Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hurricane Bush

A view of Canal Street that is flooded with water in New Orleans August 30, 2005. REUTERS, Rick Wilking

"We have got a lot of work to do."

—President Bush, Coronado, CA, August 30, 2005,CNN

Bush goes back to Washington, D.C., where he will cut short his vacation in order to do, in his words, the “hard job” of the US presidency. He’s abandoning Crawford early because the extensive damage of Hurricane Katrina demands his attention of who gets what federal aid and when.

“When” is the big question of why Bush was in San Diego today giving a speech “commemorating the Allies' World War II victory over Japan and promoting his war-on-terror agenda”, instead of plowing head long into the main task at hand, one which the entire country agrees is the priority--hurricane aid and repair.

To state the obvious, unlike the terrible tsunami disaster and other major catastrophic events including earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, hurricanes come with a long lead time of warning. Katrina, in particular, was a building monster that for the better part of 3 days prior to its landfall in the Gulf States, was clearly going to cause major problems. Bush certainly knew this, and yet while The National Guard and Red Cross are performing life-threatening missions to save lives today, Bush is out here in La La land trumping up his ridiculous Medicare card that no one understands, let alone will benefit from financially, and trumpeting up the War in Iraq despite the majority of the citizens against the effort altogether.

That’s real compassionate conservatism—just kidding. It’s more like psychotic disconnection, and while I’m not qualified to make that judgment call, it’s nicer than a lot of things I could have said.

One last thought—“John in DC” on “AmericaBlog” expresses it best:

If your aides claim, and I'm sure they will, that you didn't need to come back to DC this past weekend to help coordinate hurricane relief. Why? Because they'll say that you have all of this state-of-the-art communications technology at your Crawford ranch, so being at Crawford is the SAME as being at the White House.

So, if all that's the case, then why is the White House now telling us that you're cutting your vacation short tomorrow to come back to Washington and deal with the hurricane? I thought you were dealing with it just fine while on vacation?

Either you can manage hurricane relief sufficiently while on vacation, and in that case there's no need for you to return to DC tomorrow, or you can't, and in that case where the hell have you been the past 5 days?

So which one is it, Mr. President? Are you now admitting that you made a mistake by remaining on vacation and thinking you could handle hurricane relief from your deck chair by the pool?—AmericaBlog August 30, 2005

Friday, August 26, 2005

9/11 Commission Omissions Endanger Us

Standing with President George W. Bush, Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., addresses the media after the President nominated him to be the director of the CIA in the Rose Garden, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2004.
White House Photo by Joyce Naltchayan

This is the real story of the summer -- not Karl Rove, not Cindy Sheehan, not a sideshow. The real story of the summer is how a commission, filled with highly intelligent people, could have missed so much.[emphasis added]-- Omissions in 9/11 Report Hamper Fight Aainst Trrorism, August 22, 2005 BY MARY LANEY, Chicago Sun Times

This month has seen new revelations about intelligence gaps that could continue to be dangerous to all Americans. But beneath that troublesome surface lies some questionable goings on in the Bush administration of stonewalling and misdirection, alongside leaks and rumors.

Able Danger was a military intelligence unit set up by Special Operations Command in 1999. A year before the 9/11 attacks, Able Danger identified hijack leader Mohamed Atta and the other members of his cell. But Clinton administration officials stopped them -- three times -- from sharing this information with the FBI.

The problem was the order Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick made forbidding intelligence operatives from sharing information with criminal investigators. (Gorelick later served as a 9/11 commission member.) Jack Kelly: Able Danger -- now they tell us, August 14, 2005,Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In “Seeing What we want to See,” Terry McDermott, LA Times staff writer’s op-ed column claims that the “Able Danger” data mining expose is more of a rumormongering story full of holes. He shows that there are so many inconsistencies that Able Danger is not really an issue of CIA problems. He does conclude, however, that enough was known prior to 9/11 and is factually agreed to that something should be done to fix the intelligence gap:

Whatever the resolution of the Able Danger imbroglio, there were plenty of missed opportunities on the road to 9/11. German law enforcement knew in mid-1999 that Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, another Sept. 11 hijacker, were acquaintances of an Al Qaeda recruiter. This information was passed on to the CIA. The name of a third hijacker, Ziad Jarrah, was given to U.S. intelligence agencies in early 2000 when he was interrogated at length as he passed through
customs in the United Arab Emirates en route from Afghanistan to Germany. He told Emiratis he was going to the United States to become a pilot. The Emiratis say they passed this information to the Americans.

More famously, the CIA tracked two known Al Qaeda operatives through eight CIA stations from the Middle East to Malaysia, then somehow didn't notice as they walked onto a jetway and a plane bound for Los Angeles. We don't need to invent intelligence failures; we need to grapple with those that we already have.

Before the Able Danger business in mid-August, there was the Bush stonewall of 9/11 panelists seeking further information to voluntarily make sure the government was following up on their report’s recommendations.

The White House has failed to turn over any of the information requested by the 10 members of the disbanded Sept. 11 commission in their renewed, unofficial investigation into whether the government is doing enough to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, commission members said. The members said that the
Bush administration's lack of cooperation was hindering a project that was otherwise nearly complete…

... "It's very disappointing," Kean said of the administration's failure to cooperate with the group. "All we're trying to do is make the public safer." --Bush aides stonewall Sept. 11 panelists Administration officials fail to turn over follow-up data Philip Shenon, New York Times Sunday, August 7, 2005

This gets curiouser and curiouser. What has the administration got to hide? Everyone already knows they lied to congress, the American people, and the world, in order to go to war in Iraq.

The latest CIA ineptitude came out today in the form of leaks to the AP about a report to Congress Tuesday urging Porter Goss, CIA head, to start disciplinary proceedings against several higher-ups, probably including former CIA Director “Iraq WMD Slam Dunk” George Tenet.

CIA Director Porter Goss must decide whether to heed the recommendation of his top watchdog to hold disciplinary reviews for former CIA Director George Tenet and other current and former officials who were involved in faulty intelligence efforts before the September 11 attacks. The proceedings, formally called an
accountability board, were recommended by the CIA inspector general, John Helgerson, The Associated Press learned late Thursday. It remains unclear how many people beyond Tenet are identified for the accountability boards in the highly classified report spanning hundreds of pages.--CNN.com August 26, 2005

It seems our government isn’t on the up and up with us, which in some cases of national security is OK. But based on these several news stories and the leaks of some classified information, there is a tendency to create rumors and start trouble where there wasn’t any before. And on a more sinister, cynical, paranoid vein of conspiracy and parallel realities, what do the administration higher-ups know, that they really don’t want us to know, that could be affecting each and every one of us, and not necessarily in a good way?

While our troops, money, and materiel stay in Iraq to “fight the war on terror,” terrorists could land on our doorsteps at any moment, without warning, because of the incompetent leadership and actions of the Bush regime. We the people are especially vulnerable right now, with no apparent opposition to Bush ready to offer an alternative. Indeed "This is the real story of the summer."

Monday, August 22, 2005

Bush Speaks

Paul Morse, White House

For sixty years the cause of war has been bolstered by the automatic assumption that since the Nazis had to be fought to the point of total military defeat, this is sufficient reason to justify any future war….

…Those who believe that the current war in Iraq is a blow for peace have never experienced peace, or else they are willing to accept the anti-logic by which you have to kill others in order to bring them peace.—Deepak Chopra, Huffington Post, August 22,2005

That’s one point of view. Here’s another:
The lesson of September the 11th, 2001, is that we must confront threats before they fully materialize…So the second part of our strategy is to take the fight to the terrorists abroad before they can attack us here at home…From the beaches of Normandy to the snows of Korea, courageous Americans gave their lives so others could live in freedom…In a single lifetime, many of you have seen liberty spread from Germany and Japan to Eastern Europe, to Latin America, to Southeast Asia and Africa and beyond…The generation of men and women who defend our freedom today is taking its rightful place among the heroes of our nation's history…we have confidence in our cause, because we know that freedom is the future of every nation, and that the side of freedom is the side of victory.—White House web site, “President Honors Veterans of Foreign Wars
at National Convention”August 22, 2005
…And Mom, and Apple Pie, and Howdy Doody too. That’s nice. Any plans to get us out of Iraq? Any ideas on the effect of US military overrunning in the form of might-makes-right the Islamic world of culture and tradition? How many more times will 9/11 be mentioned in Bush speeches to trump up the backing for the Iraq occupation? What has World War II got to do with Iraq and Saddam Hussein? Or 9/11 for that matter? Why are the VFW’s clapping at their faces being slapped back and forth by a presumptuous imbecilic notion--that the war to liberate Europe from a killer of millions equals a pre-emptive incursion against a non-existent threat in oil-rich Iraq?

Dr. Chopra is enlightened and enlightening beyond many of our mortal capabilities of forgiveness and insight. Yet truly, the history of the world proves that wars don’t solve any political problem. The subsequent peace and compromises in fact provided the security of life and limb.

Religious intolerance exists on both sides. The inability to accept and respect dissimilar views of the world is present. The creation of a fictitious "them" who is always wrong, bad, barbaric, and evil is a common thread in reports from both sides.—Chopra

Finally is the illogical constant Bush mantra: bring the fight to the foreign shore to keep it from coming home. That Bush can keep repeating this with a straight face, weeks after the bombings in London, is a warped tribute to his, and Cheney’s, resolve that saying the same thing over and over, true or not, will ultimately make it so.

With the anti-war movement finding new momentum behind grieving mother Cindy Sheehan, Bush acknowledged the fighting in Iraq is difficult and dangerous. But he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention the fight is necessary to keep terrorists out of the United States.”-- By Nedra Pickler, Associated Press Writer

And as for the Cindy Sheehan Bashers, here’s one take from Frank Rich’s intelligent column this past weekend:

Casey Sheehan's death in Iraq could not be more representative of the war's mismanagement and failure, but it is hardly singular. Another mother who has journeyed to Crawford, Celeste Zappala, wrote last Sunday in New York's Daily News of how her son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was also killed in April 2004 - in Baghdad, where he was
providing security for the Iraq Survey Group, which was charged with looking for W.M.D.'s "well beyond the admission by David Kay that they didn't exist."

…As Ms. Zappala noted with rage, her son's death came only a few weeks after Mr. Bush regaled the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association banquet in Washington with a scripted comedy routine featuring photos of him pretending to look for W.M.D.'s in the Oval Office. "We'd like to know if he still finds humor
in the fabrications that justified the war that killed my son," Ms. Zappala wrote.

…Mr. Bush's stand-up shtick for the Beltway press corps wasn't some
aberration; it was part of the White House's political plan for keeping the home front cool. America was to yuk it up, party on and spend its tax cuts heedlessly while the sacrifice of an inadequately manned all-volunteer army in Iraq was kept out of most Americans' sight and minds.—Frank Rich, The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan NY Times August 21, 2005

I emailed a politically like-minded friend today, “When do you think they'll start the Bush/Cheney impeachment hearings?” She replied, “Fat chance on the Bush/Cheney impeachment.” And she’s on my side. I don’t blame her reaction one bit.

Among all Americans, 36% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 58% disapprove. When it comes to Bush’s handling of the economy, 33% approve and 62% disapprove.
Among Americans registered to vote, 38% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 56% disapprove, and 36% approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 60% disapprove. For
a little perspective, recall that Richard Nixon’s approval rating in the summer of 1973 (when the Watergate scandal was in full swing) was
.--Bush: Less Popular Than Nixon During Watergate, Think Progress.org

Too bad we don’t have that “vote of confidence” they rigged up in English Parliament generations ago. Here, in the good ole USA we have fixed terms for our elected officials. Unless, of course, they “commit treason, high crimes or misdemeanors.” Incompetence on the job, sending troops off to war unprovoked, and lying to congress and we the people every day, seem to me to constitute any or all of the impeachable offenses listed. In the end, it is up to we, the people, to be responsible for our government, as we were charged to do by the framers of the Constitution, and the great leaders including Washington and Lincoln.

As far as the word “freedom” that George W. Bush bandies about so freely, and honoring the dead who fought bravely in war—here’s Lincoln’s take on what direction we should take. Remember, he’s not talking about “freedom” in Iraq that’s in peril of ending, but right here in America:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.—Gettysburg Address

Here’s another concept of “freedom:”

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.—JFK Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

It ain’t “mom and apple pie,” but don’t that “together” word sound nice?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Still Waiting for Fitzgerald

"It’s the larger, untold story in all of this -- that he [Arthur Sulzberger New York Times Publisher] now runs the newsroom.”Huffington Blog Source on the "Plamegate” leaks

Here’s my comment which was not published on The Huffington Post:

Ever see a thriller where the main characters are finding out truths about how their world really operates, and no one in their world knows it but them, and us, the audience? Then as you walk out of the theater you think, what if this really is reality?

Your keen explanation of the world of the NY Times and its leader, Arthur Sulzberger, illustrates that transparent view of the whole Rove/Plamegate case. Your uncanny brilliant “dot-connecting” once again has shown the clear light through a troublesome window into the workings of the Bush regime.

What does Sulzberger’s capricious support of Miller say of the Times and its reputation?

The questions are, 1. When will Fitzgerald take action against the Plamegate perpetrators, number one of which is Rove, and 2. How much of the “other-world” that you paint, of what is reality, reaches beyond a political conundrum—Plamegate—into all of the plans and policies of the Bush administration?

Despite the drop in the polls of Bush’s Iraq War tactics and his popularity, how far gone are we, already, into his dictatorship? You’ve articulately put the ball in our court, Arianna—let’s hope we don’t drop it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bush will Snub Cindy Sheehan

David Pacheco Times-Herald

Three weeks from now, August 31, 2005, the leader of the free world ends his vacation in Texas and goes back to work. Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey who was killed in Iraq, sits vigil in Crawford waiting for Bush to answer her question, what was the “noble cause” her son died for.

It’s ironic, given the attacks leveled at me recently, how some in the media are so quick to scrutinize -- and distort -- the words and actions of a grieving mother but not the words and actions of the president of the United States.—Cindy Sheehan, Huffington Post

When Bush leaves Crawford, and by then hasn’t met with Cindy Sheehan, the story will be over--not for Sheehan the grieving mother, or the US troops and Iraqis still in harm’s way, or American foreign policy and the negative fallout from this misbegotten incursion and occupation—it will be over for the media and the public who will need a new “immediate” story on which to focus.

When I joined with millions to protest the Vietnam War, there was a tremendous groundswell of criticism from pro-war and pro-Nixon backers. Even the Vice President, Spiro Agnew, who later quit his job over indictments of misconduct while he was governor of Maryland, referred to millions of patriotic, thoughtful Americans who were against the 500,000 American troops wrecking a tiny country in Southeast Asia, an “effete corps of impudent snobs.” We were “nattering nabobs of negativism.”

At the time, Agnew’s alliterative accusations (I’m starting to get the hang of it) seemed funny. I had no family or friends in the military or in Vietnam, so I wasn’t threatened with the loss of a loved one. I just thought our involvement in Vietnam was bad for the country, for the world, and for Americans to be spending so much money and effort with no apparent positive consequences to come from the action.

Cindy Sheehan, on the other hand, already lost her blood and treasure for Bush’s “noble cause,” and since she doesn’t understand his point of view, and she also doesn’t believe him, she is goading him into a confrontation in order to play up the controversy for the media. However, the attacks on her, compared to the ones by Agnew on the Vietnam War protesters, are disgusting, immoral, and inhumane.

For example, today on Drudge’s web site, there is a letter purported to be from Sheehan’s family condemning her actions in Crawford.

The following email was received by the DRUDGE REPORT from Casey's aunt and godmother: Our family has been so distressed by the recent activities of Cindy we are breaking our silence and we have collectively written a statement for release. Feel free to distribute it as you wish. Thanks Ð Cherie

In response to questions regarding the Cindy Sheehan/Crawford Texas issue: Sheehan Family Statement: The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.

Sincerely, Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.-- http://drudgereport.com/flashcs.htm

It is impossible to ascertain the origin or truth of this report, but Drudge obviously is attempting to throw in his typical 2-cents’ worth of demoralization to the cause Cindy Sheehan is trying to promote—an end to US occupation of Iraq.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN today, Bill Clinton said he was in agreement with the present strategy in Iraq of Iraqis taking more responsibility for their affairs, so that the US could eventually withdraw. He stopped short of condemning the action of the war in the first place, claiming that Blitzer was trying to make news while he, Clinton, was trying to inform and to educate.

As unseemly as it sometimes is when a former president disagrees with the foreign policy of the incumbent, in this case, I thought it was grossly unseemly of Clinton to rubber stamp Bush’s Iraq program. Methinks he’s spending too much time at Kennebunkport with papa Bush and doesn’t want to rock that political boat. Carter doesn’t have a problem telling it like it is, Bush-wise. Why doesn’t Clinton? That’s a rhetorical question…

Anticipating a new burst of insurgent violence, the Pentagon plans to expand the U.S. force in Iraq to improve security for a planned October referendum and a December election. Although much public attention has been focused recently on the prospect of reducing U.S. forces next spring and summer, defense officials foresee the likelihood of first increasing troop levels.--Military.com

The 2 stories--of Cindy Sheehan’s cause going with the wind in a few weeks, and of the increase in troop numbers in Iraq while the Bush administration says they’ll reduce the number of troops at some vague time next year—go hand in hand: Bush can do anything he wants, and gets away with it, as long as we the people don’t stick with the story, and focus on the purpose.

That is why the call for unity behind Cindy Sheehan is so important.

Before this all started, I used to think that one person couldn’t make a difference... but now I see that one person who has the backing and support of millions of people can make a huge difference.-- Cindy Sheehan, Huffington Post

I intend to stay focused, and stick with the story. I’m not holding out much hope for this to turn the tide, but with what little hope there is, I am behind you 100%, Cindy Sheehan!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Monday morning mid-summer August 2005:

1 on vacation in Crawford [NY Times]

2.5 million hungry in Niger [AP]

Back to work after the nationwide hot weekend, barbeques, sports playing and watching. Back to work for some—the shuttle astronauts were supposed to get some time off after almost 2 weeks fixing the vehicle they rode in, but the “unstable” weather at the Florida landing site made the NASA decision-makers “uncomfortable.” Without that warm fuzzy comfort zone, they don’t want the possibility of rain to crack a multi-thousand-degree-heated ceramic tile and break the shuttle, again, and kill any more astronauts, not to mention the multi-thousand-employed NASA space program.

And the leader of the free world—he’s still out of town at the ranch on a five-week vacation. He’s gonna stop shredding shrubs for a minute though in order to sign the cash-fat oil-company friendly energy bill. Don’t want to hold up that cash-cow legislation for friends of the chief exec--read President—even if it means disrupting the official time off.

Oil prices hit a new record high near $64 on Monday after warnings of militant attacks in the world's biggest oil exporter Saudi Arabia and on worries about refinery outages in the United States.--By Janet McBride, Reuters, Monday, August 8, 2005

In an MSNBC poll 84% said they were very concerned about US dependence on oil. Here’s what several million people in Africa are concerned about:

"We have no cattle, we have no goats, no sheep and no horses. We sold everything to buy food," Bishi said. "Many families have left. We have no money to buy millet and nothing to sell. This village has already died."—Villager in Niger, “Season of Destruction Returns to Niger,” Robyn Dixon

Typical of stories in this very poor region of Africa, this villager represents millions of people who simply don’t have enough to eat every day. In this day of the internet, satellite transmission, and videophones, we Americans can be updated instantly and profoundly about the needy people in all parts of the world. It may be impossible immediately to help everyone everywhere, but it is inexcusable to ignore the increasingly well-publicized tragedy of the famine in Niger.

While Bush cuts bushes in Crawford, Texas, one wonders if he gives any thought to the concerns of Americans paying more for gas, some even paying such a high price for necessary commutes that they may have to cut back on other necessities, such as clothes for the kids going back to school, or enough food to eat. And while US taxpayer money is wasted on the high price of maintaining the Iraq occupation, what about the victims of natural disasters around the world?


Starvation in Africa
August 8, 2005

Re "In Niger, Hunger Hits Crisis Level," Aug. 5

Our compassionate, conservative president used phony information about Niger selling yellowcake uranium to Iraq as part of his
justification for the current war on the hapless Iraqi people. Tens of thousands of malnourished children in Niger today face death from starvation. In March, an appeal to the world for $16 million in food aid for Niger resulted in $1 million in contributions. We are currently spending, conservatively, $4 billion a month in Iraq. That comes to about $133 million a day. Or about $5.5 million per hour. Therefore, devoting roughly two hours of Iraqi war spending could have possibly
avoided the impending starvation epidemic in Niger. I guess preventing starvation in Africa doesn't get you too many votes from America's heartland.


Cindy Sheehan is camped nearby the ranch in Crawford waiting to hear from the Commander in Chief what noble cause her son died for in Iraq. Cindy has a mission in life, and her own noble cause to push, but before her president can come to see her, she may be arrested for endangering national security.

When George W leaves his ranch to go visit the vigil-sitting mom, maybe he’ll also tell the press how American money and technology are going to help solve the crises of hunger in Africa and the Tsunami-ravaged regions, and even right here at home in the USA. Or maybe he’ll just stay on the ranch and go straight back to work after Labor Day, leaving all these issues untouched completely. Signing the energy bill might be all he can handle right now, in the hot steamy summer days of August, 2005.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Gotta Get Rid of the Nukes!

Hiroshima 1945

Is it so unbelieveable, so unimaginable, to think that the nation-states with nuclear-weapons capabilities would dis-band and disarm them? That by doing so would decrease the possibilitiy of further disbursal of nuclear arms material throughtout the world?

Scrapping nukes vital for human survivalElBaradei VIENNA (Reuters) - The carnage wrought by the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago demonstrates the need to eliminate nuclear weapons for the sake of human survival, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday...

"It has always been hoped that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki stand as constant reminders of why preventing the further use and proliferation of such weapons -- and why nuclear disarmament leading to a nuclear weapon-free world -- is of utmost importance for the survival of humankind and planet Earth," he said.

The Allies killed as many people in one "hit" as the atomic bombs, with conventional bombing prior to the nuclear “gadget” in Japan. It wasn’t as if mass murder wasn’t possible. The Nazis killed millions, one by one, in the Holocaust.

Toward the end of World War II, as Allied planes rained death and destruction over Germany, the old Saxon city of Dresden lay like an island of tranquillity amid desolation. Famous as a cultural center and possessing no military value, Dresden had been spared the terror that descended from the skies over the rest of the country.In fact, little had been done to provide the ancient city of artists and craftsmen with anti-aircraft defenses. One squadron of planes had been stationed in Dresden for awhile, but the Luftwaffe decided to move the aircraft to another area where they would be of use. A gentlemen's agreement seemed to prevail, designating Dresden an "open city."—Dresden Holocaust

The death toll was staggering. The full extent of the Dresden Holocaust can be more readily grasped if one considers that well over 250,000 -- possibly as many as a half a million -- persons died within a 14-hour period, whereas estimates of those who died at Hiroshima range from 90,000 to 140,000. --Dresden Holocaust

Kurt Vonnegut was in Dresden when it was bombed in 1945, and wrote a famous anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse Five, in 1969.

"You guys burnt the place down, turned it into a single column of flame. More people died there in the firestorm, in that one big flame, than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined." --Kurt Vonnegut, Jr

There is the controversy to this day, whether or not the nuclear bomb was necessary to end the awful war with Japan. The real question is whether or not humanity can continue to live with this unimaginable weapon. Can we actually disarm? I don’t think there’s a choice.

Was a Hiroshima — and by extension today’s nuclear-armed world — a necessary evil? Dr. Charles Waldren, a native of Colorado, is an expert on the medical legacy of the atomic bomb…

“…It was a horrible, horrible event,” Waldren said. “But it could have been worse.”

Waldren said he believes bombing Hiroshima was justified.

“…My brother was in the Battle of the Bulge,” he said. “He was badly wounded, but they planned to ship him off to the Pacific. There was no doubt in my family that (dropping the bomb) was the right thing to do. “I think it ended the war,” he said. “And I think it was a good thing.”--Hiroshima’s complex legacy re-examined, AP, August 5, 2005

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bush Wants to Stay in Iraq

After lunch, President Bush prepares to take Colombia President Alvaro Uribe for a tour of the ranch.

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, threatened more destruction in London, saying in a videotape broadcast Thursday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair would be to blame.
Al-Zawahri also threatened the United States with tens of thousands of military dead if it does not withdraw its troops from Iraq immediately.

In Crawford, Texas, President Bush dismissed the threat, saying, "We will stay on the offense against these people. They're terrorists and they're killers and they will kill innocent people ... so they can impose their dark vision on the world."—My Way News August 4, 2005

Recently rumors have spread throughout the media that Bush and his group want to withdraw a major number of troops from Iraq next year. The question about these rumors is how much they are PR feelers, and how much they are true desires. In the best of all possible scenarios, the American people would like to see Iraqis govern themselves in a democratic system, and all American troops come home and out of harm’s way. Is this what Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld are aiming for?

A senior non-U.S. diplomat, who has spoken to all the key figures in Iraq over the past two years, tells me that for months leaders of the insurgency have been putting out feelers that they would like to talk with the United States about a settlement. (U.S. and Iraqi civilian and military officials have confirmed various aspects of this story.) So far the United States has refused to go down this path. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's description of contacts between Army officers and local insurgents is accurate, but these contacts have been few and far between and, more important, neither side has any authority to negotiate anything.[emphasis added]—Zakaria, Newsweek August 8, 2005

Zakaria’s picture is of a two-pronged insurgency—one side Baathist Nationalists and the other, foreign terrorist troublemakers. His commentary concludes that US doing business with the Baathists would invalidate the others. Again the assumption is that US leaders eventually want to leave Iraq.

President Bush suggested in June that “sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever, when we are in fact working for the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave. As we determine the right force level,” he said, “our troops can know that I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters: the sober judgment of our military leaders." As I recall, the sober judgment of many of those military leaders was that we shouldn't go into
Iraq in the first place
. Their advice was not only unheeded, it was
derided.—Dickey, Newsweek, August 4, 2005

In his 100th “Shadowland” commentary, Newsweek Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East authority Chris Dickey summarizes the history of the Iraq incursion, and the Bush administration lack of planning, information, and direction. If we assume that all along the plan was not to fight terrorism, but to establish a beachhead in Iraq to control the flow of mid-east oil, then in fact their plan and goal have been accomplished. The only missing puzzle piece is how to make sure the Orwellian dictums coming out of Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush, keep the Americans from boiling over in protest that they have been misled, and lied to, all along.

Bush explained in his inimitable broad-stroke cowboy style why the Al Qaeda leader Zawahiri’s threats of murder and mayhem in London and the US leave us no choice but to leave US troops at present numbers in Iraq:

"...Part of their goal is to drive us out of the broader Middle East: precisely what this Zawahiri said. He's threatening. They have come up against a nation that, one, will defend itself," Bush said.

"We will stay the course. We will complete the job in Iraq," he added.—CNN August 4, 2005

Bush’s presidency can only last, unless he’s impeached, until his term is up. But he and his family are an oil dynasty, which will always reap the benefits of easy access to huge supplies of crude. Why would he want to give up property he worked so hard to annex, and lose that capacity for enriching kith and kin, just for the sake of peace?