Monday, April 14, 2008

Bush, Petraeus, Iraq, Afghanistan, Crooked Contractors, China Gets Rich, The Dollar, Food, Big Biz Loses One and Jimmy Carter.

Well, Mr. Bush's grand adventure in Iraq is still ongoing, still a mess, still staying the course and still no end in sight. Our troops deserve better. Much better.
Mr. Bush in his own words is handing his mess to the next president, from 2006, "WE'RE not leaving, so long as I'm the President." In fact, he has submitted a budget that doesn't even cover the costs of the war after he's gone.
Of course, that's when the Right Wing Propaganda Machine will start working overtime to convince us all that the Democrats blew the great opportunity for democracy, peace and love in the Middle East. And there are plenty of idiots out there who'll believe it.
Juan Cole has written an excellent article about the three wars that are actually going on inside Iraq. That's just the wars, all the little feuds aren't even mentioned.
AT LAST WEEK'S Iraq hearings on Capitol Hill, amid the talk of progress,
withdrawal timetables, and casualty numbers, one crucial question was largely
ignored: How much of Iraq can American troops really expect to

American leaders and media tend to focus on the insurgency in
Baghdad and its environs, but that's only a small part of the total picture.
When the United States toppled Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, it engendered a
series of power struggles around the country.

Today Iraq is embroiled in three separate civil wars, only one of which
has involved US troops in a significant way. These three conflicts have
generated most of the country's violence, and are intensively reported on in the
Iraqi press, which I follow closely.

The next president will inherit these ongoing Iraqi and regional
conflicts - and the vexing question of how, and whether, America can address
them. Amid the high-level generalizations about the Iraq war, these are the
conflicts the candidates - and the country - really need to be
Fortunately for Bush and most of the right, is the fact that they exist in a fantasy world, where science, history and above all facts mean nothing. From The Ostroy Report.
"Fifteen months ago, Americans were worried about the prospect of failure in
Iraq," The Decider told a small White House group Thursday, attempting to
bolster support for the war. "Today, thanks to the surge, we’ve renewed and
revived the prospect of success."
Bush obviously has strange ideas on the definition of success.
To make matters even worse, the commander of our troops in Iraq is more interested in pleasing Bush than in the welfare of his troops.
The recent armed conflicts there, paced by the powerful Sadrist faction,
are the rock in the road that Petraeus and Crocker have had to get around since
these hearings began, as the ill-timed flare-ups have provided ample evidence
that the "surge" strategy may not be working as either a security measure or a
means to sectarian reconciliation. The Bush administration has little choice but
to spin every dire crisis as a sign of evident success, so Petraeus offer[ed] an
argument [on Wednesday] that Maliki's response to Basra was evidence that the
government is essentially functional...

All of which sounds hopeful, or, at least it would, were it not for the
fact that Petraeus spent the [previous] day suggesting precisely the
To be fair we should check out some of that success.
Things must be going great in Baghdad. After all, it's kind of the showplace of the success that President Bush says we're having in Iraq.
THE toll from fierce fighting in Baghdad’s Sadr City has risen to at least
200 dead and more than 1,000 injured, according to doctors in the besieged

US and Iraqi troops killed at least 13 gunmen in heavy fighting
there yesterday against the Mahdi Army loyal to the radical Shiite cleric
Moqtada al-Sadr.

The reports from Sadr City hospitals suggest far higher casualty
figures than previously reported, although they cannot be independently
verified. Dr Qassem Mudalal, the director of the Imam Ali hospital, said: “There
are 230 killed, I can confirm, in the hospitals of Sadr City. I’ve been living
in the hospital for two weeks.

“I can’t leave because of the siege and it’s too dangerous to be on the
streets because of snipers and bombs.”

He said most had died from shrapnel wounds. Other doctors claimed
only a minority of the dead appeared to be militants.
We've been training Iraqis to "stand up so that we can stand down" for five years. Surely that has to be a success. Doesn't it?

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's government moved Sunday to restore discipline within
the ranks of the security forces, sacking more than 1,300 soldiers and policemen
who deserted during recent fighting against Shiite militias in Basra.

The failure of government forces to capture Basra despite superiority in
numbers and firepower was an embarrassment to al-Maliki, who ordered the
offensive and personally supervised it during the first week.

During the attack more than 1,000 security troops - including a full
infantry battalion - refused to fight or joined the militias, handing them
weapons and vehicles.

OK, maybe that wasn't the best example of the success that Bush and the right dream about, but what about privatization. We spend a tremendous amount of money on defense contractors.

So how do you think your tax dollar funded contractors are helping this country in Iraq?

According to the testimony of John Owen, “Conditions there were deplorable,
beyond what even a working man should tolerate. Foreign workers were
packed in trailers tight. There was insufficient equipment and basic needs –
stuff like shoes and gloves. If a construction worker needed a new pair of
shoes, he was told, ‘No, do with what you have’ by First Kuwaiti managers. The
contract for these workers said they had to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week,
with some time off on Friday for prayers."

I had the opportunity to visit some of the areas where the Filipino people
live. These people are here to do our laundry and to clean our bathrooms and
showers . They are very hard working people who have to live in very sad
conditions. They have been placed in little trailers that have small beds and
they are not allowed to go out of their working places alone. They must be
escorted back and forth from their work place to their 'homes' .and they must be
at their gate by 10 o’clock. Filipinos have their own place to eat, travel in
their own buses and they have no recreation or any other activities other than
work and are not permitted to interact with others here.

Kinda makes you proud to be an American.

In Afghanistan, the opium poppys have been planted, so it's time to grab the old AK and kill some Americans or Brits.

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- For weeks now, the men in black turbans have been
coming. They travel in pairs or small groups, on battered motorbikes or in dusty
pickups, materializing out of the desert with Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers
slung from their shoulders.

With the advent of warmer weather, villagers say, Taliban fighters are
filtering back from their winter shelters in Pakistan, ensconcing themselves
across Afghanistan's wind-swept south.

I guess that Bush is really lucky that he has that strong economy that he and the mainstream media have been bragging about for the last few years.

But if our economy is so strong, why is China making all the money.

SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- China's central bank says the country's foreign reserves
topped $1.68 trillion by the end of March, up 40 percent from a year earlier.

It's a good thing that Bush has made sure the dollar stayed strong. Boy, did that MBA from Harvard come in handy.

Last November, president George W.
, in an interview with Fox
Business Network
, summoned his inner high-school cheerleader. "We have a
strong dollar policy, and it's important for the world to know that," he said.
"And if people would look at the strength of our economy, they'd realize why I
believe that the dollar will be stronger." Since then, the greenback, which had
been slumping against foreign currencies for years, has wilted like spinach in a
sauté pan at the Olive Garden. Given that the typical audience for Fox Business
Network could comfortably fit into Rupert Murdoch's downtown Manhattan loft,
it's no surprise the world failed to get the message. The greenback last week
hit new lows against foreign currencies. The dollar is so sad, we should
consider renaming it the dolor.

One more problem that we and the rest of the world had better get ready for is the shortage and high price of food. There's going to be a lot more starving people in the poorer and undeveloped countries. Here too, for that matter.

This article is well worth reading. You'll want to get that garden started, we are about to see just how important food is.

Unlike past food crises, solved largely by throwing aid at hungry stomachs
and boosting agricultural productivity, this one won't go away quickly, experts
say. Prices are soaring and stand every chance of staying high because this
crisis is different.

A swelling global population, soaring energy prices, the clamouring for
meat from the rising Asian middle class, competition from biofuels and hot money
pouring into the commodity markets are all factors that make this crisis unique
and potentially calamitous. Even with concerted global action, such as rushing
more land into cultivation, it will take years to fix the problem.

And we waste our time and resources invading Iraq for no logical reason.

Fortunately there is some good news to talk about. Big Business lost one in the courts and that can only be good for the rest of us.

The National Association of Manufacturers suffered a major blow Friday in
its legal battle against the new ethics and lobbying law.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court dismissed
the group’s challenge to a key provision of the law. The group took issue with
the clause that would require disclosure of the member companies of “stealth
lobbying” coalitions.

And former President Jimmy Carter knows that to reach a workable agreement, all sides must be a part of it. I believe Jimmy Carter is about the only living ex-president that has done something worthwhile, instead of trying to get richer. No wonder the right ridicules him so much.

WASHINGTON (April 13) - Former President Carter said he feels "quite at
ease" about meeting Hamas militants over the objections of Washington because
the Palestinian group is essential to a future peace with Israel.

"The position of the government is that Hamas is a terrorist organization
and we don't negotiate with terrorists. We think that's a very important
principle to maintain," Hadley said. "The State Department made clear we think
it's not useful for people to be running to Hamas at this point and having

Carter demurred.

"I feel quite at ease in doing this," he said. "I think there's no doubt in
anyone's mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice
concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors, the Palestinians,
that Hamas will have to be included in the process."

It's Monday. So get to work, you're there to produce. At least until your company can find cheaper labor.


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I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.

John Stuart Mill (May 20 1806 – May 8 1873)