Friday, September 30, 2005

Reduce Crime, Abort Babies

Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett recently said something stupid. But that's not unusual for Bennett who is also the author of The Book of Virtues. Despite writing that book he later was found to be a high stakes gambler in casinos around the country. I'm not sure if gambling is a virtue, but it must be to Bennett. His recent remarks are way up there in the stupid zone.

In answering a callers question on his "Morning in America" radio show he didn't agree with an hypothesis of a recent book about lowered crimes rate to higher abortion rates.

He said, "But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, abd your crime rate would go down."

He did add, "it's an impossible, rediculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."

I'll say, tricky is right. I think the tricky part for Bennett is how not to say stupid things. But maybe he is on to something.

To reduce white collar crime, executive scandals and such, we could abort babies of Ivy League business school graduates.

To reduce terrorism we could abort Arab babies.

To reduce future hate crimes we could identify trucks by the type of bumper stickers they have, such as confederate flag, or "fags die" and make the owner's wife have abortions.

To reduce abortions (in case abortions become a crime) we could abort babies of women likely to give birth to future women that are likely to have abortions. I'm sure they could come up with some type of ratio statistic to zero in on those type of women. Abort them before they abort others.

And we could reduce crime down to nearly zero by aborting all babies. We can kill off the human race so that it stops criminal activity. This might be the best idea. Abort all humans and humanity will be crime-free. Crimes against the earth (man-made pollution) will cease as well.

Of course my ideas are as stupid as Bennett's. He didn't think other races besides African-Americans apparently commit crimes to consider aborting them. Maybe Bennett is like George Bush, he don't care about black people.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People

There is this great song flying around the Internet. Remember when Kenya West went off on George Bush at the Emmy's? He was exchange reading with Mike Meyers about Katrina relief efforts from the script when he went off script and said "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Meyers was a little slow but you can see in the video that he finally does a double take looking at West. Anyway, check out this video by The Legendary K.O. inspired by Katrina and Kenya's Emmy appearance, "George Bush, Doesn't Care About Black People." Warning, graphic language, but it didn't bother me.

A sample;

Five days in this m***f*** attic,
Can't use the cell phone, I keep getting static.
Dying 'cause they lying, instead of telling us the truth,
The other day helicopters got my neighbor off the roof,
Screwed 'cause they said they was coming back for us too.
That was three days ago, I don't see no rescue.
See a mans got to do what a mans got to do.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Peace Rally Rocks

I had to watch the Washington DC peace rally on C-SPAN TV yesterday, but what I saw was great. It looked like there were hundreds of thousands attending. There were a whole lotta signs.

For a look at some good photos of the event in Washington try Bradblog.

Bush Acts Like a President

During the Rita Hurricane watch, President Bush actually acted like a president is supposed to act. He was going to visit San Antonio evacuees, but then he changed plans and waited and monitored Rita from NORTHCOM in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

This is what the president should be doing in a crisis. He should get to the closest command center and monitor the event and stay out of the way on the ground. It took Bush a few tries to get it right, but he finally did. After Katrina he was still loafing on vacation, he certainly wasn't monitoring the event. In fact he apparently wasn't watching Katrina at all. His aides
made a DVD of TV reports of Katrina and had Bush watch them on the flight back to Washington. No command center, no monitoring, no caring about Katrina. This time he acted the president and cared.

Even 9/11 he didn't act like a president. When given the news that the United States was under attack, President Bush just sat and listened to a children's story for 10 minutes and then did some photo-ops in the elementary school before finally getting with his aides and beginning to deal with that event.

It sure can take Bush a long time to figure out something. I think after five years he may have finally figured out how to act like a president during a crisis. Now let's see if he can remember this moment and repeat at the next big event.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rita Anti-War

Tomorrow is going to be a big day in the United States. We have Hurricane Rita roaring ashore in the morning and then in the afternoon the big anti-war rally in Washington D.C. and around the country.

If you are in the path of Rita please evacuate and if you are near an anti-war rally please attend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Bush" as a Group

More than ever, I think of the word Bush as a group of people. I may think Bush did something, but it can also be others in his administration or friends. When I think "Bush revealed a CIA agent's name," I know that the real culprits are Karl Rove and Scooter Libby among others. I have to imagine George Bush knows something about the incident, so Bush revealed the CIA agent's name.

When one of the Bush team does or says something rediculous I think "they Bushed that one." Like when two people in the administration admitted on national television that that were not aware that thousands were waiting to be rescued at the New Orleans Convention Center despite that same national television showing video of the starving survivors the day before. Both FEMA head Michael Brown (Bush's Brownie) and Michael Chertoff chief of Homeland Security said that, so I think "they both Bushed that one."

A group of people from the Bush Administration could be called
Bushites or Bushovics. Maybe Bushmen? Or the Bushers, as in "I'm sick of hearing the Bush from these lieing Bushers." The word Bush is a four letter word, we should think of it in just that way. Maybe TV should not be allowed to use Bush because it is thought of as offensive. Comedians telling Bush jokes would get bleeped, no, on second thought, let the jokes fly.

Did you hear that in the early days of the Katrina aftermath a reporter asked Bush about which he favored? Roe vs. Wade? Bush said he didn't care how the evacuees got out of New Orleans.

When Bush strummed the guitar at a birthday party while New Orleans was drowning, I called that a Big Bushing. He was not doing his job (like many in the Bush regime), he was just strummin' or Bushin'. That time it was George himself acting the Busher just Bushin' around on vacation.

A Bush Job is when one of the Bushers gets a great money deal. Like we all know that Vice President Dick Cheney (go Bush yourself, Mr. Cheney) gets an income from Halliburton every year despite the stink of the government awarding Halliburton no-bid contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan and now more no-bid contracts for rebuilding New Orleans. That's called a helluva Bush Job.

So many Bushers. Rove, Cheney, Chertoff, Rumsfeld, Hastert, DeLay, Rice, just a part of the group that keeps Bushing us! Bushites, Bushers, Bushanians, no matter what you call them they are giving us the Bushshit. We need some anti-Bush serum. I'd call for a shot in the Bush arm, flavored with impeach mint.

Katrina Aftermath, What About Rita?

Here we are a few weeks past Katrina landfall and now the Gulf Coast is staring down Rita. Hurricane after huricane, flood followed by flood. Let's hold on about the moving back into New Orleans, let's see what Rita does.

The prediction as of right now; Rita currently a category two hurricane, to gain strength in the warm Gulf of Mexico and turn northwest/north toward Texas and Louisiana.

This just seems too bizarre, almost like a movie you wouldn't write. It's starting to seem like a bad idea to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast just yet. If Rita hits to the west of New Orleans, then that puts Baton Rouge as a target, which has doubled in population from the influx of evacuees. Same with some Texas cities such as Houston and San Antonio. Possible the strangest thing Rita could do would be a repeat on New Orleans. That would be eerily devastating.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Bush is Shafting New Orleans

Do you ever wonder where our tax dollars go? From FEMA to Pat Robertson, that's where. This from Frank Rich, NYTimes;

WHEN there's money on the line, cronies always come first in this White House, no matter how great the human suffering. After Katrina, the FEMA Web site directing charitable contributions prominently listed Operation Blessing, a Pat Robertson kitty that, according to I.R.S. documents obtained by ABC News, has given more than half of its yearly cash donations to Mr. Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. If FEMA is that cavalier about charitable donations, imagine what it's doing with the $62 billion (so far) of taxpayers' money sent its way for Katrina relief. Actually, you don't have to imagine: we already know some of it was immediately siphoned into no-bid contracts with a major Republican donor, the Fluor Corporation, as well as with a client of the consultant Joe Allbaugh, the Bush 2000 campaign manager who ran FEMA for this White House until Brownie, Mr. Allbaugh's college roommate, was installed in his place.

The whole Bush Administration is corrupt. Fire them all.

Bob Dylan's Masters of War

Masters of War written in 1963 by Bob Dylan tells a story as if it were today. The words he wrote get me nodding in agreement. Here's one section;

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

The entire lyrics to Masters of War.

Freeway Blogging, for Sept. 24th

The weekend of Sept. 24th would be a good time to freeway blog..

Peace March on Washington Reminder

This is a quick reminder about the upcoming peace rally in Washington, D.C. on September 24th. This is an anti-Iraq War peace rally. After the poor response by the federal government and George Bush, this rally will probably include protesters of the Katrina fallout as well. Estimates are upward of half a million activists at this point.

This same day throughout the United States there will be many other rallies if attending in Washington isn't possible to some activists. Local state peace rallies will be held in major cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, etc., and many other more localized get-togethers.

September, 24th, please, everyone try to attend either the March on Washington or local rallies. Let's get peaceful!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dreaming of NEW New Orleans (First Edition)

For quite a few years I've advocated rebuilding American urban cities one by one in the fashion of a Marshall Plan. The federal government should have a Department of Marshall Plan with a permanent budget, fold the HUD into this new department. One city at a time and we have the perfect city ready to be rebuilt. Marshall Plan city number one, New Orleans to include towns along the Gulf Coast to the east.

I think The Marshall Plan Department (MPD) should have at its core a large public works department in the mode of Roosevelt "get to work programs." This would allow local residents to gain jobs and work experience as well as using the knowledge they have of the city layout. I'm not happy at the choices of Bush for rebuilding New Orleans, no-bid contracts with Halliburton and Bechtel for instance. I wouldn't have a problem if workers from these corporations work for the MPD rather than for their companies, as contract workers. We need predominently local entity(ies), one that runs at a balanced budget , not an outside entity that wants profit.

MPD should have a task force of representatives from the different interests of New Orleans to help guild rebuilding decisions. Groups of people like the entertainment industry (Bourbon Street), environmental (barrier reefs), fishing (shrimp), office business, levee building (Corp of Engineers), etc. must be able to have input.

I would include a high state official in the task force to liason with New Orleans. I would suggest Lt. Governor Landrieu. He was helping in the boats, rescueing people early on in the aftermath. I think Kathleen Blanco should resign along with George Bush among others. Or she should drop a job level, she and Landrieu could switch jobs. Mayor Ray Nagin should be involved, but he needs to take a step back and let the task force come up with some ideas. I'm still not sure if Nagin should also resign, I'll give him some credit as he faced an impossible situation, with all power gone, all communications out, streets flooded to block police and fire, and certainly confusion in government heirarchy above his level (FEMA, etc.).

Certainly represented on the task force are neighborhood leaders. The people moving back into New Orleans should be part of the process of redesigning the residential areas. A neighborhood that houses workers from the Bourbon Street and downtown business district area should be located nearby. If people can work closer to home, then evacuating the city will be easier. Roads should include bike lanes to save gas within the city. And a mass transit system that is safe and reliable.

I'm essentially proposing building from the ground up, so the low lying areas of the city should be considered future flood areas. Build pylons and structures that sit above the flood area. Under the structures could be built flood-out areas that are expected to fill with water during a flood. Pumps would be permenently installed at that level. The storage could be basically basements for less essential items that could be moved quickly. Or the whole flood areas could be filled in with earth with good drainage technology within the land.

I'd like to see many of the new homes and neighborhoods outfitted with solar panels, green roofs, and wind farms nearby to cut back energy costs. Sure there is plenty of oil and natural gas nearby in the Gulf of Mexico but it won't last forever. Let's think ahead and build an infrastructure that will be adaptable to the future ways of doing energy. Install a few hydrogen filling stations and begin to promote cars (tax incentives) that use hydrogen. There are plenty of new ideas for rejuvenating older cities. Plan for plenty of open park parcels and even parcels for gardening plots.

The working poor and people of poverty need better living space. Their neighborhoods should be thought out well. Mass transit through the areas. Homes must be above the flood level. The houses and apartments should have a desireabilty, use plenty of mixed styling/sizing to attract various groups to the same neighborhoods. Former residents must have some input and choice of how the blocks should look. Walking and bikeriding access should be incorporated throughout the city.

Marshall Plan Department, it's time to begin on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. In a few years the department can move on to another urban city, I would suggest Detroit, but there are other choices.

(first part in an ongoing series of looks at the New New Orleans.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Katrina Finger Pointing

FEMA directer Michael Brown (Bush's Brownie) has already resigned (or more likely was fired, as a replacement was named within the hour of his resignation) and now it seems that possibly Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff could be next.

Information is coming to light that Chertoff was more responsible than Brown for the lack of federal response to hurricane Katrina. Chertoff was unaware that the levees had broken in New Orleans for nearly a full day past the massive flooding. This despite the fact that most people watching the cable news networks were fully aware.

Chertoff was the one who had the authority (as Homeland Security Chief) to call in the military in response to the growing disaster in New Orleans. Chertoff is in charge of the National Response Plan and also who is to call for action on
"an incident of national significance."

It turns out he was in Atanta giving a briefing on avian flu as New Orleans was flooding from the broken levees. Not until Chertoff was returning from Atlanta on Aug. 30 did he begin writing the memo that declared Katrina "an incident of national significance" and put the full force of the federal government behind the relief and rescue efforts.

Sounds to me that Chertoff will be the next to go.

On a side note. I had called for President Bush to resign as he has taken the responsibilty for the lack of response. Now it turns out that Louisiana Democrat Governor Kathleen Blanco has also taken responsibilty, Blanco said "At the state level, we must take a careful look at what went wrong and make sure it never happens again. The buck stops here...and, as your governor, I take full responsibilty."

So I call for her to resign as well. Do the right thing Kathleen Blanco and resign. Both you and Bush could resign together, turn in the two-weeks notice at the same time. No more politicians saying "my bad" and then not having to face a penalty.

Another thing in common about Bush and Blanco, they both called for a day of prayer (different days). I think people who pray don't need to be told when to pray. They probably started praying the moment they turned on the TV and saw the destruction.

Another Question for the Tinfoil Hat Religious Right

Regarding my last post I thought of another question that I wish I could have answered by the Religious Right leaders that think Katrina was sent by God because America is sinful.

Canada has both legal gay marriage and legal abortion, gambling and is also mostly a Christian country. So why does Canada not get punished by God in some form of a natural disaster? They don't get hurricanes or huge floods, earthquakes or tornados. At least not in comparison to the major catastrophes that America receives.

In fact same-sex marriage was made completely legal in every province in Canada by their parliment just this past July. It seems to me that if God had some sort of wrath about gay marriage it would have been Canada that got blasted by a disaster like hurricane Katrina.

Pat Robertson is one of those tinfoil hat religious leaders that thinks Katrina was sent by God because of our sins. Of course Robertson also recently advocated assissination of an elected leader of another country. If I were to attribute Katrina as God's punishment, it would be because too many Americans let violent thoughts such as Robertson's pass right by. Too many Americans accept Robertson as some sort of expert interpreter of God. That would be my guess as to why God sent Katrina. Not that I believe Katrina was nothing more than a huge weather event.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Religious Right With the Tinfoil Hats

Since Katrina there has been several Christian evangelists that want to blame God for Katrina. I guess the correct way to explain it is that they blame Americans for bad behavior thus God sent us Katrina. Usually the refrain has to do with abortion, but they tend to blame any actions by Americans that they deem unreligious as reasons that God attacks us (I'm sorry, punishes us). I consider these people crazy enough to be wearing tinfoil hats as modern fashion.

The problem with this "read the mind of God" theorizing about disasters, is that they alone seem to know what disasters are God punishments and for what reason God has been motivated to enact punishment.

I've always had questions regarding this reading of God's mind. For instance, how many Americans must be having abortions to enrage God? Is there some sort of percentage, say 15% before God blows his/her top and sends us a hurricane? Or is the number to be absolute zero, which would be something America has never acheived through its entire history? Thus by the tinfoil hat religious right leaders theory, God should have been sending earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados at Americans virtually relentlessly without a days rest (even on Sundays).

And why do these Christian leaders decide that the gay lifestyle or abortion happen to be what God is mad about? Did not Jesus preach non-violence, praise those who worked against war "blessed are the peacemakers?" Have these Christian leaders with the tinfoil hats considered that maybe the fact that America is in two wars, (one of which we started with a pack full of lies) have anything to do with God's wrath? The Iraq War has been a disaster, maybe God decided that it is an unwinnable war because we started it? It does seem to make sense as America is suppose to have the most powerful military in the world, we are the Goliaths against the Davids in the Iraq War.

Ah, but I don't suspect these tinfoil hat Christian leaders really believe in Jesus, afterall what is a commonality among them? They make money off their words of "wisdom." Jesus said two people make a church, he didn't suggest then becoming media superstars taking in huge amounts of cash to become the rich preaching to the poor. I've always thought Jesus was suppose to be our example to follow. Did Jesus charge scalpers prices to listen to him? No, he didn't take a Roman nickle. Maybe it's these false prophets of medialand that brings God's wrath on Americans?

Then again maybe there is another possible reason for God sending us Katrina. Is it possible Americans have been praising false idols? The evangelical TV/radio voices are such true believers in George Bush that nothing that he does is wrong. In their eyes, Bush is some sort of perfect human. I swear if Bush were to slice the throat of another human and drink the spurting blood live on TV these tinfoil hat evangelists would say Bush was correct in doing so. They'd find some reason to justify that action and/or point the finger of blame somewhere else. They'd probably blame the media (not pointing out that THEY are part of the media) as they usually like to do. Most of these nutcakes trust Bush when he said "I believe God wants me to be president."

These nutty assertions by the crackpot evangelical right is good enough reason for me to be quite the opposite when I think about Bush. Call me a contrarian or a secularist or just an average American, but I don't see Bush from their viewpoint. I see a president that is warlike. I see a president that isn't afraid to lie to Americans to get or do what he wants. I see a president that relied on these crackpots to get elected. But then again unlike the tinfoil hat Christian leaders I don't spend much time assuring everyone that I know what God is thinking. I don't attribute natural earth events to the wrath of God (I thought that went out of style in the Old Testiment anyway). I don't make millions telling others how to live. And I guess I just don't read Jesus like they do.

Although I'm no perfectionist about the Golden Rule, it does seem like one of Jesus' best lessons. So, I don't advocate war on Muslims like the tinfoil hat evangelicals. War has always seemed like a clear violation of the Golden Rule to me. We were not attacked by Iraq, so why is it OK to war on them? I don't like it when I'm lied to, so I do my best to be honest. Unlike our president who started a war based on lies told to me and my fellow Americans. Sorry, the tinfoil hat wearing religious right leaders don't sway my ideals of Jesus, never will.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush Blocks EPA Info of New Orleans From Public

Here we go again. The practice of the White House to block the Environmental Protection Agency from releasing information to the public and in turn possibly and probably putting peoples lives in danger simply because the White House doesn't want their plans to be slowed down. This time the EPA information about the flood water in New Orleans is being blocked.

The White House after the 9/11 attack directed the EPA that all media releases be subjected to internal review by the National Security Council (NSC) in the White House. The NCS then altered or deleted information before release to the public. Some of that information that the EPA was ready to release as early as the day after the terrorist attack showed that the air quality in the vicinity of the attack site was dangerous. If the truly accurate information been released people in that area could have taken steps to adapt to the air quality, but the White House didn't believe that that was important.

Now in post-Katrina New Orleans we are having an instant replay. The White House is once again blocking the EPA from releasing critical information about the water quality in the flooded city. Most people in this country having seen news reports on TV probably assume the water has toxicity. Reporters have described the sickening smell and ugly appearance of the flood waters within the city, yet the White House won't let the EPA tell us what's in it?

What is with the White House? Do they not care about the relief workers in the area? Do they not care about the survivors that had to wade around in that muck? Do they not care about New Orleans residents that are beginning to return to the city to reopen businesses?

The answer is no, they don't care.
They didn't care after 9/11, why should we expect them to care this time? We might as well disband the EPA because the Bush White House won't let them release the truthful information the public should know. What is the point of an agency that is to test and then inform the public of health hazards if the White House won't let them do the second part of their mission, inform the public?

On the other hand, it seems there is another option, fire the White House for continued public health endangerment. When including the same practice after 9/11 with post-Katrina we can only conclude that the Bush White House has a history of this practice and can only make one wonder if they have altered or deleted other EPA reports to further risk the public's health. How long must we endure a White House that has not been honest with Americans on so many issues? I believe it is time for Bush to resign or be impeached.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bush Should Resign Over Katrina Response

Today President Bush said "And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. I want to know what went right and what went wrong," said Bush.

So in what way does Bush take responsibility? Just saying he takes responsibility is not enough, he must also face some consequences for what happened. It's so American to say, "my bad" and move on with no penalty, no personal retribution for the "bad."

We must remember that it was Bush who created this government organization called Homeland Security to protect America from major disasters both man made and "acts of God." Homeland Security was originally an idea that came from the Democrats in the Senate post 9/11, but Bush decided he liked the idea and fully endorsed the plan. He further asked for major funding which was provided by Congress.

The White House developed the Homeland Security Department, made the top post a cabinet level job. During the process they thought it was a good idea to wrap FEMA into Homeland Security. Post Katrina it has been learned that the FEMA arm of Homeland Security has been gutted and personnel transferred to other parts of HS. The decision was made by the White House to place less emphasis on FEMA or "acts of God" relief and more emphasis on terrorists attack.

Americans have to wonder to what extent Homeland Security is ready and able to respond to other "acts of God" around the country. To what extent has the White House decided that FEMA is not important enough to provide help for other natural disasters.

Consider these natural disasters that scientist have warned Americans (and the White House) to be aware of and prepare for.

Earthquakes. We have been warned that the State of California has major faultlines and that the "big one" is only a matter of time. Large urban centers such as Los Angeles and San Francisco are essentially sitting on a crustal time bomb. Further, scientists have been warning that a major earth event is soon probably for the Pacific Northwest which includes major population centers such as Portland and Seattle. Less well known but just as possible is a major faultline in the Midwest called "The New Madrid" that historically has had major events and we have major cities along that as well such as St. Louis.

Volcanos. The Pacific Northwest has major mountains that are considered active including Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier, Mt. Hood and Mt. Shasta. We saw what a major eruption can do when Mt. St. Helens erupted but we "dodged a bullet" as the damage wrought didn't affect Seattle. The next time we might not be so fortunate. The predictions for a Mt. Hood eruption is that the Columbia River would be devasted and the water supply for Portland would be entirely compromised. Yellowstone Park is essentially one big volcano and in the geologic past had a super volcanic event that affected the whole midwest.

Tsunamis. The Pacific Coast is a tsunami zone. The geologic record shows that the upper coast was once hit recently with a huge tsunami that changed the shape of the coast.

Hurricanes. If recent hurricanes hasn't woken us up, then God help us. Last years Ivan nicknamed "terrible" had been a warning for the Gulf Coast, Katrina was an "I told you so." Scientists have explained that we are in a 40 to 60 year cycle (not necessarily connected to global warming) of increasing hurricane activity. We have been told to expect more and bigger hurricanes in the coming years.

Asteroids. Again the geologic record shows that we have had huge castrophes from meteor impacts. Scientists tell us that it is only a matter of time before some day that crazy roll of a dice called a meteor slams the earth.

In light of Katrina it seems the White House has determined that all of the above predicted natural disasters are less important to Americans than terrorist attacks. That Homeland Security is less prepared for natural disasters than before the department was created. Essentially the White House is guilty of negligence in preparedness toward natural disasters of the above consideration.

Bush has now claimed responsibility for the failings of the federal government over the response to Katrina. I would like to know in what way he intends to fullfill some sort of consequence to the failure. As former president Harry Truman once famously said, "The buck stops here." So, the buck has been claimed by Bush, but what of it? I can only think of one way for Bush to absorb a consequence, resign. I suppose he could be impeached, but I think a man of true integrity would do the right thing and resign.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tal Afar, Viet Nam...I Mean Iraq

The latest battle in Iraq is in the town of Tal Afar near the border of Syria. US and Iraqi troops have been doing house-to-house searches looking for insurgents. From the description from this news report, I seem to be flashing back to news reports from Viet Nam.

Some items of flash back and items that raise my eyebrows;

Iraqi Defense Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi said, "We are warning those who have given shelter to terrorists that they must stop, kick them out or else we will cut off their hands, heads and tongues as we did in Tal Afar,'' apparently using figurative language.

"Figurative language" won't be apparent unless there is some type of investigation.

Fighting eased Sunday, the second day of a U.S. and Iraqi sweep through the militant stronghold of Tal Afar near the Syrian border, as insurgents melted into the countryside, many escaping through a tunnel network dug under an ancient northern city.

The Viet Cong had extensive tunnel networks that were very problematic for Americans.

Al-Dulaimi kept up the drumbeat of complaints against Syria for allegedly facilitating insurgent entry into Iraq. "The Syrians have to stop sending destruction to Iraq. The terrorists have no other gateway into Iraq but Syria,'' he said.

Viet Nam had the same thing from the border of Cambodia.
Further it sounds like Iraq has the same problem as the US, a porous border. We can't slow the influx of non-Americans here in the US, what makes the Bush Administration think it can do so in Iraq?

Saturday's closure of the nearby border crossing with Syria did not affect the frontier crossing near the insurgent stronghold of Qaim which sits on the major highway into Syria and is well to the south of Rabiyah.

The answer is, they can't.

Faysal Ibrahim, the head of Syria's Customs Department at the nearby Yaaroubiya border crossing, said U.S. helicopters were seen Sunday morning about 500 yards from the Syrian border. Some 500 cargo trucks were lined up at the crossing after the closure.

500 yards? How soon before we cross into Syria, like in Viet Nam we crossed into Cambodia?

The offensive in Tal Afar is especially delicate because of the tangle of ethnic sensitivities in the region. About 90 percent of the city's population - most of which fled to the countryside before the fighting began - is Sunni Turkmen who have complained about their treatment from the Shiite-dominated government and police force put in place after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

I wonder if this 90% were the ones
al-Dulaimi threatened to "cut off their hands, heads and tongues?"

The Turkmen have a vocal ally in their Turkish brethren to the north, where Turkey's government is a vital U.S. ally and has fought against its own Kurdish insurgency for decades. Tal Afar is next to land controlled by Iraqi Kurds.

Turkey voiced disapproval of U.S. tactics when American forces ran insurgents out of Tal Afar a year ago. The Turkmen residents complained that Iraqi Kurds were fighting alongside the Americans.

U.S. and Kurdish officials denied the allegation, but the Turkish government threatened to stop cooperating with the Americans. The siege was lifted the next day and insurgents began returning when the Americans quickly pulled out, leaving behind only a skeleton force of 500 soldiers.

For those reasons, U.S. forces have stood back during the new sweep through Tal Afar, allowing Iraqi forces to break down doors in the search for insurgents.

So Tal Afar is quite an ethical mess. Iraqi Shiite soldiers after foreign Muslim insurgents in a town of Sunni Turkmen next door to a Kurdish area and Syria. Who can keep track of all that?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Bush Can't Get a Hit

Lately it's not hard to find criticism of President Bush as to his leadership. His lack of leadership in the wake of Katrina has sent his approval ratings even lower than they were prior to the hurricane. He is at his all-time low, and no wonder.

My only wonder is, why has it taken so long? Why have so many people been fooled by Bush all this time? Bush has never been what he appears to be, or what his handlers project him to be. There are so many quotes and incidents involving Bush, that the sheer preponderance of these would clue any clear thinking person into the truth of Bush.

Bush once said, "I believe God wants me to be president." It would take a real egomaniac to say something like that, and I would wonder why wouldn't a religious person question how Bush could be so presumptious to know what God meant. Unless they thought God talks to Bush.

Bush also once mocked a death row female to a reporter, laughing at her pleadings for mercy. Only a cold hearted person would do that, and certainly not someone who professes to believe in God, or at least a God that Jesus believed in. A God of love.

As far as some of the editorials I've seen questioning Bush's leadership, I was struck by one written by Al Neuharth of USAToday from the Friday edition. He uses the vehicle of a baseball batting average to rate Bush's leadership. Neuharth states that he gives Bush two strikeouts, one each for the Iraq War and Katrina, but then gives Bush a homerun for 9/11. So Bush's average would be .333, with one homerun and two outs, both strikeouts.

Based on this standard, I have to highly disagree with the homerun. I've seen the video of Bush sitting in that Florida classroom after learning from White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card that America is under attack. Bush was at a loss for how to lead. He just sits there, doing nothing. Meanwhile in New York people are jumping out of the windows of the World Trade Center towers trapped by the fires. Firemen and police drop everything and race to the scene (that's leadership).

Back in Florida, Bush continues to sit and can't seem to even think of an excuse to give the children so as to be able to leave and become a leader at such an important time. "We are under attack." For ten long minutes he just mulls this over and then after the story is finished he still does not immediately exit the classroom, he chats with the teacher. Being president is the job he wanted, but at that historic moment being president was not the job he was doing. Outside the classroom are his bevy of aides waiting for his orders, waiting for him to take charge like a president with good leadership qualities would do.

No, I would not give him a homerun for 9/11. I would call that a strikeout as well. As I score his batting average, he is oh-fer three, end of inning. And if that was the ninth inning, then it's time for him to go back to the locker room in defeat. Impeach Bush, recall him, he has failed again.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bush May Cause Disasters at Oil Refineries

So here we go again with George Bush. In his ever increasing effort to try to bolster his public appoval ratings he is making a decision that could cause a disaster at oil refineries in the United States. He has ordered oil refineries to postpone all scheduled maintenance in order to maximize the refinement of gasoline and heating oil. Bush has ordered this in the wake of rising prices due to the destruction of some refineries from hurricane Katrina. He probably has also done this because consumers are apt to blame the president whenever fuel prices increase.

Oil refinery fires and explosions are not that uncommon in this country and plenty of workers have died from these type of incidents. When these type of disasters occur, the usual result is that gasoline prices increase in the areas of the country that the refinery served.

So George Bush is crossing his fingers and hoping that no refinery explosions or fires occur due to his order of postponement of scheduled maintenance. But maybe not. Maybe he is willing to risk refinery workers lives for cheaper gasoline and heating oil. Maybe he figures no one will remember his order if a disaster should occur. Maybe he figures that if an incident happens, no one will be able to pinpoint the reason as a missed performance of maintenance.

Myself, I wonder how much prices will really be reduced from the order given by Bush. I suspect it wouldn't be much more than a few pennies at the pump. And then I wonder will that miniscule savings really be worth any lives lost if a refinery has a disaster.

In the same way that Bush cut back the budget of the Army Corp of Engineers plans to improve the New Orleans levee system, this postponement of maintenance at oil refineries is the shortsighted way he does politics. Bush gambles with future lives with his decisions.

Here are just a few refinery incidents;

15 people dead, 70 injured, March 2005 Texas City, Texas

In March 2000, an explosion and fire tore through a Phillips Petroleum Company chemical plant in nearby Pasadena, Texas, killing one and injuring 71. In July 1990 an explosion at Arco Chemical Plant in Channelview killed 17. In October 1989, an explosion at a Phillips Petroleum plastics plant, also in Pasadena, killed 23.

May 14, 1999, Coastal Corp refinery explosion, 10 injured.

July 28, 1999, Mobile Oil Company refinery explosion, Torrance, California

August 9, 1999, Citgo Refinery, Corpus Christi, Texas, 1 worker killed,

August 11, 1999, Refinery explosion and fire, Dallas, Texas.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Why do we fight in Iraq?

Yesterday I saw Congressman Ron Paul of Texas give a great speech on the floor of the house about the War in Iraq. Paul is a Republican of the Libertarian sort, and I couldn't believe how much he and I share the same views about this war.

I highly recommend using the link to his webpage and read the speech in its entirety. But I will highlight some parts that are dead on in my opinion.

Ron Paul;
..."The reasons now given for why we must continue this war bear no resemblance to the reasons given to gain the support of the American people and the United States Congress prior to our invasion in March of 2003. Before the war, we were told we faced an imminent threat to our national security from Saddam Hussein. This rationale,
now proven grossly mistaken, has been changed. Now we’re told we must honor the fallen by “completing the mission.” To do otherwise would demean the sacrifice of those who have died or been wounded. Any lack of support for “completing the mission” is said, by the promoters of the war, to be unpatriotic, un-American, and detrimental to the troops. They insist the only way one can support the troops is to never waver on the policy of nation building, no matter how ill-founded that policy may be. The obvious flaw in this argument is that the mission, of which they so reverently speak, has changed constantly from the very beginning....

...Today, though, all the old reasons for going to war
have been discredited, and are no longer used to justify continuing the war. Now we are told we must “complete the mission,” and yet no one seems to know exactly what the mission is or when it can be achieved. By contrast, when war is properly declared against a country we can expect an all-out effort until the country surrenders. Without a declaration of war as the Constitution requires, it’s left to the President to decide when to start the war and when the war is over. We had sad experiences with this process in Korea and especially in Vietnam....

...Since no logical answers can be given for why we fight, it might be better to talk about why
we should not fight. A case can be made that if this war does not end soon it will spread and engulf the entire region. We’ve already been warned that war against Iran is an option that remains on the table for reasons no more reliable than those given for the pre-emptive strike against Iraq. Let me give you a few reasons why this war in Iraq should not be fought....

1)It is not in our national interest.....
2)This war has never been declared.....
3)It’s virtually impossible to beat a determined guerrilla resistance to a foreign occupying force....
4)Those who argue that it’s legitimate to protect “our oil” someday must realize that
it’s not our oil,...
5)So far our policies inadvertently have encouraged the development of an Islamic state, with Iranian-allied Shiites in charge....

...Those who want to continue this war accuse those who lost loved ones in Iraq, and oppose the war, of using the dead for personal political gain. But what do the war proponents do when they claim the reason we must fight on is to honor the sacrifice of the military personnel we lost by completing the mission? The big difference is that one group argues for saving lives, while the other justifies more killing. And by that logic, the additional deaths will require even more killing to make sure they too have not died in vain. Therefore, the greater number who have died, the greater is the motivation to complete the mission.
This defies logic....

Ron Paul finishes succinctly
...If confidence can be restored in our American traditions of peace and trade, our influence throughout the world would be enhanced just as it was once we rejected the military approach in Vietnam.

This change in policy can come easily once the people of this country decide that there is a better way to conduct ourselves throughout the world. Whenever the people turn against war as a tool to promote certain beliefs, the war ceases. That’s what we need today. Then we can get down to the business of setting an example of how peace and freedom brings prosperity in an atmosphere that allows for excellence and virtue to thrive.

A powerful bureaucratic military state negates all efforts to preserve these conditions that have served America so well up until recent times. That is not what the American dream is all about. Without a change in attitude, the American dream dies: a simple change that restates the principles of liberty enshrined in our Constitution will serve us well in solving all the problems we face. The American people are up to the task; I hope Congress is as well.

Listening to Mr Paul was heartening for me. You see progressives and Republicans can agree on issues. And I agree 100% with his entire speech. Please go to his site and read the full text.

Bush Strummed While New Orleans Drowned

Jon Stewart's Daily Show manages to do an interesting piece on the travels of President Bush as Katrina came ashore and the following aftermath. As New Orleans filled with water, Bush was off giving a couple of speeches in other parts of the country that had nothing to do with Katrina.

The Bush chain of events during this critical time in the Gulf Coast region and the city of New Orleans seems to me to be so telling of the Bush character.This is the Bush version of compassionate conservatism we've seen in so many instances, great and small.

We have become an imitation of the worst of the Roman Empire. Remember the classic line of Rome leadership indifference to its citizens. Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

Bush strummed while New Orleans drowned.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bad Luck Bush (song lyrics)

Bad Luck Bush.

It starts in 2000, an election race
recount, Florida
Bush stole the election, in your face

Corporate scandals early in term,
Enron, Worldcom
They made Bush squirm.

Bush he likes them cee e ohs
Harkin, Arbusto
His friend Ken Lay, Kenny Boy

(Chorus, repeat where needed)
Bad Luck Bush. Bad luck Bush.
Dubya, Dubya
Bad Luck Bush.

Then a shock, a day of note
New York, nine eleven
Bush he sits reading my pet goat

Time for war, bomb Afghan
Osama, Bin Laden
Can't find him in all that land

Then war two, one's not enough you see
Attack, Iraq
Bush he said, they have WMDs

We watched TV, shock and awe
Baghdad, blasted
Fire from the sky, that's what I saw

The road to Baghdad, Saddam's head did fall
Mission, accomplished
Time to go, but "no wait" insurgents call

No WMDs, no flowers for our feet
roadside bombs,
The war goes on, with no defeat

Democrat Kerry would run against the prez
swift boat, Rathergate, then debate
close again, Bush wins the media says

The wars go on, no end in sight
Bin Laden? Elections?
Bush has excuses that don't seem right

Here comes Katina, hurricane of wrath
Biloxi, New Orleans
The gulf coast of America would take a bath

Where was Bush when Norlins drowned?
Arizona, San Diego
Bush was golfing and ranching we found.

To be continued, Bush the con
master, disaster
Pray to God, it can't go on.

Bad Luck Bush. Bad luck Bush.
Dubya, Dubya
Bad Luck Bush.