Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My heart breaks for Iraq

PHOTO: Iraqi women grieve over a dead child under a blanket at a hospital after a mortar attack in Baghdad February 27, 2006. Mortar fire killed 15 people and shooting erupted around two Baghdad mosques on Sunday but pleas for unity and a third day of curfew in the city seemed to dampen sectarian violence that has pitched Iraq toward civil war. REUTERS/Namir Noor-Eldeen

Toll in Iraq's Deadly Surge: 1,300

Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.

Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Aides to Sadr denied the allegations, calling them part of a smear campaign by unspecified political rivals.

By Monday, violence between Sunni Arabs and Shiites appeared to have eased. The disclosure of the death tolls followed accusations by the U.S. military and later Iraqi officials that the news media had exaggerated the violence between Shiites and Sunnis over the past few days. The bulk of the previously known deaths were caused by bombings and other large-scale attacks. But the scene at the morgue and accounts related by relatives indicated that most of the bloodletting came at the hands of self-styled executioners.

Violence in Iraq-from Monday and Tuesday (Sure does not look like it has calmed down to me. These are from Reuters Alertnet.)

NAHRAWAN - Interior Ministry police commandos killed five suspected Sunni insurgents and captured 25 in an evening battle near Nakhrawan just southeast of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said. Eight police were also killed and six wounded.
BAGHDAD - Iraqi Interior Ministry forces have captured a senior aide to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, state television said on Monday. Iraqiya television named the man as Abu Farouq and said he was captured with five others in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of the capital.
ISKANDARIYA - Two insurgents were killed and another wounded while they were trying to plant a bomb which exploded prematurely in the main road between Iskandariya and Latifiya, south of Baghdad, police said.
RIYADH - Three civilians were killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Riyadh town, 60 km (40 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police said.
BAGHDAD - A mortar attack killed four people and wounded 17 in Shola, a Shi'ite district in Sunni-dominated western Baghdad on Monday, police said.
BAQUBA - Gunmen shot dead the owner of a glaziers and an employee and wounded five others in Baquba, 60 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
KERBALA - Iraqi police arrested three suspects while they were planting bombs near a Shiite Shrine of al-Hur al-Riyahi near Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
FALLUJA - A civilian was killed by Iraqi soldiers while he was heading to work in Falluja, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
TUZ KHUMATO - Iraqi police arrested 16 suspects on Saturday and Sunday in Tuz Khurmato, 70 km south of Kirkuk, and Dibis, 40 km (25 miles) northwest of Kirkuk, police said. Two of them were arrested while they were trying to plant bombs near a Shi'ite mosque, police added.
TUZ KHURMATO - The head of the education directorate escaped an assassination attempt when gunmen threw a hand grenade at his office in Tuz Khurmato, police said.
BAGHDAD - A U.S. soldier was killed by small-arms fire on Sunday in central Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement.
BAGHDAD - Jawad al-Samara'i, a member of Iraq's student union who was abducted on Saturday by gunmen in the northeastern Hurriya district of the capital, was found dead with several marks of torture, the union said.
TIKRIT - The mosque over the grace of Saddam Hussein'a father was badly damaged by a bomb, police and officials said.
BAGHDAD - A U.S. soldier was killed by small-arms fire west of Baghdad on Monday, the U.S. military said.
BAQUBA - Nine bodies of shooting victims were found just south of the city of Baquba on Tuesday, the army said. The corpses were found in wastelands in the hamlet of Tarfaya, the officials said.
BAGHDAD - Interior Ministry sources said that a Sunni Arab mosque was damaged by a bomb early Tuesday morning.

May God forgive Mr. Bush for the evil he has unleashed on these poor people.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An Israeli response to what his government is doing

I just wanted to present a view on what one Israeli thinks about his government's actions in relation to Hamas:

”Even if we put aside the awful political inanity of pushing Hamas into a corner instead of giving it a chance to change its ways, and even if we ignore the fact that Israel plans to confiscate tax revenues that do not belong to it, the policy of the Kadima government raises questions about its humanity. Where do we get the right to abuse an entire people this way? Is it only because of our great power and the fact that the U.S. allows us to run wild and do whatever we want? . . .

What country would dare to exacerbate the living conditions (which are so miserable in any case) of the residents of a territory under its occupation? What was the sin of the 4,000 lucky people from Gaza whom Israel still allowed to work within its borders, and to whom it is now closing the gates? Did the decision-makers call to mind the sight of these downtrodden people, crowded and humiliated at the Erez crossing on their way home from an exhausting day of work?

More than half of all Palestinians are already living in poverty according to the last United Nations report, published in December. Last year, 37 percent had difficulties obtaining food and 54 percent of the residents of the "liberated" Gaza Strip cut back the amount of food they consume. Child mortality rose by 15 percent and the average unemployment rate reached 28 percent. To travel in the West Bank, the Palestinians have to traverse no fewer than 397 checkpoints and, in addition to this, Israel now wants to wield an even heavier hand. . ."

It is opinions like this, and the actions of the peacemakers in Israel that give me hope.

Full article is here.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

2006 Precinct Meeting

This morning, we held a precinct meeting for the local Democratic party. One of the points of this meeting is to present and vote on resolutions that will go on to the county convention, then the district convention and finally the state convention. Anyone can come to the precinct meeting, but to go on to the next step in these meetings means you have to be elected. This is not hard, since there are generally more available slots than people wanting to fill them.

At first, we did not have enough to have a quarum for the meeting, but one guy there called his wife and got her to come in, so we then had five people: Kathy (chair), me (vice chair), Charles, Melody and Merlinda. Merlinda came with one resolution, about the Dept of Peace. I had this resolution also, and that one passed. I presented a resolution on NC Energy Future, and that passed. I also presented a resolution on stopping the transport of nuclear materials, and that passed. We had a resolution on Health Care reform, and that passed also.

I presented a resolution on Campaign reform and voter owned elections, and that one failed, mainly because Charles thinks that non-partisan elections are dirty elections. He claims that when you have a non-partisan race, then there are back room deals were they decide who is going to get the spot instead of a race between the Democrats and Republicans. I don't agree with him on that one, and have seen no evidence to support his claim. So, that one was voted down, even though it really dealt with how campaigns are financed, not if they are non- partisan or not.

There was a resolution for a temporary moratorium on Big Box Developments in Buncombe County. That also did not pass, so I can only surmise that this group feels the more big box stores, the better. We already have one big box Wal Mart here in Asheville, and they are talking about making another one.

But the one that really got me was the resolution to withdraw troops from Iraq. These four individuals feel we have to stay there and "do right by the Iraqis" and Charles also objected to the resolution saying we should leave no "structures" behind. He was concerned that it would be wasteful to tear down buildings instead of leaving them for the Iraqis. Well, I am sure when we do get kicked out of Iraq, the Iraqis themselves will burn the buildings down. I am also sure that Bush does not intend to EVER leave Iraq, which is why he is building permanent bases there. Anyway, it was clear that these four folks, like most Americans, are very ignorant of what is happening in Iraq. But I truly find amazing, and very depressing, is to run into Democrats who support Bush's policies. If they want to be Republicans, what are they doing at a Democratic meeting? Can't they see how bad Bush and his policies are for the USA? I guess not.

More folks that are doomed to learn the hard way, which means America will learn the hard way also.

Kathy is stepping down as chair, and I know I am too busy to do the job, so finally Charles took on being chair for the precinct. I think he has a lot of Republican policies, which really means he is not very well informed.

oh, well............

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Congressional Probe of NSA Spying Is in Doubt

(Never was any doubt in my mind that they would not go through with this. They already have the goods on these Republicans. - Susan)

The Senate intelligence committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a Democratic-sponsored motion to start an inquiry into the recently revealed program in which the National Security Agency eavesdrops on an undisclosed number of phone calls and e-mails involving U.S. residents without obtaining warrants from a secret court. Two committee Democrats said the panel -- made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats -- was clearly leaning in favor of the motion last week but now is closely divided and possibly inclined against it.
They attributed the shift to last week's closed briefings given by top administration officials to the full House and Senate intelligence committees, and to private appeals to wavering GOP senators by officials, including Vice President Cheney. "It's been a full-court press," said a top Senate Republican aide who asked to speak only on background -- as did several others for this story -- because of the classified nature of the intelligence committees' work.

An Arrogance of Power

The most recent example of politicized intelligence was President Bush's statement on Feb. 9 that the United States had "derailed" a 2002 plot to fly a plane into the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles. Bush spoke about four al Qaeda plotters who had planned to use shoe bombs to blow open the cockpit door. But a foreign official with detailed knowledge of the intelligence scoffed at Bush's account, saying that the information obtained from Khalid Sheik Mohammed and an Indonesian operative known as Hambali was not an operational plan so much as an aspiration to destroy the tallest building on the West Coast. When I asked a former high-level U.S. intelligence official about Bush's comment, he agreed that Bush had overstated the intelligence.

Bush and Cheney are in the bunker. That's the only way I can make sense of their actions. They are steaming in a broth of daily intelligence reports that highlight the grim terrorist threats facing America. They have sworn blood oaths that they will defend the United States from its adversaries -- no matter what. They have blown past the usual rules and restraints into territory where few presidents have ventured -- a region where the president conducts warrantless wiretaps against Americans in violation of a federal statute, where he authorizes harsh interrogation methods that amount to torture.

When critics question the legality of the administration's actions, Bush and Cheney assert the commander in chief's power under Article II of the Constitution. When Congress passes a law forbidding torture, the White House appends a signing statement insisting that Article II -- the power of the commander in chief -- trumps everything else. When the administration's Republican friends suggest amending the wiretapping law to make its program legal, the administration refuses.

Let's say it plainly: This is the arrogance of power, and it has gone too far in the Bush White House.

(Could not have said it better. I suspected from the start that the claims about the terrorist bombing of LA was fabricated or overblown. - Susan)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Rank Ignorance

The following is a part of an article about how Americans are being misinformed and deceived by our "news" media. The drumbeats for a war (or bombing raid) on Iran are getting stronger, and if our government does this, we will all be sorry.

Rank Ignorance Reigns

In keeping with its established role as purveyor of disinformation, Fox "News" talking head Brit Hume misreported Fox’s own poll. On "Special Report" (January 26) Hume said that 51% of Americans "would now support" air strikes on Iran. What the poll found is that if diplomacy fails, 51% would support air strikes. Can we be optimistic and assume that the American public would not regard an orchestrated failure by the Bush administration as a true diplomatic failure?

Alas, we cannot expect too much from a population in thrall to disinformation.

The "evidence" that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons consists of mere assertion by members of the Bush administration and the neoconservative media. Iran says it is not pursuing nuclear weapons, and the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have found no evidence of a weapons program. Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Under the treaty, signatories have the right to develop nuclear energy. All they are required to do is to make reports to the IAEA and keep their facilities open to inspection. Iran complies with these requirements.

There is no Iranian "defiance." When news media report "defiance," they purvey disinformation. The "seals" on Iranian nuclear facilities were placed there voluntarily by the Iranians while they attempted to resolve the false charges brought by the Bush administration.

The "Iran crisis" is entirely the product of the Bush administration’s determination to deprive Iran of its rights as a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty. It is one more demonstration of President Bush’s belief that his policies are not constrained by fact, law and international treaties. Despite the clear and unambiguous facts, the Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll reports that 60% of Republicans, 41% of Independents, and 36% of Democrats support using air strikes and ground troops against Iran in order to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. This poll indicates an appalling extent of ignorance and misinformation among the American public. The Bush administration will take advantage of this ignorance to initiate another war in the Middle East.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Moonlight and moon shadows

I saw the rising moon tonight as I left work (I work kinda late) and it was a beautiful yellow full moon, hanging low in the sky. I decided to go up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and take a longer look at the moon on this cold winter night. I'm sure if I was allowed to drive further on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I would have found snow, but they close the parkway down when there is snow or ice. They don't want people going headfirst into the closest ravine, not to be discovered for weeks or months, maybe. But such thoughts as that were not on my mind tonight.

I pulled off the side of the road and walked up the Parkway to the bridge over the Swannanoa river. The moon was higher in the sky, and a clearer shade of white, and still very beautiful. My shadow was easy to see. I walked to where the moon was shinning down on the river, not in a perfect circle, but a messy oblong white reflection. The ripples in the Swannanoa were pretty to watch, but it is overall a calm river..... not like the wild whitewater rivers I used to kayak.

And as I stand there in a beautiful spot that I am fortunately enough to live close to, I thought again of what is happening to my country, the USA. I remember the energy and enthusiasm that went into the Dean campaign a few years back. The slogan we had then was "Let's take our country back!" Well, we did not succeed in doing that. We are still meeting, organizing, trying to improve things, but my fear is that we are losing our country, in spite of all our efforts. And the people we are losing our country to are not conservatives. No, they are radicals who are trying to destroy our constitution. They are trying to ruin our country with debt and our world with war.

If the US goes and bombs Iran, the Iranians will be in world of hurt and we will be stepping into a world of shit. It is impossible to say how far this will go, or where it will all end. I used to wonder how the Germans could elect someone like Hitler and follow him, and then I see the same sort of thing happening before my eyes in my own country. This is not to say that Bush is a bad as Hitler. Hitler killed about 50 million people, and Bush has killed less than a quarter million. I guess things will never get that bad here in the USA.......... I don't know. I sure don't feel good about it. Americans are amazingly gullible or stupid: a great many of them now think Iran is a threat to our country. It, of course, is not. And there is no evidence that they are planning on building a nuclear bomb, but even if they did it would not be nearly as dangerous as Pakistan having a nuclear bomb.... which they already do.

How can people be so dumb?

And how can they be so blind to the suffering we have visited on the Iraqi citizens?

It is pathetic that Americans cannot see that.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Wiretaps and spying

I, like most Americans, feel the US government should listen to my calls and read my email and my mail just as much as they feel like. I just don't care, because, you see, I have nothing to hide. I'm not connected to anyone who engages in criminal behavior, and I certainly am not doing criminal things myself. As a matter of fact, I hope they read every last word I write. Maybe they will learn something.

But, unlike most Americans, I object to doing wiretapping or surveillance of any American without a warrant. This is a violation of our laws, for starters. Secondly, without judicial oversight, the presidential administration could use wiretapping and surveillance of people to maintain their hold on power. They could spy on their political opponents and thereby run an unfair campaign. They could collect "dirt" on people and then hold on to this to blackmail them or control them. And that is why the courts need to issue a wiretap permit for each and every wiretap the Bush administration (or any administration) wants to do....... to stop them from blackmailing their political opponents, and to stop them from running political campaigns unfairly. There are probably a host of other good reasons why warrantless wiretapping is a really bad idea. And actually, I think the people most likely to be hurt will be Republicans.

So, all you Republicans better keep your noses clean and don't go and get a blow job from someone who you are not married to, or something, cause they can use it against you.

How much will it cost us?

National Priorities Project Bulletin

Check figures for Bush's Budget and Cost of Iraq War


The Bush administration released its budget request for fiscal year 2007 on February 6th. It proposes deep cuts in domestic programs, totaling a $15 billion loss in non-security domestic discretionary spending.

NPP has just released "The President's Budget: Impact on the States," which provides a brief publication for each state with an overview analysis and local numbers showing the impact of the proposed budget. The publication addresses seven different programs or issue areas: food and nutrition; community development; the environment; Head Start; Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); education and community policing.

To find your state, click here.

While the administration claims that the proposed cuts are necessary to reduce the deficit, the budget would make the 2001-2003 tax cuts permanent, which would reduce revenues by $1.7 trillion over the next decade. The budget also does not include complete funding for the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, which could add another $70 billion to the deficit. Excluding war spending, the Defense Department budget would increase by 7 percent.

Breakdowns of the cost of the Iraq War by state are included in this release.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

This candidate is a fool

This past Saturday, I attended the NC Democratic Party had a state executive meeting. This was about 400-500 people from around the state who gather a few times per year to do the work of the Democratic party. There was a Progressive Democrats caucus before the meeting, and I covered what we accomplished under the blog post "Voting to Impeach" below.

While at this meeting, I met a man named Mr. Tim Dunn, who is running for the US House of Representatives in the Eighth Congressional District in NC. He was at a table there that was promoting his campaign. He is a tall, good looking, articulate man who is also a veteran of the Iraq war. He is a lawyer. He is in the Marine Reserves. He claims he can "help America chart a better foreign policy course" on his campaign materials. He is one of the "fighting Dems".

He told me that while he was in Iraq, he was responsible for investigating for the upcoming trial for Saddam. This man does not know how to read, write, or speak Arabic, yet he is supposed to prepare data and evidence for this trial. I suppose that one cannot tell the Marines that one is incompetent to do the job. I suppose you do what you are told.

While talking to him, he claimed that we (meaning America) can make Iraq a success, if we "finish the job" which to him means getting an Iraqi army and police force to defend the country. He showed no signs that he understood the overall purpose of what the Bush administration intends to do there. He seems to believe that we (meaning America) can make a success of this project called 'the war in Iraq.'

I left him for a few minutes and then started thinking: if he has been in Iraq, and he thinks that we can make the invasion of Iraq a success, he should be able to respond to the common greeting in Iraq. So, I went back up to him and said "assalam aleikom". He had no clue what that meant or how to respond. So, I finally told him the response is "aleikom assalam" and what these expressions mean ("peace be to you" and "to you, also peace"). I went back to the meeting.

After the meeting, I was walking out with a group of my friends from here in the mountains. I bumped into Mr. Dunn again, and again said "assalam aleikom" to him. He grabbed my hand, and I don't really remember what he had to say, since I was saying "you can let go of my hand now". I don't know why men do this, but it creeps me out when they grab hold of your hand without asking and then don't let go.

But, Mr. Dunn still did not know the common response to the Iraqi greeting. I turned to a friend and said "assalam aleikom" and he immediately said "aleikom assalam" back to me. Neither of us has been in an Arabic country. I turned to Mr. Dunn and said "see, it's not that hard!"

My opinion of Mr. Dunn is that he is patriotic, loyal to the Marines, well educated, but he is also a fool.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bush is full of......

Bush said: "Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction."

So, why are we arming and supporting Pakistan and their dictator? Then he goes and says that Iran is not a democracy. It is certainly closer to a democracy than Iraq or Afghanistan is!

Bush said: "and we will never surrender to evil."

When the US government does kidnapping, torture, rape, murder and starting up a war where none existed, they are not surrendering to evil. THEY ARE EVIL!!

Bush again: "I am confident in our plan for victory … I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people … I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in thisfight to win, and we are winning."

Johnson said in 1967: "Overall, we are making progress. We are satisfied with that progress. Our allies are pleased with that progress."

Bush again: "The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clericalelite that is isolating and repressing its people."

Someone should tell him that the Iranian people elected their leaders, and they had a healthy majority, more of a majority than Bush ever enjoyed.

Bush is so full of shit.

Should have listened to some more silence

Instead, I turned on the radio and heard the ending of the Democrat reply. He said the main thing we needed to do was "become one people" and overcome our partisan divide.

Why on earth would I want to "become one people" with people who promote kidnapping, torture, murder, and optional wars for bogus reasons? Why on earth would I want to walk with evil?

It is beyond me to understand that one.

Listening to Silence

Tonight, I will listen to silence rather than listen to the SOTU address.

Silence has more meaning.