Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hoisting the Jolly Roger = Support the Troops

House to investigate defense contract to firm that shipped Chinese-made ammo to Afghanistan

Nick Juliano / Raw Story

A lengthy investigation published Thursday reveals that the Pentagon gave an inexperienced 22-year-old a $300 million contract to provide ammunition to Afghanistan. The shady deal resulted in decades old, substandard munitions being delivered to US and Afghan troops fighting on the front lines of the war on terror.

Following publication of a lengthy New York Times article, the House Oversight Committee announced it would investigate AEY Inc., a fledgling company that thrived after 2003 as the US government began handing out billions of dollars to private defense contractors. Chairman Henry Waxman invited company officials as well as representatives of the State and Defense departments to testify at a hearing next month, according to a news release.

More after the click ...

My comment:

I just love it when private enterprise steps in to demonstrate that the morals and ethics of the invisible hand of the market (i.e profit motivation) is far superior to any other way of dealing with any given situation. It's obvious to me that I'm in the wrong business. Even a measly 10% profit on $300 million would get me through the day.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

A freind sent me a rant about the situation in Iran and Iraq. I had to respond ... so, for the heck of it, here's my response:

Regarding the situation in the Middle east ... I think you've been handed a slightly distorted view of the world.

"They" are the aggressor if history starts at 9/11. Even that's not true. Remember, Saddam didn't have WMDs and Saddam had nothing to do with al Qaeda ... and absolutely no connection with 9/11 when we invaded Iraq.

I refer you to bed Linen's video tape of late September 2001 in which he outlines his reason for the attack. It had nothing to do with him hating our freedoms (as we've been told by the simple minded) or anything of the like. He quite plainly says he hated us because we had a military presence in Saudi Arabia. That's gotten lost in the national conversation.

They weren't that kind of pissed when we were in Afghanistan! Iran praised us and provided support for our mission in Afghanistan! Pakistan had gotten tired of the Talibam that they'd supported since the Soviets had been kicked ot of Afghanistan .. and were glad to see someone doing something about them. Our response was to invade and establish a military presence in the second most holy country in the Muslim world. Duh! That'll cool things down. Right? Does the image of throwing gasoline on an open fire ring a bell? (how ironic that gasoline comes from OIL)

As for wanting to kill us ... probably. Given the carnage we've left behind us, I'm quite sure there's a lot of support in certain quarters for that sentiment.

However, al Qaeda doesn't have a Navy or an Air Force so I don't think we need to worry a lot about a full scale attack on our soil ... not like we feared (with reason) with regard to the Soviet Union

In the meantime, your description of the facts on the ground in Iran and Iraq and throughout the region sounds like a page from the Neocon interpretation that's put us right where we are today.

McCain already tipped his hand ... but let me say first that I sincerely appreciate his service in Vietnam. He has gone on record at least 4 times in the last couple weeks - even after being corrected by Lieberman - as believing that it has been reported in the media and that its common knowledge that al Qaeda in Iraq has been traveling to Iran for training. Al Qaeda is Sunni. Iraq is Shi'ite. Sunnis and Shiites would sooner stick electric drills in each others ears (a favorite pass time in the streets of Baghdad until fairly recently) than spit on each other ... much less provide aid and training to each other. Further, McCain has also gone on record as believing that the rivalry between the Shiites and the Sunni have never been particularly violent ... I suppose that has some element of truth in it ... if you're willing to ignore the last 1,400 years of history. It is indiscreet a best and irresponsible at worst to express opinions like that when one obviously doesn't know Shi'ite from Shinola!

Let's start with some numbers that I've been able to glean from various sources.

Al Qaeda in Iraq - the franchise of bed Linen's outfit over in Afghanistan/Pakistan represents about 2% of the fighters and they've managed to make themselves very unpopular, even among their Sunni brethren. Their numbers are shrinking as a result. They lost recruiting power for their indiscriminate killing of anything that walks, crawls or flys. They supplement their numbers with foreign fighters - Islamic extremists who buy into the American Satan story and take the jihad express from Saudi Arabia (our hand-holding, kiss the prince on the lips ally, home of most of the 9/11 hijackers, and primary source of most of bed Linen's income).

That leaves the other 98% of the fighters on the ground in Iraq. Some Sunni, some Shi'a, a few Kurd. They are responsible for the vast majority of the deaths, both American and Iraqi. They have no desire to follow us home. As a matter of fact, they're only reason for fighting against us is because we're there ... in their country. Sorta like the way you feel about Mexicans being here? Only imagine that the Mexicans came with tanks and assault rifles and flack jackets and F-16s and Cobras and set up bases surrounded by concertina wire and high voltage lighting. Imagine the Mexicans kicking your door down in the middle of the night and dragging you and your wife into the streets. Imagine the depth of your abiding love for Mexicans at that point. Then imagine hearing on the nightly news that the government they'd installed said it was OK for them to be here. I have no doubt that you'd be mass producing Improvised Explosive Devices in your basement. Anyway, they DON'T want to follow us home. They just want us to get the flock outa THEIR country. Thats the 98% of the fighters ... who are, for the most part, killing each other over a theological detail ... when they're not taking pot shots at us. Because, ya see, they believe they have the one true religion ... revealed to them through the inspiration of God ... sorta like everybody else's religion in that regard. Of course, somebody has to be wrong because all the different religions can't be the one true religion, can they? (Did you by any chance see Jesus Camp.)

Anyway, scenario - we leave. They have what's left of al Qaeda in Iraq for breakfast. End of story for those who want to kills US as a result of their religious insanity. With that minor task out of the way they will then set about resuming the Sunni / Shi'ite (read Hatfield and McCoy) feuding that has been going on for the last 1,400 years - with a little break for about 30 years while Saddam garroted ANYONE who stepped out of line ... particularly the Shi'a and the Kurds. The only thing our presence is doing there is extending interrupted feud.

So ... what would leaving accomplish that staying wouldn't? a.) no more reason for foreign fighters to enter Iraq in order to use our boys for target practice. They'd have to move over to Afghanistan where we have some semblance of world support, and b.) they could resume the 1.400 year old blood bath a little sooner because it's going to happen. We took the cork out of the bottle (Saddam) and we don't have the kind of horse power to put it back in - besides, he's dead.

Bush I and Clinton had a policy of containment that worked. Bush II introduced Cowboy Diplomacy to the world stage. It didn't work .. in spades! Now, with McCain's obvious total lack of understanding regarding even who the friggin' players are and complete obliviousness to the history of the region ... we move from Cowboy Diplomacy directly into Blazing Saddles Diplomacy. (and I quote: "Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb, bomb Iran ... for 100 years.") Five years in a 1960-70s VC prison camp dose NOT make a foreign policy genius. It is NOT foreign POLICY experience ... it's certainly foreign. It's certainly experience ... but it don't friggin' count in this arena.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Showing Love and Respect for Our Mercenaries Contractors in Iraq

IRAQ: Fever Named After Blackwater
By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*

FALLUJAH, Mar 26 (IPS) - Iraqi doctors in al-Anbar province warn of a new disease they call "Blackwater" that threatens the lives of thousands. The disease is named after Blackwater Worldwide, the U.S. mercenary company operating in Iraq.

"This disease is a severe form of malarial infection caused by the parasite plasmodium falciparum, which is considered the worst type of malarial infection," Dr. Ali Hakki from Fallujah told IPS. "It is one of the complications of that infection, and not the ordinary picture of the disease. Because of its frequent and severe complications, such as Blackwater fever, and its resistance to treatment, P. falciparum can cause death within 24 hours."

What Iraqis now call Blackwater fever is really a well-known medical condition, and while it has nothing to do with Blackwater Worldwide, Iraqis in al-Anbar province have decided to make the connection between the disease and the lethal U.S.-based company which has been responsible for the death of countless Iraqis.

More after the click ...

A faith based initiative

Police: Girl Dies After Parents Pray for Healing Instead of Seeking Medical Help

WESTON, Wis. — An 11-year-old girl died after her parents prayed for healing rather than seek medical help for a treatable form of diabetes, police said Tuesday.

Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said Madeline Neumann died Sunday.

"She got sicker and sicker until she was dead," he said.

Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body, and she had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.

The girl's parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, attributed the death to "apparently they didn't have enough faith," the police chief said.

They believed the key to healing "was it was better to keep praying. Call more people to help pray," he said.

Read the rest after the click ...

My comment:

I guess they forgot to beat the drums and wave the feathers in the smoke? Did they forget to slit the throat of a chicken? Or sacrifice a cow? Maybe they neglected to blow the trumpets seven tines ... or was it nine times?

There are so many faith based initiatives they could have undertaken for their little girl. One of those could have been to have a little faith in science ... something that actually does produce miracles ... demonstrable miracles ... regularly ... based on the evidence provided by laws of nature. But they wouldn't be satisfied with that. They needed the laws of nature to be suspended for them and their little girl.

And NOW ... for words beginning with the letter "F"

or watch the video here.

(Tip of the hat to Iwona.)

Making Pictures

OK ... I was shooting yesterday when I should have been putting out the news letter. It happens. Deal with it!

Prisoner of Music

Musically Insane

Same model ... both pictures.

Spiders on Drugs

or watch the video here.

Thought for the day

"Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

-- Bill Gates (MicroSoft)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

News from the Front

from ABC News

Noting the burden placed on military families, the vice president said the biggest burden is carried by President George W. Bush, who made the decision to commit US troops to war, and reminded the public that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan volunteered for duty."

My comment:

Hey, they volunteered! They got NUTTIN' to complain about!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Oh, Ratz! The problem with Right Wing logic ...

O'Reilly Attends Easter Services At Church Lead by Ex-Nazi
By Chris Kelly

Pope Ratzinger of the
Hitler Youth

The Huffington Post has learned that Bill O'Reilly -- who claims to love America -- spent Sunday at a "church" run by a former Hitler Youth named Joseph Alois Ratzinger. Ratzinger has gone to elaborate ends to hide this connection, including taking on the absurd pseudonym "Pope Benedict XVI." Which, even if it doesn't prove anything, certainly makes you think.

This shocking revelation comes only a week after Barack Obama admitted he attends a church formerly run by Jeremiah Wright, who talks smack about America, although probably less than Goebbels did.

This would all be holy water under the bridge, except for one disturbing and undeniable fact: Bill O'Reilly is a Roman Catholic, and Benedict "Joey Ratz" XVI worked for Hitler, as did Unity Mitford, whose baby sister was Jessica Mitford, who knew Maya Angelou, who knew Betty Shabazz, who was married to Malcolm X, who knew Louis Farrakhan.

Is there any place in our public discourse for men like Bill O'Reilly, who won't even repudiate their links to Louis Farrakhan? I'll give you the last word, and then cut you off in the middle of it: No there isn't.

More after the click ...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

John doesn't know what he's talking about ... and why that might be important

Behind a Gaffe: Is Sen. McCain's Expertise in Foreign Policy Expired?

by Omid Mermarian

Senator McCain relies strongly on foreign policy experience for two significant reasons; firstly, it masks his incapability to address the most important national issues such as the economy, health care, education and immigration.

Secondly, his campaign hides behind his patriotic rhetoric and focuses on his heroic past, masking his mediocre knowledge and judgment about the most important (foreign policy) issues facing the US including the war in Iraq and the Middle East crisis.

This week's glaring example was Senator McCain's blunder about alleging that Iranians are training Al-Qaeda (one of their most hated enemies) in Iran -a "Gaffe" as the Washington Post and other media outlets called it.

Any novice in politics who follows the news from the Middle East (which has dramatically increased since 9/11) knows that Shiite Iranians are thorough enemies of the Sunni Al-Qaeda. In fact, one of the reasons that Iranians supported the US in attacking Afghanistan in 2002 was the strong alliance between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

The rest after the click ...

My comment:

If you don't know who the enemies are and how they relate to each other, how can you make appropriate judgments about how to fight them (much less how to win against them).

The most dynamic work ever written dealing with war, "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, written 300 years before the birth of Christ, frequently underscores that knowledge of the enemy as one of the primary pillars of achieving victory. If you do no know the enemy, you cannot prevail. It's as simple as that.

More about learning ... or NOT learning from history.

Partying Like It’s 1929

By PAUL KRUGMAN / New York Times

If Ben Bernanke manages to save the financial system from collapse, he will — rightly — be praised for his heroic efforts.

But what we should be asking is: How did we get here?

Why does the financial system need salvation?

Why do mild-mannered economists have to become superheroes?

The answer, at a fundamental level, is that we’re paying the price for willful amnesia. We chose to forget what happened in the 1930s — and having refused to learn from history, we’re repeating it.

Learn a little about history after the click ...

My comment:

It might be worth reading a little about the Holland Tulip Craze (1634-1637). It would be a little like locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen ... but better late than never, I suppose.

Imagine it's 1633 and your house is a tulip bulb ...

The O-boomers

Even hardened veterans of the '60s have to hand it to Obama

Obama’s speech came at the precise moment when I’d been mulling over his appeal to my generation of boomers. It’s been somewhat staggering for me to encounter the number of close friends of my own ’60s-generation cohort who, in the past few weeks, have been rather quietly confessing to me their own begrudging admiration for Obama.

And I do mean confessing. For those of us who grew up reading Ramparts, not Facebook, it’s somewhat uncomfortable, if not downright embarrassing, to admit to investing any real hope in a Democratic presidential candidate. It might be hard for the Millennials or even the Xers to fully grasp, but my generation was radicalized by LBJ Democrats more than by Nixon Republicans. We thought Jimmy Carter was a Southern conservative (and we were right). Bill Clinton, we thought, was the best Republican president since Ike (and I think the record confirms that notion as well).

But along came John Edwards and Obama this time around, and it was hard to deny that we were starting to hear some of the same arguments we had wearily been making over the last four decades finally coming from the presidential-campaign stump.

Not that we’ve been pushovers for Obama’s message of Change We Can Believe In. Coming to us veterans of the Gulf of Tonkin, Chicago ’68 and Kent State, it is a little bit like the Jehovah’s Witnesses trying to hawk the latest edition of The Watchtower at a convention of atheists.

More after the click ...

My comment:

For the first time in the political history of the United States since Robert F. Kennedy, you have been addressed eye-to-eye by a politician and treated as if you were an adult. It's going to be a real challenge to live up to that expectation, isn't it?

Husband and wife, sitting on the living room couch after watching Obama's speech. She turns to he husband and says, "After watching Obama's speech I find that I can no longer vote for him ... he's too GOOD to be President."