Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 2007

Yet another Halloween is upon us. I recall many fun nights trick-or-treating all those years ago. The weather was always the iffy part of Halloween. Some years were nice and relatively warm while others years we experienced snow, extreme cold, or both. You just never knew what you were going to get.

My hope is that all trick-or-treaters stay safe out there and that mean people leave the kids alone.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Blackwater

Reports today indicate that the Blackwater mercenary killers were given immunity for their testimony by Condi Rice's State Department. What a fantastic message to send to our Iraqi friends: "We care about you and your welfare so much that our U.S. government hired mercenaries can kill you with impunity."

This will surely win the hearts and minds of our liberated Iraqi friends.

The Iraqi prime minister demanded the removal of Blackwater from his country immediately after the September 16th massacre, with the responsible individuals to remain to face prosecution. Blackwater still remains in Iraq, and now it looks as if no one will be held accountable from Blackwater for the mass killings, even though the Iraq government and the U.S. military have determined the Blackwater mercenaries started the shooting.

What will happen next?

Monday, October 29, 2007

No Rudy for U.S.

Rudy, the Values Slayer
By Frank Rich
The New York Times

Sunday 28 October 2007

With the new president heading off to his Texas vacation during that slow news month of August 2001, I wrote a column about a man who would never be president: Rudy Giuliani. Banished from Gracie Mansion after dumping his second wife for Judith Nathan, New York's lame-duck mayor had been bunking for two months with a gay couple. No brand-name American politician had ever publicly done such a thing, so I decided to pay a visit to Rudy's home away from home.

His Honor was out that day, but Howard Koeppel, a garrulous Queens car dealer, and his partner, Mark Hsiao, a Juilliard-trained pianist, were gracious tour guides to their 32nd-floor apartment on East 57th Street. I asked Mr. Koeppel, a born comic, whether it was unexpected that Rudy would live with an openly gay couple. "I don't know if it's any more unusual than him wearing a dress," he deadpanned. On a more sober note, Mr. Koeppel told me that the connubially challenged mayor was an admirer of his and Mr. Hsiao's relatively "idyllic life" and had assured them that "if they ever legalized gay marriages, we would be the first one he would do."

That this same Rudy Giuliani would emerge as the front-runner in the Republican pack six years later is the great surprise of the 2008 presidential campaign to date, especially to the political press. Since the dawn of the new century, it has been the rarely questioned conventional wisdom, handed down by Karl Rove, that no Republican can rise to the top of the party or win the presidency without pandering as slavishly as George W. Bush has to the most bullying and gay-baiting power brokers of the religious right.

When Rudy's candidacy started to show legs, pundits and family values activists alike assumed that ignorant voters knew only his 9/11 video reel and not his personal history or his stands on issues. "Americans do not yet realize how far outside of the mainstream of conservative thought that Mayor Giuliani's social views really are," declared Tony Perkins, the Family Research Council leader, in February. But despite Rudy's fleeting stabs at fudging his views, they are well known now, and still he leads in national polls of Republican voters and is neck and neck with Fred Thompson in the Bible Belt sanctuary of South Carolina.

There are various explanations for this. One is that 9/11 and terrorism fears trump everything. Another is that the rest of the field is weak. But the most obvious explanation is the one that Washington resists because it contradicts the city's long-running story line. Namely, that the political clout ritualistically ascribed to Mr. Perkins, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Gary Bauer of American Values and their ilk is a sham.

These self-promoting values hacks don't speak for the American mainstream. They don't speak for the Republican Party. They no longer speak for many evangelical ministers and their flocks. The emperors of morality have in fact had no clothes for some time. Should Rudy Giuliani end up doing a victory dance at the Republican convention, it will be on their graves.

Part of their demise, of course, can be attributed to the pileup of personal hypocrisies that have always undone Elmer Gantrys in America, from Jimmy Swaggart to Jim Bakker. The Ted Haggard revelations were in that tawdry tradition, and so was the news that the Christian Coalition's front man, Ralph Reed, looked forward, as he put it, to "humping in corporate accounts" in collaboration with the now-jailed K Street lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Their fall from grace was synergistically augmented by their scandal-prone family-values allies on Capitol Hill. Even now, the virulent marriage defender David Vitter retains his Senate seat despite having confessed to unspecified sins after his name surfaced in bordello scandals in both Washington and New Orleans.

Also staying put in the Senate is Larry Craig, who, consciously or not, is calling the whole moral brigade's bluff. After he was busted in the Minneapolis airport, Republicans insisted he undergo an ethics committee investigation on the assumption that he'd disappear before they could conduct it. Now they will have to make good on their word.

Mr. Craig is not just refusing to leave, but, as he demonstrated to Matt Lauer, he is ready, willing and able to re-enact his toilet pas de deux on national television. The Larry Craig show could be C-Span's hit of the election season. It will culminate with its star's return to the scene of the crime during the Republican National Convention, which, as perverse poetic justice would have it, is taking place in Minneapolis.

But the most significant - and happiest - explanation for the values czars' demise as a political force is that white evangelical Christians and a new generation of evangelical leaders have themselves steadily tacked a different course from the Dobson crowd. A CBS News poll this month parallels what the Times reporter David D. Kirkpatrick found in his examination of evangelicals for today's Times Magazine. Like most other Americans, they are more interested in hearing from presidential candidates about the war in Iraq and health care than about any other issues.

Abortion and same-sex marriage landed at the bottom of that list; fighting poverty outpolled abortion as a personal priority by a 3-to-2 margin. To see just how large a gap separates that evangelical electorate from the values organizations that purport to speak in its name, just look at the Values Voter Summit that the Family Research Council convened to much press attention in Washington last weekend. In a survey of participants to determine which issue would be "most important" in choosing a presidential candidate, the summit's organizers didn't even think to list the war, health care or fighting poverty among the 12 hot-button options.

The Values Voter Summit's survey of the attendees' presidential preferences showed just as large a disconnect. Rudy Giuliani came in next to last (behind Tom Tancredo, ahead of John McCain) in the field of nine candidates, earning only 1.85 percent of the vote. By contrast, among white evangelicals nationwide in the CBS News poll, he was in a statistical dead heat for first place with Fred Thompson; indeed, Mr. Giuliani's 26 percent among evangelicals nearly matches his showing among all Republican voters. The discrepancy between the CBS poll and the summit survey leaves you wondering who exactly follows Dr. Dobson and Mr. Perkins beyond the ticket buyers who showed up for their media circus last weekend at the Washington Hilton.

Of late Dr. Dobson has been throwing a hissy fit about Rudy's rise, reminiscent of his 2005 condemnation of the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants for appearing in what he labeled a "pro-homosexual video." Apparently suffering from the delusion that he has the pull on the right that Ralph Nader once did on the left, he has threatened to bolt to a third party. But for all this huffing and puffing, Dr. Dobson and his stop-Rudy brigade are as politically hypocritical as the Reverend Haggard was sexually hypocritical.

If they really believed uncompromisingly in their issues and principles, they would have long since endorsed either Sam Brownback, the zealous Kansas senator fond of using fetus photos as political props, or Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who spent 15 years as a Baptist preacher, calls abortion a "holocaust" and believes in intelligent design rather than evolution.

But they gave Senator Brownback so little moral and financial support that he folded his candidacy a week ago. And they continue to stop well short of embracing Mr. Huckabee, no matter how many rave reviews his affable personality receives on the campaign trail. They shun him because they know he'll lose, and they would rather compromise principle than back a loser.

Backing a loser, they know, would even further diminish their waning Washington status in a post-Rove, post-Bush G.O.P. The more they shed their illusion of power, the more they imperil their ability to rake in big bucks from their apocalyptic direct-mail campaigns. They must choose mammon over God if they are to maintain the many values rackets that make up their various business empires.

Hilariously enough, some other big names on the right, typified by Sean Hannity of Fox News, are capitulating to the Giuliani candidacy by pretending that he, like the incessantly flip-flopping Mitt Romney, is reversing his previously liberal record on social issues. The straw they cling to is Rudy's promise to appoint "strict constructionist" judges to the Supreme Court.

Even leaving aside the Giuliani record in New York (where his judicial appointees were mostly Democrats), the more Democratic Senate likely to emerge after 2008 is a poor bet to confirm a Scalia or Alito even should a Republican president nominate one. No matter how you slice it, the Giuliani positions on abortion, gay rights and gun control remain indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton's.

"You have absolutely nothing to fear from me," Rudy disingenuously told the assembled at the Values Voter Summit last weekend. Actually, there's plenty for everyone to fear from a Giuliani presidency, starting with the mad neocon bombers shaping his apocalyptic policy toward Iran. But that's another story. Whichever candidate or party lands in the White House, this much is certain: Inauguration Day 2009 is at the very least Armageddon for the reigning ayatollahs of the American right.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Did you know?

Did you know?

… that non-Jewish Israelis can’t buy or lease land in Israel.

… that Palestinian license plates in Israel are color coded to distinguish Jews from non-Jews.

… that Jerusalem, both East and West, is considered by the entire world community, including the United States, to be occupied territory and NOT part of Israel.

… that Israel allots 85% of the water resources for Jews and the remaining 15% is divided among all Palestinians in the “territories”? For example in Hebron, 85% of the water is given to about 400 settlers, while 15% must be divided among Hebron’s 120,000 Palestinians.

… the United States awards Israel $5 billion in aid each year. Update: Here is a short clip from the documentary “Occupation 101,” exposing US Aid to Israel:

… that yearly US aid to Israel exceeds the aid the US grants to the whole African continent.

… that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons.

… that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and bars international inspections from its sites.

… that Israel currently occupies territories of two sovereign nations (Lebanon and Syria) in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

… that Israel has for decades routinely sent assassins into other countries to kill its political enemies.

… that high-ranking military officers in the Israeli Occupation Forces have admitted publicly that unarmed prisoners of war were executed by the IOF.

… that Israel refuses to prosecute its soldiers who have acknowledged executing prisoners of war.

… that Israel routinely confiscates bank accounts, businesses and land, and refuses to pay compensation to those who suffer the confiscation.

… that Israel blew up an American diplomatic facility in Egypt and attacked a U.S. ship in international waters, killing 33 and wounding 177 American sailors.

… that the second most powerful lobby in the United States, according to a recent Fortune magazine survey of Washington insiders, is the Israeli AIPAC.

… that Israel stands in defiance of 69 United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

… that today’s Israel sits on the former sites of more than 400 now-vanished Palestinian villages, and that the Israeli’s re-named almost every physical site in the country to cover up the traces.

… that it was not until 1988 that Israelis were barred from running “Jews Only” job ads.

… that four prime ministers of Israel Begin, Shamir, Rabin, and Sharon, have taken part in either bomb attacks on civilians, massacres of civilians, or forced expulsions of civilians from their villages.

… that the Israeli Foreign Ministry pays two American public relations firms to promote Israel to Americans.

…that Israel’s government includes a party which advocates expelling all Palestinians from the occupied territories.

… that Israel’s settlement-building increased rapidly since Oslo.

… that settlement building under Barak doubled compared to settlement building under Netanyahu.

… that Israel once dedicated a postage stamp to a man who attacked a civilian bus and killed several people.

… that recently-declassified documents indicate that David Ben-Gurion in at least some instances approved of the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948.

We often hear of Ehud Barak’s generosity about an alleged return of 95% of the Palestinian Occupied Territories. When Palestinians refused, they were blamed for “missing an opportunity.” The Palestinians have already accepted Israel’s existence on 78% of what was Palestine. For those who use the argument of the Bible: God said to Abraham, “Unto thy seed, I will give thy land.” Abraham had two sons. Ismael - the Arab son, and Isaac - the Jewish son. So even if one wants to go to the Bible, the land would belong to both.

… that Palestinian Christians are considered the “living stones” of Christianity because they are the direct descendants of the disciples of Jesus Christ.

… that despite a ban on torture by Israel’s High Court of Justice, torture has continued by Shin Bet interrogators on Palestinian prisoners.

… that Palestinian refugees make up the largest portion of the refugee population in the world.



Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bison win again!

The NDSU Bison improve to 8-0 on the year after defeating Southern Utah 52-17. Their number 1 ranking is well deserved and earned.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Washington Post In 2002 And 2007: Bush Is Trying To ‘Prevent’ War

Yesterday, President Bush announced new, unilateral sanctions against Iran. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) warned that the unilateral approach “escalates the danger of a military confrontation.”

Today, the Washington Post offers a very different perspective. The paper writes that Bush’s sanctions regime demonstrates that he actually seeks to “prevent” war with Iran:

In approving far-reaching, new unilateral sanctions against Iran, President Bush signaled yesterday that he intends to pursue a strategy of gradually escalating financial, diplomatic and political pressure on Tehran, aimed not at starting a new war in the Middle East, his advisers said, but at preventing one.

Bush believes Tehran will not seriously discuss limiting its nuclear ambitions or pulling back from its involvement in Iraq unless it experiences significantly more pressure than the United States and the international community have been able to exert so far, according to administration officials and others familiar with the president’s thinking.

That the Post is so willing to uncritically accept the White House interpretation of its own actions is nothing new. In 2002, during the run-up to the Congressional vote to authorize military action against Iraq, the Post similarly wrote that Bush viewed the vote as “the best way to prevent a war:”

Moreover, unlike 1991, passage of the resolution does not mean that a war is imminent. Indeed, as the vote neared, Bush and members of his administration in recent days have deliberately toned down their tough rhetoric. The notion that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must be toppled has been shoved in the background, while instead officials argue that the best way to prevent a war is strong support from Congress and the U.N. Security Council for a possible war, because it will demonstrate to Hussein that he has no choice but to give up his weapons of mass destruction.

The drumbeat for war with Iran strikes disturbingly similar notes as that leading up to war with Iraq. It is unfortunate that the Washington Post has not grown more skeptical of Bush’s attempts at “preventing” war.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rudy is an idiot...

Rudy Jokes About Torture: ‘On That Theory, I’m Getting Tortured Running For President’

rudy.jpgAsked last night in Iowa about Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey’s refusal to call waterboarding torture, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said “it depends on the circumstances” and “on who does it” because “liberal newspapers have exaggerated it.”

Giuliani then called liberals “silly” for describing “sleep deprivation” as torture, joking that “on that theory, I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States”:

And I see, when the Democrats are talking about torture, they’re not just talking about even this definition of waterboarding, which again, if you look at the liberal media and you look at the way they describe it, you could say it was torture and you shouldn’t do it. But they talk about sleep deprivation. I mean, on that theory, I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s plain silly. That’s silly.

Giuliani should familiarize himself with the US Army Field Manual on Interrogation, which describes “abnormal sleep deprivation” as a form of mental torture. Both the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court of Israel have ruled sleep deprivation to be inhumane and unlawful.

Even John Yoo, the prime author of the administrations infamous torture memo, has conceded that sustained sleep deprivation can “amount to a violation of the Geneva Convention.”

Giuliani’s dismissive joke echoes a similarly tasteless joke made by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2002. In the margins of an “action memo” declaring “stress positions,” such as standing for up to 4 hours, to be acceptable interrogation techniques, Rumsfeld scrawled “I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?

US Government Mercenaries

Blackwater guards think shootings were ‘unjustified.’

Blackwater USA CEO Erik Prince has repeatedly insisted that his company’s guards were “defending” themselves in the Sept. 16 shooting that killed 17 Iraqi civilians. But many Blackwater guards serving in Iraq disagree:

They described a grating sense among many of Blackwater guards, especially those with years of experience, that the killings on Sept. 16 were unjustified.

“Some guys are thinking that it was not a good shoot, that it was not warranted,” said one Blackwater contractor, using military jargon for an episode that results in a wrongful death. “I don’t think there was criminal intent involved. I just think it was the application of the use of deadly force gone horribly wrong.”

He added, “To mitigate one threat, 17 people had to die?”

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Current Event

Bad Religion has been one of my favorite bands for a very long time. They have been around for quite awhile now so I guess that means I'm getting old.

In light of the current events taking place in southern California, I am reminded of their song "Los Angeles Is Burning" from the CD "The Empire Strikes First". The social commentary in Bad Religion's lyrics has always been relevant and poignant.

Los Angeles Is Burning:

Somewhere high in the desert near a curtain of blue
St. Anne's skirts are billowing
But down here in the city of limelights
The fans of Santa Anna are withering
And you can't deny the living is easy
If you never look behind the scenery
It's show-time for dry climes
And bedlam is dreaming of rain
When the hills of Los Angeles are burning
Palm trees are candles in the murder-wind
So many lives are on the breeze
Even the stars are ill at ease
And Los Angeles is burning
This is not a test of the Emergency Broadcast System
Where Malibu fires and radio towers conspire to dance again
And I cannot believe the media Mecca
They're only trying to peddle reality
Catch it on prime-time, story at nine:
The whole world is going insane
When the hills of Los Angeles are burning
Palm trees are candles in the murder-wind
So many lives are on the breeze
Even the stars are ill at ease
And Los Angeles is burning
A placard reads, "the end of days"
Jacaranda boughs are bending in the haze
More a question than a curse:
How could hell be any worse?
The flames are stunning
The camera's running
So take warning
When the hills of Los Angeles are burning
Palm trees are candles in the murder-wind
So many lives are on the breeze
Even the stars are ill at ease
And Los Angeles is burning

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Moving Forward Together

IVAW faces a critical juncture. As we have witnessed the addition of numerous new, talented members and the development of an organically constructed strategy, we have failed to implement our strategy with goals and plans that facilitate the achievement of our objectives.

During the National Strategy sessions held earlier this year, members analyzed why the war in Iraq was being fought and the institutions that enabled the U.S. government to continue the illegal occupation of Iraq. Clearly, the U.S. military is the single most important entity to the U.S. government’s capacity to wage war and extend the occupation. We acknowledged that IVAW was in a unique position to remove the support of the military by utilizing three primary methods:

1. Organizing Active Duty resistance
2. Truth in Recruiting
3. Counter-Retention

Since the creation of this framework, our organization has been working to generate a unified effort among our members to implement this strategy. However, we didn’t set goals or make plans that would guide our actions to fit directly into this strategy.

Recently, our members, particularly those who dedicate time to our strategy team, have devised a plan that will drastically refocus our energy to making tangible inroads into the active duty. This plan, as all plans henceforth should, passes the litmus test of the following questions:
*Does this project make our organization stronger (ie, more members, stronger community, healthier chapters, better active duty outreach, developing leaders, etc)?

*Does this plan/action assist in removing military support for the war?

A serious political question arises from this plan; it is the question that necessitates this entire essay:
“Why are we devoting time to building a GI resisitance movement?”

This question can be expounded to say:
“Why build a GI movement if the next president or congress will end the war?”

It is vitally important to address this question so that we can move forward together as an organization with a common understanding of the significance and urgency of our work. Further, engaging in active duty outreach implies that we all know how to handle the inevitable questions that will eminate from the service members we encounter.

In order to explain why we want members and service members to organize with us, we must be able to analyze these pertinent issues

1. Why the U.S. is occupying Iraq
2. What it’s going to take to end the war
3. How the elections will affect our interactions
4. How U.S interests at stake in Iraq affect our actions
5. How this war is a symptom of a deeper problem
6. What are we asking service members to do

As we all know, the primary reasons given by the Bush administration for invading Iraq, WMDs that threatened the U.S. and its allies and terrorist links, were fraudulent. Thus the real reasons for invasion have been avoided by the government and media alike. This isn’t meant to be a lecture on points we’ve all heard before, but it is necessary to illustrate that if our members or potential members feel that the U.S. invaded Iraq simply because Bush is an idiot or that he wants to “export democracy,” we will fail to grasp why our strategy was devised.

The U.S. is perpetuating the occupation of Iraq to dominate world energy supplies and to project military power into the Middle East, ie, the war is being fought for neo-imperialism. It is important to note that this is not a problem that rests solely on the doorstep of the Bush administration, as we have seen from the prevailing position of ALL presidential front runners, no major candidate or party is calling for an end to the occupation. This is not because the democrats simply don’t have the votes; in fact, they are basing their presidential campaigns on the grounds of a continued, albeit modified, occupation that perpetuates the same policy of controlling oil and projecting power.

Even if they did promise to “Redeploy,” it would be foolish to disregard the lesson taught to the people of 1968 when Richard Nixon was elected on promises of “peace with honor.” As history reveals, politician’s empty promises often provide little more than broken hearts and shattered lives.

This is why our strategy is hinged to our ability to organize GI resistance. Such organizing will not only reduce the capacity of the government to execute its policies, it will develop our members organizing ability, strengthen our organization, and fill our ranks with new members. If we were to engage in any other strategy, we would be expending energy on endeavors that ultimately left us with nothing to show for our effort and frustrated that our organization wasted precious resources.

Obviously, it will take more than the efforts of IVAW to end this war. The Iraqi resistance will certainly continue to play a role, as well as the civilian anti-war movement. The Vietnam War was ended by a combination of all of these components. Many say that Vietnam was ended because “America lost the political will to fight,” the fact is that it was soldiers who lost the will to fight. Of course not every soldier did, but enough to make the government choose between the occupation of Vietnam and a functioning U.S. military.

As elections draw nearer, the conditions exist where members and potential members will be confused and attracted to the sheer magnitude of the mainstream dialogue about the war. No “serious” candidates will say anything remotely close to committing to the removal of troops from the occupation, however many will make it seem like they are advocating for a serious change, for example continuing the occupation with 90,000 troops and changing the nature of their mission.

Thus it is imperative that we predict these conditions and prepare our tactics to correspond with our goal. Meaning, we need to know what to say when troops/members doubt that a GI movement is necessary.

Where as I previously stated that the government was forced to reevaluate its policies during Vietnam in response to the staunch VC/ NLF resistance, the crippling decline in effectiveness and discipline of the military and tremendous, domestic unrest, the current scenario requires a qualitatively different level of all forms of resistance. More clearly, the U.S. has much more at stake in Iraq than it did in Vietnam; therefore the need for dedicated GI organizing is much more pressing. It is foolish to think that the war will peter out on its own. The U.S. will not give up its superpower status, which is entirely bound to its ability to dominate the Middle East, unless it is forced to by a conscience within its own ranks.

The war in Iraq is unique in its importance and scale, but it is entirely consistent with U.S. foreign policy for the last century. I believe that if we don’t end this war and simultaneously lead the way to a systemic change in the American power structure, the same pattern will reemerge. Given the near certainty of this, I believe it would be wise to put forth a strong argument for the drastically different method of change for which we stand and also the level of change I feel we should stand for as individuals.

What are we asking of our members and our new members?
Our new plan asks our members to develop tactics to conduct outreach to active duty service members with the express goal of developing chapters of IVAW on military installations. Our six month plan needs the organization to focus its efforts on carrying out this outreach. Chapters are being called upon to facilitate the organizing and training needed to successfully conduct this outreach.

Our new active duty members are being asked to organize a community of service members who can support and educate each other personally and politically. The ultimate goal is to empower members to stand on their principles in an organized and thoughtful manner that defies the mold of individualism that is unfairly projected on war resisters, and to foster the sense of solidarity needed to stand by each other while we act to bring peace and justice to our nation and the world.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Are the New England Patriots unstoppable this year? Last week Tom Brady throws 5 touchdown passes. This week he throws 6! The mere presence of Randy Moss in the lineup is making stars out of Stallworth and Welker. Since my Vikings are just plain sucking, and the Cardinals are only a notch above the Vikings, I will have to jump on the Patriots bandwagon again this year. Go New England!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

FOX News Channel's 'Happy War Talk' Leads Its Viewers to Believe Things Are Going Well in Iraq

Reported by Marie Therese - October 21, 2007


FOX News likes to boast about how they bring to their viewers stories from Iraq that are not the usual "if it bleeds it leads" reports that the rest of the mainstream media covers. In the spirit of being "fair and balanced," (where have I heard that expression before?). I've decided to bring News Hounds readers the flip side of the coin - stories from the Iraq war zone that tug at your heartstrings and make you wonder even more what is really going on in Iraq. They also raise questions about why the United States military is caught in the middle of an all out civil war.

War, any war, is not pretty. The Iraq War is not a John Wayne movie, even though FOX News wants to paint it as some kind of glamorous adventure that will introduce democracy to a nation that for over 1300 years has been locked in tribal warfare.

If you have the stomach to watch Fox News, you get the idea that everything in Iraq is going "swimmingly" as Ann Coulter is prone to say. However, a new report indicates reconstruction and political progress is failing all across the country and not just in Baghdad.

New Report Shows Little Reconstruction and Political Progress in Iraq

The New York Times

Baghdad - Attempts by American-led reconstruction teams to forge political reconciliation, foster economic growth and build an effective police force and court system in Iraq have failed to show significant progress in nearly every one of the nation's provincial regions and in the capital, a federal oversight agency reported on Thursday.

The report, by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, comes as the United States tries to take advantage of a drop in overall violence to create a functioning government here.

The release of the report was linked to testimony on Thursday by the special inspector general, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.


Few, if any, Americans know that over 1.2 Million Iraqi citizens have been killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.

Over One Million Iraqis Killed Since U. S. Led Invasion

Just Foreign Policy

The estimate that over a million Iraqis have died received independent confirmation from a prestigious British polling agency in September 2007. Opinion Research Business estimated that 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed violently since the US invasion.


The Pentagon has dragged its feet in providing up-armored Humvees for combat duty in Iraq, but how many Fox News viewers know that one GI's mom is sending him "silly string" to be used to detect trip wires on bombs?

Silly String Sent to Soldier in Iraq


DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. - After months of frustration, a mother of a soldier in Iraq has found someone to ship about 80,000 cans of Silly String to the troops, who use the foamy substance to detect trip wires on bombs. “I am so happy right now, I am shaking. I just think it’s awesome that it’s finally going,” said the woman, Marcelle Shriver, as boxes were loaded into a truck Monday afternoon. Soldiers can shoot the substance, which travels about 10 feet, across a room before entering. If it hangs in the air, that indicates a possible trip wire.


While Fox News continues to search for "Happy Iraq" news, the effects on the Iraqi children are under-reported. For example, here is a story about a simple playground becoming a killing field in the middle of an Iraqi war zone.

No Peace - Not Even on a Playground in Iraq


Once I asked a little girl what the Eid al-Fitr feast at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan meant to her. Her answer was: a new beautiful dress, new shoes, a nice gift, candies, balloons and some pocket money to buy extra sweets and enjoy the day at a playground. It was pretty pure and simple – a child’s dream of how to enjoy a day.

Many families mark the end of the month of fasting by bringing their children to simple playgrounds with local made swings, slides, seesaws, and sometimes manual ferris wheels. On Friday, in the northern city of Tuz Khormato where kids must have been laughing while innocent smiles spread across their faces as they swung and slid down slides – a vendor approached selling homemade sweets.

But the vendor was not the ordinary one, he was a suicide bomber hiding an improvised explosive device (IED) inside his cart full of sweets. The attack killed a boy and his father, and wounded another 20 children.

The smiles turned to tears, wounds and sorrow. What was the message that the terrorists wanted to send beyond killing and injuring children? The only plausible answer was don't ever cheer up.


Who gets to stay stateside and who goes to the Iraq or Afghanistan theaters of war is not the kind of story you will find much on Fox News. However, the reality of war is something that has to be dealt with on a day-to-day basis by military families. The decision about what military units will ship out and who gets to stay in the United States requires massive planning.

Deciding Who Goes Where and When to Iraq

The Army Times

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on and the demand for troops grows by the day, the plans division, led by Col. Edge Gibbons, is focused on how to meet global requirements while increasing dwell time for troops and decreasing the length of deployments. “There are competing demands for Army resources. You have to be a very agile Army,” Gibbons said. “Every combatant commander has his priorities. Whose priorities come first? We have a supply-demand disconnect. That’s why we’re at 15 months [boots on the ground].”

Twenty Army brigade combat teams are overseas in war zones — 18 in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. That doesn’t include troops who don’t belong to a BCT. They make up about 37 percent of the soldiers in those two countries. On average, Forces Command receives a new request for forces every two and a half days. Active Army soldiers now serve 15-month deployments and 12 months at home.


In their rush to present "Happy War Talk," Fox News often overlooks the toll the war has taken on the families of soldiers and Marines KIA (Killed in Action) or severely wounded. However, FOX News Channel ignores stories about families who are dealing with the "hidden injury" - post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - which is taking a tremendous toll on service personnel, leaving them needing ongoing treatment in under-funded veterans hospitals.

Report: PTSD treatments need more research

The Army Times

WASHINGTON — There isn’t enough evidence to tell whether most treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder work, according a scientific review that highlights the urgency of finding answers as thousands of suffering veterans return from Iraq. The one proven treatment: “exposure therapies,” where PTSD patients are gradually exposed to sights and sounds that essentially simulate their trauma to help them learn to cope, advisers to the government reported Thursday.


Fox News seldom mentions the troop shortages in Iraq and Afghanistan. but the United States Marines are a stand-up organization, unafraid to tell it like it is.

Generals endorse plan to end grunt shortage

Marine Corps Times

The Corps can’t put infantry sergeants in every squad leader position designed for them because too many are assigned outside of the operating forces.

That’s why the Marine Requirements Oversight Council approved recommendations recently to enlist infantry Marines on six-year contracts, meritoriously promote around 200 infantry corporals each year, offer a little something extra in squad leaders’ monthly paychecks and increase cash bonuses for those who agree to stay in a grunt unit upon re-enlistment, said a Marine Corps headquarters official familiar with the plan.


You don't hear the folks at FNC talking much about how the United States Marines are stretched to the breaking point as they engage in the Iraq war, but now the Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway has said the Marines have become a "second land army" tasked with the job of securing Iraq and lacking the equipment to do the job.

Conway: Corps is becoming another Army

Marine Corps Times

WASHINGTON — Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway said earlier this week he is concerned about the Marines Corps’ ability to respond to security flare-ups around the world on short notice because of the demands put on it by the Iraq war.

In recent years, the Marine Corps has emerged as a “second land Army” tasked with securing Iraq and must buy heavy equipment, including a fleet of 3,700 mine-resistant vehicles, to protect its personnel from roadside bombs, Conway said.


The above are just a sample of the many stories coming out of Iraq which do not fit neatly into the Fox News "Happy War Talk" talking points. The stark reality is that many problems persist in Iraq which can't be swept under the rug in a rush to bring Fox News viewers only good news.

For a comprehensive look at what is taking place in Iraq, the informed reader might consider reading a web site, Iraq Today, which does not present a sanitized rehash of Bush White House press releases, but instead takes an informed look at Iraq through the eyes of correspondents who actually live there.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bison vs. Gophers

NDSU Bison beat U of M Gophers 27-21. NDSU wins their first game ever over a Big Ten Conference school. Bison remain undefeated!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Iraq to Cheney

Iraq to Cheney: ‘Big fat no’ on bases in Iraq.

The Iraqi government has “put the U.S. on notice” that they do not want permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, CNN reports today. The message was “delivered directly to Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House” by Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, who told CNN that Iraqis say, “No, big fat no, N-O for the bases in Iraq”:

The people of Iraq, the parliament, the council of representatives and the government of Iraq, they all say no, big fat no, N-O for the bases in Iraq. No military bases for Iraq because we believe that is in direct encroachment to our soveriegnty, and we don’t need it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


"That’s why the president has a veto. Sometimes the legislative branch wants to go on without the president, pass pieces of legislation, and the president can then use the veto to make sure he’s a part of the process. And that’s what I fully intend to do. I’m going to make sure. And that’s why when I tell you I’m going to sprint to the finish, and finish this job strong, that’s one way to ensure that I am relevant. That’s one way to ensure that I’m in the process. And I intend to use the veto."

Someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Freedom Isn't Free

What would you do
If you were asked to give up your dreams for freedom
What would you do
If asked to make the ultimate sacrifice

Would you think about all them people
Who gave up everything they had.
Would you think about all them War Vets
And would you start to feel bad

Freedom isn't free
It costs folks like you and me
And if we don't all chip in
We'll never pay that bill
Freedom isn't free
No, there's a hefty fuckin' fee.
And if you don't throw in your buck 'o five
Who will?

What would you do
If someone told you to fight for freedom.
Would you answer the call
Or run away like a little pussy
'Cause the only reason that you're here.
Is 'cause folks died for you in the past
So maybe now it's your turn
To die kicking some ass

Freedom isn't free
It costs folks like you and me
And if we don't all chip in
We'll never pay that bill
Freedom isn't free
Now there's a have to hook'in fee
And if you don't throw in your buck 'o five
Who will?

(from the blockbuster motion picture, "Team America World Police")

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Franz Jägerstätter

The life of Franz Jägerstätter was the ordinary life of an Austrian farmer in the village of St. Radegund. He was a devout Catholic, a daily communicant who prayed the rosary while doing farm chores. Sexton of his parish church, he was married and had three children. But, on August 9, 1943 Franz Jägerstätter’s life became other than ordinary, when he was legally killed by the German Military for refusing to kill for the German Military.

At the hour of his death few people knew him and no one who did know him supported him in his refusal to engage in homicide for the Führer. Legions of Christians of all ranks told him to do his duty and go to war like the other Christian men. His bishop, pastor and spiritual advisors endeavored to persuade him that his conscientious objection was a wrong and futile course, even possibly sinful and contrary to Church teaching. He was looked upon as the embarrassing, if not mentally unstable, polar opposite of the heroic Aryan warrior. However, with a courage that, even on an exclusively human plane, was noble, heart-rending and eminently inspiring, he gently stood firm and said, "No," to joining the German military. So it can be said with certitude, that when the blade of the guillotine fell at Brandenburg Prison near Berlin at 4 p.m. on August 9, 1943, Franz Jägerstätter was totally alone, almost totally unknown and destined to be totally forgotten.

However, as a manifestation of how the mystery and power of God’s plan for the redemption of all people through Jesus Christ inexorably advances in history, on this coming October 26th throughout the world millions of people will stop, think about and be touched by this man. They may disagree among themselves about historical details of his life but no one will doubt that the finger of God was operative here – and operative not just for the salvation of Franz Jägerstätter but also for the good of the Church and through the Church for the good of all people. For on October 26, 2007, the Catholic Church will formally Beatify Franz Jägerstätter as a martyr of the Christian faith. His Beatification will close forever for all Catholics, and hopefully for all Christians, any thought that they can obey the laws of a nation or the orders of an agent of a state if what is required to obey is doing that which is not in conformity with the Will of God as revealed by Jesus, the Word (Logos) of God "made flesh." The Beatification of this "destined to be forgotten" man will be the incarnational and liturgical underlining in blood-red of one of the most ignored tenets of Gospel morality and one of the most ignored text of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (§2242):

The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directions of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, the fundamental rights of persons or the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s" (Mt 22:21). "We must obey God rather than man" (Ac 5:29).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tom Brady

Tom Brady is on fire. He appears to be having a league MVP season, and he will likely get another Super Bowl ring.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

William Kristol is a f@&#in' idiot...

On Fox News Sunday, right-wing pundit Bill Kristol continued to beat the war drums for a strike against Iran. “I hope the administration is willing to do what it takes to back Iran off,” he said, adding that “we may need to do stuff across the border.”

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ricardo Sanchez

The retired general had some harsh comments. I agree with most of what he said.

A "failure of the national political leadership" is responsible for the “nightmare” of the Iraq war, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said Friday.

I do not agree that America has no choice but to continue fighting or the country will sink into chaos. I believe our very presence is the cause of strife and turmoil in Iraq. The Iraqi people do not need our "help" to figure out what is best for them. We certainly have "helped" enough. There won't be much of a country left if we continue "helping" them.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Friday, I'm Not in North Dakota

The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan values and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism.
Reinhold Niebuhr - 20th Century American theologian

Thursday, October 11, 2007

No Rudy for US...

"We look upon authority too often and focus over and over again, for 30 or 40 or 50 years, as if there is something wrong with authority. We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do."

Rudolf Giuliani - 21st Century clown

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We are hosed, America...

We are condemned, the smart guys tell us, to stay in Iraq. None of the three leading Democratic presidential candidates will pledge to remove all U.S. forces by 2013. In the think-tankocracy of Washington, defense intellectuals of both parties argue that pulling up stakes is not an option.

"Some of the people mentioned as possible defense secretaries under a Democratic White House," The Post's Thomas E. Ricks reported last month, "offer a vision of a U.S. presence in Iraq that does not differ markedly from that of the Bush administration." Even the fantastical idea floated by Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- that U.S. forces should settle into a permanent presence in Iraq as they have in South Korea -- seems to have won at least tacit acceptance among many defense deep thinkers.

Everyone's on board except the American people, but what do they matter?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


It is difficult to believe that trying to return a two-bit country like Iraq to some sort of normalcy would so deplete this nation's military and civilian security capabilities that it would have to rely on private gun slingers in a war zone. How can that be and how in the world did we get in this situation?

The Iraqi government demands that Blackwater mercenaries leave their country, and those responsible for the September 16th massacre remain to face criminal prosecution. Does anyone believe that our government will respect the legitimacy of the Iraqi government and honor their demands?

Monday, October 8, 2007

UAW-Ford 500

Wow! What a charge to victory lane by Jeff Gordon. The drive for five is alive and well.

I thought the race was filled with action, drama, and excitement right from the green flag. The #9 Dodge ran decently, and definitely better than the finish indicated. They are going to be a force to be reckoned with next year when they sport Budweiser on the hood.

On another note, the Cardinals chalked up another W. Keep it up, boys!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Silly Democrats

“We’ve always known that Democrats seem to revert to type, and they are willing to raise taxes on just about anything.”

Yes, those silly Democrats. They’ll raise taxes for anything, even — get this — to pay for a war!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Copy and Paste

One of the last justifications for continuing the U.S. occupation of Iraq despite overwhelming opposition from Iraqis, Americans and the rest of humanity has come down to this: U.S. forces must remain in order to battle "al Qaeda in Iraq."

Like so many of the arguments presented in the United States, the idea is not only intellectually bankrupt, it's also the 180-degree opposite of reality. The truth of the matter is that only the presence of U.S. forces allows the group called "al Qaeda in Iraq" (AQI) to survive and function, and setting a timetable for the occupation to end is the best way to beat them.

Friday, October 5, 2007


The NDSU Bison and the Fighting Sioux of UND enter the weekend undefeated. Both are nationally ranked number 2 in their respective NCAA divisions. The Vikings can't inflict further damage on themselves because they get a bye this week. I am hoping to see the Cardinals beat the Rams in St. Louis on Sunday.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


"If war is privatized, then private contractors have a vested interest in keeping the war going. The longer the war goes on, the more money they make."

Dennis Kucinich - 2008 presidential candidate

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Certain Americans

Certain Americans seem incapable of understanding how ridiculous Rush Limbaugh sounded when he asserted that service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq are “phony soldiers.” They never thought to ask: “How could he possibly know? He’s never served in the US military.”

Certain Americans remind me of the “proles” described by George Orwell in his novel, 1984. “Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they reverted to a style of life that appeared natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern. They were born, they grew up in the gutters, they went to work at twelve, they passed through a brief blossoming-period of beauty and sexual desire, they married at twenty, they were middle-aged at thirty, they died, for the most part, at sixty. Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and, above all, gambling, filled up the horizon of minds. To keep them in control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumors and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous ll that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary? Consequently, “The larger evils invariably escaped their notice.” And, “as the Party slogan put it: ‘Proles and animals are free.’”

Meanwhile Oceania’s war without end raged on. So, too, in George W. Bush’s United States of America.
-- Walter C. Uhler

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - 20th Century German theologian

Monday, October 1, 2007

Forever Autumn

Today marks the first day of Rocktober for many radio stations across the land. The only time Q98 played Justin Hayward's song was during October.

So many fond memories of October...