November 17, 2008 archive

“Never Forget”, by Marc Ash

A few hours ago today Marc Ash posted this at Truthout. There is little if anything that I could add that would do justice to Marc’s words…

Never Forget

Monday 17 November 2008

by: Marc Ash, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

An American soldier lies on an operating table. in Ramadi after being wounded in an IED blast.
Iraq 2006. (Photo: Lucian Read /

   When they say to you that “mistakes were made,” never believe that. Mistakes are always made, but mistakes did not lead us on the road to Baghdad. We were taken to Iraq by those who knew exactly, precisely what they were doing. Or believed so anyway.

   Do not be persuaded to believe that “bad intelligence” was the problem and war was the unfortunate result. No one who made this war believed themselves what they told the nation. They knew quite well and they went anyway. And they took us with them.

   When it is said that an “insurgent” has killed or been killed always ask who that was, and why. More often than not, it was someone who lived there, but would not live under foreign rule.

   Do not be seduced into thinking of torture as harsh interrogation. The hour is late and we must confront the torturers among us.

   If you are the slightest bit concerned that we have crushed freedom here and in other lands in the name of freedom, be more concerned. We have.

   Never forget or let your children forget that it was all a lie, told with purpose.

   Many of us believed that Vietnam was a catharsis, a moving beyond a point to which we could never return. It took only 28 years to get from Saigon to Baghdad. And we took the exact same road. Don’t be too ashamed the trick we fell for was the same one Mark Twain warned of when he wrote, “Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor …” “All you have to do …,” said Hermann Goering “… is tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

   It has worked in our country. Again.

   At the end of any battle, the last man holding a sword is the judge. But Nuremberg forgot Dresden. Will we forget Abu Ghraib? Will the world forget what we have done? In the year 2001, we believed that it did not matter who won the presidential election. What do we believe now?

   We have sacked Babylon. Only a fool would believe there will be no day of atonement.

   We stand at the precipice of a new age of political pragmatism. Realists, making realistic decisions. Let it be listed among those things that are real the danger of ignoring the enormous crimes of these last eight years. Lest we come to ask for whom the bell tolls.

Only 3 more years in Iraq? Such a deal!

Iraq and the United States have signed an agrement requring the US to withdraw its troops by the end of 2011.

So the war and occupation, already more than five and a half years old, could be over in three more years.  How about that?

That actually is progress of sorts. And there are some positive things about the agreement, which still needs to be ratified by Iraq’s Parliament.  (Interestingly, it does not need Congressional approval.)

UPDATE: David Swanson says it is a treaty that does, indeed, require Senate ratification, and that we should insist on it. Link.

But you’ll have to excuse us if we don’t call off Friday’s planned Iraq Moratorium actions across the country. In fact, there are signs of renewed and increased interest in antiwar activity. We definitely need to keep the heat on the new Congress and the Obama administration.

Four at Four

  1. According to the LA Times, a Report to Congress states Gulf War syndrome is real. “Contradicting nearly two decades of government denials, a congressionally mandated scientific panel has concluded that Gulf War syndrome is real and still afflicts nearly a quarter of the 700,000 U.S. troops who served in the 1991 conflict.”

    The report cited two chemical exposures consistently associated with the disorder: the drug pyridostigmine bromide, given to troops to protect against nerve gas, and pesticides that were widely used — and often overused — to protect against sand flies and other pests.

    “The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real, that it is a result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time,” according to the report presented today to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake.

    The report vindicates hundreds of thousands of U.S. and allied veterans who have been reporting a variety of neurological problems — even as the government maintained that their symptoms were largely due to stress or other unknown causes.

  2. The NY Times reports the Iraqi cabinet approves of pact setting date for U.S. pullout.

    Iraq’s cabinet on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a proposed security agreement that calls for a full withdrawal of American forces from the country by the end of 2011. The cabinet’s decision brings a final date for the departure of American troops a significant step closer after more than five and a half years of war…

    Twenty-seven of the 28 cabinet ministers who were present at the two-and-a-half-hour session voted in favor of the pact. Nine ministers were absent…

    The proposed agreement, which took nearly a year to negotiate with the United States, not only sets a date for American troop withdrawal, but puts new restrictions on American combat operations in Iraq starting Jan. 1 and requires an American military pullback from urban areas by June 30. Those hard dates reflect a significant concession by the departing Bush administration, which had been publicly averse to timetables.

    Iraq also obtained a significant degree of jurisdiction in some cases over serious crimes committed by Americans who are off duty and not on bases…

    Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi government spokesman, said the agreement allowed for the possibility that American forces could withdraw even earlier if Iraqi forces were in a position to take over security responsibilities earlier. He also said either side had the right to cancel the agreement with one year’s notice.

Four at Four continues with water pollution from oil and gas drilling, Somali pirates capture a supertanker, and a bonus story about Wallace and Gromit.

Manufacturing Monday: Week of 11.17.08

Greetings ladies and gentlemen and welcome to a new installment of Manufacturing Monday.  Now I would like to do something a tad different this week. You see today we get two important economic indicators released. So, instead of waiting a whole week for me to reprise them here, I would go ahead and write about then today!  I will still go over last week’s indicators, but figured you deserve to get something more up to date as well.  The numbers get released around 9:30 Eastern, so they will be covered first, then last week’s stuff.

Beyond the Numbers section, this week we’ll be covering Green Manufacturing again.  We haven’t touched this in a while, what with all the GM related business.  Yet there have been some very interesting developments in the green collar world.  So before you, for your pleasure, is some stuff that may or may not put a smile on your face.  Either way, it looks as if, thankfully, we are turning a new leaf (sorry, couldn’t help it) on manufacturing!

Swirling Winds

O’REILLY: So you can see the debate over gay marriage is now a full fledge national battle. As talking points said last night the election of Barack Obama has emboldened secular progressives who feel it is their time. Gay marriage just the beginning. Other cultural war issues will also be in display very shortly. These include limiting gun possession, legalizing narcotics, unrestricted abortion and the revocation of the Patriot Act.

“Before, the Iraqis were thinking that if they sign the pact, there will be no respect for the schedule of troop withdrawal by Dec. 31, 2011,” said Hadi al-Ameri, a powerful member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a major Shiite party. “If Republicans were still there, there would be no respect for this timetable. This is a positive step to have the same theory about the timetable as Mr. Obama.”

OBAMA: Yes. I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture, and I’m going to make sure that we don’t torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.

Saxby “Sugar” Shameless

[posted late last night on the blog with the half-hour shelf-life]

[apparently Saxby tales are coming out of the woodwork in a steady stream]

Hopefully this tale will help undecided or unmotivated Georgia voters to get out and vote in the run-off election between Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin. Just to be up front here, I sent Jim Martin a donation on Nov 5. After the roving that Saxby did to a true American hero, Max Cleland, I had to do something.

Here’s the story of a United States Senator using the power and influence of his office to persuade the families of dead and severely burned victims to not seek restitution. He abused his Senate subcomittee position to tarnish a whistleblower in the case. He may have colluded with the company owner to make this all go away quietly. He is in the process of tainting the jury pool should any trial for actual damages occur.

Chambliss Refusing to Speak in Imperial Sugar Case

Fourteen dead. Scores injured. An “accident” that was bound to happen. Greed and arrogance prevailed. Lives were lost and ruined. Now it’s time for the boys in power to make it all go away. Hush it up and after a while no one will remember. Just a speck of dust blown away. No problem. Call the senator and have him fix it. Move on. Appeal the OSHA fines. Delay and postpone. Business as usual.

Iraq & Afghanistan: Burn Pits

Senior Airman Frances Gavalis tosses unserviceable uniform items into a burn pit at Balad Air Base, Iraq.

Open Thread


The fundamentals of our thread are strong.

Removed By Police Sunday…………

Yesterday, Sunday 11-16-08, I posted this report about Veterans and Military Family Members occupying a scaffold at the National Archives Building in Washington DC

Docudharma Times Monday November 17

Phil Gramm Cares Not

About What His Polices Have Wrought  

Monday’s Headlines:

Winds relent, but fires persist

Government near to collapse, says Somalia leader

Rebel leader tells UN envoy of ceasefire but fighting rages in Congo

New taps? Or Iraqi security? East Europeans answer the call (cheaply)

War, death and animation: Cartoon film stirs Israel’s conscience

Suspected ETA military chief arrested in France

For Europe, Obama revives positive image of America’s unique identity

Karzai Makes Offer to Taliban

Tibetan exiles discussing new path to autonomy

Latin jitters over Obama’s free-trade policies

Facing Deficits, States Get Out Sharper Knives


Published: November 16, 2008

LOS ANGELES – Two short months ago lawmakers in California struggled to close a $15 billion hole in the state budget. It was among the biggest deficits in state history. Now the state faces an additional $11 billion shortfall and may be unable to pay its bills this spring.

The astonishing decline in revenues is without modern precedent here, but California is hardly alone. A majority of states – many with budgets already full of deep cuts and dependent on raiding rainy-day funds or tax increases – are scrambling to find ways to get through the rest of the year without hacking apart vital services or raising taxes.

Murder At the Drum Tower

Beijing is pumping more than half a trillion dollars into the Chinese economy in order to stave off unrest. It has good reason to worry.

By Melinda Liu | NEWSWEEK

People who knew Tang Yongming say they never imagined he could do such a horrible, senseless thing. A few minutes after noon on Aug. 9, just 12 hours after the start of the 2008 Olympics, Tang, 47, savagely knifed a visiting American couple inside Beijing’s 13th-century Drum Tower. Then he jumped 130 feet to his death from the ancient landmark’s western balcony. Minneapolis businessman Todd Bachman-father-in-law of U.S. men’s indoor-volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon-died of stab wounds. Bachman’s wife, Barbara, survived, despite life-threatening injuries. Their guide, a young Chinese woman, was also hurt, although less seriously. Tang remains an enigma. “There was nothing abnormal about him, absolutely nothing,” says Wang Yongxian, a prim, businesslike community worker who tried to help Tang find a new job five years ago, after his previous employer let him go. Wang’s colleague Xu Guofang agrees: “He wasn’t just ‘relatively’ ordinary. He was simply ordinary. Period.”



Obama Wrote Federal Staffers About His Goals

Workers at Seven Agencies Got Detailed Letters Before Election

By Carol D. Leonnig

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, November 17, 2008; Page A01

In wooing federal employee votes on the eve of the election, Barack Obama wrote a series of letters to workers that offer detailed descriptions of how he intends to add muscle to specific government programs, give new power to bureaucrats and roll back some Bush administration policies.The letters, sent to employees at seven agencies, describe Obama’s intention to scale back on contracts to private firms doing government work, to remove censorship from scientific research, and to champion tougher industry regulation to protect workers and the environment.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

State of the Onion VIII

Art Link

Working with Silver

On Worth

Treasure comes in many shades

For some it is always material

For me it is the wonder

of the measurable variability

of human thought and emotion

In the hearts and minds

and souls of others

I find the value

of my own


of my own


Difference is the light

in the darkness

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 13, 2006

The Weapon of Young Gods #39: Frayed Strands

For many years I’d tried to convince myself that nostalgia meant death, that indulging in happy memories was much worse than just a pleasant waste of time, but recently I’d suspected that was a war I’d lost before it had even begun. The impulse to dwell to distraction had long since permanently fused with my frontal lobe, because not only had I been unable to kick the vile temptation, I’d come to enjoy it and-in a pinch-even capitalize on it. What I didn’t realize, though, was how completely uncontrollable it could be, and that almost cost me a lot more than a few lost hours on the day I discovered how completely Frankie had lied to me.

A slow creep of parasitic dread had been gnawing at me ever since we’d left her parents’ place, and I thought I’d need to draw on every reserve of nostalgia-sweetened sanity just to keep both eyes on the road and drive, instead of what I’d wanted to do-swerve wildly and crush her side of the Volvo into the freeway’s guardrail. We hadn’t spoken a word the whole way, but I was sensing a distinct undercurrent of fear from Frankie, running thick and deep beneath the smugly serene vibe she’d been trying to project. I’d figured that it would take a lot for me to be able to concentrate on what to do next-to lash my thoughts together and decide how to deal with the new and ridiculous melodrama that seemed to be invading my life via the girl I thought I knew in the passenger seat.

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