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.