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Step off, old man!
Wednesday, 22 December 2004
Right on
Bob Herbert from the NY Times gets it right here. Again, I'm staggered when I try to understand why so many military families and their loved ones who are doing the fighting love Bush so much.

Here it is:

"Greg Rund was a freshman at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999 when two students shot and killed a teacher, a dozen of their fellow students and themselves. Mr. Rund survived that horror, but he wasn't able to survive the war in Iraq. The 21-year-old Marine lance corporal was killed on Dec. 11 in Falluja.

The people who were so anxious to launch the war in Iraq are a lot less enthusiastic about properly supporting the troops who are actually fighting, suffering and dying in it. Corporal Rund was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Because of severe military personnel shortages, large numbers of troops are serving multiple tours in the war zone, and many are having their military enlistments involuntarily extended.

Troops approaching the end of their tours in Iraq are frequently dealt the emotional body blow of unexpected orders blocking their departure for home. "I've never seen so many grown men cry," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader who founded Operation Truth, an advocacy group for soldiers and veterans.

"Soldiers will do whatever you ask them to do," said Mr. Rieckhoff. "But when you tell them the finish line is here, and then you keep moving it back every time they get five meters away from it, it starts to really wear on them. It affects morale."

We don't have enough troops because we are fighting the war on the cheap. The Bush administration has refused to substantially expand the volunteer military and there is no public support for a draft. So the same troops head in and out of Iraq, and then back in again, as if through a revolving door. That naturally heightens their chances of being killed or wounded.

A reckoning is coming. The Army National Guard revealed last Thursday that it had missed its recruiting goals for the past two months by 30 percent. Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, who heads the National Guard Bureau, said: "We're in a more difficult recruiting environment, period. There's no question that when you have a sustained ground combat operation going that the Guard's participating in, that makes recruiting more difficult."

Just a few days earlier, the chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that recruiting was in a "precipitous decline" that, if not reversed, could lead to renewed discussions about reinstatement of the draft.

The Bush administration, which has asked so much of the armed forces, has established a pattern of dealing in bad faith with its men and women in uniform. The callousness of its treatment of the troops was, of course, never more clear than in Donald Rumsfeld's high-handed response to a soldier's question about the shortages of battle armor in Iraq.

As the war in Iraq goes more and more poorly, the misery index of the men and women serving there gets higher and higher. More than 1,300 have been killed. Many thousands are coming home with agonizing wounds. Scott Shane of The Times reported last week that according to veterans' advocates and military doctors, the already hard-pressed system of health care for veterans "is facing a potential deluge of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war."

Through the end of September, nearly 900 troops had been evacuated from Iraq by the Army for psychiatric reasons, included attempts or threatened attempts at suicide. Dr. Stephen C. Joseph, an assistant secretary of defense for health affairs from 1994 to 1997, said, "I have a very strong sense that the mental health consequences are going to be the medical story of this war."

When the war in Afghanistan as well as Iraq is considered, some experts believe that the number of American troops needing mental health treatment could exceed 100,000.

From the earliest planning stages until now, the war in Iraq has been a tragic exercise in official incompetence. The original rationale for the war was wrong. The intelligence was wrong. The estimates of required troop strength were wrong. The war hawks' guesses about the response of the Iraqi people were wrong. The cost estimates were wrong, and on and on.

Nevertheless the troops have fought valiantly, and the price paid by many has been horrific. They all deserve better than the bad faith and shoddy treatment they are receiving from the highest officials of their government."

Posted by brettdavey at 9:51 AM EST
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Our new role models
Most Americans like to think of the United States as a gleaming beacon of integrity and superior moral behavior. That's why most people either don't know or don't want to know about our past relationships with dictators or our new infatuation with torturing people.

We're not perfect, but at the least, I would hope we would aspire to be better than other countries that torture prisoners. Firstly, how can you know the information you get from someone being tortured is accurate? Torture me and I'll admit to anything. Seems the Syrias and Egypts of the world are our new role models.

Has there ever been a more incompetent group of people than the clowns running the current White House? One of the unforseen impacts of 9-11 was that it gave Bush a second term. Talk about the terrorists winning. For another four years, they have their chief recruiting tool in the White House: a disinterested President who will continue a suicidal policy simply because he will never admit he is wrong.

We're not winning against the terrorists; we're just creating more of them. If you don't think indiscriminate killing of thousands of innocent civilians creates a widespread bloodthirst for revenge, think again. Just look at how the U.S reacted after 9-11.

From the Toronto Sun:

"Who supplied "Chemical Ali" with his mustard and nerve gas? Why, the West, of course. In late 1990, I discovered four British technicians in Baghdad who told me they had been "seconded" to Iraq by Britain's ministry of defence and MI6 intelligence to make chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax, Q-fever and plague, at a secret laboratory at Salman Pak.

The Reagan administration and Thatcher government were up to their ears in backing Iraq's aggression, apparently with the intention to overthrow Iran's Islamic government and seize its oil. Italy, Germany, France, South Africa, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Chile and the USSR all aided Saddam's war effort against Iran, which was even more a victim of naked aggression than was Kuwait in 1991.

I'd argue senior officials of those nations that abetted Saddam's aggression against Iran and supplied him with chemicals and gas should also stand trial with Ali and Saddam.

What an irony it is to see U.S. forces in Iraq now behaving with much the same punitive ferocity as Saddam's army and police -- bombing rebellious cities, arresting thousands, terrorizing innocent civilians, torturing captives and sending in tanks to crush resistance.

In other words, Saddamism without Saddam. A decade ago, this column predicted that when the U.S. finally overthrew Saddam, it would need to find a new Saddam.

Finally, let's not forget that when Saddam's regime committed many of its worst atrocities against rebellious Kurds and Shiites, it was still a close ally of Washington and London. The West paid for and supplied Saddam's bullets, tanks, gas and germs. He was our regional SOB.

Our hands are very far from clean."

Posted by brettdavey at 9:43 AM EST
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Tuesday, 21 December 2004
Jesus, Santa, and Bill O'Reilly
These days, Republicans don't have much to offer except incompetence, war and deficits up to our eyeballs. Once they get on television, however, they spin like a top. Their new plan to save America seems to consist of dusting off old scapegoats and flat out making stuff up.

On the scapegoat front, Bill Clinton has been propped back up as the man responsible for everything that goes wrong, I'm guessing at least, for the next 20 years. Remember how the bad economy was his fault? (Wink. Wink.)Now, the new RNC talking points is that the armorless Humvees that are putting our troops at risk are Clinton's fault. Yessiree! Both Oliver North and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) have emerged from their caves to parrot this talking point over the last couple days. Forget the fact those Humvees were created in a different time, when the President wasn't expected to send troops into harm's way on nothing more than a gut feeling.

Of course, the four years this Administration has had to fix the problem weren't enough. Must be Clinton's fault. If it weren't for Bill, the Republicans would be awful close to "The dog ate my homework" territory.

The television snake oil salesmen, who like to treat their viewers like backwards swamp dwellers, are peddling a new tonic: Christmas is in danger! Bill O'Reilly, when he's not busy making explicit sexual phone calls, is the Great White Knight saving Christmas from the "secularists". Did anyone in the mainstream ever use that word before O'Reilly? Now, it's a word that packs the punch of "child molester" or "liberal." The poor persecuted white race. However will they overcome the barbarians at the gate?

Of course, O'Reilly plays his viewers for the fool by finding four or five isolated incidents where Christmas displays are kept off public property and makes them out to be a movement. Now, the ever-brave Joe Scarborough is taking up the cause. Go Joe!

A woman I work with who is religious and an O'Reilly fan confided in me that there is a movement underway to extinguish Christianity. When I asked her to confide the details of this insidious plot, she repeated the O'Reilly talking points verbatim. I tried to explain to her that she was being played for a rube, but she didn't want to hear it. She snuck away, nervously looking over her shoulder for the coming hordes of Christian-killers.

She shouldn't have to look far for the culprit. It's only a matter of hours before the assault on Christmas ends up in the lap of William Jefferson Clinton.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:47 AM EST
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Friday, 17 December 2004
Happy anniversary.. feel safer?
Remember when everyone went bananas on Howard Dean for saying the capture of Sadddam didn't make us any safer?

We just passed an important anniversary, one that none of the puppy dog media covered for fear it would make the Worst President Ever look bad.

A letter writer to www.bartcop.com summed it up pretty well:

Subject: one year anniversary

Yes Bart, the one year anniversary of the capture of Saddam has come and gone. There was not much fanfare as there was last year. From all accounts by the mediawhores at the time with the capture the war would turn more so in our favor, but a strange thing
happened on the way to the celebration by Bush and Company.

Total Fatalities since December 13, 2003: 904 (Saddam Hussein is captured)

This is a shame and Bart in your updates you hit it dead solid perfect accusing Bush and his friends from becoming super rich from this bloody war. You asked the perfect question: Are you happy with your vote America?

Well we see now that all the hoopla about the exit polls and the morals and values was a crock. People ask me on the issue of morals why I like Clinton so much and not Bush.

Well hell it is simple, Clinton is a man that knows he can sin, wheras Bush is man who believes he cannot sin and if he does, then his sins are justified.

David..........

Posted by brettdavey at 7:13 AM EST
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Too Much Trouble
I often wonder if any of the dirtbags involved in the Bush Adminsitration even feel a little bit bad about the soldiers killed in our various overseas engagements. I think they're more like a teenager who doesn't feel bad about doing something wrong, but feels bad about getting caught.

Of course, Rummy couldn't sign condolence letters to the families of soldiers killed in combat. He's too busy perfecting his Dirty Harry squint and pithy, pissy comebacks.

From www.estripes.com:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will begin personally signing condolence letters sent to families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, after receiving criticism over his use of mechanical signatures.

In a statement provided to Stars and Stripes on Thursday, Rumsfeld tacitly admitted that in the past he has not personally signed the letters, but said he was responsible for writing and approving each of the 1,000-plus messages sent to the fallen soldiers' families.

"I have directed that in the future I sign each letter," he said in the statement.

"I am deeply grateful for the many letters I have received from the families of those who have been killed in the service of our country, and I recognize and honor their personal loss."

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said, "In the interest of ensuring timely contact with grieving family members, he has not individually signed each letter."

Department of Defense officials for the past few weeks had said only that the content of the letters was private.

But several families of troops killed overseas said they were sure the notes they received had not been signed by hand, and said they were angry that Rumsfeld was not paying attention to their loss.

"To me it's an insult, not only as someone who lost a loved one but also as someone who served in Iraq," Army Spc. Ivan Medina told Stripes.

"This doesn't show our families the respect they deserve," said Medina, a New York resident whose twin brother, Irving, was killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq this summer.

Illinois resident Bette Sullivan, whose son John was killed in November 2003 while working as an Army mechanic in Iraq, was incensed when she, her son's wife and her grandchildren received the exact same condolence letter with the apparently stamped signature.

"If each family receives two copies, how many signatures does that amount to?" she asked in an e-mail response to Stripes. "I can understand the use of stamped signatures for his brothers' mementos, but for those of his wife and children and mother? No, no, no."

Retired Army Col. David Hackworth, an author and frequent critic of the Department of Defense, publicly criticized Rumsfeld in a syndicated column earlier this month for not reviewing each KIA letter personally.

He called the fake signatures "like having it signed by a monkey."

"Using those machines is pretty common, but it shouldn't be in cases of those who have died in action," he said. "How can [DOD officials] feel the emotional impact of that loss if they're not even looking at the letters?"

Hackworth said he objected to using the stamped signatures for promotion and commendation letters as well, but said not personally handling the condolence letters is a much more serious offense.

Family members had expressed similar concerns to Stripes about President Bush's signature on his condolence letters, but Allen Abney, spokesman for the president, said that Bush does personally sign the letters sent from the White House.

Posted by brettdavey at 6:45 AM EST
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Wednesday, 15 December 2004
Kerik's second pad
There's another article in the NY Times today about the various skeletons in Bernard Kerik's closet. If you believe he withdrew because of nanny problems, you're sadly misinformed.

There's a nice little tidbit from the article about Kerik and his various affairs. Many people were wondering how he could afford a second apartment, set up stricly so he could carry on with other women.

The Times says the apartment was donated as a resting place for police officers who were working at Ground Zero. Kerik used it instead as his own personal bedroom.

Yes, another true Republican hero.

Posted by brettdavey at 2:12 PM EST
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Joe says no
They say that Joe Lieberman was twice offered the Homeland Security job and twice turned it down. I'm no fan of Lieberman's, but I have to give him a thumbs-up on this one. It was obviously a political calculation on the part of the White House.

Even though Lieberman is rather hawkish, he did more than his fair share of Bush-bashing during the primaries. Of course, at other times, he has had his head squarely up Bush's ass.

The White House was hoping to add another Republican senator to the roster if Lieberman accepted. He didn't, which is to his credit. If he had, the Democrats would have hated him for giving up his seat. It's the same way Dems hate Zell Miller for blasting his own party and the way Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)raises the ire of hardline Republicans.

Posted by brettdavey at 2:07 PM EST
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Monday, 13 December 2004
Conservative Idiots
One of the best things on the web is "The Top 10 Conservative Idiots of the Week," posted every Monday on www.democraticunderground.com.

Here are a few from this week (the last one is a little offensive in its language, but since it was said by a staunch Catholic, it must be OK:

Wasting Everybody's Time
Last February, FCC Chairman Michael Powell told a Senate hearing that the number of indecency complaints received by the FCC had greatly risen in recent years, from fewer than 350 complaints in 2001 to almost a quarter-million in 2003. According to Powell, this was proof that there was "a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes."

Shocking, huh? I guess America really is morally outraged.

Not so fast though - it turns out that what Powell didn't mention during the Senate hearing was that 99.8 percent of the complaints filed in 2003 came from the Parents Television Council, a conservative activist group run by right-wing nutjob Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center.

"Why does it matter how the complaints come?" said PTC spokeswoman Lara Mahaney. "If the networks haven't done anything illegal, if they haven't done anything indecent, why do they care what we say?" Right... and this comes from an organization which hires people to watch "Sex and the City" and write down every line that violates their arbitrary standard of purity.

Aren't you glad that folks like the Parents Television Council are wasting government time and money looking out for you?

Coincidence Of The Week
Moral Values Watch: Back on October 6 the Rev. Mike Hintz, a First Assembly of God youth pastor, appeared at a Bush campaign stop in Iowa to laud the president's tax policies. "Where we are in this world, with not just the war on terror, but with the war with our culture that's going on, I think we need a man that is going to be in the White House like President Bush, that's going to stand by what he believes." Hintz said he supports Bush's values.

In a remarkable coincidence, last week a Rev. Mike Hintz, of Des Moines, Iowa - who, funnily enough, also used to be a First Assembly of God youth pastor until he was fired on October 30 - turned himself in to the police after being charged with the sexual exploitation of a child.

I wonder if they're related?

Hollywood Jews Hate Jesus, Like Anal Sex
And finally, I'm going to have to start watching cable news again if this is the sort of thing I'm missing:

PAT BUCHANAN: Bill Donahue, what do you think about "The Passion of the Christ"? And as a practical matter, even if Hollywood hated the film, it seems to me as an artistic work of art, a smashing triumph, a film of great controversy and interest, it ought to at least be nominated for best picture. It pulled in more money than any other picture all year.

WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT OF THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE: I spoke to Mel a couple of weeks ago about this. And I don't think it really matters a whole lot to him. It certainly doesn't matter to me. We`ve already won.

Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. That's why they hate this movie. It's about Jesus Christ, and it's about truth. It's about the messiah.

Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.

You have got secular Jews. You have got embittered ex-Catholics, including a lot of ex-Catholic priests who hate the Catholic Church, wacko Protestants in the same group, and these people are in the margins. Frankly, Michael Moore represents a cult movie. Mel Gibson represents the mainstream of America.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:34 AM EST
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Saturday, 11 December 2004
Repubs for porno
Turns out Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzalez' stepson is a website designer for Larry Flynt of Hustler magazine fame. He just resigned his job, probably because it doesn't look too good as his father gears up for the nomination process.

Immediately, my mind raced to Neil Bush and his on-the-record dalliances with prostitutes in Hong Kong.

What the hell is it with the Republicans family obsession with illicit sex you have to pay for?

Copy and paste this link to learn about Gonzalez' son:
http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/260719p-223200c.html

Posted by brettdavey at 9:02 AM EST
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Fear Factor
I wonder how long the frightfest is going to continue? There are a host of people who hope to keep scaring America with the spectre of 9-11 and some of them hope to keep it up for a while.

Suppose Giuliani wants to run for President. That means during the presidential election season of 2007, he'll have to run primarily on 9-11. Please, please, please Democrats, act tough for once if Giuliani runs. Start a fake organization-- "Americans for Decency" maybe -- and attack Rudy for having an affair with his press secretary and dumping his wife.

I'm not minimizing 9-11, but do you have anything else to say? On his behalf, Giuliani did act heroically on 9-11, as opposed to Bush who ran like the rich, gutless prep school boy that he is.

I hate to return to this but why hasn't any major media outlet done a story on the fraud that is Bush's Texas "ranch". This guy has lived most of his life in rich, gated communities. His ranch was built while he was running for President. It is a prop.

This is from the NY Times about Bernard Kerik taking a dive in his quest to replace Tom Ridge. He quit obstensibly because of an issue with an immigrant housekeeper, but there was increasing pressure as people looked at some of his shady dealings.

I only excerpted my favorite part of the story, which details the excellent family values of this upstanding Republican.

"A former New York City official who knows the circumstances of the withdrawal said that the housekeeper, who had worked for the Kerik family for about a year, left for her home country two weeks ago. Her name and nationality were not disclosed. Mr. Kerik lives in Franklin Lakes, N.J., with his wife, Hala, and their two small children. Mr. Kerik has two older children, one from a previous marriage and one whom he fathered while serving in the military in Korea."

Posted by brettdavey at 8:52 AM EST
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