Monday, September 24, 2007

The Ken Burns Effect

In iMovie, the video authoring program on my iMac, you can apply a zoom and pan effect to still photographs inserted into a movie. It is, appropriately, named the "Ken Burns effect" for the director who used such effects to bring old photos to life in his movies. Last night's airing of the first installment of his "The War" about the effects of World War II on four small American towns and the soldiers and families who lived there made plentiful use of the effect along with newly found home-movies.

But something other than Burns' always wonderful film-making caught my attention and stayed in my mind as I fell asleep. He borrowed from the old news-reels of the era the use of maps with flowing, blood-like colors to represent the spread of the Nazi Reich through Europe and Africa and of the Japanese empire throughout the Western Pacific. The dark spread of imperialism and Nazism spread their stain across the world, closing in steadily on North America.

That's when the thought hit me: our current "Global War on Terror" is nothing of the sort.

Neither global or truly a war on terror, BushCo. has distracted America and side-tracked the hunt for Osama bin Laden with his misadventure in Iraq and his half-assed and half-forgotten war in Afghanistan. If anyone were to map the spread of fanatical islamists there would be no threatening flow of color across a world map. There would be no videos of bin Laden or any other radical commanding millions of soldiers under an imperial flag.

The "most wanted man in the world," a six foot six Arab dragging a dialysis machine behind him cannot be found anywhere outside a hidden cave outside some dirt-poor village in western Pakistan. His most ardent followers are disillusioned young Arabs and those schooled only in the most violent and xenophobic suras of the Quran. The best they can do, after one spectacular - and spectacularly lucky - strike on September 11, 2001, is to send out the occasional suicide bomber or taunting video tape.

America has fought global wars before. We volunteered in waves including the too young and the too old in times of true need. When Uncle Sam wanted soldiers in 1942 the ranks were filled not only by the poor and rural, but by the urban rich and the middle class; Democrat and Republican. Because Americans knew there was a true threat.

A threat that is missing in the current war that we are being sold by those who stand to profit most from the Never-ending Global War on Terror.

Friday, September 14, 2007


"...and every day life is returning."
There can't be any other explanation for it; Bush is delusional. Whether the effects of too much alcohol or too many drugs or too much religion, he's totally lost the ability to perceive reality.

What world is he living in?

Although I suppose the real question is- to be answered fully over the next few weeks - what world is Congress living in? Bush's fantasy world where Iraqis are returning to their every day lives or the real world where hundreds of executed bodies a month show up in Baghdad's morgues and our soldiers continue to die?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Another year gone by; now six years since we were attacked.

Still Osama bin Laden is a free man. In fact, BushCo. is just not that interested in searching for him. Not now that he's officially "impotent."

Our country has lost nearly 3,500 soldiers with ten times that many wounded. We are billions of dollars poorer. Our military is at the breaking point. The economy is on the verge of a melt-down. Few of the watered-down recommendations of the 9/11 Commission have been implemented. We are more hated in the world than ever before.

And the dry-drunk deserter who orchestrated this massive failure is still President.

A commenter at AmericaBlog said it best this morning in reference to Bush (R - Massive Failure):

Watching bush at 911 ceremonies is like watching OJ at Nicole Brown's funeral...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Iran Arming Up

Although this article was written from the point of view that this should make Israel worry - and that's true enough - my first thought was of BushCo.'s continued sabre-rattling aimed at Iran.

Russia’s arms export agency Rosoboronoexport disclosed recently that it plans to sell Iran up to 250 advanced Su-30 fighter bombers, dramatically increasing the power projection capability of Iran and possibly giving it a nuclear delivery vehicle other than missiles.
Should they do the unthinkable, this administration will want to begin an invasion - or indeed any kind of military move against Iran - with aerial assault. To clear the way for our fighter-bombers, first will come the cruise missiles which will attempt to take out key air defense sites and to destroy as many aircraft as possible on the ground. Then will come our fighters to finish the job on air defense sites and to escort heavier aircraft.

That's where the SU-30 comes in. This is no Soviet era fighter, heavy and underpowered. The Sukhoi is a first rate aircraft; in the right pilot's hands it can match our F-16s and F-15s. The article also goes on to say that the Russians are also considering making one or more aerial refueling aircraft. This means that should we choose to give Iran any warning, they can launch these high-value aircraft ahead of time and keep them airborne or move them to a friendly airfield far enough away to stay in reserve until really needed.

Yes, it's true that Israel should be concerned about this potential sale. But Our Air Force should be every bit as concerned. Iran's air force is not likely to flee or remain on the ground as did Iraq's should we invade. But even should BushCo. actually make an intelligent choice and not invade or attack Iran, their constant, bellicose rhetoric has made the already unstable area even more dangerous. They've driven this sale as much as any amoral Russian arms dealer.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Through a Glass Darkly

The dichotomy of world-views between those who stay truly informed and those who remain stubbornly un-informed via FOX News or Rush Limbaugh is sometimes easy to overlook. I read widely for news and information as do most of the people whose blogs I read and most of those who comment here.

But a recent couple of posts over at Talking Points Memo highlighted that dichotomy in a way that literally had me shaking my head. You can read those posts here and here. But the upshot is that for the Republican "base," the threat "if we don't fight them there, they will follow us home" is no empty rhetorical turn of phrase. They are truly afraid of the "World-wide Caliphate" imposed by radical islamists.

While most of us would just roll our eyes at such a fear, the base has little reason to think otherwise. The great right-wing spin machine feeds that fear without reference to the reality of current Islamic states. Considered critically, it's easy to see that there are no Islamic states with anything like the military-industrial capability to create such an empire. They are all third-world countries propped up by Petro-dollars or dictators stoking the fear of a "Crusade" against Islam from the outside world. And all of them keep their citizens subdued with cash (think Saudi Arabia) or radical Islam (see Iran) and most of all an iron fist.

I'm not sure what can be done about this ignorance... Republicans only want schools to graduate young people ready to work, not to think critically and they have so denigrated public education for so long that it could be decades before the system recovers. Media consolidation ensures so much uniformity of poor reporting that there is little chance, for now, that they will be the prescription for a change of mind. And the most recalcitrant of the base refuse to read anything other than the Bible or to hear anything other than FOX News.

So we've wound up with two relatively small populations - one in the Middle East and one in America - who are uninformed, mis-informed, uneducated or under-educated, and kept deathly afraid of the other. Not a prescription for sanity... or peace.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Censorship by Any Other Name...

The right to peaceably assemble - Constitutionally guaranteed - can be denied in so many ways; overt or covert. But the latest attempt by BushCo. is laughably transparent. And should you have any thoughts that this might just be the Washington D.C. city government enforcing their rules, well you just haven't been paying attention.

What are we to make of the fact that the city of D.C. has ordered all the posters for an anti-war march to take place in September taken down? Were they all posted in the wrong places - every one of them? Nope. Is the group missing some key piece of permitting for the event? Apparently not. So what infraction of the law could be so heinous that all the posters in the entire city must be removed or the group could face a $10,000 fine?

Washington city authorities said the posters have to come down because they were stuck on with adhesive that did not meet city regulations.
Un-f*cking believable.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Smile, You're on Candid Camera

It was just last Thursday that we learned that because of the now numerous "previously unseen provisions of the Patriot Act" the government would now be using U2 spyplanes on you and me. Some said that this was an aging platform and couldn't fly all that much and really where was the harm. I said this:

And the Democratically controlled Congress just handed BushCo. even more authority to use the full panoply of U.S. spyware on you and me.
This administration has never met a slippery slope it couldn't immediately make steeper and more slippery. And this was no exception. Now we learn just how quickly BushCo. decided to slide right down the bottom of the slope.

Local and federal agencies are to have vastly expanded access to information gathered from spy satellites in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports.

Information from "some of the U.S.'s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools" will soon be at the disposal of a wide array of law enforcement agencies at all levels of government, reports Robert Block in the Journal Wednesday. Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell decided to increase access to the spy data earlier this year and asked Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to facilitate access to the spy data by civilian agencies and law enforcement.
Right to the bottom. Who'd have thought they'd do that?

Oh, and thanks (read f*ck you) again to those Democrats who voted for this.

Circular Reasoning; It's All The Reason They Need

The drumbeat to war with Iran continues; perhaps not as loudly or as incessantly as it did for Iraq, but with many of the same players. The latest bit of Kabuki theater - coordinated, no doubt, by the chief drummer, Dick Cheney - is this:

The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," US officials tell Robin Wright for Wednesday editions of the Washington Post.
While the move ostensibly allows the US and the international community to target the group's financial interests it also gives BushCo. a ready made designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.

I can see Darth Cheney on the Sunday morning talkers already:

Cheney: Well you know, [insert talking head name here], the Iranian military are all terrorists.

Talking Head: *breathlessly* Their entire military is composed of terrorists?

DC: Yes, they've been designated a "specially designated global terrorist" group and they are working especially hard to obtain weapons of mass destruction...

TH: *aghast* No!

DC: Oh yes, they are quite dangerous. You know we have satellite pictures of them barbecuing and serving this unit little babies during their training exercises.
Here we go again.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Biggest Rat of All Jumps Ship

Now that Bush's Brain has abandoned the ship of state where does that leave the Bush of very little brain?

Does this mean that Uncle Karl avoids Congressional subpoenas? Does this mean that he's no longer protected by the ever-expanding sphere of Executive Priviledge?

Will this leave Bush literally running around like a chicken with its head cut off? Although, really, how would we know the difference.

And to Rove, leaving the People's White House; "don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out."

Oh, and this: "see you in court."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Whatever Happened to "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death"?

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." Ben Franklin
Can you imagine what old Ben would have thought about this?

In a striking but unnoticed extension of domestic surveillance, the little-known National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency deployed a U-2 spy plane on the region affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to track hazards to public health.


In a way, Shorrock suggests the visible mission of the U-2 over New Orleans is akin to the visible mission of the U-2 over the Soviet Union -- a tip of the iceberg in a much larger program that most of America knows nothing about.

He notes that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' recent testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first time confirmed the existence of various other domestic surveillance programs beyond those first disclosed by the New York Times, similarly intimating the domestic flyovers are more subversive than simply being used for weather catastrophes.
And the Democratically controlled Congress just handed BushCo. even more authority to use the full panoply of U.S. spyware on you and me.

Without court oversight.

All hail Ceasar Executivas Unitarius.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Nobody Saw This Coming...

The slow-motion devolution of Iraq has sped up to full-speed disintegration in Basra:

As British forces pull back from Basra in southern Iraq, Shiite militias there have escalated a violent battle against each other for political supremacy and control over oil resources, deepening concerns among some U.S. officials in Baghdad that elements of Iraq's Shiite-dominated national government will turn on one another once U.S. troops begin to draw down.
Basra was supposed to be the very picture of success with a homogeneous Shiite population and little outside influence. But this is what will happen all over Iraq - especially where the population is more heterogeneous - whether there are Western troops there or not. So if our Iraq misadventure is doomed to civil war regardless, why should our soldiers remain in harm's way?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lost: 190,000 Weapons

If there's one thing that the Army knows how to do really well it's keeping track of its various weapons. When I was in the Army and we did any kind of training I had to go the "Arms Room" (a huge, vault-like room with racks of weapons right out of the Matrix) and sign out a weapon that had been assigned to me upon arrival in the unit. Every time I signed it out or in the Arms Clerk matched the serial number of the weapon to his master list. When we had weapons out on training the First Sergeant did a physical inventory of every weapon every day. Sometimes twice a day. This was even true of larger weapons like the 20mm cannon mounted to the front end of the Cobra attack helicopters I "owned."

So it's not like the Army usually has a hard time keeping track of weapons. And it's not like they needed to learn anything new in Iraq.

That's why this can only be the result of intentional malfeasance:

A new GAO report shows that about 190,000 guns, given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005 during training, have gone missing, the Washington Post reports.

The forces were being trained by present-day commander Gen. David H. Petraeus when the weapons were distributed; according to the GAO, proper procedure was not followed, and the weapons have not been properly tracked. The Pentagon isn't disputing the report.
So other than the cost of these weapons which appear to be mostly M-16s and SAWs (Squad Automatic Weapons - a light machine-gun) AK-47s and AKMs,what's the big deal? How about this:

Officials concede that it is likely that these weapons, bought with American taxpayer money, are being used against US forces.
Great way to support the troops, no?

Edited. Changed weapon types based on updated information.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vick's Got Nothing On BushCo. for Dog Abuse

If this administration were a dog it would be dead from whatever the animal version of shaken-baby syndrome is. At every turn Bush, Cheney and their coterie of Dementors has wagged the hell out of the dog with upgraded terror color alerts and bogus warnings.

Perhaps it was news that Bush is now less popular than the Head Death Eater Cheney, but suddenly - from out of nowhere - terrorists are conducting "dry-runs," practicing how to sneak explosives aboard airliners. Of course there are no specifics and TSA workers are told to watch out for "ordinary objects," including - I shit you not - block cheese.

Can somebody in Congress - anyone, really - just stand up and throw down a big bullshit flag on these bastards? Enough already.

Nancy Pelosi, are you paying attention at all? Pull that fucking rule book out and put Impeachment back on the table. You and the rest of your Democratic colleagues are standing by while the worst President - the worst administration - in our history is slowly destroying our country.

Bush has to go.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Romney Accidentally Reveals "Secret" Republican Plan to Destroy Our Government

Of course it's a poorly kept secret and anyone really paying attention already knows it, but I'm not sure any Republican has so baldly stated the case before.

If you've ever wondered why BushCo. has repeatedly assigned unexperienced political hacks to head important government agencies or continually interfered in the operation of formerly effective offices, wonder no more. In disparaging Democratic initiatives at universal healthcare he said the following, letting slip the real purpose of Rebublican meddling:

At a town hall meeting in Exeter later Sunday, he said, "I don't want the guys who ran the (Hurricane) Katrina cleanup running my health care system."
Of course the "guys who ran... Katrina..." were all Republicans; appointees who wouldn't know a cyclone from a vacuum cleaner. But that's the whole idea: these guys want government to fail. They want to be able to say things like Romney did, above. And they'll use the failures that they've caused to justify handing everything over to the private business sector.

Where their political contributors can profit the most.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Comfortably Numb

How else to explain the lack of outrage - or at least condescending laughter - over Michael Chertoff's latest statement? Remember, this is the same guy who oversaw the response to Hurricane Katrina:

The United States remains safe after the attack at a Scottish airport and two foiled car bombs in London, and no raising of the terror alert status is planned, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Monday.
The problem is that while the public may be numb to the continually growing list of things this administration has screwed up, the lack of outrage, or at least pointed questioning, leads BushCo. to think they can continue to get away with it.

Chertoff's a guy who should be wandering, drunk or stoned, from homeless shelter to homeless shelter after being frog-marched out of his office under a court order to never get within 100 miles of Washington DC for the rest of his life.

But he's still around telling us how safe we are.

Those levees around the airports are sure to keep the bad guys out.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This is a GREAT Idea

I'd like to meet the genius who thought this would be a good idea. I want to shake his hand. Then I'd pull his arm off and beat him to death with his own arm.

American officers acknowledge that it is arming some groups that are suspected to have been involved in American attacks as well as link to Al Qaeda.
Absolutely, f***ing brilliant.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Wrong History Lesson

Not content merely to repeat the mistakes of the history it never learned, BushCo. now sinks to new lows of learning lessons from the wrong history.

The half-century US military presence in South Korea may be a model for a future in which US forces play a support role in Iraq rather than a frontline combat role, the White House said Wednesday.
No matter how long our military is in Iraq (or Afghanistan), they will never recreate the North-South Korea dynamic in the Middle East. There are no defined boundaries to turn into DMZs. There are no Cold-War-Style militaries staring each other down. There will never be a 50-year cease-fire.

As always, no matter what they try to do, this administration does it wrong.

Don't look to Korea, don't look to the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe for lessons. Look instead to the French in Indochina. Look to the US in Vietnam. Look to the Russian experience in Afghanistan. Those are the times and the places to learn from. And they all teach the same lesson: a "superpower" can never defeat an insurgency.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Missing Arms and Missing Spines

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to visit my Alma Mater, West Point. She had never been and was excited to take in all the history and to learn a little bit more about such a formative place in my life. As always, going back there brought out mixed feelings in me; I still have dreams about not being prepared for something or another there. The feelings are a mixture of pride and apprehension along with a little longing to be back at school.

But something brought me up short in a way that nothing else could have. We were browsing through a very nice gift shop at the visitor's center when a couple of cadets walked by speaking with what looked to be a young officer, perhaps a graduate from a few years back. Nothing out of the ordinary for such a place, until the young man turned around and I saw that he had a prosthetic arm from the elbow down.

Obviously this young lieutenant had returned from a tour in Iraq having left a good portion of his body as well as his innocence on the Iraqi sands.

This incident had stayed in the back of my head ever since. Such a thing would not be unexpected at the place where future Army officers are trained and where so many of our nation's past warriors had studied. But when you see such violence done to someone so young (could I ever have been that young?) it brings into sharp focus the results of our tragic misadventure in the Middle East.

As for the missing spines in my post title, it's the Democrat's recent cave in on the war funding bills that brought the young lieutenant with the missing arm back into the forefront of my mind. It's absolutely true that they did not have the votes to override a Presidential veto. And it's absolutely true that funding - of some type and amount - needs to be approved.

But it's also absolutely true that Democrats were, in no small part, given control of the Congress last November precisely to rein in this administration and to start bringing the catastrophe that is Iraq to an end.

In this, they have failed us all miserably.

They have failed you and I, comfortably home but paying every day in national treasure and international influence. They have failed the families of the soldiers who must endure extended time away from their young loved ones, never knowing when the young officers in their dress uniforms will knock on their door. They have failed future generations, already saddled with the cost of this adventurism.

But most importantly, they have failed that young lieutenant who was trying so hard to convey that one bit of knowledge that might helps save those who will come after him.

Whatever else they may achieve, they have failed.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Run Silent, Run Deep

It's been much too long since I last posted anything. It's not that I'm not paying attention and it's not that there's nothing going on to blog about.

I'm just watching events. Waiting for the inspiration to strike again. It certainly doesn't help that I've been so busy lately...

I'll be back.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Republican Loose Cannon Claims No Free Speech

Over the past 6 years Republican lawmakers have acted and legislated as though they see the First Amendment as something with which to wipe their asses, but this is beyond outrageous:

Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) issued a startling rebuke to the NASA official [during hearings on how BushCo. appointees have censored scientific papers on Global Warming], disputing his assertion that taxpayer-funded scientists are entitled to speak freely.

"Free speech is not a simple thing and is subject to and directed by policy,"
The voters of Utah need to fire Mr. Cannon.

From one of his namesake weapons.

Back to the 15th Century.

Where he'd obviously be more comfortable.

The Death of the U.S. Army

When I was a Cavalry Troop commander, if I had to report that 80% of my aircraft were unready for deployment and combat, I would have been relieved of duty. The same would have been true of any commander up the chain of command. Had any unit been not ready to deploy while a part of the "Ready Brigade Task Force" - a combined-arms unit on rotational stand-by able to be "wheels up" on an Air Force transport to go anywhere in the world in 18 hours or less - every commander in the chain, right up to the Division Commander would have been relieved.

And yet, because of his disastrous Iraq invasion, Bush has caused the entire Army to be incapable of fulfilling its mission. Not only its current primary mission in the Middle East, but also its secondary (and without doubt, its tertiary) mission of being capable of responding to a second crisis anywhere else in the world.

This NYT story about the Ready Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division not being capable of even getting to its Air Force transports is the most disturbing evidence of the tragic - and dangerous - mess created by BushCo.'s half-assed attempt at military adventurism. If this story doesn't scare you, you might be forgiven for not knowing just how vital this Ready Brigade is. That everyone in the Department of Defense, right up to the Commander-in-Chief, isn't scrambling to fix this, but apparently are just accepting it as the price of "staying the course" or the "surge" should certainly frighten anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about the military and its missions.

Bush has not only robbed our children and grandchildren of a safe, secure future in the world, he hasn't only robbed our treasury blind with this misadventure and he hasn't only been responsible for the death of thousands of America's finest. He has actually, purposefully, made us all less safe, less secure now.

George W. Bush, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States has caused, through negligence, those armed forces to be not ready to fight. He has failed in one of his primary Constitutional duties to all of us.

He MUST be relieved of command.


Monday, March 19, 2007


How can four years seem so long?

Unless I really stop and count the years, it seems that we've always been in Iraq.

In the darkest moments, looking forward, it seems that we will always be in Iraq.

What have we gotten for those four years? Three thousand plus dead American soldiers. Ten times that many - or more - injured. Fifty times that many - or more - Iraqis dead. Uncounted more injured. As if we ever thought it possible we are more hated in the Middle East than ever before. We are estranged from many of our formerly closest allies. Our civil rights have been egregiously curtailed. The Constitution torn and shredded by secrecy and lies.

And that's just the near-term legacy.

Our children and grandchildren will be paying for this "war on credit" for their entire lives. Not just the cost of the continuing funding resolutions or the cost of rebuilding a worn out military. But also the continuing costs of caring for the thousands of critically wounded soldiers and the ensuing costs of mental health care for their families, the costs of helping those families whose primary earner has been killed or injured. The legacy we will leave in the world will be no better: anger at our leaders' hubris and naked imperialism will taint global relations and security for a century or more.

And should our politicians find it impossible to manage an honorable end to the mess they've created our children and grandchildren will literally be paying for BushCo.'s arrogance and ignorance with their lives.

And at some point in that dark, dystopic future our children will wonder why it seems that we've always been in Iraq.

And four years will seem like such a short time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Fruits of Torture?

Besides the timing, something else strikes me as odd about the announcement of Khalid Sheik Mohammed's confessions. Yes, it was perfectly timed to take the heat off of Alberto Gonzales - although it hasn't seemed to work as well as BushCo. would have hoped. But no, there's something else about it.

It seems that "KSM" has confessed to planning or being involved in every known terrorist attack or foiled attack in the past 14 years. He even confessed to a few that nobody knew about. He confessed to plotting to assassinate Jimmy Carter! Who the hell could have possibly wanted to assassinate Carter?!?

No, this reeks of two things:

1. Sheer, crass political cover for Bush's best minority buddy (see how diverse my friends are?), Gonzales. This is pretty much all over the blogosphere and even a couple of MSM outlets as well.

2. The confessions of a man under torture. It's well established that torture nets just about zero useful information; that's why so many intelligence (and intelligent) folks wanted nothing to do with BushCo.'s torture guidelines. What it does get you is the tortured telling you anything you want to hear in order to make the torture stop.
So what are we left with after such considerations?

What we are usually left with after any kind of serious thought about the actions of this administration: an attempt at working the refs and a blatant attempt to further consolidate the power and reach of the "unitary executive;" also known as king, dictator or tyrant.

That is, if you read history - which our fellow citizens are known for being ridiculously ignorant of.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

New Orleans is Sinking, Man and I Don't Want to Swim

How sad that a story like this is not only not surprising but that it fits right in with everything else this administration has done.

The Army Corps of Engineers, rushing to meet President Bush’s promise to protect New Orleans by the start of the 2006 hurricane season, installed defective flood-control pumps last year despite warnings from its own expert that the equipment would fail during a storm, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Thankfully, the 2006 season was relatively benign and the pumps were not put to the test. But once again, like our soldiers in Iraq must fight with insufficient equipment, our fellow citizens in NOLA must make due - and keep their fingers crossed - with equipment that is not only insufficient for the job, but that was known to be insufficient when installed.

This is classic BushCo., total disregard for the peons as long as their friends are given lucrative contracts - with no accountability.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Setting the Tone

When I commanded soldiers and pilots in the Army I was taught that "the commander sets the tone" for the unit. In other words, by my actions, work ethic, the things I said I set an example for my men (they were all men at the time) and determined how the unit would function. Many years of experience taught me that there was a very large kernel of truth to that old military trope.

It's also why I will not be fooled by the spin that is already following General Peter Pace's remarks on homosexuality yesterday. The Pentagon and White House are already saying that the Boston Globe asked General Pace's personal views and he gave them.

But in the military - especialy at the Joint Chiefs level - there are no personal views. Most especially not when they are broadcast on the national media and replayed endlessly by the talking heads.

The new Democratic majority has made it known that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may be on their target list and Pace's remarks, orchestrated as they must have been by the administration are a first shot across the bow. And while Rove and Co. only care about the politics, they may have unleashed something altogether different.

Because, you see, "the commander sets the tone."

And Pace's tone yesterday was as narrow-minded and intolerant as any backwoods homophobe. He has just told every soldier, sailor and airman that it's okay - still okay - to treat homosexuals as second class citizen-soldiers.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Peace of Mind

There are certain songs that never fail to take me back to my highschool days. From 28 years down the road, those were truly golden days; filled with friends and football, baseball and beach trips. Boston's eponymous first album is probably the best at taking me back. When I listen to it, from the first, quiet strains of "More Than a Feeling" to the last beat of "Let Me Take You Home Tonight," I'm 17 again and the future is still wide open and the sun never sets over the Florida beaches.

Those are all the things that went through my mind this morning when I heard that Brad Delp had died.

To me, Delp's voice is the sound of the late-seventies when I was in highschool; Boston was the soundtrack to so many great times. I've owned that first album in four different formats and right now it's playing over my computer speakers from my iPod. I imagine that whatever the next big music format is, I'll get Boston then, too.

Delp will be missed by many, but the music and the words of Boston will always make me feel 17.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Modern Miracle Disappoints

When I saw this headline on Raw Story, I thought that maybe our Secretary of State was going to be turned into a real human being.

Then I found out that the article was about rice, the little white grains, no capital 'R', no tendency to lie. Except on a plate.

Talk about disappointed.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Not So Inconvenient

Let me preface this post by saying if you haven't seen "An Inconvenient Truth" yet, you need to. Now.

It was wonderful seeing Al Gore at the Oscars on Sunday night. He was witty, warm and personable. The kind of candidate who could have won... Most importantly, he showed that he really has become the preeminent voice for the need to do something - and soon - about global warming.

In that vein, I'd like to ask the few folks who still come by to see what I'm doing to head on over here and help send a message, to be delivered by Al Gore, to Congress.

It's important.

Vitally important.

And to those who would say that reversing climate change is bad for the economy I leave you with Thoreau:

"What good is a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Putting the "Surge" in Insurgency

Here's the thing about insurgencies; the insurgents want to avoid, at all costs, meeting the occupiers on the field of battle. The term "asymmetric warfare" was created for just the kind of tactics our military is facing in Iraq. The insurgents cannot defeat us head-to-head and much like Vietnam it really doesn't matter. They don't need to.

So what do recent events in Iraq tell us about the incipient success or failure of Bush's surge?


If attacks are down it's because during this time of year, over the past 5 years the late winter and spring have always seen the number of attacks go down. There just isn't any way to judge whether the few additional troops already there are making a difference. It's too early.

If the attacks are bigger and more deadly, as they have been for the past week, it's only because the insurgents are carefully following the dictates of asymmetric warfare; hit fast, hit hard and then disappear. And with a few more soldiers in-country, now starting to relocate to more dispersed, less heavily fortified bases, the opportunities for mayhem are increased.

But don't count on BushCo. to discuss the finer points of counter-insurgency operations in public - most of them probably can't even spell it - as it doesn't fit well with their current spin cycle. And don't count on hearing about the vagaries of insurgency peaks and valleys or about the methods of asymmetric warfare in the media. It takes too long to spell out and there are no good sound-bites to be had from such a discussion. Finally, don't count on hearing much public discussion about any of these things in your local pub or grocery store. Most people you meet would think that COIN Ops refers to how they get their laundry done.

The lack of information from our government and our media and the general lack of knowledge about military operations in the citizenry means that BushCo. can spin events however they want. And only a very few will know that - as usual - they're lying through their teeth.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rumors of My Death...

Totally exaggerated, I assure you!

I'm over the wicked head cold I was suffering under in my last post. It's just that as seems to be the case in my life lately, events have piled up to the point where I have found my self totally overwhelmed and with no time left for pleasantries like blogging. For sure I'm trying to keep up with the news and the goings on at some of my favorite blogs, but every effort to make time to write myself have been stymied.

The weather here in upstate New York hasn't helped matters. The little free time I find is often taken up with various versions of digging out and blowing snow. There's a drift in my back yard that's easily 4 feet deep. And I've run the snow blower up and down my drive way five times in the past two days. We haven't gotten nearly the snow that the poor folks in Oswego county have gotten - now nearly 11 feet in the past week - but three feet can still leave you plenty worn out!

So, Steve, I'm not buried, but I sure do wish it would stop snowing for a while!

So... I'm still here; still engaged and worried and reading.

Hopefully I'll have some time to get a few thoughts down over the next few days. There's lots on my mind!

Monday, February 05, 2007


I stayed home from work today - an extremely rare sick day for me - since I could not breathe or see. Whatever I've got, some sort of upper respiratory virus, has stuffed me up and crusted over my eyes.


So I finally make my way to my computer and tried to read some news when I saw the size of the budget that Bush has submitted to Congress. Then I really felt ill.

More on all this when I'm feeling better. In the mean time, check out the size of our Republican President's Tax (the poor) and Spend Budget.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Those Damned Brits!

Showing what real policing can do to thwart terrorism before it happens.


BushCo. still can't figure out how to run the Never-ending War on Terror.

Or maybe they have it figured out; they seem to be lining the pockets of their friends and contributors without any oversight. And the missing weapons make sure that the "terrorists" have all they need to keep it Never-ending.

Fuck bipartisanship.

Impeach now.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lost Opportunity Costs

It's a basic consideration in any investment, yet this is not just any "basic investment."

Tonight Diane Sawyer will do a piece on 20/20 about how you only have to go as far as Camden, NJ to find children living in horrible conditions - like those you'd find in third-world nations. I heard a promo spot about this show just after listening to Charlie Gibson talk about the continuing adventures of the Decider in Chief in Iraq.

Most estimates for the cost of the Iraq War converge on about $5 billion per month. I'll use that as a nice round number. Diane's estimates of the number of American children living in poverty, with not enough to eat is close to 12 million.

So let's do the math.

What's the lost opportunity cost to the war on poverty of the most misguided part of the war on terror?

$5 billion divided by 12 million children is about $416 per child per month. Multiply that by 12 months and you get $4,992 per child per year.
Imagine - we do a lot of imagining when thinking about the good we could be doing - that every one of these 12 million children could get $416 worth of food and clothing and school supplies every month. Imagine the difference that could make in the lives of those children and their families.

Imagine that I never had to see the example that was shown on the ABC news tonight of a young child going to Kindergarten who knew his ABCs and his numbers, but didn't know the names of the three meals that most of us take for granted because he never got three meals a day.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bush Twins Stripping on the Senate Floor

It's just about the only thing Bush didn't do last night to take attention away from the debacle in Iraq.

What a wonderfully ironic picture it was; Bush on the dais looking mildly dazed, Darth Cheney over his right shoulder scowling like mad and trying to keep his mind-meld with his putative boss, and over Bush's left shoulder - "Madame Speaker" - Nancy Pelosi, looking dignified and clearly enjoying herself. From the occasional wry smile it was obvious the irony didn't escape her.

Yet it wasn't until two thirds of the way or more through his speech, after dangling several shiny attempts at bipartisanship before Congress, did he dare mention Iraq. He raised all of the usual scare points he's used before, 9-11, al Qaeda, nucular weapons - although this time in Iran, not Iraq - but he did so rather mechanically; as though someone told him that he must. But his heart just wasn't in it.

There was nothing new here. One more time that this failed President had to ask us to just trust him. Why, given the polling data, he would think for an instant we would is beyond me. But given his sullen performance last night, especially in regards to his New Way Forward (Staying the Course Part IV), maybe he knew we wouldn't and was just going through the motions.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Global Warming - It's All Our Fault

A new, more powerful UN report on climate change is to be released starting next week. Nay-sayers, all of them with a financial interest in the supposed "controversy", will receive another forceful blow to the head with this report.

Smoking gun? Nope, but there is this:

Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist and chapter co-author, went even further: “This isn’t a smoking gun; climate is a battalion of intergalactic smoking missiles.”
And for those who still want to claim that there are scientists who doubt anthropocentric causes for the current climate change, have a look at these numbers:

The first chapter, written by more than 600 scientists and reviewed by another 600 experts and edited by bureaucrats from 154 countries, includes “a significantly expanded discussion of observation on the climate,” said co-chair Susan Solomon, a senior scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There are no environmental scientists of any repute who doubt that human activities are the cause - or the cure - for global warming.




Not surprising that Republicans don't want to do anything about climate change, they are the same people who want to saddle their children and grandchildren with the bill for their stupid war and their even more idiotic tax policies. Why not force them into servitude in a ruined climate? They won't have time to get out and enjoy it anyway, they'll be too busy working to pay off their grandparents' debts.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Modest Proposal

With apologies to Jonathan Swift.

What if it were possible to prevent adults from imposing any religion on children? Once reaching adulthood, they could - if they desired - declare themselves a member of the superstition of their parents or any other.

Or none at all.

Imagine if the followers of Fred Phelps were unable to expose their children to their religiously inspired hate?

Imagine if imams were unable to call for children to become martyrs in jihad?

Of course there is no more chance of this ever happening than of the Irish eating their children during the early 1700s. But imagine the difference it might make in our world.

And while you think of Swift and Lennon, I leave you with Diderot:

Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another Step Closer to Emperor?

Another newly discovered way that the Patriot Act - never completely read by anyone who voted for it - has brought us that much closer to the "Imperial Presidency."

A little-known, year-old amendment to the USA Patriot Act is allowing the Bush Administration to replace outgoing U.S. Attorneys with controversial appointments in a process that circumvents the usual approval process in the Senate, and three Democrats are charging that an unknown number of attorneys have been asked to resign "without cause."
In their second 100 Hours Democrats need to seriously review these laws, passed in the panic of the post-9-11 period, and set about restoring our Constitutional rights.




Monday, January 15, 2007

Bush Is Spending Our Future - He's Also a Thief

Spending Our Future:

The head of the GAO [David M. Walker] also warned that if no action is taken now to control government spending, severe tax hikes could be necessary. He stated that, "balancing the budget in 2040 could require actions as large as cutting total federal spending by 60 percent or raising federal taxes to 2 times today’s level."
Only Reuters covered this committee meeting and it's just now being more widely disseminated via Raw Story.

Stealing From Our Treasury:

To add insult to injury, during the same meeting, Walker was asked about the Whitehouse quoted price tag for the "surge:"

During the course of the hearing, senators also asked Walker about the cost estimates presented by President George W. Bush for sending 21,500 more troops to Iraq this year, according to Air Force Times. Walker believed that the amount of money planned to be spent on the troop escalation was much more than needed for the number of troops involved. "I have some serious concerns about the numbers...It is unclear what much of the $5.6 billion is to be spent on," they reported him saying.



Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bush to Americans; "F*** You"

The story is here, but really the picture says it all.

The only thing missing is his middle finger.

Iraq is to continue basically forever. Afghanistan is forgotten. Iran and Syria are next. With each signing statement he might as well be pissing on the Constitution. And Bush could care less that the country has decided he and his gang of thieves don't know what the hell they are doing.

What remains?

Where is a true patriot who will step up to the challenge presented by this so-called "unitary Executive?" Who will begin the proceedings to impeach? Who will ask that he be declared insane?

Who will rid us of this dangerous imbecile?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Neverending Story

I couldn't watch "the speech" last night. The advance copies told me all I needed to know; the New Way Forward sounds just like Stay the Course. Today's news stories confirms those thoughts.

But here's what caught my eye:

At a briefing to add details about President Bush's new Iraq strategy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday said he would recommend increasing the Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 troops over the next five years.
The military has been unable to meet the temporary increase in manpower authorized a couple of years ago during some of the worst fighting and loss of soldiers' lives. Now that the public has turned completely away from Bush's war and the McCain Doctrine of Escalation, how does the administration expect to meet these new troop levels?


Monday, January 08, 2007

Lindsey Graham is an Idiot

And so is anyone who believes anything he says after this:

“In all honesty, we are not winning,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “And if you’re not winning, you’re losing. And now’s the time to come up with a strategy to win.”
No, you blithering idiot. Now is NOT the time to come up with a winning strategy. If we just absolutely had to be in this never-ending war, the time to have come up with a winning strategy was before the invasion.

Statements like this are why we're in the mess we're in.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Please Republicans, Nominate McCain

Because he's toast now:

McCain seems to be launching his 2008 campaign by taking the role of foremost advocate of sending significantly more troops for long-term deployment to Iraq.
Johnny-boy seems to think that out of all the Democrats elected in November, the only one who counts - when it comes to judging the public's attitude towards the war - is Joe Lieberman (D - In Name Only).

There are only two ways to implement the McCain plan: break the military once and for all or start a draft. Neither one is a winner.

Neither is McCain.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bush Signs More of Our Rights Away

Democratic control over Congress could not come soon enough. That much is agreed; but every day makes it more imperative that this new Congress exercise vigorous oversight of our imperial President. Take the latest in a long line of incredibly outrageous signing statements:

President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open people's mail under emergency conditions.
First it was warrentless wiretapping, now warrantless mail reading.

Somebody please, please impeach this son of a bitch.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Unidentified Objects

Something caught my eyes in the night sky last evening. Maybe some people need stories of UFOs in the news to make them look up, but I spend a lot of my time looking at the sky, especially at night. Since I got my first telescope when I was about 12 I've been an enthusiastic observer of the skies.

Last night's combination of a crystal clear sky a nearly full moon and very little "city glow" out where we live made it almost inevitable that I would be walking with my eyes not on the road ahead of us, but towards the heavens. I was watching the stars through a stand of trees that partially overhangs the road we were walking when what appeared to be a meteor caught my attention. But it was moving - I thought - too slowly to be a meteor; as it traveled in a straight line it brightened until I thought it would explode in a fire-ball: something I had seen fairly often. Then it started to fade, but not quickly like a burnt out meteor, more like a satellite moving out of the bright sunlight.

That's when it did something completely unexpected.

Whatever it was took a rather sharp left turn. About 40 to 60 degrees to the left. "Non-ballistic motion" is the term of art. And then it faded completely from sight.

I don't "believe" in UFOs so it left me wondering just what it was that I'd seen... Satellites don't make sharp turns; orbital mechanics just don't allow such motion. At about 8:00pm, I don't think any aircraft could be at an altitude to catch that much sunlight. And meteors just don't zig (or zag) like that.

Any thoughts?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Let it Snow?

Two years ago we had nearly 200 inches of snow over the season. On New Year's Day there was about a foot of snow on the ground. Last year I never ran my snow blower. December just passed here in Upstate NY saw the least amount of snow in recorded history. The mower deck is still on my lawn tractor. This morning it was 52 degrees.

What will this year bring?

World faces hottest year ever, as El NiƱo combines with global warming.
Says the headline of this article in the Independent.

Last week BushCo. claimed it would add the Polar Bear the the threatened species list. A small step towards finally joining the real world where scientists agree that global warming is taking place and is anthropogenic? Perhaps. Is it too little too late? Most likely.


This morning, I woke up relatively early, given the late dinner celebration of New Year's Eve, and took a walk around the yard with our Yellow Lab. To the East the sun was casting low beams beneath scattered clouds. To the West dark clouds obscured the sky with a bit of rain falling among lighter grey clouds scudding along in front of a slight breeze.

Suddenly the sun broke completely free of the clouds and shone against the dark wall of clouds - and with that burst of sunlight there was a nearly complete rainbow.

I hope that rainbow, long a symbol of hope, foretells of a better year ahead for all of us.

Happy New Year to you all!