Saturday, February 24, 2007

The views of at least one Iraqi

The Iraqi blogger who writes the "Baghdad Burning" blog has posted again after a few months silence. She is furious about the rape of Sabrine Al Janabi by American soldiers. But after discussing that particular atrocity she sums up the overall situation.

And yet, as the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse.

Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.
read entire blog entry

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Media following Republican talking points?

At or near the top of the list of right-wing talking points is the assertion that the Democratic candidates for President are going to fight each other in a mean, vicious and dishonest way. To anyone who has been paying attention to politics for the past few years this is a breath-takingly audacious example of projecting your own sins onto your opponents. Who can forget Karl Rove in the 2000 South Carolina primary spreading the rumour that John McCain was raising a bi-racial daughter born out of wedlock (actually he has a daughter adopted from Bangladesh).

Take this widely reported story about Obama being asked to take responsibility for remarks about Hillary Clinton made by someone who donated to his campaign, for example. The story reports this as "a shot" taken by the Obama campaign against the Clinton campaign, even though neither Obama or his staff had anything to do with the (relatively mild) criticisms of Clinton. Do you think in writing stories like this reporters and editors are following Republican talking points or are they simply trying to find a story where none exits?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"Lee Man" Furgerson of Des Moines

There was a wonderful article in yesterday's Des Moines Register by Reid Forgrave about a very special person -- Lee Furgerson. (Lee is the nephew of Vince Thomas of Rock Island.) Lee was born with mental and developmental disabilities but a talent for music. He is now receiving praise and admiration for his musical performances and his work teaching percussion to children. Read the article.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Rumsfeld one of the worst" -- John McCain

Senator John McCain, who said and did nothing when it could have made a difference, now starts to criticize the performance of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld according to a news story by BRUCE SMITH of the Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday the war in Iraq has been mismanaged for years and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be remembered as one of the worst in history.

"We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement — that's the kindest word I can give you — of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war," the Arizona senator told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at a retirement community near Hilton Head Island, S.C. "The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously."

If "maverick" Senator McCain had spoken up when the mistakes were being made and his party was in the majority it might have made a difference.

"Minus 8 degress below zero"

This morning a local television weather man said that the temperature a week ago had been a "minus 8 degrees below zero." I think he meant a "minus 8 degrees" or "8 degrees below zero." A "minus 8 degrees below zero" would be a plus 8 degrees, wouldn't it? I know it is not a big mistake and we all know what he meant but it would have bothered me all day it I had not gotten this off my chest.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rep. Goode says debating War in Iraq aids our enemies

During today’s House debate on Iraq, virulently anti-Muslim Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) said supporting the anti-escalation resolution would "aid and assist the Islamic jihadists who want the crescent and star to wave over the Capitol of the United States and over the White House of this country." Moreover, he said, "I fear that radical Muslims who want to control the Middle East and ultimately the world would love to see ‘In God We Trust’ stricken from our money and replaced with ‘In Muhammad We Trust.’"

I was reading a local blogger who was criticizing several Democratic Representatives by name for not doing enough to end the War in Iraq. He must have missed Goode's remarks. If Democrats are called corrupt and hypocritical for not pushing more strongly for an immediate end of war what words would describe Republicans like Goode who are calling everyone who opposes McCain's escalation traitors?

What country is supplying arms to the Sunni insurgents in Iraq?

Suddenly the Bush Administration is all over the media talking about how the Shia fighters in Iraq are getting arms from Iran. But if you listen closely to what they are saying they admit that they have had most of this evidence and information for a long time. Why are they suddenly talking about it now? Given the history of this Administration you might wonder if they are trying to distract us from something they do not want discussed.

Could it have something to do with the sudden rash of our helicopters being shot down, 5 in 2 weeks? See stories here and here. All appear to have been shot by Sunni insurgents. At least some of them were shot down by anti-aircraft missiles. Iran would not be supplying weapons to the Sunnis. That would be like Tony Blair giving bombs to the IRA. No, the countries most likely to be supplying the anti-aircraft missiles being used to shoot down our helicopters would be our allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Pay no attention to those missiles shooting down our helicopters. Look at these Iranian serial numbers on these roadside bombs. Aren't they much more interesting than those boring old anti-aircraft missiles?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

United States last among wealthy countries in well-being of children

According to a just released A.P. story by Josh White
The United States and Britain ranked at the bottom of a U.N. survey released Wednesday evaluating the well-being of children in wealthy countries.

The Netherlands topped the report issued by UNICEF, followed by other European countries with strong social welfare systems — Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Among the report's overall findings was that wealth alone did not guarantee a child's well-being, with some poorer countries scoring ahead of richer ones. The U.S. and Britain finished 20th and 21st overall, respectively, behind Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Why does the United States lose so badly in a contest like this? Imagine two teams engaged in a team building exercise contest to see which team can get all of its members over the wall first.

On one team there is suspicion among the members that some on the team are freeloaders and malingerers. There is also worry that if the stronger members help the weaker members they will be fostering a culture of dependency. The stronger members quickly climb over the wall to demonstrate how it is done and then shout back instructions and encouragement to the weaker members of the team.

Meanwhile on the other team the strong members quickly get to work assisting the weaker members over the wall. Once the weaker members are over they climb over and their team celebrates their victory together.

Which of those teams resembles the health care system and social safety net of the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Finland? Which team resembles the Unites States?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

If we deport illegal immigrants who would pick the tomatoes?

As reported by Mark Krikorian in The Corner
According to a congressman's wife who attended a Republican women's luncheon yesterday, Karl Rove explained the rationale behind the president's amnesty/open-borders proposal this way: "I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas."

Mark Krikorian went on to be appalled at the disdain for the virtues of hard work reflected in this point of view. That strikes me as a strange reaction. My first thought upon reading that statement was to be appalled at the disdain for reality. What mechanism would compel educated, English-speaking sons of privilege to pick tomatoes or make beds in hotels if all the bottom-of-economic-scale workers who are currently doing those jobs suddenly disappeared?

Karl Rove must be thinking of “Gone With the Wind” where the plantation owner’s daughters went from being belles of the ball before the Civil War to picking cotton after the slave’s were freed. The only way Rove’s statement makes sense is if he sees immigrants, both legal and illegal, as second class citizens serving the same function in our society as slaves did in the pre-Civil War south. In his view we can neither deport them or give them equal rights. If we did either we would end up like Scarlett O’Hara and her sisters, out there in the fields picking the crops.

Of course, that is nonsense. Even if we give everyone in this country equal rights Karl Rove’s kids and all the other sons and daughters of privilege with their language skills, education and social connections can easily out-compete other young people in the job market and avoid having to do bottom-of-the-rung manual labor jobs like picking tomatoes or making beds (although a summer or two doing that kind of work would probably be good for them.)

How did someone who thinks like Karl Rove end up in at the highest levels of our government? What has happened to our meritocracy?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Don Wooten a self-aggrandizer?

A letter to editor in today’s Moline, Illinois Dispatch took columnist Don Wooten to task for claiming he did not believe the claim being made by the Administration before the invasion that Iraq was involved in the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.
The omniscient Mr. Wooten then tells us he could see the holes "in the argument" regarding Iraq's involvement. Perhaps all of the world's intelligence agencies should have first consulted with our former state senator? Sounds like self-aggrandizement. Really, Mr. Wooten!
Judith DePorter,

Well, Ms. DePorter, any boasting on Mr. Wooten’s part is justified. Here is a quote from his column printed in the Dispatch on January 12, 2003, several months before our invasion.
We are coasting down a slippery slope to war as if it were the clear mandate of an informed electorate, rather than the apparent caprice of an administration badly in need of political cover for its domestic programs.

We are given assertions, not reasons, for invading Iraq. Our suspicions are deep, but our evidence shallow. There is no arguing the massive superiority of our firepower, but there is ample room for debate as to where the application of our weaponry may lead.
Ms. DePorter's remarks imply a belief that no one publicly disagreed with the Adminstration's assertions before the invasion that Iraq was behind 9/11 and was a threat to us. Her belief is probably a result of the frequent statements to that effect by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, which she believes in spite of evidence readily available to her to the contrary. I urge Ms. DePorter to immediately undertake a fundamental reassessment of her personal epistemology.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

He Don’t Have The Blues Anymore

I’ve been listening lately to Maria Muldaur’s album “Meet Me Where They Play the Blues”, especially the track “He Don’t Have The Blues Anymore” I couldn’t find the lyrics on the internet so I have transcribed them myself.

by Bruce Channel, Hoy Lindsey, Ricky Ray Rector (according the liner notes)

He's not worried about his rent
You know his money's all been spent
He don't care if they repossess his car
He no longer is afraid
You know his debts have all been paid
No, he don't have the blues anymore

He's got a smile on his face
that cannot be erased
No, he don't have to worry like before.
Lord, he's finally settled down
Stopped all that running 'round
No, he don't have the blues anymore

One by one he's said goodbye
to the trouble and all the strife
Now he's headed where he's never been before
He no longer feels alone
He's finally found a happy home
Oh, he don't have the blues anymore

All his friends were glad to see
that he's finally been set free
And they took him and they laid him in the ground
He's finally got it made
He's just resting in the shade
Oh, he don't have the blues anymore

Now he's gone beyond the sky
with the angels up on high
and he's headed right for Heaven's open door
He's been pardoned and released
Finally filled with a heavenly peace
Oh, he don't have the blues anymore

Don't have to worry anymore
He finally walked to the heavenly door
Gonna walk around heaven all day
Seeing Mama and his pappa
All the saints there to greet him
All his friends can't wait to meet him
Oh he don't have the blues

He's finally through with his life down here
..Been set free
No more trouble, no more pain
Only sunshine, no more rain
He don't have the blues

I can’t decide whether this is an uplifting or depressing song. It appears to be happy, but it paints a depressing picture of this man’s life up until his death. Is life just worry and trouble?

They say the end of January is the most depressing time of the year. Maybe this song will strike me differently in the spring.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Undermining the scientific consensus on global warming

As anyone who has been paying attention to the issue of global warming (or watched “An Inconvenient Truth”) knows the scientists and researchers who study weather and the climate are nearly unanimous that global warming is taking place and that humans are the cause. As citizens of the world it should be obvious that we need to take immediate action to avoid global catastrophe.

If you are an international corporation enjoying huge profits which might be reduced in the short term by the actions necessary to reduce emissions of green-house gases and you are solely focused on short-term profits and therefore want to undermine that scientific consensus, how would you do that? Well, you could try bribery.

According to an article in the Guardian: (Why do we have to read the British press to find out what is going on?)
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).