January 09, 2005

 

Enough


I know that's what I've had. And I'm not alone:
A CNN/USA Today/Gallop Poll taken December 17-19 asked if going to war in Iraq was the right choice. 48% said yes, 51% said no. A year ago 63% approved, 35% disapproved.

Meanwhile, CNN/USA Today/Gallop found that Bush’s current overall job approval rating is 49% positive; 46% negative. In the week after the election the figures were 53% positive; 44% negative. An ABC/Washington Post poll gave Bush 48% vs. 49% disapproval. Fox News got 48% positive; 45% negative and Zogby got it 50-50.
So, more than half of the country disapproves of the war in Iraq and close to half or half of the country, depending on which poll you believe, disapproves of The Big Turd Sandwich. So when is the rest of the country going to wake up? How much more of the following can they take:
Americans acknowledge hitting wrong target in Iraqi airstrike, killing at least 5

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The United States military said it dropped a 500-pound bomb on the wrong house outside the northern city of Mosul on Saturday, killing five people. The man who owned the house said the bomb killed 14 people, and an Associated Press photographer said seven of them were children.
Well, democracy is a "messy thing."
Seven members of 69th Infantry are killed by bomb in Iraq, bringing total regiment dead to 10

TAJI, Iraq - Seven members of Manhattan's 69th Infantry
Regiment, which lost two area firefighters to a car bomb a little more than a month ago, were killed yesterday afternoon when a roadside bomb exploded near an armored vehicle carrying the GIs.
These are reservists from the Army National Guard. Shouldn't they be protecting us at home? Instead, our government is admittingly sending them into harm's way with equipment known to be susceptible to attacks:
Bombs exploit vehicles' weaknesses

The armored vehicle destroyed in Thursday's attack on a New York-based reserve unit in Iraq is one of the Army's biggest - but still was no match for an Iraqi insurgency bomb that was also bigger than most, too, defense officials said Friday.

Seven reservists killed by that roadside blast were riding in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, a personnel carrier designed to be more lethal and battle-ready than the armored Humvees at the center of recent controversy regarding troop vulnerability...

The attack, coupled with the Pentagon's recent admission that efforts to thwart roadside-bomb attacks largely have failed, signals the danger facing U.S. forces in Iraq, as even the Army's biggest vehicles have proven vulnerable to a large and well-timed bombing in a nation where there is no shortage of bomb-making materials.

The Bradley came under sharp criticism in the mid-1980s. Some members of Congress then charged the vehicle didn't have enough armor to withstand anti-tank rounds, and was susceptible to catching fire and to having an attack touch off its own ammunition - two things that happened Thursday.

The Army later ordered some improvements, and those criticisms have quieted down since then, with military analysts saying the Bradley has performed ably in Iraq. Others say the Army's new Stryker vehicles are preferable, with a roughly comparable capability in armor protection, while being lighter and more mobile.
"No shortage of bomb-making materials?" How can that be?
Explosives were looted after Iraq invasion

Iraqi officials reported that thieves looted 377 tons of powerful explosives from an unguarded site after the US-led invasion last year, the top UN nuclear official said yesterday. And a former weapons inspector said he had counted about 100 other unguarded weapons sites that may have been stripped of munitions for use in the wave of attacks against US soldiers and Iraqi civilians...

''The military did not view guarding these sites as their responsibility," Kay said, recalling that he witnessed US troops guarding the gates of the Tuwaitha nuclear facility while Iraq civilians carried away radioactive pipes and metal drums through other exits.

''There just were not enough troops to guard the number of sites. It was just crazy."
"Not enough troops?" Imagine that:
200,000 troops needed to subdue Iraq

On February 25, 2003, Commanding General Shinseki, Chief of Staff of the Army, told Congress that it would take 200,000 troops to occupy Iraq, about twice the number of troops currently in Iraq. However, General Shinseki was chided and rebuked by the Bush Administration. Rather than listen to General Shinseki, Secretary Rumsfeld opted to favor the Marines over the Army and backed the idea that once again the Air Force would bomb the enemy into submission...

Retired US Army General Barry McCaffrey said that Secretary Rumsfeld had ignored warnings that he was underestimating the number of troops needed. “If they (the Iraqis) actually fight . . . it’s going to be brutal, dangerous work and we could take, bluntly, a couple to 3,000 casualties,” he said.
"Bomb the enemy into submission?" Um...
Iraq battling more than 200,000 insurgents: intelligence chief

Iraq's insurgency counts more than 200,000 active fighters and sympathisers, the country's national intelligence chief told AFP, in the bleakest assessment to date of the armed revolt waged by Sunni Muslims.

"I think the resistance is bigger than the US military in Iraq. I think the resistance is more than 200,000 people," Iraqi intelligence service director General Mohamed Abdullah Shahwani said in an interview ahead of the January 30 elections.

Shahwani said the number includes at least 40,000 hardcore fighters but rises to more than 200,000 members counting part-time fighters and volunteers who provide rebels everything from intelligence and logistics to shelter.

The numbers far exceed any figure presented by the US military in Iraq, which has struggled to get a handle on the size of the resistance since toppling Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003.

A senior US military officer declined to endorse or dismiss the spy chief's numbers.

"As for the size of the insurgency, we don't have good resolution on the size," the officer said on condition of anonymity.
What the hell does "good resolution" mean? Who the hell's in charge of this war?!?!?

My wife and I are friendly with our local firefighters (well, actually, my wife and our dogs are the main attractions; most of them could care less about me). I remember having to hold my tongue a year and a half ago when Lenny, one of the more vocal firefighters, ranted about the "stupid" New Yorkers who marched down Broadway to protest the war in Iraq (my wife and I were, of course, two of the "stupid" marchers). I kept quiet out of respect: I know he had been deceived into thinking this war was revenge for what happened on 9/11 (our firehouse lost 10 men). I haven't seen Lenny in a long time, but I wonder if his views have changed at all. How many more of his brothers have to die in Iraq until he sees the light? Does he now realize that the war protestors support our troops more than our current government?
Dishonorable Discharge
Bush Administration Slashes Veterans Benefits


Over the last year and a half, President Bush has staged more than a third of his major public events before active military personnel or veterans. His rowdy “Hoo-ah”s and policy pronouncements — even when they have nothing to do with military matters — are predictably greeted with rabid applause.

But those easy and unquestioning crowds at military bases and American Legion halls will be increasingly hard to come by as soldiers and veterans start to notice the string of insults and budget cuts inflicted upon them...

* With 130,000 soldiers still in the heat of battle in Iraq and more fighting and dying in Afghanistan, the Bush administration sought this year to cut $75 a month from the “imminent danger” pay added to soldiers’ paychecks when in battle zones. The administration sought to cut by $150 a month the family separation allowance offered to those same soldiers and others who serve overseas away from their families. Although they were termed “wasteful and unnecessary” by the White House, Congress blocked those cuts this year, largely because of Democratic votes.
* This year’s White House budget for Veterans Affairs cut $3 billion from VA hospitals—despite 9,000 casualties in Iraq and as aging Vietnam veterans demand more care. VA spending today averages $2,800 less per patient than nine years ago.
* The administration also proposed levying a $250 annual charge on all Priority 8 veterans—those with “non-service-related illnesses”—who seek treatment at VA facilities, and seeks to close VA hospitals to Priority 8 veterans who earn more than $26,000 a year.
* Until protests led to a policy change, the Bush administration also was charging injured GIs from Iraq $8 a day for food when they arrived for medical treatment at the Fort Stewart, Georgia, base where most injured are treated.
* In mid-October, the Pentagon, at the request of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, announced plans to shutter 19 commissaries—military-run stores that offer discounted food and merchandise that helps low-paid enlisted troops and their families get by—along with the possiblility of closing 19 more.
* At the same time, the Pentagon also announced it was trying to determine whether to shutter 58 military-run schools for soldiers’ children at 14 military installations.
* The White House is seeking to block a federal judge’s award of damages to a group of servicemen who sued the Iraqi government for torture during the 1991 Gulf War. The White House claims the money, to come from Iraqi assets confiscated by the United States, is needed for that country’s reconstruction.
* The administration beat back a bipartisan attempt in Congress to add $1.3 billion for VA hospitals to Bush’s request of $87 billion for war and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.
* In perhaps its most dangerous policy, the White House is refusing to provide more than 40,000 active-duty troops in Iraq with Kevlar body armor, leaving it up to them and their families to buy this life-saving equipment. This last bit of penny-pinching prompted Pentagon critic and Vietnam veteran Col. David Hackworth to point to “the cost of the extraordinary security” during Bush’s recent trip to Asia, which he noted grimly “would cover a vest for every soldier” in Iraq.
And, let us not forget, "Bring them on":
"There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring them on," Bush said. "We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush's combative tone was not meant to invite attacks on Americans. "I think what the president was expressing there is his confidence in the men and women of the military to handle the military mission they still remain in the middle of," Fleischer said.

But Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., called the president's language "irresponsible and inciteful."

"I am shaking my head in disbelief," Lautenberg said. "When I served in the Army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander — let alone the commander in chief — invite enemies to attack U.S. troops."
The entire country should be shaking it's collective head (and not just for the bungling of this war) but for some reason (9/11, 9/11, 9/11) Bush and his inept administration continue to get a pass from half of our citizenry.

And, don't even get me started on the Democrats...

Too late:
Not with a bang but a whimper
As the protest against Bush's certification fell flat and they rolled over for Gonzales, it was a day of humiliation and futility for Democrats.

For an hour or so Thursday morning, Alberto Gonzales had played a lawyerly game of Slip 'n' Slide with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That 2002 memo in which he called portions of the Geneva Convention "quaint" and "obsolete"? Gonzales disavowed it. His view of the president's powers during wartime? A "hypothetical" question that Gonzales wouldn't answer. The legal opinion that seemed to authorize torture by U.S. troops? Gonzales said he couldn't remember who asked for it, then blamed the Department of Justice for the conclusions it reached.

Democratic Sen. Joe Biden sat quietly, listening to it all. On another day, in another political reality, he might have been watching a presidential nominee self-destruct. The man who would be attorney general was coming off as evasive, as ill-prepared, as unwilling to accept responsibility for anything that happened on his watch as George W. Bush's White House counsel. But when Biden finally had his chance to put a question to Gonzales, he delivered this clear message instead: "You're going to be confirmed."

Thursday was the first serious work day for the 109th Congress, and it was a day of humiliation and futility for the Democrats who still have jobs on Capitol Hill. Republicans picked up four Senate seats and three House seats in November, and signs of the Democrats' increasing powerlessness were everywhere Thursday. In a hearing room in the Hart Senate Office Building, Biden and his Democratic colleagues went through the motions of questioning an attorney general nominee whose confirmation is a foregone conclusion. On the floor of the House of Representatives, a handful of Democrats launched a meaningless protest against the certification of Bush's reelection.
Prediction: If this behavior continues, Democrats will lose even more House and Senate seats in 2006. I'm already sorry I pulled the lever for Charles "Gonzales is Better Than Ashcroft" Schumer. Yes, Chuck, and Hitler was better than Satan.

It will be interesting to see how the Dems play the latest outrage to come out of the Bush Administration:
Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law

Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.
If our "liberal media" is any indication, the Dems will probably underplay it and shy away from attacking Bush. Here's the AP headline for the same story:
Columnist Dropped Over Payments From Gov't
Notice the headline didn't say Education Dept. or Bush Administration? Can you imagine if Clinton had done this? The headline would probably have read:
Clinton Uses Taxpayers' Money to Payoff Liberal Columnist
Don't the Democrats remember 8 solid years of Clinton-bashing and investigations by both the media and Republicans? $50 million of our hard-earned tax dollars were spent on the Indepent Council's Whitewater investigation and, yet, the only thing Ken Starr could find on Clinton was that he lied about an extra-marital affair to protect his family (that's $38 million more than what we spent on the 9/11 commission). Meanwhile, Bush and/or members of his administration lie us into a war that has so far killed 1,353 U.S. soldiers, wounded 10,252 and contributed to the death of 15,000 to 98,000 Iraqis (I guess we can't get "good resolution" on the number of innocent civilians we've killed); condone the use of torture in Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay; out an undercover CIA operative; and buy off at least one conservative columnist with taxpayer dollars. Instead of being impeached, Bush is named "Person of the Year."

Like I said: Enough already.

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