Sunday, August 26, 2007

8/26/07

*Iraq Report Cliff Notes - Republican senator from Louisiana David Vitter (recently embarrassed for procuring prostitutes) just returned from a trip to Iraq and announced that the surge is working. Vitter said, “The United States has made significant strikes against Al Qaeda terrorist forces and reduced sectarian violence in the nation.” It was quite the productive visit. He was actually on the ground in Iraq for somewhere between 10 and 14 hours according to accompanying colleagues. Republicans praised his report.

*Iraq Report Unabridged Edition – Republican senator from Virginia John Warner is one of the Republican party's most prominent senators, a former Secretary of the Navy, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and consistent supporter of Bush policy. He just returned from Iraq with his assessment of the circumstances on the ground based on conversations with military commanders and intelligence personnel. Warner concludes that the crisis on the ground is so severe that it is time to begin an "orderly and carefully planned withdrawal…as part of a long-term strategy to extract U.S. troops from a distant and dysfunctional quagmire" The Republican National Committee is highly critical of Warner’s statements and the right-wing pundits have launched an assault against him. For the Republican party “team player” trumps the interests of America, its citizens and especially the men and women in the military.

*Abortive leadership / Catatonic citizenry - It has been well documented that this administration’s support of the troops has been short on performance and long on rhetoric. The Pentagon shares culpability. One example is their goal by end of year to supply the troops with 3500 mine-resistant vehicles. Only 1500 will have been delivered. In another disgraceful assessment on the people running this war we learn of a Department of Defense inspector general report from June. “The Pentagon awarded contracts for the vehicles to companies that failed to produce them on time despite knowing that there were other contractors who could have supplied some more quickly… resulting in increased risk to the lives of soldiers”. Are we so inured by federal incompetence and corruption that we no longer express outrage? Is memory of the Viet Nam war protesters a reason why this administration opposes a draft?

*Good governing (Skeptics, this is not a typo) – It is not often that we have an opportunity to praise good government in action. Let us savor the moment. Medicare instituted a program that encourages hospitals to practice increased defensive medicine against preventable errors, injuries and infections. Health-care providers will not be reimbursed for extra costs of treatment and extended stays resulting from errors and avoidable infections. And, patients cannot be billed for the additional care. More good news! In Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is improving on this concept by requiring health-care providers to report errors and mishaps (I believe to a public data base) and adds the incentive of higher state reimbursements for improved safety performance. Kudos to Medicare and Governor Rendell.

*MSNBC host Tucker Carlson recently sat around with 3 other white men discussing whether Barack Obama is Black enough. Not Obama’s position on foreign policy or health care or immigration. Black enough? Next week these same four MENSA males will be asking a woman in her second trimester if she is pregnant enough.

*Immoral, Psychologically Damaging, Counterproductive - That’s the conclusion reached by the American Psychological Association on many of the interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration on suspected terrorists. I have no doubt that there have been times in the past and there will be times in the future when information must be obtained using any method possible to avert a catastrophe. However, the national policy for a civilized society should not include torture and detainment without legal recourse. It is not the ethos that I want for America.

*Russia’s Putin mentors Bush - A White House guide called the Presidential Advice Manual, gives specific instructions to administration staff for dealing with protesters during President Bush’s speaking engagements. If they absolutely have to be there protesters should be placed in a designated protest area where President Bush cannot see them. I guess this falls under the category of executive privilege superseding the Constitution of the United States of America.

*Fear, FEar. FEAr, FEAR - Joe Lieberman, with his pompoms flailing, is not satisfied with war fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rumbling threats of attacking Iran. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Lieberman says, “…we must now focus on disrupting the flow of suicide bombers – and that means focusing on Syria…” McClatchy reports that since 2003 seven suicide bombers in Iraq have been identified as coming from Syria. Fifty-three have come from Saudi Arabia (the same country that spawned many of the 9/11 hijackers). Syria is now in the neocon bomb sites but I predict that the Saudi oil shield will protect them from the Lieberman kryptonite and the Bush/Cheney death ray.

*Faux News Redux – Prior to the Iraq War FOX News beat the war drum parroting every justification to attack Saddam that flowed from the disingenuous lips of the Bush/Cheney cabal. The “show” returns with Iran now the target. Robert Greenwald, who has exposed this symbiotic relationship before, has a new 2 minute video (taken from 4 hours of FOX broadcast footage) that would be comic if not so lamentable. The link is: http://foxattacks.com/iran?utm_source=rgemail.

*Atlanta plumbers to be forced out of business - Baggy pants that show boxer shorts or thongs would be illegal under a proposed amendment to Atlanta's indecency laws. The proposed ordinance would also bar women from showing the strap of a thong beneath their pants and they would also be prohibited from wearing jogging bras in public or show a bra strap. I surmise that topless dancers will not be subject to this crack down.

*Not ready for prime time 1 – Former actor Fred Thompson is a likely Republican presidential candidate. He recently gave a speech to Veterans of Foreign Wars. He said, “the nation needs to rebuild its military to fight global terrorism because the leaders took a holiday in the 1990s after the end of the cold war”. Say what? Thompson must have experienced a blackout. He failed to mention the damage inflicted on our military over these past 5 years. Our nation needs serious leaders for serious times, not actors who cannot remember their lines.

*Was there ever a prime time? In a speech to the VFW Pres. Bush said, “U.S. forces have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists and other extremists every month since January”. That would seem to be a substantial number of al Qaeda guys. A NY Times rough estimate last month had 5000 al Qaeda fighters in all of Iraq. The LA Times says that of the 19,000 detainees in custody in Iraq, 135 are foreigners. Doesn’t seem to add up, again.

*Not ready for prime time 2 – NJ Attorney General Anne Milgram has directed state and local police to ask all suspects charged with serious crimes about their immigration status. If it is believed that the suspect is in the country illegally they are to inform federal authorities. NJ state judges were informed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was not set up to receive large-scale immigration referrals from local authorities. Since there are 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants in the United States “large-scale” is a relative term. “Ineffective” is an absolute term.

*Happy Birthday Mac, hold the cake – McDonald’s Big Mac sandwich is celebrating its 40th birthday. It became a part of our pop culture with the jingle, “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun". Each year 550 million Big Macs are sold in the U.S. At almost a half pound it contains 540 calories and 29 grams of fat. Its introduction marked the beginning of “super-size” in fast food marketing. With epidemic obesity, diabetes and heart disease weighing heavily on the health of Americans and the American health-care system perhaps there is not much to celebrate.

*The math of politics, seeking the lowest common denominator – Scott Howell and Co. is an advertising agency with a specialty in political campaigns. The Bush campaign in 2000 hired them for the South Carolina primaries to trash John McCain. This ad agency did the same in 2006 to Harold Ford in the Tennessee senatorial race by creating ads with racial overtones to frighten off white voters. Rudy Giuliani just hired them for his presidential run. This is the perfect ad agency for the former NYC mayor who in radio ads in Iowa claims that he “turned a $2.3 billion deficit into a multibillion dollar surplus.” Independent fiscal monitors say that Giuliani left his successor Michael Bloomberg with a bigger deficit than what Giuliani inherited in 1994. Reference serious leaders for serious times. Reference disingenuous lips.

*Vibrator control, no batteries needed – In Alabama you can buy a gun as easily as a corndog with a side of grits. But the deep thinkers in the Alabama legislature have banned marital aides in an effort to protect the morals of its good citizens. I was raised to believe that I was responsible for my soul. I never imagined that I would have so much assistance.

*Looking ahead – It appears that the Bush administration is working in front of and behind the scenes to oust Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in favor of Iyad Allawi, a non-sectarian Iraqi legislator and in 2005 interim Iraqi Prime Minister. Allawi has strong ties to Bush and Cheney. While in exile he urged the U. S. to invade Iraq and since the attack he has worked very hard to be Iraq’s leader. It was learned this week that Allawi has hired a lobbying firm with strong connections to the Bush administration, Barbour Griffith & Rogers, to lobby for Malaki’s ouster – the man Bush has supported as the duly elected leader of Iraq. The compelling question is whether there is any individual or group of individuals that can lead Iraq out of the black hole in which it exists?

*I never met a man who thought his thinking was faulty. 16th century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne

1 comment:

Ruth Deming said...

Some people read the Sunday Times. I read Stephen Views the News. Our great nation will prevail with people like Stephen who wish to be part of The National Dialogue.