A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Science: Cephalopodophilia

Image courtesy of NOAA/MBARI 2006

Brian won't admit to his secret passionate love for squid of every variety, especially Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas). La Casa de Los Gatos wants the world to know we love squid, having been raised on Pon Pon, aka "The Chewing Gum of the Orient" &mdash squid marinated in sugar, salt, and chilli and pounded well before drying, which gives it a rubbery, chewy texture. A single pack of Pon Pon affords hours of stinky chewing fun.

Today, Brian sent us a link to a squid story over on Science Daily, featuring Humboldt squid. The story cites UC Santa Barbara researchers on an interdisciplinary study of squid beakage. It includes quotable gems such as these:
Humboldt squids, or Dosidicus gigas, are about three feet wide and can injure a fish with one swift motion. According to the article, ... "a squid beak can sever the nerve cord to paralyze prey for later leisurely dining."

"Squids can be aggressive, whimsical, suddenly mean, and they are always hungry," said Herb Waite, co-author and professor of biology at UC Santa Barbara. "You wouldn't want to be diving next to one. A dozen of them could eat you, or really hurt you a lot." The creatures are very fast and swim by jet propulsion.


Waite noted that squid muscle is available in locally made sandwiches, often called "calamari steak sandwiches."

The article itself is fascinating, if cephalopods happen to be your thing. As a cephalopodophile, however, I have to take exception to the last sentence in this quotable snippet:
According to Waite, the researchers were helped by the fact that squid seem to be moving north from areas where they have been traditionally concentrated, for example deep waters off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. Recently however Humboldt squid have been found in numbers in Southern California waters. Dozens of dead squid have recently washed up on campus beaches, providing the researchers with more beaks to study.
On behalf of Humboldt squid (future calamari steak sandwiches or Pon Pon) everywhere, we would like to point out to UC SB's eminent researchers that Humboldt squid are not mere providers of beaks.

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Blogging has been sparse at best over the past week.

Medication adjustment. It's not easy. However, we believe we are now tolerating whatever nasty chemicals we're ingesting (yes, we did our research, and our criteria for ingestment, being as our need for this type of medication was brought home, heh, painfully, was that side effects not include death, limb atrophy, or more than 16 hours unconsciousness out of 24; and yes, we're well aware that the correct form is "ingestion," but we ment every word we postfixed thusly).

One unmentioned side effect (apart from near-terminal sleepiness) appeared to be an aversion to the written word. Unable to read, write, or otherwise communicate with the outside world, and suffering mild aphasia to boot, we spent our time cooking, eating, and watching bad movies. Reviews to follow.

Let's hope this adjustment is successful. We really have no desire to try out anything new in the pharmacological inventory.

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Politics: One More Down

Those rats who haven't already abandoned the sinking FAILBOAT known as the Dick 'n Bush Misadministration, are being picked off one by one as their crimes catch up with them.

Latest to resign, according to Bloomberg, is none other than HUD Secretary Alphonso "Golfing Buddies Get First Dibs" Jackson.

If you're thinking to yourself, "Hmm, that name sounds familiar," it's probably because of Jackson's purported refusal to award HUD contracts to anyone who criticizes the Idiot-in-Chief. Last time we checked, HUD was financed by taxpayer money, not Shrubya's personal fortune. As such, party affiliation and loyalty to Der Chimpenfuehrer should not count at all in how HUD money is disbursed. But that was before the rise of the fascist state that puts party loyalty and personal loyalty above merit.

Which is why the inmates are now running the asylum and everything that can possibly be broken, is.

Jackson's other claims to fame:
  • Refusal to correct reported corruption and mismanagement and retaliatory "reassignment" of whistleblowers;

  • Spending $100,000 to have formal portraits of HUD chiefs painted &mdash at a time when the housing market is spiraling into the depths and people are losing their homes every day;

  • Slow and inadequate response to rebuilding public housing in New Orleans, resulting in four-fifths of public housing occupants not being permitted to occupy their former housing, even when it is in good shape;

  • Claiming he lied when he made that statement about only awarding contracts to those who showed sufficient loyalty to Der Leader;

  • Being proved to have &mdash unfortunately &mdash told the truth, in that investigators noticed only contractors who donated heavily to the Republican party or were personal friends got huge amounts of public money in the form of contracts awarded.
In case you're wondering, Jackson got his job as head of HUD because he used to be George W. Bush's buddy back in Dallas.

Is there a single member of this pathetic misadministration who was chosen solely for their competence and qualifications?

Today, Jackson announced that he, like Karen Hughes, Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonezales, John Ashcroft, and the other hundred or so miscreants hired by this repulsive gang of crooks and thugs, is leaving to spend more time annoying his family. To the Jackson family, we say: His resignation isn't effective for another two weeks. There is time! Save yourselves! Fly, you fools.

To the rest of America, we say: See this fat, smug, repulsive visage?

Remember it well. Do not let this man within a hundred miles of any job involving your tax dollars. Wealthy golfers don't need your charity. Especially not where our money is involved.

Jeez, you just can't make up this stuff.

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Consumer Alert: Yoghurt

Not the blueberry yoghurt!

Stonyfield Farm is recalling its Organic Fat Free Blueberry Yogurt in the 6 oz. cup size.

Look for these dates on the cup bottoms: Apr 13 08, Apr 14 08, April 15 08, April 25 08 and April 26 08.

If you bought fat-free blueberry yogurt with the identifying dates, return opened or unopened containers to the store for a full refund.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Politics: Action YOU Can Take

Are you sick and tired of watching your beloved nation turn into a police state?

If your answer is yes, go read this disturbing story about an 80-year-old church deacon arrested and physically dragged out of a shopping mall for, apparently, wearing a T-shirt that "upset" shoppers.

The deacon says he was drinking coffee at the mall. The mall security shites say he was handing out anti-war material. They arrested him and had police haul him off in a wheelchair. The police are paid by the taxpayers. Since when did they become private security for building owners? Shouldn't they be tracking down murderers, rapists, child abusers and wife-beaters? Instead of physically dragging peaceful citizens out of private buildings? What was so fucking offensive about the shirt?
Police said that Don Zirkel, of Bethpage, was disturbing shoppers at the Lake Grove mall with his T-shirt, which had what they described as “graphic anti-war images.” Zirkel, a deacon at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Wyandanch, said his shirt had the death tolls of American military personnel and Iraqis - 4,000 and 1 million - and the words “Dead” and “Enough.” The shirt also has three blotches resembling blood splatters.
Gosh, hearing about the number of dead is upsetting? Try being a relative of some of the dead.

You can contact the schmucks who own the mall at:

Corporate Headquarters
Simon Property Group
225 West Washington St
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

As for the mall security people &mdash when you arrest someone who looks like everybody's dear old grandpa, you deserve a boot in the fundament from the more able-bodied. And don't give us that shite about "just doing your job." That excuse didn't wash at Nuremberg. Why the hell are you enabling the police state that will take away your rights?

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Politics: Bush Sinks To New Low

Here's the Chimperor, throwing a baseball while the not-so-adoring crowd gives him a well-earned reception:

Enjoy! Does it sound to you like voices in the crowd are screaming "Impeach!"

Hope he has nightmares every night from now till that epic &mdash what? &mdash 298 days later?

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Hillary Clinton, you need to stop and take a look around now. Please. Yes, you're tough, tenacious, and a terrific fighter, but you've got to get rid of the weasels and shills in your camp who keep directing you into missteps. First it was the plagiarism charge. What a weak cup of tea that was! Couldn't you find something more pertinent? What about the differences between your health plan and his? Or your plan for tackling the economy? Iraq?

Then your campaign people sent out pictures to Matt Drudge?? Of Obama in traditional Somali garb. That's just low. Attacking him for his political positions is one thing. Trying to stoke the rightwing rumour that he's a Manchurian Muslim candidate is simply pathetic and beyond the pale.

Then your attack dogs &mdash NOW chapter heads, among others &mdash began bashing Senator Kennedy for endorsing Obama, and implying that Obama's position on women's right to choice was deficient even though he earned 100% approval from NOW and NARAL for his position; you had Geraldine Ferraro bringing up charges of reverse racism, to which your campaign had a tepid response.

Now, you're accusing Senator Obama of lying about his position with the conservative University of Chicago School of Law. What the hell is that about? Why? Can't you stick to the substantive stuff? And why raise something about someone else's purported lies when (1) you just got busted for lying &mdash it's all too fresh in the minds of the public, and it's only going to make them remember your lie; and (2) this accusation involves a third party who is going to have to make some sort of public statement, so you'd better be sure you're correct. Well, you weren't. In other words, you got busted for lying again. Because the UC Law School just came out with a public statement that Senator Obama was indeed what he claimed to be, and you were wrong. Except the voting public won't see it as "Hillary Clinton was wrong," they'll see it as "Hillary Clinton lied again."

Please, Senator Clinton. You're better than this. Don't you realize that by engaging in these low tactics, you're throwing away all the political capital that both you and your husband earned during the eight good years of his administration? That all of us who supported you against the Republican attacks, and who believed you when you told us about the "vast right-wing conspiracy" feel like complete chumps now that you're sitting at the same table as that revolting excuse for a human being, Richard Mellon-Scaife who personally funded eight or more years of bloodthirsty attacks on you and your family?

Now you're challenging the Texas delegates. Are you going to try and disenfranchise voters who didn't vote for you? We thought the ruckus about seating the Florida and Michigan delegates was to make sure voters weren't disenfranchised.

La Casa de Los Gatos is so deeply disappointed in you. After 20 years as a loyal supporter of yourself &mdash dating back to the days when you worked with Marion Wright Edelman &mdash we just don't know what to think about you, and your campaign, anymore. Please get rid of that unionbuster, Mark Penn. Clean up your campaign and fight fair. Please. Don't do this to yourself.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Iraq: The Successifying

Chimpy McDimwit has just given an interview to the Times of London in which he claims that the violence now erupting in Iraq is "a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law."

That violence includes fighting raging in Kut, where some 42 people have already died and over 100 have been wounded; Baghdad, where Iraqi authorities have imposed a curfew from 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Sunday after hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets against Maliki's government setting off days of clashes between government troops and Shiite Muslim militia fighters &mdash leading a Canadian newspaper to speculate that the militias that support the various factions of the Iraqi government are trying to eliminate smaller factions before the coming elections. U.S. Embassy workers in Iraq have been told to remain in secure buildings. Two Americans have died in the attacks so far; Hilla, Karbala, and Diwaniya; and Basra, where Nouri al-Maliki has personally showed up to posture right before he gets his ass kicked all the way back to the Green Zone. Incidentally, multiple rocket attacks are taking place inside the "secure fortress" of the Green Zone, indicating that perhaps it is neither as secure nor as fortress-like as the morons in charge and their sycophants in the press would have us believe.

In Basra, police chief Major General Abdul Jalil Khalaf survived a suicide car bomb attack around 1:00 am on Thursday (2200 GMT Wednesday) in which three policemen were killed.

The International Committee of the Red Cross put the toll from the Basra clashes at 20 dead but other, unconfirmed reports said 40 were killed. Altogether, about 130 are reported killed and hundreds injured. Saboteurs have also blown up a key oil pipeline, which Iraqi authorities estimate will take approximately 72 hours to repair. Needless to say, this has sent oil prices back up again.

In addition, gunmen have kidnapped Tahseen Sheikhly, a spokesman for the Baghdad security plan launched in February 2007 to stabilize the capital. Sheikhly has appeared frequently at news conferences alongside U.S. officials. The abduction occurred in the afternoon, according to officials in the Interior Ministry. The attackers shot and wounded at least one of Sheikhly's guards and ransacked his home before fleeing with him.
Mr Bush, who had spent the morning being briefed on Iraq by the Pentagon before an imminent announcement on US troop levels, said that despite “substantial gains” since the US military surge began last year, much work was needed to “maintain the success we’ve had”.

During his interview with the Times, Bush disparaged those who want US troops to come home, and reinforced his power, saying as he has before, "I'm commander in chief."

He averred that decisions would not be made by those who “scream the loudest” in calling for troops to come home.

“I understand people here want us to leave, regardless of the situation," he said, "but that will not happen so long as I’m Commander-In-Chief.”
How long before Drunky McCokespoon goes back to chopping brush in Crawford and leaves the rest of the world in peace?

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China, The Olympics, and Tibet

Photo from Tibet Travelogue

Disclaimer: We are strongly pro-China in most things. For us, China is the Peoples' Republic. We admit that abuses have occurred throughout China's post-Revolutionary history, but when weighed against the benefits brought about by the Revolution of 1949, and the long history of pre-revolutionary abuses, they are relatively minor.

That does not change the fact that China is currently at a pivotal point in her history. The issue of Tibet has long been a thorny and difficult one. China has throughout history considered Tibet part of her empire, but the days of empire are past, are they not? Tibet has a distinctive and ancient culture that is not the culture of the dominant Han Chinese. The Tibetan people do not consider themselves Chinese.

The Revolution brought benefits to Tibet, such as education, sanitation, health care, and the destruction of a rigid hierarchical priest-ridden social order. On the other hand, it attempted to eradicate much that the Tibetans value about their culture, including their religion. Now the always difficult situation has exploded, right around the time of the Olympics.

There is a great deal to be said about China's long and complex history and her finally rejoining the community of nations, as symbolized through the hosting of the Olympics. However, this is not the time and place to say it. The PRC government is distressed because the Tibetans have chosen this moment to bring the spotlight of the world to bear on their quest for greater autonomy. But given that most of the world ignores what is going on in its own backyard day after day, what better time to raise their issues? Otherwise, just like Darfur, and Burma, and Irian Jaya, and Comoros, and Iraq, all these issues are simply ignored.

At any rate, if you would like to join with the many people who are calling for a boycott of the Olympics over the issue of Tibetan autonomy, here is a petition that you might care to sign.

If you prefer to leave the matter of Tibet to the PRC government, reasoning that America, and every other country in the world, has human rights abuses occurring within their own borders that they should be attending to before lecturing anyone else, you might want to address the PRC government on the issue of animal rights instead.

The PRC government is rounding up and killing cats all over Beijing. Please help put a stop to this cruelty by signing this petition.

Concerned animal lovers are also pressuring the PRC government to crack down on the slaughter of dogs for food. Having our own dietary quirks, we prefer not to lecture others about their choice of food (as our Esteemed Parent once said to us, what's the difference between a cow and a dog? A question we couldn't answer, to our great embarrassment, without invoking our own quixotic notions of what constitutes acceptable eats). However, the cruelty with which animals are stolen from their owners and then killed, is simply unacceptable to the terminally tender-hearted of La Casa de Los Gatos. So we urge you to wander over to this site and sign the petition there.

You might also wish to put pressure on your purveyors of food and other necessities to boycott PRC products until the little matter of food contamination and oversight has been resolved.

La Casa de Los Gatos thanks you for your assistance. Incidentally, if you are fond of animals, you might not want to read the attachments to the petitions. They are graphic and highly disturbing. Psychoactive medication and Drugs of Choice are recommended. Also, not eating for a while &mdash maybe a day or more.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Feel Safer Now?

Raw Story tells us that a man carrying a loaded shotgun was arrested in January near the U.S. Capitol, and explosives left in his truck nearby went undetected for three weeks.

The schmuck in question, one Michael Gorbey, 38, of Rapidan, Va., was allegedly trying to manufacture a
"weapon of mass destruction, that is, an explosive device capable of causing multiple deaths or serious bodily injuries to multiple persons, or massive destruction of property," according to the indictment.


Now U.S. Capitol Police are investigating how their bomb squad missed the bomb.


Court records show Gorbey is a convicted felon and has been in and out of prison since 1991 for convictions on larceny, domestic violence and illegal gun and drug charges.
So we have to take our shoes off at the airport and stand in line for hours and dump breast milk and carry shampoo in little tiny bottles, and the FBI and DHS are monitoring every fucking email, phone call, and Web click we make, we can't even fart in peace in our houses without the DHS analyzing our poots, but convicted felons and loonies can bring bombs into the capital and DHS doesn't find them for three weeks? HELLO? Why does Michael Chertoff still have a job?

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Consumer Alert: Food Contamination

Oh, no! Not mozzarella!

Raw Story is reporting that Japan and South Korea have suspended mozzarella imports temporarily after reports surfaced claiming that some of the cheese was made with contaminated milk. the European Union has asked Italy for safety assurances by Wednesday at the latest.

Italy responded with the statement that follows:
"Checks have been made on 132 producers and only in nine cases traces of dioxin have been found," Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema told reporters, saying international alarm over the mozzarella was "totally exaggerated and unjustified."
Italian health officials claim the dioxin contamination apparently resulted from a garbage crisis earlier this year in Naples and the surrounding Campania region.

According to the article:
With landfills and dumping sites in the area full, locals burned piles of garbage in the streets and in open fields. Health officials say industrial waste was also set ablaze, spreading fumes that in some cases contained dioxin.

"The presence of dioxin is not due to the garbage itself but to the fact that substances containing dioxin have been burned and the fallout from the smoke brought some dioxin to the ground," Health Ministry undersecretary Gianpaolo Patta said.
Disposing of the garbage that the human population generates each year is becoming an insoluble problem. With a continent-sized mess of plastic in the ocean, and airborne contaminants from burning of garbage, we're poisoning our water, our earth, our air, and our food chain. For what it's worth, the Italian governmental sources are claiming that only one per cent of the mozzarella di bufala has been found to be contaminated. Hopefully it will all be consumed by those responsible for lowering clean air standards.

Dioxins result from some forms of combustion and can also come from industry, including paper and pulp production, and businesses that use chlorine.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The bill is coming due

... and here is a good article on why your taxes (and mine) are going up. 7 years of insane policies are coming home to roost. Read about it and see what we have to look forward too. If you think its hard getting by now, just wait. You ain't seen nothing yet.

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2008 Elections: What Do YOU Look For In A President?

We'd really like to know. Feel free to list the qualities that you think the President of the country should have.

These are the qualities we'd like to see:
  • Dignity

    After seven years of a clown who tries to give uninvited unwanted massages to heads of state in public, who grabs a foreign dignitary's sleeve to drag him in a different direction, who talks with his mouth full, who breaks into a bad soft-shoe shuffle in front of reporters, who can't speak in complete sentences, please give us a President with dignity. One who doesn't look like their clothes have been slept in, or show up for conferences with bruises on their face, or choke on pretzels. Please.

  • Intelligence

    No more idiots who can't pronounce words with more than two syllables. It's not too much to ask. We don't need an Einstein, but we do need someone who doesn't mistake "ascertain" for "asshole."

  • Integrity

    No more liars. We've had 20 years of lying weasels and that's plenty. In our book, "misspeak" is just another word for "lie." We don't expect the President to tell us every single thing that goes on &mdash sometimes national security requires a President to keep some things under wraps. But after 935 lies about ONE war, we have the right to expect our next President not to indulge in lying as a competition event.

  • Respect for the Constitution

    We realize it's going to take more than four years to undo all the damage the last bunch of crooks and liars have wreaked on the nation. Americans don't want their email, telephone calls, and letters read by the minions of the National Security apparatus. We want our next President to save the spying for terrorists, at home and abroad. Leave the average citizen's bank records and health records out of it. Please.

  • Diplomacy

    Enough with all the bullying of foreign dignitaries and browbeating other nations &mdash it just makes them all hate us and makes us more unsafe. It's one world now, whether or not we want it, and some of us have to fly to foreign countries all the time on business. It's nasty knowing that, thanks to the unelected idiot's obnoxious attitudes, you could be the target of some serious hatred. Never before have we had to threaten, browbeat, and bluster, yet we've always had a good record of working with others, and had love and respect around the world. Please, Next President, help us get that back.

  • Foresight

    This is the most important quality. Seven years of hearing incompetent buffoons whine endlessly about "Nobody could have anticipated ..." when there's ample evidence out there that anyone with two brain cells who cared about the country could indeed have anticipated, and acted. Seven years of watching the country slide down the tubes at increasing speed. Enough. We have the right to have a leader who will think, and look into the future, and exercise good judgment.
And here we want to illustrate one among our three candidates who has demonstrated foresight. While John McCain breaks the campaign finance law that he enacted, while Hillary Clinton announces that she doesn't understand what Alan Greenspan, the architect of our current economic collapse, is saying, Barack Obama wrote this letter a year ago to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

In the letter, Senator Obama outlines the coming foreclosure crisis and urges Bernanke and Paulson to act quickly to call a summit of service providers and public interest advocates in the mortgage and financial industry to address these grave concerns. He details, point by point, steps that both addressees should consider to deal with the looming crisis.

A year ago, John McCain was singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." Hillary Clinton was addressing various groups in the Democratic Party raising funds for her Presidential campaign. If Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson had responded immediately to Senator Obama's letter and taken action a year ago, we would not be sitting here watching housing prices slide ever lower as the cost of food, gas, and health care soars to unaffordable levels.

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Dr. Strangelove revisited

Thom Hartmann is reporting on his Air America radio show this morning that the day after Cheney left Saudia Arabia, their press started writing about how to deal with radio active fallout. The implication being that Bush is going to attack Iran with nuclear bunker busting bombs and that the attack could happen at anytime and it is expected the attack will kill millions. If Bush does this, he is sure to become the biggest mass murderer since Hitler. Unless you love the bomb and death and destruction, write and call your Congressional reps folks and raise the biggest stink you can. Dropping nuclear bombs on Iran is pure and complete insanity!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Iraq: Two Milestones

Well, we reached two milestones in Iraq this week:
  • The fifth anniversary of the illegal and immoral war of occupation;
  • Over 4,000 troops killed in combat
You'll notice that we qualified the numbers killed with the words "in combat." There's a good reason for this. According to Greg Mitchell over at HuffPo, over 1,000 troops who served in Iraq have committed suicide, either there or after they return.

The hardest thing to bear about this is the news in Raw Story today that 97 per cent of these casualties occurred after a certain pathetic waste of oxygen who shall remain forever nameless declared "Mission Accomplished."
At least 97 percent of the deaths occurred after US President George W. Bush announced the end of "major combat" in Iraq on May 1, 2003, as the military became caught between a raging anti-American insurgency and brutal sectarian strife unleashed since the toppling of Saddam.

140 American servicemembers died before May 1, 2003, out of a total 4,000.


The statistics reveal that the deadliest year for the military in Iraq was 2007 when it lost 901 troops on the back of a controversial "surge", which saw an extra 30,000 soldiers deployed in a bid to break the stranglehold of violence that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.

This figure compares with 486 deaths in 2003, the first year of the conflict, 849 in 2004, 846 in 2005 and 822 in 2006.

Since the start of 2008, 96 soldiers have died.
Snarly McCrashcart's response, beyond the original "So?" when he heard that two out of every three Americans oppose the military occupation of Iraq, is telling.
"The president carries the biggest burden, obviously," Cheney said. "He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us."
Essentially, it boils down to "They volunteered. Tough shit."

Those of you in the military, you and your families are seen as expendable cannon fodder by the people you have sworn to obey. George Dubya hasn't lost a moment's sleep while you slog out in the desert heat surrounded by potential enemies, fed contaminated water by Dick Cheney's company.

Sent to war for a lie, sent to die, leaving your grieving families and friends behind, or to return irreparably injured or damaged, only to find that you have been fed lie upon lie upon lie. Today's lie? The Pentagon says it can't find any evidence that Saddam Hussein ever tried to have Georgie's Daddy killed. One more pathetic excuse for that worthless war blown away.

And John McPain, who wants 100 years of war, and claims to be a Christian but doesn't even know the story of Queen Esther and Purim, doubtless has never heard this verse, either:
In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Matthew, 2:18, Mr. McInsane.

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A high-ranking official has just contradicted Li'l Boots' most recent lie &mdash that he was sending Snarly McCrashcart over to Saudi Arabia to beg his good friends the Saudis to lower the price of oil. At the time, White House Spokesbimbo Dana "Math is hard!" Perino announced:
The White House said on March 11 that the problems associated with soaring oil prices are "not going to be solved overnight" and that "it would be wrong" of Bush to promise otherwise. Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said "there are some things we cannot do." Her comments came as oil prices rose above $109 a barrel for the first time. They were as low as $87 a barrel in January.
Funny that prices can go up overnight, but not down. Why? Are oil prices like penile erections? They go up but won't go down till the consumer is royally screwed?

And it wasn't so long ago that Dim Son was claiming that his "administration" had earned them some capital that they could then spend to keep oil prices down or production up. Our CEO Preznitwit.
"I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply," Bush said at the time. "Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot."
Looks like you don't have any friends, Dimly McDumbwit. Or only fairweather friends.

They're happy to be nice to you before you trash the house and everything in it. Now that it's all broken, they're calling in their loans, and giving you &mdash and us &mdash the finger. What do you care? Daddy's money will take care of you. As for us, as your partner in crime says, "So?"

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2008 Elections: Sound Judgment Trumps Experience

When Joe LIEberwhore (I-Me) of Connecticut ran for his state's Democratic Party nomination, he was roundly defeated by challenger Ned Lamont. Whereupon he decided to run as an independent and by dint of some questionable tactics, managed to win the election.

A lot of voters responded to LIEberman's assertion that he had the experience necessary to represent them in Washington. After all, Ned Lamont, although he had all the right qualities and promised to work to end the illegal, immoral war of occupation in Iraq, didn't have the EXPERIENCE.

Well, the Connecticut newspaper, TheDay, decided to endorse LIEberman, based on his EXPERIENCE. They appear to be learning the painful lesson that, just because you've been doing the wrong thing for 20 years or more doesn't mean that you'll apply all that EXPERIENCE to doing the right thing later on down the line.
Rather than building the bridges The Day expected when it endorsed Sen. Lieberman, he appears busy burning bridges with the party of which he is allegedly still a member. Perhaps the senator is positioning himself for a top cabinet post in a McCain presidency. But if the Democrats prevail, and enlarge their control of the Senate, it is hard to imagine this Connecticut senator being welcomed back with open arms.
The only good thing to come out of this is that Joe LIEberman (Asshole-AIPAC) is finally being exposed for the snake that he is. All his hypocritical moralizing about where Clinton's weenie was, was just posturing. Who is more immoral, Clinton for his sexual obsessions? Or LIEberman's for failing to disclose that his wife, Hadassah, was a "senior counsellor" for Big Pharma, whatever that means. Apparently it means you can function as a lobbyist without having to register as one. It should come as no surprise that Big Pharma showed their appreciation for Hadassah Lieberman's "counsel" by pouring money into her husband's campaign. As the Salon article (registration required) says:
Among Hill & Knowlton's clients when Mrs. Lieberman signed on with the firm last year was GlaxoSmithKline, the huge British-based drug company that makes vaccines along with many other drugs. As I noted in July, Sen. Lieberman introduced a bill in April 2005 (the month after his wife joined Hill & Knowlton) that would award billions of dollars in new "incentives" to companies like GlaxoSmithKline to persuade them to make more new vaccines. Under the legislation, known as Bioshield II, the cost to consumers and governments would be astronomical, but for Lieberman and his Republican cosponsors, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., the results would be worth every penny. Using the war on terror as their ideological backdrop, the pharma-friendly senators sought to win patent extensions on products that have nothing to do with preparations against terrorist attack or natural disaster.
Which translates to, "once a whore, always a whore." So much for that "morality" for which The Day praised the Senatewhore.

We're facing a major election soon. One that could change this nation. Hopefully, TheDay's saga illustrates the relative importance of experience versus judgment.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Democracy in Action in Berkeley ...

Now this is one of those times when I say: Goddess bless America! This is when I can truly say "I love the U.S. of A" and "I'm proud of the U.S. of A" ... true democracy in action. I love it that folks rode their motocycles into Berkeley to show their support for the Marines.

Although, I do think some of them stole some style from the Dykes on Bikes -- the guy flying a big ole U.S. flag on the back of his bike, for example. It reminds me of the dykes that fly the big ole rainbow flag on the back of their bikes in the annual San Francisco LesBiGayTransQ Parade. [Q=questioning, and really, be honest ... shouldn't all of us be in that category? We're all evolving, aren't we?]

Anyway, I am a proud anti-war peacenik ... very anti-war. But I am so glad these folks -- organized by Eagles Us -- did this today.

Today, I am happy to be in the U.S. of A.

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2008 Elections: Character Counts

We might have mentioned that we're noticing more of our friends who were pro-Clinton (mind you, in our little enclave, we're mostly long-time Clinton supporters) are beginning to change their minds and move to Barack Obama. We too have joined the crowd. Mostly because the Clinton campaign has disillusioned us with her character and her husband's.

Here, for example, are comments from Bill Clinton made in Charlotte, North Carolina to members of the press:
"I think it would be a great thing if we had an election between two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interests of the country and people could actually ask themselves who is right on the issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics."
Two people? There are three running for election. Which two did you mean, Mr. Clinton?

It turns out that Hillary's husband was referring to Hillary and John McCain. So this is another sneaky sidewise assault on the patriotism and bona fides of Barack Obama, designed to feed the worst instincts of the mob. Why? Why sink into the gutter like this? Can't you attack his political positions? Tell us how his health care plan differs from your wife's? What his attitude is towards labour? Taxes? Women's rights? Anything factual?

Here, in contrast, is Senator Obama talking about Senator Clinton to the press:
"Senator Clinton is smart, she is capable and she is tenacious. She would be a vast improvement over the status quo... she’s gotten caught up in the conventional thinking in Washington. When I get that phone call at 3 in the morning, do what a good president should do, which is to get the facts, to talk with your advisers, to gather good intelligence and then to exercise good judgment. Senator Clinton, all too often I think, all too often over the last five years on foreign policy debates, has calibrated her responses based on politics instead of good judgment. That’s what happened on Iraq.

Now, here’s the condensed version of the difference on both domestic and foreign policy. It’s a question of leadership. I believe that it’s not enough just to change political parties. We have to change the culture, and part of changing the culture is recognizing that the special interests, the lobbyists, the insurance companies, the banks, the drug companies, HMO’s, they have come to dictate the agenda in Washington. The only way you break out of that so that ordinary people’s voices are heard is if you stop taking money from PACs and lobbyists like I have- she still does- and you recognize that they’re a problem- she doesn’t.

If you believe in transparency and accountability, which is why I passed the toughest ethics reform legislation since Watergate last year- this is not an issue she’s ever worked on because she doesn’t think it’s a priority- I passed laws to post on the internet a searchable database of every dollar of federal spending out there. Your tax money will continue to be wasted until you know when a "Bridge to Nowhere" is being built. She doesn’t believe in transparency and hasn’t even released her earmarks just like she hasn’t released her income tax returns. She doesn’t believe, I think, in bottom-up democracy, and if you don’t believe in that, then you’re not going to change Washington. You’ll tinker around the edges, but you’re not going to bring about the kind of changes the American people are desperate for. That’s why you should vote for Barack Obama."
This is what we want to hear. He's respectful towards Senator Clinton, but points out how he would be better for the job.

If he weren't respectful, we'd give up on him as a misogynistic bastard of an opportunistic politician. But he has handled the Ferraro issue and Clinton's character attacks so well and with such dignity that we are moving closer into his camp with each passing day.

Character counts, Senator Clinton, and President Clinton. For you to say what you're saying is unacceptable. Either tell us why Senator Clinton would be a better match for the job, or step down now. Personally, we're sick of this vicious bullshit. It doesn't sit well with us and we're sensing that it doesn't sit well with lots of other people too, Senator Clinton &mdash most importantly, the Party faithful and those apolitical types who rallied to support you when the rightwing smear machine funded by Mellon Scaife was all over you. If you're no different than them, why the hell should we support you?

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Technorati burps

Lately, Technorati has been refusing to let us log in or logging us out automatically or just generally behaving like a bratty teen (damn, we're glad we don't have kids!).

So we just went and redid our account. While browsing around to see what we might add or remove, we found this:
Tip: Please do us a favor and upload a photo that does not show your very special but also very private parts. When you do that, we have to take time away from making our website faster and better to go find your profile and hide it, and that's bad for you and us. Thanks for helping!
Oooo. Yes, we have an overactive imagination. Yes, we're now speculating on what the blue hail people are taking pictures of and adding to Technorati.

Yes, our opinion of Technorati's wonderful folks just went up a few notches. We really don't think we'd want a job where we might have to look at other people's naughty bits occasionally. Plus, they handle it so well.

What, you thought just because we cuss and swear a blue streak that we're NOT a prude? Catholic school will prudify anyone, lemme tell ya, anyone! As we always say, we're all talk, no boom-boom.

Back to cats.

Humorous Pictures
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Consumer Alert: Contaminated Water

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter has declared a state of emergency in the town of Alamosa, which gets its water from a deep aquifer. Aquifer water is normally so pure that it needs no chlorine disinfection. Unfortunately, for reasons as yet unknown, the aquifer water that supplies the town is giving its residents salmonella.
There are 138 people with confirmed or suspected cases of salmonella, said Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health. Seven people remain hospitalized. The ill range in age from infants to those over 80 years old, Calonge said.
East Alamosa gets its water from a different system, so its (apparently) safe.

In the meantime, if you're in that city, several businesses are providing bottled water for free, so look around. Do not drink, brush your teeth, or cook with the city water. If the cost of bottled water will put a dent in your budget and you can't find someone to supply it free, you might be eligible for reimbursement. Contact your city officials.

The Denver Channel has a detailed list of do's and dont's here, including telephone numbers you can call for more help.

In case anyone's forgotten, the NRDC has detailed information on how bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water &mdash with the exception, of course, of not generally having salmonella.

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Consumer Alert: Contaminated Meat

If you have purchased Jenny Craig diet food with beef, it might contain meat from the Chino slaughterhouse that was the subject of a major recall recently.

Check your freezer for any Jenny Craig meals containing beef, such as the meatloaf with barbeque sauce or Salisbury steak.

10News of San Diego has heard from Jenny Craig customers who claim the company did not notify them. See their site for more information.

In the meantime, check your freezer, and alert any friends who might be using Jenny Craig.

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Happy Caturday!!

And here's my miracle cat, Cosmo, looking fit as a fiddle ...

I'm so grateful to the doctors and everybody at the Oakland Veterinary Hospital. Thanks, everybody for helping my Cosmo get better -- especially Dr. Dorsey!!


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Maxx Memorial Day

G'night, Maxxie.

We all miss you.

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2008 Elections: Experience or Senility?

McCain's foreign policy gaffe in the Middle East caused us some concern. But we understand that he might not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

But how clueless do you have to be to refer to Purim as "the Jewish version of Halloween"? In Israel, yet. Oy, gevalt, oy vey is mir.

Isn't this the same guy who touts his Christian credentials and goes around kissing the asses of the religious right? Even we, atheist as we are, know the Book of Esther from which comes Purim, fer crying out.

The thing that worries us is &mdash is this just one in a series of gaffes? Or is McCain borderline senile?

Sure, his mother's long-lived and still pretty sharp in her 90s, but there's no guarantee that he takes after Mom, and not his dead-as-a-doornail Dad. John Sidney McCain Junior died at the age of 70, according to Wikipedia. His grandfather, John Sidney McCain Sr., died at the age of 61. The McCain men don't seem to have the longevity gene. Although it's still possible that John Sidney III got it from his Moms.

But more worrisome than death of the body is death of the brain. He's flummoxed by questions on the economy, and jokes about them. Hint: the economy is not a joke to those of us who are hurting, Senator. He has an explosive temper. And all his vaunted "experience" did not imbue him with the judgment to recognize Ahmad Chalabi as the con-man and double- or triple-agent that he is, nor to see through Bush's 900-plus lies about Iraq.

Getting taken in once or twice, we understand, but 900 times? And this is not like Bush's famously hostile relationship with Democratic politicians &mdash McCain celebrated his birthday with Bush (yeah, while people were drowning in NOLA, our dumbass Pretzelnitwit was horsing around with McCain &mdash doesn't look good for either of them). Then there's the S&L scandal thing. He was deeply involved in that.

Plus he wants to privatize social security. Hello, the stock market just exploded pretty spectacularly. Better come up with a new plan, John.

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Iraq: Five Years Later

As we suspected &mdash and blogged previously &mdash, the recent "improvement" that resulted from Georgie's "surge," or rather repeated redeployment of worn-out troops, was an illusion manipulated mainly by the media with the assistance of complacent rightwingnut apologists in the U.S.

As with the economic crisis, people have been warning for a long time that the situation in Iraq is inherently unstable. Jaish al-Mahdi have been, so far, obedient to Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr, their leader. Mostly. In recent months, as blogger James Schneider notes (click above link), the Jaish al-Mahdi appears to be splintering with some of the more thuggish elements moving out of al-Sadr's control.

Now The Guardian, one of the last bastions of good journalism, offers us a look at the Sons of Iraq, or the Sunni Awakening, or whatever they're calling them this week. The Sunnis whom we supposedly armed and financed &mdash oops, it appears that we just promised them money, we forgot to pay them.

Given how good our credit is around the world, can you see why the Sunnis are not too happy?

Consider this: 80,000 armed angry Sunni fighters. Plus unknown numbers of al Qaeda in Iraq fighters. Plus Jaish al-Mahdi. Against 160,000 U.S. troops.

Sure, we have superior firepower. But superior firepower doesn't mean much when most of the country is filled with people who want you dead. Ask the French. They still remember Dien Bien Phu.

From Iraq, Mohammed blogs the fifth anniversary of the war. It is to weep bitter tears of blood.

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B.A.D. Stroll Through The Blogroll

Graphics credits Skippy, concept credit Skippy and Jon Swift

There's no keeping up with all the bloggy goodness out there, but we managed to cull a few high points from Blogtopia (y,Sctp!) today.

  • Over at 13 Martyrs, Rob weighs in on the Jeremiah Wright non-issue with some interesting thoughts;

  • Over at Alien Trucker, Rocky talks about his son, putting a very human — and heart-wrenching face on the cost of the conflict in Iraq;

  • Black and Missing But Not Forgotten does yeoman work, keeping black women who are victims of domestic violence, runaways, kidnappees, or otherwise missing, in the public eye;

  • Over at BlondeSense, PeterofLoneTree tells us that Israel has grounded fighter planes they bought from us because of formaldehyde contamination. Looks like we're not just trying to kill poor folks in NOLA. We're equal opportunity contaminators;

  • Over at Casa de Charlotte della Luna, Charlotte tells us that Yanar Mohammad, Founder of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), will join an illustrious panel of speakers to discuss the situation of women in disaster zones. To be held in New Orleans on April 11th. She also has some gorgeous pictures to share, go look!

  • Dave over at his place becomes yet another in the long line of people who have been shoved forcefully out of Hillary Clinton's camp and into Obama's — by Hillary.

  • Over at Jonestown, two rants that rocked us;

  • Over at School For The Girls, Rebecca chronicles with compassion the lives of poor girls and women in Kenya, and tries to change the outcome for them. A good global citizen. Drop by and say hi, and see if you can help at least one of the girls she writes about.

  • And litbrit shares with us a piece from my favourite composer, Frank Zappa, while carving her initials on Exxon's bloated hide with a pointed wit and a noteworthy flourish.
This has been your stroll through the blogroll. La Casa de Los Gatos thanks you for your attention.

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For Ms. Manitoba

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Chris Wallace Turns Away From The Dark Side?


Chris Wallace, whose father, Mike Wallace, had the undying respect of most journalists, was initially a great disappointment to those of us at La Casa de Los Gatos. He seemed like the ultimate toady.

In the past week or two, however, he's been gradually distancing himself from the Dark Side, or so it seems.

In his own words:
"I've been watching on and off for a couple of hours and every clip I've seen ends at 'that's a typical white person,' when in fact he's going on to discuss the nature of race in our country, and again, I'm not saying if he had it do over again that he'd necessarily say it that way, but I don't think that he was making a hyper-racial remark."

"I guess I just feel like on a day when he's been endorsed by Bill Richardson, and we have this story about the passports," he added, "I feel like two hours of Obama-bashing may be enough."

The F&F hosts responded to Wallace with vehement defenses, but Wallace said that after Obama had given major speeches this week on race, Iraq, and the economy, his campaign might suggest that "in terms of deflecting attention away from the issues people really want to hear about, maybe it's the media doing it, not Barack Obama."
Raw Story has the video clip. Pass me the smelling salts!

In all fairness, we'd like to say that when the zeitgeist is inclined in a particular direction, it takes a great deal of strength to swim against the tide it generates. Over the past decade or more, the zeitgeist might best be characterized as a confederacy of dunces of the worst sort. A boatfull of rats fighting over scraps in the hold even as their vessel careens towards a deadly falls. The "I've got mine, now screw you" mentality that, in the short term, allowed scummy greedbags like Grover Norquist and Karl Rove to flourish.

And now that we find our government is spying on everything we think, do, and say, going through the files of political "opponents," subverting the Justice Department so that it will do the will of those in power and not safeguard the people and the nation as it should, we understand why so many were afraid to speak up at first. Didn't we all worry about losing our jobs and our homes, being blacklisted, spied on, harrassed?

Now that we are losing our jobs and homes and any flimsy sense of security, as the fragile vessel we call the nation teeters at the lip of the cascade, we are beginning to realise that we can no longer sit quiet. We must speak out, or be damned.

Perhaps that sentiment is beginning to percolate throughout the nation.

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Dear American Consumer

Here's what you're supposed to think about the economy.

When did Americans go from being citizens to becoming consumers? We had no idea our sole function in life was to consume goods and services produced by ourselves and others just to prop up an economy that gives working people little or nothing but provides a munificent bounty to executives of large corporations.
"Consumers, in general, are optimists," said Bullard, who believes that increased consumer spending after the tax rebate checks are delivered in the late spring will help boost the economy in the third and fourth quarters of 2008.

"Even when they're not optimists, they love shopping," he added.

But Americans are less optimistic about their long-term financial situation. Only 23% felt "very confident" about paying for their children to attend their choice of college.

Furthermore, only 29% said they were "very confident" about saving enough money to live comfortably when they retire, and just 44% believe they will be able to retire when they want to.
Mr. Bullard will soon realize, as many of us already have, that the credit card limits have been reached. You can't shop without money. The $600 rebate won't even cover food costs for the month for the average family of four. Mr. Bullard wouldn't notice, because he makes enough that he doesn't have to worry about the cost of food.

Those of us who were paying $1.x for a gallon of gas when the Bush Misadministration took power are now paying three times as much, plus the rising cost of gas is forcing up the cost of food and other necessities. So good luck with your little pipe-dream, Mr. Bullard. We here are hoping that American consumers decide not to spend the pittance they will receive on useless junk. There's too many real costs to take care of.

As corporate CEOs and financial organizations take foolish risks and show poor judgment, we, the taxpayers, are dragged out to rescue them with our deep pockets. Well, our pockets aren't as deep as the pigs in power would like to believe. On a personal level, we're overstretched, and suffering. And the only reason people believe the economy will improve in 2009 is because this gang of crooks, thugs, liars, and thieves who have been robbing us for seven years, will be out of power. We hope. That's the only reason left for optimism.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Iraq: File In The "Not News" Folder

We still really like Chuck Hagel. We always have. He's a lot truthier than Senator John McPain.

So it should come as no surprise that he just released a book, titled America: Our Next Chapter. We probably won't buy it or read it, because, as much as we like Chuck Hagel, we don't agree with his politics most of the time. And there's a limit to how many books we can read each year.

But we can't help but agree with the premise of his book, which is that the White House and its occupants, Chimperor von Duncewitz and human impersonator extraordinaire Hatey von GoosenSteppen, bungled the Iraq war. From CNN:
Hagel said the country needs new leadership and suggests the Iraq war might be remembered as one of the five biggest blunders of all time.


He said the Iraq invasion resulted from "Bush administration arrogance and incompetence." He claims Vice President Cheney and other so-called neoconservatives "cherry-picked intelligence" and used fear to intensify "war sloganeering."
Ya think, Chuck?

In other news, a little girl is dying of cancer and wants her daddy with her. She's only ten years old, and her father is obviously a stupid putz, because he was busted for meth &mdash possession, distribution, sale, consumption, who knows? Couldn't have been a major offense, since he only got five years.

He's due to be released next year anyway, and his wife and daughter are not requesting early release. They just want him home so he can be with his dying daughter. Senator Hagel, won't you please help?

Folks, if any of you are from Senator Hagel's home state, could you give him a call and ask him if he can help this poor kid out? It's not her fault her father's a stupid putz. And being a stupid putz shouldn't mean your kid has to die still missing you. Surely the prison warden (in whose discretion the decision remains) can let the man go see his little girl?

KETV has the details.

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Iraq: Today's Unfortunate Juxtaposition

Some wise guy once said, "A picture is worth a thousand words." A sentiment with which we don't always agree. Unlike our fellow-poster, Ms. Manitoba, we are a words person not a picture person.

Then along comes this offering from Raw Story, and, well, see for yourself.

Soldier tells mom: My goal is to come home with my legs

Here's the video clip.

What if that was your kid? How will you ensure that your kid, or somebody else's, if they're unfortunate enough to be thrown into Bush's meatgrinder, comes home with both legs? Did you write your Congresscritter today? Did you call them? Did you write your mayor, your city council, your newspaper? Is a letter a day enough to help stop the war?

Perhaps you can write your Congresscritter or better yet, the warmonger-in-chief, and tell them that your household has vowed not to spend a single penny on anything except the bare necessities until the war is over.

Consumer spending is what drives the economic machine. The same machine that thrives off grinding up people's children, or parts thereof, in this war. If every American household stopped spending on things they did not need, would the war grind to a halt? Wouldn't it be worth it, to not buy a single new unneeded thing until the war ends, if Lt. Deminico and the men in his platoon come back whole?

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Free Speech, Knotted Knickers, And A Warning

There are those among us who have grown mighty riled about some comments made by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ, one of whose more famous parishioners is one Barack Obama, Senator from Illinois, and hopeful Democratic Presidential Nominee.

To those people, a word of warning: White American preachers have said much worse than the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Cenk Uygur documents, with links, how many have said Americans deserved to die in the attacks of 9/11, America deserved the destruction of hurricanes, America was founded to destroy Islam (Rev. Parsley, John McCain's "spiritual advisor"); we wonder if our Islamic allies in the Middle-East, whom John McCain is currently visiting on the taxpayer's dime (we presume) have any idea that the man they are talking to has a spiritual advisor who wants him to destroy their nations?

Apparently, we have let people like the Rev. Jerry Fallwell, John Hagee (who refers to the Catholic Church as The Great Whore), and Rod Parsley say these things without restraint. Because, after all, freedom of speech is one of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

If those of you who have your panties in a bunch decide that Rev. Wright should not be permitted to speak as he has, remember that that same rule can be applied to any other preacher in any other pulpit. Mike Huckabee recognizes this, which is why he is speaking up in support of Rev. Wright. Frank Schaefer recognizes this, which is why he is speaking up in support of Rev. Wright, while pointing out that his late father, who said many things similar to Rev. Wright, was honored by Reagan and other politicians despite his words.

And another thing: having failed to find anything to throw at Obama, it appears that those who don't want him for our next President are trying out guilt by association. As if a man or woman is responsible for what their preacher, or hairstylist, or boss, or brother-in-law says. Do you want that standard applied to you? Or to your candidate? There is a very simple way to ensure that your candidate wins the election: vote for him or her. Hand out leaflets, campaign in your neighbourhood, work for the campaign. That is the democratic way to ensure the election of the candidate that you prefer.

Trying to smear someone else's candidate for the remarks of their preacher is a dangerously undemocratic, un-American thing to do.

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Barack Obama on Iraq

What he said:
The World Beyond Iraq

Just before America’s entry into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson addressed Congress: “It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war,” he said. “…But the right is more precious than peace.” Wilson’s words captured two awesome responsibilities that test any Commander-in-Chief – to never hesitate to defend America, but to never go to war unless you must. War is sometimes necessary, but it has grave consequences, and the judgment to go to war can never be undone.

Five years ago today, President George W. Bush addressed the nation. Bombs had started to rain down on Baghdad. War was necessary, the President said, because the United States could not, “live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.” Recalling the pain of 9/11, he said the price of inaction in Iraq was to meet the threat with “armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.”

At the time the President uttered those words, there was no hard evidence that Iraq had those stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. There was not any evidence that Iraq was responsible for the attacks of September 11, or that Iraq had operational ties to the al Qaeda terrorists who carried them out. By launching a war based on faulty premises and bad intelligence, President Bush failed Wilson’s test. So did Congress when it voted to give him the authority to wage war.

Five years have gone by since that fateful decision. This war has now lasted longer than World War I, World War II, or the Civil War. Nearly four thousand Americans have given their lives. Thousands more have been wounded. Even under the best case scenarios, this war will cost American taxpayers well over a trillion dollars. And where are we for all of this sacrifice? We are less safe and less able to shape events abroad. We are divided at home, and our alliances around the world have been strained. The threats of a new century have roiled the waters of peace and stability, and yet America remains anchored in Iraq.

History will catalog the reasons why we waged a war that didn’t need to be fought, but two stand out. In 2002, when the fateful decisions about Iraq were made, there was a President for whom ideology overrode pragmatism, and there were too many politicians in Washington who spent too little time reading the intelligence reports, and too much time reading public opinion. The lesson of Iraq is that when we are making decisions about matters as grave as war, we need a policy rooted in reason and facts, not ideology and politics.

Now we are debating who should be our next Commander in Chief. And I am running for President because it’s time to turn the page on a failed ideology and a fundamentally flawed political strategy, so that we can make pragmatic judgments to keep our country safe. That’s what I did when I stood up and opposed this war from the start, and said that we needed to finish the fight against al Qaeda. And that’s what I’ll do as President of the United States.

Senator Clinton says that she and Senator McCain have passed a “Commander in Chief test” – not because of the judgments they’ve made, but because of the years they’ve spent in Washington. She made a similar argument when she said her vote for war was based on her experience at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But here is the stark reality: there is a security gap in this country – a gap between the rhetoric of those who claim to be tough on national security, and the reality of growing insecurity caused by their decisions. A gap between Washington experience, and the wisdom of Washington’s judgments. A gap between the rhetoric of those who tout their support for our troops, and the overburdened state of our military.

It is time to have a debate with John McCain about the future of our national security. And the way to win that debate is not to compete with John McCain over who has more experience in Washington, because that’s a contest that he’ll win. The way to win a debate with John McCain is not to talk, and act, and vote like him on national security, because then we all lose. The way to win that debate and to keep America safe is to offer a clear contrast, and that’s what I will do when I am the nominee of the Democratic Party – because since before this war in Iraq began, I have made different judgments, I have a different vision, and I will offer a clean break from the failed policies and politics of the past.

Nowhere is that break more badly needed than in Iraq.

In the year since President Bush announced the surge – the bloodiest year of the war for America – the level of violence in Iraq has been reduced. Our troops – including so many from Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base – have done a brilliant job under difficult circumstances. Yet while we have a General who has used improved tactics to reduce violence, we still have the wrong strategy. As General Petraeus has himself acknowledged, the Iraqis are not achieving the political progress needed to end their civil war. Beyond Iraq, our military is badly overstretched, and we have neither the strategy nor resources to deal with nearly every other national security challenge we face.

This is why the judgment that matters most on Iraq – and on any decision to deploy military force – is the judgment made first. If you believe we are fighting the right war, then the problems we face are purely tactical in nature. That is what Senator McCain wants to discuss – tactics. What he and the Administration have failed to present is an overarching strategy: how the war in Iraq enhances our long-term security, or will in the future. That’s why this Administration cannot answer the simple question posed by Senator John Warner in hearings last year: Are we safer because of this war? And that is why Senator McCain can argue – as he did last year – that we couldn’t leave Iraq because violence was up, and then argue this year that we can’t leave Iraq because violence is down.

When you have no overarching strategy, there is no clear definition of success. Success comes to be defined as the ability to maintain a flawed policy indefinitely. Here is the truth: fighting a war without end will not force the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. And fighting in a war without end will not make the American people safer.

So when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will set a new goal on Day One: I will end this war. Not because politics compels it. Not because our troops cannot bear the burden– as heavy as it is. But because it is the right thing to do for our national security, and it will ultimately make us safer.

In order to end this war responsibly, I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove 1 to 2 combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them 16 months. After this redeployment, we will leave enough troops in Iraq to guard our embassy and diplomats, and a counter-terrorism force to strike al Qaeda if it forms a base that the Iraqis cannot destroy. What I propose is not – and never has been – a precipitous drawdown. It is instead a detailed and prudent plan that will end a war nearly seven years after it started.

My plan to end this war will finally put pressure on Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future. Because we’ve learned that when we tell Iraq’s leaders that we’ll stay as long as it takes, they take as long as they want. We need to send a different message. We will help Iraq reach a meaningful accord on national reconciliation. We will engage with every country in the region – and the UN – to support the stability and territorial integrity of Iraq. And we will launch a major humanitarian initiative to support Iraq’s refugees and people. But Iraqis must take responsibility for their country. It is precisely this kind of approach – an approach that puts the onus on the Iraqis, and that relies on more than just military power – that is needed to stabilize Iraq.

Let me be clear: ending this war is not going to be easy. There will be dangers involved. We will have to make tactical adjustments, listening to our commanders on the ground, to ensure that our interests in a stable Iraq are met, and to make sure that our troops are secure. Senator Clinton has tried to use my position to score political points, suggesting that I am somehow less committed to ending the war. She makes this argument despite the fact that she has taken the same position in the past. So ask yourself: who do you trust to end a war – someone who opposed the war from the beginning, or someone who started opposing it when they started preparing a run for President?

Now we know what we’ll hear from those like John McCain who support open-ended war. They will argue that leaving Iraq is surrender. That we are emboldening the enemy. These are the mistaken and misleading arguments we hear from those who have failed to demonstrate how the war in Iraq has made us safer. Just yesterday, we heard Senator McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and al Qaeda. Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.

The war in Iraq has emboldened Iran, which poses the greatest challenge to American interests in the Middle East in a generation, continuing its nuclear program and threatening our ally, Israel. Instead of the new Middle East we were promised, Hamas runs Gaza, Hizbollah flags fly from the rooftops in Sadr City, and Iran is handing out money left and right in southern Lebanon.

The war in Iraq has emboldened North Korea, which built new nuclear weapons and even tested one before the Administration finally went against its own rhetoric, and pursued diplomacy.

The war in Iraq has emboldened the Taliban, which has rebuilt its strength since we took our eye off of Afghanistan.

Above all, the war in Iraq has emboldened al Qaeda, whose recruitment has jumped and whose leadership enjoys a safe-haven in Pakistan – a thousand miles from Iraq.

The central front in the war against terror is not Iraq, and it never was. What more could America’s enemies ask for than an endless war where they recruit new followers and try out new tactics on a battlefield so far from their base of operations? That is why my presidency will shift our focus. Rather than fight a war that does not need to be fought, we need to start fighting the battles that need to be won on the central front of the war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This is the area where the 9/11 attacks were planned. This is where Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants still hide. This is where extremism poses its greatest threat. Yet in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have pursued flawed strategies that are too distant from the needs of the people, and too timid in pursuit of our common enemies.

It may not dominate the evening news, but in Afghanistan, last year was the most deadly since 2001. Suicide attacks are up. Casualties are up. Corruption and drug trafficking are rampant. Neither the government nor the legal economy can meet the needs of the Afghan people.

It is not too late to prevail in Afghanistan. But we cannot prevail until we reduce our commitment in Iraq, which will allow us to do what I called for last August – providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our efforts in Afghanistan. This increased commitment in turn can be used to leverage greater assistance – with fewer restrictions – from our NATO allies. It will also allow us to invest more in training Afghan security forces, including more joint NATO operations with the Afghan Army, and a national police training plan that is effectively coordinated and resourced.

A stepped up military commitment must be backed by a long-term investment in the Afghan people. We will start with an additional $1 billion in non military assistance each year – aid that is focused on reaching ordinary Afghans. We need to improve daily life by supporting education, basic infrastructure and human services. We have to counter the opium trade by supporting alternative livelihoods for Afghan farmers. And we must call on more support from friends and allies, and better coordination under a strong international coordinator.

To succeed in Afghanistan, we also need to fundamentally rethink our Pakistan policy. For years, we have supported stability over democracy in Pakistan, and gotten neither. The core leadership of al Qaeda has a safe-haven in Pakistan. The Taliban are able to strike inside Afghanistan and then return to the mountains of the Pakistani border. Throughout Pakistan, domestic unrest has been rising. The full democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people have been too long denied. A child growing up in Pakistan, more often than not, is taught to see America as a source of hate – not hope.

This is why I stood up last summer and said we cannot base our entire Pakistan policy on President Musharraf. Pakistan is our ally, but we do our own security and our ally no favors by supporting its President while we are seen to be ignoring the interests of the people. Our counter-terrorism assistance must be conditioned on Pakistani action to root out the al Qaeda sanctuary. And any U.S. aid not directly needed for the fight against al Qaeda or to invest in the Pakistani people should be conditioned on the full restoration of Pakistan’s democracy and rule of law.

The choice is not between Musharraf and Islamic extremists. As the recent legislative elections showed, there is a moderate majority of Pakistanis, and they are the people we need on our side to win the war against al Qaeda. That is why we should dramatically increase our support for the Pakistani people – for education, economic development, and democratic institutions. That child in Pakistan must know that we want a better life for him, that America is on his side, and that his interest in opportunity is our interest as well. That’s the promise that America must stand for.

And for his sake and ours, we cannot tolerate a sanctuary for terrorists who threaten America’s homeland and Pakistan’s stability. If we have actionable intelligence about high-level al Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s border region, we must act if Pakistan will not or cannot. Senator Clinton, Senator McCain, and President Bush have all distorted and derided this position, suggesting that I would invade or bomb Pakistan. This is politics, pure and simple. My position, in fact, is the same pragmatic policy that all three of them have belatedly – if tacitly – acknowledged is one we should pursue. Indeed, it was months after I called for this policy that a top al Qaeda leader was taken out in Pakistan by an American aircraft. And remember that the same three individuals who now criticize me for supporting a targeted strike on the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks, are the same three individuals that supported an invasion of Iraq – a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

It is precisely this kind of political point-scoring that has opened up the security gap in this country. We have a security gap when candidates say they will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but refuse to follow him where he actually goes. What we need in our next Commander in Chief is not a stubborn refusal to acknowledge reality or empty rhetoric about 3AM phone calls. What we need is a pragmatic strategy that focuses on fighting our real enemies, rebuilding alliances, and renewing our engagement with the world’s people.

In addition to freeing up resources to take the fight to al Qaeda, ending the war in Iraq will allow us to more effectively confront other threats in the world - threats that cannot be conquered with an occupying army or dispatched with a single decision in the middle of the night. What lies in the heart of a child in Pakistan matters as much as the airplanes we sell her government. What’s in the head of a scientist from Russia can be as lethal as a plutonium reactor in Yongbyon. What’s whispered in refugee camps in Chad can be as dangerous as a dictator’s bluster. These are the neglected landscapes of the 21st century, where technology and extremism empower individuals just as they give governments the ability to repress them; where the ancient divides of region and religion wash into the swift currents of globalization.

Without American leadership, these threats will fester. With strong American leadership, we can shape them into opportunities to protect our common security and advance our common humanity – for it has always been the genius of American leadership to find opportunity embedded in adversity; to focus on a source of fear, and confront it with hope.

Here are just five ways in which a shift in strategy away from Iraq will help us address the critical challenges of the 21st century.

First, in addressing global terror and violent extremism, we need the kind of comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy I called for last August. We need to strengthen security partnerships to take out terrorist networks, while investing in education and opportunity. We need to give our national security agencies the tools they need, while restoring the adherence to rule of law that helps us win the battle for hearts and minds. This means closing Guantanamo, restoring habeas corpus, and respecting civil liberties. And we need to support the forces of moderation in the Islamic world, so that alliances of convenience mature into friendships of conviction.

Second, the threat of nuclear proliferation must serve as a call to action. I have worked across the aisle with Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel in the Senate to secure dangerous weapons and loose nuclear materials. And as President, I will secure all loose nuclear materials around the world in my first term, seek deep cuts in global nuclear arsenals, strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and once more seek a world without nuclear weapons.

Third, the danger of weak and failed states risks spreading poverty and refugees; genocide and disease. Now is the time to meet the goal of cutting extreme poverty in half, in part by doubling our foreign assistance while demanding more from those who receive it. And now is the time to build the capacity of regional partners in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and the reconstruction of ravaged societies.

Fourth, the catastrophic consequences of the global climate crisis are matched by the promise of collective action. Now is the time for America to lead, because if we take action, others will act as well. Through our own cap and trade system and investments in new sources of energy, we can end our dependence on foreign oil and gas, and free ourselves from the tyranny of oil-rich states from Saudi Arabia to Russia to Venezuela. We can create millions of new jobs here in America. And we can secure our planet for our children and grandchildren.

And fifth, America’s sluggish economy risks ceding our economic prominence to a rising China. Competition has always been a catalyst for American innovation, and now should be no different. We must invest in the education of our children, renew our leadership in science, and advance trade that is not just free, but fair for our workers. We must ensure that America is the economic engine in the 21st century just as we were in the 20th.

I have no illusions that any of this will be easy. But I do know that we can only begin to make these changes when we end the mindset that focuses on Iraq and ignores the rest of the world.

I also know that meeting these new threats will require a President who deploys the power of tough, principled diplomacy. It is time to present a country like Iran with a clear choice. If it abandons its nuclear program, support for terror, and threats to Israel, then Iran can rejoin the community of nations – with all the benefits that entails. If not, Iran will face deeper isolation and steeper sanctions. When we engage directly, we will be in a stronger position to rally real international support for increased pressure. We will also engender more goodwill from the Iranian people. And make no mistake – if and when we ever have to use military force against any country, we must exert the power of American diplomacy first.

Once again, Senator Clinton, Senator McCain, and President Bush have made the same arguments against my position on diplomacy, as if reading from the same political playbook. They say I’ll be penciling the world’s dictators on to my social calendar. But just as they are misrepresenting my position, they are mistaken in standing up for a policy of not talking that is not working. What I’ve said is that we cannot seize opportunities to resolve our problems unless we create them. That is what Kennedy did with Khrushchev; what Nixon did with Mao; what Reagan did with Gorbachev. And that is what I will do as President of the United States.

What I have talked about today is a new strategy, a new set of priorities for pursuing our interests in the 21st century. And as President, I will provide the tools required to implement this strategy. When President Truman put the policy of containment in place, he also invested in and organized our government to carry it out –creating the National Security Council and the CIA, and founding NATO. Now, we must upgrade our tools of power to fit a new strategy.

That starts with enhancing the finest military in the history of the world. As Commander in Chief, I will begin by giving a military overstretched by Iraq the support it needs. It is time to reduce the strain on our troops by completing the effort to increase our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines, while ensuring the quality of our troops. In an age marked by technology, it is the people of our military – our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen – who bear the responsibility for complex missions. That is why we need to ensure adequate training and time home between deployments. That is why we need to expand our Special Forces. And that is why we must increase investments in capabilities like civil affairs and training foreign militaries.

But we cannot place the burden of a new national security strategy on our military alone. We must integrate our diplomatic, information, economic and military power. That is why, as soon as I take office, I will call for a National Strategy and Security Review, to help determine a 21st Century inter-agency structure to integrate the elements of our national power.

In addition, I will invest in our civilian capacity to operate alongside our troops in post-conflict zones and on humanitarian and stabilization missions. Instead of shuttering consulates in tough corners of the world, it’s time to grow our Foreign Service and to expand USAID. Instead of giving up on the determination of young people to serve, it’s time to double the size of our Peace Corps. Instead of letting people learn about America from enemy propaganda, it’s time to recruit, train, and send out into the world an America’s Voice Corps.

And while we strengthen our own capacity, we must strengthen the capability of the international community. We honor NATO’s sacrifice in Afghanistan, but we must strive to make it a larger and more nimble alliance. We must work with powers like Russia and China, but we must also speak up for human rights and democracy – and we can start now by speaking out for the human rights and religious freedom of the people of Tibet. And while we are frustrated by the UN, we must invest in its capability to keep the peace, resolve disputes, monitor disarmament, and support good governance around the world – and that depends on a more engaged United States.

We are at a defining moment in our history.

We can choose the path of unending war and unilateral action, and sap our strength and standing. We can choose the path of disengagement, and cede our leadership. Or, we can meet fear and danger head-on with hope and strength; with common purpose as a united America; and with common cause with old allies and new partners.

What we’ve seen these last few years is what happens when the rigid ideology and dysfunctional politics of Washington is projected abroad. An ideology that does not fit the shape of the times cannot shape events in foreign countries. A politics that is based on fear and division does not allow us to call on the world to hope, and keeps us from coming together as one people, as one nation, to write the next great chapter in the American story.

We also know that there is another face of America that we have seen these last five years. From down the road at Fort Bragg, our soldiers have gone abroad with a greater sense of common purpose than their leaders in Washington. They have learned the lessons of the 21st century’s wars. And they have shown a sense of service and selflessness that represents the very best of the American character.

This must be the election when we stand up and say that we will serve them as well as they have served us. This must be the election when America comes together behind a common purpose on behalf of our security and our values. That is what we do as Americans. It’s how we founded a republic based on freedom, and faced down fascism. It’s how we defended democracy through a Cold War, and shined a light of hope bright enough to be seen in the darkest corners of the world.

When America leads with principle and pragmatism, hope can triumph over fear. It is time, once again, for America to lead.
Senator Obama delivered this speech today, March 19, 2008, in Fayetteville, NC, on the anniversary of that terrible day five years ago when George W. Bush declared war on Iraq and began a lengthy war of occupation of a small, poor nation that had absolutely nothing to do with the attack on the Twin Towers.

We have seen the electorate utterly reject fearmonger Rudy Giuliani and hatemongers Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, and Duncan Hunter. Let us see if the electorate recognizes this policy speech for what it is &mdash a specific and detailed plan to bring the nation back from the brink of disaster and restore America's standing, at home and abroad.

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