Polar Bears 'Feeling The Heat'

Posted: 12/28/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
5

Well I had another post in mind but this caught my eye on the plight of the Polar Bear and relates to the melting ice now taking place in the Arctic. All of you might have seen the article by now but I guess one more post won't hurt, it seems the fight for global warming awareness has come home however, I won't count any cubs before they are born. The Interior Secretary admits that the ice is melting but, as you read on in this article he also relieves himself of responsibility by saying that climate change is "outside the bounds of his department."
Global Warming is nothing new we all have proof of the CO-2 build-up in the atmosphere, the problem is will we be able to react to it and get on board like the European countries, who have been in the process of leveling fines for over discharge limits?

The Democrats have promised us some initiative on this so we will see how it pans out, but this we do know the Arctic is starting to feel a massive onslaught on the effects of global warming

and the Polar Bear who makes his home there is just the first of many that will get on the news.
The days where I live are getting warmer, much warmer than 20 years ago, this disrupts the cycle of life in insects and other forms of life such a migratory birds, and in the summer we either have a draught or a flood. Long periods without rain disrupt the crop growth as well as long periods of rain, so we need only to look around our near vicinity to realise that global warming is taking place, we don't even need a movie to show us these effects. But I think the movie Al Gore has made (An Inconvenient Truth) was made for those who need to be aware of the environment around them and any out there who have not seen the film I urge you to watch it for yourself.
Related;
Guardian Unlimited
Sydney Morning Herald (China Factor)
USA Today (Ancient Ice Shelf Snaps)
ExxonMobil (paid groups to mislead public on Global Warming)
Sites of interest;
NRDC
New Scientist
Carbon Fund


Katrina Waste & The Pork Barrel

Posted: 12/25/2006 by Floyd in Labels: ,
5

Where do we begin on this one? Think Progress has reminded us of the Bush speech which has taken place in Jackson Square, it was a good PR speech don't get me wrong but, words are only seen as thus if there is no teeth in the details. The issue is basically history as it seems and New Orleans is still buried in red tape, the mismanagement of the Katrina crisis makes us see a vivid picture of just what is being accomplished there, and that leads me to this post today that I found in Netscape News. What we find in this story is the waste that has and will occur as the fall-out of the Katrina crisis begins to come into focus, if you read the other articles under this label you will find that the victims of Katrina have had nothing but red tape and are still being victimized.

In the article I found at Netscape News we find that the Bush administration has squandered about a billion dollars on fraudulent disaster aid, but that my friends is only the tip of the iceberg in this mismanagement program. The former Homeland Security Department's inspector general was quoted as saying that not enough progress is being made. When Bush first started this thing he tried and succeeded for the most part to keep Union labor out of New Orleans, you know what has happened? Well, in layman's terms, a few companies have gotten rich off of Bush's government pork, and the pork flowed to politically connected firms, The propriety of four no-bid contracts together worth $400 million to Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Group Inc., CH2M Hill Companies Ltd., and Fluor Corp. that were awarded without competition. These companies despite their claims are connected politically to the system, although I will note that they claim otherwise.
Look at a subsidiary of Fluor which has donated over $900,000 dollars to Republican candidates since 2000, the four groups which have denied connections politically have been among 6 who have been awarded new contracts. Some of these contracts were never rebid but were simply given to the big firms and pray tell we have any Union workers in there, the workers who stand up for their rights are not to be awarded anything, Democrats who are about to take power as the majority must not forget their roots, good faith bipartisan is good but I don't think we should shun our ideals, I think some power should be asserted by the majority and one such power would be the minimum wage.
The Republicans in the Senate are not going to filibuster such a bill and go home to their districts for re-election, just won't happen. I'm not saying go in like a raging bull but, we can't go in like a lamb either. Democrats have already called for more accountability concerning the Katrina bids and I am hoping that this happens, the accountability for the spending of funds and exactly where the funds are going to is a start, but we have a long road ahead and the whole Katrina effort has only become one big failure by this administration, unfortunately it is only one on a list of many, we remember not so long ago the failure of FEMA when they could not deliver the trailers, while people just pointed fingers at each other and the trailers remained immobile.
Here is a CNN article about the trailers over a year ago and the ineffectiveness of the FEMA fiasco, and yet another article from CorpWatch on who got the trailer contract, Fluor whose stock had climbed as of May this year a whopping 65% due to the Katrina disaster, read also in this CorpWatch article how FEMA defended it's actions and of course you and I now know the rest of the story.

Related;
Bureaucrash
Katrina One Year Later (PDF Document)

Big Oil Incentives

Posted: 12/23/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
9

A report seems to suggest that big oil incentives barely help the U.S while big oil pockets the profits. The report explains that if they were to use the money a lot more oil could be bought from it on the open market. In other words all the big giveaways to big oil the Bush administration so freely hands out has profited us about nothing.
The study, which the Interior Department refused to release for more than a year, estimates that current inducements could allow drilling companies in the Gulf of Mexico to escape tens of billions of dollars in royalties that they would otherwise pay the government for oil and gas produced in areas that belong to American taxpayers.
This is actually a study that was not going to come out to the public, a report that needed to be hid from the American taxpayer. America over the past few years have blown up it's incentives, while other countries has demanded a bigger share of revenues, and what have we gotten for this? Well for starters our gas prices have risen, while the oil companies continue to profit from the big government giveaways.

It is not only big oil, according to the article gas got on board to with the government hand-outs. Apparently we will gain about half of $10 billion the government stands to lose, in other words the government keeps filling the pockets of big oil and gas and the average American keeps getting the shaft,
Back in February when the Democrats were still in the minority status they desperately tried to put a damper on the big giveaways initiated by the Republican Congerss and the Bush administration.

After 3 years, we've come to this?

Posted: 12/21/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
2

That is what I thought of when I saw this article about toying with the notion of sending more troops it is like a delayed reaction, violence was up some 43% from the summer heading into October and now we have come to this. The Iraq War has become a main focal point for the war on terror, while the battle is heating up in Afghanistan and the terrorists have gained a foothold in Northern Pakistan due mainly to the Pakistani government and their blindness from the ongoing al-Quadea operations and others in the area, while we are being constantly tied down in Iraq with most of our forces, terror continues to spread elsewhere.
Mike Skelton who is to chair the House Arms Services Committee, said that sending more troops could exasperate the situation even further and does not see it as a big help. However the decider sees it different and what he says goes, and dag gummed if we need more troops we need more. Well as the months continue on we will see where this leads.

Bush told the Washington Post that the increase is for the general war on terror, and in the interview with the post gives his assumption on the election;

the president said he interpreted the Democratic election victories six weeks ago not as a mandate to bring the U.S. involvement in Iraq to an end but as a call to find new ways to make the mission there succeed.


As quoted in the N.Y Times yesterday there is two very important opposing views to this, one is Gen. John P. Abizaid, senior commander in the Middle East and is supported by Gen. George W. Casey Jr. who is the senior American commander in Iraq, Abizaid calls for more trainers in Iraq to train the Iraqi Army and also states that the increase in forces were bound to be rejected by the Iraqis, we have already seen in previous polls conducted there, and it shows the Iraqis feelings on us being there so his statement is very highly possible, he also stated that you have to internationalize the problem, diplomatically and Geo-strategically, now lets look at what he is saying in layman's terms, he is saying you have to think outside the box. You can't think of downtown Baghdad but you have to look at the situation as a whole, in other words, you throw in a brigade of troops or so to try and stabilize a small portion of a big problem.
Sometimes one wonders how many blunders do we make before we learn from them and learn that others have ideas also and by conversing with our leaders in the field we can better learn what is working and what is not, as for now, put the square peg in the round hole.
Today the pentagon circulated a request for an extra $99.7 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, if approved the proposal would boost this years budget for those wars to about $170 billion. Gates the incoming Secretary of Defense made a surprise visit to Baghdad to discuss the circulating 'surge option' which is an increase in troops to the area, he was to also confer with top Iraqi officials to discuss what America's role should be in Iraq. The presidents statement concerning the war and how the American people thinks about the war in Iraq, here given in an excerpt; ``But I also don't believe most Americans want us just to get out now,'' the president said. ``A lot of Americans understand the consequences of defeat. Retreat would embolden radicals. It would hurt the credibility of the United States.''
Another statement relating to 'victory' he stated that in affect it was attainable, however, no mention was made exactly to what victory really means? And this is the hard questions that needs to be asked, what is victory in Iraq?
Other reading;
Sen. Reid on the Huffington Post

Newsweek Poll On 2008

Posted: 12/19/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
4

Well my friends it looks like the race is on for 2008 and the candidates are getting their feet wet already, but there is one poll I have not heard much about and that is the Newsweek poll, this poll seems very elusive indeed and by the numbers it is showing me I can guess why that is, first off lets take a look at the Clinton McCain match-up.
Americans were asked if you had to vote for one who would that be? Survey says; 50% Clinton and 43% McCain, Americans were asked if your party nominated an African American for President and if they were qualified would you vote for them? Survey said; whites 92% and non-whites 96%.
Now ladies out there this is disappointing to say the least, Americans were asked, is America ready to elect a woman president? Survey says; men 59% yes and women 51% yes.
Question was asked if your party nominated a woman for president and she were qualified, would you vote for her? Survey says; 86% men yes, and 86% women yes. If America had to choose between Clinton and Giuliani, Clinton has the edge by only 1%, 48% to 47%, but we can't see into this one much because Giuliani is to much on the left to even be nominated by the Republican party and anything is possible but I don't see it.

A lot of bloggers out there have made their predictions for the ticket in 08, it is still really to early to tell but here we go. I think that it will be Clinton and Obama and I don't know in what order it will take place, on the conservative side I really could not say maybe McCain and well I really don't know there but I don't think it will be Giuliani and not that he would do very well it is just I don't think the Republicans can mobilize their base with him, he has a lot of beliefs that cut to the grain of the conservative base.
I think what is dragging McCain down is his stance on the Iraq War, he is not going to get any traction talking about Iraq and needing more troops there, when the troops they are allocating just is not enough to make a difference. Now if we were talking into the hundreds of thousands then all bets are off, but we are not we are talking about 20 or 30 thousand and I personally don't believe it would be enough, but we will see what happens I guess.

A Nice Move

Posted: 12/18/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
0

The Democrats might have saved us some money already, you know the budget that should have been finished by October? Well, the Democrats decided to pass a continuing resolution that extends the 2006 budget into next year. There are about 12,000 earmarks mostly just pork stuffed into the stalled spending bills, these simply disappearing can save the tax payers about $17 billion.
In 1995 there were about 1,495 special projects inserted into spending bills, sounds like a huge number, doesn't it? By 2005 after a decade of Republican rule, the number had soared to 14,000 looking at this we can see the big difference in the big spend Republicans, they should be know as the party of the big spenders, I know they tout smaller government and toy with the idea of a balanced budget, but, unfortunately the proof is in the pudding.

What is even more interesting is this excerpt to the Wall Street Journal, which reads; In a bizarre move, the Wall Street Journal editorial page credited Republicans for this development.
In other initiatives Nancy Pelosi, would require negotiation with the drug companies concerning the drug benefit under the Medicare program. HHS, would negotiate with the companies and apparently mandate it also. O.K opinion time, before the November elections Nancy was attacked on every angle by the 'love thy company, as thy self' attitude of the far right. Since these elections I have heard nothing but good things coming from this woman, she did not turn out to be the big bad wolf that she was so often portrayed to be. The veto pen is getting the dust wiped off it as we speak, I have a feeling that veto pen will get a good work out when it comes to the minimum wage or roll backs on big oil, if you look at it the pen itself has been resting all these years for just such an occasion.
The Pentagon is eying a $468.9 billion dollar budget in 2008, up by 6% from last year, but hey when it comes to money America has a bottomless pit in the eyes of the administration, I don't want to seem to harsh on them so I will say, it costs a lot to stay in Iraq, a place where most of the population wants you gone. It will be interesting to see how the new Congress reacts to all of this, but it is hard really to do to much about it, if we go to cutting off funds probably only the
the troops would suffer and the radical right knows this, but if we look at it I can't really see this new Congress buckle down like the old Congress has and I believe the new Congress will require more documentation on exactly where the money is going.

Between A Rock & A Hard Place

Posted: 12/17/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
2

The Saudis weighed in on what they intend to do if we leave Iraq, they reported that it might consider financing the war effort in favor of the Sunnis who are now engaged in a civil war with the Shiites in Iraq. Saudi Arabia who is an ally of ours, not to mention we get a lot of oil from them expressed their views to Cheney on his visit there. The Saudis do not want us conversing with Iran which turns out to be mostly Shia, but really it can not rule our resolve, but since it was us who opened this can of worms and now don't know what to do about it, except 'stay the course' and hope everything works itself out, then the Saudis give us their take on what will happen if we don't clean up the mess, boy, this all sounded better during "shock and awe."
In Saudi Arabia it's role in all of this seems to be to protect the Sunni population in Iraq or is assuming that we protect that population, since we started this mess. The Saudis even toyed with the notion of bringing down oil prices to put some squeeze on Iran's Shiite rulers.

So it seems that the Middle East is becoming more unstable instead of becoming stable doesn't it? Comparison chart of Sunni & Shia Islam, this page discusses the differences between the two sects, our involvement in Iraq and the ongoing civil war there is touching off areas elsewhere in the Middle East, in his own words;"Our objective is to help the Iraqi government deal with the extremists and the killers, and support the "vast majority" of Iraqis who are reasonable, who want peace," the president said Tuesday, al-Hashemi at his side. He took no questions.
Now this makes me wonder just what majority is he referring to, could it be related to this statement? By a wide margin, both groups believe U.S. forces are provoking more violence than they're preventing -- and that day-to-day security would improve if we left. As I read the day to day news it leads me to believe we are in for the long haul on this one, probably the later part of 2008 if I was guessing and upon reading the Iraq Report kind of solidifies my assumption even more, it alludes to the 'subject to conditions of security' as a way of saying, let's see what is happening then and make a decision, leaving the door wide open, so the group did not come up with a clear cut plan for dealing with the situation, except, to negotiate with the neighbors of Iraq, such as Iran, Syria etc. Since protests have occurred in Beirut I guess talking with Lebanon is out. And after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, kicked off his Holocaust Conference, well, it looks like from that, it is useless to talk to them, or is it? We have not tried in any way to initiate talks with these countries before things got to this point, we have been more or less shut off from the outside world and the means of diplomacy.
The urgency seems to have dwindled down and the president is saying he will deal with the problem sometime next year, this stance has caused criticizing from the Republican side of the aisle as well as the Democrats. Chuck Hagel Republican of Nebraska who often disagrees with how Bush is handling the war issued this statement; the Nebraska Republican, called the delay “unpardonable” and added: “Every day that goes by, we are losing ground.” For years we have set back and had no reaction to the situation in Iraq and for months the administration has issued the famous 'stay the course' formula which was not working and after a group was formed to assess the war in Iraq, we simply reply in layman's terms; let's just not worry about the war in Iraq and let it spoil our Christmas, after all this time, why rush into anything.
This all coming on the heels of the U.N General suggesting the Middle East is nearing it's breaking point and the General also had criticism of Israel on it's offensive in the Gaza Strip, but the speech was also balanced with critical points on both sides.

"Tensions in the region are near the breaking point," he said. "The opportunity for negotiating a two-state solution will last for only so long. "Should we fail to seize it, the people who most directly bear the brunt of this calamity will be consigned to new depths of suffering and grief. And extremists the world over would enjoy a boost to their recruiting efforts."


Nancy Pelosi called for new oversight this week and to protect the American people with the best possible intelligence available and recognizes Congress role in this, Ms. Pelosi also said the newly empowered House Democrats would also move to raise "the minimum wage," now $5.15 per hour;" advance stem cell research" and "roll back subsidies to Big Oil,” all in the opening days of the next Congress — “the first 100 hours,” as she put it. In other words more assertion over the billions of dollars spent every month on this ongoing war, emergency requests is obscuring the true price of this war. Cost is at about $8 billion a month and this of course rises steadily due to breakdown of equipment in this harsh environment, the Iraq Study Group has also said that the cost of the war should be included in the budget. Word of caution here, the Bush veto pen is warming up, they are dusting the dust from it now, can't have you lowly tax payers out there getting anything.
The end of this article is what makes me wonder here is the excerpt; "And if Mr. Bush’s budget does not contain the spending and the Congressional plan does, the president’s blueprint could look better by comparison when it comes to deficit reduction." Deficit reduction? I can't believe they printed such non-sense, so after the flagrant disregard for the deficit, now all of a sudden it is relevant? I will tell you what this is, it is an insult to our intelligence that is exactly what it is, they should have been screaming this when the middle-class and lower classes were being strangled by an irresponsible Congress, with bridges to nowhere and the big oil giveaways.

Blindly Onward

Posted: 12/15/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
2

The Washington Post put out an article on Condoleezza Rice's rationale on talking with Iran or Syria to try and bring some kind of stability to the deteriorating conditions in Iraq, what I think the Iraq Study Group tried it's best to emphasize is that we need to have some kind of a more open foreign policy, and not more 'isolation' and distancing ourselves from opening some kind of talks with the region and the general area around Iraq. The reasoning Ms. Rice gives is simply this; "If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway," in other words we don't have to talk to them about anything or acknowledge them, they will act on their own.

The article will go on to say that Iran cooperated with us on Afghanistan and the group was wondering could this be done with Iraq? Ms. Rice also reiterates the administration policy to push and promote democracy in the Middle East, if they don't want this then how do we push or force it upon them. When we entered Iraq we were to be seen as liberators of a tyrant and yet the greatest number of polls taken in the area, does not see us in this light. Sometimes this reminds me of walking a path without a flashlight, just blindly walking were our feet takes us and not knowing that a cliff might lay ahead. It seems like the U.S is isolated from the rest of the world and if you don't see it our way then you are not our friend and we don't want to play anymore, and besides Iran and Syria are not the only neighbors of Iraq and not the only ones mentioned in the Iraq Study Report. In further reading in the Post you will find the Army is in dire trouble and is counting on the guard to pick up the slack Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, reiterated that we went into this war "flat-footed" with a $56 billion equipment shortage and 500,000 fewer soldiers than we had in 1991, he also said that it is critical now to shore up the force for what he called a long and dangerous war. And all this time I thought the dear leader was listening to these Generals? Check out the cost; The Army estimates that every 10,000 additional soldiers will cost about $1.2 billion a year, up from $700 million in 2001 in part because of increased enlistment bonuses and other incentives. The Army will have to "gain additional resources to support that strategy," Schoomaker acknowledged.
The guard can be mobilized involuntarily only once, and for no more than 24 months, they want to draw on this resource and bring them in for further duty and the reserves, because as it stands now this Iraq fiasco is breaking our backs. What this would do is put a strain on us to react should we have a disaster here at home or should we be needed elsewhere in the world, it is most like putting one's eggs all in one basket. This Generals assessment is about the to the point argument that I have read in a long time. This is not a new argument of the Army being stretched and in dire trouble and is probably the reason the General resorted to banging his hand on the table this is an excerpt from January of this year; Gen. George Casey's remarks contrasted sharply with statements made on Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who disputed findings of an unreleased study conducted for the Pentagon that said the Army is overextended because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush shrugged off the report Thursday.
Let's clarify, don't we listen to our Generals in the field? I thought that was our constant motto to assess things based on our leaders in the field.

Trust of America's Health Report

Posted: 12/13/2006 by Floyd in Labels: ,
5

A report came out concerning the ability for states to deal with a crisis if it was to occur, this report comes out more than five years after the the terrorists attacks of 2001. Only two states scored higher on the report than Kentucky, they were Oklahoma and Kansas.
It seems that after 9-11 we still have a ways to go to deal with a major health crisis if one were to occur, the report shows that six states cut or failed to maintain their public-health budgets in 2006. What is striking also about this report is that Washington D.C., is less prepared than all but four states.
This should be our wake-up call that after five years we are at this point, that we are not ready in most states to deal with a biological attack, if one were to occur, excerpt;
"The nation is nowhere as prepared as we should be for bio-terrorism, bird flu and other health disasters," Levi said in a statement issued in connection with the report. "We continue to make progress each year, but it is limited. As a whole, Americans face unnecessary and unacceptable levels of risk."
Other reading;
Medical News
Kansas City
Maryland
Nursing Shortage (Html)
California
Atlanta, GA.

New Poll on Iraq

Posted: 12/12/2006 by Floyd in Labels: ,
4

Poll on Iraq shows that Americans by a clear majority has reacted that the war is not going as planned, on Nov 14, 2006 29% approve of the presidents handling of the war while 67% disapproved of the handling of the war, now 21% approve and a whopping 75% disapprove, add this little excerpt; Opposition to the war is now taking on historic proportions, with 62 percent saying it was "a mistake" to send U.S. troops to Iraq — slightly more than told a Gallup Poll in 1973 that it was a mistake to send U.S. forces to Vietnam.
Will we succeed? 53% says highly unlikely, is it improving? 52% say getting worse 38% says staying the same and a merely 8% says getting better. Also for your viewing pleasure check out this video over at Minor Ripper on how we are winning the hearts of the little Iraqis.

Videos entitled 'Bush takes big hit over Iraq,' wow,, you think so? So the study group has basically done nothing in order to sway the confidence in the American people. Well if we look at it a lot of us Americans have read the full length of that report and a lot of things it relates to are just not doable in the near future, America is starting to see the scope of this thing and becoming disheartened with the whole idea of it. This accounts for the worst looking poll I have seen thus far on this war, Rumsfeld got canned and we brought in Gates but it has not swayed the downward trend of the support of this war.
Meanwhile the Taliban and it's allies continue to reek havoc on northern Pakistan,

these are the ones Cheney said were in their death throes and have somehow managed to gain new life.

Another problem of the Iraqi government is that they are failing to spend billions of dollars in oil revenue, the government is in such a state that it can not spend money it has to repair the infrastructure damage to utilities, water, schools etc. After us taxpayers footed about $22 billion, the increase of the capital from oil revenues could begin paying for the rebuilding, newsflash, it is not happening.
Most of this is alluded to the strict policies put in place to weed out corruption in the system, but what has happened is they have become afraid to issue any contracts due to them maybe being indicted on corruption charges. Read here where Powell predicted a smooth turnover to the government, lot of good reading in this old document. So instead of going forward we seem to be back paddling on the functioning of the Iraqi government.
What makes this even worse is the fact of the terrorists gaining ground in Afghanistan and now getting a foothold in northern Pakistan and we could blame this really on the government of Pakistan itself by cutting a deal with the terrorists, when they struck a so called 'peace deal' with the Taliban and al Qaeda and as most of you have read these groups are gaining lots of money through the opium trade in Afghanistan which has skyrocketed since the year 2000 when it was at zero and now it accounts for about 90% of the world's opium, the agreement that Pakistan made with the terrorists is that the Pakistan military would stop monitoring the activity of the militants.
This of course leaves the door wide open and the article's we read about the gaining of ground in northern Pakistan should come as no surprise to us, the war on terror does not just involve Iraq and quite a few these days seem to want to associate the war in Iraq as the war on terror and that is just not the case.

On The Defense

Posted: 12/10/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
2

Baker and Hamilton today on face the nation went on the defense concerning the Iraq Report, on the assumption that John McCain has on 20,000 troops and others have called for more the answer simply is this, the numbers are not there you have to work with what you have. Baker reiterated that Iraqi forces need to take the lead so we can pull back our troops, a statement by Hamilton; "What we think is possible to achieve the goal that the president has set out, which is a government that can defend itself, govern itself, sustain itself. That's an achievable goal."
I can assure you in an educated guess so to speak, we are far from this goal, Iraq is in a shambles and can no way close come to this goal, they can't even fix the infrastructure damage that has taken place and continues to do so. The reasoning they have to deal with the Israeli-Arab dispute and to stabilize the region is recommendation 16 on page-40 (Give back the Golan Heights), hmm.

Trent Lott weighed in with his point of view; Incoming Minority Whip Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said he thinks the president understands the status quo must change and is listening to recommendations. Thanks Trent for your enlightenment. in engaging the neighbors of Iraq we don't have one in the Middle East to count on and that is Lebanon, the situation there keeps deteriorating and today it has grown worse as a protesting crowd urges the U.S-backed government to step down immediately.
This is significant for us because we don't want the Middle East falling apart, while we are bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, tensions between Lebanon's sects - particularly Sunnis and Shiites - have been moving toward a boil during the past week. With each story of a fight between men with pipes and rocks, each insult heard and repeated, the divide between the groups widens. Note the sects mentioned; Sunni and Shiites, this is something the Iraq Report mentioned and that was to open up talks with the neighbors of Iraq, but right now it is like the U.S is in some kind of isolation from engaging other country's in talks or some kind of foreign policy stagnation?
A couple days ago Gen. Richard Cody spoke about the Army and how we need a bigger one to accomplish our goals. One the the things the General wants is more access to the National Guard, in other words he wants to be able to re-call guards after they have done their tour of duty and put them back in the theater of operations, if we are to continue operations in Iraq and Afghanistan we need forces to do it.
One thing the public is not aware of for the most part is the conditions our equipment itself is under, from the desert sand and the harsh environment has to be taking it's toll on the equipment used there, from the basic of weapons to big tanks, everything takes a beating from the environment we are in, not to mention the new Islamic radicalism spawned there. The Marine Corps, America's emergency expeditionary force, is also under unprecedented strain. The Marines have compensated for equipment shortfalls in Iraq by drawing down their pre-positioned reserve equipment stocks in the Pacific and Europe by up to 70 percent. These stocks include things like tanks and armored vehicles that enable the Marines to respond rapidly to crises around the world without the logistical delay associated with major long-range equipment transport. The Marines are also running out of helicopters, including the essential heavy-lift CH-53E Super Stallion. They are down to 150 CH-53Es from the required 160 and will continue to lose these helicopters due to their heavy use in Iraq. With the replacement for this aging helicopter still more than a decade off, this is a problem that will be hamper Marine readiness for years to come.

Now What?

Posted: 12/08/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
5

Well the Iraq panel has put forth some recommendations that it sees to go forward in Iraq, that it sees anyway as a way to make progress. So where does it leave us if we have no will to implement any such change in our policy and dealings with Iraq? Some of the recommendations by the panel is of course unreachable in a logical standpoint, but a lot seem to be in our grasp, but if we have no desire to change then change can not occur and Iraq will continue to deteriorate. The panel mentioned Afghanistan to a certain degree but I did not read where the major production of poppies where fueling the Taliban there, the drug trade (see also an article in this blog label-Afghanistan) from what I have read is the major influence of money flowing to the insurgency there. It seems that the panel might have done most of its work for naught if the ones in power can not initiate the changes and are obliterate to making change happen.

we can not hold to the thread of victory in Iraq if we can not react to any kind of change to achieve such a victory, every one in America who is following this in any way should know that the situation is in deterioration mode, not that we are in any governing role or influence but we as average American citizens know the process is not working. The panel urges our U.S Department of Justice to help in establishing courts, train judges, prosecutors and investigators and also create institutions and practices to fight corruption and this to be supported and funded, refurbish courthouses and build new, this is quite a task.
Another thing the panel recommends is that if progress is made in Iraq, we should provide military, political and economic support, but if progress is not made then we should reduce the above options. The report calls on the neighbors of Iraq to have input in the process and recommends the U.S open dialogue up with Syria and Iran along with others inside Iraq like the militias, (excluding; al Qaeda) and a lot of the recommendations to have taken place by 1st quarter of 2008,(subject to; security on the ground). In other words they can continue to play war until the term of the currant president ends, that is if our economy holds together with out going bust.
The report also includes the violence level and ties a figure of 43% increase from the summer into the month of October, apparently to quell this ongoing violence the Iraqi Army promised us 6 more battalions and we received only 2 of them so far. Recommendation-16 on page 40 suggest Israel return the Golan Heights, in some kind of peace for land deal? Another suggestion is that the militia's are gaining power in the region around Baghdad the Mahdi Army has approx. 60,000 fighters, reading the report also leads us to believe that our military is stretched very thin and would be inhibited if called or needed elsewhere on short notice.

They also bring up the point of violence in Iraq to be under reported, in other words it is worse than we think it is.

The production of oil in Iraq is at prewar levels, the infrastructure is damaged and security can not be initiated, the infrastructure is in shambles on a local level
Trash is waist high in the street and electricity is almost non-existent, but even after our assessment of the situation the news is 'stay the course' and it seems the only way to end this is to cut off funding for the war, but this recourse would most certainly hurt our troops so we tend to be in a most peculiar situation and it will be interesting of how we proceed from here, after the bipartisan panel has done its work the ball is in the other court now. Update; found an article from Media Matters, they caught the under reporting of the violence to.

The Iraq Report

Posted: 12/07/2006 by Floyd in Labels:
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Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
--George w. Bush

05/01/2003
speaking underneath a Mission Accomplished banner aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Setting the mood so to speak, the Iraq report came out yesterday on maybe pursuing a somewhat different approach, (view the PDF) whether we heed anything they have suggested is up to the President. The outline is a start, but the logistics of training of the Iraqi Army is a whole different concept to adopt.

The training in itself will take much longer than next year, maybe it is meant to give some kind of political cover to Bush? By giving us a 'bow out gracefully approach' to a degrading situation.
A link back to this article can also be found here Channel 4-Newsroom blog.

The fact of the matter is General's who have seen the zone first hand paint a more bleaker picture of Iraq, discussing the training issue some have ventured to say it will take years to accomplish the task. Just Google Lt. Col. Grunow and you will see my reference to him there, I know he is just a Lt. Col. But he knows whats going on with the training involved and how hard it is to train this Army.
Now don't get me wrong I am not saying they can't be trained, all I'm saying is that it will take time and it makes it hard caught in the middle of civil war while fighting an insurgency. There really is no timetable on the draw down of troops, sometime next year, and Bush wanting to remain steadfast on his approach by saying we will be there until the Iraqis want us to leave, it would seem to me that the panel would have specified more direct times or specifics of the issues.
The so called new Iraq policy will not comfort one mother, who issues this statement;

"You get sympathy cards from presidents and senators and all that stuff, with their deepest condolences. But you know what? Tomorrow, another kid gets killed," she says.

This woman tells a down to earth reality of war and I don't believe in the least this is an isolated feeling, I believe this assessment is more widespread than the ones in power make us to believe, and this is why I think the panel should have laid out a little clearer terms. But it was a bipartisan commission and I respect them for that, but the war hawks should listen more to the mothers who have lost their children and then they may be able to think a little more when coming to conclusions, I wonder the reaction of Bush? Looking at the Cat's blog I think he may have the reaction down pat so to speak. Bush is supposed to meet with Tony Blair today to discuss the future course on Iraq, this link came in just now. Just last month Mr.Blair spoke rather candidly about the Iraq invasion calling it a disaster, however after the invasion and during it Tony Blair has been a stanch ally, even in the face of taking heat from his homeland he remained steadfast in this disaster, so it is to no surprise he would be invited here after the panels recommendations have came to light.

Dennis Kucinich; Speaks

Posted: 12/04/2006 by Floyd in Labels: ,
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Had to dig somewhat to find some decent content for my blog, it seems television news is becoming one big soap opera that we sometimes lose focus on what we should be dealing with. The main-stream news are already running and appointing the next president of the United States which will not take place till in 2008, so to not talk about the currant issues I presume it is as usual doing it's job, by clouding the issues with non-constructive non-sense.
Found a story on Kucinich discussing the Iraq war and the cost of that war which is very essential to us, as well it should be since we are funding it. Sometimes one is left to contemplate how much money can we spend and stay afloat? I think that most of us in the backs of our minds wonder from time to time how much till the breaking point? Well Mr. Kucinich is basically telling us how the price is always going up on the funding since this war began and little if any progress is being made.

What caught my eye was that last year when the war was escalated the Department of Defense spent $117 billion, and in the spring they are coming in with $130 billion, in one year the cost of war could go up $130 billion. Kucinich goes on to point out that not only does the administration feel 'unrestrained' in spending, but also have gained no insight to the November elections, I agree, after the November elections Republicans appeared on every talk show and spin zone within this great country, giving it's take in general on the elections. look what happened leading up to the election Cheney blamed Iraq for trying to influence the election, On Oct. 17, Cheney told Limbaugh: 'I was reading something today that a writer -- I don`t remember who -- was speculating on increased terrorist attacks in Iraq attempting to demoralize the American people as we get up to the election. And when I read that, it made sense to me. And I interpreted this as that the terrorists are actually involved and want to involve themselves in our electoral process, which must mean they want a change.' And O'Reilly blamed North Korea. It seems mostly a constant state of denial that has swirled around the G.O.P since the wake-up call in November, but did they tout their losses as a failed policy or out of touch politics? No, they simply said America did not vote for liberalism but voted against the 'Bush' policies and not against conservatism, well, seems like denial to me. And that leaves us here, still in Iraq and not knowing what to exactly do but give money blindly to the Defense Department hoping it is spent well, but is it? Mr. Kucinich points out that the $130 billion is not specific, and he speculates it could be used for continuing the war, apparently not only Democrats are concerned but the Pentagon itself is showing concern.
From the interview it seems Kucinich wants to basically cut off the money, put an end to the funding as he puts, the only hope of ending this war and I would almost agree with him but I believe in the long run it might hurt our troops if I knew it would not hurt the troops I would get on board with him. The special inspector general has called corruption the second insurgency, those a pretty harsh words, but we as Americans tend to wonder how much do we pay in life and money to end this nightmare? Like I say cutting the money off might hurt our troops but if we are dealing with someone who does not want to see any other point of view,, what else is left?

Parting Shots

Posted: 12/02/2006 by Floyd in Labels: , ,
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In a parting shot Republicans trash the environment on their way to becoming the minority in the house for the first time in 12 years. Opening up the Gulf to off-shore drilling, and really this is the tip of the iceberg for this lame- duck Congress this won't be the last of it and that I am sure. A Congress that has basically rubber-stamped everything that was put before them, I look at this more or less as a parting shot to the American people. Another hit was put out on the women of this country, can't leave out you guys either the D.D has a link from their page to this also and like I said previously this is only the beginning to disrupt progress as much as possible before they pack their bags.

A judge has also ruled that the Roadless Area Conservation Rule should be applied to prohibit road construction on hundreds of oil and gas leases issued on national forest roadless areas since the rule was first enacted in 2001. Thanks to the Earthjustice attorneys who brought the legalities home to the Bush administration environmental policies. Of course this does not surprise me from this lame-duck Congress I was already aware of the parting shots while reading Peyton Knight talk about the scary dealings of the former do-nothing branch.
Sen. DeMint of South Carolina urged the lame-duck to save the spending bills as a house warming present for the Democrats, this would be fine for DeMint to suggest such a thing since

it will take Democrats years to clean up the Republican fiasco of big government and big spending.

3,000 doctors will be on capital hill to make a point on Medicare not to cut payments by 5%, lower payments could cause doctors not to treat as many Medicare recipients as they do now unless Congress is able to act during the lame-duck session, according to the AMA upwards of 45% of the doctors will either restrict treating some of the patients and or will not accept new patients with Medicare insurance.
Personally I think the re-nomination of Bolton is basically a stupid move, they could not get this guy approved before and I don't believe this will happen in the lame-duck session,(up-date-"it didn't")let me put it this way; if they do this it is nothing but plain old spite. The guy has to many strikes against him to even get into arguing for his nomination, it relates to statements he has said in the past, concerning other countries and the United Nations in general.
Another parting shot Republicans relish in is the left over spending bills like the war spending request that is said to top $100 billion, but hey we can afford it, what else are our tax dollars to be used for, don't expect them to squander our money on things like revitalizing our coast line around Mississippi and New Orleans, the dilemma we are in on this one is this, sure we could cut off funding and let Bush fund his own war but, in reality, it would hurt our troops and that we can not do so really they still have us over a barrel so to speak and we can not let the troops down. I have only given you a glimpse into the future of the lame-duck, but the battle will rage on after the duck is gone.

Bipartisan?

Posted: 12/01/2006 by Floyd in Labels: ,
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Bush in his Jordan trip proclaimed today that PM al-Maliki was the right man for the job. Mr. Bush has dismissed a quick troop withdrawal from Iraq, This coming on the heels of Iraq saying it would be able to take over security responsibilities by about June of next year. Mr. Bush has assured the PM that we would stay in Iraq unless we are asked to leave. Mr. Bush seemed confidant and at ease with the situation as he strode back to board the plane, it seems to have turned out to be a very productive meeting. It looks as though this bipartisan panel on Iraq is going to go with a phased pull-out of our troops, as best as I can tell with this beating around the Bush so to speak.
The President today laid doubt with the talk about civil war which is now going on in Iraq. Which leads us to believe your greatest ally is to lay doubt in public opinion, and having the media to roll over is an added bonus.
Links; Arizona Republic
Yahoo News