Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither, and lose both.
-- Benjamin Franklin

Well oiled machine

Beside the possibility that the White House’s favored Iraqi exile was an Iranian agent, that the spy chief just got canned, that the OSD is wired to polygraphs, and that the president has had to retain outside counsel in the investigation into which members of his staff burned one of the country’s own spies, I’d say the place is being run like a pretty well-oiled machine.

– Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, June 3, 2004

mission accomplished


Custer says 'mission accomplished'

Memorial Day Thoughts

From the Memorial Day New York Times Op-Ed. Never heard it said better:

By the Light of Other Wars
Published: May 31, 2004

In most of America’s cemeteries today, you will find fresh flowers on the graves of men and women who have died defending this country. Memorial Day is the official commemoration of their sacrifice. For most of the people who have taken the trouble to decorate those graves, the year contains other, private days of memorial as well birthdays, anniversaries and all the unexpected remembrances of someone who is no longer here. There is no one way to miss a dead soldier or to honor him. Some families keep only those private holidays, and some welcome the chance for public acknowledgment.

The freshest graves, the most recent casualties, often have the most flowers, and they usually sustain the most forcible grief. The oldest graves of the war dead in this nation’s history are now very old, and many of them lie forgotten, as forgotten as some of the wars they fought in. What those deaths accomplished is written into the fabric of this country, no matter how purposeful or purposeless they may have seemed at the time.

Military training teaches a small, powerful coherence the devotion of soldiers to their unit. One of the shocks many grieving families must deal with is the sudden knowledge that this military coherence was stronger than anything the family itself could offer. Soldiers fighting in the large causes tend to die for the small causes for a sense of duty to one another, the building block upon which armies are built.

Every family that has lost a son or daughter in battle has had to decide whether the large justifications of war actually justify that final, particular sacrifice. Many Americans are tempted to let the valuation of those deaths rest solely with the families themselves. We ease the thought of those deaths with the words that have always seemed most persuasive over the grave. We ease the memory of them by folding them into the fabric of history, as if the task of saying what those deaths really meant lay beyond us.

But we who are alive kin or no kin also have a right to ask why these soldiers died, not just now, in this present war, but throughout the course of our history. The language of those larger causes words like America, freedom, liberty, patriotism are used in our names as well.

Today, each generation looks back to its own war World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the gulf war and Iraq. In each of those wars, a soldier’s death was final, the sense of duty and service as acute as in any other war. In that sense, the meaning of those deaths has not changed over time. What is different, for each of those wars, is the sense of national necessity that lay behind them. Some of America’s wars have truly been fought for the very principles that underpin this nation’s existence. Others have not. But nothing can dishonor the dead, not even the failures of the living.

Why the president has so much support

The pot calling the kettle black

The state department has released its report on human rights abuses around the world.

From CNN:

The second annual report was to have been released earlier this month, but it was delayed in part because State Department officials believed it would not be taken seriously amid stories of abuse of detainees by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The report, which covers U.S. efforts in 101 countries to promote press and religious freedoms, advance democratic institutions, and stop torture and other abuses, is a companion to a country-by-country study of conditions issued in February. Both reports are made to Congress as required by law.

Charges in the report against countries who abuse prisoners bear striking similarities to those being leveled against the United States around the world.

For example, the report summarized Saudi Arabia’s “poor” human rights record with these words: “Security forces continued to torture and abuse detainees and prisoners, arbitrarily arrest and detain persons and detain them incommunicado.”

Many countries and human rights groups likewise have criticized the United States for holding detainees at the naval station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without access to counsel.

Don’t those Saudi’s know it’s not right to torture and humiliate Arabs? But then, it can’t be a governmental issue. They’re not responsible. It must be just a few ill-behaved guards and such.

Bush not happy

dubyaPresident Bush has told Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld he was “not happy” that he learned about photos of Iraqi prison abuse by watching television, a senior administration official told CNN.

Does this surprise anyone? It has been obvious for quite some time that Bush is not in control of his administration. Perhaps he is simply not intelligent enough to be. What other president would have required his vice-president to be with him when speaking to a congressional committee? Cheney and Rumsfeld have been the powers, and Bush probably does not even realize how much he is being tooled. Whatever else he is, I don’t believe Bush is deliberately lying, or intentionally sabotaging our country’s interests. I believe he is just incapable of discerning truth, or effective leading, or making decisions based on fact rather than emotion and belief. In some ways it would be more comforting if he were a conniving, malfeasant leader, rather than just incompetent.

Perhaps the republicans should have nominated Cheney 4 years ago.

April Casualties

I take only sadness in this:

When I checked casualty figures in Iraq on the last day of March, they were listed as 599. Whe I checked on the last day of April, they were listed as 742. This gives me a casualty count of 143 for April. I’m sure these figures are off by several, one way or another, but we are very close this april alone to the entire casualty count before last May 1st, when the president declared an end to major combat operations.

It is tempting to resort to the usual sarcastic comments about the faulty decision to go to war, the faulty planning, and the grotesquely inadequate plans for the nation of Iraq after the invasion, but somehow the actual fact of 143 dead american soldiers, giving themselves to their country, trivializes all that.

I cannot help but wonder who dishonors these brave people more. Is it those who opposed the war, and the continued occupation of Iraq? Or, is it those who think nothing of sacrficing 742 Americans for an idea that has been proven, over and over again, to be wrong? Is it those who will treat these people as pawns to pursue their political agenda, reminding americans about being “at war” to win an election? Dick Chaney, Donald Rumsfeld, and George Bush will tell you these deaths were casualties in the war on terror. There has been shown, though, no connection whatsoever between Iraq and Al Qaeda. No connection whatsoever between Iraq and 9/11. No evidence whatsoever has been found that Iraq possessed any weapons that could in the least threaten this country, nor the ability to deliver them if they did have them.

What has been proven, over and over again, is that the Bush Administration planned for an attack of Iraq from the very first days, and looked for an excuse, and used the 9/11 tragedy as that excuse, to carry out that attack, despite the combined oppostion of the majority of the world. What has been proven is the sweet-heart deals awarded to Haliburton, Bechtel, and the others to “rebuild” Iraq.

I understand the alleged philosophical differences between the republican and democratic parties. I have a deep and unwavering admiration for Barry Goldwater and the principled republicans he represented. I did not always agree with them, but I could respect their beliefs.

What I cannot understand is how any principled person, republican or democrat, could support the atrocities being carried out against american interests by the current administration. 742 brave and honorable american soldiers have died, so far, because Bush and his people have ignored intelligence, and chosen to pursue policies that are unwarranted at best, and criminal at worst. By wrapping themselves in the flag, pretending that their policies are based in patriotism rather than self interest, they hope to win an election without having to defend their record overall. Those 742 deserve better for their trust and support of this country. We all deserve better than record deficits, and 111 billion dollars spent on the Iraq war, and ongoing funerals, from our leaders.

Please, politics aside, realize what damage the Bush administration has managed to do to our country in 4 short years. The memory of 742 brave dead americans demands that we do not allow these people to harm us, our children, or our future, further.

Terrorists around every door…

From CNN:

I think after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and realizing that we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life,” Hughes said.

“And I think those are the kind of policies that the American people can support, particularly at a time when we’re facing an enemy, and really the fundamental difference between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life,” Hughes said.

If you question the administration, you support terrorists, if you object to ill conceived and broken foreign policies, you support terrorists, Education Secretary Rod Paige says the national teacher’s union is a terrorist organization. Now, apparently, if after deliberation and soul searching you decide to support the right to abortion, you are a terrorist.

Don’t you get it? There is no room for debate or discussion. Either you are with the Bush-Leaguers on every issue, or you are a TERRORIST!!!!

Don’t let them know what is going on….

From CNN:

SEATTLE, Washington (AP) — A cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins bearing the remains of U.S. soldiers was published on a newspaper’s front page was fired by the military contractor that employed her.

Tami Silicio, 50, was fired Wednesday by Maytag Aircraft Corp. after military officials raised “very specific concerns” related to the photograph, said William L. Silva, Maytag president. The photo was taken in Kuwait.

Does this surprise anyone? The news media has been the bush-leaguers’ lapdog all along. The pentagon is carefully controlling casualty figure releases (only every few days, not day by day) and the gory details are banned from the news.

I dream of a campaign ad: In one corner are the pictures of all these coffins, in another are the names of the dead scrolling by, in a third is a picture of Bush looking under the Whitehouse furniture for the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” And in the fourth is the text of “Why reelect the man responsible for this insanity”.

Of course, the records of the Bush’s relationship with the house of Saud should be there somewhere, but there are only four corners.

Gall

What unmitigated gall. The latest from the republican hitmen is to complain that maybe Kerry wasn’t really injured by enemy fire when he got his first purple heart. Real shrapnel was removed from his wound. More importantly, they are attacking someone who volunteered for, and actually served, two tours of duty in Viet Nam. Who came under fire, was wounded twice more, and received a silver star and a bronze star.

The same people support someone who got into the National Guard through political pull, and couldn’t even serve out his full term in that, and couldn’t take his medical examination to keep his eligibility to fly. His major wounds were being called the “Texas Souffle” by other who served on the same political campaign in Alabama. I’m sure his feelings were severely hurt.

Kerry should have expected this. I’m sure Max Cleland could have told him how much the republicans respect real military service.

And as of yesterday, 110 american soldiers had lost their life in the Iraq war this month alone (20 days), because that same “Texas Souffle” decided to invade a country that was not threatening the United States in the least. It does not feel good that after 226 years, the US has now, for the first time, fought a war that was not forced upon us.