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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


An "All-Nighter"
(and no escorts, hookers or pages involved)

Make no mistake about it, the Bush administration intends to stay in Iraq and they'll use endless policy modifications and "surges" to do so. Check out this quote from British Army Lt. Gen. Graeme Lamb, the deputy commander of international forces in Iraq:

"I sense we're on a fair course right now ... it would be a shame to change it,"

Funny how Lamb's nation has decided to trim their own forces in Iraq to a low of 5,000, isn't it? You'd think that the Deputy Commander would have some say in the decision, considering his support for "the surge".

And back here at home, the President still has enough support (or compromising pictures) of Senate Republicans to keep debate in the Upper Chamber alive with no end, other than the defeat of any initiative the Democrats come up with. In other words, as the Bushies like to say, any idea of getting our troops home in the not-too-distant-future is just wishful thinking. That's too bad for our troops, their families and the American people in general, but good news for the Bush "base" of "haves and have mores".

The Democrats are going to use an old Senate trick, one right out of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: They're going to force the Senate Republicans to actually keep the debate going through the night and into the morning and they're going to require that they actually be there. It might be a good idea to keep C-SPAN on all night long from Tuesday through Wednesday.

In the meantime, an effort by Republican Sens. John Warner (VA) and Richard Lugar (IN), a real first to get out troops home from the Right side of the aisle, was turned down by President bush as well.

"The surge must not be an excuse for failing to prepare for the next phase of our involvement in Iraq, whether that is withdrawal, redeployment or some other option. We saw in 2003 after the initial invasion of Iraq, the disastrous results of failing to plan adequately for contingencies."
-Sen. Lugar

But it is, Senator.

The Bushies new favorite phrase, "The New Way Forward", which remarkably looks like "The Old Way Stagnant", a.k.a. "Stay the Course", is being bandied about as a Panacea designed to solve all of our problems in Iraq. As we all know, it isn't. While we lose about one hundred troops a month in Iraq, and Iraq loses hundreds, if not thousands more, the one thing the Bushies and those in the GOP (plus Senator Joe Lieberman) fail to notice is that our presence in Iraq isn't all they spin it to be. In relation to all sides, all of which appear to be our enemy, we've become not only a common target, but a common excuse.

"We believe the new way forward strategy, which became fully operational less than a month ago, deserves the time to succeed. We look forward to hearing from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker in September,"
-White House spokesman Tony Fratto

In the odd event that General Patreaus, the top commander on the ground in Iraq, comes back in September with a recommendation that we bring the troops home soon, just how will the Bushies get around it? Surely, in that odd event, they'll have to think of something because the speed at which the defection of Republican lawmakers from the President's camp will surely make all of our heads spin. That is, of course if: (A) Gen. Patreaus says what over 70 percent of the American people already know, that we need to bring our troops home; or (B) The Bushies don't "retire" him and give him a gold watch and a Medal of Freedom. But we all know that anything other than keeping our troops "over there" will be an unacceptable conclusion that the Bush administration won't accept. Think back to how the Bushies wrapped the intelligence around their only acceptable conclusion prior to the invasion; think back to when General Tommy Franks, then CENTCOM Commander, came to then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with a plan that called for nearly half a million troops, only to see him turned down time and time again as he reduced the numbers, time and time again.

This is an administration which has clear goals, and will wear down, or get rid of anyone in the way of those goals. Just ask former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, former Anti-Terrorism Czar Richard Clark, former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, and the list goes on.

Perhaps getting the people of the United States to view the Senate in the light of an "all-nighter" is a good idea. perhaps the Senate and House of Representative should send bill after bill after bill to the President, even if he does veto them one after another. At least it will show display his "my way of the highway" attitude which has gotten our nation, and the world in general, to the disastrous position we are in today.

-Noah Greenberg

Chao Can’t Soft Soap Her Attack on Workers
by Mike Hall, Jul 17, 2007

Flashback: High school gym, where listening to lectures on personal hygiene was part of the package. It's one thing for a gym teacher to tell a bunch of sweaty teenagers to hit the showers. But it's something quite different when the U.S. secretary of labor tells Parade magazine—a national weekly read by millions of Americans—the nation's workers need a bath if they want to keep their jobs.

Today and Thursday, members of AFGE Local 12 in Washington, D.C., will be doing their part to clean up U.S. workers by passing out bars of soap at the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters. On one side, the soap is labeled, "Chao Thinks You Stink." On the other side, "Clean Up with Local 12."

Chao told Parade it’s not just the low-cost of foreign labor that is enticing many U.S. employers to ship jobs overseas—overseas workers dress and bathe better.

Beyond the cheaper cost of labor, U.S. employers say that many workers abroad simply have a better attitude toward work. “American employees must be punctual, dress appropriately and have good personal hygiene,” says Chao.

Alex Bastani, AFGE Local 12 president, says, while the soapy action may be fun,

what isn’t funny is the secretary’s disdain not only for workers at the Department of Labor but for all American workers.

Bastani noted that in 2004, Chao’s Labor Department changed the rules on who qualifies for overtime pay and millions of workers were robbed of their rights to overtime pay. Just this year, she tried to outsource some 250 Department of Labor jobs but was unsuccessful. Don’t forget to wash behind your ears.

I couldn't make this up if I tried. The Bush-Cheney administration is the most anti-worker, anti-American bunch in history. They literally hate Americans.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Scardapane

In response to, "If we don't leave soon, we need to set real benchmarks, with consequences if they aren't met, in Iraq. And we need to be able to see the day when our troops come home," Robert Scardapane writes:

Didn't we already set benchmarks in the Iraq supplemental? Didn't the July report show that basically none of the benchmarks were met? I think the answer is YES to both questions. It isn't a matter of setting more voluntary benchmarks. It's a matter of setting a timetable.

By the way, this week there was a report that there is only 6 Iraqi battalions (around 500 people per battalion) that are trained. So, after four years, the Iraqi army consists of 3000 troops? What's wrong with this picture? I think it's time to stop the delay tactics and the phony surges; it's time to bring the troops home.

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-Noah Greenberg