Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Happy Holidays...

Time for a holiday break as we, in our family, also make time to remember our troops and our veterans, and thank them. It's the first Christmas when our son, on active duty in the Middle East, has not been able to make it home somehow, so we pray for his safety and for all of you who are in the military away from family and friends. Come back safely!

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bad Day at the Pre-School...

Teddy (Stevens): Wah! Wah! I wanna play with my oil, Wah! Wah!

Neocons: Wah! Wah! Jimmy did it before Georgie did and so did Billy. Wah! Wah!

Darth (Cheney): Wah! Wah! Who made me come back to school today? Wah! Wah! I wanna pull off some butterfly wings. Wah! Wah! All I get to do is kick college students, the poor, the sick, and veterans! Wah! Wah! Wah!

Teddy (Stevens): Wah! Wah! I want my bridge to nowhere! Wah! Wah!.....

Pre-school teacher (to herself): I'm glad they'll all be out of my class next year...

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Monday, December 19, 2005

The TSA Practices for the Fourth Reich

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), wants to use veterans' confidential medical records taken from the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to block veterans' from flying. TSA wants to block veterans who might be "mental defectives" from airplanes without defining what the term means.

Just curious - why is the TSA singling out veterans?

And will the estimated 100,000 troops coming home from Iraq with PTSD be included?

And does that mean that the medical records of all citizens will now be opened to the TSA?

And one final question: how do we find out how many mental defectives there are in the TSA?

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

It's a Start...

The White House and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) reached agreement today on a measure that would ban torture and limit interrogation tactics in U.S. detention facilities, a provision that the Bush administration had strongly resisted but that received broad support in Congress.

The agreement, announced after President Bush met with McCain and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) in the White House, came a day after the House overwhelmingly approved language supported by McCain that would prohibit "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" of anyone in the custody of the U.S. government. The Senate approved the provision by a lopsided margin earlier.

"We've sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists," McCain said, "but what we are is a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are." He said this would "help us enormously in winning the hearts and minds of people throughout the world in the war on terror."...

Speaking to reporters outside the White House afterward, McCain said the next step is to put his amendment's language in the House-Senate conference report of the fiscal 2006 defense appropriations bill.

That there even had to be extended negotiations to take this step is incredible. It took Sen. McCain's own experience as a POW to begin forcing the issue, although his rosy outlook on how the world will view us may be a little premature.

As my mother often said, "Actions speak louder than words."

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

So, How Are You Going to Pay...

...the extra $100,000 you owe the federal government if you are a family of four? But that's just as of today. At the current spending rates of this administration, every grandchild being born today will be, individually, making the federal government millionaires by the time they are old enough to vote. Why not split the $300 billion going to Iraq amongst the 27 million Iraqis and just give them a check for $10,000 each? That should get us out of Iraq in a heartbeat.

Oh, by the way, the same Congressman DeFazio reported this morning that the 'recently declassified plan to win victory in Iraq' - the 35 page glossy report Mr. Bush held up in a speech last week - was not something being used or even developed anywhere in our own government! It was instead developed by one university political science professor in North Carolina - conveniently in time for the series of Bush speeches in the last two weeks.

So, while our Democrat senators are busy signing a letter to the president today demanding more specificty of the plan, they ought to first look into the b.s. behind the plan itself.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Van Creveld (Continued)

(Interviewer): You believe the current US involvement in Iraq will end up like the Vietnam War. What are the major parallels? In a more philosophical sense, why do we as human beings do not tend to learn from our history and past mistakes, especially in a serious matter as warfare?

Martin van Creveld: Both Iraq and Vietnam are, to use the terminology I developed in The Transformation of War, non-trinitarian conflicts. Experience shows that almost all countries that tried to fight such wars from, let us say, 1941 on, have lost, as did the U.S itself in both Vietnam and Somalia. Why should the war in Iraq end up differently?

Concerning the second question, you really should ask Mr. Bush. According to Carl Woodward's Bush at War, which has many verbatim reports of the decision- making process that led to Iraq, Bush, repeatedly referred to Vietnam, adding that "I am not stupid". Why, assuming the reports are correct, he nevertheless decided to go to war escapes me and will no doubt preoccupy historians to come.

(Interviewer): It has been said there are two major camps in the US military leadership: Those who follow the principles of Clausewitz and those who follow the principles of Sun Tzu. Do you agree in general? If so, which of the two ideas do you think will apply more in future wars? If not, what doctrines or sets of principles do you see the US military leadership following?

van Creveld: I doubt whether the U.S military leadership has followed either Clausewitz or Sun Tzu, or else it would hardly have gotten itself involved in an unwinnable war in Iraq.

Read the whole van Creveld interview here.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

December 7th - 'A Day that will Live in Infamy'

World War II Vets: Most of you are in your 80's or late 70's - we have not forgotten your service to our country. Thank You!

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Ms. Rice Tap Dances Her 'Rendition' Through Europe

Excerpts from today's N.Y. Times Editorial:

It was a sad enough measure of how badly the Bush administration has damaged its moral standing that the secretary of state had to deny that the president condones torture before she could visit some of the most reliable American allies in Europe. It was even worse that she had a hard time sounding credible when she did it.

Of course, it would have helped if Condoleezza Rice was actually in a position to convince the world that the United States has not, does not and will not torture prisoners. But there's just too much evidence that this has happened at the hands of American interrogators or their proxies in other countries. Vice President Dick Cheney is still lobbying to legalize torture at the C.I.A.'s secret prisons, and to block a law that would reimpose on military prisons the decades-old standard of decent treatment that Mr. Bush scrapped after 9/11.

Pesky facts keep getting in the way of Ms. Rice's message. Yesterday, the new German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that Ms. Rice had acknowledged privately that the United States should not have abducted a German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, who says he was sent to Afghanistan and mistreated for five months before the Americans realized that they had the wrong man and let him go.

Mr. Masri tried to appear at a press conference in Washington yesterday to discuss a lawsuit filed in Virginia on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, a suit alleging wrongful imprisonment and torture - but the United States government has refused to allow him into the country.

At issue is the practice of extraordinary rendition. When a government captures someone really dangerous, like a terrorist leader, who cannot be charged under that government's own laws, it sends him to another country where authorities are willing to charge the suspect or at least can get away with locking him up indefinitely without charges.

It's been going on for decades, infrequently and selectively, but the United States is reported to have stepped it up since 9/11 and violated international law by sending suspects to places where it knows they will be tortured. Recently, European governments expressed outrage at reports that some detainees were held at secret C.I.A. prisons in Europe.

Ms. Rice, like other American officials, will not comment on these reports. But before leaving Washington on Monday, she read a statement implying that if there were any secret prisons out there, the host countries knew about them. She rather bluntly warned that European countries who want American intelligence had better not betray any secrets.


Bottom line of Condi's advice for Europe: we didn't do it, but you had better not tell anybody if we did.

This is our Secretary of State.

And if 'water boarding' isn't considered a technique of torture by this administration, then clearly you can see why, for them, there is no such thing as torture.

Just where exactly is the ethical and moral line-in-the-sand crossed for this leadership that came to power as the party of 'values.'

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

VA Illegally Diverts Funds From Veterans Health Care

Bush Administration appointees are breaking the law by using designated health care funds for downsizing studies. Folks, this is not coming from some newspaper article or cable TV network news - it's coming from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) - Congress' own internal watch agency.

That's even less money that's available for your healthcare, vets.

Oh, and by the way, the White House press release accompanying the low profile signing of the VA budget last week crowing of a 16% increase in veterans' health care, is in actuality a 3% decrease.

The 1954 classic, "How to Lie with Statistics" by Darrell Huff must be required reading in the White House, and maybe you should read it too.

Thanks to for the links

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Former Head of the NSA Rips "Stay the Course"

Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer. From 1977 to 1981, he was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Putting it bluntly, those who insist on staying in Iraq longer make the consequences of withdrawal more terrible and make it harder to find an alternative strategy for achieving regional stability...Once the invasion began in March 2003, all of the ensuing unhappy results became inevitable. The invasion of Iraq may well turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in American history. In any event, the longer we stay, the worse it will be. Until that is understood, we will make no progress with our allies or in devising a promising alternative strategy.

Read Gen. Odom's recent articles here.

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