Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Bush way: As Iraq scene worsens, just blame the victims

George W. Bush's Iraq adventure has degenerated into such a quagmire that his administration, in a desperate move, is now blaming the victims of its tragically failed policies instead of taking responsibility for its mistakes and dealing realistically with what the rest of the world has come to recognize as an all-out, civil war. (BBC)

Bush's team believes Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is ineffectual

For example, a leaked White House memo has strongly criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. It "question[ed] his ability to rescue Iraq from turmoil that [has] claim[ed] scores of lives daily, including over 200 killed in a bomb and mortar attack on [Iranian-backed, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's] Baghdad stronghold last week." The document "describes the Iraqi leader as a man who 'wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so' and questions whether he shares Washington's vision for Iraq." The memo asks: "[I]s he able to curb those who seek Shiite hegemony or the reassertion of Sunni power?" - as if it is Maliki's task alone to do so. (Reuters)

Syrian political analyst Sami Moubayed notes in the Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) that Maliki and the U.S. will need some help. He observes: "The keys to stability in Iraq...are in Iran, not in Syria. The Iranians know it. They are biding their time and want to be invited by the Americans to enter Iraq, in a manner similar to the green light given to Syria in Lebanon during the 'uncivil war' in 1976." Nevertheless, "Syria - like Iran - is betting on America's helplessness in Iraq. Despite this drawback, America will still need the help of Damascus and Tehran in Iraq." So far, though, the Bush administration has resolutely refused to communicate directly with the governments of Syria or Iran.

In Baghdad yesterday, policemen walked past the ruins of their vehicle, which was destroyed in a suicide-bombing attack

Meanwhile, even as Washington awaits the imminent release of recommendations about what to do about the Iraq mess from a congressionally appointed committee headed by former U.S. Secretary of State and Republican fix-it man James Baker III, a new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies advises: "The U.S. cannot simply 'stay the course'....There are no truly good options that can guarantee success, and there are many bad ones." The Washington-based think tank's study is titled "Options for Iraq: The Almost Good, the Bad and the Ugly." It "suggests that the U.S. should avoid unilateral options and seek to negotiate new incentives with the Iraqi government and its allies."

Al-Mahdi militiamen affiliated with the Shiite-Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took part in a rally in Basra, in southern Iraq, on Tuesday

The report's author, Anthony Cordesman, is considered one of the most influential analysts of the situation in Iraq today. He remarked: "It is not meaningful to blame Iraq for the problems that exist - these are mistakes that we made in nation-building....When you send a bull in to liberate a china shop, to blame the china shop for the broken china seems disingenuous, if not misleading." The report he wrote "says that the only way the U.S. can hope to stabilize Iraq is by coming clean with the American public about the long-term costs, risks and patience that would be entailed in achieving that goal. And it urges the Bush administration to listen both to the Iraqi government and America's allies in the Middle East and Europe, rather than continue to treat 'million Iraqis as white rats' in an experiment of transplanting democracy." (Financial Times)

War protester’s violent public suicide leaves people wondering

by Tonya Maxwell
Chicago Tribune 30 November 2006

CHICAGO - In the four weeks since his death, strangers have come to their own conclusions about Malachi Ritscher.

He has been pegged as a courageous war protester. Or a man of convictions. Or a depressed, suicidal loner. Or a conflicted soul, plagued by a little of each.

On a crisp morning earlier this month, he focused a video camera in a wide shot of the “Flame of the Millennium” statue, officials familiar with the case said.

He walked into the frame wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a skull mask, then climbed onto the base of the 25-foot abstract sculpture. In front of him, Kennedy Expressway commuters rushed past the banner he had planted near the Ohio Street exit.

“Thou Shalt Not Kill. As Ye Sow So Shall Ye Reap” it read in black ink, and below that, the words “Your Taxes Buy Bombs and Bullets” penned in red.

Ritscher, 52, pulled a United States flag from a container and draped it over his head and shoulders.

He struck a flame and in that moment, became one of only a few dozen people to die by self-immolation in the United States.

He also started a debate about what motivated him to take his life.

One month after Ritscher’s death, on Sunday at 2 p.m., a small, loose-knit group of activists calling themselves I Heard You, Malachi plans to gather at Grand Avenue and Peoria Street to commemorate his death.

Organizer Jennifer Diaz did not know Ritscher but was inspired by his message, saddened by what he did.

“I don’t know what to say about the idea of taking one’s life for a cause, except when it happens, it should not be ignored,” the 28-year-old graduate student said. “It was an act of communication about war and about himself, about how he felt about things. I want people to hear that message.”

Friends and family have tried to make sense of Ritscher’s decision to die by self-immolation.

They have no doubt he wholeheartedly opposed the war in Iraq and believe it was a major factor in his decision.

But loved ones said they don’t know if his mind and heart also were crowded with personal angst: despair, depression, mental illness.

They never knew him to be treated for those types of ailments. They never looked at him and thought he was irrational and needed medical help.

He was, however, thoughtful and meticulous, and many of his friends wonder if he had planned his suicide for weeks or months.

“My actions should be self-explanatory,” he had written in a mission statement, published on his Web site, which has since been shut down.

He wanted to be remembered as a spiritual warrior, as a man who loved God and country and believed the war in Iraq will lead to generations of slaughter, he wrote on his Web site. There, he claimed he once clenched a knife when Donald Rumsfeld happened to walk by and regretted not using it.

Some bloggers have called him deranged, pointing to another Web site Ritscher maintained:

But many, including longtime friend Bruno Johnson, said labeling Ritscher and debating his personal life misses the larger issue.

His last act should be the beginning of a conversation about the war, he said.

We don’t even blink that almost 3,000 Americans have died, that tens of thousands are maimed, that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead. People think that’s normal, but self-immolation is crazy,” said Johnson. “That’s how we perceive life in this country. He wanted people to have more of a realistic dialogue about the world.”

The man Johnson knew prided himself on being a peace activist and was a fixture of Chicago’s avant-garde jazz scene. He made more than 2,000 recordings in clubs around the city, wanting to archive the music he loved.

He also was a packrat, crowding his home with oddities. He had snare drums, saxophones and didgeridoos. He collected fossils of invertebrates called Tully Monsters.

He noted in his self-penned obituary, also online, that he collected glass eyes, though family members said they found none fit for a human socket. All were toys, bits of silliness.

On the Monday after the death, Johnson of Milwaukee received a letter from Ritscher detailing how he was to safeguard his often whimsical collections.

He ended the note with an odd line: “Sorry about the mental-illness thing, it’s not something I would have chosen for myself.”

Strangers track Johnson down occasionally, wanting to talk about Ritscher, a man they never knew. They want a tangible response to the hardest question.


“Some people want to give me some sort of answer,” he said. “They feel the need to discuss it more with somebody, I guess. I think his need was to disseminate this information (about the war). Maybe talking about the suicide does that.”

Answers come no more easily for his family, said his sister, Carol Wahl.

They would prefer to let their private hurt remain private, but they speak because Ritscher’s message was so important to him.

“Is it possible that people decide that, `Now is my time and I want to go out the way I want go out, that this political issue is so important to me and so important to society that I can go out making a statement about it?’ Maybe. I don’t know,” she said.

She can’t quite remember when the Iraq war began bothering her brother. They talked about it occasionally. She knew he attended anti-war demonstrations in Chicago. During one in March 2005, he was held in custody and later sued the city for false arrest. The case settled in August, with Ritscher winning an undisclosed amount.

For Richard Ritscher, 80, his son’s death represents a waste of talent and ability.

His son was a longtime union member and a maintenance engineer at the University of Chicago.

He described himself as “proud to be a dues-paying proletariat intellectual,” an apt description according to his father.

After he moved to Chicago in the early 1980s, Ritscher legally changed his name from Mark to Malachi, the name of a son from whom he was estranged. He told family he admired the Biblical prophet.

In Hebrew, the name means “my messenger.”

He had joy in his life, but also loneliness, he wrote in his obituary.

But Richard Ritscher doesn’t know if depression played a role in his son’s death.

“It’s hard to believe he would do it, but obviously he felt so strongly. Mark - uh, Malachi - loved his country. He just thought what the administration had done is wrong,” his father said.

The videotape remains in police custody, Richard Ritscher said. The family wants it returned once the investigation is complete, he said.

They’ll put it away for a while, likely forever.

“If he thought it would produce results, he would want it shown,” the father said. “I would really doubt we would.”

© 2006, Chicago Tribune.

Zen and the Art of War Repair - Los Angeles CityBeat

Iraq War veterans are using Buddhist practices to make peace with themselves and the horrors of the battlefield


Photo by Max S. Gerber
Decorated Vietnam vet Claude ANSHIN Thomas became a Zen monk to help traUmatized vets

he war is not over for Hollywood resident Eric Stinzo. After coming home from Iraq, the former Marine is one of thousands of new veterans who carry crippling psychological wounds related to their participation in ultra-violence. Worst of all, even those of us who would call men like Stinzo heroes aren’t making their lives any easier.

“I’m having to deal with the reality that I saw a lot of bad things. I’m having a tough time dealing with the civilian casualties,” says Stinzo, 31.

“I feel like Americans, although they seem to be informed by the news, it’s not a reality to them. I feel like most of these people in America feel like it’s watching a movie, and when the movie ends, you leave and you’re back at your normal life,” he adds. “I don’t want to tell people I’m an Iraq veteran, because immediately I’m bombarded with questions, especially the question of having to kill somebody. It’s very frustrating, and it makes me very angry inside.”

Matthew Howard, a 25-year-old from Boston who recently served with a Marines tank battalion, also finds it difficult to relate to those back home. Like Stinzo, he is suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD and affecting as many as one in six Iraq vets, according to a recent Defense Department study. In February, the Journal of the American Medical Association found an even more startling statistic – that 35 percent of Iraq veterans have already sought mental health services.

“You know, on TV, how you see the flashbacks and the nightmares? That is actually very real and it has happened. Mine is more like general sadness. My heart breaks every time I turn on the news. My eyes just water up,” says Howard.

In an attempt to deal with the scars war has left on their lives, these veterans and more than a dozen others attended a retreat last weekend at the Zen Center of Los Angeles led by Claude Anshin Thomas, a Vietnam veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross, yet found Zen Buddhist practices the only way to adjust to life after war.

After leaving Vietnam in 1967, Thomas suffered from debilitating PTSD symptoms that caused him to turn to alcohol and drugs, eventually even leaving his wife and son. In the late 1980s, he pursued Zen teachings after attending a retreat with famed monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and in 1995 he became a Zen monk.

As described in his book, At Hell’s Gate: A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace, PTSD had wracked him with memories of exploding bombs and dead children, leaving him alienated from society and uncomfortable with himself. In fact, he says now, combat veterans are forever changed by the horrors of war, and only through confronting trauma, as he teaches through meditation and other disciplined spiritual practices, can they recover any sense of normalcy.

“There is no going back. It’s like Alice in Wonderland, stepping through the looking-glass. We’re forever affected. We have to learn to adjust to our life. In the process of waking up to how we’ve been affected, the consequences of that are absolutely phenomenal,” he says.

“What I understand is healing is impossible without going through that suffering. What I’m attempting to do is create a safe space where that information will start to become accessible to them,” he adds.

Jeff Key, a 40-year-old Marine living in Hollywood and now attending his second retreat with Thomas, says he was initially a skeptic, but found Zen techniques of calm, deliberate action very helpful in working through the pain.

“I had some reservations that it was going to be proselytizing for Buddhism, but it’s not about that. It’s about meditation and mindful living. Even our meals are done with a measure of reverence. We chew each bite and sit in silence. I eat so many meals standing over my kitchen sink, it’s embarrassing to admit,” says Key, who helped organize the Zen Center retreat as head of the Mehadi Foundation, which he created to help vets with PTSD and related issues. Those practices “helped me deal with feelings of anger and sadness about this war,” he says.

For retreat participant and Vietnam veteran Bill Butler, a 61-year-old from Altadena who was drafted into the Army in 1969, the challenges faced by those returning from Iraq parallel his own experience. “Those things are always with me,” he says of the memories of war. “I don’t have dysfunctional flashbacks, but they come up at odd times.”

Butler, a retired manager with the L.A. County Office of Emergency Management, says the most troubling experiences, which he found he shared with one recent vet, are encounters with the civilian population. Whether searching villages in the jungle or raiding homes in the desert, “We were going in with all of our power and intimidating and using force to disrupt the daily lives of people in their homes. He and I shared a certain sense of guilt over that kind of mission.”

Dealing with feelings of guilt is a major part of healing, says Thomas. He also teaches that those back home whose lifestyles promote conflict are more responsible than soldiers for allowing war to happen.

“The more we have, the less somebody else has, which creates suffering, which feeds that cycle of war, violence – and just because I listen to National Public Radio and Democracy Now! doesn’t mean I’m really doing anything to change the circumstances of war. If I want the world to be different, I have to live differently,” Thomas says.

“That’s where a lot of my anger, resentment, and bitterness came from. With coming back home, I felt so much anger towards these people. Whether it was justified or not. So I just chose to move,” says Howard, who now lives in Canada because of American support for the war and the Bush administration.

For his part, Thomas sees himself not as a leader, but as a facilitator of methods that allow people to engage their own experience.

Another type of immersion- or exposure-style therapy, meanwhile, is being embraced by government officials for treatment of PTSD. The Office of Naval Resources has funded researchers at USC’s Institute of Creative Technology to develop virtual-reality programs that can be used to help victims of PTSD confront the sights, sounds, and even smells of their traumatic experiences. Two such treatment facilities were installed last month at Camp Pendleton and the Naval Medical Hospital in San Diego, according to Skip Rizzo, a psychologist with the institute.

By slowly introducing a patient to a virtual reality situation – starting behind the wheel of a Humvee on a desert road, then adding in smoke, producing the odor of burning rubber, introducing the sound of bullets and helicopters above – “eventually they habituate, or the fear extinguishes. They’re in that environment and nothing bad happens. The emotional response becomes less and less anxiety-provoking,” says Rizzo.

Thomas likens that idea to his own healing practices. “When I talk about healing, I talk about learning to live in a different relationship with how we’ve been affected,” says Thomas, who nonetheless expresses distrust for government programs and intentions. After all, it is government that runs the mechanisms of war. Ultimately, coming to grips with trauma is about self-empowerment, a handicap becoming an asset.

“One of Claude’s big things is that your story needs to be told. I have a new sense of purpose to go home to my family and tell them exactly what I’ve seen,” says Howard. “They need to hear exactly what happened, and I’m ready to do that after this weekend.”

he war is not over for Hollywood resident Eric Stinzo. After coming home from Iraq, the former Marine is one of thousands of new veterans who carry crippling psychological wounds related to their participation in ultra-violence. Worst of all, even those of us who would call men like Stinzo heroes aren’t making their lives any easier.

“I’m having to deal with the reality that I saw a lot of bad things. I’m having a tough time dealing with the civilian casualties,” says Stinzo, 31.

“I feel like Americans, although they seem to be informed by the news, it’s not a reality to them. I feel like most of these people in America feel like it’s watching a movie, and when the movie ends, you leave and you’re back at your normal life,” he adds. “I don’t want to tell people I’m an Iraq veteran, because immediately I’m bombarded with questions, especially the question of having to kill somebody. It’s very frustrating, and it makes me very angry inside.”


Coffin draped with an American flag came down a luggage conveyor

Soldier's coffin at center of furor

(November 30, 2006) — A woman says she saw a soldier's flag-draped coffin put into a cart with passengers' baggage last month at the Greater Rochester International Airport, shocking her and other onlookers.

"It looked awful, just awful," Cynthia Hoag, 56, of Dansville, Livingston County, said Wednesday. "Maybe we made too much out of it, but it was very disturbing to us. If that had been my son, I would have been very upset."

Officials dispute Hoag's story, saying it is implausible. They did not disclose the name of the fallen soldier, but he appears to be Army Sgt. 1st Class Tony Knier of Sabinsville, Pa., who was killed in Iraq on Oct. 21.

A Pennsylvania funeral director confirmed on Wednesday night that he transported Knier's body from the Rochester airport on Oct. 27, the day Hoag was there. Monroe County officials said the coffin was being taken to Pennsylvania.

Knier's mother was appalled when she was told Wednesday night that the incident might have involved the body of her 31-year-old son, a husband and father of three young children. Knier's funeral was Oct. 31 near his home in Wellsboro, Pa.

"If that's what that lady saw, I'm outraged. I'm really upset, because my son died for this country. " said Betty Tidwell, who lives in Tennessee. "He gave all he had to this country. And for them to do that to him, that just upsets the hell out of me."

Hoag wrote an op-ed essay that was published Tuesday in the Democrat and Chronicle, describing what she says she saw.

Based on Hoag's account, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks called on the federal government Wednesday to change procedures to prevent a similar incident, saying what happened is an "outrage."

Hoag explained that as she waited at the airport with friends, she saw a soldier in uniform standing at attention near a commercial airplane as the luggage came off. She then saw a coffin draped with an American flag come down a luggage conveyor on the runway.

The coffin was put into a baggage cart with other luggage and driven off with the uniformed soldier in the cart.

"I saw the casket of a fallen soldier, saluted by a lone soldier, and then placed in a baggage cart," she wrote. "Baggage."

Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith was unaware of the incident late Wednesday but said the witness' description doesn't correlate with military procedure.

Remains from a soldier killed in Iraq are taken to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, then usually flown to a soldier's home, she said. Military escorts accompany each flight, whether domestic or military. When the coffin reaches the home area, it is met by an honor guard of two people and then transported to a funeral home, she said.

"We do everything to ensure that proper respect is given to the fallen service members and their families," Smith said.

Airport officials said it's a problem that notification of the airport is not required when a soldier's coffin is en route. Airport Director David Damelio said he wasn't aware that the soldier's body had been transported through Rochester until Hoag's letter was published.

"We're not notified unless the military or the family chooses to notify us," he said, adding that the airport often makes special arrangements at the request of soldiers' families.

Yet Damelio said Hoag's story doesn't make sense and said the Defense Department has always shown great care with soldiers' coffins.

Procedurally, a coffin wouldn't come down a luggage belt with other baggage, he said.

Also, a baggage cart isn't large enough to fit a coffin and other luggage, he said.

"It couldn't happen. It's physically impossible," Damelio said.

He said the airport was unable to find video of the incident.

Nonetheless, the witness' description prompted Brooks to urge the Defense Department to change policies on the transportation of the coffins of dead soldiers.

"It is unfathomable to me that our federal government would allow a fallen military hero to be returned home in this manner, and then transport him along with someone's checked luggage," Brooks, a Republican, wrote in a terse letter to the Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.

Brooks said the Defense Department should be required to notify an airport when the coffin of a fallen soldier is being transported so that proper arrangements are ensured.

"I am asking you to do whatever is necessary to end this abhorrent practice," Brooks wrote. "Our military personnel and our veterans deserve better."

below: mosiac of fallen American soldiers in the Iraq war

Sunday, November 26, 2006

She Survived Iraq -- Then Shot Herself at Home

She Survived Iraq -- Then Shot Herself at Home

By Greg Mitchell

Published: November 13, 2006 12:10 PM ET

NEW YORK Her name doesn't show on any official list of American military deaths in the Iraq war, by hostile or non-hostile fire, who died in that country or in hospitals in Europe or back home in the USA. But Iraq killed her just as certainly.

She is Jeanne "Linda" Michel, a Navy medic. She came home last month to her husband and three kids (ages 11, 5, and 4), delighted to be back in her suburban home of Clifton Park in upstate New York. Michel, 33, would be discharged from the Navy in a few weeks, finishing her five years of duty.

Two weeks after she got home, she shot and killed herself.

"She had come through a lot and she had always risen to challenges," her husband, Frantz Michel, who has also served in Iraq, lamented last week. Now he asks why the Navy didn't do more to help her.

Michel's story has now been probed by reporter Kate Gurnett in today's Albany Times-Union. It's headlined, "A casualty far from the battlefield."

And yet, in many ways, not far at all.

Why did it happen? "Like thousands of others returning from Iraq, her mental state was fractured," Gurnett explains. "And it went untreated. Within two weeks, Linda Michel would become a private casualty of war. Re-entry into the world of peace can be harder than deployment, experts say. Picking up where you left off doesn't just happen. ...

"Women experience stronger forms of post-traumatic stress disorder and have higher PTSD rates, experts say. In response, the Veterans Affairs Department launched a $6 million study of female veterans.
Seeking treatment -- seen by some as a weakness -- may be even tougher for women, who still feel the need to prove themselves to men in military service."

In fact, this past August, three veterans in New York's Adirondack region committed suicide within three weeks, according to Helena Davis, deputy director of the Mental Health Association in New York.

Michel has served under extremely stressful conditions at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, a U.S-run prison where guards shot four inmates dead in a 2005 riot -- and an episode of female mudwrestling drew headlines. Michel was treated for depression and prescribed Paxil, but they took her off that medicine when she returned home. Her husband was not informed.

"I just wish the Navy would have done some more follow-up, instead of just letting her come home," Frantz, who is on the division staff of the Army National Guard, told the reporter. "If somebody needs Paxil in a combat zone, then that's not the place for them to be. You either send them to a hospital or you send them home and then make sure that the family members know and that they get follow-up care."

He has pressed the Navy for answers: "Why wasn't she sent to a facility to resolve the issues? Not keep her in Iraq and give her some antidepressant medication and then just send her home. So those are the answers that I don't have. Which makes me a little angry because I know what is supposed to occur."

The Times Union carried another lengthy story on Sunday, by Dennis Yusko, on post-traumatic stress syndome (PTSD) and Iraq veterans. "The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans getting treatment for PTSD at VA hospitals and counseling centers increased 87 percent from September 2005 to June 2006 -- to 38,144, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs," Yusko revealed.

"At least 30 percent of those who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan are now diagnosed with PTSD, up from 16 percent to 18 percent in 2004, said Charlie Kennedy, PTSD program director and lead psychologist at the Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Of the 400 Capital Region vets in the program, 81 served in Iraq or Afghanistan, Kennedy said, and that number is growing. 'This kind of warfare is devastating,' Kennedy said. 'You don't know who is your friend and who is your enemy.'"

Friday, November 24, 2006

Iraq conflict passes WWII - World -

Iraq conflict passes WWII

Cynthia Banham
November 24, 2006

THEY were America's days of infamy, 60 years apart - Pearl Harbour and September 11. The first led the US into World War II, a conflict it endured for 1348 days; the second was followed by a war that from tomorrow will have lasted even longer.

America's involvement in Iraq will reach that milestone at a time when the clamour for withdrawal has never been louder, and the possibility of achieving it has never seemed so difficult. The decisive end of World War II in 1945 delivers no lessons that could be applied to a very different war in a very different era.

If anything, things seem to be getting worse, the options less appealing. Baghdad is reeling from the deadliest assault on Iraqi civilians since the start of the US invasion in March 2003. At least 200 people died and more than 250 were injured after six car bombs, mortar attacks and missiles battered the Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City.

Plumes of black smoke and anguished screams rose above a chaotic landscape of flames and charred cars, witnesses said.

Violence later spread to other neighbourhoods in retaliatory attacks across Baghdad, even as politicians and senior religious clerics appealed for calm.

The Iraqi Government locked down the capital with an indefinite curfew and shut the airport to commercial flights.

It is a long way from Mission Accomplished - the banner that decorated a US aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003 as the US President, George Bush, proclaimed the end of "major combat operations". Forty-four months on, Americans still count the cost of the war: more than 2860 US soldiers dead, more than 21,000 injured.

Those figures do not compare with US casualties in World War II, when 406,000 American soldiers died and 671,000 were wounded. But the Iraq campaign has become a symbol of the pitfalls of a new style of conflict - a war against an ill-defined enemy with no end in sight.

American politicians have not failed to note the symbolism of the milestone.

The top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin, pointed to it as he pushed for a phased withdrawal within four to six months.

"We are 3 years into a conflict which has already lasted longer than the Korean conflict and almost as long as World War II. We should put the responsibility for Iraq's future squarely where it belongs: on the Iraqis."

In Canberra, the Prime Minister, John Howard, acknowledged Iraq was "going through a bad phase" and that nobody was "other than horrified at the continued loss of life". Mr Howard said any change in the role of Australia's troops would depend on "what's involved in any possible British reduction" of its commitment.

"We haven't agreed to anything else and if there are any proposals that we do something differently, well they will have to be assessed on their merits and according to our judgement as to whether it's appropriate."

appealing. Baghdad is reeling from the deadliest assault on Iraqi civilians since the start of the US invasion in March 2003. At least 200 people died and more than 250 were injured after six car"

Saturday, November 18, 2006

VIDEO: Michael Moore's message

VIDEO :Michael Moore's response to Kerry's Comment

A comment posted on You Tube: "His is a reminder for us to get back on topic. Not hold on to one joke that one dumb politician messed up refering to another dumb politician because it sounds like he meant the troops. This war that's going on that is killing young men and women is still a mistake. At least I hope it's a mistake. And it should end, and will end if we stay on topic and vote the bums out!

Friday, November 17, 2006

"And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq" -Sen. Kerry

Kerry Belittles U.S. Troops

Gene Weingarten, Washington Post Writers Group

WASHINGTON - As a civic-minded American, you probably learned an important lesson from the negativity-soiled election season that just ended. The lesson was clear, wasn't it?

I'm thinking in particular of the fabulous John Kerry incident, where the former presidential candidate appeared to inform a college audience that the American troops in Iraq were slackers, dropouts and idiots. A careful examination of what he said and how he said it reveals that Kerry was not being elitist, unpatriotic or callous. It was far worse. He was doing lousy stand-up.

That's the lesson: Leave humor to the professionals.

Remember the "joke"? Talking about education, Kerry said, "If you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." What he meant to say was along the lines of " ... if you don't, you'll end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq."

Studying the video, you could almost see the flop sweat as Kerry was trying to lurch and stagger his way to the end of that sentence. He looks down at his notes. No help there. Maybe he lost his place. So he looks up, panic in his eyes, and delivers that final phrase -- his punch line, his payload! It landed with a nauseating splat, like a pancreas hitting the operating room floor.

The man is as strait-laced as a whalebone corset, as rigid as Formica. His business is politics. He should never be anywhere near a joke.


Here is an actual Jerry Seinfeld joke: The problem with mall garages is that everything looks the same. They try to differentiate between levels: different colors, different numbers, different letters. What they need to do is name the levels like, "Your Mother's a Whore." You would remember that. You would go: "No, we're not here. We're in 'My Father's an Abusive Alcoholic.'"

The same Jerry Seinfeld joke, as John Kerry might tell it: The problem with mall garages is that your mother's a whore.

Of course, the instant that Kerry's speech became public, and it was evident that he had been guilty of doofusry but not callousness, everyone backed off, even his political adversaries, in the spirit of decency and fair play. This occurred on the planet Nice, a parallel universe that shares Earth's orbit but is always on the other side of the sun, so we don't know it's there.

Here on Earth, however, Kerry's savage, unprovoked attack on the intelligence and competence of the troops was officially deplored by hundreds of Republicans who had apparently injected turkey-baster-size doses of Botox to keep a straight face.

What is the penalty for not leaving humor to the pros? Death. Kerry is dead! The day before, he was exploring his chances for a 2008 presidential bid. If the speech was a trial balloon, it was filled with cow methane.

Kerry still had a slim chance to recover, but he didn't see it. The only way to be acquitted of the crime of impersonating a humorist is to get a humorist's help for the apology. Alas, no. His was the sort of grudging, truculent non-apology so common in Washington:

"I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform ..."

Borrr-ing ...

Here's the apology I would have written for him.

"As I stand humbly before you today, a man who resembles a severely constipated mortician ..."

(Pause for laughter.)

"... I wish to apologize for my statement yesterday, which was widely misinterpreted to suggest I thought the American troops in Iraq are stupid. That was funny, when you think about it, since I was being the stupid one. It was like the pot calling the kettle black."

(Looks down at notes. Looks up, panicked.)

"Wait. I'm not calling the troops black. I meant that I am the one who is black. I mean stupid."

(Pause for laughter.)

"No, wait. I am white. And some of the troops are black, but not in a bad way!"

(Pause for laughter.)

"I mean there's nothing wrong with being black! Black is good! I mean ..."

(Takes a drink. Spills it all over self. Slips on water, falls on butt.)

(Thunderous applause.)

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Daddy Bush's old team comming in to help Jr. with his BIG problem and Time Magizine reporting Germany want's Rumsfeld and others tried for war crime.

Monday, November 06, 2006

FOX News Correspondent Gets Waterboarded

It's still torture.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Video: Bush on Torture

The poster wrote: If you want to see the beauty of body language at work, watch this interview. First, Bush is all over Matt Lauer -- check out the pointing and the aggressiveness. Then, when it's clear that Lauer's not buying it, he starts saying that he won't talk about what he's already been talking about.

Friday, November 03, 2006

VIDEO: Mr. Vice President - they have you on film, so don't lie

Cheney: I never linked Iraq with 9/11. Oh really?

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Dubose and Bernstein show in this thorough, rollicking career biography that it's Cheney-not the more publicly criticized Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice or President Bush-who is chiefly responsible for the most unpopular aspects of the Bush regime: an imperial executive office and foreign policy; abandonment of democratic ideals (respect for government checks and balances, the Geneva Convention, the Bill of Rights and the Freedom of Information Act); and questionable corporate-government colusion (the secret energy task force, Halliburton's government contracts in Iraq). Tracing Cheney through three White House adminsitrations, six terms in the House of Representatives, and a tour as Halliburton CEO, the portrait that emerges from these pages is both alarming and compelling; like a J.R. Ewing, Cheney proves to be the kind of fascinating figure you love to hate. As obstacles to Cheney's will-Congress, the Constitution, foreign countries, the press, or other politicians-are sidestepped, ignored, or trammeled, Cheney emerges as a classic Machiavellian; in Cheney's case, it appears that the end which justifies the means is power, pure and simple. Against Cheney, idealistic liberals who believe that an appeal to democratic ideals, the Constitution, or basic decency will work with this administration emerge here as painfully naïve; unfortunately, this realization has only settled in after the damage was already done. Dubose and Bernstein present a sobering and darkly flattering expose of the reclusive power behind the throne, and a grim vision of what his legacy may be

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