Saturday, January 13, 2007

Jimmy Carter's Latest Book

Jimmy Carter has been labeled an anti-Semite. This man, who has probably done more for the peace process in the Middle East than anyone else, who has won the Nobel Peace Prize "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development", is now involved in a controversy over his latest book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid".

Fourteen members of an advisory board to Jimmy Carter’s human rights organization resigned Thursday, January 11th, to protest his new book, which criticizes Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories.

Is this such a taboo subject, that we turn our heads away from what is factually happening in Israel? Many are fearful of broaching the subject for fear of being branded a "Jew hater." Yes, we all know the Holocaust happened, and it was a tragic and sad time in human history, but does that mean that we should look the other way at the system of segregation that is currently taking place in Israel?

I have yet to read the book, but have already ordered it. You can too by clicking on the book cover photo.

In the meantime, you can read this article by Shulamit Aloni. She is the former Education Minister of Israel. She has been awarded both the Israel Prize and the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

EXCERPT: Jimmy Carter does not need me to defend his reputation that has been sullied by Israelophile community officials. The trouble is that their love of Israel distorts their judgment and blinds them from seeing what's in front of them. Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us. We should remember that we too used very violent terror against foreign rule because we wanted our own state. And the list of victims of terror is quite long and extensive.

Must Reads

Robert Scheer: Brooding Prince's Soliloquy

To win, perchance to dream. Few Americans, a mere 17 percent, according to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, think that sacrificing more Americans in patrols on the streets of Baghdad will reverse the slings and arrows of our outrageous Iraqi fortune, but giving a speech about it might provide our hapless Hamlet with some temporary political cover.

David Corn: Bush's Reality-Based Desperation's the obvious question: given the president's history of false and misleading statements about the war and his record of poor decision-making related to the war, why should anyone accept anything he says or proposes now?

Sheldon Richman: Bipartisanship? Bah!

Where did all the wise heads get the idea that Americans voted for bipartisan cooperation last November? After six years of full Republican control, it looked to me as though the voters wanted divided government — blessed gridlock — do-no-harm government. Hear, hear!

Spiders On Drugs

What Does Congress Do Now?

So now that Bush has committed another 21,500 troops to Iraq, what do we do? What's the next step in Congress?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Keith Olbermann: Surge

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on Countdown after Bush's speech to the nation regarding his proposed "surge".

"Who is left to go and fight, sir? Who are you going to send to interrupt the flow from Iran and Syria, Laura and Barney?"

"You speak of mistakes and of the responsibility resting with you. But you do not admit to making those mistakes."

"I read this list last night, before the President's speech, and it bears repetition, because its shape and texture are perceptible only in such a context.
Before Mr. Bush was elected, he said nation-building was wrong for America. Now he says it is vital.
He said he would never put U.S. troops under foreign control. Last night he promised to embed them, in Iraqi units.
He told us about WMD. Mobile labs. Secret sources. Aluminum tubes. Yellow-cake.
He has told us the war is necessary because Saddam was a material threat. Because of 9/11. Because of Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda. Terrorism in General. To liberate Iraq. To spread freedom. To spread Democracy. To prevent terrorism by gas price increases. Because this was a guy who tried to kill his Dad.
Because 439 words in to the speech last night, he trotted out 9/11 again.
In advocating and prosecuting this war he passed on a chance to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. To get Muqtada Al-Sadr.To get Bin Laden.
He sent in fewer troops than the Generals told him to.
He ordered the Iraqi army disbanded and the Iraqi government "De-Baathified."
He short-changed Iraqi training. He neglected to plan for widespread looting. He did not anticipate sectarian violence.
He sent in troops without life-saving equipment. Gave jobs to foreign contractors, and not Iraqis. He staffed U.S. positions there, based on partisanship, not professionalism.
He and his government told us "America had prevailed", "Mission Accomplished", the resistance was in its "last throes".
He has insisted more troops were not necessary. He has now insisted more troops are necessary.
He has insisted it's up to the generals, and then removed some of the generals who said more troops would not be necessary.
He has trumpeted the turning points: The fall of Baghdad; the death of Uday and Qusay; the capture of Saddam; A provisional government; a charter; a constitution; the trial of Saddam; elections; purple fingers; another government; the death of Saddam.
He has assured us: we would be greeted as liberators with flowers; as they stood up, we would stand down. We would stay the course; we were never about "stay the course." We would never have to go door-to-door in Baghdad. And last night, that to gain Iraqis' trust, we would go door-to-door in Baghdad.
He told us the enemy was Al-Qaeda, foreign fighters, terrorists, Baathists, and now Iran and Syria.
The war would pay for itself. It would cost 1.7 billion dollars. 100 billion. 400 billion. Half a trillion. Last night's speech alone cost another six billion.
And after all of that, now it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Democrats, Republicans, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November, and the majority of the American people."

Is Iran Next?

As shown in my previous post, Bush announced in his “New Way Forward” speech of January 10th, 2006, that Iran was next on his list. My first reaction was that this couldn’t possibly happen. There is no way that there could be enough support to warrant attacking another country on another front. But as I began to think deeper about it, I started dreading that it could happen. So after listening to some progressive talk radio, I did a little research.

On January 3rd, crazy Evangelical Pat Robertson said that GOD told him of a terrorist attack on the United States in 2007. Any normal person would be committed. This guy has a television show.

A couple of days before Bush’s speech, there was a strange odor in parts of New York and New Jersey that smelled like a gas leak... or at least the chemical additive to natural gas so you could smell it. I don’t believe as of this point the source of the smell was ever found.

At the same time, parts of downtown Austin, TX were closed off due to the finding of 63 dead birds in the downtown area. The cause of was not immediately known.

And in Miami, “For the second time in two days at the Port of Miami-Dade, a terrorism scare proved unfounded. This time, a bomb squad found no explosives in a suspicious package.”

Now I’m getting a little antsy here. Why is it that every time Bush plans a speech to the nation, there is some scare like this? Is my conspiracy antenna going up again? Here’s what I’ve found in the press. No, not the American press. We all know we can’t get real information from the American press except for the latest Britney Spears story or why Justin Timberlake broke up with Cameron Diaz. The real press… the WORLD PRESS.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. Not a left winger by any stretch of the imagination.
He writes in CounterPunch:

On January 7 the London Times reported that it has learned from "several Israeli military sources" that "Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons."
The Israeli Foreign Ministry denied the report.

…On January 7 the Jerusalem Post reported that Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the Israeli newspaper that "Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable" and that "the use of force against Teheran remained an option." The Jerusalem Post notes that "Hoyer is considered close to the Jewish community and many Israeli supporters have hailed his elevation in the House." Hoyer was the Israel Lobby's first victory over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who preferred Rep. John Murtha for the post. Murtha was the first important Democrat to call for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

On November 20 the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported that President Bush said he would understand if Israel chose to attack Iran.

Bush showed that he was in Israel's pocket when he blocked the world's attempt to stop Israel's bombing of Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Then I came across the story in a cross link from the previous story in Today.AZ from January 2nd, 2006:
Isreali Brigadier General Oded Tira said, "We must clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the US to strike Iran. For our part, we must prepare an independent military strike by coordinating flights in Iraqi airspace with the US. We should also coordinate with Azerbaijan the use of airbases in its territory and also enlist the support of the Azeri minority in Iran. In addition, we must immediately start preparing for an Iranian response to an attack."

But the real kicker was written by Philip Giraldi way back in August, 2005 in The American Conservative:

In Washington it is hardly a secret that the same people in and around the administration who brought you Iraq are preparing to do the same for Iran.

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option.

As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.

Oh my God… they’re going to do it. They are going to attack Iran… with nuclear weapons.

Also read: Robert Parry's article at Consortium News

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Open Letter to Nancy Pelosi

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

I would like to congratulate you on your new position as Speaker of the House and know that you will serve it well.

You took the gavel in the spirit of “partnership, not partisanship”, and although your election for Speaker was secured, not one Republican representative voted in your favor. Not one of them offered an olive branch to you, in the spirit of partnership. I am not na├»ve enough to understand that the vote was purely political, but I thought it was still worth noting.

But the reason I am writing to you is of another matter.

In the lead up to the elections of November, I was receiving email after email from organization after organization asking for support of the Democratic Party in the upcoming elections, that the status quo was unacceptable, that “staying the course” was not an option for our current government as well as in Iraq. I received mailings from Rep. John Conyers regarding articles of impeachment drafted against President Bush in light of the faulty intelligence used to mislead the public, as well as misleading members of Congress, that Iraq posed a credible threat to the United States.

Once the war began, President Bush would roll out seemingly endless reasons for our pre-emptive strike and invasion of Iraq to suit his needs. We now know that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. We now know that there was no attempt to buy yellowcake from Niger. We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction despite fears of not wanting “the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” We now know that the aluminum tubes seen in satellite pictures were not intended for missiles to resume a nuclear weapons program. We know all of this. We know that this administration has used the fear of the American people to their advantage in invoking September 11th over and over again.

Yet after all of this, less than 24 hours after the Democratic Party regained control of the House and Senate in an incredible victory that echoed the voice of the people for change, you said, “Impeachment is off the table.”

When President Clinton was impeached by Congress, led by a Republican majority, we all heard the same thing. It wasn’t what he did that was offensive; it was because he broke the law by perjuring himself. The chants of “Rule of law!” were painfully heard. And President Clinton was impeached by nine votes in the House.

After six years of our system of checks and balances being kicked aside, I say to you Speaker Pelosi, that impeachment is not a choice. It is a Constitutional duty. Pursuing articles of impeachment is not about revenge or “getting even.” It is about restoring the rule of law. It is about accountability, and accountability transcends politics.

In his long awaited speech to the nation last night regarding his plans for a “New Way Forward” in Iraq, President Bush gave us some of the same rhetoric that we have wearily heard again and again. After weeks of consultation, with military commanders in the field, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, and countless others, including the American people who oppose a “surge” of troops in Iraq, and all the while our men and women in uniform continued to die day after day, the President once again disregarded what the experts had to say and decided to do what we all knew he was planning on doing all along.

I applaud your stance in opposing escalation of the war, and of Senator Kennedy’s proposed legislation of Congressional approval for additional funds and additional troops to be deployed to Iraq. But there was something in the President’s speech last evening that frankly scared me:

“Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

Is this to mean that instead of trying to contain the war to Iraq, will we possibly be trying to fight on two or three fronts and stretch our military beyond its limits? This has to be stopped in its tracks before it begins. It is confirmation that the President is detached from the reality of what is happening in the region. The only thing that will continue to “embolden our enemies” is the continued deployment of US troops and our consistent occupation of Iraq.

In November, the pendulum swung to the Democratic side of Congress. As history has shown, it is only a matter of time before it swings back. I hope that when the high crimes and misdemeanors of this administration come to light after all the hearings and investigations, that you, as Speaker of the House, will take steps toward the appropriate actions demanded by the Constitution of the United States; that you will begin criminal proceedings on those responsible for their actions, and those responsible for the United States losing face on the world stage. There is much to repair to make this country great again. There is much to repair to gain the trust of our allies around the world again.

In the past six years under the Bush Administration, Patriot Acts I and II have passed that have eroded Constitutional rights; the Iraq war continues to inflict death and destruction on a country that had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; the response to Hurricane Katrina was an incredible debacle that continues to leave thousands homeless in Louisiana, as well as Mississippi and Alabama; the leak of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative for political gain endangered her life as well as those who worked with her in the field, and caused us to lose vital intelligence sources in that region; the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was ignored to conduct illegal wiretapping without a warrant; and most recently President Bush’s latest signing statement of December 20, 2006, attached to a postal reform bill, claims federal officials can open US Mail without a warrant, in direct opposition to that very same bill that was passed by the House and Senate. And this short list only scratches the surface.

If these aren’t impeachable offenses, what are?

For the well being of the country and its citizens, the integrity of Congress and the survival of the Constitution of the United States, if after all the hearings and investigations you find that it is warranted, I pray that you will not hesitate. Please do not exclude impeachment from your plans “on the table”.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Frank Rich: The "Surge" is a Sham

Frank Rich's Op-Ed piece in the New York Times on Sunday is worth a read.

EXCERPT: Last month the Army and Marines issued an updated field manual on counterinsurgency supervised by none other than Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the next top American military commander in Iraq. It endorsed the formula that “20 counterinsurgents per 1,000 residents” is “the minimum troop density required.” By that yardstick, it would take the addition of 100,000-plus troops to secure Baghdad alone.

The “surge,” then, is a sham. It is not meant to achieve that undefined “victory” Mr. Bush keeps talking about but to serve his own political spin. His real mission is to float the “we’re not winning, we’re not losing” status quo until Jan. 20, 2009. After that, as Joseph Biden put it last week, a new president will “be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof.” This is nothing but a replay of the cynical Nixon-Kissinger “decent interval” exit strategy concocted to pass the political buck (to Mr. Ford, as it happened) on Vietnam.

Tonight's the Night

George Bush unveils his Iraq plan this evening amidst growing rancor on Capitol Hill and in front of a national audience that is weary with the prospect of further escalation in Iraq.
Bush's Iraq approval rating is now at 26%. A new record low. And his overall approval rating is at about 37% 61% of Americans are against a troop level increase.
While Bush considered his options over nearly three months, the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq passed 3,000, and Saddam was hanged for atrocities committed under his leadership.

"American voters expect us to help get us out of Iraq," said Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), a 2008 presidential hopeful and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee that heard independent experts on Iraq.
Republicans, too, were restless. "I do not want to embarrass the president, but I do not support a surge" in troops, said Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), who said he had told Bush as much last week."

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Kennedy's Bill

Today, Sen. Ted Kennedy proposed legislation that requires Congress to vote before the President can send additional troops to Iraq.

Think Progress: " funds can be spent to send additional troops to Iraq unless Congress approves the President’s proposed escalation of American forces."

Kennedy: "Listen to this comment from a high ranking American official: 'It became clear that if we were prepared to stay the course, we could help lay the cornerstone for a diverse and independent region. If we faltered, the forces of chaos which smell victory and decades of strife and aggression would stretch endlessly before us. The choice was clear: We would stay the course and we shall stay the course.' That's not President Bush speaking, it's Lyndon Johnson speaking 40 years ago ordering 100,000 more American soldiers to Vietnam.
...Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam. ...Our men and women in uniform cannot force the Iraqi people to reconcile their differences."

Monday, January 8, 2007

So Much For Listening to His Commanders

Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon told reporters in a telephone conference call after a White House meeting that the president had told him and several other senators that the plan for 20,000 additional troops had originated with Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Maliki had made commitments that the Iraqi government and military would take steps to strengthen security in exchange for more U.S. troops, Smith said.

Meanwhile, in a sane part of the world, "Tony Blair will make clear this week that Britain is not going to send more troops to Iraq even if the US pushes ahead with a 'surge' of 20,000 extra soldiers."

Benchmarks Again?!

From the NY Times: "Mr. Bush is expected to refer to the benchmarks in a much-anticipated speech this week outlining his new Iraq strategy, including plans to send as many as 20,000 additional troops. Administration officials plan to make the benchmarks public sometime after the address."

Sometime after the address? It has taken him 5-6 weeks since the Iraq Study Group to even have this strategy ready. "Sometime after the address" had better mean IMMEDIATELY after.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday that as a practical matter, there was little that lawmakers could do to prevent Mr. Bush from expanding the American military mission in Iraq.
“You can’t go in like a Tinkertoy and play around and say you can’t spend the money on this piece and this piece,” Mr. Biden said on the NBC News program “Meet the Press.” “He’ll be able to keep the troops there forever, constitutionally, if he wants to.”

This is bad. This is really bad. At this point, it seems to me that the troops in Iraq will stay there until we have a new president in the Oval Office. It's the only logical conclusion, isn't it? We know Bush is mad. And we've seen that he'll go to great lengths to surround himself with "Yes" men, constantly looking for those who are as crazy as he is in the guise of getting as much "advise" as possible to inform his decisions. But we all know at this point he is just looking for anyone who will agree with him so he can hang someone else out to dry when this next stategy fails. And it will fail. And thousands more soldiers will die. And hundreds of thousands of Iraqis will die.

And here is the quesiton: Why? What are these people dying for?

"...the new American operational commander [Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno] in Iraq said Sunday that his plan was to send additional American troops, expected to be part of the policy change, into Baghdad’s toughest neighborhoods, and that under the new strategy it may take another “two or three years” to gain the upper hand in the war.

Repeat that: It MAY take two or three years.

Without saying what the specific penalties for failing to achieve the goals would be, American officials insisted that they intended to hold the Iraqis to a realistic timetable for action, but the Americans and Iraqis have agreed on many of the objectives before, only to fall considerably short."

So what do you think the penalties for missing the "benchmarks" would be? What happens when Iraq fails to "stand up so we can stand down"? And it will happen. Do we leave? Is that the penalty? Because if that's the case, then let's get started so we can get the hell out of there. This whole thing is making my head hurt.

Oops!...My Bad.

Scientist: NASA found life on Mars - and killed it

"Two NASA space probes that visited Mars 30 years ago may have found alien microbes on the Red Planet and inadvertently killed them, a scientist is theorizing."

When reached by reporters regarding the news, Kang & Kodos had no comment.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Mail Call

Bush: "I don't email because of the different record requests that can happen to a president."