crisis, but it agreed to the statement, a move described as significant by British diplomats.

Al-Qaeda’s Growing Online Offensive

CAIRO Second of two articles

By Craig Whitlock

Washington Post Foreign Service

Tuesday, June 24, 2008; Page A01

Early this year, a religious radical calling himself Abu Hamza had a question for the deputy leader of al-Qaeda regarding the Egyptian secret police. “Are they committing unbelief?” he tapped on his keyboard. “And is it permissible to kill them?”

A few weeks later, an answer came from a man with a $25 million bounty on his head, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Killing the police is justified, Zawahiri replied, because they are “infidels, each and every one of them.”


McCain gambling on offshore drilling

He thinks the nation’s high gas prices will trump concerns about protecting the environment, especially in key Midwest states.

By Cathleen Decker and Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

June 24, 2008  

SANTA BARBARA — For decades it has been a bipartisan political staple — the jaunt to the beaches of Santa Barbara to profess opposition to oil drilling at the spot where a massive 1969 spill despoiled sea life and ocean waters, launching the modern environmental movement.

With visits here and elsewhere, Republicans Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger used their environmental credentials to win the governor’s office. George Bush the elder announced his support for a delay in oil drilling leases en route to victory in November 1988, when he became the last Republican to win the state in a presidential contest.  

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

State of the Onion XIV

I’m not sure why I’m including this particular graphic with this particular poem.  I’m sure there is something deeply psychological involved.  It seemed appropriate, for some reason.

Art Link


My Label is not a Slur

My label is not a slur

My label does not mean

repulsive or obscene

should not induce

revulsion or hatred

I am not subhuman

Different, yes,

but not less than you

I am not “really” anything

except a human being

There are more of you

so we live in your world

rather than one

of our own choosing

Do we threaten you?

Do you fear us?

How did we earn

the ridicule?

How did we earn

the hatred?

How did we earn

your silence?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–January 31, 2006

Please join us on the inside to celebrate, venerate, regenerate and/or motivate our muses.

Fighting Back and Taking That Last Look!

They want to set the world on fire

                   We are in danger

                   There is time only to work slowly

                   There is no time not to love.

                                           —Deena Metzger

I believe that perhaps the only possible effective action to take in order to halt the gears and levers of this lemming-like perpetual motion machine of destruction is — to do nothing. That’s right, nothing. So long as we continue to participate, to go along with doing what we are doing within the system, to continue to prop up the system by going along, we are doomed to go on repeating it over and over.

Perhaps there was a time earlier when, if we had been true to the cautionary words of the Founding Fathers that the “Price of Freedom Is Eternal Vigilance,” we could have held on to this democratic republic. But that is not possible now. I do believe it is too late, imho.  It’s fine to continue working politically, but, and this is a big but, we must do more.

If we attempt to work through the system, through “what has become of” “democratic” electoral politics, we will continue to be defeated, again and again. Just like the 2006 elections, we anti-in our hopes, only to be disappointed, to find we have been suckered again.

And, obviously, we can’t go for open revolt. We’ll be mowed down so thoroughly and so quickly that it is not an option.

So the only thing I can see to do is to refuse to comply, refuse to go along.

A group, vote strike is calling for a massive General Strike to start on September 11, 2008, with smaller strikes earlier and a financial strike (buying only necessities) going on from whatever day you join (now) ongoing to and through September 11.

The Weapon of Young Gods #28: Immortals On the Loose

“How’s the view, Haynes?”

A starburst of pain shoots through my skull as Chris Addison laughs with righteous malice, grinding my face into the ice plant near the edge of the cliff. Cars zip by on Coast Highway far below, with the ocean glittering beyond, but the plants’ scent mixes with the smell of my own bleeding nose, and it’s overpowering enough to make my head recoil off the ground.

“Comedown…hereand…seefor…yourself,” I spit in heaves, flecks of clumpy sandstone clinging to my bloody lips. My head is spinning from the initial hit, and my body is beginning to drift into numbness from repeated blows.

Previous Episode

The Stars Hollow Gazette

So I’ve been driving ’round a bean field.  Staring at the sun.  Walking in the mud.  Talking to people I once knew.  Meeting and greeting.  Pretending not to pay attention, looking another way.

Hearing about births and deaths.  Hanging on.  Trafficking in triumph.  Who, after all, is better than me?  Skulking around after dark hiding from the dreaded vampire mosquitos in clouds of chemicals.  Maintaining my own crypt-like pallor with more of the same.

Eating slave food and drinking beer.  Top shelf whiskey, but no grilled vegetables.  I miss the vegetables, the asparagus would make the bathrooms stink, but I’m best buds with the comfort station guy and he always puts an extra cake in my urinal.

Now all is dust.  Actually more mud, but I like my metaphors mixed just like my cocktails- shaken, not stirred to piss off the bartenders.  Shrink wrapped in stacks it waits in trailers for a next time that may never come.  Winding down partings of missed meetings and tired indifference it drifts away as it came.

My misgivings about Obama.

Yes, I was all about Obama in Texas, but that was just because I wanted to see if a half-black man could win the primary/caucus hodown in the Lone Star, which he did. For me, it was all about the historical moment, and there was no way I would support a Clinton after their fiasco in Waco. Hillary will always be a baby killer to me.

But now the dust has settled, I expected Obama to shift to middle, but I never expected him to sell out the social contract of the country.

Back in the day, I first gained notice of Obama when he ran as a state assembly man after a stint of Constitutional Law. I am a big fan of the Constitution, though most people view it as an outdated documented. Foolishly, I doubt Obama was a man who practiced what he preached.

The roots of damage and decay in our republic is that of the raise of a corporate state, where the rights and privilages of a the corporate entity now out ranks that of the private citizen. This is foolish beyond belief and will lead to our eventual ruin.

For about two generations now, the raise of the corporate state has slowly brought ruin to every strata of our society except the ruling elite, who, of course, control the ruling interests of the land.

It is the corporate state that disguises itself in other political norms so it will never lose power, a chameleon who changes as per the pendulum swings. Its only goal is to keep the true agenda for its own end, which is corporate profit over social good.

They care not who makes the law, as long as they control them.

I thought Obama was beyond their control, a firebrand riding the backs of the populace to power. But with his two revelations last week, concerning corporate accountability and the fund raising schemes of the camapaign, he showed that his faux progressivism was just a means to get the nomination, he never believed it.

He showed he would bend for his corporate paymasters, and allowed them to pay him for that favor.

It reminds me of Bush, who pretended to be a small government conservative, only to get in office to further corporate interests.

Obama, who pretended to be a progressive, is just using it further corporate interests when he gets elected.

Obama is just a corporate gate keeper, who comes from the left, crushing any hope we can break the cycle.

He is the final chapter of the death of the republic democracy, now kneel before our corporate masters.

Push Me Pull You

Part of the problem with taking time away from the blogs is finding your voice again, especially when that voice has changed.  The purpose for taking time off was in hopes that the voice would change, but now what?  I guess I’ll start from the beginning.  George Will was recently on the Colbert Report and he said that political parties serve a purpose of unifying people based on what they hate.  That thought stayed with me and as I examined my own reasons for becoming political I realized that they were originally based on hate as well.  Hate of those that turn a blind eye to the suffering of others.  That underlying emotion tainted my perspective and approach to political change.

Through the actions of others I have been able to see the negative effects of someone who is so committed to a cause, lifestyle choice, world view that they lose their perspective due to hate.  So rather than explain the small details I’ll describe the ripple in a larger sense.  Background: A man I expected to not get along with based on a neighbor’s opinion proved to be amazingly enlightened, talented, quick and appreciative of the work.  The person that gave me the opinion has proved to be no help and a constant drain on my time and resources.  

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