Saturday, June 2, 2007

Condolences ...

It is a sad day in Blogtopia. Reprinted in full from The News Blog:

Steve Gilliard, 1966-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog (, passed away early this morning. He was 41.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

We will post more information as it becomes available to us.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us. We will miss him terribly.

- the news blog team

We have lost one of the greats.

My kingdom for a whore ...

The next chapter of my novel The Fourth Estate is up at The Practical Press.

Why I've Been Scarce

Just in case anybody noticed that I haven't been around much lately, I feel an explanation is overdue. First and foremost, we came back from our business meeting last week up to our eyeballs in work, all of it needed yesterday. This is a very good thing and we are grateful, but it is not leaving a lot of time for extra-curricular activities. Second, and almost as important, 2 events in the past couple of weeks have left me feeling jaded. 1st was the Dems cave on the war funding bill. I am beginning to lose hope (with the one bright exception of John Edwards). 2nd was Cindy Sheehan's valedictory, «here», if you haven't seen it.

Somehow, the 2 events occurring in rat-a-tat fashion left me feeling a bit stunned. I am sure that I will get over it and find my rage again, but right now, I'm almost as tired as Cindy of the whole thing. I will try to up my contribution here again over the next few days and maybe events with jar me out of my torpor.


VFW steps up to the plate

Speaking as a Life Member of the VFW, I am pleased to report the following.

AP via Yahoo!News

The nation's largest combat veterans group on Friday urged the military to "exercise a little common sense" and call off its investigation of a group of Iraq war veterans who wore their uniforms during anti-war protests.

"Trying to hush up and punish fellow Americans for exercising the same democratic right we're trying to instill in Iraq is not what we're all about," said Gary Kurpius, national commander of the 2.4 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"Someone in the Marine Corps needs to exercise a little common sense and put an end to this matter before it turns into a circus," Kurpius said.

"We all know that people give up some individual rights when they join the military," Kurpius said. "But these Marines went to war, did their duty, and were honorably discharged from the active roles. I may disagree with their message, but I will always defend their right to say it."

Kokesh received his honorable discharge after one combat tour in Iraq, but he remains part of the Individual Ready Reserve, a pool of former active duty service members in unpaid, non-drill status.

Kokesh's attorney, Michael Lebowitz, has called the investigation an effort to stifle critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

Like, DUH!

I wish someone would inform the media as to the difference between separation, or Expiration of Active Service, and discharge. If the Gyrene was Honorably Discharged like everyone is saying, then he's completed his military obligation and is home free. It doesn't sound like he was if he's still in the inactive reserve. I think the Crotch is just trying to scare him. Marines don't scare real easy, even when the attempt comes from 8th & Eye. What do a buncha fuckin' officers know, anyway?

Eat the apple, fuck the Corps. Semper Fi.

Giving back to the future

I appreciate all the comments on the post about Sam doing well on her final exam presentation and it got me to thinking about the kids I've mentored in the car business and the talented, promising young women Mrs. F has taken under her wing over the years. I don't know who has reaped more rewards, the Mrs. and I when we see a kid we've worked with become successful or the kids themselves.

It's our way of giving back for our success and it's also a form of investment in the future of our nation and the world. It's not only job training but a chance to bring our progressive outlook on life, and impart some of the lessons we've learned along the way, to the next generation who'll run this planet when we're gone. I don't know how much will stick, but I believe every experience can be learned from.

I encourage everyone to spend some time with a young person. Listen to them and find out what makes them tick and then lend your advice and guidance. Don't preach, don't act like a parent, be their friend and give them the encouragement they need to develop their self-esteem and the knowledge they'll need to deal with the world, whether it be in business or in life, lessons learned young will last a lifetime.

I have had several mentors in my life whose guiding hand and influence has made me a better person and a better mechanic, and I am forever in their debt. Mentor a young person, give them a hand up, teach them how to be good, successful people and the world will reap the reward.


And a Sam update: Harry and I were talking this morning and agreed that since her internship is over, and the fact she enjoys working with us, we're gonna put her on staff for the summer. We'll work out her hours when she starts college in fall (if she'll even have the time), but we figured we might as well start paying her. She'll need all the scratch she can get for tuition and books.

Cross-posted at Fixer & Gordon.

But your timing is off ...

You see, according to the Bugman, sins are all relative. When you committed them, how you committed them, etc. Cliff Schecter at Bob Geiger's, along with the Saturday Toons.


According to Tom DeLay, adultery has tiers. Whether or not you've found Jesus, whether or not you're impeaching a president for absolutely no reason, whether or not you smile like a used-car salesman. These all are of major import to Hot Tub Tom...

Lieberman in Iraq ... again

According to Holy Joe, we're "making progress" as he strolls through an Indiana-like market. With all the 'progress' we've made, Iraq should be that "shining city on the hill" 5 times over. Dr. Attaturk says it so well:


Y'know if I had a group of armed men surrounding me when I shopped I could get free crap too!


Friday, June 1, 2007

Dogs? Art?

See what I get for thinking? I didn't think anybody gave a shit about the little dogs I used to have in the blog title. I came across SFC Peters' work and it moved me and I thought it would be cool to feature the artwork of one of our troops in Iraq. SFC Peters is in Fallujah to be exact. This is primarily a vets issues blog after all.

As I said, I thought nobody gave a shit. I guess some do. Heh ... I'm flattered. Seriously. So, I'll put it to the readers. Cute doggies in BDUs or artwork? Leave your vote in comments and democracy rules. I'll leave voting open until Sunday and I'll make the appropriate adjustments on Monday.

Back later, gotta get the Mrs. from the train.

Gettin' it out in the open. At last.

Seeing the Forest

McCain, O'Reilly: It's About Keeping Jews, Blacks and Women Out Of Power

So...what else is new?

..They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure...

Gee, O'Rally says that like it's a bad thing...

"Rudy jumped into bed with anyone who could afford a rubber"

Matt Taibbi on JulieAnnie. Today's 'must read'.

Rudy giuliani is a true American hero, and we know this because he does all the things we expect of heroes these days -- like make $16 million a year, and lobby for Hugo Chávez and Rupert Murdoch, and promote wars without ever having served in the military, and hire a lawyer to call his second wife a "stuck pig," and organize absurd, grandstanding pogroms against minor foreign artists, and generally drift through life being a shameless opportunist with an outsize ego who doesn't even bother to conceal the fact that he's had a hard-on for the presidency since he was in diapers. In the media age, we can't have a hero humble enough to actually be one; what is needed is a tireless scoundrel, a cad willing to pose all day long for photos, who'll accept $100,000 to talk about heroism for an hour, who has the balls to take a $2.7 million advance to write a book about himself called Leadership. That's Rudy Giuliani. Our hero. And a perfect choice to uphold the legacy of George W. Bush.

Yes, Rudy is smarter than Bush. But his political strength -- and he knows it -- comes from America's unrelenting passion for never bothering to take that extra step to figure shit out. If you think you know it all already, Rudy agrees with you. And if anyone tries to tell you differently, they're probably traitors, and Rudy, well, he'll keep an eye on 'em for you. Just like Bush, Rudy appeals to the couch-bound bully in all of us, and part of the allure of his campaign is the promise to put the Pentagon and the power of the White House at that bully's disposal.

In his years as mayor -- and his subsequent career as a lobbyist -- Rudy jumped into bed with anyone who could afford a rubber. Saudi Arabia, Rupert Murdoch, tobacco interests, pharmaceutical companies, private prisons, Bechtel, ChevronTexaco -- Giuliani took money from them all. You could change Rudy's mind literally in the time it took to write a check. A former prosecutor, Giuliani used to call drug dealers "murderers." But as a lobbyist he agreed to represent Seisint, a security firm run by former cocaine smuggler Hank Asher. "I have a great admiration for what he's doing," Rudy gushed after taking $2 million of Asher's money.

Did Giuliani know the air at the World Trade Center was poison? Who knows -- but we do know he took over the cleanup, refusing to let more experienced federal agencies run the show. He stood on a few brick piles on the day of the bombing, then spent the next ten months making damn sure everyone worked the night shift on-site while he bonked his mistress and negotiated his gazillion-dollar move to the private sector. Meanwhile, the people who actually cleaned up the rubble got used to checking their stool for blood every morning.

Now Giuliani is running for president -- as the hero of 9/11. George Bush has balls, too, but even he has to bow to this motherfucker.

Just guessin' here, but I think Mr. Taibbi is not Rudy's staunchest supporter.


So far, it's a slow news day, so I went over to YouTube to watch my favorites and find some new ones. Ain't you the lucky ones!

In light of all the brouhaha about illegal immigration, the upside of which is it's wreckin' the Repuglicants, there's a downside as well. Or maybe another upside: the only thing the Chimp has got anywhere close to right, and his 'base' doesn't want to hear it, even though his corporate cronies want the cheap labor. Heh. The mojados, of course, are caught in the middle. As usual.

This song was written by Woody Guthrie years ago in response to what he felt was racist treatment of the Mexican victims of a plane wreck in Los Gatos, California. Lyrics here.

A beautiful rendition by Arlo Guthrie and Emmylou Harris.

Enjoy. Think.

Fightin' them over there ...

Ah, never mind:


Think of what has happened in only the last week in the Middle East. In northern Lebanon, in the long-established Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, out of the blue arose a new al Qaeda-related insurgent group, Fatah al-Islam. Within days and even hours, the recurring hell of the Middle East was loosed, and refugees poured out of the camp in terror.

There had been none of this kind of terror networking in these northern camps. Indeed, since this camp was established in 1949 to accommodate refugees from northern Palestine after the creation of Israel, it has housed one of the more formal and conservative of peoples.

But it was soon established that these new "insurgents" or "terrorists" – or whatever they really are – had arrived at the camp only recently, that they marched in one day with brand-new weapons, ready to fight.


Yes, the American soldier is now a recruiting tool for international terrorism thanks to the Chimp's policies. The thing that's really disturbing is the leader of the world's most powerful nation is ready for a white jacket (the one with really long arms that buckles in the back) and a room with rubber wallpaper:


Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated "I am the president!" He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country's destiny."


Sounds like Hitler in his bunker just before the Russians overran Berlin.

Off to work; thank god it's Friday ...

Great thanks to Walt @ Blondie's.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Seems those new MRAPs supposedly taking the place of the Humvee need to be up-armored too. Lurch has the details.


Waugh! What? I had the distinct impression that we were 86ing the HumVees and going to MRAPs (cost: $25 Billion +) in order to keep the troops safer in Iraq.


Apparently not, my friend.

The Bad Pun At The Heart Of Creationism


Sam Brownback's ghost writer gives us the Republican candidate's opinion of science and reality. He's against 'em both. On principle. The amount of deliberate misinformation, bad science, and even worse theology in this op-ed achieves a new high on the Idiocies Per Sentence Index (tm). However, while there is plenty of stupidity to unpack in Brownback [update: PZ Myers tears into Brownback with a vengeance], I'd like to focus on only one small rhetorical detail, which is usually ignored during triage by first responders to the latest "intelligent design" creationist atrocity:

If [belief in evolution] means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

One word interests me here: "materialistic." Brownback, or rather, Brownback's ghost, is punning on the meaning of "materialism." Doing so is a small but important piece of standard "intelligent design" creationism rhetoric. And it highlights exactly how cheap a fraud it is.

What's wrong with that? Absolutely nothing, of course. And that's the point of the creationist's pun, to confuse the everyday notion of evil materialism with the morally neutral meaning of the word within science. In everyday life, we're appalled by materialistic behavior like the vulgar accumulation of vast wealth (GOP excepted). But that is light years removed from being appalled by one of the major operating premises of science, that reality has a natural explanation. Dembski and Brownback deliberately confuse the two, punning on our rejection of materialistic moral values to create sympathy for a rejection of scientific materialism (ie, epistemological standards).

And once you reject scientific materialism and open science up to - their term, not mine - supernaturalism, well, then astrology becomes a scientifically plausible theory. And UFOs. And ESP. And "intelligent design" creationism.

Harrumph! I'll thank you not to lump UFOs in with a fraud like Intelligent Design! I see 'em all the time. Been aboard one or two as well. We'll probe that another time...

Indeed. "Intelligent design" creationism is just a bad joke. A very bad joke. It prizes punning over reality. And no one, Republican or Democrat or otherwise, who puts any credence in this joke should be taken seriously for the position of dogcatcher, let alone president of the United States.

No shit! I don't want my dogs in the hands of that idiot!

Nor my country either, what's left of it. What does that moron think he's doing, anyway?

Creation Myths are pretty universal. The common one we hear about, "On the seventh day...", Adam & Eve, bad snake, etc. etc., is pretty boring as such things go. No pizzazz. I like the Navajo one better.

According to the Diné legend, we're in the Fourth World. Brownback y ilk are in about the twelfth. Or is that their century?

The Polar Bear Memorandum

From the Pacific Spirit Marine Institute

After the Downing Street Memo Came the...

Do not mention a word about climate change, sea ice or polar bears! That is, of course, if you are a biologist or other employee of the US Interior Departments Fish and Wildlife Service.

Fish and Wildlife Service Officials say the 'polar bear memos' as they have become known as, are consistent with a longstanding policy to ensure a coherent position in foreign negotiations and to prevent employees from discussing topics not on event agendas. (Say that 3 times fast!)

I guess they'll say that until they're treadin' water and mopping the sweat off their brows at the same time.

Note to Marine Scientists: while yer treadin' water, watch out you don't get run over by Noah's Ark fulla dinosaurs...

Is there a budding Qim al Jong?


President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in Iraq like the one in South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role, the White House said on Wednesday.

The United States has had thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea to guard against a North Korean invasion for 50 years.

And if the North Koreans actually do invade the south, all those U.S. soldiers will likely die, too. They're a tripwire. Probably won't happen.

One difference is that South Korea has a huge well-trained and motivated Army and Marine Corps. They're tougher'n nails, too. I sure wouldn't fuck with 'em.

Another difference is that South Korea and North Korea are individual countries with an actual geographical dividing line.

There's not going to be a DMZ to separate warring factions in Iraq. If you can see how to do that, please tell me. 50 DMZs? 100? Iraq is not really a country, but a primordial soup of hundreds of tribal, religious, ethnic, and political divisions and loyalties and its citizens inhabitants are all mixed together with no common goals except for one group to prevail over the next, with millions of reg'lar folks caught in between. Iraq's 'border' is a boxing ring that isn't doing a very good job of containing the free-for-all.

I am heartened by the thought that that perhaps Bush doesn't want us to stay in Iraq forever. Just for the rest of my lifetime and most of yours, or until all the oil is pumped out.

Ft. Lewis lumps 'em all together


So many Fort Lewis soldiers are being killed in Iraq the Army base will no longer hold individual memorial services.

Starting next month Fort Lewis says it will hold one memorial a month for all the dead soldiers.

Those memorial services are going to get bigger and bigger as time goes by.

Damn you, Bush.

"When Are We Going To Get Out Of Here?"

Think Progress

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) made an unannounced trip to Iraq today, telling reporters, "what I see here today is progress, significant progress." Hours later, he was confronted by U.S. soldiers with a very different message: "We don't feel like we're making any progress."

McClatchy reports tonight on Spc. David Williams, who collected questions for Lieberman from 30 other troops.

At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers:

"When are we going to get out of here?"

From one of the comments:

Lieberman's reply:

"I don't know about you, but I'm outta here as soon as I get my picture taken..."

Holy Joe could be standing neck deep in a four-holer and if the White House said the troops shit roses he'd say how nice it smelled and how happy he was to be there. Back on yer knees, Lie-berman.

The one thing I'm glad to see is that the troops are openly questioning the madness they've been subjected to.


Harper's Magazine

No U.S. senator has made more trips out to Iraq than Joe Lieberman. He's a fixture out there. The regular junket has been a part of his campaign to be "Mr. Iraq" in the Senate. About a year ago, when I was working in Baghdad, I listened to a young captain vent about all the time and energy the Army was forced to expend on the regular visits of CODELs – Congressional delegations. "I guess our democratic process requires it. But I really wish these dopes would open their eyes and actually learn something, rather than use Iraq as a backdrop for speeches that fit in to some preconceived political strategy." I later asked: who were you taking around? And the answer: Joe Lieberman.

Today, it appears, some troops actually worked up the courage to confront Lieberman over his shameless hucksterism. [...]

The troops are not amused by Holy Joe's crap.

Kristol and the Kagans - Lamest Band Name Ever

The Rude One

The Rude Pundit could've gotten a brain-damaged monkey and sat it in front of a giant board filled with squares, each predicting what might happen if the United States invaded Iraq. That brain-damaged monkey could've thrown its shit at the board, and someone could've announced on what square the shit landed, and even if the shit had missed the board entirely, there's a good chance that that brain-damaged, shit-tossing monkey would've been right more often about the war in Iraq than William Kristol or Frederick Kagan.

I love that guy, but for once I gotta call him on it: that's pretty much exactly what happened, only it wasn't a monkey but a brain-damaged Chimp, and it hasn't been right yet. All the neocons are exactly even on Iraq predictions, wrong 100% of the time.

And what happened to the mass quantities of Chimp-flung shit? Our troops are catching it.

A tip o' the brain to 'unbelievable', commenter #40 at Think Progress.


Got in late, slept late, so I'll direct you to Greenwald. He's on about right wing pundits' lies regarding Valerie Plame's covert status. A great read, though you know, now that the Agency has confirmed she was covert, you will never hear a retraction from any of them.

Another reason I'm impressed with Joe Wilson. Were someone to make the hassle for my wife the way the White House did to them, I'd be exacting my pound of flesh forthwith, starting with Novakula and working up the line. The restraint on Wilson's part is truly amazing.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Undisclosed and incognito ...

Blogging on my part will be minimal this evening (Updated. See yas tomorrow).

Savage Christians

Stuff about the thankfully departed Jerry Falwall is still trickling in. This one's from Black Agenda Report. Don't miss it!

It seems the corporate media can sanitize and white-wash even the most putrid bigot. Evangelist hit-man Jerry Falwell's career as a racist propagandist was excised from the record, following his death last week. The man who called the Civil Rights Act a "civil wrong" and preached that African Americans were the cursed descendants of Ham, is resurrected as a benign theologian. The pattern fits nicely with the national practice of demonizing all things non-Christian (or Judeo-Christian), while sanctifying the unspeakable crimes of Bible-holders.

The terror attack that took place on September 11, 2001 was an aberration in more ways than one. Muslims were the perpetrators, but that is usually not the case. The purveyors of hate and violence in America are almost always Christians.

Just as it is unfair to smear all Muslims with the legacy of bin Laden, it would be unfair to smear all Christians as disciples of Jerry Falwell. Muslims are constantly asked to denounce their members who are terrorists. Why is there no similar demand of Christians? Will the good Christians, the peaceful ones, ever speak out against their co-religionists who carry bombs in their cars or drop them on civilians in Iraq?

The public reaction to Falwell's death showed how ineffectual the supposedly good Christians have become. Few were willing to point out the numerous examples of his hate speech. An opportunity was lost because of ridiculous prohibitions against speaking ill of the dead. The good Christian soldiers don't know how to fight.

Christians perpetrated the crusades, the inquisition, the slave trade and imperial adventures too numerous to mention. It may be comforting to pat ourselves on the back and consign those behaviors to past centuries. We are living in the 21st century after all. Who would use the name of the Christian God to justify mass killing? A majority of modern day American Christians, that's who.

Perhaps the argument used against Muslims should be applied to Christians instead. Their religion has been hijacked by fundamentalist fanatics while the non-fanatics remain silent. The term clash of civilizations is definitely a misnomer. There can be no clash unless both sides are in fact civilized. Any assertion of American civilization is clearly open to question.

If more of the phony christians would follow Falwell's lead and croak, it'd help. Maybe the real Christians, if there are any, could improve our 'culture' by getting back to Matthew 25:35 instead of worrying about Tinky Winky.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Iraqi Farmers Now Growing Opium Instead of Rice
Transition to democracy nearly complete.

Bush Defends Immigration Plan, Gonzales
Says if it weren't for immigration we wouldn't have Gonzales.

New Forensic Analysis Confirms Oswald Didn't Act Alone
Findings should put matter to rest.

Yeah, like that'll happen!

Secretive Carlyle Group Will Sell Shares to Public
Membership in Illuminati not included.

Executive Order Gives Bush Authority To Seize Absolute Power
Slay enemies, seize their assets, sit on throne.

Democrats Express Sympathy for McCain's Anger Management Problems
Must constantly deal with other Republicans.

Haiku inspired by masthead art

Tank rolls through desert
Sun sets on America
Bush has ruined us

If the pissants can't see it, it ain't happening

Photo from WW2 Database, The Battle of Tarawa. 1 of 24. Good slide show.


Bush now banning photo journalism of wounded troops

We quite literally have a government that no longer believes in the very freedoms it claims our troops are dying for.

NYTimes. Am I the only one who sees the awful irony that this article is in the "Media & Advertising" section?

Capturing the brutal realities of war is a tradition in this country dating back at least to Matthew Brady, and it is undoubtedly part of why Americans, regardless of their politics, have come to know and revere the sacrifices that generations of soldiers have made on their behalf.

When this war began, the government attempted to manage images by banning photographs of coffins returning to United States soil. If the government chooses to overmanage the wages of war in Iraq, there is a real danger that when this new generation of veterans, whose ranks grow every day, could come home to a place where their fellow Americans have little idea what they have gone through.

Photos like the one above were not printed in the media until very late in the war when it was apparent that we were winning. There were two reasons for this: the government was afraid they would turn public opnion against the war, just like now, and, even though there was a draft, they were afraid it might hurt recruiting efforts, just like now.

We haven't seen battle carnage in Iraq on the scale of some of the WWII battles like Tarawa. Yet. Looks like we might not if Bush has his way.

When the Green Zone, sort of a plush Dien Bien Phu, falls, we may see some gleeful photos from photogs embedded with the 'insurgents'.

Quote of the Day

Fruitless Daydreams

PNAC got its new Pearl Harbor. What we need now is a new Boston Tea Party.

Shoe on other foot

Funny to see how the Freepers cry when they realize how they've been played for fools.

Late for work. See yas ...

Babies ...

The score:

Subpoena Scoreboard
Investigating The Clenis' blow jobs and bad real estate transactions, Rep. Dan Burton: 1052
Investigating a Soviet-like take-over of our country, Rep. Henry Waxman
: 3


Note to Rethugs who whine about 'Bush bashing': Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What we have wrought ...

This didn't happen under Saddam:

MARABA, Syria — Back home in Iraq, Umm Hiba’s daughter was a devout schoolgirl, modest in her dress and serious about her studies. Hiba, who is now 16, wore the hijab, or Islamic head scarf, and rose early each day to say the dawn prayer before classes.

But that was before militias began threatening their Baghdad neighborhood and Umm Hiba and her daughter fled to Syria last spring. There were no jobs, and Umm Hiba’s elderly father developed complications related to his diabetes.

Desperate, Umm Hiba followed the advice of an Iraqi acquaintance and took her daughter to work at a nightclub along a highway known for prostitution. “We Iraqis used to be a proud people,” she said over the frantic blare of the club’s speakers. She pointed out her daughter, dancing among about two dozen other girls on the stage, wearing a pink silk dress with spaghetti straps, her frail shoulders bathed in colored light.


These are the people who invented the fucking wheel. We've managed to destroy any hope these people will have for generations. We should turn Bush, Cheney, and the neocons over to the Iraqis and let them do what they will.

Interview With Our Mom

By way of background, That Colored Fella once called me 'n Fixer "the love children of Frank Rich and Randi Rhodes". A high compliment. It's the first time I've liked being called a loudmouth bastard!

A BuzzFlash interview with Randi Rhodes:

Yes, Randi Rhodes did serve in the military, so unlike Dick Cheney -- let's say -- she can tell you a thing or two about what it means to be in the Armed Forces.

As you will see in the interview, we don't think Randi is a flaming liberal at all. She's a gal from Brooklyn who just applies common sense and the facts to what she sees. And applying common sense to the blinded, destructive zealotry of the Bush cabal can infuriate a person.

You get the feeling that if George Bush had to spend five minutes alone in a room with Randi Rhodes, he'd end up wimpering in the corner and crying out for mercy.

So would I, but for different reasons...pardon my incestuous thoughts!

BuzzFlash: Let me ask a Barbara Walters question here. If we were at a bar, would it be the same Randi Rhodes that I hear on the air?

Randi Rhodes: Yeah, except drunk. Except drunk and really horny.

That's our Mom!

It's quite a long interview, and in no way can I do it justice here. Please go read.

What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq's Oil for US Companies

Ann Wright

On Thursday, May 24, the US Congress voted to continue the war in Iraq. The members called it "supporting the troops." I call it stealing Iraq's oil - the second largest reserves in the world. The "benchmark," or goal, the Bush administration has been working on furiously since the US invaded Iraq is privatization of Iraq's oil. Now they have Congress blackmailing the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people: no privatization of Iraqi oil, no reconstruction funds.

No other nation in the Middle East has privatized its oil. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iran give only limited usage contracts to international oil companies for one or two years. The $120 billion dollar "Support the Troops" legislation passed by Congress requires Iraq, in order to get reconstruction funds from the United States, to privatize its oil resources and put them up for long term (20- to 30-year) contracts.

What does this "Support the Troops" legislation mean for the United States military? Supporting our troops has nothing to do with this bill, other than keeping them there for another 30 years to protect US oil interests. It means that every military service member will need Arabic language training. It means that every soldier and Marine would spend most of his or her career in Iraq. It means that the fourteen permanent bases will get new Taco Bells and Burger Kings! Why? Because the US military will be protecting the US corporate oilfields leased to US companies by the compliant Iraqi government. Our troops will be the guardians of US corporate interests in Iraq for the life of the contracts - for the next thirty years.

With the Bush administration's "Support the Troops" bill and its benchmarks, primarily Benchmark No. 1, we finally have the reason for the US invasion of Iraq: to get easily accessible, cheap, high-grade Iraq oil for US corporations.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army and US Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She served 16 years in the US diplomatic corps in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Micronesia and Mongolia. She resigned from the US Department of State in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.

The takeover of Iraq's resources by 'privatization', a fancy word for 'theft', is Bush's last chance at a 'legacy': to be forever enshrined in corporate boardrooms as the man who bravely sacrificed America's military and treasury in the name of profit.

His position will be assured as well if he can keep the cheap labor flowing northward pretty much unencumbered, while making it look like he has 'solved' the illegal immigration problem. So far, it looks to me like Bush will just charge them to come here, maybe turnstiles in the desert. Pay up, get a lunchroom pass Guest Worker card that legally entitles the bearer to be underpaid and abused.

That's a whole 'nother subject.

Trust and Betrayal

Paul Krugman. Today's 'must read':

"In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war." That's what President Bush said last year, in a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Those were fine words, spoken by a man with less right to say them than any president in our nation's history. For Mr. Bush took us to war not with reluctance, but with unseemly eagerness.

The question was whether the public would ever catch on. Well, to the immense relief of those who spent years trying to get the truth out, they did. Last November Americans voted overwhelmingly to bring an end to Mr. Bush's war.

Yet the war goes on.

But Osama is back: last week Mr. Bush invoked his name 11 times in a single speech, warning that if we leave Iraq, Al Qaeda - which wasn't there when we went in - will be the winner. And Democrats, still fearing that they will end up accused of being weak on terror and not supporting the troops, gave Mr. Bush another year's war funding.

Democratic Party activists were furious, because polls show a public utterly disillusioned with Mr. Bush and anxious to see the war ended. But it's not clear that the leadership was wrong to be cautious. The truth is that the nightmare of the Bush years won't really be over until politicians are convinced that voters will punish, not reward, Bush-style fear-mongering. And that hasn't happened yet.

Here's the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a "movement" that "has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us," he should be treated as a lunatic.

When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of "Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda" wants to "bring down the West," he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.

And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn't in Iraq, will "follow us home" if we leave, he should be laughed at.

But they aren't, at least not yet. And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people's children to graves at Arlington.

These clowns are pandering to the wrong bunch, a minority (at last, thank God) who can't elect them. Let 'em.

They're just pathetic. I like that.

Not just numbers ...

Real people with real lives.

And while 'I wuz in Main & Central, stealin' Lurch's links', I came across his treatment on the article about the troops disillusionment in Iraq.


Those of us who have actually done the deed have been insisting for years that our Army is stretched too thin, tasked too hard, and bleeding too much. Those who have sat on their dead asses have called us traitors. It’s not a painful accusation once you consider the source.

Mr Kamber points out that younger troops, those on their first tour, don’t necessarily feel the same sense of frustration.


A grizzled man would wonder whether their attitudes might change after months of patrols, ambushes and IEDs in the same area, day after day, especially after loading a few helicopters with their buddies.


When the senior NCOs bitch, you know there's something wrong.

... The fact that a career NCO like SFC Moore has had enough is a signifier that no one should miss ...

Now, fortunately or not, I never had experience with a sustained combat situation, not many of us who served between Vietnam and Iraq 2 have. When we went, it was for a specific op, whether it was extracting a Company weenie from a tight spot or dealing with a South American drug dealer's secret airfield in the Andes, it never lasted more than a couple weeks. Even our deployment to Grenada was less than 3 weeks. We never got into a patrol routine, hell, generally no one even knew we were at a location, let alone be out looking for us. The locals we came in contact with stumbled upon us by accident. We never had to pacify anything and people only knew we were around when shit started blowing up.

For the guys in Iraq it's different; day in, day out of people trying to kill them, the blistering heat of summer, never knowing whom among the locals they can trust, and never being able to decompress . It's bad enough doing it for a year, let alone coming back 3 and 4 times. I'd be sick of it too. I'd be really pissed that I was in the situation thanks to a buncha idiots who thought they'd be getting a quick, large payday by kicking over Saddam and taking his oil.

Our guys are fighting to stay alive. The senior guys know what's happening, know they're fighting a delaying action now. Bringing 'freedom and democracy' to Iraq went out the window for these guys and all they care about is staying alive until the politicians decide it's time for them to come home.

Ask the Vietnam guys about that.

Monday, May 28, 2007

When Will We Ever Learn . . .?


Military Cemetery (Soldatenfriedhof), Retz, Austria.

I was raised believing that the people in these graves were the enemy. But, you know what, they are just like you and me, only we were luckier. The great majority of them died fighting a war that they probably little understood. They were ordered to don a uniform and shoulder a gun. And they did. For love of country. Misguided or not. And they died.

When will we ever learn. . .?

Click image to view larger version.


A musical prayer

Chicago Sun-Times. Even a wingnut fishwrapper is useful sometimes.

The venerable tradition of playing live taps at veterans' funerals and memorial services is making a comeback.

Bugles Across America, founded by an ex-Marine from Berwyn, has enlisted more than 5,000 volunteers to play the haunting, 24-note bugle call.

Since 2000, Bugles Across America volunteers have played taps at 60,000 veterans' funerals, said founder Tom Day.

After World War II, the military eliminated the position of bugler to save money, Day said. Consequently, taps was played at fewer and fewer funerals.

Day founded Buglers Across America in 2000 to recruit volunteers from high schools, colleges, honor guards and drum-and-bugle corps. Volunteers now play taps at about 1,000 funerals a month. The service is free, but the buglers accept tips.

Nevertheless, at many funerals, taps is still played on a boom box, or not at all.

Day, 67, estimates he has played taps at about 5,000 funerals. Each time, he strives to play it with emotion. He hangs out the notes, especially the last one, which softly fades away.

"I regard it as a musical prayer," Day said. "Every time you lift that horn slowly to your face, you have to be in a certain zone."

Day approaches each performance as if it were an Olympic competition. If he makes a mistake, he explains, "there's no do-over."

I think Bugles Across America is doing a fine thing.

'Taps' was played as part of the military honors at my brother-in-law's funeral last year. On this day of remembrance, please go read it and also please pardon me for blowing my own horn, pun intended.

Arlington West


Volunteers set up the Arlington West display of war memorial crosses for US military personnel killed in Iraq, on Santa Monica Beach in California. Eight more American soldiers have been killed fighting in Iraq, the military reported

About five miles inland from this display is the Los Angeles National Cemetery. There are over 85,000 veterans interred there. Tens of thousands of people drive past it each day. I wonder how many even know it's there.

"May George Bush and Dick Cheney rot in hell for what they've done..."

From Politics Plus, along with a "Memorial Day Message" video and a quote from Thoreau:

This can be a difficult day for people who hate Bush's war for oil and conquest, as I do. The 28 percenters always use military holidays to challenge the patriotism of those who dissent. They claim that we do not support the troops. That is a lie. They are not the mission to which they have been assigned. Supporting or opposing that mission reflects on the authors of that mission, not the troops. If the mission is illegal, immoral and unwinnable the most patriotic thing we can do to support the troops is to demand their withdrawal.

The title of this post is from 'comments' at the site. I wholeheartedly concur.

Voices ...

The Mrs. and I were at Long Island National Cemetery this morning, paying our respects to those who've served before and after I did. We do this most every year but this morning was unique.

On Memorial Day, all of the graves are decorated with small American flags, placed by volunteers. As we walked through, I noticed a flag on one of the graves had fallen over and went to right it. It was then I heard it, nothing mystical, just a voice in my head.

Hey, Sarge, pick mine up too.

And I saw one in front of the grave of a Navy corpsman. And I made it right.

Hey, lady, what about me?

And I saw the Mrs walk over to right a flag near the headstone of a Coastie.

Yo, Wingwiper, I heard an old Marine say. I'm not squared away either, light a fire under it.

Hey, honey, me too, an Army Air Corps pilot said and Mrs. F moved on.

Hey, brother, don't forget me, an Air Force troop, who was stationed at the same place on the DMZ I was, said.

And we went on, row to row, an unintended, unspoken mission, and after an hour we'd covered an acre, and moved on to the next. And when we finally finished with the small area of the cemetery, we walked back to the car, hand in hand, the stains of tears on both our faces.

"You heard them?" Mrs. F asked me when one of us felt we could speak.

"Yeah," I said.

And I realized our mission was a futile one for there were just two of us and 175 acres of marble headstones, row upon row of those who fought and sacrificed, row upon row of small American flags.

And today the mission in Iraq seems the most futile of all. There will be many more headstones, many more small American flags, and many more memorials to the fallen, to those who have served and sacrificed, to those who have fought and died in the service of the nation I love.

The warmongers and the clueless in this nation see the headstones, just as we do, but they don't hear the voices. They somehow don't get or don't care there is a voice attached to each marker. There was a person with hopes and dreams, family and friends, someone who had opinions and beliefs and a sense of duty. They see faceless automatons with rifles. As faceless as the plain, white headstones.

There should be a law in this country that any President who wants to go to war must first spend a day walking through a military cemetery, listening to the voices. They must read the headstones, the names, the branch of service, the battles; Cuba, the Bulge, Remagen, Iwo Jima, Coral Sea, Anzio, Seoul, Inch On, Khe Sanh, Tet, Hue, I Trang, Panama, Grenada, Kosovo, Srebrenica, Baghdad, Fallujah.

There are too many headstones, too many voices ...

Blowin' in the Wind

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
—Bob Dylan


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Quaint ...

This from a man who never put his ass on the line for anything in his life. I know a lot of guys who had "better things to do" during Vietnam and came home in boxes because they couldn't weasel one deferment, let alone five:


The standards of this Academy only highlight the deepest and most fundamental difference between the United States and our sworn enemies. A month ago, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Pace, spoke to this class about each officer's duty to follow a moral compass in all of his or her actions. In these four years you have learned the rules of warfare and professional military ethics. You've studied the tenets of morality. You've reflected on the seven Army values: of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. You have lived by a code of honor, and internalized that code as West Point men and women always do.


Who in Hell let him speak to the Cadet Corps anyway? Were I one of them, I'd take being lectured on "loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage" by Vice President Cheney as an insult. As a former enlisted man, I can't help but laugh at the irony.

Memorial Day ... again

Yes, I'm on this today. If you read any posts about Memorial Day, I want you to read these two:

Kitchen Window Woman (and fellow scholar of the American Patriot Institute):


Years later, my nights were sleepless once more. Despite all that I taught him, the recruiters had convinced my son to Be All That You Can Be in the Army. The thread that connects so many mothers and sons, the invisible umbilical cord, was in my case knotted with fear for well over a decade while my son served in various combat zones overseas. My eldest son survived his fourteen year stint of obliging the Masters of War but he has vomited daily since serving in Iraq during Gulf War I. He's undergone two surgeries on his ankles, and is awaiting a second surgery on his shoulder. I sleep better now but he doesn't. Night terrors from PTSD keep him awake into the wee hours.


Commander Huber:


When it comes to direct experience with fallen comrades, I got off pretty easy. Great wartime leaders like Dwight Eisenhower and Chester Nimitz lost millions of men and women under their commands--sometimes tens of thousands in a single day. One war story says that after one of the big island battles of World War II, Nimitz was so distraught over the number of Marine casualties that he briefly considered resigning and turning control of the entire Pacific war effort over to Douglas McArthur.


Operation Freedom From Iraqis

Daddy Frank

When all else fails, those pious Americans who conceived and directed the Iraq war fall back on moral self-congratulation: at least we brought liberty and democracy to an oppressed people. But that last-ditch rationalization has now become America's sorriest self-delusion in this tragedy.

But his silence about Iraq's mass exodus is not merely another instance of deceptive White House P.R.; it's part of a policy with a huge human cost. The easiest way to keep the Iraqi plight out of sight, after all, is to prevent Iraqis from coming to America. And so we do, except for stray Shiites needed to remind us of purple fingers at State of the Union time or to frame the president in Rose Garden photo ops.

The message is clear enough: These ungrateful losers deserve everything that's coming to them. The Iraqis hear us and are returning the compliment. Whether Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is mocking American demands for timelines and benchmarks, or the Iraqi Parliament is setting its own timeline for American withdrawal even while flaunting its vacation schedule, Iraq's nominal government is saying it's fed up. The American-Iraqi shotgun marriage of convenience, midwifed by disastrous Bush foreign policy, has disintegrated into the marriage from hell.

Please read the rest.


Some of these may be on the headstones in Fixer's sobering post.

From Epitaphs of the War, 1914-1918 by Rudyard Kipling.


I have slain none except my Mother.
She (Blessing her slayer) died of grief for me.


If any mourn us in the workshop, say
We died because the shift kept holiday.


Call me not false, beloved,
If, from thy scarce-known breast
So little time removed,
In other arms I rest.

For this more ancient bride
Whom coldly I embrace
Was constant at my side
Before I saw thy face.

Our marriage, often set-
By miracle delayed-
At last is consummate,
And cannot be unmade.

Live, then, whom Life shall cure.
Almost, of Memory,
And leave us to endure
Its immortality.

The one that applies least to Bush's War:


A. "I was a Have." B. "I was a 'have-not.' "
(Together.) "What hast thou given which I gave not?"

And one that applies to all wars since time immemorial and, sadly, will until the planet crumbles to dust:


If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.

Memorial Day

As you stuff your face this weekend, try and remember what this holiday is all about.

Pics courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery.

There is a family behind each one of those headstones. Think about that the next time you casually speak of war.


Following quickly in the footsteps of Conservapedia and QubeTV is the Creation Museum (Good God!). We'll let Mustang Bobby tell you about it:

- Meet the Flintstones: A new museum in Kentucky explains how the universe began with two naked people and a talking snake.

Cat wisdom ...

Fred the Cat comes up with some good stuff, common sense mostly. He has a great post up on picking our Presidents:

If you guys were wise when you choose your presidents, you would look to their resumes. That’s what large successful corporations do when they hire their CEOs. You wouldn’t ask who you would like to have a beer with and you wouldn’t look for “rock star” qualities. You wouldn’t worry about their religion, sex, or race.


A whore late ...

Usually, I post a new chapter of my novel The Fourth Estate on Saturdays at The Practical Press but I wasn't in the mood last night so I did it this morning.

We had a wonderful dinner with Mrs. F's folks at one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate my mother-in-law's 80th. A bonus, our lovely and talented niece Lauren (2nd year theater major at Adelphi University; yes, we're proud) joined us as a surprise for grandma and grandpa. A good time was had by all.

Buckle Up!

Two-thirds of us will be traveling by car this holiday weekend. Listen to the Governor. He knows what he's talking about.

Great thanks to the lovely Pam Spaulding for the video.

Cross-posted at Fixer & Gordon.

Quote of the Day

“This Memorial Day we remember the dead, and the politicians who killed them.” John Aravosis at AMERICABlog