Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's official...Civil War

WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Over White House objections, The New York Times and other U.S. news outlets have adopted the term "civil war" for the fighting in Iraq, reflecting a growing consensus that sectarian violence has engulfed the country.

After NBC News' widely publicized decision on Monday to brand the conflict a civil war, several prominent newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, pointed to their use of the phrase.

"It's hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war," New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said in a statement.

The Bush administration has for months resisted the notion that Iraq is embroiled in a civil war, a position analysts say is hard to justify. Experts predict a shift in language could deepen public discontent with U.S. involvement in Iraq.

Asked at a news conference in Estonia on Tuesday what the difference was between the current bloodshed and civil war, President George W. Bush said the latest bombings were part of a 9-month-old pattern of attacks by al Qaeda militants aimed at fomenting sectarian violence by provoking retaliation.

White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley said the Iraqis "don't talk of it as a civil war" because the army and police had not fractured along sectarian lines and the government continued to hold together.

U.S. officials' reluctance to use the words "civil war" is more than a semantic difference. The phrase carries a political dimension as well because it could further weaken Americans' support for a war that has already helped remove Bush's Republican Party from control of Congress.

Sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi'ites has increased dramatically this year. Multiple bombings in a Shi'ite neighborhood of Baghdad last Thursday killed more than 200 people and drew reprisal attacks in Sunni neighborhoods.

Analysts say the U.S. public will not tolerate troops being used as referees between warring Iraqi factions.

MSNBC, NBC's cable network, on Tuesday displayed a graphic reading "Iraq: The Civil War" in its Iraq coverage. Other U.S. networks said they would continue reporting under broader terms like "War in Iraq."

The shift in coverage reflects a growing consensus among foreign-policy experts that the conflict is a civil war, said American University communications professor Chris Simpson.

"When those elites shift, the media typically follows," Simpson said. "To some extent the media do play a role in shaping that opinion, but mostly they follow it."

The Los Angeles Times said it had adopted the term in October "without public fanfare," making it the first major news outlet to use the term.

The Christian Science Monitor and McClatchy Newspapers, which include the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Sacramento Bee, are among the other newspapers that have described the bloodshed as a civil war.

The New York Times said it would use the term sparingly and not to the exclusion of other labels, as the conflict also has elements of an insurgency, an occupation, a battle against terrorism and "a scene of criminal gangsterism."

The Washington Post said it has no policy to describe the conflict.

CNN, ABC and CBS said some of their correspondents have referred to the rising sectarian violence as a civil war, or examined the debate among experts over whether the term is appropriate.

The decision not to label the conflict a civil war "does not in any way diminish the sheer volume of reporting we're doing from there," ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said. "That reporting certainly points toward civil war."

A Fox News spokeswoman said, "We have no plans to change our usage." -

As I wrote in October concerning the decision of the networks to ban the term "Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" when referring to the Georgia-Florida game, "What makes this dangerous is that it is the climate in the country. The university president’s didn’t come up with this out of the blue; they take it from the leadership of the nation, the Bush administration.

They are the masters of “new-speak”; re-defining an issue to lessen the impact on the public. That’s why the media refers to the civil war in Iraq as “sectarian-violence”.

The problem with re-defining an issue is that regardless of what you call something, it doesn’t affect the reality of it. Giving euphemistic titles to tough issues is just a way to avoid dealing with them, which is quickly becoming Americas’ favorite pastime."

I am glad to see that the election results have weakened Bush enough so that the media is beginning to take seriously it's responsiblity to report the news accurately.

Regardless of how it is called the situation in Iraq has been a civil war for over a year at least.

Police State Outrages

Ex-Guards, Nurse Charged in Camp Death

Services held for woman slain by Atlanta police

Killing of groom by NYPD sparks questions

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mexican workers replaced with felons

Am I the only one who sees the irony in replacing supposed criminals with convicted criminals?

Stillmore — Felons on probation and homeless men have filled some of the poultry jobs left by illegal Mexican laborers deported in raids two months ago.
About 40 convicted felons from the Macon Diversion Center are bused in each day to work at the Crider Poultry plant in Stillmore — the focus of the raids
.-AJC link

The Mexicans who’ve committed the outrageous crime of entering the country to work at low paying menial jobs will be replaced by tried and convicted felons? Yeah, that should work out nicely, just good old hard working church going fellows who’ve fallen on some hard luck.

Hopefully we can revisit this story in a year and see how the well the cons are working out.

As for the homeless men, well I’m sure their turnover will be low.

Give me a break. The plant will be out of business in a year or relocated.

Leaving Iraq, Honorably

Leaving Iraq, Honorably

By Chuck Hagel
Sunday, November 26, 2006

There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis -- not the Americans.

Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.

The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation -- regardless of our noble purpose.

We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.

It may take many years before there is a cohesive political center in Iraq. America's options on this point have always been limited. There will be a new center of gravity in the Middle East that will include Iraq. That process began over the past few days with the Syrians and Iraqis restoring diplomatic relations after 20 years of having no formal communication.

What does this tell us? It tells us that regional powers will fill regional vacuums, and they will move to work in their own self-interest -- without the United States. This is the most encouraging set of actions for the Middle East in years. The Middle East is more combustible today than ever before, and until we are able to lead a renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, mindless destruction and slaughter will continue in Lebanon, Israel and across the Middle East.

We are a long way from a sustained peaceful resolution to the anarchy in Iraq. But this latest set of events is moving the Middle East in the only direction it can go with any hope of lasting progress and peace. The movement will be imperfect, stuttering and difficult.

America finds itself in a dangerous and isolated position in the world. We are perceived as a nation at war with Muslims. Unfortunately, that perception is gaining credibility in the Muslim world and for many years will complicate America's global credibility, purpose and leadership. This debilitating and dangerous perception must be reversed as the world seeks a new geopolitical, trade and economic center that will accommodate the interests of billions of people over the next 25 years. The world will continue to require realistic, clear-headed American leadership -- not an American divine mission.

The United States must begin planning for a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq. The cost of combat in Iraq in terms of American lives, dollars and world standing has been devastating. We've already spent more than $300 billion there to prosecute an almost four-year-old war and are still spending $8 billion per month. The United States has spent more than $500 billion on our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And our effort in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, partly because we took our focus off the real terrorist threat, which was there, and not in Iraq.

We are destroying our force structure, which took 30 years to build. We've been funding this war dishonestly, mainly through supplemental appropriations, which minimizes responsible congressional oversight and allows the administration to duck tough questions in defending its policies. Congress has abdicated its oversight responsibility in the past four years.

It is not too late. The United States can still extricate itself honorably from an impending disaster in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton commission gives the president a new opportunity to form a bipartisan consensus to get out of Iraq. If the president fails to build a bipartisan foundation for an exit strategy, America will pay a high price for this blunder -- one that we will have difficulty recovering from in the years ahead.

To squander this moment would be to squander future possibilities for the Middle East and the world. That is what is at stake over the next few months.

The writer is a Republican senator from Nebraska.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Is the United States the sole superpower? What if any evidence do we have to support this contention? Supposedly the United States has the most well trained, well equipped military on the planet. Why then are American troops bogged down in a war nearly four years on in the backwater of Iraq? Why hasn’t the greatest military might on the face of the earth made short work of a rag tag Iraqi resistance? Why hasn’t the mighty American military quelled the uprising in Mesopotamia?

There is no question that the United States spends more on it’s military than any other country, that is indisputable. But what kind of value are we getting for our money?

During the early days of the occupation of Iraq a common complaint of soldiers and their families was that soldiers did not have the proper armor for their persons and their vehicles.

How is it possible that the greatest military force on planet earth could send troops into harms way without the proper armament? How do we as a people reconcile the discrepancy?

A very well known episode occurred in Kuwait when Army Spc. Thomas Wilson asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?"

Rumsfeld’s response was, "As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want."

We are told that we have the most modern, sophisticated, well trained and without a doubt the most well funded Army in the world. We are told this over and over and over again. How is it that our troops were scavenging materials out of dumps to armor their vehicles? How can the United States have the best military on the planet when it’s soldiers and vehicles aren’t armored to the greatest degree? How?

Perhaps we’ve been lied to.

There is no question that the United States spends more money on the military than any other ten nations combined, but maybe all of that money isn’t getting to where it is supposed to. If soldiers are digging around in scrap heaps and families are purchasing body armor in the private sector then obviously something is amiss.

It’s no secret that Americans pay more for their military than any other country on the planet. Where is the money going if it isn’t getting to troops in the field?

The top ten defense contractors made 94.8 billion dollars in 2005. Over the last four years the CEO’s of these companies have made over half a billion dollars. Lockheed Martin earned 19.4 billion in 2005. Boeing made 18.5 billion. Northrop Grumman brought in 13.5 billion.

So yes the United States spends obscene amounts of money on “defense”. Yet for all of that money being spent troops are sent into battle ill equipped.

Military units are also being forced to pull multiple tours of combat duty in Iraq. The third infantry division based in Georgia will be embarking on their third tour of duty in Iraq next year.

“The multiple deployments and rapid turnaround are evidence that the service is stretched so thin it may have to request broader access to National Guard units to meet demands being made on it, Army officials said recently at an infantry conference at Fort Benning.”- Atlanta Journal Constitution

Let’s stop kidding ourselves and pretending that our military is invincible when there is no evidence to support that notion. The military is made up of regular Americans just like the rest of us. They have been overstretched and poorly equipped since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. National Guard and reserve units have been used in place of regular army military units without reasonable explanation.

These reserves are supposed to be on call primarily for times of disaster or disturbance on the state level. The fact that Louisiana and Mississippi units were deployed to Iraq when Hurricane Katrina hit is thought to be of major significance in the lack of response to the New Orleans disaster.

“The deployment of thousands of National Guard troops from Mississippi and Louisiana in Iraq when Hurricane Katrina struck hindered those states' initial storm response, military and civilian officials said Friday.

Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said that "arguably" a day at most of response time was lost due to the absence of the Mississippi National Guard's 155th Infantry Brigade and Louisiana's 256th Infantry Brigade, each with thousands of troops in Iraq.

"Had that brigade been at home and not in Iraq, their expertise and capabilities could have been brought to bear," said Blum.”-CNN

Liberalism’s Flaw

If you listen to liberals for very long you will begin to notice several tenets they generally espouse. Since we’ve just had an election, I want to point out one of the more popular creeds that we’ve heard from liberals of late.

Liberals rightly point out that the right wing is intolerant of homosexuals unless you are a high level republican staff member or congressman and then you have to remain in the closet, ala Mark Foley.

Liberals rightly point out that the gay marriage bans on the ballot recently in many states are discriminatory. They rightly point out that discriminating against a group of people is a bad thing.

They will point this out until they need discrimination to serves their own ends.

The curtains aren’t even measured in the congressional offices and already you are beginning to hear the chorus coming from the left to re-institute the estate tax.

See liberals are against discrimination, unless they perceive you to be rich and then it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate. Liberals have no problem with the government confiscating your money when you die.

They ordinarily couch their argument by saying that the estate tax is only applicable for two percent of the population or some figure there about. But if the law applies to only two percent of the population then it is discriminatory by definition.

A law that doesn’t apply equally to the entire population is precisely what liberals will tell you is wrong with a ban on gay marriage. But the class envy leftists easily turn a blind eye when it comes to what they perceive as sticking it to the rich.

Liberals will yell at the tops of their lungs about oil companies receiving tax breaks from the government. They have a valid point.

Corporations don’t deserve tax breaks that the rest of us cannot take advantage of, just as certain segments of the population do not deserve to have to an unequal portion of their money taken by the government.

Whether the discrimination is based on race, religion, sexual orientation or financial status, it is still discrimination. Laws need to apply equally no matter a person’s account balance. Aren’t we told constantly that laws shouldn’t favor the rich, the inverse applies as well.

If a rich man is pulled over for speeding doesn’t he get the same fine a poor man receives? The law sees no distinction. Why should the law apply differently when it comes to a person’s estate?

Liberal arguments will vary across the spectrum as to the reasons why it is beneficial for the government to confiscate someone’s money. What it boils down to however is a seemingly innate class envy that is ingrained in most liberals.

It’s fairly easy to fall into this trap when we see all of the corruption and graft that has taken place in Washington lately. If you are of a mind to say that the rich have benefited disproportionately from tax breaks, I won’t argue with you. The income tax is unconstitutional to start with and no matter what, it is always the middle and lower income folks who pay the most, they’re the majority of the population. But that still doesn’t give the government just cause to confiscate people’s money at the barrel of a gun because they die.

Monday, November 13, 2006


"Far be it from me to dispute the Bush administration's inability to carry out its announced intentions, but these were always pipe dreams that couldn't have been implemented even by the most competent regime imaginable. The U.S. occupation is being defeated by objective circumstances, i.e., the near-complete absence of support from the Iraqi people, and not by the exigencies of American politics. While this may strike a blow at the conceit that U.S. troops are invincible and only need to muster an act of will in order to achieve victory, this mindset is itself typical of the hubris that tempted us to invade in the first place.

I contend that these results were eminently foreseeable, that in fact they were foreseen by the very policymakers who urged us on to war. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Iraqi demographics and the history of the country since the fall of the Ottomans could have confidently predicted the disaster we are seeing. The dynamics of the conflict in Iraq lead, ineluctably, to war with Iran: that is the likely culmination of events, if we stay on the present course. And it is one that the Bush administration apparently has no appetite for, at least at the present time – although some would disagree." - Justin Raimondo

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

Rumsfeld out, Bush picks Gates

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Chastened by a “thumpin’” at the polls, President Bush heeded voters’ call for change Wednesday by ousting Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Bush’s surprise decision to replace Rumsfeld with former CIA director Robert Gates was the most dramatic event in a series of rapid-fire developments triggered by the Democratic takeover in Congress.

Gates is a protege of Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to the first President Bush, and a member of the bipartisan Iraq study group led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker, who perhaps was the senior Bush’s closest adviser. That commission is expected to deliver its report to the president as early as next week.

The mainstream foreign-policy experts are not poised to make radical suggestions, but official Washington has expected both parties to seize on their ideas for political cover.

Gates’ selection to lead the Pentagon was the latest evidence that the senior Bush — often reported to be skeptical about U.S. involvement in Iraq — might be advising his son on how to extricate U.S. forces with minimal political and diplomatic damage.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who would head the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if Democrats capture the Virginia Senate seat and control of the Senate, said he understood Gates “has a much more pragmatic and realistic view of the place we find ourselves” in Iraq and is much more willing to work with the uniformed military than Rumsfeld was.

Unhappiness with the war was a major element of voter dissatisfaction Tuesday — and the main impetus for Rumsfeld’s departure.

His ouster came a week after Bush told reporters he wanted the defense secretary to stay on the job until end of his presidency. Despite what he said, Bush had already concluded he wanted “a fresh perspective” at the Pentagon, although he had not interviewed Gates or worked out final details of Rumsfeld’s resignation.

Bush said he kept his intentions secret before the elections because, he said, he did not want U.S. military personnel to think he was making key decisions “based upon politics.”

Rumsfeld showed little of his characteristic cockiness at a brief appearance with Bush and Gates later Wednesday, but he maintained his sense of humor.

“I have benefited greatly from criticism,” he said, borrowing a line from Winston Churchill, “and at no time have I suffered a lack thereof.”

Members of Congress from both parties welcomed Rumsfeld’s departure as a sign that Bush is open to new ideas on Iraq. Critics say the 74-year-old defense secretary:

• Ignored his commanders’ advice

• Invaded Iraq with too few troops

• Set a tone that encouraged the abuse of war captives

• Failed to develop a credible postwar plan

• Imposed backbreaking burdens on the Army and Marine Corps

In contrast to Rumsfeld, Gates is considered a pragmatic foreign policy realist, with a tendency to see the world in shades of gray, rather than black and white.

“This is the death knell of the neoconservative approach,” Biden said. “I think the president is going to necessarily have to find new ground.”

However, Bush signaled he would continue to oppose a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq until victory is within reach.

“The election has changed many things in Washington, but it has not changed my fundamental responsibility, and that is to protect the American people from attack,” Bush said. “If the goal is success, we can work together. If the goal is get out now, regardless, then that’s going to be hard to work together.”

Hearst Newspapers and The Washington Post contributed.


The defense secretary will be remembered as ...

• The square-jawed face behind the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

• The man who introduced America to “shock and awe” bombing in Baghdad

• The leader who twice offered his resignation during the furor over prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq

• A hard-liner who supported U.S. tactics handling terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

QUOTE: “It will be a different Congress, a different environment, moving toward a presidential election and a lot of partisanship, and it struck me that (leaving now) would be a good thing for everybody.”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dems Take Congress

The tsunami that everyone supposed would careen onto the political landscape, last night did just that. The republicans were resoundingly thrashed at the polls losing, as of this time, 27 seats in the house. It looks like the Dems will also take the Senate but Virginia and Montana have yet to be called.

The mood of the country has been fiercely anti-administration as Bush seems to be totally oblivious to the growing chorus of Americans speaking out against the war in Iraq. The most blatant corruption in generations has been splashed across the news practically daily for quite a while.

Bush’s evangelical base has been sorely depressed by the revelation that a multitude of closeted gay men fill the upper ranks of the republican leadership’s staff, as well as some members themselves. Many republicans that I’ve spoken to lately were just plainly disgusted with the party as a whole.

The Republicans, for their part, will now become preoccupied with identifying the reasons for their stunning defeat – and making sure it doesn't happen again. What is clear is that the neoconservative principles embodied by this administration – not only a foreign policy of unmitigated aggression, but also a high-spending, big-government domestic policy that has thrown overboard the old conservatism of fiscal restraint and reflexive opposition to centralized power – have led the GOP down the garden path to disaster. The Iraq war was a gigantic albatross hung 'round the neck of Republican candidates on every level: even Lincoln Chafee, who had distanced himself from the president and did not approve of the Iraq war, was felled in the November massacre. The voters punished the Republican Party because they identified it with the War Party – and all Republicans suffered as a result. Republican moderates suffered such major casualties this time around that they appear headed for extinction: Rep. Jim Leach, perhaps the leading moderate figure with any national prominence, was also defeated in his reelection bid.Justin Raimondo

Will the Democratic take over result in a new policy on Iraq? Will the overreaching legislation the administration has shoved down American’s throats get rolled back? Is it a new day in America? We shall see….

Friday, November 03, 2006

Go team!

It is often with a great sense of irony that an American, who is interested, will find his nation's history. At the present time, days before the 2006 mid-term elections, the national mood of the United States is a seething contempt for the current regime, which is a republican Senate, House and President.

The nearly four year old "war" in Iraq has degenerated into…a war. Exactly what war was supposed to look like prior to our invasion of Mesopotamia is anyone's guess. The American public however is a fickle lot and with the epidemic of attention deficit disorder plaguing a fairly large segment, it's no wonder that Americans have become somewhat disheartened by our lack of a clear cut football-esque type victory over the desert tribes, although our aim was never to battle them, only their despotic regime.

So to set the stage for those who may read this at some point in the future I will describe the teams as they now sit. As was stated previously the republicans maintain majorities in all branches of the government. The democrats need to take fifteen seats in the house to gain a majority and about eight in the Senate. Democrats are charged and republicans are dispirited. All prognostications seem to indicate that democrats will sweep into Washington on a tsunami wave of upheaval.

The current regime has drawn the ire of the American public in a number of ways, foremost of which is a perceived abuse of executive power. I'll use the word perceived for this purpose basically because it all depends on which team you happen to cheer for as to whether you "perceive" the abuse of power or whether you tend to ignore it. If you cheered the republicans at the beginning of this high stakes match you will have a tendency to support all of the invasive measures the president claims to have, such as, warrantless wiretapping of American civilians, suspending habeas corpus, torturing prisoners, and invading foreign countries, just to name a few.

At first a great majority of the country was supportive of these measures because of the hijacked jets that were flown into the World Trade Centers and the pentagon. Overnight the stars and stripes appeared on practically every bumper in America. America was ready for vengeance and George Bush was just the man for the job. The congress unflinchingly passed the Patriot Act into law with most members having never read it. That was the first mistake.

Then the Congress approved giving the president the power to make war on whomever he decided was behind the Trade Center attacks. This was mistake number two.

Without going into an in depth history of the past four years, suffice it to say that after not too long a time the bumper sticker flags went away and people got back to disliking each other. The entire notion that somehow, because the United States was the victim of a terrorist attack, civility would permeate the nation and crime would disappear and everyone would get along forever and ever was an altogether deluded concept in the first place. No, the terrorist attacks did not change the demeanor of the United States, but the Bush administration did.

So now the power grab by the neo-cons, the splendid war that didn't go as planned, the fiasco in New Orleans, and the virtual laundry list of corrupt republican politicians has most of the American public pretty well disgusted, and rightly so.

I want to state clearly that this time it is the democrats who want to limit the power of the executive and it is the republicans that want us to believe the president should be given broad powers, outside the scope of the constitution. It wasn't always like this.

At one time, the folks on the left cheered for dictatorial powers for the president.

"Flynn's prototype American fascist was not a thug in a brownshirt or SS uniform; it was the American statesman who sought to erode the people's power in Congress and to concentrate undue authority in the hands of the President (Roosevelt). Flynn warned against militarism and imperialism; yet his cry for constitutional government was to become purely a rallying cry for the Right-wing in American life. Liberals then defended the tradition of Presidential power, which was conceived as the repository of all virtue in political life. "

When the democrats take back the Congress we'll see if they truly do loathe the new powers of the executive as much as they tell us they do. No, they will quickly adjust to aggressive wars, deficit spending, invasive snooping, and a host of other issues they now find distasteful. And the republican team will suddenly realize that maybe it isn't such a good idea for a president to be able to designate people "enemy combatants" on a whim and that exit strategies actually are necessary when it comes to war. (Like they told us when Clinton went to war in Bosnia.)

Yes the tables will turn and the people who cheer for things now will in the future scream about them. And people who loathe a thing right now will lobby dearly for the same thing later. And people will adjust their "beliefs" to the prevailing wind as necessary and believe the things they need to believe when they need to believe them.