Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Support the Troops...

...is more than a bumper sticker. If you are like many others who are looking for a way you can do something for a military member over the holidays, please see the Veterans for Common Sense website . Find a way, even a small way, to help, even if it's just a thank you note. Thanks.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Troika to Run the U.S.

For those not old enough to remember, the Russians during the Cold War experimented with a 'Troika' (three) leadership, and by default, that's what we'll have soon as the rats continue to jump ship. By January we may be down to W, the VP, and Condi.

Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge quit today. He apparently was upset that he wasn't allowed to come out with a daily dire threat to the country since November 2nd...

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, November 29, 2004

'Reenlistments Are Up!'
... and so is Bribery

The Morals of the Right (cont.)...

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. With the prospect of continued fighting in Iraq, the Marine Corps is offering bonuses of up to $30,000 - in some cases tax-free to persuade enlisted personnel with combat experience and training to reenlist.
Don't get me wrong. We should be paying our troops a lot more than we are. But for Mr. Rumsfeld to have us believe that people are jumping at the chance of going to Iraq is pure bs, once again. What many struggling military families are doing is making the financial choice to more than double or triple their income and hope that their husbands and wives come home. The choice is even easier for single troops.
The plan is working, officials said. Less than two months into the fiscal year, Marine reenlistment rates in several key specialties are running 10% to 30% ahead of last year.

For example, officials are confident that by midyear, they will have reached their target for encouraging reenlistment among riflemen, the "grunts" who are key to the Marines' ability to mount offensives against insurgent strongholds such as Fallouja.

"No amount of money is too much to retain combat experience in the corps, rather than starting over," said Maj. Mark Menotti, assistant head of enlisted retention for the Marine Corps.

Giving bonuses to encourage Marines to reenlist is not new. But this year's bonus schedule marks the first time that "combat arms" specialties have received the largest bonuses. A year ago, the top bonus for a grunt was about $7,000.
The bottom line: we're buying reenlistments because we can't get enough initial enlistments. Rumsfeld thinking: it's still cheaper than paying civilian mercenaries.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Keeping Watch This Thanksgiving: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington Cemetery

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the
tomb of the Unknowns and why? 21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.
2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his
return walk and why? 21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1
3. Why are his gloves wet? His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.
4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time
and if not, why not? He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.
After his march across the path, he executes an about face
and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.
5. How often are the guards changed? Guards are changed every thirty minutes,
twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to? For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 10" and 6' 2" tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30."

Other requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in any way. After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the
heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to
the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a
halt. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for
duty in front of a full-length mirror.

The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most decorated soldier of WWII} of Hollywood fame.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready
for guard duty.


In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment.

They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that
guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that
can be afforded to a service person. The tomb has been patrolled
continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

We can be very proud of our young men and women in the service no matter where they serve. Thank them this Thanksgiving.


Happy Thanksgiving to all. See you next week! A Vet

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Guide for Redeploying Veterans

Help your returning vets and give them an added Thanksgiving present. Let them know about this:

Availability of readjustment benefits for returning Iraq War veterans is still a problem, said a national veterans' organization today. Veterans for Common Sense, a non-partisan veterans' organization focused on national security, veterans' care, civil liberties and energy policy, released its Resource Guide for Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom on Veterans' Day. The guide is intended to provide a comprehensive directory of services and programs available to returning veterans.
The on-line guide introduction says this:
Dear Veteran:

Welcome home. As veterans of every U.S. conflict since 1941, Veterans for Common Sense understands the sometimes difficult transition when coming home from a military conflict. You can take pride in your service to your country, and know that those who have served before you welcome you home with open arms.

We also know that sometimes, coming home isn’t as easy as it would seem. For many, especially those who were in combat, you’ll find that the images of violence and conflict will stay with you forever. For others, coming home may mean a job lost while deployed, or financial difficulties as a result of a drop in pay while deployed in a war zone.

America is grateful for your commitment and sacrifice, and many resources are available to assist you in your transition, from both the private and public sectors. This guide is designed to present an overview of those resources, and to help you find whatever assistance you or you family need.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, November 22, 2004

Still No Exit Strategy...

The Bush administration continues to compound its errors in Iraq. Once again, our top-notch military did what they were asked to do - this time in Fallujah. But Mr. Bush and senior government officials again failed to consider the long term impacts - impacts that are obvious to our military, but not to W & Company. Mr. Rumsfeld, why haven't you submitted your resignation yet when you continue to make critical mistakes in strategic planning?

... a secret Marine Corps report...reveals the major bind the US has gotten itself into by sweeping through Fallujah and attempting to pacify it.

This US strategy has created exactly the dilemma that many critics of the war had been predicting in order to hold Fallujah the United States has to keep large numbers of troops there, and then the Americans will not have sufficient troops to handle the uprising elsewhere in the Sunni areas.

...if American troop levels in the Fallujah area are significantly reduced during reconstruction there, as has been planned, insurgents in the region will rebound from their defeat. The rebels could thwart the retraining of Iraqi security forces, intimidate the local population and derail elections set for January, the officers say.

Beneath this general problem lie three key problems that made the attack on Fallujah a desperation measure in the first place, and which is now creating a new and deeper crisis for the US military in its aftermath.

First, and most important, the people of Fallujah hate the Americans and support the guerrillas (even if they may have complaints about much of what they do). This means that as soon as the people return, so will the resistance, hidden from US view because virtually all the guerrillas are residents of Fallujah with supporters in the community. They will not be turned over to the US or to Iraqi police, and they will therefore begin to mount attacks on whoever is left to guard the US-installed local government.

Second, the US cannot depend on Iraqi police or military to fight this next phase of the "battle of Fallujah"...The key thing here is that when the Americans entered the Fallujah battle they believed that the Iraqi forces would be ready to take over immediately after the city was cleared. But the mass defections and unwillingness to fight exhibited by the Iraqis have forced a drastic revision in these estimates...

The third problem is that the US simply does not have enough troops to hold Fallujah and also do all the other fighting that is now necessary...And one final note: the only remedy for the third problem is a vast increase in the number of US troops in Iraq. And that means a draft in the United States.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Friday, November 19, 2004

Still Chasing the Wrong Terrorists:

After the Madrid train bombing, you might remember that the FBI immediately identified the suspect, a local Portland, OR lawyer, who supposedly had his fingerprint recovered from the crime scene. But most of you don't know what happened afterwards.

You should, because in W's jackboot environment of Patriot Act II, you might be next:

FBI blamed in print error

Fingerprint analysts who mistakenly linked a print from the Madrid bombing to a local lawyer were influenced by one another's work and the pressure of being assigned to a high-profile terrorism case, an international team of forensic scientists concluded.

The team found that human error, not technology or methodology, led FBI fingerprint analysts to conclude earlier this year that the print belonged to Brandon Mayfield, a 38-year-old Muslim convert.

The problem began with a mistaken identification by a supervisor from the fingerprint unit and was reinforced by other examiners who were reluctant to question an experienced colleague, the panel found.

The unit chief contacted Interpol before a thorough review had been done, the report said. When Spanish authorities investigating the deadly March 11 train bombings challenged the match, the FBI took a "defensive posture" and the unit chief went to Spain to argue for the bureau's findings, the report said.

"Once the mind-set occurred with the initial examiner, the subsequent examinations were tainted," wrote Robert Stacey, chief of the FBI's Quality Assurance and Training Unit and author of the report.

The report contradicts the FBI's original assertion that it was the poor quality of the print that led examiners to link it to Mayfield. The report says the quality of the print "was not a factor" in the FBI's mistaken match with Mayfield's fingerprint. In fact, the report says the initial print identification "is filled with dissimilarities that were easily observed" in a more detailed analysis.

...As a result of the bungled match, Mayfield, a Portland-area lawyer, was detained for two weeks in May as a material witness in the Madrid train bombings that left scores dead and more than 2,000 wounded. The print was linked later to an Algerian man, prompting the FBI to issue an extraordinary apology to Mayfield.

...The panelists said that people charged with reviewing and verifying a match should feel free to challenge the work of the original examiner. When errors are discovered, they must be reported quickly, the report concludes.

In the Mayfield case, the panelists found that subsequent examinations of the print were "incomplete and inaccurate."

"To disagree was not an expected response," Stacey wrote.

A wrong match on a fingerprint is "considered the most serious error a latent print examiner can make in casework and cannot be tolerated or minimized by an agency or the forensic community," Stacey wrote.

...Mayfield was fortunate that the print "was found on another country's soil and that country maintained an interest in the print and held to its guns and took on the FBI," said Simon Cole, an assistant professor at the University of California at Irvine, who has written extensively on fingerprinting and criminal identification.

...Although the report offers a candid look at what went wrong in the Mayfield case, it does not address a central issue raised by Mayfield: That the FBI targeted him because of his Muslim faith. The report does not say whether fingerprint examiners knew about Mayfield's faith.
Mayfield is now suing the federal government.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Big Brother is Watching and He is Warning That You Better Keep Your Mouth Shut

My draft letter, to be sent later today, to Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) says this so far:

Dear Senator Wyden:

I know you are working hard to prevent our intelligence and security apparatus from becoming one big “yes-boss” organization. As cabinet members continue to bail out, the crackdown on independent thought in the CIA is now apparently spreading to the Dept of State and the Dept of Homeland Security, the latter of which is requiring all 180,000 of its employees to sign a nondisclosure statement.

As a retired military officer who lived and worked through the Cold War, it grieves and angers me that we are clearly showing signs of becoming like the controlled societies of the communist era we opposed at every turn. They crushed dissent and controlled information from the public in order to stay in power.

I am not an alarmist, but I am alarmed. Someone, or several someones, high in the government, is pushing at every opportunity to close our government, our society, and our freedoms. Neither am I a conspiracy theorist, but the patterns of ham-handed control, evident during Mr. Bush’s political rallies, requiring loyalty pledges, are beginning to spread through the government.

Who is responsible for giving these orders? If not the president, then who? This is not a random happening, and this is a disastrous course for our country, if we keep on it.

I appreciated hearing your clear and committed stance toward maintaining our freedoms that you so well expressed during your visit to Portland, at Powell’s bookstore, just before the election. I support you in those efforts and ask that you do everything in your power, and in concert with other government leaders, to stop this hatchet job on our freedoms in the name of fear.

(Note for readers: see the full Washington Post article, produced in part below)

Homeland Security Employees Required to Sign Secrecy Pledge

Gag Order Raises Concern on Hill

The Department of Homeland Security is requiring thousands of employees and contractors to sign nondisclosure agreements that prohibit them from sharing sensitive but unclassified information with the public.

The department was rebuffed, however, when it also tried to require congressional aides to sign the secrecy pledges as a condition for gaining access to certain materials, majority and minority spokesmen for the House Select Committee on Homeland Security said yesterday.

DHS spokeswoman Valerie Smith said in an interview that all 180,000 employees and contractors are being required to sign the three-page forms as part of working for the agency, a policy formalized in May. State and local security officials are asked to sign the statement for classified information only.

Smith said the agreements do not exempt underlying information from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Signers are given the form "simply to inform and educate them about the sensitivity of that information and the need to protect it. . . . It does not do anything to further obscure or shroud that information," she said.

But congressional critics and government watchdog organizations such as the Federation of American Scientists call the policy a potentially precedent-setting expansion of official secrecy whose provisions are overly broad and unworkable, if not unconstitutional.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Real Republican Values Kick In

Unlike many of his fellow radical righties,Tom DeLay is sick of this post-election values nonsense. It's time to fix things so we don't get too carried away:
Supporters of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay proposed a Republican rules change Tuesday that would protect the Texan's leadership position if he were to be indicted by a Texas grand jury that already charged three of his associates... House Republicans are likely to approve Wednesday the change in the rule that would force him to step aside if indicted...Currently, rules of the House Republican Conference, which comprises all House GOP members, requires leaders to resign the party post if they are indicted for a felony punishable by two or more years in jail. The proposed change would eliminate the step-aside requirement for nonfederal indictments.
Not reported in the news accounts: Ten years ago with their periodic display of I've-got-better-values-than-you, the Repubs, with great fanfare, installed the rules to show that they were more ethical than the Democrats.

Enough of that nonsense now: criminals like being a part of this administration, and it's apparently time to make sure they stay there.

UPDATE:It's a done deal.
House Republicans today approved a change in party rules to prevent their majority leader, Tom DeLay, from having to step down from his leadership position should he be indicted in an investigation in Texas... "If Republicans believe that an indicted member should be allowed to hold a top leadership position in the House of Representatives, their arrogance is astonishing," the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi of California, said in a statement.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Re-Arranging the Deck Chairs

Condi Rice, the next Secretary of State. Based on what? Her sterling job as National Security Advisor? Her masterful leadership of overseeing Iraq? (Remember that one?). Somebody, please explain what qualifies her for any of these positions. Ever notice when the camera captures her listening to George Bush speaking? A rapt expression of wonder comes over her face – under the spell of the cult leader.

Secretary of State. What qualifies her to deal with Israel/Palestine, with Iran, with North Korea, with China, with Sudan, with Iraq? Her only qualification: loyalty. And so George Bush took all of 8 hours to make the decision to replace Powell with Rice. If Cheney leaves the vice presidency for health reasons, Rice will be the next vice president. Anybody remember the book The Peter Principle?

But perhaps as scary – CIA senior managers, left and right, are deserting or being fired from Bush Titanic II because his appointee of three months ago, Porter Goss, doesn’t know what he is doing. The primary Goss management strategy so far is to get rid of anyone who might have disagreed with George Bush regarding Iraq. I looked again through the 9/11 report recommendations – funny, I don’t see anything about forcing our intelligence community to sign up for groupthink. Does Goss-Bush think that there will be any measure of objectivity in future intelligence reporting now? We should be a lot safer because of you Mr. Goss-Bush – yeah, right.

59 million people (or whatever was the real number) are still stupid. And they must really love their leader. Commercials are already flooding the airwaves in California to change the Constitution so Arnold can muscle his way into the White House in 2008. Coming to a theater near you soon.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, November 15, 2004

Like Rats Jumping Off a Sinking Ship...

W: What's all this paper on my desk this morning Karl? You know I'm not gonna read it.
KR: Maybe you should Mr. President. It's about your cabinet...
W: You mean somebody else resigned?
KR: Not someone, four more someones. Colin Powell plus your secretaries of agriculture, education, and energy.
W: But what am I gonna do? I can't put Condi into all of them? And Cheney was sick again over the weekend? What do I do if he leaves, and the rest of the cabinet too?
KR: I've already prepared the news release that will fix everything for you, Mr. President, if you don't mind reading this, at least.
W: OK, let's see what it says.

WASHINGTON DC: a key advisor to Mr. Bush today said that replacements will not be named for any of the resigning cabinet members. The advisor said that Mr. Bush does not need the advice of anyone else to do the hard work of governing, and will now be referred to as His Royal Highness. A news conference will not be forthcoming.
W: Perfect, Karl. I knew you would come up with the solution.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Friday, November 12, 2004

Pro-Death Gonzales Nominated to be Attorney General

Our Democrats in Congress, many of them now safely re-elected, have already shown the weak-kneed support we can expect from them one week after the election. By already leaking the idea through the media that Alberto Gonzales will be confirmed, because there will be 'bigger fish to fry,' the party leadership has shown that they are not capable of making inroads into Repub majorities by 2006, much less than 2008.

W waited just eight days to show that he doesn't care what anybody else thinks - he will do what he wants - yet Democrats do not want to appear too obstructionist so soon after W's 'mandate.' The Democrats in Congress will apparently not have the guts to do what is right - starting now at the beginning of another disastrous four years of a Bush barbecue.

Every wrong, offending, immoral, and illegal action by this administration needs to be opposed vigorously from the start - starting with Dr. Death Alberto Gonzales. If Democrats are worried that they will be accused of trying to bring government to a standstill, or that they won't be heard when Supreme Court nominations come around (and they will), then we need new party leadership, now. And we need people with the energy and courage to take on this administration while they are busy reading My Pet Goat.

And the party, if it has any chance to survive, even if under new progressive leadership, needs to learn something about strategy and tactics, if not the game of poker. Why do you show your cards to these idiots thinking you will compromise, when they have no intention of compromising?

And we should start with Alberto 'No-One-Leaves-Here-Alive' Gonzales. If John Ashcroft was a driven, paranoid right-wing McCarthy-like ideologue, Mike Malloy shows that Gonzales is a cold blooded nasty killer, an executioner, and an attorney general who would stand alone (with W) in his belief that the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions are minor obstacles to be easily avoided. Are we breeding our own Joseph Goebbels?

Gonzales led the way to the most state executions, by far, as the Bush-appointed Texas Attorney General - highlighted by his same-day-as-the-execution 'briefs' to Bush to present any requested legal challenges. And you know how much time W likely spent reading them.

Then Gonzales advised Bush that certain kinds of torture were OK for 'enemy combatants.' You know who they are - they are the accused terrorists being held at Guantanamo and elsewhere who have no rights and can be treated like animals, a-la Abu Graib, showing our great benevolence in world leadership.

Maybe some of you veterans and active duty folks say 'so what does all this have to do with me?' Read on:
GONZALES ADMITTED HIS VIEWS 'COULD UNDERMINE U.S. MILITARY CULTURE': The 1/25/02 memo shows Alberto Gonzales was aware of the risk that ignoring the Geneva Conventions could create for the military. One concern expressed is that failing to apply the Geneva Conventions "could undermine U.S. military culture which emphasizes maintaining the highest standards of conduct in combat, and could introduce an element of uncertainty in the status of adversaries," which is what happened at Abu Ghraib. Secretary of State Colin Powell strongly warned against taking this decision, as did lawyers from the Judge Advocate General's Corps, or JAG. This week, a federal judge ruled that "President Bush had both overstepped his constitutional bounds and improperly brushed aside the Geneva Conventions" when he established military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to try detainees as war criminals.

Gonzales doesn't care what happens to our GIs sent into combat, and who might be treated exactly the same way by enemies. That's an unfortunate side effect for Gonzales.

It starts now, Democrats. Do you have the guts to do anything at all during the Gonzales confirmation hearings, much less stop it? Or will you start the next four years on a strong note of cowardice?

Because, if so, you don't see another piece of the big picture - Alberto Pro-Death Gonzales, as Attorney General, will, at the earliest opportunity, be nominated for the Supreme Court. And what argument will you have then, when you've already caved into his support to be the attorney general?

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Salute and a Promise

(Note: scroll down on your screen, if needed)

Courtesy of Veterans for Peace

Veterans Day - as parades of veterans march down the streets of many cities and small towns today, I salute their service to this country and to the commitment and sacrifices made for us.

As the World War II Memorial opened in Washington this year, many vets who had never spoken about their experiences, came forth finally to talk about the clarity of their mission along with the horrors of war. Those two conflicting perspectives must be very clear in the eyes of those who would send today's military forces to war. And those who have made these sacrifices must be remembered afterwards and not left in the streets as homeless people or without the ability to get decent health care.

A year ago, on Veterans Day, I wrote in part these words, which remain current:

Veterans Day remembers the sacrifices of so many who have served our country and who continue to do so today. Many, of course, have paid with their lives or disabling injuries over the years. So, I would first ask you to consider taking a moment sometime today to “salute” them in whatever way you choose to do so.

You have seen the bumper stickers, “Support our Troops”, and I know most of you do so, regardless of administration policies and actions. Patriotism isn’t the sole province of Republicans. And, a lot of you have family and friends now in Iraq.

Please also understand that, in my opinion, “troops” includes our veterans, many of whom are being forgotten in a variety of ways by this administration. Nobody was sorry to see Saddam Hussein go. Nevertheless, many of us do not agree with how the Bush administration justified its actions in going to war. Nor do we agree with the Bush Doctrine, including pre-emptive invasions and regime changes as regular courses of action for the future, in the name of Democracy. Nor do we agree with a Patriot Act that threatens the basic freedoms which many of you fought for. Nor do we agree with the deficiencies in veterans’ medical care. Nor do we like the fact that veterans are likely to be homeless three times more than anyone else.

… On this Veterans Day while you honor your brothers and sisters in arms, resolve to make things better for those that follow them in the future, and for our country.

So today is not only a salute to those of you who have protected this country, but to those doing so right now. And it is a promise to assure you that you will not be forgotten as you face dangers unknowable by those you fight for. It's a promise that many of us care what happens to you now and after you leave military service, regardless of the political decisions, right or wrong, that put you in harm's way.

A salute and a promise to you today. This is your day. Thank you.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Dear Mr. President...

Excerpts from John Ashcroft's Resignation Letter (along with the translations to clarify the high fascist neocon-speak used)

November 9, 2004

Dear Mr. President:

Nothing in my life compares to the high honor of serving America as Attorney General in your administration.
Translation: Over to you W. I'm outta here.
The cause of justice is indeed a serious calling. Americans have been spared the violence and savagery of terrorist attack on our soil since September 11, 2001.
Translation: Amazingly, I lucked out. Now it's time for someone else to complete the work I started rewriting the Bill of Rights.
Corporate integrity has been restored with the work of your Corporate Fraud Task Force. As a result United States markets have reinforced their position as the trusted allocators of the world's capital resources.
Translation: Ok, this is a little bit of an exaggeration, but I have done as you asked and kept Ken Lay out of jail so far.
Thank you for your leadership which has made these and many other justice-related achievements possible.
Translation: Finally, we can execute people outside the country without benefit of unnecessary trials or defense lawyers.
The demands of justice are both rewarding and depleting. I take great personal satisfaction in the record which has been developed. The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved. The rule of law has been strengthened and upheld in the courts.
Translation: Ok, so we didn't get Bin Laden, but we now have the unprecedented ability to terrorize our own people while they think we are going after the real terrorists.
Therefore, I humbly state my desire to resign from the office of United States Attorney General.
Translation: Give me a call if you don't understand the word 'humbly'...and keep me in mind when Rehnquist retires.
I have handwritten this letter so its confidentiality can be maintained until the appropriate arrangements mentioned above can be made.
Translation: ...because I don't trust my own staff, much less the rest of the country, and because I know you won't read this anyway.
I am grateful to you for the profound honor of serving under your clear, principled leadership.
Translation: ...but can I raise the threat level to 'Red' one more time before I go, just for old times sake?

UPDATE:..."and selecting Alberto Gonzales as my replacement is a stroke of genius, Mr. President. Only you would have the brains to select the former counsel for Enron and the justifier of Abu Graib. What a choice!"

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Moral Issues 101

A federal judge has ruled that a Guantanimo Bay prisoner is entitled to legal representation. The president was not authorized to hold the prisoner or otherwise try him outside the U.S. legal system.

But W and his advisors have, from the beginning, believed they had the legal right to use military tribunals to indefinitely imprison and even execute prisoners whom they said had no rights before our legal system.

So, Mr. Bush, however you dress this up, in the end your actions with these prisoners, terrorists or not, have no better legal or moral standing than those that would be used by a 3rd world dictatorship.

Once again, you and your advisors, show no thought to the consequences of your actions, while opening the way for our captured citizens and GIs, in wartime and peacetime, to be treated exactly the same way by adversaries who would just point to you for their example.

Holding prisoners indefinitely, without legal representation, with no actions to establish their guilt (or innocence), and with the supposed justification to be able to punish and execute them, are not the actions of a moral leader, much less one who leads evangelical Christians to the polling booths.

Neither are they the actions of a thinking and moral President of the United States.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, November 08, 2004

Jack Ohman in the Oregonian: One Party and One Branch of Government Coming to You Soon

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Robotics Inc., Subtitle: What Was That Little Box on His Back?

Now that the election is over, there remains a piece of unfinished business: Whatever was that strange bulge in the back of President Bush's suit jacket that was visible during the three debates?

In an effort to find out, it seemed like a good idea to drop in on Georges de Paris, the longtime presidential tailor who got dragged into the bulge mystery when White House officials maligned him for what they called shoddy work.

Internet conspiracy theorists and some Democrats have insisted that the bulge was the outline of a radio receiver that got debate answers from an offstage adviser and transmitted them into a hidden presidential earpiece. But Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, dismissed the bulge as nothing more than "a poorly tailored suit."

Ken Mehlman, the Bush campaign manager, went even further and said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "the gentleman responsible for the tailoring of that suit is no longer working for his administration."

In fact, Mr. de Paris is still making suits for Mr. Bush, and he was not at all happy to have four decades of work - he has been the tailor to every president since Lyndon B. Johnson - called into question.

"Well, I feel bad, but I cannot do anything," Mr. de Paris said in an interview on Friday in his shop on 14th and G Streets, just three blocks from the White House.

Mr. de Paris, 70, had been visited a few weeks earlier by The Hill, a weekly newspaper that covers Congress, and had told the reporter seeking to solve the bulge mystery that the protuberance was nothing more than a natural pucker that occurs when a man's jacket is pulled taut against his back. The Internet quickly deemed Mr. de Paris's assertion nonsense, and by last Thursday, so had The Hill. Citing sources in the Secret Service, The Hill reported that the bulge was the outline of a bulletproof vest.

The White House had earlier denied that it was, and stuck to that statement on Friday.
My theory: if the box is stamped 'Diebold' we may have an answer.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Friday, November 05, 2004

‘I Haven’t Thought About It...’

Paraphrased from yesterday’s news conference:

Mr. President, will troop strengths need to be increased to protect the upcoming January elections in Iraq?

W: I haven’t thought about it...my field commanders haven’t told me they need more troops.

Mr. President, will you be changing any members of your cabinet for your second term?

W: I haven’t thought about it, but I’m going to Camp David this week and I’ll start thinking about it.

He hasn’t ‘thought about it.’ That’s his record and modus operandi, and that’s how he will proceed in the next four years. That’s how he mangled post-war Iraq, the economy, schools, health care, jobs, our military and our veterans.

W hasn’t thought about the consequences of his actions yet. So, why would you expect anything different in a second term?

Oh, and did you notice? He was much smoother than usual in his answers, but when one unexpected question came in that wasn’t on his pre-news conference cheat sheet, about how he would react to the death of Arafat, W came to an almost dead standstill. The answer wasn’t on his cheat sheet, although he kept looking for it, and the black box under his coat must have short-circuited. He clearly hadn’t thought about that possibility either.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

'How Could We Be So Dumb?'

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Some Questions...

In Ohio, some of you were in line for up to 9 hours to vote. Over 150,000 of you had to use provisional ballots, still uncounted. A year ago the maker of Diebold voting machines, in Ohio, told you he was going to make sure George Bush won the election. If I was an Ohio resident, I would be more than angry today. How is it that the exit polls differed so much from the 'results?' I would be demanding to know why Diebold wasn't taken to federal court THEN, if not now, for attempting to interfere with federal election laws. Not one single Diebold machine should have been allowed to be used in Ohio, or anywhere else, once that statement was made. So, Ohio, what are going to do? And what are you going to do to stop it again in your state? Unfair, you say - why point the finger at one state? Because, I'm not particularly optimistic Ohio will do anything to change what happened.

Why? Because four years ago, similarly illegal and criminal activities delivered Florida, and Florida then - as Ohio now - delivered the election - and Florida allowed four years to go by without fixing their problems.

But let's just not pick on one or two states. There's the much larger question that comes out of those exit polls everywhere: MORAL VALUES were the number one reason that people voted for George Bush.

I can't even comprehend the enormity of that disconnect in our country right now. This is brain-washing on a massive scale unseen since pre-WWII Germany. This is group-think on a nation-wide basis, pictured clearly by George Orwell more than half a century ago.

Democrats have allowed the entire interior of our country to be infected. Starting today, we need to figure out how to fix the disease with a vaccine that will be readily available and desired. Moral values have to have something to do with morality.

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While the Election Was Going On...

...our troops were still not being protected:

The question becomes then again when – when are they going to receive the full up armored Humvees? And I don't have that answer," says Gen. Byrne.

"It distresses me greatly that they do not have the equipment. I don't have control over it. The soldiers don't have control over it. The question becomes, 'When is it going to be available? When is it going to be available? When will they have it?'"

There are still no good answers to those questions. Most of the vehicles in Iraq arrived there without armor plating, because the Pentagon war planners didn't anticipate a long, bloody insurgency.

But 18 months after President Bush declared an end of major combat, the Pentagon is still struggling to provide the equipment needed to fight the war.

Oregon Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, a Democrat whose district includes Gen. Byrne's National Guard, complained to the secretary of defense. She says she thinks the vehicles are not fully armored yet because military planners didn't anticipate an insurgency.

"We didn't have enough armored vehicles," she says. "They weren't manufactured."

Congress has appropriated additional money for armored trucks and Humvees, over $800 million in the current defense bill.

The Army told 60 Minutes they will have produced 8,100 fully-armored Humvees by March.

However, production is lagging behind the urgent need, and the Pentagon's interim solution is shipping so-called "add-on armor" kits to Iraq, where they are being bolted on to thousands of vehicles.

But most of those add-ons don't protect the bottom of the vehicle, leaving them vulnerable to an explosive device.

Do our sons and daughters have to wait six more months to be properly protected on the missions they have been ordered to accomplish? Don't let your Congressional reps wallow in their post-election victories any longer. The honeymoon is over. Click the 'Contact Congress' link over to the right side of this blog. Get involved. 'Support the Troops' is more than a bumper sticker.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Good News...

In case you are feeling depressed today, that's understandable. But let the grief process be over quickly. The last year has been amazing for me personally. As a life-long Republican, I saw that I needed to change my political identity to align more with my personal priorities. At first that meant being an Independent, and then the realization came that I, who cares what happens to my fellow human beings and especially for veterans and our best-in-the-world military, needed to vote Democratic. I am proud of my son who continues to serve his country in that military.

I saw, and backed, a determined Howard Dean lead the way in initially uniting a diverse party that had no common ground. Much credit belongs to him. The blogging community opened up to me through my activist, internet-savvy high-school-teacher-to-be amazing daughter.

And then, when John Kerry won the nomination to face George Bush, it became a black and white choice for me. Our military and our citizen soldiers in the Guard and the Reserves were being misused by misguided politicians. Our veterans were being forgotten. Our people were losing health care and education and jobs.

That's why I'm here, and that's why I'll stay here.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004


...take your cell phone, and if you you get hassled at all or see something wrong at the polls, call:

1-866-MYVOTE1 or 1-866-OURVOTE

...and if you have some free time, go to your local Kerry-Edwards office and volunteer for the phone bank, or to take people to the polls, or - here in Oregon - you can pick up sealed ballots and take them to drop off locations.

The point is that it's not over just because election day is here, and you can still make a difference today, right now.

To borrow from Nike: JUST DO IT!

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Monday, November 01, 2004

What It Comes Down To...

All during the last year I’ve been asking myself: How could anybody with brains, who has looked at the record of this administration, vote for George Bush…especially again?

Now, a lot of people just believe the rhetoric and can’t get past the two and three-word slogans, and others will never vote for a Democrat, regardless. But then there are those who are educated and otherwise who have made a reasonable effort at making a distinction, based on the facts and the performance of the candidates.

This is where I start to lose the thread. Why do they support George Bush?

Is it because of his record with the economy? No, that makes no sense.

Is it because of his record with the budget? No, he has racked up the highest deficits in history – higher than any of the ‘out-of-control tax-and-spend liberals’ he loves to rail at.

Is it because of progress in education? No. The No-Child-Left-Behind has been left behind.

Is it because of his support of veterans? No, Mr. Bush has chosen to slash veterans’ benefits in the middle of a war.

Is it because of his record in international relations? No, Mr. Bush and the Repubs could care less what other countries think.

Is it the war in Iraq? This is supposed to be Mr. Bush’s ‘strong point.’ Some strong point: for a war without any ties to 9/11, without any proof of WMDs, and with no post-war planning. Even the Repubs have to go through ridiculous gyrations to believe this war justified the lost lives of our sons and daughters.

Is it because of his brains, leadership, and ability to express himself? Please.

So why is it that anyone would vote for Mr. Bush? The last two weeks of the campaign give a clue: Mr. Bush has talked about nothing but the ‘war on terror’ while yelling his criticisms of John Kerry.

Bush-backers, you are voting for your leader for one of two reasons, or both. The first one is clear – the Fear Factor, spearheaded by Mr. Bush and Mr. Conflict-of-Interest Incorporated, Dick Cheney. Now, Scared Moms have replaced Soccer Moms. And Nuclear War is coming soon after John Kerry is elected. You in this category are afraid to change horses in mid-Apocalypse. You believe that Mr. Bush can stop biological and chemical warfare when he can’t even protect you from the flu.

But the second reason is even more insidious and well hidden from public view. You believe you are protecting what is yours. Your money. Your health care plan. Your job. Your 401-k. Your house. Your neighborhood. Your religion. YOUR way of life. You are a ‘have’ who does not want to become a ‘have not’ – something that you are sure will happen with John Kerry as president. Yes, this is an election about you too – the ‘haves’- and because of your selfishness, this country will become more divided, no matter who wins.

You know who you are, and it’s you who are doing the lying, cheating, and stealing to win this election, and not the Democrats. It’s you who are challenging voters at the polls, not the Democrats.

And you who think God speaks to your leader, you who flaunt your spiritual superiority, and you who quote the Bible: You should look very closely at Matthew 22:37-39, because you don’t care about your neighbors – just yourselves.

And you are doing it to keep what is yours.

It’s disgusting and outrageous, and that’s why we don’t want you running our country any more.

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