Friday, December 31, 2004

Still Can't Figure Out How to Help?

There are lots of reputable charities who work on the ground during disasters. Here are some to consider:

Northwest Medical Teams
Mercy Corps
World Vision

Please find a way to help.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Goat Book II
Subtitle: While Bush Fiddled

The White House faced criticism on Tuesday over the fact that Bush, who is vacationing at his Crawford, Texas ranch, had not yet appeared in person to talk about the disaster.
So, as the self-righteous, indignant Right screams "unfair", the rest of the world sees what this country does not yet see:

This president is paralyzed by disaster - again.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

All Else Pales...

None of it really matters in comparison. All the petty infighting everywhere. Especially this time of the year.

Not two weeks ago, I had just finished reading Simon Winchester's book Krakatoa about the 1883 enormous volcanic eruption in Indonesia. Winchester reconstructed the catastrophe, in which tidal waves following the eruption, and the virtual destruction of an island, killed 40,000 people.

So it was with a chilling reminder that in the same part of the world, a similar disaster repeated over the last couple of days in nearly the same location, with similar results. If you have Winchester's well-written historical account, take a look at the maps compared to the ones in your newspaper this morning.

But more importantly: there are dozens of ways you can help in the days ahead. Do so.

I'll have more to say in the next week about how the administration has reacted to the disaster.

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Too Little, Too Late? ... A Metaphor for 2004

John Kerry finally enters the Ohio election debacle (see yesterday's post & comments). If nothing else, the criminals running the election machine process need to be exposed and thrown in jail. And every vote needs to be counted...just like in Washington state.

Blogging to be sparse over the holidays. The good news is that my son got home on leave and our whole family will be together. Four war zones in eight years is enough as far as I'm concerned, and I am proud of him and what he is doing. He knows I'm going to keep fighting for our military and our veterans.... Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays for all, including all you paranoid Repubs who think we are stealing Christmas from you...

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A Christmas Present for the State of Washington

In two previous vote counts since Nov 2nd, Washington state repubs claimed victory for their candidate for governor Dino Rossi - and tried to block every attempt at including votes that should have been counted (Do you notice it's always the repubs that do not want every vote counted?).

Later today, Democratic candidate Christine Gregoire will be officially declared the winner by the state, in spite of the repubs unending tactics to steal the election:

Democrats have claimed victory in the race for Washington governor by a razor-thin margin of:

...8 votes (note: out of nearly 3 million)...

... citing preliminary results of a hand recount they say puts Christine Gregoire in front for the first time. Republicans maintained the race was still too close to call...

The stunning turnaround was reported late Tuesday by the head of the state Democratic Party, who said party officials' analysis of hand-counted returns from King County, the last county to finish the grueling process showed that Gregoire had eclipsed the dwindling margin that Republican Dino Rossi has held since Election Day...

The crowd chanted "No more fraud!" They held signs saying "Welcome to Ukraine" and wore orange, a tribute to the signature color of demonstrators in Ukraine who protested a fraud-marred election there.

Merry Christmas to my neighbor state to the north. Yes, lots of us progressives celebrate Christmas, and this is a nice present under the tree.

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Monday, December 20, 2004

Rumsfeld Builds Case for His Medal of Freedom Award

Apparently it will take about one reassurance a day from the president that his Secretary of Defense is doing a spectacular job.

Rumsfeld is doing a 'spectacular job' - spectacularly inept. What a feeling guy! The president just can't say enough for this prime example of failure who continues to hide the caskets of returning killed soldiers while not having the time to sign death letters to families. Wow what empathy! If I were one of the parents involved, I'd return the letter (unsigned) with some choice words for Mr. warm-and-fuzzy-himself, and ask him to find a warm and personal place to shove the letter where the sun doesn't shine.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Today's Medal of Freedom Award Goes to...

Who else?....Donald Rumsfeld:
Stormin' Norm rips Rumsfeld

Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf said yesterday he was "angry" at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's response to a soldier who complained he and his fellow grunts in Iraq lack sufficient armor plating...

After a soldier told Rumsfeld that he and his fellow servicemen must scrounge for metal to better fortify their Humvees, the secretary told him, "You go to war with the Army you have." That response didn't sit well with the former general.

"They deserve every bit of protection we can give them," Schwarzkopf scowled in an interview with "Hardball" host Chris Matthews on MSNBC. "I was very, very disappointed - let me put it stronger - I was angry by the words of the secretary of defense."

More than half of the more than 1,200 U.S. troops killed in Iraq have come from insurgent attacks on the vehicles...

"When he [Rumsfeld] laid it all on the Army, I mean, as if he as the secretary of defense didn't have anything to do with it, the Army was over there doing it themselves screwing up," Schwarzkopf said.

The neocons rage that this was all a set-up. Translation: 'support our troops' is eyewash. They don't care about the troops. They care that they got caught - again - in a total lack of leadership and mismanagement of this war. Interesting that today there is all of a sudden $4 billion now being spent to put armor on vehicles in Iraq.

One soldier saved a lot of lives, and it's money well spent - and long overdue. As reported this morning on an Air America interview, a badly wounded soldier told Rumsfeld 15 months ago from a hospital bed that soldiers were dying needlessly. His humvee was not armored.

One Medal of Freedom for Rumsfeld coming up.

Thanks to Buzzflash

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Did Anybody Notice?

(Note: scroll down if necessary to view image)

Tenet, Franks & Bremer, giving themselves a big hand:

Question: Where was Condi?

Republican Morality = Screw up royally (or follow your leader blindly) and you get the Medal of Freedom. Accomplish nothing and you are appointed Secretary of State.

And, will somebody please state one significant accomplishment Condi has achieved in four years to earn her new Cabinet post - starting with her oversight of Iraq? Just one - that's all I'm asking. At least give her the Medal of Freedom also. It could be argued that she screwed up the least of the four of them.

p.s.: some may say it's unfair to include Gen Franks in this discussion, because the military operations at the beginning of the war went so well. True, and Gen Franks received appropriate military awards and decorations for his leadership at his retirement. All Franks has done since then is to toe W's party line with nary a word of criticism for the post-war quagmire.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Morals 101, Republican Style

It's hard to know where to start on this topic today - there is so much out there this week:
1. Rumsfeld's moral failure to support the troops.
2. McCain's personal quest to stay in the news by not supporting Rumsfeld, but refusing to call for his dismissal
3. Rewards for failure in Iraq, like this:

But let's get off the front page of Washington DC with it's continuous Republican examples of morality, and go to the state of Washington, where as yet to be identified vote counters attempted to steal the governor's race twice. Now in the final(?) recount, 561 votes in a heavily democratic area will be counted for the first time and could make the difference. The recount of all state ballots was prompted by Metropolitan King County Councilman Larry Phillips' discovery that HIS absentee ballot wasn't counted.

My view is that anyone, anywhere, found to have tampered with, or illegally counted votes, be put in jail with a stiff sentence to reduce the chances they will do it next time, starting with owners of tampered with voting machines. If you look closely, these incidents were carried out almost always by Republican 'moral' operatives.

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Geezer Back Door Draft

Based on a true story:

Selective Service (referred to as SS hereafter, an appropriate designation): Sir, we've written you several times, sent you emails and called you on the phone, but you have failed to report for duty.
Respondent (R): But I'm 103 years old and in a wheel chair at a rest home. What could I do?

SS: You were a medic in World War I, right?
R: I think so, but my memory is not so good now.
SS: That's OK, the warm weather will be good for you.
R: Warm weather?
SS: Yeah, Afghanistan.
R: Is that somewhere in Florida? I used to go to Florida every year.
SS: Not exactly, but your president needs you now.
R: FDR? I'm glad he's still in charge. OK, I'm still pretty good with bedpans - at least my own anyway. What do I do next?
SS: Don't worry, we will take care of everything. Democracy is on the march.
R: It is? Where is it marching to???

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Why Alberto Gonzales Should Not Be Confirmed...

(Note: scroll down, if necessary to view image)

Go to Veterans for Common Sense

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rumsfeld Missing Gray Matter Between the Ears

For almost six months until after the election, Donald Rumsfeld laid low publicly, after Abu Graib. Then after W hoo-hah'd at Camp Pendleton, Rummy must of thought he could do the same with the troops fighting in Iraq.

Yesterday when I blogged, I hadn't heard the whole text of Rummy's responses to the troops. Now I have. Funny, that any time W or Rummy screws up, their minions have to find ways to defend their lack of leadership and judgment.

Sure there have been shortages in every war, and GIs love to complain. But those who blow off what happened in Kuwait yesterday as normal grousing miss the point totally. Mr. Rumsfeld may be a good bureaucrat, but he is an incompetent leader just like his boss, who asked him to stay on.

No amount of excuses can explain away how Mr. Rumsfeld answered questions yesterday and now the fighting GIs have confirmed for themselves that Rumsfeld doesn't really get it, and doesn't care about them:

Rummy: "You go to war with what you have."
What the troops heard: "Suck it up - too bad, that's all we are gonna give you."
Rummy: "It's all a matter of physics."
What the troops heard: "Your gonna get your ass blown up anyway. Doesn't matter whether we give you more armor or not."

And then today, in an attempt at damage control, Rummy said that "he expects the Army to do its best to resolve the problem." And W followed by saying, "The concerns expressed are being addressed and that is -- we expect our troops to have the best possible equipment."

Expects? Expect?

NO, NO, NO! That's what the defenders of this incompetent leadership at the top don't understand.

Real leaders would be saying, "We understand that there are shortages in important equipment and personnel. The safety, and effectiveness, of our troops is priority #1. Today we have ordered the Department of Defense to leave no stone unturned to make sure you have what you need, without delay. We will correct what needs to be corrected. That's our pledge to you."

That's what real leaders would be saying now. Any other excuses by W, Rummy, or their fawning supporters don't cut it with veterans that have any brains.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Rumsfeld Grilled by the Troops:

'Why Don't We Have the Equipment We Need?'

As his fellow fighters clapped and shouted in support, a young gutsy troop asked Rummy why the Secretary of Defense can't support the troops with proper equipment.

Rumsfeld, the one Cabinet member who should have resigned, now says it will be at least 4 years before the troops come home.

Convenient timing, isn't it?

Your sons and daughters are going to Iraq, again and again, for at least another four years.

The following bumper sticker is now on my van:


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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Reprise from Last December 7th - A Salute to our World War II Veterans

A personal thank you to WWII vets on this day of remembrance. Thank you for your service to our country and the many sacrifices you made for us. Most of your personal stories are known only to you, your families, or friends. Only decades later have some of these stories been more fully researched and told. Many never will be. For any of you looking for a place to connect on various veterans issues - see the Veterans Links on the right side of this blog.

A good starting place for anyone looking into WWII veterans subjects is the Official World War II Veterans website.

For those of you who want to get an idea of just what our troops went through in some of the toughest battles in WWII, two recent books are:

Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley, the son of one of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima

Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides, which documents the rescue of the survivors of the Bataan Death March

Both of these riveting accounts are difficult to read at times because of the reality of the events, but they will give you a better appreciation of the personal stories involved and how these events affected the participants.

Thank you again WWII vets! You are not forgotten.


p.s. Are there any other recent books that readers want to recommend?

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Monday, December 06, 2004

Who Is John McCain?

War hero? Absolutely. Patriot? Unquestionably. Politician? Supremely.

Having trouble figuring out McCain? You are not alone. Savaged and lied about by W during the 2000 primaries, hugging and passionate with W during the final days of this campaign, and now after W asks Rummy to stay on, McCain stuffs it in W's face:

WASHINGTON - Senator John McCain declined on Sunday to endorse the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and questioned whether the planned increase in U.S. forces in Iraq would provide enough security for the country's elections on Jan. 30. The Pentagon announced plans last week to restore U.S. forces to their highest level since the invasion, but McCain said even 150,000 troops might not be enough. Also, McCain said, "I want to work with Secretary Rumsfeld, because he will be the secretary of defense for an undetermined length of time." Asked if that was a vote of confidence in Rumsfeld, the senator said: "No, it's not."
No, don't try to pin down McCain about who he really is. Yesterday he was busy threatening major league baseball with sanctions over the steroid scandal.

That's apparently as important as the war and the economy, health care, education, support of veterans, the environment etc. etc. Most of you may not like this comment but the truth is: McCain, like most incumbent politicians, usually opts to play it safe in politics while appearing to be making a lot of noise. Disagree? Look at the front pages for the last ten days. McCain's name is mentioned more than W's.

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Friday, December 03, 2004

No Mistake?

W brought his own backdrop to Canada for his speeches there. Can you believe this?

The chilling, if not hilarious, irony: W replaces the person who really sat next to FDR and Winston Churchill - Joseph Stalin. You remember who he was.

(Thanks to Bohemian Mama)

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Exporting Democracy W's foreign policy. The means for doing so don't matter. The supreme irony: the Ukraine, a former part of the communist Soviet Union is teaching us about Democracy. And W has the gall to preach to them about how to conduct fair elections.

The color of the Ukrainian democracy movement is orange, so it's fitting in these days of display ribbons, that a new orange ribbon had already been recently made available on the net, symbolizing Democracy:

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Red Cross Doublecrosses W

Not only have the prisoners at GITMO been held illegally without access to legal representation, it now appears that an Alberto Gonzales mindset is quickly taking hold:
The Red Cross has accused President George Bush's administration of overseeing the intentional physical and psychological torture of prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay. It also accused doctors and medics of liaising with interrogators in what was a "flagrant violation of medical ethics".

In an extraordinary confidential report to the US authorities, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the military guards and interrogators at the prison deliberately used psychological and physical coercion that was "tantamount to torture". It said the treatment it had witnessed had been increasingly "refined and repressive".

The report by the Red Cross - the only independent organisation permitted to visit the prisoners - was written after a visit by its inspection team in June. It said it discovered a system designed to break the will of the 550 prisoners - four of them British citizens - through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes [and] use of forced positions".

It added: "The construction of such a system whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture."

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Today, Kids, the Colors Are Blue and Green

Mr. Duct-Tape-Fights-Terrorism Bails Out:

In the end, as the first head of the newly created Department (of Homeland Security), Mr. Ridge became known best for, well, playing with colors...They didn't make the nation more secure, but somehow came at politically opportune times. During the campaign, Mr. Ridge seemed deeply concerned for the safety of residents of swing states like Florida and Ohio, sending deputies there on numerous occasions.

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