Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Nation: About Face

The Nation magazine writer Marc Cooper has an amazing story of the start of a legal appeal from active-duty soldiers in Iraq. So far, over a thousand signatures have been collected. The three sentence Appeal of Redress, which will be presented to Congress within the next few weeks, simply reads:

As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Gulf Coast

It's been 16 months since Hurricane Katrina hit the south. The focus was on New Orleans, the largest city hit by the storm and what we all saw on television and in the news was unimaginable. This wasn't a third world country we were looking at, this was in our own backyard.

Obviously, everyone was appalled by the lack of initial response by the government. But in hindsight, I feel it is typical of the Bush Administration. When you hear of the rebuilding efforts or catch the occasional photo, it's pretty likely that it'll be a picture of the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Bob Herbert of the NY Times has written several columns regarding Katrina and its continuing downpour on its victims. The water may be gone, but the drowning feeling remains. Here is an excerpt from his Dec.21st column, "America's Open Wound".

"In mid-September 2005, with parts of the city still submerged and soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division on patrol, President Bush made a dramatic, flood-lit appearance in historic Jackson Square. In a nationally televised speech he promised not only to do all that he could to rebuild the Gulf Coast, but also to confront the terrible problem of deep and persistent poverty.

“That poverty,” said the president, “has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action.”

Now, more than a year later, the population of New Orleans is less than half what it was before the storm. The federal government has allocated billions for the city’s recovery but much of that money has been wasted or remains hopelessly tied up in the bureaucracy. Very little has gotten to the neediest victims, the people who were poor to begin with and then lost their homes and their livelihoods to the storm.

...Many of the poor residents in the city feel that they’ve been abandoned by the government and the rest of America, and that the president broke his promise to help. “We’re in terrible trouble down here,” said a woman named Delores Goode, who stood outside the Superdome asking passers-by if they knew where she might find work as a baby sitter. “We were all over the television last year. Now we’re back to being nobody.”

But it isn't just New Orleans that got hit hard. Remember, that this hurricane was so large, it effected Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Katrina's size was approximately 90, 000 square miles. That's the size of Great Britian. An earlier Herbert column from Dec. 18th was focused on Baton Rouge, LA. and a trailer camp run by FEMA called Renaissance Village.

From "Out of Sight", Bob Herbert:
"More than a third of the 1,200 people in this sprawling camp are children. Only about half of the school-age youngsters are even registered for school; of those, roughly half actually go to school on any given day. The authorities can’t account for the rest.
A number of officials who asked not to be identified told me they are concerned that large numbers of children are remaining isolated at Renaissance Village, holed up in the trailers day in and day out, falling further and further behind educationally, and deteriorating emotionally.
Leah Baptiste, a caseworker from a local affiliate of Catholic Charities, said: “These trailers are small. They were only meant for traveling. And you’ve got families with three and four children cooped up in there seven days a week, 24 hours a day, with no privacy, no babysitter, no job, no money — there’s a lot of help they need. Some people have learned to adapt, but a lot are depressed.”
The most critical needs for the trailer camp population are housing and employment. Many of the adults at Renaissance Village were working before the storm but have been unable to find work since. Even the lowest-wage jobs in the Baton Rouge area are scarce, and without cars (in some cases, without money even for bus fare) it’s extremely difficult for Renaissance Village residents to get to them.

...The big story in the immediate aftermath of Katrina was the way the government failed to rush to the aid of people who were obviously in desperate trouble. What we’re witnessing now is an extended slow-motion replay of that initial failed response. Thousands of people remain in trouble, but instead of clinging to roofs and waving signs at TV cameras in helicopters flying overhead, they are suffering in silence, out of the sight of most Americans.

The government could have come up with a crash program to build housing and find or create jobs for the victims of Katrina. It could have ensured that all those hurt by the storm received whatever social services they needed, including mental health counseling and treatment. It could have begun to address the long-festering problems of race and poverty in this country.

The government could have done so much. But it didn’t."

I know many of us get depressed reading stories like this. I know I do. But turning the page or closing our eyes doesn't make it go away. So I continue to read and research, I give what I can to organizations that are trying to make a direct difference.
Some of us give to the local animal shelters, which is fine, I think it's a wonderful thing. Yes, puppies and kittens are cute. But the people in places that no one talks about, like the Mississippi Gulf Coast, they are our fellow human beings.

I'm an avid listener to the Mike Malloy Show, as those who read my blog (all three of you) will know by my posts. There is a regular caller to the show that goes by the name of "Sarge". I hear Herb "Sarge" Phelps at least two to three times a week on the Malloy program alone (I'm sure he calls in on other shows). He has the will of a thousand people. He pushes on, hoping someone will hear him and respond.

One of the organizations Sarge touts is the Jackson County Community Services Coalition, in Jackson County, Mississippi. Jim Yancey, its Executive Director, is hands on and there isn't much bureaucratic red tape. He helps families directly in need.

Here is an example of what the JCCSC does: The Leroy Johnson Story

According to Sarge's site updated on Dec.20th, "In 10 days to 2 weeks thanks to... listeners from Head On Radio Network and Nova M who donated money to Jackson County Community Services Coalition and others, like the women from Mississippi Home that have selflessly contributed by putting aside their lives to come help, Mr. Johnson will be moving into a new house built by the Jackson County Community Services Coalition."
If you have a some spare change this Christmas, I'm sure they can use any help available.

Bush: Shop Til You Drop

He said it again. I suppose we shouldn't think of the bad things currently happening and just spend money... that's the American way, right?

Market Watch: "The recent report on retail sales shows a strong beginning to the holiday shopping season across the country," Bush said. "And I encourage you all to go shopping more."

Bush said he was looking forward to working with the incoming Democratic Congress to hold down federal spending, encourage investment in technology and reduce dependence on foreign energy sources.

You've had SIX YEARS to hold down federal spending! Now you're going to put it on the Democrats to clean up your mess?! What a surprise! This idiot is delusional!

Arianna Huffington's latest blog is a shopping list for her "favorite -- and not so favorite -- public figures." Fun reading for a change. Also, you can add your own gift ideas in the "Comments" section.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Georgie's Christmas List

Malloy's Latest Rant

What can I say? I love this guy. He voices the frustrations that I know a lot of us feel but can't put into words.

MIKE MALLOY, December 19th, 2006:

Last week, I was quoting from John Dean's column that impeachment would detract from the business that the Democrats have to do in order to repair the damage that these evil people have done in six years, the Bush Crime Family and this sick, degenerate Republican Party. And I thought about it over the weekend and then I read some other stuff.

I go to Michael Lerner. I go to Robert Perry. I go to Noam Chomsky. I go to BartCop. I have this whole list of people whose opinions I factor in. And it occurred to me that I made a terrible, terrible, terrible mistake in saying that John Dean is right.

Without impeachment, not only will history judge us as not caring about the Constitution or the future of this country, but are we not faced with a moral, if not moral, an ethical imperative here? We have watched, over the past six years, very slowly, incrementally, this Bush Crime Family destroy everything.

Now the problem here is not everybody, very few people as a matter of fact, relatively speaking , out of 300 million of us, have felt the lash. The people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast have felt it. The people in certain Midwestern towns, that have seen, all of a sudden, their town die because jobs are exported. Families who were conned into believing that they were defending liberty or protecting America and now have a folded flag where they used to have a husband or a mother, or sister or a brother, they've felt it. But so many of us haven't felt it yet. And I guess that's the inertia.

And in the meantime, television and the entertainment industry does what it is commissioned to do. Make us forget. Make us forget. It's like, what's the drug they give you to make you forget... Versed.'s a conscious sedation. I've had oral surgery four or five times, not recently, but they give you an extra drug called Versed so that when you come out of the conscious sedation, even though you haven't been under general anesthesia, you have no memory. It stops your mind from being able to file stuff away. And that's exactly what television and the entertainment media are doing to us. They're preventing us from filing stuff away.

Now dammit, I don't mean to beat a dead horse, or in Cheney's case, a dead deer, but either we're going to do something, either we're going to insist that the laws of this country be upheld and that the criminals be brought to justice, or we're not. It's very simple.

If we do not, if this Bush Administration is allowed to escape from the requirements of the United States Constitution, and it is up the the Democratic Party leadership to either enforce the law or turn their backs on it; and if they turn their backs on it, then it is finished.

Patriot Acts I and II that have eroded Constitutional rights, illegal wars, the response to Katrina, the CIA leak probe, illegal wiretapping, torture memos, the Downing Street memo, fake intelligence, tens of thousands of innocent lives lost, no HUNDREDS of thousands!

WHAT IS AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE, MS. PELOSI?! What the hell does it take?! These are high crimes and misdemeanors of the most sterling quality. What does it take, Senator Reid? What does it take? What would you two have to see happen? What would you two have to see this Bush Crime Family do in order to say, "Yes, we're going to impeach him."? WHAT WOULD IT TAKE?! If not this, what? If not this, then the Constitution of the United States is toilet paper.

And don't any of the Democratic Party leadership EVER, EVER get all misty-eyed on Veteran's Day, or the 4th July or any of these national holidays because you will have crapped all over the documents that put this country together. Now either get off your asses and enforce the law or shut up and leave me and other people in this country alone to figure out how in the hell we're going to survive and pass something on to our children that is worthwhile.

We have criminals running this country! And this sick son of a bitch sits in the Oval Office in an interview with Washington Post staff writers Peter Baker, Michael Fletcher and Michael Abramowitz... He is going to send more troops to die and kill into Iraq. Do you understand that?

Every single rational person in this country, from the military to the journalists, to the academics, have all said to this crazy bastard, "No! It's over! Stop it!" And he's going to do it anyway. He's never been legally elected. It's WAY past time he got out of Al Gore's house! What does it take?!

Senator Reid, Nancy Pelosi, you don't know me from Adam's house cat, and you couldn't care less, but damn both of you if you don't at least make the effort of removing this criminal from office! Enforce the Constitution! DO WHAT WE ELECTED YOU TO DO!

NY Times - Former U.S. Detainee in Iraq Recalls Torment

The Trial is a surreal novel by Franz Kafka about a character named Joseph K., who awakens one morning and, for reasons that one never discovers, is arrested and subjected to the rigours of the judicial process for an unspecified crime.
Impossible, right? ...Right? Ask Donald Vance.

From the NY TIMES: "Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the FBI about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.
But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents."

Read the article, then ask yourself what the hell is going on with the US military and this God-forsaken Administration. Ask yourself why impeachment is "off the table." Screw impeachment. I'm looking for convictions on war crimes!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An Open Letter to American Christian Conservatives

A letter from Demosthenese_01 at The Sarcastic Cynic rails on the Conservatives so-called "Christians" of this country. An excellent letter worth reading.

EXCERPT: I was there, in Washington D.C. BEFORE the war. I was standing there with my sign that said "PEACE NOT WAR", not even saying anything, when a self-described "Conservative Christian" came up to me and started telling me in detail why I was going to hell because I opposed this war and that I should "repent my heathenish Liberal ways". I tried to explain to her that I am a Christian. I am an ordained reverend in a non-denominational church. She would hear none of it...

...An example of how REAL Christians react when they are attacked is right here in America's heartland, right under your noses. Earlier this year the Amish in Pennsylvania were attacked by an insane man who executed several of their children in cold blood. He put them on their knees and shot them from behind.
How did the Amish React? ...they immediately held a press conference and publicly FORGAVE the man.

Then, when the money and gifts started pouring in from all over the world, their first action was to create a fund for the wife and children of the man who murdered their children.

...You all really need to reevaluate your principles. You need to reexamine what "Christian Values" really are.

No Mission No Surge

Remember when most of us respected Colin Powell? If anything, he came across as a stand up guy and you really didn't have doubts that what he told you was nothing but the truth, because he seemed to exude honesty and integrity. Well, that was until the whole "aluminum tubes" thing, and then he bailed out.
Here he is with Bob Schieffer on Face The Nation, December 17, 2006. I don't have doubts that was he's saying this time is true.

MR. POWELL: "Over the summer, the United States and Iraqi forces launched Operation Forward Together. Began in June, and then phase two began in August, with thousands of American troops going into Baghdad to try to stabilize the situation. They haven't stabilized the situation. So we have tried this surge of troops over the summer. I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for the purpose of suppressing this communitarian violence, this civil war, will work. But if somebody proposes that additional troops be sent, if I was still chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, my first question to whoever's proposing it is what mission is it these troops ought to accomplish? Is it to secure Baghdad, in which case the American army isn't large enough to secure Baghdad, and we should not use our troops as policemen. It is to take over--is it to take over a certain section of Baghdad, is it to go after the insurgents? There needs to be a clear mission that these additional troops are going to be performing."

"...So before I would add any additional troops or recommend it to a commander in chief, I'd want to make sure we have a clear understanding of what it is they're going for, how long they're going for. And let's be clear about something else ...that gets a little confusing. There really are no additional troops. All we would be doing is keeping some of the troops who're there there longer and escalating, or accelerating, the arrival of other troops."

"...I'm suggesting that what General Schoomaker said the other day, before a committee looking at the Reserve and National Guard, that the active Army is about broken. General Schoomaker is absolutely right, and all of my contacts within the Army suggest that the Army has a serious problem in the active force, and it's a problem that will spread into the Guard and Reserves:
Backlog of equipment that is not being repaired, soldiers--especially officers and noncommissioned officers--going on repetitive tours. So if you surge now, you're going to keep troops who've already been kept there long even longer, and you're going to be bringing in troops from the United States who were going to be coming anyway, but perhaps a little bit later. And so that's how you surge. And that surge cannot be sustained. The current active Army is not large enough, and the Marine Corps is not large enough, for the kinds of missions they're being asked to perform. And we need to let both the Army and the Marine Corps grow in size, in my military judgment."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Howard Zinn - The Uses of History and The War on Terrorism

My blogfriend at Deep Confusion brought this to my attention and I thought I'd add it to my blog as well. Doesn't hurt to spread the news.

As Howard Zinn was lecturing at the University of Wisconsin, he quoted Hermann Göring, second in command to Hitler, in his speech to make a point: "...the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war? But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they’re being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism. It works the same way in any country.”

Read his transcript at
Democracy Now.
Hear the entire lecture here.
(To save the audio, right-click the hyperlink and choose "Save Target As...")

Joe Barbera Dies at 95

Joe Barbera died on Monday at the age of 95 of natural causes. Most of us will remember Joe as part of the Hanna-Barbera team that gave us cartoon classics including Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Scooby-Doo.
They found their first success with the Tom & Jerry cartoons and this one my favorite. It's a strange coincidence that I was just mentioning this cartoon to a friend of mine the other day and he couldn't remember it.

"Can't play GUI-tar wthout a GUI-tar string!"

Thank you Joe Barbera.

Rumsfeld-The Best Sec.of Defense EVER?!

Dick Cheney: "The record of the years 2001-2006 only comfirms the good qualities and the gift for leadership that Don Rumsfeld has shown all his life. Our former boss, President Gerald Ford, said recently that holding the office of Secretary of Defense in times like these requires a certain amount of steel. Don Rumsfeld has that steel in him. In his regard for our people in uniform, in his unwavering strength through unprecedented challenges, in his example of leadership and patriotic service, I believe the record speaks for itself: Don Rumsfeld is the finest Secretary of Defense this nation has ever had."

OH MY GOD!!! Why would he be fired if he was the best ever?! This has to be the biggest line of bullshit ever. I often wonder how these guys keep a straight face when crap like this comes out of their mouths. You can imagine these clowns coming together and rehearsing their speeches and CRACKING UP, just laughing hysterically like the outtakes you'd see on Seinfeld or the end of a Bert Reynolds flick while the credits roll.
As far as "his regard for people in uniform", here's Rumsfeld in January 2003, on the draft during the Vietman War (courtesy of a listener writing in to the Mike Malloy Show): "Big categories were exempted. People who were in college, people who were teaching, people who were married, and what was left was sucked into the intake, trained for a period of months and then went out adding no value, no advantage really, to the United States Armed Services."

Tell that to the families of the 58,000 names on this wall and to all other Veterans that made it home after serving in Vietnam.

Picture courtesy of

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tom Friedman on Meet The Press

Tom Friedman of the New York Times was on Meet The Press this past Sunday and a couple of observations he had struck a chord, so I thought I'd share. Here's part of the transcript:

VIDEO- MRS. LAURA BUSH: "I do know that there are a lot of good things that are happening that aren’t covered, and I think the drum beat in the country from the media, from the only way people know what’s happening... is discouraging."

FRIEDMAN: "...if I can share with you another rule I had about the Middle East, it was that any general going to the Middle East—or reporter—should have to take a test, and it would consist of one question:
Do you believe the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? If you answer yes to that question, you can’t go to Iraq. You can go to Korea, you can go to Germany, you can go to Japan. You can’t go to Iraq.
And the problem is, when you hear the first lady, when I think of the way Bush is running this war, he thinks that in the Middle East the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. It’s all straight, it’s a matter of just add a little more force here, and a little more, you know, give another speech there. It’s insane. I wanted this to succeed, you know, as much as anybody, all right, because I thought it was really important. But I thought it was really important and really hard. And to me, what history will damn these people for is they thought it was really important and really easy."

..."Think of what happened this week. OK, Dick Cheney, the vice president, stood up at a massive farewell ceremony for Rumsfeld at the Pentagon and said he was the greatest secretary of defense in American history. Now, if that is true, either George Bush is a fool or Dick Cheney is a liar, all right? Because either George Bush just fired at the height of a war, at the greatest national security threat of our country’s current era, the greatest secretary of defense in history, or Dick Cheney thinks we’re all walking around with a sign that says 'Stupid' on it.

But I can stand up and say this: After this incredible fiasco—you ...tell people that this guy was the greatest secretary of defense in history—people are tired of that, Tim. Too much is at stake now. The first lady says, you know, 'Things are going well in Iraq.' If things are going so well in Iraq, why are there a million Iraqi refugees in Jordan now, and 600,000 in Syria? Because we misreported it? They’re not reading The New York Times."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Lewis Black on Bush, Flag Burning and Christmas

No commentary necessary. Just enjoy.