Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bush Makes America Filthy On Your Dime

So today we learn that under Shrub, the EPA is pursuing fewer criminal prosecutions against polluters. Surprised?

"The slower pace of enforcement mirrors a decline in resources for pursuing environmental wrongdoing. The EPA now employs 172 investigators in its Criminal Investigation Division, below the minimum of 200 agents required by the 1990 Pollution Prosecution Act, signed by President George H.W. Bush.

The actual number of investigators available at any time is even smaller, agents said, because they sometimes are diverted to other duties, such as service on EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson's eight-person security detail.

Johnson, President Bush's chief environmental regulator, foreshadowed a less confrontational approach toward enforcement when he served as the EPA's top deputy in late 2004. "The days of the guns and badges are over," Johnson told a group of farm producers in Georgia the day before Bush won reelection, according to a news account of the speech.

Prosecutors and agency employees blame the diversion of funds to the war on terror, but 9-11 or not, the funding was promised to banish before that Tuesday. And the result of not being convicted guilty of poisoning Americans?

The Justice Department in August also touted a plea bargain with IMC Shipping Co. that required the Singapore ship operator to pay $10 million in connection with a massive oil spill in 2004 that killed thousands of birds in Alaska's Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

Prosecutors told the court they had enough evidence to indict the company for criminal negligence under the Clean Water Act and for making false statements early in the investigation. But the deal they reached called for guilty pleas to two counts of violating the Refuse Act and one violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Prosecutors cited the company's cooperation for the leniency.

The decision to drop the negligence charges could be valuable to the company, which as a result remains eligible to seek reimbursement from a special government fund for $77 million of the more than $100 million it has spent cleaning up the spill.

The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund -- administered by the U.S. Coast Guard and funded by a special oil tax -- can reimburse shippers for all cleanup costs not covered by insurance, but only if the incident does not involve gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Let's see what it costs to spill oil if you cut a plea bargin under Bush. Instead of paying the $100 million in clean up fees and the $10 million in fines, you pay $23 million in clean up costs and $10 million in fines. Which means that Bush just used your tax money to say a loyal oil company $77 million dollars. How sweet, he bought you an oil spill!!. Just another example of Republicans being responsible with money? As Barbie says, "math is hard!"

My wallet just said ouch!!

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Evict Blackwater and Get Your End to the War

So today five witnesses and one senior Iraqi police officer gave public testimony against Blackwater, attesting that the mercenaries opened fire without provocation in the September 16th shooting incident in Baghdad, which left at least eleven innocent civilians dead. Blackwater mercenaries involved claimed last Friday to ABC NEWS that they opened fire on a white car after if refused to give way to them in rush-hour traffic... even after they threw water bottles at it and gave the driver the finger. After an outraged Prime Minister Maliki announced his intention to hurl Blackwater out of his country, he was pressured by a phone call from Secretary of State Condollezza Rice. If Blackwater was gone the next day, the occupation would be shut down. Crying shame, really.

The horror continues... despite claims by representatives, Blackwater didn't kill those civilians in defense of any State Department officials. The timeline works like this: a car bomb went off near a place their "State" was visiting. Half an hour later, as they are leaving to go back to the Green Zone, Blackwater dispatches two other groups to help escort them back. TST-22, the first group of back-up finds the original group, and escorts them back to the Green Zone. TST-23, the second group gets "delayed," which given it's a group of men in SUVs read "lost and refused to stop for directions." TST-23 ends up in a crowded traffic circle, and gives in to a fit of bloody road-rage, then flees back to the Green Zone. TST-22 doubles back to provide protection for TST-23, and ends up in the traffic circle after they have left. At which point, TST-22 end up surrounded by a quick-reaction force from the Iraqi Army with it's large caliber machine guns. A US military QRF scrambled onto the scene to mediate before Blackwater got slaughtered, and TST-22 retreated to the Green Zone. You read me right, our "money-saving" mercenaries had to be rescued by the real deal. Yet another classic bail-out of a bad private investment scheme.

The State Department released a report yesterday detailing how in fact, Blackwater is quite trigger-happy.

"The officials said that Blackwater’s incident rate was at least twice that recorded by employees of DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, the two other United States-based security firms that have been contracted by the State Department to provide security for diplomats and other senior civilians in Iraq.

The State Department would not comment on most matters relating to Blackwater, citing the current investigation. But Sean McCormack, the department’s spokesman, said that of 1,800 escort missions by Blackwater this year, there had been “only a very small fraction, very small fraction, that have involved any sort of use of force.”

In 2005, DynCorp reported 32 shootings during about 3,200 convoy missions, and in 2006 that company reported 10 episodes during about 1,500 convoy missions. While comparable Blackwater statistics were not available, government officials said the firm’s rate per convoy mission was about twice DynCorp’s."

What is the State Department afraid of if it has to conceal this information? Accountability?

The Pentagon hurried to show their equal support for Blackwater with a $92 million dollar contract. The money goes to Blackwater's aviation subsidiary Presidental Airways... who killed three American soldiers by flying a helicopter into the side of a mountain. Right after one of the Blackwater pilots assured his passengers that "All we want is to avoid seeing rock at twelve o'clock" Yes, because you should give $92 million dollars to men who can't tell mountain from clear sky. Given the difference.

And despite the infusion of cash, there may be more blood in the water than people think. Just last Wednesday, "the North Carolina private military contractor canceled a $5.5 million deal to buy 1,800 acres of farmland near Fort Bragg, where it was going to set up a training ground for soldiers and corporate executives." Blackwater refused to officially comment to the press, of course. And in a little story from September 9th there's more innocent blood in Iraq that's on Blackwater's hands:

A clerk in the Iraqi customs office in Diyala province, she was in the capital to drop off and pick up paperwork at the central office near busy al Khilani Square, not far from the fortified Green Zone, where top U.S. and Iraqi officials live and work. U.S. officials often pass through the square in heavily guarded convoys on their way to other parts of Baghdad.

As Hussein walked out of the customs building, an embassy convoy of sport-utility vehicles drove through the intersection. Blackwater security guards, charged with protecting the diplomats, yelled at construction workers at an unfinished building to move back. Instead, the workers threw rocks. The guards, witnesses said, responded with gunfire, spraying the intersection with bullets.

Hussein, who was on the opposite side of the street from the construction site, fell to the ground, shot in the leg. As she struggled to her feet and took a step, eyewitnesses said, a Blackwater security guard trained his weapon on her and shot her multiple times. She died on the spot, and the customs documents she'd held in her arms fluttered down the street.

Before the shooting stopped, four other people were killed in what would be the beginning of eight days of violence that Iraqi officials say bolster their argument that Blackwater should be banned from working in Iraq.

So beyond a few dropping jaws, where is the liberal outrage? Rice was clear enough with her marching orders for people who want a change in Iraq. Get rid of Blackwater and it all comes tumbling down...

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ending Poverty for the Average Federal Employee

So today let's note a rather unusual book out there in the slew of presidential hopeful pulp-novelas: Ending Poverty in America: How to Restore the American Dream. The book contains only an essay by Democratic hopeful John Edwards, and the meat of the book at least isn't endless puffing about how he's going to fix everything that's wrong with you. Instead, it's a collection of essays by both liberals and conservatives, produced by the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. These essays are scientifically based studies of the nature of poverty and both the successes and failures of recent American policy in creating a fair economy for all of us. The collection begins centered around a simple set of irrefutable statistics:

"In 2005, 37 million Americans- about 1 in 8 people- lived below the income poverty level, defined as $19,874 for a family of 4. Almost 13 million were children under 18... The income gap between the rich and poor is growing as well: in 2005 the top 20% of U.S. households received over half of all income, while the bottom 20% of households received only about 3% of total income. Wealth inequalities are also on the rise: in 2004 the top 1% of households by income held more than a third of all net worth and financial assets. Approximately 80% of stock is held by the top ten percent of wealthy households; the poorest 40% of households own less than 1% of all stocks... Over 46 million Americans (about 16% of the population) lacked health insurance coverage in 2005... over 27 million workers are employed with no health insurance."

What does a poverty statistic mean on a personal level? How accurate is this idea that passing over $19,874 will enable parents to care for two children? Heck, what about single young women working for the federal government to defend the nation against terrorism? Let's calculate the cost of living for one such employee: $9,600 Rent ($800 a month, 1 bedroom), $1,960 Food ($35 a week), $2400 Gas (1 hour commute), $740 Insurance USAA, $396 Work Parking Permit, $1,920 Retirement Savings, $1,440 Health Insurance Co-Pay, $140 Prescriptions (No Birth Control), $100 Emergency Room Co-Pay, $230 New Tires, $480 Cell Phone, $252 Internet Services, $60 Bank Fees, $370 Vet Bills for 1 Cat, $1,940 Car Repairs, $120 AAA, $60 (3 $20) Haircuts, $270 Plane ticket to see dying grandfather, $120 Contact Lenses, $180 Dentist plus x-rays, $380 Holiday Gifts (including Birthdays and Christmas). Not included: Thanksgiving Dinner, Booze, Christmas Tree, Easter Eggs, clothing of any kind, movie tickets, books or magazines, Starbucks, Halo 3, dating, make-up, cable television, laundry detergent. Yes, I need the Internet, as a college student. The cell phone serves as a stand in for a land line. Total Cost for 1 Year: $23,158.

Base Salary? $23,700. A cost of living adjustment raises the total to $27,100. After $3,523 in federal taxes and $813 in state taxes, take home pay would equal $22,764. Rumors on several job sites are that pay is $33,000 and that is not true. For those of you who are curious, the cost in salary and benefits of TSA for 2007 will cost $3.45 billion, at an approximate cost of $1.91 per passenger, and $1.65 per checked bag. The cost per passenger includes the cost of screening carry-on luggage. How interesting it would be to ask passengers how much they think it costs to screen them in terms of labor. The above recounting of expenses includes $26 in prescription co-pays for medication after needing four stitches for an on-the-job-injury, my second in as many years after surviving ten years in retail with a clean record.

Edward's book notes that "One in four people who work full-time, year round, still earn less than the amount of money needed to keep a family of four above the poverty threshold... The single parent with three children, working a full 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year, must earn $9.55 an hour to stay at the poverty line." So basically what you have here is the cold hard economic fact that a fighting the war on terror won't even allow you to provide for yourself, let alone a spouse and two children, without massive government assistance or going without health insurance. And several of my coworkers follow the later track in order to come up with money for their families, betting against the odds that all of their medical needs can be solved with extra sleep and Tylenol. Times I have required medical care in the past year? Three times with my family practice and one emergency room visit after an allergic reaction to a steroid inhaler in the middle of the night. Not that I am completely innocent, I agree, having twice had overdraft charges of $34 dollars for a total of $68 in the past year.

The Congressional Budget Office reports that between 1979 and 2000, the income of the top 1% of Americans grew 184%. Top 5th grew 70%. The real income of the bottom 5th grew only 6%. Edwards's book notes that inter generational mobility has stagnated to the point that "it would take a poor family of four with two children approximately 9 to 10 generations- over 200 years- to achieve the income of the middle-income four-person family... A son whose father earns about $16,000 a year has only a 5% chance of earning over $55,000 per year." Meanwhile, the CBO has just released two estimates of the cost of staying in Iraq. For the favored Republican scenario of continued combat operations, the estimated cost is $25 billion per year. For the favored Democrat scenario of non-combat peace-keeping operations, the estimated cost is only $10 billion per year. Both scenarios use conservative estimates on the necessity to replace equipment and armor. Some one's going to have to pay for all of this, and sorry to you war-mongers out there, but this federal employee is running in the budgetary red.

More voices are speaking up about what our money has been buying us in Iraq: Foreign Policy's Terrorism Index.

"The outcome of the war in Iraq may now rest in large part on the success or failure of the so-called surge. Beginning in February, the White House sent an additional 28,000 U.S. troops to Baghdad in an effort to quell the violence there. Securing the capital with overwhelming force is a key component of the anti-insurgency plan developed by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq and the military’s foremost expert on counterinsurgency tactics. It took until June for all the U.S. forces to be put in place, and the number of American troops in Iraq is now at its highest level since 2005. But is Petraeus’s plan working?

The index’s experts don’t think so. More than half say the surge is having a negative impact on U.S. national security, up 22 percentage points from just six months ago. This sentiment was shared across party lines, with 64 percent of conservative experts saying the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact at all. When the experts were asked to grade the government’s handling of the Iraq war, the news was even worse. They gave the overall effort in Iraq an average point score of just 2.9 on a 10-point scale. The government’s public diplomacy record was the only policy that scored lower.

These negative opinions may result in part from the experts’ apparent belief that, a decade from now, the world will still be reeling from the consequences of the war. Fifty-eight percent of the index’s experts say that in 10 years’ time, Sunni-Shiite tensions in the Middle East will have dramatically increased. Thirty-five percent believe that Arab dictators will have been discouraged from reforming. Just 5 percent, on the other hand, believe that al Qaeda will be weaker, whereas only 3 percent believe Iraq will be a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. If true, the surge, or any other tactical shift for that matter, was probably already too little, too late."

Americans need to get over their love affair with movie stars and cowboys as Presidents. Certainly doesn't make the world safer, or fairer, or more democratic. As a democrat, I want a renewed commitment to the ideals of democracy, towards compassion and justice. I want to see America renewed in the beauty that democracies are able to produce, in their bustling cities and the equal allocation of riches to it's people, the wealthy and the worker. Instead of tax breaks for corporations, I want workers to have the right to show each other their paychecks without getting fired. Instead of private mercenaries used to secure oil reserves, I want trained and armored US soldiers deployed to end on-going genocide. I want to be able to travel to my job on public transportation, I want utility companies brought under control, I want spammers put out of business. And I want the American Dream for myself, to be able to put away money for a new car and use my tuition to reduce my tax-burden even though I don't itemize.

I want a President who believes in the noble endeavor that democratic government was created to bring about in the world, instead of being pledged to destroy it in the name of private profit. John Edwards saves his remarks until everyone else at his Center has been given a chance to contribute, and he makes a point of including everyone's good ideas towards creating a wonderful future for America... both conservatives and liberals. And it's a good vision, about us as a people... a way to give up terror and war, in exchange for hope and peace.

"The American people understand that no one who works full-time should live in poverty... Let us set a national goal-the elimination of poverty in America in 30 years. It will not be easy, but I believe in the unlimited power of the American people to accomplish anything we set our hearts and minds to acheive. If we do not rest until poverty is history, it will be."

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Hidden Pentagon Conservatives Corrupt US Snipers

So today we get more sordid details the the case of US snipers on trial for killing an Iraqi man out mowing his lawn. The facts of the case are that Spec. Jorge Sandoval and Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley stand accused by the military of shooting an innocent Iraqi out cutting grass with a rusty sickle, and then planting a spool of wire on his dead body to make the shooting look legitimate. Meanwhile, other snipers in the same unit, who face discipline for falling asleep while on a mission, have come forward to reveal the secret program they were recruited for by members of the Pentagon's Asymmetric Warfare Group. In January, these conservatives visited the snipers and passed out boxes of bait: ammunition, wire and explosives. The snipers were to litter the ground in a hostile area with these items, and shoot anyone who picked them up. Like someone annoyed that there was litter in the middle of the street.

"Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, said in a sworn statement. "Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces."

..."We don't discuss specific methods targeting enemy combatants," said Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman. "The accused are charged with murder and wrongfully placing weapons on the remains of Iraqi nationals. There are no classified programs that authorize the murder of local nationals and the use of 'drop weapons' to make killings appear legally justified."

It is unclear whether the program reached elsewhere in Iraq and how many people were killed through the baiting tactics.

Members of the sniper platoon have said they felt pressure from commanders to kill more insurgents because U.S. units in the area had taken heavy losses. The sniper unit -- dubbed "the painted demons" because of the use of tiger-stripe face paint -- often went on missions into hostile areas to intercept insurgents going to and from hidden weapons caches.

"It's our job out here to lay people down who are doing bad things," Spec. Joshua L. Michaud testified in Iraq in July, discussing the unit's numerous casualties. "I don't want to call it revenge, but we needed to find a way so that we could get the bad guys the right way and still maintain the right military things to do."

While neither Sandoval or Hensley themselves had been debriefed and included, of course they found out about the program in short order. They saw the white ammunition boxes go out with other snipers, and saw those snipers come in with "kills" of Iraqis who had possession of those items, to the great satisfaction of their commanders. Now of course, we find out where this bright idea devolves to, when you are all alone on a dark street of an Iraqi province, with commanders waiting back at camp for that kill count. Some rise above temptation and some become seduced... Increasingly, the best of our soldiers, such as these, are finding a way out of our military.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a "time-sensitive target acquisition mission" on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse - namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Open Call to Boycott China's "Genocide Olympics"

So today we will take a cold-hearted look at the 63% of Americans who would boycott China over product saftey and the fact that they eat dogs and cats. Moonbat herself flirts off and on with doing her best to avoid buying in China over the plight of Tibet, in homage to the fact that reading Tibetan Buddhism has done wonders for her temper. Yet the time has come for a concerted and public, liberal and conservative, all-American push to boycott funding China through our purchases, policies, and misplaced attempts to protect "the free market." Somewhere along the line, we fought a near fourty year Cold War to halt the global expansion of communism and the totalitarian states which embraced it's doctrine. Our White House takes a different view towards "the red scourge" these days because "It's not appropriate to interfere in the private decisions of Americans..."

Capitalism funding the expansion of the communist police state, funding by the capitalistic greed of US investors and the Republican Party Leadership. Say it ain't so! And yet, we have the bewildering knowledge before us that under the name of fighing terrorism, China is openly reaping hedge fund investments on Wall Street, in new forms of public surveillance that will allow it to hunt down democratic protestors at it's leisure... and anyone who stops to watch. China faces no threat of terrorism, let's be clear. But China does find itself:

...subject to strikes of workers who don't get paid; to revolts over deadly environmental conditions; to religious activists who worship gods other than mammon and the state (the two that are officially sanctioned); to Web surfers enamored of a free exchange of ideas; to Tibetans seeking autonomy; and maybe, someday, to another outburst of Tiananmen Square-like, pro-democracy agitation.

An authoritarian government can never be sure how many of its citizens would relish its demise, which means the Chinese Communist Party has 1.3 billion potential targets for surveillance. Bradsher reports that 660 Chinese cities have begun installing high-tech surveillance systems. By one estimate, high-end surveillance will expand from a $500 million industry in 2003 to a $43 billion industry by 2010.

Of course, workers who don't get paid, people sickened by industrial pollutants, people who pray to foreign gods, liberal web-surfers, Iraqis seeking independence, and CodePink, are all foes of the White House as well. Perhaps it's not so unusual to find the Leader of the Free World playing footsie with the World Communist Regime. In the end, all radical Islamic terrorists have ever managed is to blow up a few buildings or airplanes. What could China do, when it's survelliance abilities we have paid for completely shut out our own CIA operatives and quash the last murmurs of democratic dissent? Given the spectacular web war launched against Estonia last spring that shut down its newspapers, banks, and government for days? Given that we are creating the worst border disaster of all with our open embrace of spammers and ad-ware programmers, who turn hordes of our own computers into digital zombie soldiers for sale? To the highest bidder? How can we defeat the enemy we arm to destroy us?

China's love for the world should be apparent, from their open funding of the genocidal regime of Sudan, to their conquest and brutal subjegation of the Tibetan people. China happens to be Sudan's largest oil customer. After the UN Security Council moved forward to with plans to deploy the largest peace-keeping force in the world to Darfur, China began it's manuverings to use it's suddenly enthusiasitc involvement to ward off high profile threats to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With this slight of hand, China continues it's own version of a Marshal Plan, buying into the regimes of other African nations, while the US remains bogged down in Iraq. China hurries its efforts to place it's troops inside Darfur before the rest of the UN peacekeeping force reaches Sudan. A force significantly larger than the few soldiers China has lent elsewhere, and likely they plan to outstay the UN.

And as for poor Tibet and her people? Richard Gere and the International Campaign for Tibet have called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, but received little press. China just finished a train right through the center of Tibet to it's old capital, linking it to the communist state in a way that claims permanent ownership even to satellites in space.

Sacrifice is hardly popular anymore unless it's happenstance or something you were going to do anyways. China's grip on the lowest segments of America's economy makes it a formidle political opponent, as proven through it's growing alliance with Wal-Mart. Yet how impossible? How close do how many people have to be to create a watershed affect? What outcome do we seek? The answer: Tibet must be free, democracy must become something more than a means to inrease oil exploration, democracies must never again become hostage to the economic production of communism police states. Moonbat started with shopping at Target for her nephew's birthday party, buying Crayola "MadeintheUSA" art supplies over RoseArt's "MadeinChina." A few minutes effort also produced a means to hang pictures using supertape also "MadeintheUSA." And organic chocolate grown in Belize and melted into bars in Italy. So good.

Democracy finds itself too weakened by the siren call of profits and revenue to take heed of the warning signs. China will use American investors to create the means to survey and control it's urban polulations in a way only a global dark age could end. The arguement that allowing China into the World Trade Organization to use economic advancement to induce democratic change will have been defeated, under the combined efforts of communism and it's new capitalist backers. Green Fertility gives a compelling argument to still boycott over China's own internal human rights abuses. Yet liberals need to find a way to light a fire under the entire of our country, and it will not be to the cause of foreign gods or Chinese food.

We have in our favor the deciding point: things with China have gotten to the point where either democracy will decide the future of humanity in the world... or we will continue to sell away every part of our inhereitance to the resurgence of communism. When last democracy contested with communism, the USSR fell. Now there is no open contest, and our greed may yet fire the eternal shine of China.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blackwater Kills Infant Girl "Insurgent" to Protect US

So today we will explore the most recent disgrace the Bush Administration has set up country up to suffer in Iraq. Blackwater lashed out at rush-hour traffic in Baghdad with a deadly hail of bullets last Sunday, and the Iraqi government is leading a heroic, yet likely doomed, attempt to oust the mercenary firm from its (supposedly) sovereign soil. After seeing their State Department barrel up to a busy traffic circle, Iraqi police officers stepped out into traffic to attempt to clear a path. When they failed to do so quickly enough, Blackwater’s mercenaries open fired on a car with young parents and their infant daughter, killing all three. They then continued to straff construction workers, a bus full of school girls, other fleeing commuters, and shot to death one of the Iraqi police officers. At some point, Blackwater’s helicopters joined in the shooting spree that is reported to have lasted twenty minutes and initially killed eleven. Survivors continue to die of their wounds in local hospitals, and the death toll rises. Blackwater released claims that the young parents and their baby girl were insurgents and had opened fire first.

"We will not tolerate the killing of our citizens in cold blood," al-Maliki told reporters. "The work of this company has been stopped in order to know the reasons."

Al-Maliki said the shootings had generated such "widespread anger and hatred" that it would be "in everyone's interest if the embassy used another company while the company is suspended."

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne E. Tyrrell said in a statement late Monday that its employees acted "lawfully and appropriately" in response to an armed attack against a State Department convoy.

"The `civilians' reportedly fired upon by Blackwater professionals were in fact armed enemies and Blackwater personnel returned defensive fire," she said. "Blackwater regrets any loss of life but this convoy was violently attacked by armed insurgents, not civilians, and our people did their job to defend human life."

…The Interior Ministry had said Monday it had lifted Blackwater's license and ordered its 1,000 employees to leave the country. The next day, Iraqi officials said Blackwater's operations were merely suspended pending an investigation. ….

"It's going to turn the world upside down," said retired Marine Lt. Col. Bill Cowan, an independent military analyst and the co-chairman of WVC3 Group, a security consulting firm. "You can bet the U.S. embassy is doing backflips right now pressuring the Iraqis not to revoke their license."

CODEPINK held a protest in DC against Blackwater on Wednesday, in front of the International Peace Operations Association, the lobbying group which presses the interests of mercenary companies like Blackwater to Republican lawmakers. For a little back ground, view a self-made Blackwater pilot video to grasp how they define themselves.

The New York Times relays that the Iraqis refute Blackwater's claim that its personel were ambushed. The Iraqi government’s initial report, though unverified, says that Blackwater personnel "were not ambushed ... but instead fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman's call to stop, killing a couple and their infant." CNN interviewed several of the Iraqi survivors: "As we turned back they opened fire on all cars from behind. The bullets are in my back. Withing two minutes teh helicopters arrived. They started firing randomly at citizens. No one fired at Blackwater. They were not attacked by gunman. They were not targeted." Other Iraqis report hearing explosions and gun-fire, but no one except Blackwater actually saw any insurgents open fire on the State Department motorcade. That would include the surviving Iraqi police officer who had stepped out in traffic to clear their path.

None of the US employed mercenaries, Blackwater or not, have ever been prosecuted for any of the shootings clearly done by them, even when their targets clearly were not insurgents:

"[There] have been several fatal shootings involving Blackwater guards including one last Christmas Eve [reported by the Wall Street Journal] when a drunk Blackwater employee walking in the Green Zone reportedly fatally shot an Iraqi guard for Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi. Spend any time hanging out with private security contractors in Iraq and invariably everybody has a favorite Blackwater story. A few weeks ago, a British security contractor showed me a bullet hole on the windshield of his armored Chevy Suburban. He said it happened one evening when Blackwater guards shot at him while he was driving in the Green Zone. "While they were armed and shooting in the Green Zone remains the mystery to me," he says. "But frankly, nothing surprises me about them anymore. I'm just glad I had bulletproof glass"."

Blackwater totals of contracts with the Department of State run $678 million since 2003. Private contractors still enjoy total immunity to prosecution under Iraqi Law, and none have been prosecuted inside the United States for incidents that occurred in Iraq. Blackwater currently fights litigation by the families of several of it’s employees killed in Fallujah in 2004, contesting that any allowance to sue their company directly hinders the ability of the President as Commander-in-Chief to engage in combat operations in Iraq. The State Department exempts Blackwater from needing an Iraqi Ministry Liscense, although such requirements are included in Defense Department contracts. Blackwater remains exempt from being tracked and monitored by US military commanders, from the procedures for reporting shooting incidents that apply to US patrols, or from operating under offensive weaponry restrictions that apply to US soldiers.

"The Iraqis despised them, because they were untouchable," said Matthew Degn, who recently returned from Baghdad after serving as senior American adviser to the Interior Ministry. "They were above the law." Degn said Blackwater's armed Little Bird helicopters often buzzed the Interior Ministry's roof, "almost like they were saying, 'Look, we can fly anywhere we want.' "
…Blackwater's conduct at times inflamed tensions inside the Interior Ministry, Degn said. On May 24, Degn was evacuated from the building after an armed standoff between Interior Ministry commandos and Blackwater guards, who had shot and killed an Iraqi driver outside the gates. U.S. and Iraqi officials feared the incident might lead to retaliatory attacks against Americans.

After shooting the unarmed Iraqi driver, Blackwater’s mercenaries found itself surrounded by Interior Ministry commandos with AK-47 assault rifles, but refused to identify themselves. A passing US military convoy attempted to mediate, but eventually a State Department official was called upon to negotiate the return of Blackwater’s employees to the Green Zone.
Later, both Blackwater and the State Department initially denied that the shooting occurred. The company and agency officials then confirmed that the incident had taken place but defended the guards, saying they had followed the rules on the use of force. The State Department said it planned a thorough investigation. Four months later, no results have been announced.

Despite irregularities in Blackwater’s contracts which permit the company a pyramid scheme to make profit off of the State Department, by including profit in it’s contracts twice, and so that the second calculation of profit is calculated off the contract’s total including the first calculation of profit, the Republican lawmakers and Bush officals continue to shield and favor their company. Guess to whose election campaigns Blackwater renders donations, effectively allowing Republicans to fund their politics through tax-payer’s money?

If you don’t understand how the supposedly frugal Republican Party can swallow this, look here for a key insight. You will not find Blackwater’s culpability for the deaths of its mercenaries in Fallujah in 2004 given an accurate recounting, and there will be no mention of unarmored bright red SUV, inferior weaponry, too few men for such a patrol, a lack of experience training as a team, or the fact that they were escorting trucks to pick up pots and pans. All of the truth of how those men were sacrificed by a greedy corporation to increase it's profit margin must be buried to preserve the neo-con world view, where only liberals are capable of sin:

Despite popular belief, contractors are professionals that are held accountable for their actions. Our nation should not resort to criticizing their service, as they fulfill a portion of the war process to the best of their ability. Maybe instead we should reevaluate the circumstance of the media in war time. Just perhaps the veterans of war know better how to conduct operations than politicians, journalists, and peace activists. This is precisely why a high level of attention is given to the prior military service of presidential candidates, because if elected they will serve the role of Commander in Chief.

When the situation’s structure is scrutinized, what one will find at the base is the left and liberal media so opposed to the war in Iraq they will pursue any means necessary to discredit it. The cycle of anti-war activist attacks has proven itself over and over again, as attempts are made to vilify President Bush, his Republican backing, private military companies, the United States Military, and often the United States. They continue to make out America as the national bully, acting only to weaken our democracy from within.

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. According to this proposal, if Blackwater wants to wander through traffic in Baghdad shooting up school buses full of girls, we must clap and cheer to show we are good patriots and understand our place. We the people are too ignorant to render judgments on issues like war and peace, and should just shut up. When we scrutinize the public uproar over this situation, what we really find is the basic assumption on the part of the liberal media and the American Left that our soldiers should have been doing this duty instead of mercenaries, since they are the real and true professionals, and know what conduct is due their uniforms.

Immediately following Sunday’s incident, Blackwater revoked clearance for any travel out of the Green Zone, which despite four years of occupation and a “troop surge,” requires heavily-armed escort. Yet our politicians should not so easily give into calls that Blackwater must be forgiven in the name of the greater good and the “War on Terror.” Here we look at an astounding opportunity to cut away a major determent to our military’s ability to function in a time of war; reliance on silent partners motivated by profit. No blind eye should be turned to the fact that the operating procedures for private security contractors were written by Lawrence T. Peter, director of the 50- member Private Security Company Association of Iraq. In a blatant conflict of interest, the Pentagon's Defense Reconstruction Support Office employs Peters to consult on it’s issuance of contracts to the members of his organization.

We on the Left wait to see if the Iraq government passes the test to it's people of not actually being a puppet of the Bush Administration, and whether or not Pelosi can seize this opportunity to force a real policy change in Iraq. Blackwater remains silent on the incident via it's website press releases. To the press, Blackwater reportedly describes Sunday's shootings as "Blackwater professionals heroically defended Americans in a war zone.” A Blackwater contractor told the conservative Washington Times: "They will hem and haw, then money will exchange hands and it will go away."

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Friday, September 14, 2007

MoveOn Haters Require the Suspension of Disbelief

So today C-SPAN took a stream of callers on that phony ginned-up artificial manufactured vat-grown faux-controversy over Move-On's "General Betray Us" ad. Moonbat found herself chewing the steering wheel when none of the Democratic callers could stay focused on the statistics, but at least the Republicans were amusing enough to use Petraeus' report as a justification to nuke Baghdad. Guiliani's frogs hop about promoting his own, closer to the front page, denouncement of Hillary Clinton, for not being a spokesperson for MoveOn, so that she can hurt her own campaign by being stupid enough to give into his demands to apologize for the ad. MSNBC's political analyist Joe Watkins claims on television that MoveOn's ad contained only the words "General Betray Us?" and a mug shot of General Petraeus, so outrageously taken of his unflattering side. And oh yes... TalkLeft's call for liberals to denounce MoveOn has been reposted to raise advertising revenue.

Con-blogs whipped themselves into hysteria over the idea that MoveOn got a $167,000 full page-ad for only $65,000. "This is tantamount to an endorsement in my opinion. If THE preeminent paper in the nation is willing to go so far as endorse this deplorable and mindless behavior, then "baby killers" shouted in the streets can't be far off." (Beware the ad-ware that downloads off this site!) Heck, it's even McCarthyism to demand accountability, not for your political affiliation anymore, but testimony you're going to give to Congress. McCarthyism? MoveOn must be calling Petraeus a communist, oh my!

BlackFive takes the cake by filing a very sad complaint with the Federal Elections Commission. "I sold political advertising ...during the 2006 elections. We were informed that there could be absolutely no discounts to the rate card prices for political or advocacy advertising stop the paper from favoring one viewpoint over another. It seems evident that if the reports are true, the NY Times has favored MoveOn by offering a huge discount to them for political advocacy advertising." Blackfive and it's dear readers seem unaware that the New York Times is available online, where spokeswoman Catherine J. Mathis explains how political advocacy groups can save a little green by running ads on ""standby." Wait.. it get's better!!

Who backs up the NYTimes against Blackfive but Freedom Watch. “The New York Times representative explained to us that we could run a standby rate ad for $65,000, but we could not pick the date or placement of the ad.” Freedom Watch expresses the doubt that MoveOn would have the political savvy to leak it's own ad once the NYT phoned them before putting the paper to bed.. but who cares about sour grapes? Perhaps it's even too little to point out Blackfive's selective revision of the English language when UncleJimbo "defines" betray... as "to deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty: Benedict Arnold betrayed his country." Now, clicking on the link provided we find something beyond such an elementary understanding of our language:

1. to deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty: Benedict Arnold betrayed his country.
2. to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling: to betray a trust.
3. to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to: to betray one's friends.
4. to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence: to betray a secret.
5. to reveal unconsciously (something one would preferably conceal): Her nervousness betrays her insecurity.
6. to show or exhibit; reveal; disclose: an unfeeling remark that betrays his lack of concern.
7. to deceive, misguide, or corrupt: a young lawyer betrayed by political ambitions into irreparable folly.
8. to seduce and desert.

Moonbat discovered that not a single one attempted to actually defend Petraeus' redefinition of determining who is or is not a terrorist by how they pump you with lead. In fact, poor reading skills led Newsbusters to claim MoveOn cited Iraq sectarian death statistics wrong. MoveOn's Ad stated "For example, death by car bombs don't count." Newsbusters quoted the NewYorkTimes incorrectly to refute that statement:
Victims from car bombs are treated as sectarian casualties if the attack appears to be directed at a sectarian or ethnic group ....Casualties that result from fighting between groups, like the Mahdi Army and the Badr Corps, however, are not classified as sectarian, as they are the result of clashes between two Shiite organizations. But victims of all car bomb attacks and Shiite and Sunni infighting are included in the overall civilian casualty count.

Key parts they misread are in bold. Car bombings that strike open market places in cities, or random buses, or police stations, or Coalition military personnel are not counted. Only the overall civilian count, which General Petraeus did not use, includes all deaths by car bombs. Unless a car bomb strikes a mosque or an isolated tribe, that car bombing has been excluded as an indication of the continued insurgency. The difference made means de facto, MoveOn is right.

Giuliani forgets Aesop's parable about the little yappy dog who tries to bite two steaks at once and looses both, aiming poorly at MoveOn and Hillary at the same time. At least he's not as sad as Thompson, whose words of wisdom are that veterans are stupider than youngsters who he doesn't trust to drink beer. McCain perhaps does him better by saying Hillary can prove she's a man's-man by not showing she understands something as hard as math. Moonbat will let her dear readers be the decider.

Interesting to see if this fantasy love-affair between MoveOn and Hillary Clinton will become the stuff of pop legend. Beyond conservatives insisting that any elite with a PhD or who has been called a Great Leader by a magazine deserves having their reputation defended by a congressional resolution, Hillary Clinton's full testimony gets hacked into unrecognizable tidbits which she "huffed" when she pointed dared grill the General over the point that to accept his report as accurate, several other recent independent reports must be dismissed wholesale. Clinton even went out of her way to point out that no one should expect Petraeus to have to answer for the years of Bush's policy, to be a spokesperson for everything that came before him. Sheesh. Giuliani dearly would love Americans to be so uncultured as to equate the phrase "the willing suspension of disbelief" with deliberate falsehood... but no, we is more learned than that, yes?

While the surge strategy gets hashed to pieces, at least the BBC got around to asking the Iraqi people what they thought of the surge:
"The United States has increased the number of its forces in Baghdad and surrounding provinces in the past six months. Please tell me if you think this increase of forces has made it better, worse, or had no effect?"

"How long do you think US and other Coalition forces should remain in Iraq?"

"Some 47% of respondents now back an immediate withdrawal, compared with 35% in February. The poll also shows dwindling support for troops remaining in the country, even in support of the Iraqi government and security forces. Only 10% of those surveyed favor coalition forces remaining for that purpose."

Con-blogs better batten down the hatches, pile up the Pepsi, and hook up that pee-bag: MoveOn Moves On to presidential shrubbery on September 17th. "Before the surge, George Bush had 130,000 troops stuck in Iraq," says the narrator of the new ad. "Americans had elected a new Congress to bring them home. Instead, Bush sent 30,000 more troops. Now he's making a big deal about you guessed it . . . pulling out 30,000. So, next year, there will still be 130,000 troops stuck in Iraq. George Bush. A Betrayal of Trust." 130,000 + 30,000 - 30,000 = 130,000 Which means the surge got us right back to start. But wait, I suppose that's more math moonbat shouldn't worry her cute little curls over??

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Passengers Fail to Observe 9-11 Moment of Silence

So today, the vast majority of Americans seem to have chickened out on flying, count that towards what you will: no one believes Petraeus, people have noticed how many Al-Q terrorist cells keep getting arrested trying to make explosives, rainy weather. Those few who trickled through airports local to moonbat overwhelmingly booked flights without realizing what date they were picking, or else flew for business, because heck, gotta make that buck. Several offical attempts were made to observe moments of silence when the first World Trade Center was struck, as passengers rolled their eyes and continued to take off their shoes. Moonbat found herself off eating lentil soup and completely missed the correct time. Headquarters provided nifty little posters for everyone to sign stating that they remembered the reason why they came to work. As a mark of low morale, no one signed.

En route to and from defending the nation from Osama bin Laden, and to and from the one intelligence class at her college there's been enough student interest in to run, moonbat has been listening to tidbits of Petraeus' "I swear I wrote this despite that the White House rewrites everyone else's testimony, but I hid mine in my underwear drawer and Cheyne would never think to look there" testimony. So sectarian violence is down 45% since last December and 80% in Baghdad alone... as long as you don't include car bombs, Diyala province and anyone shot anywhere else than the back of the head. What are we to do with a General who defines the difference between a terrorist and a criminal by how they shoot you?? Under the spit and polish, the truth remains that the surge has failed. Sectarian violence remains above levels in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Ducking under one month in the last twelve by spinning numbers is political manuevering unexpected from General Betray Us.

People should read the ad before swallowing the inevitable attempts at Republican spin and give MoveOn a fair chance. A difference remains between calling someone a traitor for voicing dissapproval of their President's policy and the commendable act of saying the General has no clothes. When numbers given as Congressional testimony are misleading and false, a General who speaks them betrays the trust of the public, and that act is not removed from moral outrage just because even moonbat favors a few of his overall ideas. Nor should Democrats feel the need to return MoveOn's money. You'd think con-blogs would assume Petraeus had any skin at all.

Six years later.... our military tetters on the edge of an abyss and meets it's recuitment goals only by large cash payments. We still can't translate most of our intercepted SIGINT. Our country got milked by almost $60 billion in wasted contracting dollars by Republican election donors pretending to "work" in Iraq. Electricity production in Baghdad remains 2 hours a day. The Taliban are just about as popular as ever in Afghanistan. Al-Q's mobile terrorist training camps still churn out bomb-makers from international schools in Pakistan. China spends it's time on a Marshal Plan for Africa. Osama bin Laden finds the time to die his beard and follow the real estate mortage crisis in the United States. What has the Republican party done for you lately??

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Going Down for the War on Terror

So today moonbat has appeared to rant about how America is loosing the war on terror. Flat out, we must be dead last. As Bush could have been dead a few days ago, when Osama Bin Laden snuck through two security checkpoints at the APEC summit in Australia. Interestingly enough, the international security community is being allowed to huffingly brush off the incident, in reality a bunch of comedians from an Aussie t.v. show "The Chaser," as proof about how "the incident fully vindicated the strength of the events security." And we, the public, seem content to let this one side, despite the fact that real terrorists, who think the same zany way as comedians do, could have easily incinerated the "leader of the capitalist world" almost six years to the anniversary of 9-11. Perhaps the next Director of National Intelligence should be selected from the writer's staff of Saturday Night Live.. as an improvement...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Elsewhere than Iraq, the real war on terror spills over into new battlegrounds, as Al-Q continues to be left relatively unmolested by the US military. White German citizens converted to Islam traveled to PAKISTAN, where they trained in camps last year run by the Islamic Jihad Union, a Central Asian group affiliated with al-Qaeda. Young white men, not Arabs or Persians or Indians or Africans, to all of you who object to airline security so much because, by the gods, you are white.
In June, the Taliban circulated a DVD among local journalists in Pakistan that purported to show a training camp graduation ceremony. Among the 250 graduates were more than a dozen white-skinned young men. One Taliban figure in the video was identified as the leader of a small group of German recruits, according to a copy of the video viewed by a Washington Post correspondent.

Wait, who are these Taliban?? Oh, they still run a whole lot of this country we supposedly have liberated from radical Islamic forces, Afghanistan, where we are now also loosing the war against international heroin. Nothing beats an Administration that can loose two wars in the same country at the same time.

Germany's arrests arrive hard on the heels of the arrests of an unrelated Islamic terrorist cell in Denmark. Two isolated cells, both of which had acquired materials to begin cooking explosives. Cheery.
The Muslims arrested ranged from 19 to 29 years old. They came from Afghan, Pakistani, Somali and Turkish backgrounds and six were Danish citizens, Scharf said.

Mmmm... why aren't they Iraqi, do you suppose? No Iranians?

Moonbat lies awake at night often thinking about terrorism. No big surprise considering that unlike a lot of hot-air baffoons, her job entails preventing them from killing innocent Americans should all those intelligence and police operatives fail to discover and stop them in time. But the time has passed for sleepless nights. The time has come for laughter. The time of employing comedians in the ranks of our intelligence agencies, and in our congressional committees has arrived. Comedians understand the mind of a terrorist. Obviously, we can't rely on the Republicans anymore. The life of our President is clearly at stake.

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