Thursday, December 14, 2006

Iraq: Is it "Civil War" Yet?

Iraq Bush, originally uploaded by wazdat.

To Bush it's all semantics. To the rest of us, it's a real horror.

250 dead Shiites kind of tells you that maybe a low intensity conflict is in fact, underway, no matter what kind of rose-colored frames and blinders Bush, Cheney & Co. The administration continues to refuse to characterize the conflict as a "civil war," but it's all a game of semantics.

Hmmm, let's see, 60 tortured bodies a day. That wasn't "civil war" enough for Bush. Setting up a government that squeezes out Sunni Arabs, Lack of security and the ethnic violence that followed were not causes for war? That same lack of security made possible an arms supermarket. That and the neocon's lack of planning for the reconstruction of lraq provided the fuse and the match for the explosion. It sounds like a civil war to me!

Now CNN calls it a "civil war." NBC calls it a "civil war."

At the heart of all this was lack of foresight. During Cobra II, Donald Rumsfeld's misconceived notion that speed without mass still means power didn't take into account that without sufficient force you could not secure your rear. It violates every basic tenet of military occupation! You corral the enemy army first and secure their arms. These things were not done. The occupying army has a ready force multiplier in the surrendered units that can be trusted to cooperate in maintaining order. The Coalition released the Iraqi army with arms, thus surrendering a vital tool in occupying an enemy's territory. That, additional troops and securing the enemy's arms would have gone a long way to calming the situation.

But the neocons did not want the calm of a hopeful nation. They wanted a country of zombies. And so, the citizenry of Iraq to this day are forced to endure not more than 3 hours of electricity, unemployment, and hunger to support the New Capitalist Playground. Zombies, it was reasoned would accept all of the new pro-business anti-labor laws that were imposed by fiat.

Instead, what they got was government by militia, a bifurcated society and two major sets of enemies who hate each other only a little more than they hate us. We are smack in the middle of no man's land, and neither combatant would cease-fire. Did any of those militias visit that free 480-ton ammunitions bazaar west of Baghdad? You can bet they did!

Now we find that our variety of choices in Iraq is growing increasingly slimmer.

Each side is receiving support from outside players, People at an average of 120 a day are being killed according to the U.N. says MSNBC.

And now, lo and behold... two days before he resigned, and on the eve of the Democratic Party's victory in the Congressional elections, Donald Rumsfeld SAW THE LIGHT!

"The situation in Iraq has been evolving, and U.S. forces have adjusted, over time, from major combat operations to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency, to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence. In my view, it is time for a major adjustment. Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough. Following is a range of options:"

"Sectarian violence?" So, there is a whole lot of "sectarian violence" going on, between people who live in many of the same cities, in many cases the same neighborhoods, with "ethnic cleansing" in full force, and this is not a civil war?

Let's see, what are the prerequisites for a civil war according to Tony Snow? You need factions with opposing ideologies, (or sects as the case may be.) You need deadly force, in order to capture territory and to fight for control of a country.

Let's see what a journalist, one who actually lives in Baghdad can tell you.

Aparisim Ghosh of Time Magazine had just returned to Iraq in August of this year when he wrote the article I'm quoting. He describes an Iraq that is lethally divided:

"The only available escapism is via TV. The one post-Saddam freedom Iraqis can unreservedly enjoy is access to satellite television--Lebanese music videos, Egyptian soaps, the Oprah Winfrey Show (with Arabic subtitles), sports. The soccer World Cup was a welcome distraction. Since Iraq didn't qualify, people invested their emotions in foreign teams, like Brazil and Italy. When the Italians won the tournament, it was our driver Wisam--not our Milanese photographer, Franco Pagetti--who had to be restrained from shooting an AK-47 into the air, the traditional Arab celebration. But even the enjoyment of a faraway sporting event can be poisoned by sectarian suspicions: a Sunni neighbor asked me, with a knowing smirk, whether our Shi'ite staff members had supported the Iranian team. When I said no, he was surprised. Many Sunnis believe that Shi'ite sympathies--and not just in sporting matters--lie with Iraq's ancient enemy to the east. "In Najaf and Basra, the Shi'ites were praying for Iran to win," he said disdainfully. "What do you expect from these people?" When I asked him if he had supported the two teams from Sunni-majority countries in the tournament, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, he changed the subject."

He describes a government that has no control:

"Al-Maliki is getting very little help from other Iraqi leaders. The national-unity government is anything but unified. Shi'ite and Sunni ministers routinely contradict one another. It's hard to get consensus even among his fellow Shi'ites. His offer of amnesty for Sunni insurgents was compromised when a powerful Shi'ite leader publicly disagreed about who should be pardoned. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim said insurgents who had killed U.S. service personnel should be pardoned, directly contradicting al-Maliki's promise that those with American blood on their hands would not qualify for amnesty. Al-Maliki's plan was also criticized by al-Sadr. It's probably no coincidence that al-Hakim and al-Sadr control the two largest armed Shi'ite militias, the Badr Organization and Mahdi Army, respectively. While al-Maliki at least tries to present himself as a unifying figure, railing against Sunni insurgents and Shi'ite militias, many of his partners in the government are blatantly sectarian. Political leaders express outrage over the atrocities committed against their own sect but won't acknowledge that the other side, too, is bleeding. They often dismiss those wounds as self-inflicted. After the bombing of the Samarra shrine, many Sunni leaders told me the blast was the work of Shi'ite agents’ provocateurs working in concert with Iranian intelligence operatives. Likewise, Mahdi Army commanders routinely accuse Sunni insurgents of committing atrocities against their own kind and then blaming the Shi'ites."

So, the division is there along Shi'ite and Sunni lines. Now do they have armies?

"Sunnis like Mahmud now feel vulnerable in Baghdad, which for centuries was the citadel from which they lorded it over Iraq's Shi'ite majority. For the first three years after Saddam's fall, much of the violence in and around the capital was committed against Shi'ites by Sunni insurgents and jihadis. But since the beginning of this year, Shi'ite death squads--widely believed to emanate from militias like the Mahdi Army and the Iran-trained Badr Organization--have become the main practitioners of terrorist violence. Each side has its signature style of murder. When Iraqis hear news of car bombings or suicide bombers, they don't need to be told that Sunni jihadis were involved; when bodies bearing signs of gruesome torture (like the use of electric drills) turn up in a garbage dump or in the sewers, it's assumed Shi'ite militias were responsible."

Well, there's fighting going. And death. And as in all wars, it's the innocent who pay the most:

To bring me up to date with the news, Wisam rattles off a long list of recent atrocities: a high-profile kidnapping here, a massacre there, a car bombing someplace else. Long before we reach the city, I've heard so many ghastly things that the harrowing flight is already a fading memory. Sensing my sinking spirits, Wisam apologizes for the overdose of grim tidings. "You know how it is in Iraq," he says with a grin. "All news is bad news." Then he tells me about the 10 bodies that were discovered in his neighborhood in the past few days, all of them his fellow Shi'ites. The bodies were decapitated, the heads never found. He tells me how, since a suicide bombing in a nearby neighborhood, his wife has been suffering anxiety attacks when she goes shopping. I feel ashamed that a mere hour's worth of Baghdad's reality has brought me down; Wisam and his family live it all the time.

And the violence is conquering territory:

In the Red Zone (the name given to the rest of Baghdad by Green Zoners too nervous to venture outside the walls), the sporadic spurts of violence between Shi'ites and Sunnis have given way to a steady stream of blood. Partisans on both sides are arming themselves for battle, and ordinary folks are looking for ways to defend themselves. Owing to soaring demand, the price of a Chinese-made AK-47 has quadrupled, to $200, since the start of the year; the Russian-made version has doubled, to $600. The U.N. reports that nearly 6,000 Iraqis were killed in May and June, more than in any comparable period since the fall of Saddam. These days, almost all the killing is Iraqi on Iraqi. Many people are abandoning neighborhoods that were harmoniously mixed for centuries, instead seeking the safety of all-Shi'ite or Sunni-only districts.

So, both sides have gained territory.

And, is everyone playing for all the marbles?

If Wikipedia is on the money, then SCIRI's Badr Brigade is definitely in the control game:

The Badr Organization originally the Badr Brigade or Bader Corps was the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Headed by Hadi Al-Amiri it participated in the 2005 Iraqi election as part of the United Iraqi Alliance coalition. Its members have entered the new Iraqi army and police force en masse and gained virtual control of Iraq's Interior Ministry.

Currently based in and around Karbala, the Badr Organization effectively rules that city and other parts of southern Iraq. It has played a leading role in fighting insurgents there. While the organization has lessened the burden on coalition troops there have also been tensions between the two. There have been reports of gun battles between the organization and British troops that occupied the area. The government of Iyad Allawi has accused the Badr Organization of assassinating Iraqi intelligence officers on behalf of Iran, something the organization strenuously denies. Also, the militia has allegedly been involved in several incidents of kidnapping, beating and torturing of Sunni Iraqis.

And yesterday the Sunnis showed that they too would stoop to low levels in order to kill. The victims? Day laborers just trying to get low paying temp jobs in order to feed their families

The 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) attack took place in Tayaran Square, a popular gathering point for carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, painters and other workers who frequent the cafes and street vendors while waiting for the chance of some work. Many of the workers who gather at Tayran Square are poor Shias.

‘A driver with a pickup truck stopped and asked for labourers. When they gathered around the car it exploded,’ said a witness, who was helping a stumbling survivor with a blood-stained bandage covering his head.

'They were poor labourers looking for work. The poor are supposed to be protected by the government,' he said.

Calling the attack a 'horrible massacre', Shia Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki blamed it on Saddam Hussein sympathisers and Sunni Islamist Al Qaeda.

'These terrorist groups are trying to spread chaos by killing and fuelling sectarian strife,' he said in a statement.

The explosion, which sent a cloud of black smoke into the sky, set many cars on fire. Gunfire sounded after the blast.

Iraq is gripped by tit-for-tat sectarian killings between majority Shias and Sunni Arabs dominant under Saddam but now the backbone of the insurgency. Thousands have been killed in violence many Iraqis fear is pitching the country toward all-out civil war.

And some would say Iraq is already in one, and maybe the solution is to partition the country. Kurdistan and the Shi'ite south already virtually independent states. I guess Bush thinks that if you call it a civil war it makes it harder to resist the "get out now" crowd. He should relax. Many people including myself feel that leaving now would be disaster. We have a moral obligation to put right that which we did wrong. Also one hears that many Iraqis actually prefer that we remain for now to allow some semblance of order.

And today we hear that 24 more day laborers have died in a similar attack. And Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has given Dick Cheney an ultimatum stating that it would start funding Sunni insurgents if American troop levels aren't maintained.

Well, it looks as if everything meets all requirements for it. Is it a civil war Dubya? And we are jammed in real good!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Maffei vs. Walsh: Common Sense vs. Bankrupt Thinking

Maffei vs Walsh II - 1, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

The more James Walsh tries to tell me that he's not Bush's man, the more I see Dubya standing right behind him! His performance in this week's debate will certainly not persuade any undecided to his cause.

For starters, Maffei and Walsh's manners were as different as night and day. Dan Maffei was forthcoming and very polite to Walsh, who was both petulant and defensive.

When Maffei gave his opening statement, he gave it directly to the people. He went through the litany of Bush horrors in a way that showed he knew the pain of the people.

Walsh, on the other hand, pushed the Panic Button, and retreated behind his pork and earmarks. He's a lousy rainmaker if he must exaggerate every small drop in the bucket.

Regarding Iraq, Bush has very little that's original days to say these days, and Walsh had even less. When confronted with the downwardly spiraling situation in Iraq, his only aces were that we were training an Iraqi army, and that there was a "government of unity" there to take over. As if.

Maffei saw the real situation: That we are in over our heads. The "unity government," is united in name only, and you can't create democracy at the barrel of a gun. We need a phased withdrawal, and for once let the generals take the point!

All Walsh could respond with was an accusation that Maffei was "shifting positions!" basing his allegation on quoting Maffei out of context from an article by Tom Curry on

Here is what Walsh said:

My opponent's position keeps shifting on this. When Tom Curry was here from MSNBC magazine, my opponent told him that he would support a bill that would cut off all funds except for immediate withdrawal of our troops. That's basically walking away from lraq.

And here's the paragraph

in question. You be the judge:

Unlike many Democratic candidates this year Maffei is not guarded about saying he'd support the resolution introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and other anti-war Democrats that would cut off funding for the Iraq deployment - with an exception for funds needed for "the safe and orderly withdrawal" of U.S. troops. "I would support that resolution," he said flatly.

"with an exception for funds needed for 'the safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops.' " Sounds exactly like ''phased withdrawal" to me!

Maffei showed how canny he was by not letting Walsh's statement go unchallenged:

You know, Congressman Walsh keeps saying that I shift positions on Iraq. I guess he just isn't listening, or just doesn't understand my position. We need to change the course. We need to bring our troops home. We need to leave the details to the generals. That's my position, it always has been.

On stem cell research, Walsh proved he too wouldn't shift his position. He stuck to Bush's perpetually backwards logic that a blastocyst has as many rights as a fully developed human being. (Or is it that a human being has about as many rights as a blastocyst? "War on Terror" you know!)

Back and forth went the exchange. Walsh became overly sensitive to the point where he referred to Maffei in a George Allen saying "Maccacca"- like manner as ''this fella." Maffei on the other always referred to Walsh as "Congressman."

In the end, it was a battle between a man who behaved as if he had new ideas and one bankrupt of any visions at all. Walsh kept falling back on obvious tactics. Like a mini-Karl Rove, he painted with a broad brush and gave out smear after smear. One obvious, and ridiculous one was a replay of his newest hare-brained commercial - where he reveals that as a Congressman he has a voting record, and Maffei doesn't! Really! Mr. Walsh should know that we own pumpkin patches here in CNY. We don't live under them. And after this straw man, Walsh had the temerity to say that Maffei's surrogates are "Washington Liberals," and that as an aide, Maffei never went public with his ideas! And how many Washington chatterbox aides can we count on one hand? Any of those pages Walsh's?

Aides have the responsibility of serving their Representative, and helping to represent the positions of that Representative's constituents.

Maffei, who never badgered Walsh or called his friends,"Washington Conservatives," was more than generous in his treatment of Walsh even under yesterday's circumstances.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Maffei the Real, Walsh the Phony

Maffei & Walsh, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

Fnally, in an acid test, Gentleman Jim shows his true colors. And CNY gets a new hope.

The text of this article was written on Wednesday the 11th:

The debate last night was close. Too close for Mr. Walsh's comfort I think. Yes, Mr. Walsh has mastered the ability to speak off the cuff when he needs to, but if his goal was to distance himself from George W. Bush, he failed miserably. When your voting record reflects the Administration’s dismal record 80% of the time, you've got some 'splaining to do!

Dan Maffei's words on the other hand, resonated with a lot of Central New Yorkers. And he was quiet comfortable in answering questions, and felt he had audience on his side.

Mr. Walsh was always on the defensive. He was there to answer for the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld policies on Iraq, Afghanistan and the War on Terror no matter how he tried to say that he was his own man.

The devil was in the details. When confronted with the concept that the Taliban were resurgent in Afghanistan, all Mr. Walsh could say was to be patient, Afghans hate the Taliban. Stay the course. He practically accused the Democrats of advocating a policy of "cut and run."

He then proceeded to give the standard GOP spiel about how they "lowered" people's taxes, and that Dems will raise them.

When asked about the state of healthcare, Walsh proceeded to tell us how we have the greatest healthcare system in the world. Of course, he forgot to say that it only works if your insurance policy covers it. If you can afford health insurance. Mr. Maffei was kind enough to remind him of this.

When Walsh expounded on the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, I swear I could see George Bush's hand up his butt. He could see nothing wrong with curtailing freedoms for security. Dubya may as well have been standing there.

Maffei on the other hand, exploited every opening that Walsh created. I was a little worried when he said we should leave Iraq as soon as possible, but he saved it when he said that the nation building should internationalized, and that the President should defer to generals on military decisions. He voiced the mood of the people when he mentioned how Afghanistan backfired because of our little Iraq adventure, and when Walsh tried to say that al Qaeda considered Iraq to be the battleground, Mr. Maffei kindly reminded him how Bush dropped the ball at Tora Bora in the hunt for bin Laden, and how we could've saved Afghanistan if we concentrated on it solely, and not added on the burden of Iraq.

Walsh came off sounding more like Bush than he wanted to. Dan Maffei established himself as a voice of the people, and CNY's best hope for needed change.

"Walsh-Maffei debate to air tonight" - Syracuse Post Standard

"THE ISSUES: WALSH VS. MAFFEI " - Syracuse Post Standard

Mudless debate for Jim Walsh, Dan Maffei - Syracuse Post Standard

Monday, September 04, 2006

Jim Walsh: The NAM's Fair Haired Boy

Fair Haired Walsh, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

Here's One of Walsh's REAL Constituents!

I've uncovered a few more items about our representative from the 25th District Mr. Walsh.

I guess I must be the last person on the face of the earth to have heard of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), but they are big and they are firmly in the Bush camp.

Here is a look at their 2006 agenda:

Pro-Manufacturing Agenda:

Reduce Production Costs in the United States:

Immediately address the critical shortage of reliable domestic oil and natural gas supply to include legislation permitting deep water exploration.

Build a plentiful, flexible, diverse and affordable energy supply through a broad range of options to address our nation's energy supply crisis, including policies that open the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for development of natural resources.

End lawsuit abuses including asbestos and medical litigation.

Reduce health care costs by focusing on chronic disease prevention and management, transforming health care from paper records to electronic medical records and encouraging the growth of consumer-oriented options such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs).

Reduce excessive regulatory costs by ensuring that scientific and economic analysis is applied to regulations.

Enact sensible, cost-effective multiple emissions policy, such as the President's Clear Skies initiative, and avoid inefficient and anti-growth command and control mandates on emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

And  now here is a little bit of NAM's own history from their own website:

Recognized Lobbying Leader. Fortune, Washingtonian and others have cited the NAM as one of the singularly most influential advocacy groups. As the leader of many coalitions, the NAM magnifies manufacturers' influence to score far-reaching policy victories. NAM lobbying achievements in the 1990s included:

 * Passage of NAFTA and MFN for China.

 * Successful lawsuits reining in rulemaking abuses at OSHA and EPA.

 * A five-year extension of the essential R&D tax credit.

 * Defeat of President Clinton's job-crushing BTU tax and nationalized health care schemes.

 * Reform of the misnamed alternative minimum tax and reduction in capital gains and estate taxes.

 * Moratorium on Internet taxation.

 * Major improvements in food and drug laws, reducing approval times for life-enhancing pharmaceuticals.

The NAM is believed by many to be a right wing organization with a history of anti - labor, and anti - union activism.  Some people say that the NAM was in league with Fascism.

I'm not going into that today though. Let me just deal with the facts  that I've uncovered so far concerning how the NAM values a man like James T. Walsh.

And here is the damning evidence:

Quotes from Walsh's NAM profile:  in

NAM Prosperity Project*

Class Action Reform (S. 5) Vote on S. 5, the Class Action Fairness Act. Approved 279-149 on Feb. 17, 2005 (Roll No. 38). The NAM supported the bill, which would curb trial lawyer "forum shopping" by shifting most class actions to federal courts, without altering plaintiffs' right to sue. Signed into law (P.L. 109-2) on Feb. 18, 2005. NAM POSITION: Yes.
    Walsh voted "Yes"!

Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act (H.R. 8) Vote on H.R. 8, the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005, to make the repeal of the estate (death) tax permanent. Approved 272-162 on April 13, 2005 (Roll No. 102). Unless the death tax repeal is made permanent, the current estate tax system and estate tax rates faced by small business owners will resurface in 2011, resulting in more complexity and confusion for small businesses and increased planning costs. The NAM supported the bill, as large estate tax bills force the sale of many small manufacturing companies upon the owner's death. NAM POSITION: Yes.
    Walsh voted "Yes" too!

OSHA Legal Issues, Review Commission Reform (H.R. 741) Vote on legislation providing for an independent review of citations issued by OSHA. Approved 226-197 on July 12, 2005 (Roll No. 371). The NAM supported the bill, which would help companies challenging OSHA citations by ensuring that the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ("the Court") -- and not OSHA ("the prosecutor") -- would be the party that interprets the law and provides an independent review of OSHA citations. NAM POSITION: Yes.
     Walsh voted "Yes" on this one!

OSHA Legal Issues, Review Commission Reform (H.R. 741) Vote on legislation providing for an independent review of citations issued by OSHA. Approved 226-197 on July 12, 2005 (Roll No. 371). The NAM supported the bill, which would help companies challenging OSHA citations by ensuring that the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ("the Court") -- and not OSHA ("the prosecutor") -- would be the party that interprets the law and provides an independent review of OSHA citations. NAM POSITION: Yes.
    Walsh voted "Yes" on this one!

Discouraging Regulation Through Litigation (S. 397) Vote on S. 397, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Approved 283-144 on October 20, 2005 (Roll No. 534). The NAM supported the bill, which would forestall lawsuits brought with the intent of shutting down a legitimate and legal industry, while allowing those with merit to proceed. Signed into law (P.L. 109-92) on Oct. 26, 2005. NAM POSITION: Yes.
 Walsh voted "Yes" as well.

There you have it. Walsh keeps getting headlines with his false legislative "philanthropy", and his myriads of awards for his "philanthropy," and yet in the darkest corners of the House, he is busy with a million and one easily unnoticed votes that don't serve the public good, but further the agenda of the moneyed elite.

National Association of Manufacturers Website

NAM's 2006 agenda

NAM website's Historical Highlights

NAM "Prosperity Project" Walsh profile

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

James T. Walsh: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

Full disclosure: I'm actively campaigning for Dan Maffei to be the next Congressman for the 25th District of New York. I'm tired of having this 'do nothing" Republican rubber stamp Congress any longer.

James Walsh is as bad as it gets.

Here are MY thoughts on why Walsh is bad for my district.

So, James T. Walsh says he is the friend of the people, right? Kind, congenial, one of the folks. "Moderate" Republican right? The kind of pal you can sit down, have a beer with right? Yeah, just the kind of pal you'd have like George Bush! We all know what a ''compassionate" conservative he turned out to be!

Well, let's see what kind of nice guy Mr. Walsh really is when he's not giving paltry grants, and paying lip service to our fears and aspirations:

His "no".vote on embryonic stem cell research, tells me that he cares more for the rights of a blastocyst than for those of a sick or dying human being.

His views on NSA spying on our bank records are clearly indicated by his approval of a resolution condemning publications that blew the whistle on the NSA.

And how could his "yes" vote on the new Medicare Part D perscription drug plans be anything other than an approval of the privatization of Medicare?

I'm sure Good Bush Soldier Walsh also approved the No Child Left Behind idiocy and is no doubt involved in this hijacking of the minimum wage raise for repealing the Paris Hilton Tax!

And why not? not only did he vote "yes"on theDeath Tax Repeal Permanency Act, he co-sponsored it!

The more you look into James Walsh, the more he looks like Bush!

H.R. 810 To amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research.

Walsh's Vote On H.R. 810 To amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research.

Title: Supporting intelligence and law enforcement programs to track terrorists and terrorist finances conducted consistent with Federal law and with appropriate Congressional consultation and specifically condemning the disclosure and publication of classified information that impairs the international fight against terrorism and needlessly exposes Americans to the threat of further terror attacks by revealing a crucial method by which terrorists are traced through their finances.

Walsh's Vote On H.RES.895

H.RES.802: Encouraging all eligible Medicare beneficiaries who have not yet elected to enroll in the new Medicare Part D benefit to review the available options and to determine whether enrollment in a Medicare prescription drug plan best meets their current and future needs for prescription drug coverage.

Walsh's Vote On H.RES.802

Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act

Walsh's Vote On the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act

Walsh as CO-SPONSOR OF H.R. 8 To make the repeal of the estate tax permanent.

No Child left Behind Act

Walsh's Vote on No Child left Behind Act

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Regarding Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - "Plus ça Change!"

Abu Musab as-Zarqawi, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

Не кажи "гоп" заки не перескочиш*, and don't count your chickens before they hatch, and the are more Zarqawis in that sea!

Okay, so Zarqawi is dead. So? Did the streets get any safer? No. Not for 30 innocent Iraqis who got snatched, KIDNAPPED, off of the "free and democratic" streets of Baghdad. Not for PFC. Mancheca, who was tortured and killed. Not for many people who actually LIVE in Iraq. In fact, I know of at least two Iraqi bloggers who could care less about Zarqawi, and think that he was a United States creature:

"What is the meaning of life in Iraq?

All the beautiful meanings of life there are lost. For panic is the daily feeling, morning and night; militias for killings, free, incessant assassinations, sudden road blocks that kill people without a reason, bodies cast on the streets, which no one removes, on to a security chaos, the confusion of the government and the occupation forces, and- big statements.

But with nothing positive in reality, on the ground.

People are fed up, and began to despair from the improvement of things…

Then, comes the happy declaration about killing AL-Zarqawi. Well then; if we assumed that the chaos and the destruction in Iraq for the past three years was caused by this hateful maniac, now he is announced dead, so, some real, positive change is supposed to happen in Iraq.

We shall see…

But we say: AL-Zarqawi is just an illusion they created to raid the Iraqi towns, kill the men, and imprison them. And now; the show is over- and as they created his existence, they created the story of his killing.

Very well, thank you, but we want a positive outcome, not a muscle show, and the manufacture of bogus military victories.

This story of killing AL-Zarqawi didn't effect the Iraqis much, for how much they saw of the daily calamities they live through; the shortages of water, electricity, and fuels, to the bombings, free killing, on to the criminal militias controlling the streets. But the American citizen doesn't know about the sufferings of the Iraqi citizen... and the story of AL-Zarqawi is one concerning the American people more than the Iraqi people. It is considered a powerful media hit, and a great military victory to the occupation troops in Iraq- there, in America.

But to the Iraqis, it is just a play, and empty talk, like the play of capturing Saddam Hussein and his trial, what did the Iraqis get out of it?

Did it bring on security and settlement, water, or electricity to the houses? Did it stop the bloodshed of the Iraqis?

Of course not…"

That was Faiza Al Arji, blogger of the blog: "A Family in Baghdad" She is an engineer, and the mother of Raed Jarrar, who operates the "Raed in The Middle" blog.

But my next blogger, Riverbend is living in Baghdad NOW, and can give almost real time reports on how much of a difference the "new day" in Iraq has made:

"A new day for Iraqis" is the current theme of the Iraqi puppet government and the Americans. Like it was "A New Day for Iraqis" on April 9, 2003 . And it was "A New Day for Iraqis" when they killed Oday and Qusay. Another "New Day for Iraqis" when they caught Saddam. More "New Day" when they drafted the constitution... I'm beginning to think it's like one of those questions they give you on IQ tests: If 'New' is equal to 'More' and 'Day' is equal to 'Suffering', what does "New Day for Iraqis" mean?

How do I feel? To hell with Zarqawi (or Zayrkawi as Bush calls him). He was an American creation- he came along with them- they don't need him anymore, apparently. His influence was greatly exaggerated but he was the justification for every single family they killed through military strikes and troops. It was WMD at first, then it was Saddam, then it was Zarqawi. Who will it be now? Who will be the new excuse for killing and detaining Iraqis? Or is it that an excuse is no longer needed- they have freedom to do what they want. The slaughter in Haditha months ago proved that. "They don't need him anymore," our elderly neighbor waved the news away like he was shooing flies, "They have fifty Zarqawis in government."

So now that Zarqawi is dead, and because according to Bush and our Iraqi puppets he was behind so much of Iraq's misery- things should get better, right? The car bombs should lessen, the ethnic cleansing will come to a halt, military strikes and sieges will die down... That's what we were promised, wasn't it? That sounds good to me. Now- who do they have to kill to stop the Ministry of Interior death squads, and trigger-happy foreign troops?"

Sounds like an unhappy camper to me! And did the death of Zarqawi bring more jobs to Iraqis? Whoopdidoo, 4 hours of electricity! Hey, I live here in Syracuse, NY, and we've had some really dog days over here ourselves. But we can still run home to central air conditioning! In Iraq they are lucky to have ceiling fans that work! My mom's old enough to get a little cold for air conditioning, so we spend a few hours without it. Luckily I can keep my ceiling fan on 24/7 or I'd swelter! Riverbend's lucky to have hers on for 4 hours!

As for the killing? I doubt if any peace will be anything more than an interruption. Muqtada al-Sadr appears to have every intention of gaining control of Iraq. Shiite and Sunni kill one another with impunity. Ethic cleansing on par with post Raj lndia and Pakistan is taking place, and Zarqawi's old outfit seems to be it's grisly old self again as Pfc. Mancheca would've attested to if he could've.

Last week was a rather fascinating week in Right Wing Cloudcuckoobury. First it started out as an exercise of poor desperate Rick Santorum's attempt to latch onto Bush's ephemeral Zarqawi "coattails," by grasping at straws. Somehow, magically, he and Rep. Hoekstra have found the missing WMD's! Except that they turned out to be something from before the last Gulf War, and it all looked very old, decrepit - and depleted. The canisters looked like something you'd find in your grandfather's worn out tool shed. They weren't very well stacked either. Nope, apparently neatness didn't count in the care and maintenance of potent WMD's, not in Cloudcuckoobury! Sean Hannity jumped all over it! Even though the decrepit ness of those things stared him in the face from FOX's own clips! All of FOX from NEWS to RADIO from O'Reilly to ''FOX Across America," went gaga over it! Finally, the Pentagon itself had to shut down the whole shebang by saying that those weren't the WMDs that Bush trumpeted, far from it, they were depleted and useless. David Kay himself put some holes in Santorum's balloon.

But that wouldn't stop our courageous Right Wing Don Quixote from bravely (and desperately) reaching for a log to help his campaign stay afloat. So he kept up his Hail Mary play on "Imus in The Morning"**:

"DON IMUS: 21 till the hour talking with uh, Senator Rick Santorum who's locked in a very tight race down there, in Pennsylvania for his Senate seat and uh, how are the polls now? Just kind of curious.

RICK SANTORUM: Uh, they're all over the map, everything from single digits uh, I guess two recent ones were eight and nine and then there's one that came out yesterday, sort of an outlier uh, that has it sort of double digits but, uh, you know this is going to be a race that's going to come down to one or two points in the end. I don't think that either side would say that that's not going to be the case and uh, just gonna, uh, we'll battle it out, and I feel very confident that in the end we're gonna win. Just because of you of course.

IMUS: So at this point you're ahead by double digits in some polls?

SANTORUM: No, no, no, no, I'm not ahead. I'm behind. But you're hanging in there with me I know that.

IMUS: I don't know if I heard that knock, knocking.

SANTORUM: Yes, but you're, you're hanging in there with me?

IMUS: Yes I am actually. Uh, now what is this, what's this nonsense about a smoking gun you found. What the ...

SANTORUM: Now wait a minute, uh, first uh, I never said the word is smoking gun and in fact uh, Peter Hoekstra who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and I who have been, uh been working on this, was very clear and said that this is not a silver bullet this is a piece, another piece of the puzzle. Uh, see uh, we found, we knew that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and had used them, uh during the Gulf War, used them on his own people, so we knew that uh, going into uh, to this, to this war we also knew uh, that and we know from the Duelfer Report, uh, that , he had weapons programs, weapons research being conducted, ongoing, for everything from biological to chemical, uh and, and, and, and, and, attempts to put together a nuclear program although it wasn't nearly as advanced as, as we had thought, but, it was clear from the Duelfer Report that he could have recons, when sanctions were lifted, the report said that he could have had Anthrax within four weeks as an example, so, we knew he had programs, but what the Duelfer Report said he did not have, was stockpiles of chemical or weap, biological weapons and what this uh, unclassified version of, of the report that we had seen the classified version of said that in fact we have found, over 500 weapons, chemical weapons, uh, with sarin and uh, mustard gases in them, that uh, were uh, in the country, and you could, you could say 500 amounts to a stockpile from my perspective as well as, an additional thing that this unclassified version of the report says, is that there are assessed to still exist additional munitions, filled, uh, and unfilled munitions from uh, from the pre Gulf War period, in Iraq.

IMUS: Well, a Defence Department official is saying I believe on the FOX NEWS website, that, that these weapons are not the WMDs that this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had and, they are not the weapons of mass destruction for which, apparently this country went to war, so...

SANTORUM: Well, I don't know who this anonymous Defence Department official is, and it's some anonymous person that's, you know, whispering in the hallway, uh, but I can tell you that uh, having talked to a lot of people in the administration, uh, and certainly talking to a lot of my colleagues this was the weapons of mass destruction that we thought that he had going in that I thought when I voted for this war, uh, that he did not, that he lied to the weapons inspectors, that he had not gotten rid of his chemical and biological weapons, and that uh, that he was avoiding detection from UNSCOM, if you remember this was the UN committee that was supposed to, tuh find these weapons and have them destroyed, uh, he had uh, he had not had those, he had not destroyed those weapons, and it's very clear, that uh, he had lied to the inspectors, and was avoiding a detection of these, of these weapons, so I don't know who the Defence Department, what, what they thought we were looking for, but certainly this was some of the weapons that I thought we were looking for.

IMUS: Well the administration is not jumping all over this one. I'll tell you, the President, I talked to David Gregory, he's in Budapest with the President this morning, the President says, President said they weren't there, we made a mistake and ...

SANTORUM: Yeah, well uh, all I can tell you is having talked to the administration uh, and lots of folks over there, what they are focused in, and they keep saying this is, 'We need to look forward. I don't want to debate this issue any more about weapons of mass destruction, uh, we need to just look forward in what we want to do in the future.,' and that's very admirable, but the bottom line is the American public has a right to know what we haven't, what we found and what we haven't found, and that last report uh, by the Intelligence Community that came out was the Duelfer Report which said that no stockpiles existed, and there was headlines everywhere in the country: 'No WMD's'. Three members of the United States Senate yesterday on the floor of the Senate said that we found no weapons of mass destruction. That is factually incorrect. We have found at least 500, and in fact, having read the classified report, let me assure you there are others.

IMUS: Yeah but, an, another unnamed Pentagon official is saying were, uh, pre 1981, 1991 rather munitions, that they were in such a degraded state that they couldn't be used uh, for, assuming for what they were designed for, and perhaps anything else, so ...

SANTORUM: That's not (inaudible) again, I can't comment on what the classified report is, but let me just assure you that I, I'm not sure that Pentagon official read the report, just let me put it that way.

IMUS: See, here's what has to happen Senator Santorum, is you guys all have to finally say: admit you were wrong, that this was a hideously horrible idea, and that you're sorry that you got us into this and you're going to get us out of this as quickly as possible, and go on and fight the real war on terror.

SANTORUM: We are fighting the real war...

IMUS: I want you to say that now.

SANTORUM: We are fighting

IMUS: Say 'I'm sorry I got you into this you guys .'

SANTORUM: No, I can't, I can't say that, because I, I deeply believe that this is a, one of the more vitally important wars that maybe one of the, maybe thee most important of um, certainly of our time, in the last fifty years that we have fought, because these are folks, and you heard, we had this discussion, uh just uh just a few weeks ago, in talking about Iran. This is a mosaic of organizations and nation states that have clear designs on destroying not only the nation of Israel, with Iran, it's been very clear about that but, but, but the entire West. And they have now the resources thanks to oil, and they have, they're developing the capability you see, uh, North Korea trying to launch a rocket. Uh, they're working with Iranian, uh, scientists, and uh North Korea's working with Iranians not only in the development of rocketry, but in the development of nuclear weapons, this is a very serious threat, this is a threat that not, not only was in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in Iran in other places around the world, and, and, to suggest that somehow or another that it's an isolated one group call Al Qaeda, is a fundamental misunderstanding of what we're fighting against.

IMUS: I hope you're right about all of this. What uh, do you have any plans, uh, let's just say uh, things don't work out and you lose? Are we, are we looking at any options in that area or is, are we, are we thinking win, win?

SANTORUM: Never consider the possibility of losing. When you start to do that then you, you start to make decisions and do things you shouldn't have.

IMUS: Well I'm right, right with you ...

SANTORUM: You are. You've been awesome! I, I, I don't know of any supporter I've had that's been more forth and just absolutely with me, uncompromising, always defend me. You never criticize me, you're there with me a hundred percent of the time. You're awesome! I appreciate it!

IMUS: Of course I criticize! I think you're crazy about this whole war thing of course!


IMUS: But I like you, cause I think you're a good man, I think, I know you have a good heart, you keep your word, uh, the, the work you've done on this combating autism uh, uh, bill far outweighs this nonsense about these weapons and stuff but, talking about this point I also am supporting by the way, Congressman Harold Ford Jr., in Tennessee and he's in a tight race. I'm not bailing on him either so ...

SANTORUM: I, I, I appreciate you're steadfast ...

IMUS: You're quite welcome sir, thank you very much.

SANTORUM: Thank you sir. (inaudible) Bye, bye.

IMUS: Senator Rick Santorum here on the 'Imus in the Morning' radio program. Jack Nicholson is next. Fourteen 'til the hour."

A funny thing happened on the way to finding the WMD's:

FOX NEWS itself had to shoot down the ploy only hours afterwards when it's own reporter had to concede that the weapons were not effective enough to be the WMD's we imagined post 1991, and that they were basically toothless.

And now there are reports that these weapons were sold to Saddam by ... The Carlyle Group! An AMERICAN company!

Boy ol' Ricky must be feeling oh, so secure in his position now!

Back to the smelly bog of failure Dicky! Stick your hand out, and say "goodbye!"

The next twist on the rollercoaster ride was given by General Casey. You see, the week before, when John Kerry and Carl Levin presented their competing legislation for reducing the troop strength in Iraq, they were shot down. Now General Casey's proposing troop reduction. Is he a "cut'n run" guy?

And then there were the revelations that over the past 6 years, The New York Times was NOT the first to reveal that we were tracking terrorist financing!

Yes, we found that in inumerable instances the Bush Bunch itself revealed in many instances that they were tracking financial records from day one. On September 24, 2001, just 13 days after 9/11, Bush, Powell and O'Neill were in the Rose Garden to say:

" We know that many of these individuals and groups operate primarily overseas, and they don't have much money in the United States. So we've developed a strategy to deal with that. We're putting banks and financial institutions around the world on notice, we will work with their governments, ask them to freeze or block terrorist's ability to access funds in foreign accounts. If they fail to help us by sharing information or freezing accounts, the Department of the Treasury now has the authority to freeze their bank's assets and transactions in the United States.”

Now, how would Dubya be able to tell us these things without tipping his hand? Does anyone in al Qaeda NOT have at least a radio? If they were money movers you BET they were listening!

And here's a quote from a Fact Sheet September 24, 2001, on the White House Website that must've had everyone within reading distance slapping their foreheads in exasperation:

"A Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Center (FTAT) is up and running. The FTAT is a multi-agency task force that will identify the network of terrorist funding and freeze assets before new acts of terrorism take place."

Ah! But Dubya actually caught the spirit of the whole thing almost a year before 9/11 happened when he said:

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier...just as long as I'm the dictator..."

Anyone would didn't get that memo after 9/11 deserved to be caught!

Hmmm! Seems that hasn't happened to Osama yet. I wonder why.


A Family in Baghdad

Sept 24, 2001 Fact Sheet introducing FTAT and the Executive Order for tracking Finances

"President Freezes Terrorists' Assets" Sept 2001

*"Don't talk smack before you jump!" Paraphrased translation of a traditional Ukrainian saying.
** Transcript provided by yours truly.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Memorial Day

Bush - Iraq, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

When I think of Memorial Day, I remember what Jeff Daniels, as Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain said to his men on the eve of battle in the movie "Gettysburg":

"This is a different kind of army. If you look at history you'll see men fight for pay, or women, or some other kind of loot. They fight for land, power, or because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we're here for something new. This hasn't happened much in the history of the world. We are an army out to set other men free. America should be free ground, from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow, no man born to royalty. Here we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here you can be something. Here is the place to build a home. But it's not the land. There's always more land. It's the idea that we all have value, you and me. What we're fighting for, in the end, we're fighting for each other."

In the 230 years that this country has existed, this or something like it was at the very core of why we fought wars and gave the last full measure of our devotion. In the Revolution we fought because Britain denigrated our value, and treated America like it was it's poor cousin. In the Civil War, the issue was that all men are in fact, created equal, and man has no right to challenge that status.

We fought two World Wars, one because a half-mad Kaiser was willing to threaten humanity's peace of mind for the sake of real-estate, and the other because a complete psychopath was willing to wipe out a portion of humanity for his own twisted notions of a Master Race. In both wars, we fought to save humanity, and to keep it from destroying itself.

In Korea and even Vietnam, we fought because somebody had the notion that war was the only way to stop the spread of Communism there.

And now we are here on this Memorial Day. I went to a parade this weekend in Jamesville, NY in support of my candidate for Congress in the 25th District, Dan Maffei. We had joy, merriment. I carried my Maffei for Congress poster right near a Veteran For Peace, and not by coincidence.

When the merriment was over, we all gathered at the flag in front of the highschool, and there people were ready to remind us of the real reason why we were there. We fought for what we think has created America. The will to freedom, the need for equality. We also fought for the concept that free and equal individuals can work together to preserve and give life to their society. It's the American people's values that preserve this country, not the grandiose schemes of rich men. The men and women of our armed forces came from civilians, and to civilians they shall return. The Kilranes, Reynolds, Caparzos, Mellishes and Captain John Millers were not just in the movies. They came not just from the country clubs but mostly from average middle class and poor people. What they fought for was a better world, for other peoples as well as for their own. And all that they asked for in return was that we make something of ourselves, and improve the world around us, if only just by treating each other better. As Miller admonished Ryan in that memorable scene from "Private Ryan," "Earn this!"

When I was at the Wall, I saw people rubbing onto paper names of friends, lovers, fathers, sons, brothers and relatives whom they will never see or hear from again. Someone whom they have been missing for a long time. I also found myself looking for Ukrainian-sounding names. That I found them was a foregone conclusion.

Looking at that sea of names, I also found my thoughts turning with anger to the present ignominious situation. We have a so-called leader, who’s best instincts are to "dissemble feeling" in the face of heartfelt sorrow. As for "valuing'' humanity, and "fighting for each other," these are notions foreign to the disingenuous Dubya. He mouths the words, but he doesn't get the irony of how his actions contradicted them on this Memorial Day:

"In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war. We have seen those costs in the war on terror we fight today. These grounds are the final resting place for more than 270 men and women who have given their lives in freedom's cause since the attacks of September the 11th, 2001."

So Dubya, did YOU go to war "reluctantly," when you didn't let UN weapons inspectors finish their job in Iraq? Not quite.

He can't even get the number of dead in Iraq right:

"270 men and women ...'' Try close to 3000! Not to mention the MILLIONS of innocent civilians killed while "freedom," was "on the march!" When news of the Haditha massacre broke, where 24 unarmed civilians, mostly from a poor family including the elderly, women and children, were killed by Marines, he, the Decider, only found out about it after a reporter from TIME magazine told him!

But that doesn't stop Dubya from mouthing the words. No, he goes on to use words and phrases like:

"brave Americans like these, who volunteer to confront our adversaries abroad "

They were stop lossed and federalized into a war only you and your neocon friends wanted.

And I like this quaint sentiment:

" by defeating the terrorists, by advancing the cause of liberty, and by laying the foundation of peace for a generation of young Americans."

Massacre, detention without due process will not win over hearts and minds of a suffering people. As for a "foundation of peace?" How, when our forces are under a great strain? And didn't Dubya just tell that ''generation of young Americans," when he was at West Point, that it would be up to them to fight this war that he started?

And what about the Marines who are no longer given a long enough r & r before returning into battle, and re-rotated for multiple tours in Iraq? What will this generation of Marines remember? That a squad of them went ballistic and murdered nearly two dozen innocent civilians in Haditha, one of them an old man in a wheelchair, reading the Quran? Or will they remember the stress of dealing with a deadly and precarious crapshoot of an insurgency, while being undermanned?

How ill - used our boys must feel. How undervalued as well. Now, all they can do is fight for each other, not in the cosmic way Jeff Daniels meant in "Gettysburg," but in a tragically all too literal way, for this is not our war they are fighting, but Dubya's private war, fought for no real reason, just for the purposes of a few.

Haditha, Ishaqi and Hamandiya are not illustrative of the lack of conscience or values of our men. They were raised according to their parent's values in the best way those parents possibly could do so. Rather, these attrocities are a monument to a system, created by the stupidity, born of delusion and greed, of men to whom no one has "value," just usefulness, convenience and expendability.

Rumsfeld, Rice, and most of all, George W. Bush, have dishonored the bargain we had made with our honored dead. While 3000 men died for Dubya's little adventure, he has endangered the freedoms of those men's families, attempted to destroy their well-being and devalue them into virtual tools for the enrichment of his friends.

How has Dubya & Co. improved the world when all he has done is wage the same war on the middle class in Iraq as he is waging at home?

How has Dubya & Co. improved the world, when all he has done is alienate the rest of the world from us, neglected the rise of China and the increasing totalitarianism and bullying of Russia?

This Memorial Day the sadness that I feel for men who'll never see their children, or children who will never see their fathers is compounded by the fact that families are being sacrificed to ambition.

Memorable Quotes from the film, "Gettysburg" - 1993

Bush's Memorial Day Address at Arlington, VA

E.L. Doctorow - "The Unfeeling President

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Un-Sweet Sixteen

I got this from

" has a post called "Un-Sweet Sixteen: Breaking Down Republican Culture of Corruption" that's worth checking out...

This weekend, millions of Americans had their college basketball brackets busted as underdog teams knocked off perennial powerhouses to reach the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA basketball tournament. Sadly, the brackets in the "Un-Sweet Sixteen," the leading members of the Republican culture of corruption, remain intact."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Trying On The New Method of Speechmaking"

I would like to tell you about a little Town Hall type meeting we had up in Syracuse, New York last week with our candidates for Congress. We wanted to know what they intended to do about the situation in Iraq. It went pretty much as anyone would expect, the incumbents didn’t show up, and that includes you Chuck and Hilary. As always, Representative James T. Walsh (R) couldn’t be bothered. It’s only the 25th District Jimmie. But all the Democratic candidates did show up.

I was impressed with the caliber of the individuals that attended the meeting on what to do with Iraq. Impressed yet at the same time not surprised by many of the statements made by many of the speakers. There were simply repetitions of many opinions that I had heard throughout the Iraq fiasco.

The presuppositions of both sides were very present.

There were even a few people from the other side.

A Major Scott Taylor got up and said that we must stay in Iraq, because we

A: Thought Saddam had WMD's.

B: The infrastructure there is improving

C: Saddam was a bad man, who committed many atrocities. The presuppositions of both sides were very present.

The Progressives spoke about how we should leave Iraq as soon as possible.

Dr. John Burdick wanted an international solution to the problem.

Mr. Ken Howland wanted immediate pullout.

This reinforces my opinion that no solution for peace in Iraq from the Left or the Right will be a cakewalk. In general, my sympathies are for the Progressives' solutions to the war, but as to specifics, I have a few questions.

I agree with Dr. Burdick that we are the target in Iraq, and we do inevitably cause innocent lives to suffer and die. I also agree that civilians suffer the worst casualties, and even politically sympathetic factions want us to leave.

Dr. Burdick was right to mention that sectarian hatred makes creating an army and police force from both Shia and Sunni sects nearly impossible. I would even add that the experience of being expelled from their neighborhoods for belonging to a particular sect and being ghettoized for it, creates vast reservoirs of angry youth ready ripe for recruiting by violent groups. This will be exacerbated by the fact that our troops have had to depend on one faction to help them fight the other.

My problem deals with Burdick's solution to the problem.

He wants America to out of the friendly king installment business. Next we need international participation.

First of all Mr. Jaafari has already caved. America is already tarred and feathered as the installer and deposer of kings.

Secondly, International cooperation requires nothing less than having to gain the cooperation of French mothers, German fathers, Italian brothers and sisters to send their family members to a war in a place where few people like them.

We may expect that in 3 years time though we may have achieved the ability to enjoin other nations to form a new coalition, it may by then be too late for an international coalition. After 3 more years of Dubya's inept bungling, the civil war in country, will be so bad that no country will send any troops into this worsening problem.

Does Dr. Burdick understand that we'd be asking somebody's French kid, or German brother to lay their lives on the line. Germany and France are democracies, like we are. It may be impossible to get them back into a coalition.

A more realistic solution? The regional approach. An occupation by Arab or Moslem armies partnered with the U.S. and Britain for cohesion is far for realistic and preferable. And for good measure let the troops be from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, the U.A.E. and Algeria.

Now to Major Taylor:

So what if everyone thought there were WMDs. Not only was the Intel lousy, but it was cooked when the leadership knew it was lousy. And sir, I've got some terrible news for you. The most terrible thing that could happen to our boys has already happened. The guys were betrayed by the leadership. To be sent to war on a lie, and to be the victims of a basic miscalculation due to "war on the cheap" is nothing more than an abuse of public trust and a waste of lives.

Yes, as you say Saddam was a Stalinist monster. At Dujail and Halabja he murdered civilians. But are we attacking the Sudanese because of their atrocities? What about North Korea? Uzbekistan? Byelorussia? Lukashenko's a bastard you know. Let's go! We don't like someone's government? Attack them! And if the Chicoms don't like the Philippines' government, or Taiwan, they can attack it too! SAME RULE APPLIES!

Yes, Saddam blocked inspections, bad move. But let's look at it from what might've been Saddam's point of view. He sees how we handled Kim Jong Il with kid gloves. Now Kim admitted to having nukes. Now Saddam wants to have it both ways. He wants to protect his position, yet have perks from the West, so he acts like has WMDs, but doesn't admit to it. Sound credible? Anyway, Saddam in the end gave in after every bomb strike, and did so right before hostilities.

And what about Kosovo? Much is made about how Clinton went in there over the U.N.'s objection. But the U.N. had learned a bitter lesson in Bosnia, and wasn't about to repeat it in Kosovo. Clinton never went anywhere without N.A.T.O. He turned Kosovo into a N.A.T.O. operation. When he did so, the U.N. compromised and followed suit. Non-interventionism was out of style.

And what did Bush do? He went on a pre-emptive war with no coalition worth mentioning! He went with too few troops, and no exit plan!

And given that sectarian violence is on the rise, what makes the Major think that the army will be any more effective than it is now?

As for the media, whom the Major so dutifully derides as per the Republican talking points dictum, they didn't start the war, nor did they make the colossal mistakes (or miscalculations if you will) that set up the situation. Once again, the guys were betrayed. By the way sir, where are the WMDs?

Ken Howland was former military. A veteran of the Vietnam Era if not the war itself. He hates imperialism. I agree with him on many things. We installed the Shah in Iran. Then they had a revolution. When Iran & Iraq went to war we supported Iraq with arms. I also believe that if we have a preponderance of power and can't win, something is wrong.

However I have a problem with Mr. Howland's solution - "Get out now!" We can't simply do that. We've already had a long history of doing that, leaving without moral accountability for the consequences, and without taking responsibility for the geopolitical aftermath. In Vietnam we simply pulled out, and left the South Vietnamese to the Communists. We were responsible for the millions of Vietnamese boat people. In Somalia we obsessed over capturing Muhammad Eideed, and lost our nerve after the Black Hawk Down incident. We left. Isn't that the example that bin Laden took for American weakness? It wasn't long thereafter when he began the terror campaign that culminated in 3000 dead at 9/11. If we just pull up stakes and leave lraq, won't that thug with a nuclear suitcase be more likely to come?

And then there is the moral .imperative. We went in, caused death and destruction to untold thousands, bombed them into the Stone Age. Doesn't it follow that if we have a moral bone left in our bodies that we take responsibility and at least re-establish the security that we deprived the civilians of? I think it does. And forget all that moral relativism about whether or not they want democracy in the Middle East. We worked with Conrad Adenauer to rebuild Germany, we can work with Iraqis to rebuild Iraq. In Iran an entire generation is clamoring for democratic reform. And anyway, 10,000 Iranian kids can't be wrong.

Jonathan Tassini as represented by Daryl Marcy had a few good ideas.

The war is illegal. We need the $24 million that the war sucked out here at home. We have to end the jingoistic patriotism. We have to march, write, get mad, get organized.

The only problem I have with any of the candidates other than Dan Maffei is this lingering political simplism that amateur candidates seem to have.

One attitude shared by Tassini and Anyone who voted for it was wrong. I've a problem with that in that it doesn't presuppose the assumption that the representative's angry constituents may have pressured them into voting for the war.

I know l felt angry in 2001.

What if I told l that I thought it was my fault that Hilary Clinton was for the war? I watched 3000 people die on my TV. I wanted revenge. All these accusations were being made about Iraq, and the U.N. was sounding to me (at the time) like a broken record. There was nothing to reign in the anger that the Bush lie machine inspired in me. Like many others I called my Congressman and my Senators, and told them how I felt. Our leadership at the time was blindsided, caught in the headlights. Last week I stood up at the meeting and apologized for my enormous part in this grievous error. What if I we could swing politicians over by giving them permission to admit their mistake and turn against the war?

Paloma Capana was a little too utopian for me. She asked what a poet could do for America. A poet wouldn't last very long in the Capitol bear pit.

Dan Maffei at least sounds like someone who has a firm grasp on how to handle the situation. He cut through the bull by saying that we already agreed on why we were there. To end the war. We can't continue the course we are on for empty honor. And he agrees with me that we can't simply attack countries simply because we hate their ideology. Anyway he states, using Saddam as straw man for justifying the war is a non-sequitur. Saddam was no threat, now he is no threat.

All in all, I'd say that the symposium went pretty much as expected. At least we know who the challengers are.

Wikipedia - Progressivism

Friday, March 31, 2006

Town Hall Meeting

Town Hall Meeting On The War In Iraq
Thursday, April 20, 2006.
7:00PM until 9:00PM

Grant Middle School, 2400 Grant Blvd., Syracuse, NY (Handicap accessible. Sign language interpreter will be used.) Plenty of free parking available in school lot.


Dr. John Freie will be the moderator. Dr. Freie is professor and Department Chair of Political Science, LeMoyne College, Syracuse, NY

TBA (For the war)

Dr. John Burdick, Professor of Anthropology, Syracuse University (Against the war)

Each speaker will talk for 20/25 minutes outlining his For/Against argument regarding the war. Walsh, Schumer, Clinton, and their opponents have been invited to attend. They will present their position on the war following the speakers. Invited audience comments at the end limited to 3 minutes. Paper ballot vote will be conducted at the end of the program. (Are you for or against the war?)

Sponsored by Peace Action of Central New York:
Peace Action of Central New York, an affiliate of National Peace Action and Peace Action of New York State, is an organization that strives to inform and engage its membership and the greater community in activities that promote peace, human rights, and the abolition of weapons of mass destruction.

Contact Person:
Gerald R. Lotierzo, Co-Chair Peace Action of Central New York
8214 Dexter Parkway
Baldwinsville, NY 13027

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Powerful Writings of Jane Smiley

March 22, 2006

JANE SMILEY ( Author, novelist, and commentator)

Bruce Bartlett, The Cato Institute, Andrew Sullivan, George Packer, William F. Buckley, Sandra Day O'Connor, Republican voters in Indiana and all the rest of you newly-minted dissenters from Bush's faith-based reality seem, right now, to be glorying in your outrage, which is always a pleasure and feels, at the time, as if it is having an effect, but those of us who have been anti-Bush from day 1 (defined as the day after the stolen 2000 election) have a few pointers for you that should make your transition more realistic.
1. Bush doesn't know you disagree with him. Nothing about you makes you of interest to George W. Bush once you no longer agree with and support him. No degree of relationship (father, mother, etc.), no longstanding friendly intercourse (Jack Abramoff), no degree of expertise (Brent Scowcroft), no essential importance (Tony Blair, American voters) makes any difference. There is nothing you have to offer that makes Bush want to know you once you have come to disagree with him. Your opinions and feelings now exist in a world entirely external to the mind of George W. Bush. You are now just one of those "polls" that he pays no attention to. When you were on his side, you thought that showed "integrity" on his part. It doesn't. It shows an absolute inability to learn from experience.
2. Bush doesn't care whether you disagree with him. As a man who has dispensed with the reality-based world, and is entirely protected by his handlers from feeling the effects of that world, he is indifferent to what you now think is real. Is the Iraq war a failure and a quagmire? Bush doesn't care. Is global warming beginning to affect us right now? So what. Have all of his policies with regard to Iran been misguided and counter-productive? He never thinks about it. You know that Katrina tape in which Bush never asked a question? It doesn't matter how much you know or how passionately you feel or, most importantly, what degree of disintegration you see around you, he's not going to ask you a question. You and your ideas are dead to him. You cannot change his mind. Nine percent of polled Americans would agree with attacking Iran right now. To George Bush, that will be a mandate, if and when he feels like doing it, because...
3. Bush does what he feels like doing and he deeply resents being told, even politely, that he ought to do anything else. This is called a "sense of entitlement". Bush is a man who has never been anywhere and never done anything, and yet he has been flattered and cajoled into being president of the United States through his connections, all of whom thought they could use him for their own purposes. He has a surface charm that appeals to a certain type of American man, and he has used that charm to claim all sorts of perks, and then to fail at everything he has ever done. He did not complete his flight training, he failed at oil investing, he was a front man and a glad-hander as a baseball owner. As the Governor of Texas, he originated one educational program that turned out to be a debacle; as the President of the US, his policies have constituted one screw-up after another. You have stuck with him through all of this, made excuses for him, bailed him out. From his point of view, he is perfectly entitled by his own experience to a sense of entitlement. Why would he ever feel the need to reciprocate? He's never had to before this.
4. President Bush is your creation. When the US Supreme Court humiliated itself in
2000 by handing the presidency to Bush even though two of the justices (Scalia and Thomas) had open conflicts of interest, you did not object. When the Bush administration adopted an "Anything but Clinton" policy that resulted in ignoring and dismissing all warnings of possible terrorist attacks on US soil, you went along with and made excuses for Bush. When the Bush administration allowed the corrupt Enron corporation to swindle California ratepayers and taxpayers in a last ditch effort to balance their books in 2001, you laughed at the Californians and ignored the links between Enron and the administration. When it was evident that the evidence for the war in Iraq was cooked and that State Department experts on the Middle East were not behind the war and so it was going to be run as an exercise in incompetence, you continued to attack those who were against the war in vicious terms and to defend policies that simply could not work. On intelligent design, global warming, doctoring of scientific results to reflect ideology, corporate tax giveaways, the K Street project, the illegal redistricting of Texas, torture at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the Terry Schiavo fiasco, and the cronyism that led to the destruction of New Orleans you have failed to speak out with integrity or honesty, preferring power to truth at every turn. Bush does what he wants because you have let him.
5. Tyranny is your creation. What we have today is the natural and inevitable outcome of ideas and policies you have promoted for the last generation. I once knew a guy who was still a Marxist in 1980. Whenever I asked him why Communism had failed in Russia and China, he said "Mistakes were made". He could not believe that Marxism itself was at fault, just as you cannot believe that the ideology of the unregulated free market has created the world we live in today. You are tempted to say: "Mistakes have been made", but in fact, psychologically and sociologically, no mistakes have been made. The unregulated free market has operated to produce a government in its own image. In an unregulated free market, for example, cheating is merely another sort of advantage that, supposedly, market forces might eventually "shake out" of the system. Of course, anyone with common sense understands that cheaters do damage that sometimes cannot be repaired before they are "shaken out", but according to the principles of the unregulated free market, the victims of that sort of damage are just out of luck and the damage that happens to them is just a sort of "culling". It is no accident that our government is full of cheaters--they learned how to profit from cheating when they were working in corporations that were using bribes, perks, and secret connections to cheat their customers of good products, their neighbors of healthy environmental conditions, their workers of workplace safety and decent paychecks. It was only when the corporations began cheating their shareholders that any of you squealed, but you should know from your own experience that the unregulated free market as a "level playing field" was the biggest laugh of the 20th century. No successful company in the history of capitalism has ever favored open competition. When you folks pretended, in the eighties, that you weren't using the ideology of the free market to cover your own manipulations of the playing field to your own advantage, you may have suckered yourselves, and even lots of American workers, but observers of capitalism since Adam Smith could have told you it wasn't going to work. And then there was the way you used racism and religious intolerance to gain and hold onto power. Nixon was cynical about it--taking the party of Lincoln and reaching out to disaffected southern racists, drumming up a backlash against the Civil Rights movement for the sake of votes, but none of you has been any less vicious. Racism might have died an unlamented death in this country, but you kept it alive with phrases like "welfare queen" and your resistance to affirmative action and taxation for programs to help people in our country with nothing, or very little. You opted not to take the moral high ground and recognize that the whole nation would be better off without racism, but rather to increase class divisions and racial divisions for the sake of your own comfort, pleasure, and profit. You have used religion in exactly the same way. Instead of strongly defending the constitutional separation of church and state, you have encouraged radical fundamentalist sects to believe that they can take power in the US and mold our secular government to their own image, and get rich doing it. The US could have become a moderating force in what seems now to be an inevitable battle among the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions, but you have made that impossible by flattering and empowering our own violent and intolerant Christian right. You have created an imperium, heedless of the most basic wisdom of the Founding Fathers--that at the very least, no man is competent enough or far-seeing enough to rule imperially. Checks and balances were instituted by Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, and the rest of them not because of some abstract distrust of power, but because they had witnessed the screw-ups and idiocies of unchecked power. You yourselves have demonstrated the failures of unchecked power--in an effort to achieve it, you have repeatedly contravened the expressed wishes of most Americans, who favor a moderate foreign policy, reasonable domestic programs, a goverrnment that works, environmental preservation, women's rights to contraception, abortion, and a level playing field. Somehow you thought you could mold the imperium to reflect your wishes, but guess what--that's what an imperium is--one man rule. If you fear the madness of King George, you have no recourse if you've given up the checks and balances that you inherited and that were meant to protect you.
Your ideas and your policies have promoted selfishness, greed, short-term solutions, bullying, and pain for others. You have looked in the faces of children and denied the existence of a "common good". You have disdained and denied the idea of "altruism". At one time, our bureaucracy was full of people who had gone into government service or scientific research for altruistic reasons--I knew, because I knew some of them. You have driven them out and replaced them with vindictive ignoramuses. You have lied over and over about your motives, for example, making laws that hurt people and calling it "originalist interpretations of the Constitution" (conveniently ignoring the Ninth Amendment). You have increased the powers of corporations at the expense of every other sector in the nation and actively defied any sort of regulation that would require these corporations to treat our world with care and respect. You have made economic growth your deity, and in doing so, you have accelerated the power of the corporations to destroy the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice caps, the rainforests, and the climate. You have produced CEOs in charge of lots of resources and lots of people who have no more sense of reciprocity or connection or responsibility than George W. Bush. Now you are fleeing him, but it's only because he's got the earmarks of a loser. Your problem is that you don't know why he's losing. You think he's made mistakes. But no. He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas. And they are immoral ideas. You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Whatz Dat Wojto?

What a charade the county election commissioners are perpetrating on the voters and the Onondaga county legislators with their phony selection scheme to choose the new voting machines for the County. The federal government enacted legislation in 2002 with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), after the 2000 presidential election fiasco, mandating new voting machines with accessible voting for all. Now New York State is in the process of making choices about new voting systems to replace our current mechanical lever machines. Our state legislature decided that each county should choose which voting machines to purchase and have delegated that responsibility to our two county commissioners.

Our two County commissioners decided to have a mock vote and invited the public to view the “pre-selected” machines they have selected and then vote on which one they prefer. Although some knowledgeable people have concluded that they have already decided which machine they will purchase because they stated publicly in an op-ed piece in the Post Standard that the direct recording electronic devices (DRE’s) are the only viable choice.. So how did our esteemed commissioners set this up? They designated four dates for the public to view four machines---one machine per date. What times did they choose? They chose a time when only those who are retired or have an extremely flexible schedule can make it; 1:30PM until 3:30PM. Where did these demonstrations take place? At a place convenient to the commissioners, the 4th floor of the County Court House. Please tell me how many citizens have the time to make all four sessions at such an inconvenient time and location to vote on a decision that may have enormous consequences in local, state, and national elections? Does the public know that we are choosing among DRE machines and the optical scanner choice which is a paper ballot marked by hand with a ballot marking device for disabled voters and counted by precinct based optical scanners? They are two distinct types of machines. The question is do you want your vote to be in the hands of corporations who only care about making a profit with unprotected electronic voting machines whose tabulations can be illegally altered or by the more reliable process of marking paper ballots and counting them by optical scanners and by hand if a recount is necessary? This is neither a Republican or Democrat issue nor is it conservative versus liberal one. This is an issue that transcends party affiliation and defies political labels. The New York Times and the New York State affiliate of The League of Women Voters have recommended city and county governments (March 9, 2005) purchase optical scanning machines.

The County Legislators must do the right thing and assure us that our vote will count when we go to the polls to cast it. No machine is perfect but the Paper Ballot, Ballot Marking Device Optical Scanner Machine can give us a better guarantee than electronic recording devices. Despite the misinformation spread, these optical scanners cost less. Let’s have a valid demonstration with all the machines presented together at a time and place when the public can be there and then let the advocates explain to those attending why they think a certain machine is better. Have a real demonstration in the evening at a local high school and publicize it well in advance!

Gerald R. Lotierzo