In a Democracy, silent obedience is not a virtue.
"I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice" -- Albert Camus
"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were, for the moment, unpopular." -- Edward R. Murrow
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. - President G. W. Bush, Mar. 17, 2003
Fifty years ago today, the CIA helped overthrow Mossadegh in Iran, installing the Shah in his place, setting into motion a chain of events which would eventually lead to the revolution in 1979 and the rise of militant Islamic fundamentalism in the region--and therefore arguably, at least in part, to the events of September 11, 2001.
Which gives rise to this thought:
There are Militant Islamic Fundamentalists all over the Middle East and there are Militant Christian Fundamentalists running the US.
I have just recently discovered EverQuest. It's entirely possible that I will find that running around in a fictional world bashing Orcs and slashing Giant Fire Beetles is much more cathartic than writing this blog.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The United States military, in what appeared to be a significant shift in its relations with the news media, told commanders throughout Iraq Thursday that reporters, photographers and television crews would be forbidden from accompanying the military on some operations.
Washington -- The Pentagon wants to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who are already contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120- degree-plus heat.
Unless Congress and President Bush take quick action when Congress returns after Labor Day, the uniformed Americans in Iraq and the 9,000 in Afghanistan will lose a pay increase approved last April of $75 a month in "imminent danger pay" and $150 a month in "family separation allowances."
The Defense Department supports the cuts, saying its budget can't sustain the higher payments amid a host of other priorities. (Priorities like paying Kellogg, Brown & Root not to build latrienes? - ed)But the proposed cuts have stirred anger among military families and veterans' groups and even prompted an editorial attack in the Army Times, a weekly newspaper for military personnel and their families that is seldom so outspoken.
Congress made the April pay increases retroactive to Oct. 1, 2002, but they are set to expire when the federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30 unless Congress votes to keep them as part of its annual defense appropriations legislation.
Imminent danger pay, given to Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force members in combat zones, was raised to $225 from $150 a month. The family separation allowance, which goes to help military families pay rent, child care or other expenses while soldiers are away, was raised from $100 a month to $250.
Last month, the Pentagon sent Congress an interim budget report saying the extra $225 monthly for the two pay categories was costing about $25 million more a month, or $300 million for a full year. In its "appeals package" laying out its requests for cuts in pending congressional spending legislation, Pentagon officials recommended returning to the old, lower rates of special pay and said military experts would study the question of combat pay in coming months.
In a military deployment that is costing us $1 BILLION a friggin' WEEK, what's another $300 million a year?
I guess we can't really be expected to cut the amount of money we pay to Halliburton and Bechtel so it's only logical to screw the grunts who are getting shot at.
(AP - New York) - In keeping with the Fox News tradmark infringement lawsuit enjoining Al Franken from using the phrase "Fair and Balanced" in the title of his new book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, conservative hottie Ann Coulter announced today that she is prepared to file similar suits against any Liberals or Democrats who use the words "Slander" or "Treason" in reference to anyone or anything other than themselves.
In truth, there was no "technical glitch" with my ISP or Blogger that deleted my blog archives.What happened was that I made an attempt to quit blogging. I went cold turkey and deleted the blog from Blogger and my ISP and just walked away.
It lasted less than a month before I came crawling back for another fix.
Grunt Soldiers Take a Budget Hit: And the indifference to front-line soldiers' needs isn't restricted to hiring substandard contractors in Iraq. Soldiers and their families have been targeted for nasty budget cuts to help pay for all the goodies handed to Halliburton et. al. These budget cuts effecting military families back home just adds to the general low morale of troops in the Iraqi deployment.
Army Times, has been scathing in its criticism of the cuts and budgeting enacted by the GOP-controlled Congress.
Canceling a "modest proposal" to increase the benefit from $6,000 to $12,000 to families of soldiers who die on active duty;
Rolling back recent increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 down to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 down to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones;
Refusing to consider military tax relief to help military homeowners, reservists who travel long distances for training, or parents deployed to combat zones;
Passing pay raises for some higher ranks, but capping raises for the lowest ranks at 2 percent, well below the average raise of 4.1 percent;
Enacting a $1.5 billion cut in the military construction request for 2004
As Army Times wrote: "Taken piecemeal, all these corner-cutting moves might be viewed as mere flesh wounds. But even flesh wounds are fatal if you suffer enough of them. It adds up to a troubling pattern that eventually will hurt morale - especially if the current breakneck operations tempo also rolls on unchecked and the tense situations in Iraq and Afghanistan do not ease."
All of this makes for the most deadly combination for a solider: an administration that loves war and hates the troops.
When the going gets tough, the contractors stay home.
Some of Army's Civilian Contractors Are No-Shows in Iraq: "Last fall the Army hired Kellogg Brown & Root, a Houston-based contractor, to draw up a plan for supporting U.S. troops in Iraq, covering everything from handling the dead to managing airports. KBR, as it's known, eventually received contracts to perform some of the jobs, and it and other contractors began assembling in Kuwait for the war.
But as the conflict approached, insurance rates for civilians skyrocketed -- to 300 percent to 400 percent above normal, according to Mike Klein, president of MMG Agency Inc., a New York insurance firm. Soldiers are insured through the military and rates don't rise in wartime.
It got 'harder and harder to get (civilian contractors) to go in harm's way,' said Mahan, the Army logistics chief. "
Iraqi Guerrillas Kill 2 U.S. Soldiers: "TIKRIT, Iraq - The U.S. military Wednesday said two American soldiers were killed in guerrilla bomb attacks during the past 24 hours. The deaths brought to 60 the number of U.S. troops killed in action since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over. "
A rat looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a rat trap. Retreating to the farmyard the rat proclaimed the warning; 'There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!'
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, 'Excuse me, Mr. Rat, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.'
The rat turned to the pig and told him, 'There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!' 'I am so very sorry Mr. Rat,' sympathized the pig, 'but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers.'
The rat turned to the cow. She said, 'Like wow, Mr. Rat. A rat trap. I am in grave danger. Duh?'
So the rat returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's rat trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a rat trap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife.
The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.
His wife's sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer's wife did not get well. She died, and so many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.
So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a rat trap in the house, the whole farmyard is at risk.
(ed note: A cautionary observation: The farmer has destroyed his entire farm in pursuit of the rat, but the rat is still in the house.)
The Terminator is being attacked from both the Right and the Left.
The Left says he's a closet Nazi and the Right says hes a closet Commie.
It's almost enough to make one think he's the perfect candidate.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
So it looks like there are about 130 cadidates for Governor of California. That means that, mathematically speaking, the next governor of California could be elected with as little as 0.77 percent of the vote.
I never thought I'd be one to link to Rush, but this almost gives me a reason to endorse The Terminator.
Stop the Tape: Hear Me Now and Believe Me Later:"Here me now and believe me later, my friends: all these conservative orgasms over Arnold Schwarzenegger are - like the 'Gorbasms' liberals experienced over Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev - fake. I know that (R) next to Schwarzenegger's name excites the White House, but his own words prove he's not a conservative. I call this 'The Hollywood Syndrome,' and it happens every time some actor-type says anything even remotely conservative. I'm not trying to cold shower anybody here, but don't look to anyone in Hollywood to validate your political ideas."
Ok, I took the day off yesterday to mark the end of my 50th year on this planet. A wise man once told me that "You can't stay young forever, but you can always be immature." I endevour to live by that philosophy.
I spent the day watching Star Trek reruns and The Lord of The Rings on DVD and playing chess on the internet.
In short, I'm sick of the obligatory sigh of relief at getting rid of Saddam in favor of an illusory utopian future for Iraq. There is every chance that the people of Iraq are and will be worse off now that nasty old Saddam is gone, so just cut it out. Yeah, he was a bad man, placed there and supported by other bad men, who happen to be the same people who promoted and ran the invasion. Their infighting is no excuse for the deaths and maiming of American service personnel and Iraqi children.
I was recently inspired by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's admission that "We do stupid things." to create a new blog to chronicle the "stupid things" done on our behalf by our government.
In the interests of the widest possible coverage, everyone please feel free to drop by "We Do Stupid Things" and email your contributions.