Sunday, May 28, 2006

UFPJ and PDA meetings in May 2006


I arrived late, due to AMTRAK being very slow today and way behind schedule. PDA says a thriving chapter means a data collection person, so everywhere PDA goes, have a sign up sheet and collect contact names and add to databases.
Send stories of state and local activities to share ideas to Mike.

PDA would like one chapter per CD, and would rather they be listed that way.

In NC, Alamance did not indicate that they were an active chapter. Gilford is a new chapter.

PDA Discussed: war, OHIO (voting integrity), single-payer health care, fair trade, poverty issues

What can we do to make a difference in 18 days? work on CA campaign - see PDA website.

Rev. Yarwood said a prayer of "this is what America looks like" and spoke on Stop Offending the Citizens (see below). He also mentioned "kill the oppressors" which I found disturbing.

Stop Offending Me!

It offends me that my country started up a war on a pack of lies. It offends me that they continue to lie and continue to change the lies about this immoral war. It offends me that US agents are "disappearing" people around the world. It offends me that US military and US agents are using torture. It offends me that evidence from torture is being admitted to courts. It offends me that people are being detained without charges.


Democrat's plan is to co-opt and contain the progressive movement. PDA/DFA do not have an abundance of riches, so we need to reach out to local DFA and ask how we can help them and how we can work together.

Stand up.
Take action.
Take action today.
Your freedom and my freedom are linked together.

Progressive Promise:

1. Protect the environment and achieve energy independence
2. global peace and security
3. civil rights and civil liberties
4. economic justice


We are not proving security in Iraq. US troops need to be withdrawan from Iraq, starting NOW. Leave Iraq for Iraqis and impeach the liars who started this war for immaginary WMDs.

I propose for NC state convention:
1. out of Iraq resolution
2. Impeach
3. state legislature to work on impeachment issues

(I will have PDA "Out of Iraq" stickers to hand out at the convention, and I hope ALL PDA people help me hand them out to every person at the state convention. Also, when the resolutions come out, I hope the above three ideas are in those resolutions. I expect #1 and #2 will be, so I will do a half page handout to urge NC Democrats to vote for these resolutions to hand out to every person at the state convention. I will be able to write up a resolution for #3, but I am not sure they will accept resolutions from the floor.)

UFPJ: Be confident in your right to be there in the halls of congress and your right to have them listen to you. Congress needs your imput. Start out saying "Thanks for meeting with you and that you know they are busy. We are here to discuss what needs to be done next in Iraq."

Iran War Discussion

Two things are being considered: attack and nuclear attack. Only thing that will work (in the long run) is to abolish all nuclear weapons and nuclear power in all countries. There was an offer on the table from Putin to get number of nuclear weapons down to 1000-1500, which would have lead to a possible world treaty. This was rejected by US authorities. Gorbochev said no nuclear weapons at all, but Reagan wanted Star Wars, so that fell through. Today, the US is not interested in negotiations with Iran, and this is a very poor policy.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

North Carolina Congressional Office Visits

This week, I went on congressional office visits in DC with six other people from North Carolina. Four of those individuals were college students at Eastern Carolina University. One of those students was an Iraq War veteran. The information below is an answer to the survey that UFPJ asked us to fill out. I am listing the questions first, and then the answers by Representative. I did not make it to the visits to Senator Dole or Senator Burr’s office. I did visit them later in the day to express my views. (As a matter of fact, I walked into every US Senators office and gave them a paper that was a follow up to lobbying I did last September, and I told them how I think the Bush Administration, the US Congress and US Senate are the most immoral and shameful of my entire 50-year life.)

Here is a quick summary:
HOPELESS: Taylor, Myrick, Jones
POTENTIAL: Butterfield, Miller, Price

1. Members of delegation
2. What legislation/initiatives has the member already signed on to?
3. What is your main ask on Iraq?
4. What were the main concerns/objections voiced by the staff person?
5. What areas of agreement did you find?
6. What legislation might the member support? What will help move them to support it?
7. What did you discuss about Iran? What is the member thinking, doing about Iran?
8. Did you discuss the need for congressional investigations? What was the staff person’s response?
9. General reactions, impressions from visit.
10. How and when and with whom is the delegation following up after the visit?
11. Any plans for local publicity on meeting?
12. Additional comments


1. Members of delegation - Present: Hsin, Jacek, Jill, Chris, Susan
2. What legislation/initiatives has the member already signed on to? He has signed on to the discharge petition.
3. What is your main ask on Iraq? The students from ECU wanted to build an alliance with ECU Peace & Justice.
4. What were the main concerns/objections voiced by the staff person?
It seemed this staff member (Dan Hilton) was somewhat antagonistic to the students. Hilton claimed that Jones came out before anyone to pull troops out of Iraq and Jacek said that Jones was two years too late in his announcement.
5. What areas of agreement did you find? The Representative is in agreement with us that the troops need to come home, but the staff member showed no indication that they wanted to work together on this issue.
6. What legislation might the member support? What will help move them to support it?
Discharge petition. Not sure what could be done to get him to sign on to this.
7. What did you discuss about Iran? What is the member thinking, doing about Iran?
Hilton does not think that the US intends to invade Iran. He is not in favor of invasion or military force against Iran. Jones looks to Rep. Ron Paul on Iran issues. Jones wrote to Speaker about full house meeting over Iran to brief congress. There has been one briefing so far for members.
8. Did you discuss the need for congressional investigations? What was the staff person’s response? Not discussed. (I had to leave early for another appointment.)
9. General reactions, impressions from visit. There was some confusion over the appointment, the staff said before hand that they were on our side but they did not seem very welcoming.
10. How and when and with whom is the delegation following up after the visit? I will write a thank you note. No further follow up planned that I know about. (I left early because of another appointment.)
11. Any plans for local publicity on meeting? Not sure
12. Additional comments – Mr. Hilton said Cindy Sheehan was manipulated by various groups. I informed him that she was a willing participant. I have emailed Cindy and suggested she call Dan Hilton and express her views.


1. Members of delegation present: Susan and Andy
2. What legislation/initiatives has the member already signed on to? NONE
3. What is your main ask on Iraq? To sign discharge petition
4. What were the main concerns/objections voiced by the staff person?
James Thomas (staff person) feels there already is a discussion on Iraq going on all the time, and sees the discharge petition as a partisan political ploy. Congress will not set a date for troops to come home, and he later said that we will not have total troop withdrawal EVER – but he already sees troops from Iraq starting to come home. Feels troops will come home when Iraq is self-sufficient and able to provide for their own security, and feels they are starting to achieve that objective.
5. What areas of agreement did you find? "everyone wants the troops to come home" – it is just that they have no plans to push for this (Taylor has a son who served in Iraq, and the aide said in Fallujah, but I heard in the Green Zone back in the district. It has also been reported that Taylor said that “sometimes you have to fight for the oil” at a town hall meeting – I was not there.)
6. What legislation might the member support? What will help move them to support it?
7. What did you discuss about Iran? What is the member thinking, doing about Iran?
Members have not debated Iran, says it will go before UN Security Council; feels there should be sanctions on Iran’s nuclear weapons (which Iran does not have).
8. Did you discuss the need for congressional investigations? What was the staff person’s response? Just said that Iraqis were better off without Saddam
9. General reactions, impressions from visit. Hostile
10. How and when and with whom is the delegation following up after the visit? I will write a thank you note.
11. Any plans for local publicity on meeting? No
12. Additional comments - He did agree that there was no nuclear WMDs found in Iraq. (And this is an improvement over statements by other staff members earlier this year.)


1. Members of delegation - UFPJ members there: Susan, Andy, Dan
2. What legislation/initiatives has the member already signed on to? 543, 197,3142,184,70,515 (go to UFPJ website for information on these bills)
3. What is your main ask on Iraq? Out of Iraq petitions
4. What were the main concerns/objections voiced by the staff person?
Talked to Doug Taggart, who is a vet himself, and has a son in law in Baghdad now. The Iraq war is very much on his mind. He is a legislative fellow.
5. What areas of agreement did you find? He agreed (and said Miller agreed) that we need to have a signed discharge petition and that we need to signal the Iraqi people that we do intend to leave.
6. What legislation might the member support? What will help move them to support it?
He already supports a lot of legislation in this area.
7. What did you discuss about Iran? What is the member thinking, doing about Iran?
Said Miller was concerned about Iran and nuclear weapons- and he will inform him about our positions and information.
8. Did you discuss the need for congressional investigations? What was the staff person’s response? Said Miller supports investigations of why they started the war, and also of the corruption present in Iraq reconstruction.
9. General reactions, impressions from visit. Great guy, great staff, great meeting
10. How and when and with whom is the delegation following up after the visit? I will write a thank you note.
11. Any plans for local publicity on meeting? Not sure
12. Additional comments - None


1. Members of delegation - UFPJ members there: Dan, Susan
2. What legislation/initiatives has the member already signed on to? None
3. What is your main ask on Iraq? To move towards getting out of Iraq; get with Jones and Coble and sign discharge petition
4. What were the main concerns/objections voiced by the staff person? We met with E.J. Kimball, who has been with Myrick's office for two weeks. He just graduated from American University with a major in Foreign Policy and Middle East Issues. He stated that he felt the decision to go to Iraq was correct, since he claims Saddam supported suicide bombers in Israel and supported attacks on the USA. He is a big supporter of Israel. He said he favors more "economic integration" with the Middle East (not clear what that means, will try to clarify via email). I asked if he felt Iraq was a threat to the USA and he said YES. Said he did not know about US State Department reports from 1993-2003 that said that Saddam was not a threat to the USA or supporting terrorists that were targeting the USA. He said that Saddam had no documentation for all his WMDs, and he was a dictator who wanted to control the region. He was not aware that the US removed many pages from Saddam's report in December 2002 before giving it to the UN. He has not spoken with the congresswomen about Iraq. He feels that by the end of the Bush term it will either be the "light at the end of the tunnel" or in civil war. And he feels it could go either way at this point. He said that pulling out troops would embolden insurgency. Dan told him that current government of Iraq will want us to do the "heavy lifting" as long as we are in the country, and will not do this on their own, as long as US troops are there. (I am of the opinion that the current government will fall when the US leaves, no matter when that happens.) We also told him about the shame that a NC Iraq war veteran spoke of yesterday at our meeting.
5. What areas of agreement did you find? None, except that he needs to learn more.
6. What legislation might the member support? What will help move them to support it?
7. What did you discuss about Iran? What is the member thinking, doing about Iran?
He was aware of 391, not aware of 373. Talked about HR 282, which is Iran sanctions and called "Freedom Support Act." This is something that he supported.
8. Did you discuss the need for congressional investigations? What was the staff person’s response? He said he did not know how the Representative felt about this, but he felt Saddam was a threat and had WMDs - so felt it was okay decision to go into Iraq. Stated that he did not feel that Bush lied.
9. General reactions, impressions from visit. Not good.
10. How and when and with whom is the delegation following up after the visit? I will write a thank you note.
11. Any plans for local publicity on meeting? Yes, Dan plans to write a piece for the local paper.
12. Additional comments – This guy was thick.


1. Members of delegation - UFPJ members there: Hsin, Susan, Dan, Jill, Andy
2. What legislation/initiatives has the member already signed on to? Sponsored 70, signed discharge petition
3. What is your main ask on Iraq? To keep pushing
4. What were the main concerns/objections voiced by the staff person?
His aid, Tom Ross, said that Price is not willing to set a specific date to withdraw completely. Said it matters that we need to get troops out of there, just arguing over HOW to do this. He feels all the bills are various ways to get Bush and Republicans to bow to pressure.
5. What areas of agreement did you find? Many, just details on HOW to do all this was in disagreement
6. What legislation might the member support? What will help move them to support it? See above.
7. What did you discuss about Iran? What is the member thinking, doing about Iran? Sorry, we either did not talk about this or I failed to take notes.
8. Did you discuss the need for congressional investigations? What was the staff person’s response? Sorry, I missed this also (or was not discussed).
9. General reactions, impressions from visit. Positive overall.
10. How and when and with whom is the delegation following up after the visit? I will write a thank you note.
11. Any plans for local publicity on meeting? No
12. Additional comments – none


1. Members of delegation - UFPJ members present: Dan and Susan
2. What legislation/initiatives has the member already signed on to? Meet with Laura Hooper, Legislative Assistant, and Watt has signed on to the Price-Miller bill (70) and 197.
3. What is your main ask on Iraq? Sign on to discharge petition
4. What were the main concerns/objections voiced by the staff person?
Laura Hooper said Watt favors quick withdrawal, not immediate withdrawal. He would like to see us leave Iraq in stable condition (hopefully). Watt was not in favor of war.
5. What areas of agreement did you find? Nearly all, especially that we should not go there in first place.
6. What legislation might the member support? What will help move them to support it?
Said Watt is open to persuasion on best way to resolve situation.
7. What did you discuss about Iran? What is the member thinking, doing about Iran?
Does not know position on Iran. He is not signed on, but will take a look at it.
8. Did you discuss the need for congressional investigations? What was the staff person’s response? Supports this very much, has been active on pre-war intelligence and Guantanemo Bay investigations.
9. General reactions, impressions from visit. Encouraging
10. How and when and with whom is the delegation following up after the visit? I will write a thank you note. I will follow up with Christopher Caple, Legislation Assistant, about Watt's position on Iran in a couple of weeks.
11. Any plans for local publicity on meeting? No
12. Additional comments – great staff person, we left early to get to next meeting, since we felt this office and Representative is already on the side of peace and justice.


1. Members of delegation - UFPJ members present: Hsin, Susan, Andy, Dan, Jill, Chris
2. What legislation/initiatives has the member already signed on to? 73,543, 515
3. What is your main ask on Iraq? To stop funding the war
4. What were the main concerns/objections voiced by the staff person?
Aid said that Butterfield feels that pulling out immediately will make things worse.
5. What areas of agreement did you find? Ryan McKee is the aid that handles military stuff. Butterfield would have voted against the war (was not in office at the time) and he supports Murtha's bill. Again said that pulling out prematurely would make it worse.
6. What legislation might the member support? What will help move them to support it?
Someone in the group asked when do you get to a point where congress says NO MORE MONEY to the Iraq war since they don't plan on leaving or withdrawing at all.
7. What did you discuss about Iran? What is the member thinking, doing about Iran?
Does not want Iran to get bombs and he is worried about that. Feels Iran and US should cooperate with UN inspections and IAEA.
8. Did you discuss the need for congressional investigations? What was the staff person’s response? Does support congressional investigations.
9. General reactions, impressions from visit. Overall, very encouraging.
10. How and when and with whom is the delegation following up after the visit? I will write a thank you note.
11. Any plans for local publicity on meeting? No
12. Additional comments – I encouraged the staff person to ask Butterfield to join Progressive Caucus.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another article about Afghanistan

Western Projects Are Bleeding Afghanistan Dry, Says Minister

Published in The Independent (Online)

Samihullah is just the kind of returned refugee his country needs. Aged 30, with a wife and two children, he was well educated in the camps across the border in Pakistan. After the Taliban were pushed out in 2001, he returned home and joined the Afghan Ministry of Education, where he helped to rebuild the higher-education sector. But not any more.

I found him working as a security guard at the UN's World Food Programme headquarters in Kabul. With allowances he earns a total of $270 a month there, compared with $50 at the Afghan higher education. The decision to move jobs was not a hard one.

But it is the international system that is sucking Afghanistan dry. Any returnee who speaks English can be guaranteed a job at a higher level in the UN, or the myriad big NGOs that have set up shop in Kabul.

Ashraf Ghani, who was Finance Minister in the first year after the Taliban fell, and is now chancellor of Kabul University, says the international community has failed Afghanistan. Rather than build up the government, it has created a parallel system that has actively weakened the capacity of Afghanistan to run its own affairs.

Mr Ghani's greatest fear is that by failing to empower the Afghan government, the world could be helping the Taliban to regroup, as they feed on the resentment of people at the slow pace of change. He says "The cheapest way of bringing development and security is government."
The scale of the international machine has dwarfed the indigenous government. Large parts of the capital are closed to normal traffic because of security concerns. The remaining traffic paralyses the city for much of the day. To the east of Kabul the UN has built a headquarters, the size of a small town.

The frustration of the Afghan government system at the way the money is spent surfaced at the London conference on funding earlier this year. A World Bank report that came out just before the conference calculated that 90 per cent of international development spending continued to flow outside the government.

The report's author William Byrd, described it as an "aid juggernaut, still outside the budget and outside government control". He added: "It does not build domestic capacity which is what you need ..."

One initiative, called the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) is now channelling funds directly to Afghan control.

Much of the budget of the NSP is paid by Britain's Department for International Development, as it happens, but there are no sign boards boasting that. To the former commanders this is Kabul money.

The cabinet minister responsible for this programme, Hanif Atma, spent the Taliban years studying international development at Bradford University.

He said "a parallel structure was needed at the beginning, but no country can be run and managed without a state, and no state can be sustainable in a society without having legitimacy and credibility in what that state should be".

The former commanders in the village in Kunar, a savagely contested region for decades, had decided to spend their NSP money on a scheme to build a new road, and a proper wall to channel a flooded river away from the village. Lives have been saved since taxis can now come in to take people to hospital, and farmers have flourished.

One vivid example shows what happens when the international community goes aheads without proper local consultation. A half-finished school for girls is derelict after funds ran out. Above it another school is being built with Japanese money. The first school, could not be completed since it was not in their plan.

The Americans and the Japanese, both large donors to Afghanistan, are the two countries who are most responsible for spending money outside the government budget, and despite the claim of high standards in the village in Kunar, much of what they have built is sub-standard.
The American government's development arm USAID, boasts of the number of girls' schools it has built. I asked to see one in Kabul, and was shocked by the state of it. A plaque on the wall boasts of this as a gift from the American people, but the Lycée Mariam is nothing to be proud of.

Teachers there say the Americans did little more than add a coat of paint on the one standing building, and replace the roof of makeshift huts. The new roofs are already leaking, and in the courtyard hundreds of girls are still being taught in tents. The school looked like an emergency had just hit.

David Loyn is the BBC's Developing World Correspondent. His report from Afghanistan is on Newsnight on BBC2 tonight.

[For some reason, I saved the article by not the link. Sorry about that.]

Some articles on Afghanistan

Karzai Says Afghan Schools, Clinics Targeted

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday said Pakistani religious schools were teaching students to go to Afghanistan to burn down schools or medical clinics. The comments came in a speech in the eastern province of Kunar, next to the border with Pakistan. "We have credible reports that inside Pakistan, in the madrassas, the mullahs and teachers are saying to their students: 'Go to Afghanistan for jihad. Burn the schools and clinics,"' Karzai said. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Tasnim Aslam, dismissed Karzai's comments. "These are baseless allegations and we have denied them repeatedly," Aslam said. Karzai said Afghanistan was suffering from terror attacks, and implied that they came from Pakistan's lawless tribal regions in the mountainous border area. "We want to tell the Pakistani government, which is our brother government ... that terrorism is like fire, and it will reach you too," he said. "Today terrorism is in Afghanistan. Tomorrow it will reach you."

Violence Surges Across Afghanistan

Afghanistan saw one of its bloodiest days since the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban on Thursday as hundreds of insurgents attacked a southern town and fighting flared across the country. Fighting raged for hours after insurgents attacked the town of Mosa Qala, 470 km (300 miles) southwest of Kabul, in Helmand province, late on Wednesday. Government officials said 13 policemen and at least 40 Taliban were killed, taking the death toll across the country to about 100. The Taliban have stepped up attacks on foreign and Afghan government forces in recent months as thousands more NATO peacekeepers arrive in the country. Helmand's deputy governor Amir Mohammad Akhundzada said it was the biggest attack in the province by the hardline Islamists since they were driven from power more than four years ago. "Thirteen policemen were killed and six were injured," Interior Ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanizai said. "Forty people on the enemy side were killed." Akhundzada said he believed about 50 Taliban were killed. In a separate incident, a suicide car bomber attacked a convoy in the generally peaceful western city of Herat, killing himself and an American civilian.

As Long As The Grass Grows.....

This evening, I watched "Winter Soldier" a movie where nice looking young US men told of the horrible things they did to the Vietnamese people. Many of them, indeed most of them, looked so young and innocent and healthy and white. But they were not innocent. They did unspeakable things against the people of Vietnam, and told of how the Vietnamese were reduced to less-than-human-status in their eyes by the indoctrination of the US military. Actually, the military did a fair job of robbing even the Marines and Army guys of their humanity. And, of course, the same goes on today, just a different country, different people, different military guys.

One man in the film flatly stated that the Vietnam war, and the atrocities that accompanied it, were because of RACISM. This is so true: the "other" is seen (and presented) by US citizens and military as "bad" and "sub-human" and unworthy. And today in the USA, a vast majority may think the war on Iraq was a mistake, but they care little (indeed, are not even aware of) the impacts on the US military personnel. They care far, far less for what has happened and is happening, to the Iraqi people. Some people try to claim that it is not our responsibility what happens to them when they simultaneously claim we are responsible for what happens to our troops. That is RACISM in action right there: the Iraqi people are seen as "sub-human" and therefore of no concern - even though we are the ones who sent the bombs and the bullets that ruined their lives and country.

Racism is rampant in America.

The phrase "as long as the grass grows" come from a Native American speaker in the film Winter Soldier. He said that treaties were honored by his people "as long as the grass grows, as long as the rivers flow". He felt that what the US culture had done to him and others, prior to their military service, was brainwashing. He believed in the supposed goodness of the US government until he saw the effects in Vietnam. His closing thought was that maybe the grass won't grow anymore, due to the evil influence of American culture and American government. Maybe he recognized global warming decades ago.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Afghanistan Incidents for May 16, 2006 and May 17, 2006

May 17, 2006

#1: A suicide car bomb exploded near a UN convoy in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing the attacker, but there were no immediate reports of other casualties, officials said. The attack occurred in Kandahar city, a former Taliban stronghold

#2: Militants attacked a police post and a government office, and a gunbattle later broke out in Afghanistan ‘s rugged eastern border with Pakistan on Tuesday, killing four people and injuring 13, officials said. The militant attacks on the government facilities occurred in the mountains in Khost province. The fighting raged for about an hour before the militants fled

#3: A girls’ school was torched close to midnight Tuesday in northern Badakhshan province, deputy provincial governor Mohammad Isa Atahi told AFP.

#4: Also on Monday a girls’ school came under rocket attack in central Wardak province which adjoins the capital, said provincial spokesman Abdul Hafiz Salam. The attack caused no casualties since it occurred early in the morning but caused some damage.

#5: A female Canadian soldier has been killed in Afghanistan -- the 17th Canadian to die on the mission and the first female. No details are available on the incident.
A female captain in the Canadian armed forces was killed in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday during a military operation, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported.

May 16, 2006

#1: Militants attacked a police post and a government office near Afghanistan's rugged eastern border with Pakistan on Tuesday and a gun battle killed four people and wounded seven, police said. Two of the dead were police, while the other two were insurgents, Badshah said. The body of one of the slain militants was found to have explosives strapped to it. Three police and three members of a local security forces were wounded. The seventh person hurt was a local villager.

#2: Suspected Taleban insurgents tossed a crude bomb into an Afghan girls’ classroom, wounding a teacher and five students, a headmaster and police said on Tuesday. Headmaster Gul Mohammad said a small bomb was thrown through a window into a girls’ class at his school, in the Chamtol district of the northern province of Balkh, on Monday. A teacher was seriously wounded and five girls were slightly hurt with burns in the attack, he said.

#3: Another school in the district was burned down early on Tuesday after its guards were beaten up, police said.

#4: In the southern province of Helmand, where British forces are in charge of security, police found the beheaded bodies of two government workers who had gone missing last week.

#5: In Ghazni province, just south of the Kabul, a man had his hands blown off and was blinded when a mine he was planting exploded, police said. A provincial security official said he believed the mine was intended to kill people working on a US-funded road project.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

We are losing our country

Well, I have been saying that for a few years now - ever since they started up a war where none existed outside the approval of the UN. That was a direct violation of our constitution, and a very serious violation at that. We have also abandoned the Nurenburg principles, the Geneva convention, and god-knows-what-else.

In America, we have:

our government "disappearing" people

detaining people in prison without charges, arrests, or trials

condoning and promoting torture

spying on everyone, no judicial oversight

secrecy about nearly everything, but particularly business matters

an executive branch that feels it is answerable to no one and no US or international laws (hey, our corporate media does not even recognize international law)

corruption and graft

wars started for no reason on a pack of lies

American babies dying of dehydration at major American landmarks in major American cities

inability of our government to aid their citizens in a natural disaster (or is it unwillingness?)

horrible economic policies, huge debt load, and huge trade deficit

and god-knows-what-else (probably no ability to stop any terrorist attacks).

Looks like Bob Hubert (op-ed in NYT) recognizes it now:

"Well, I give you fair warning. This is a road map to totalitarianism. Hallmarks of totalitarian regimes have always included an excessive reliance on secrecy, the deliberate stoking of fear in the general population, a preference for military rather than diplomatic solutions in foreign policy, the promotion of blind patriotism, the denial of human rights, the curtailment of the rule of law, hostility to a free press and the systematic invasion of the privacy of ordinary people."

Yes, we are losing our country...... and I guess we deserve this, for all the violence and human suffering we have fostered on the world while the citizens went about their lives and ignored what evil the US government was doing for all these years.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Afghanistan Incidents for 5-15-06

#1: In another incident, unidentified militants fired five rockets at the headquarters of provincial security forces, 15 kilometers south of Miranshah, the center of North Waziristan. No rocket hit the target.

#2: Armed masked men entered the fort at Jandola area of South Waziristan and killed the registrar of the local administration at 1 am, correspondents said. The armed men requested the militiamen to open the checkpost, saying they wanted to take a patient to hospital. But when the militiamen wanted to search their car, the armed men empowered them and three of the men entered the office of the registrar and opened fire on him. The registrar died on the spot. The armed men took the three militiamen, who were released later.

#3: Five American soldiers were wounded Saturday in a roadside bomb blast. The American soldiers were wounded while on patrol in Peche Valley in eastern Kunar Province, near the border with Pakistan and the scene of repeated clashes between insurgents and American and Afghan government troops.

#4: (update) A local staff member of Malteser International has been killed on Friday in an attack in northwestern Afghanistan. He was on his way from Quala-I-Naw to Herat with a UN convoy, which was ambushed with rocket-propelled grenades around noon. The driver of the UN vehicle died immediately. The 30-year-old employee of Malteser International, a doctor and supervisor of the hospital of Quala-I-Naw and 10 health care centers, managed to run away at first, but was shot while fleeing.

#5: Two Canadian soldiers were injured Monday when a blast went off near their armoured vehicle outside of Gumbad in southern Afghanistan. Their injuries are not life-threatening, said military officials. They had been sent in a Nyala armoured jeep to repair a vehicle that was part of a Canadian convoy moving north to Gumbad, a village about 74 kilometres north of Kandahar. Canada set up a small military outpost in Gumbad over two months ago.

#6: A French soldier was killed Monday in a blast during a mine clearance operation near Afghanistan's main international airport in the capital, the French military said. The soldier, aged 22, was seriously hurt in the explosion and died later of his wounds, the military said in a statement.

Our Country

Murdoch, who owns FAUX NEWS, has decided to have a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton!

What a CO-INKY-DINK!!!

And when pundits and Republicans are confronted with the false WMDs claim used to start a war where none existed, they quickly say "Bill Clinton Believed it TOO" And it just so happens that Bill Clinton did say that Saddam had WMDs, and it just so happens that he signed on to "regime change in Iraq" (as proposed by the neo-cons and the PNAC group) back in 1998.... and he pulled the UN weapons inspectors out of there (seems we might want them IN IRAQ if there were WMDs, NO?); also regularly bombed Iraq, imposed sanctions that weakened the country and hurt the common people (but not Saddam).... and professed that Iraq had WMDs and was a threat to the USA.


(Well, just for the record, I was able to clearly determine that there was no nuclear WMDs in Iraq back in the fall of 2002. I did it with an AOL account, a six year old notebook computer and a phone line. Imagine.)

So, how come one of the leaders of the media-military-industrial complex is now backing Hillary after all that smearing of Clinton? And how come Clinton (Bill, that is) is running around acting like best buddies with Bush #41? Maybe, THEY ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER. Maybe, the Murdoch's of the world realize that Bush is so lacking in popular approval right now, that they have to find another (so-called "centralist" Democrat) person to run in the next election to insure that their corporate profits keep rolling along! And that's why Murdoch is supporting Hillary. His support is the "kickback" known as political contributions. What the people might want is immaterial - we are there to be manipulated and spied on.

So, I recommend watching this movie on line (FREE):

The Corporation

It explains a lot about how we have a country "of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations" now-a-days, with the recent added twist of *whoever is in power gets to spy on the others and see what dirt they can dig up to black-mail or under cut them with* --- oh, and to make sure the elections are SET.

And, after seeing that movie, here is a short clip on who might be behind the DEATH SQUADS in Iraq. For those of us paying attention, they reminded us A LOT of the DEATH SQUADS in El Salvador and other Latin American countries.


Oh, yes, war is good for some business....... and a real horror for the victims, but they are brown people who are not even Americans, SO WHO CARES?? Clearly our government does not.

So here's that presentation: "Crying Wolf: Who is behind the Death Squads in Iraq?" Viewers should be &aware that due to the nature of the subject, some images within this movie are of a disturbing nature. The implications of the evidence are even more disturbing.

Yes, we are losing our country. I don't even know if we can save it at this point.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Afghanistan Incidents for 5-11-06, 5-13-06 and 5-14-06

May 11, 2006

#1: Six Pakistani policemen were killed and seven injured in landmine explosions in Pakistan's South West Balochistan province today.

May 13, 2006

#1: (update) A local driver and a doctor with a German-based group were killed in Afghanistan when suspected Taliban attacked their UNICEF vehicle with rockets. A project manager for the UN children's agency was also seriously wounded in the attack Friday just 40 kilometres (25 miles) outside Herat, the main city in western Afghanistan, UNICEF said Saturday.

May 14, 2006

#1: Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead the senior intelligence officer on Saturday night while he was going to his home in Lashkar Gha, the provincial capital of the southern province of Helmand

#2: In the northern province of Baghlan a bomb blast on Sunday injured seven people, including four Afghan police and three civilians, Stanikzai said.

#3: There were no injuries in the two explosions at the Kandahar airbase, which occurred just before 9 p.m. local time. The last four attacks have been Soviet-made 107-mm rockets, which have a range of about nine km. Mortars have a shorter range.

#4: a teacher wounded as anti-government militants opened fire in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, an official said Sunday.

#5: At least 15 people were killed and four injured on Sunday in a bloody battle between Afghan forces and Taliban militants in the restive province of Kandahar, confirmed an official. Eleven militants were killed in the battle field while four ANAsoldiers lost their lives and other four injured during the heavy fighting, he added.

Thanks to Whisker for providing these links to what is happening in Afghanistan.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Some letters

Letters That Never Got Published

04/11/06 to Washington Post

In 'Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi' the following claim is made: "official evidence of a propaganda operation using an American reporter is rare." If one just considers "official evidence" then perhaps it is rare. But if one still thinks and is informed, then there is abundant evidence of US authorites trying out propaganda operations on the US media. And they are generally successful, since our "watchdog" media is anything but.

04/13/06 to Christian Science Monitor

In the story "Bush had good reason to believe there were WMD in Iraq" the author overlooks some very obvious facts. One is, Saddam went on TV and proclaimed that there were no WMDs in Iraq in early 2003. The second obvious fact is that UN weapons inspectors were running around Iraq for months and could not find a thing. Less obvious facts include what Powell and Rice had to say about the threat from Iraq in early 2001, and the fact that Powell's presentation at the UN did not convince anyone other than US TV "news" viewers of Saddam's supposed WMDs. It was very obvious to me that Powell's case was circumstantial. I don't think it is Mr. Bush who is gullible; I think it is Mr. Hughes. I figured out that Iraq had no nuclear WMDs in 2002. Either Mr. Bush was lying (and still is) or he is stupid. "Gullible" just does not cut it. And it is time we stop pretending otherwise.

04/01/06 to The Tribune

Please pass this on to Ted Dyer. He seems to think that US troops are not killing anyone in Iraq.

Local Story: U.S. solider had shot and killed Fadhil’s 81-year-old uncle, Saadi Al-Tahi, as he drove through an intersection in Mosul, Iraq.

Local Story: Residents say US Marines killed 15 members of two innocent families.

Local Story: Remembering Professor Salah Jmor of uncommon grace, dignity and style. “On the day he turned 49, he arrived in Baghdad for a family visit. One day later on the 28th of June 2005 he was killed by the invading American troops in Baghdad.”

Local Story: Iraqi girl tells how seven members of her family were killed.

I think there are four facts we can agree on: 1) Prior to the US government and US military arriving in Iraq, the Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence was SIGNIFICANTLY less. 2) The situation is getting worse every month that passes. 3) There are no indicators showing improvement in Iraq beyond freedom of speech, which is no longer outlawed, but can still get you killed. 4) Predicting the future is speculation.

Now, Mr. Dyer is convinced that if the US troops leave Iraq now, the violence will get worse. Interesting, the major of Iraqi people want the US troops to leave, and they are much more knowledgeable about the situation than any American. I also speculate that things will get more violent when US troops leave, but I also think that peace and stability will not return until some time after the US troops leave. I believe that this will never happen while there are US troops in Iraq. Please keep in mind that most stories of US-on-Iraqi violence are not reported. US troops who have returned have many stories. The US has to leave Iraq one day, the only question is how long this killing will go on before they do so. My speculation is it will go on for a long time, and the longer it goes on the worse the violence will be when the US forces leave, just like in Vietnam/Cambodia.

05/04/06 to Washington Post again

Mr. Broder says in his op-ed piece: "At a time when most people see nothing but hopeless discord in Iraq, it is healthy to have someone offering alternatives that could produce progress." Or perhaps the USA could stop trying to run other people's countries and focus on running our own better, so that we don't see a repeat of the Katrina aftermath on our TV screens again. I would think that one example alone would convince even the most dense among us that the USA is not running it's internal affairs very well at all. As to what to do about Iraq.... seems to me that is an Iraqi decision. However, if some Senators here in the USA insist on making it their decision, then perhaps they could hold a "think tank" to offer them direction. They could round up those 10 million Americans who protested the war in February 2003 and ask them what they think should be done. After all, they are the only group that showed some real wisdom in this debacle.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Don't Attack Iran Petition

Cindy Sheehan to Lead Delivery of Petition to White House
Ray McGovern to Lead March to Sec. Rumsfeld's Home

Delivery of petition to White House opposing attack on Iran
When: 1-3 p.m., Thursday, May 18
Where: Lafayette Square Park, in front of White House, Washington, D.C.

March to Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld's House
When: Departing at 3 p.m., Thursday, May 18
Where: Lafayette Square Park, in front of White House, Washington, D.C.

A broad coalition of organizations has collected over 40,000 signatures on a petition opposing a U.S. attack on Iran. See the list of participating organizations, the petition, signatures, and comments at:

Cindy Sheehan plans to lead the delivery of the petition and signatures to the White House between 1 and 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, in cooperation with a "Pray In" in Lafayette Square Park organized by the Network of Spiritual Progressives:

Prayer leaders will include: Bob Edgar, Rev.Lennox Yearwood, Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, Ahmed Ahrar, Holly Near, Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, Rev. Jim Winkler, Rev. Penny Nixon, John Dear S.J., Archdeacon Michael Kendall, and Pledge of Resistance to the Iraq War: Ken Butigan. Also speaking in support of the petition delivery will be Cindy Sheehan, founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder of Code Pink: Women for Peace, and David Swanson, Co-Founder of the After Downing Street Coalition.

Following remarks by these speakers and delivery of the petition, along with boxes of signatures and comments, to the White House, Ray McGovern, U.S. Army veteran and retired 27-year CIA analyst, will lead a march through downtown Washington, D.C., to the home of Donald Rumsfeld, where protesters will gather to ask Rumsfeld why he lied about the need for a war on Iraq.

Representatives of many of these organizations, which promoted the petition, will be present and available for comments: Gold Star Families for Peace, CODE PINK, Progressive Democrats of America,, Traprock Peace Center, Global Exchange, Velvet Revolution, Democracy Rising, Truthout, OpEdNews, Backbone Campaign, Consumers For Peace, Campus Antiwar Network, The Young Turks, Citizens for Legitimate Government, Counter Punch, United for Peace and Justice, Stop the War Coalition, This Can't Be Happening, Voters Evolt, Springs Action Alliance, Radio News America, OrbStandard, International Socialist Organization, Voters for Peace, Thom Hartmann Show, Environmentalists Against War, U.S. Peace Council, Grandmothers for Peace, Justice Through Music, Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran, World Can't Wait, The Rational Response Squad, Idriss Stelley Foundation, Bush Free Zone, Voice International, Foundation for the Development of Human Resources, Tbilisi, Georgia, Political Cooperative, City Sites, Agir contre la guerre (France), Americans Against the War (France), Spiritual Activism Conference, Muslims for Peace (Australia),, Peace Movement Aotearoa, Not in Our Name Aotearoa New Zealand, Pixel4Peace, Liberty News TV, IntelligentFuture, CampUS Strike for Peace.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Afghanistan Incidents for 5/10/06

#1: Two Afghan farmers have been killed in clashes with counternarcotics agents destroying opium fields. Nine policemen were also wounded when shooting broke out on May 9 in the northern province of Sar-e Pol.

#2: Ousted Taliban members on Wednesday claimed to have killed five Afghan policemen and injured four others, while the Afghan police were reported to have killed three insurgents in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand.

I really have to thank whisker for sending me these links on Afghanistan (along with the Iraqi links, which I post on my News About Iraq blog). He is doing a fantastic job of rounding up what is happening in both countries, at least as far as what gets reported in the media. We all know that a lot of things don't get reported in the media, unfortunately. So, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to whisker for doing this nearly every day.

I don't really intend to turn this into a blog about Afghanistan, but I don't want these incidents to go unnoticed, which is why I am putting them up here.

Afghanistan Incidents for 5/9/06

#1: U.S. airstrikes on a cave complex near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan on Monday killed four Taliban militants and destroyed a truck loaded with rockets, the U.S. military said.

#2: A landmine blast killed a policeman yesterday in a remote Pakistani tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Email from Friends Council on National Legislation:

“What if they gave a war, and nobody came?” an anti-war poster used to ask. Now, some also want to know “What if they appropriated money for a war and nobody paid?” Many Americans, perhaps a majority, now oppose the war in Iraq. For some, the position is not simply a political or analytical choice but a deeper commitment of conscience. Some realize this commitment after they have entered the military. Others find that they can no more pay taxes to support war spending than they could pick up a gun to fight in one.

They had a link to this page:

Lobby Day on Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund invites you to participate in our annual Lobby Day with the Center on Conscience and War on Tuesday, May 16. Join with other conscientious objectors to military violence to speak out against forced conscription in the military – whether it is our bodies or our tax dollars that are used to kill. Whether you come to DC or lobby at your congressperson's local office, your voice is vital to the struggle for freedom of conscience.
What we’re lobbying for: The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill, if passed, would establish a non-military fund into which conscientious objectors could pay their federal taxes. Currently 41 representatives have cosponsored this legislation. On May 16 we will work to increase that number by asking our representatives to provide alternative service for our drafted dollars by supporting the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill.

The Military CO Act, if passed, would put specific procedures in place for the discharge process for military personnel who have declared conscientious objections. The current military policy for COs is not working: they face harassment, are forced to violate their beliefs and are denied CO status for arbitrary reasons. To join the Center on Conscience and War (CCW) is lobbying for the Military CO Act on May 16th, click here. We invite you to lobby here in DC, or in your Representative’s district office.

I know I would feel a whole lot better if my tax money was not going to kill innocent people and start up useless wars. Also, this weekend is the "Peace wants a piece of the pie" events. Here in Asheville, we will be headed to Taylor, Burr, and Dole's offices with a homemade pie from Picnics on Merrimon Avenue. The point of these visits (most will happen in DC) is to generate support for a Department of Peace here in the USA that will work to find non-violent and peaceful resolutions to conflicts and to reduce violence here in our country. They are asking for 2% of the budget of the Department of Defense (which should be called the Department of War again). This Department of Peace would be a cabinet level position in the federal government. I think this is a fantastic idea, and I totally support it. However, with the current US administration, they would ignore them like they ignore everyone else.

But we still have to keep trying.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Afghanistan Incidents on 5/7/06

#1: A policeman, said to be a relative of a senior police officer, was killed in his house eastern Afghanistan while a bomb rocked a town in the western part of the country as part of escalations by terrorists.

#2: In the western parts of the country, a powerful explosion took place near the Indian consulate in the Herat province, but the blast caused no casualties.

#3: Earlier similar blasts has taken place in the southern Kandaharprovince when some people riding in a car hurled a hand-grenade at the Indian consulate. The grenade hit the compound of the consulate and went off but caused no casualties

By Way of Sorrow

By Way Of Sorrow

You have been taken by the wind, you have known the kiss of sorrow,
Doors that would not take you in, outcast and a stranger....

You have come by way of sorrow, you have come by way of tears,
But you'll reach your destiny - meant to find you all these years.

You have drunk a bitter wine, with none to be your comfort,
You who once were left behind, will be welcome at love's table.

You have come by way of sorrow, you have come by way of tears,
But you'll reach your destiny - meant to find you all these years.

All the nights that joy has slept, will awake to days of laughter,
Gone the tears that you have wept, you'll dance in freedom ever after.

You have come by way of sorrow, you have come by way of tears,
But you'll reach your destiny - meant to find you all these years.

The above is the words to a song by Cry, Cry, Cry. It reflects my wishes for the future of the Iraqi people.

Friday, May 05, 2006

They are laws unto themselves

Hey, tonight we got to hear Markos from Daily KOS speak at a local bookstore here in Asheville, and that was when I found out that Porter Goss had quit today. The real reasons he quit have not been publicly stated - but we all think it was HOOKERS. I just hope one of them was Jeff Gannon.

When I went to DC last June, I tried to get a press pass to the US Congress. I got pretty far, but in the end, they didn't give me one because I don't make money off of blogging. (Anybody want to send me some money?) But, what I told them was that I was just like Jeff Gannon except that I don't have a pornographic website, I don't run an "escort" service and I write my own stuff. And that's the TRUTH too!

Anyway, I hope 'ole Goss was shagging Gannon/Guckertt/whatever his name is...... then we can all talk about "8 inches cut".... and what that might feel like.

But, I also noticed today that the NYTimes editorial board woke up and noticed that Bush is trashing the constitution (that little war in Iraq actually did it in - that was totally illegal under our US constitution) on a regular basis. They picked this up from reading the Boston Globe and I like to think that the Boston Globe figured it out from my emails from years ago, but maybe not. There has been no sign they ever read my emails to them.

Here's what the NYT had to say:

"Veto? Who Needs A Veto?

President Bush doesn't bother with vetoes; he simply declares his intention not to enforce anything he dislikes. Charlie Savage at The Globe reported recently that Mr. Bush had issued more than 750 "presidential signing statements" declaring he wouldn't do what the laws required. Perhaps the most infamous was the one in which he stated that he did not really feel bound by the Congressional ban on the torture of prisoners. In this area, as in so many others, Mr. Bush has decided not to take the open, forthright constitutional path. He signed some of the laws in question with great fanfare, then quietly registered his intention to ignore them. He placed his imperial vision of the presidency over the will of America's elected lawmakers. And as usual, the Republican majority in Congress simply looked the other way.

Many of the signing statements reject efforts to curb Mr. Bush's out-of-control sense of his powers in combating terrorism. In March, after frequent pious declarations of his commitment to protecting civil liberties, Mr. Bush issued a signing statement that said he would not obey a new law requiring the Justice Department to report on how the F.B.I. is using the Patriot Act to search homes and secretly seize papers if he decided that such reporting could impair national security or executive branch operations. In another case, the president said he would not instruct the military to follow a law barring it from storing illegally obtained intelligence about Americans. Now we know, of course, that Mr. Bush had already authorized the National Security Agency, which is run by the Pentagon, to violate the law by eavesdropping on Americans' conversations and reading Americans' e-mail without getting warrants.

We know from this sort of bitter experience that the president is not simply expressing philosophical reservations about how a particular law may affect the war on terror. The signing statements are not even all about national security. Mr. Bush is not willing to enforce a law protecting employees of nuclear-related agencies if they report misdeeds to Congress. In another case, he said he would not turn over scientific information "uncensored and without delay" when Congress needed it. (Remember the altered environmental reports?) Mr. Bush also demurred from following a law forbidding the Defense Department to censor the legal advice of military lawyers. (Remember the ones who objected to the torture-is-legal policy?) Instead, his signing statement said military lawyers are bound to agree with political appointees at the Justice Department and the Pentagon. The founding fathers never conceived of anything like a signing statement. The idea was cooked up by Edwin Meese III, when he was the attorney general for Ronald Reagan, to expand presidential powers. He was helped by a young lawyer who was a true believer in the unitary presidency, a euphemism for an autocratic executive branch that ignores Congress and the courts. Unhappily, that lawyer, Samuel Alito Jr., is now on the Supreme Court."

NOW they notice how bad Alito is for the US Supreme Court????

Well, if you want to get an idea of what is happening in Iraq, go read my other blog HERE.

Big DFA training weekend here in Asheville, and I'm going, but darn if I know when I will have time to work on anyone's campaign.

Bad Reflections

I found this item on the web. An American family is watching the TV and there are scenes of violence just outside the window. I think this item is a good representation of what a lot (but not all) Americans are like today....... oblivious to the suffering that their government's policies are causing in the world.

Iraq is falling apart.

VIDEO: US Congress Holds a Forum on Iraq

Faiza is a native Shia Iraqi, married to a Sunni Iraqi. They have three sons, who they currently live with in Amman, Jordan. Faiza spoke about her family's experiences in Iraq before and during the war and subsequent occupation on April 27, 2006 in Washington, DC. Dr. Wasfi was born to a Jewish mother and an Iraqi father. She recently put her medical career on hold to visit with family members in Iraq, and recently returned from a three-month stay in Basrah and Baghdad. Dr. Wasfi described her experience in Iraq and discussed the life of Iraqis under occupation on April 27, 2006 in Washington, DC. Dr. Pillar is a member of the faculty at Georgetown University's Security Studies Program and formally a career National Intelligence Officer at the CIA. He discussed various facets of current U.S. policy and operations in Iraq on April 27, 2006 in Washington, DC. Charlie served as a Navy Hospital Corpsman with the Marine Corps' Second Tank Battalion during the invasion of Iraq. He is the Southeast Regional Coordinator of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Charlie discussed his experience in the military during the war in Iraq on April 27, 2006 in Washington, DC.

The above link is to a video made during US Congressional hearings. What the Iraqis have to say is very worthwhile to listen to, since they are telling the true stories of Iraq today. Dr. Pillar spoke the longest and had the least to say.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Good for them!


Protesters from the organization 'Clergy & Laity Concerned About Iraq,' take part in a protest demanding the shutdown of the U.S. operated prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, in front of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, in New York, May 1, 2006. Members of the group hoped to get arrested during their sit-in, but were told by police they would be allowed to stay without the threat of arrest. REUTERS/Chip East

I am very glad to see some clergy organizing and protesting against what is happening, and has happened, in Guantanamo. It is highly immoral what the US government has done there - and it is highly immoral, evil even, what they are still doing there.

The Evil of Detaining People in Guantanamo

Guantanamo full of "small fry" per this report.

"Most of the 558 people named in a Pentagon list of inmates at the US base in Guantanamo, Cuba, are small fry, figures of little value in the international "war on terror", experts said on Thursday. The names released on Thursday by the US defence department did not include a single senior figure from al-Qaeda or other Islamic extremist groups, nor from Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime, experts stressed."

This report was released last month, before we were told that 100+ people were to be released from Guantanamo. So, we have a bunch of people rounded up, sometimes because some Afghani person turned them over for a monetary reward and no other reason, who are not part of al Qaeda at all or were "small fry". We have ditched our American laws, all international laws, and any claims to being moral people, in order to torture and detain without arrest or trial or evidence, a bunch of people who are either innocents or small time criminals.

What have we become?


Monday, May 01, 2006


Mission Accomplished, May 1, Three Years On

Yes, it was three years ago that Mr. Bush went out to some ship and acted like a hot-shot and said the "Mission was accomplished". Now, three years later, tens of thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands injured and millions seriously affected by this illegal, immoral and oh-so-breathtakingly-stupid war.

This is what After Downing Street has to say:

May 1 marks three years since George W. Bush staged his "Mission Accomplished" aircraft landing in San Diego Harbor and "delivered good news to the men and women who fought in the cause of freedom: their mission is complete and major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

Mission Accomplished: A look back at the media's fawning coverage of Bush's premature declaration of victory in Iraq

On May 1, 2003, President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln aboard an S-3B Viking jet, emerged from the aircraft in full flight gear, and proceeded to "press[] flesh," as The Washington Post put it, as he shook hands and hugged crew members in front of the cameras. Later that day, Bush delivered a nationally televised speech from the deck of the Abraham Lincoln in which he declared that "[m]ajor combat operations in Iraq have ended," all the while standing under a banner reading: "Mission Accomplished." Despite lingering questions over the continued violence in Iraq, the failure to locate weapons of mass destruction, and the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, as well as evidence that Bush may have shirked his responsibilities in the Texas Air National Guard (TANG) during the Vietnam War, the print and televised media fawned over Bush's "grand entrance" and the image of Bush as the "jet pilot" and the "Fighter Dog."

Chief among the cheerleaders was MSNBC's Chris Matthews. On the May 1, 2003, edition of Hardball, Matthews was joined in his effusive praise of Bush by right-wing pundit Ann Coulter and "Democrat" Pat Caddell. Former U.S. Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-CA) also appeared on the program.:

MATTHEWS: What's the importance of the president's amazing display of leadership tonight?
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the actual visual that people will see on TV and probably, as you know, as well as I, will remember a lot longer than words spoken tonight? And that's the president looking very much like a jet, you know, a high-flying jet star. A guy who is a jet pilot. Has been in the past when he was younger, obviously. What does that image mean to the American people, a guy who can actually get into a supersonic plane and actually fly in an unpressurized cabin like an actual jet pilot?
MATTHEWS: Do you think this role, and I want to talk politically [...], the president deserves everything he's doing tonight in terms of his leadership. He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics. Do you think he is defining the office of the presidency, at least for this time, as basically that of commander in chief? That [...] if you're going to run against him, you'd better be ready to take [that] away from him.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Bob Dornan, you were a congressman all those years. Here's a president who's really nonverbal. He's like Eisenhower. He looks great in a military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes West. I remember him standing at that fence with Colin Powell. Was [that] the best picture in the 2000 campaign?
MATTHEWS: Ann Coulter, you're the first to speak tonight on the buzz. The president's performance tonight, redolent of the best of Reagan -- what do you think?

COULTER: It's stunning. It's amazing. I think it's huge. I mean, he's landing on a boat at 150 miles per hour. It's tremendous. It's hard to imagine any Democrat being able to do that. And it doesn't matter if Democrats try to ridicule it. It's stunning, and it speaks for itself.

MATTHEWS: Pat Caddell, the president's performance tonight on television, his arrival on ship?

CADDELL: Well, first of all, Chris, the -- I think that -- you know, I was -- when I first heard about it, I was kind of annoyed. It sounded like the kind of PR stunt that Bill Clinton would pull. But and then I saw it. And you know, there's a real -- there's a real affection between him and the troops.

MATTHEWS: The president there -- look at this guy! We're watching him. He looks like he flew the plane. He only flew it as a passenger, but he's flown --

CADDELL: He looks like a fighter pilot.

MATTHEWS: He looks for real. What is it about the commander in chief role, the hat that he does wear, that makes him -- I mean, he seems like -- he didn't fight in a war, but he looks like he does.

CADDELL: Yes. It's a -- I don't know. You know, it's an internal thing. I don't know if you can put it into words. [...] You can see it with him and the troops, the ease with which he talks to them. I was amazed by that, frankly, because as I said, I was originally appalled, particularly when I heard he was going in an F-18. But -- on there -- but the -- but you know, that was --

MATTHEWS: Look at this guy!

CADDELL: -- was hard not to be moved by their reaction to him and his reaction to them and --

MATTHEWS: You know, Ann --

CADDELL: -- you know, they -- it's a quality. It's an innate quality. It's a real quality.

MATTHEWS: I know. I think you're right.

Later that day, on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Matthews said:

MATTHEWS: We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like [former President Bill] Clinton or even like [former Democratic presidential candidates Michael] Dukakis or [Walter] Mondale, all those guys, [George] McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple. We're not like the Brits. We don't want an indoor prime minister type, or the Danes or the Dutch or the Italians, or a [Russian Federation President Vladimir] Putin. Can you imagine Putin getting elected here? We want a guy as president.

On the May 7, 2003, edition of Hardball, Matthews asked former Nixon administration official G. Gordon Liddy what he thought of the response to Bush's landing on the Abraham Lincoln. Looking at the footage, Liddy commented that Bush's flight suit made "the best of his manly characteristic."

From the May 7 Hardball:
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this broadside against the USS Abraham Lincoln and its chief visitor last week?

LIDDY: Well, I -- in the first place, I think it's envy. I mean, after all, Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man. And here comes George Bush. You know, he's in his flight suit, he's striding across the deck, and he's wearing his parachute harness, you know -- and I've worn those because I parachute -- and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those -- run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn't count -- they're all liars. Check that out. I hope the Democrats keep ratting on him and all of this stuff so that they keep showing that tape.

MATTHEWS: You know, it's funny. I shouldn't talk about ratings. I don't always pay attention to them, but last night was a riot because, at the very time [U.S. Rep.] Henry Waxman [D-CA] was on -- and I do respect him on legislative issues -- he was on blasting away, and these pictures were showing last night, and everybody's tuning in to see these pictures again.

Various media figures hyped Bush's National Guard experience but made no mention of evidence that emerged during the 2000 presidential campaign that Bush may have received special treatment in getting into TANG and during his tenure.

On the May 1, 2003, edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, Blitzer noted that jets like the F/A-18 Hornet "helped win the war in Iraq" and twice commented on Bush's TANG background -- at one point calling Bush a "one-time Fighter Dog."

From the May 1 edition of Wolf Blitzer Reports:

BLITZER: There was a riskier landing that the president wanted to make. The Secret Service, though, just wouldn't let the commander in chief ride in an F/A-18 strike fighter. But CNN's Kyra Phillips will be doing just that in a matter of only a few minutes. She's in the cockpit of this F/A-18 Hornet. Right now, Navy jets like this one, of course, helped win the war in Iraq. Now, they're headed home. We'll talk with Kyra as soon as she catapults off the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. That's coming up.

A little bit of history and a lot of drama today when President Bush became the first commander in chief to make a tailhook landing on an aircraft carrier. A one-time Fighter Dog himself in the Air National Guard, the president flew in the co-pilot seat with a trip to the USS Abraham Lincoln. And he then mingled with the pilots and the crew members of the carrier on its way back from a deployment which covered the war in Iraq and before that, the war in Afghanistan. From that same deck tonight, the president will make more history. He'll deliver a major address to the nation.

BLITZER: And the president clearly pleased by his own landing aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

And as we mentioned, President Bush is no stranger to military aircraft. He flew F-102 fighter jets in the Texas Air National Guard. He joined at the height of the Vietnam War but was never sent overseas and never saw combat. There's a picture of the young George W. Bush in the Texas Air National Guard.

On the May 1 edition of CNBC's The News with Brian Williams, Williams, now anchor of NBC's Nightly News, said of Bush:

WILLIAMS: And two immutable truths about the president that the Democrats can't change: He's a youthful guy. He looked terrific and full of energy in a flight suit. He is a former pilot, so it's not a foreign art farm -- art form to him. Not all presidents could have pulled this scene off today.

On the May 1 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta van Sustern, correspondent Jon Scott reported:

SCOTT: Greta, the president made just about as grand an entrance tonight as the White House could have asked for. He came in aboard an S-3B Viking. That's a sort of a workhorse of the carrier fleet, an aircraft that is sometimes used for aerial refueling. It can also drop targeted and non-targeted bombs, the so-called dumb bombs. It can do a little bit of everything, and today it brought some very important cargo, namely the president of the United States, the first time ever that a sitting president has landed on a moving aircraft carrier.

Now, of course, President Bush flew fighters in the Air National Guard, but no pilot, no matter how experienced, can land on an aircraft carrier first time out. The president did take the stick for a short time during his flight, but he let another pilot handle the landing. Now, he -- when he got here he was absolutely mobbed by the 200 or so crew members who are normally on deck during flight ops, as they call them. The people in the multicolored jerseys reached out for a handshake, a photo, anything they could get of this president. One observer here tonight said it was like the Beatles climbed out of that plane, and that's very much what it looked like from here.

On the May 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, White House correspondent Wendell Goler reported:

GOLER: With a tailhook landing on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, President George W. Bush made history in advance of a historic speech to the nation in which he'll declare the war in Iraq is all but over. Mr. Bush traded his suit and tie for a flight suit and took a 20-minute flight to the ship during which he briefly called on his skills as a pilot in the National Guard.

HUME: Wendell, the president said "Yes, I flew it," right? And you said he did. How much flying did he actually do today?

GOLER: Brit, the president says he flew the plane about a third of the way from North Island Naval Air Station to the carrier Lincoln. He says the pilot asked him if he wanted to do some maneuvers, but he flew it mostly in a straight line. He says he sure misses flying but that the S-3B Viking is a lot more sophisticated than the planes he flew during his time in the Air National Guard.

The print media joined in the collective swoon the following day. From a May 2, 2003, article in The New York Times by staff writer David E. Sanger:

But within minutes Mr. Bush emerged for the kind of photographs that other politicians can only dream about. He hopped out of the plane with a helmet tucked under his arm and walked across the flight deck with a swagger that seemed to suggest he had seen Top Gun. Clearly in his element, he was swarmed by cheering members of the Lincoln's crew.

Even in a White House that prides itself on its mastery of political staging, Mr. Bush's arrival on board the Lincoln was a first of many kinds.

Never before has a president landed aboard a carrier at sea, much less taken the controls of the aircraft. His decision to sleep aboard the ship this evening in the captain's quarters conjured images of the presidency at sea not seen since Franklin D. Roosevelt used to sail to summit meetings.

Mr. Bush was clearly reliving his days as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, more than three decades ago. "I miss flying, I can tell you that," he told reporters who bumped into him as he moved around the ship.

Washington Post staff writer Karen DeYoung reported on May 2, 2003:

Bush, who had taken off his helmet and thus avoided photographic comparisons to presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis's unfortunate episode with a tank helmet during 1988 campaign, jumped down in full flight regalia, a smile splitting his face. The Navy had planned an official greeting, with Bush being piped aboard and walking through two rows of "sideboys" saluting him -- a tradition that dates from the days when visiting officers were hauled up the side of the ship in a boatswain's chair.

Bush ignored it all, swaggering forward and pumping hands with everybody in sight before they could salute. "Here's a man with a birthday," he yelled at a television cameraman as he swung his arm around a sailor. "Put him on C-SPAN." For once, there were no security concerns to keep Bush from pressing flesh, and he made the most of it, hugging and patting everyone on the back -- from the greasy flight deck crew to F-18 pilots waiting to fly home this afternoon.

"Great job, great job," he kept saying. "I flew it," he shouted back to a reporter's shouted question about his flight. "Yeah, of course I liked it. It was fantastic."

Later, Bush explained that he had taken the controls from the pilot, Cmdr. John "Skip" Lussier, for about a third of the 15-minute flight at 360 knots, but had just steered during the "straight" parts. It was, he said, "much more sophisticated" than the jets he used to fly during his tour in the National Guard. Bush had a briefing from the Air Wing Commander and crew members who described their personal experiences flying in combat, watched gun camera footage and heard a battle damage assessment.

The weekend news programs brought even more praise for Bush's performance. On the May 4, 2003, edition of CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer and Time columnist Joe Klein had this to say:

SCHIEFFER: As far as I'm concerned, that was one of the great pictures of all time. And if you're a political consultant, you can just see campaign commercial written all over the pictures of George Bush.

KLEIN: Well, that was probably the coolest presidential image since Bill Pullman played the jet fighter pilot in the movie Independence Day. That was the first thing that came to mind for me. And it just shows you how high a mountain these Democrats are going to have to climb. You compare that image, which everybody across the world saw, with this debate last night where you have nine people on a stage and it doesn't air until 11:30 at night, up against Saturday Night Live, and you see what a major, major struggle the Democrats are going to have to try and beat a popular incumbent president.

On the May 4, 2003, edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Fox News Washington bureau managing editor Brit Hume recounted Bush's bravery:

HUME: But this was risky business. You know, there's grease and oil on the decks of those aircraft carriers. The wind's blowing. All kinds of stuff could have gone wrong. It didn't, he carried it off. Somebody, perhaps he, obviously, believed he could. But this was no slam dunk.

On the May 3, 2003, edition of CNN's The Capital Gang, then-Time columnist Margaret Carlson spoke of the "stirring tableau":

CARLSON: A hurricane couldn't have interfered with that particular parade. It was so well done, and even though we knew that everything was choreographed down to, you know, catching that fourth hook on the ship, it was still a pretty stirring tableau. Cecil B. DeMille couldn't have been done better. And even though you know there's no Santa Claus, Christmas is still great, as it was with that particular moment.

And appearing on the May 4, 2003, edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham discussed her reaction:

INGRAHAM: Speaking as a woman, and listening to the women who called into my radio show, seeing President Bush get out of that plane, carrying his helmet, he is a real man. He stands by his word. That was a very powerful moment.