Today's Note from a Madman
Monday, November 28, 2005
Iraq, as seen from Iraq
So how are things going in Iraq? First up, let's hear from Ayad Allawi, formerly prime minister in the interim government:
In a damning and wide-ranging indictment of Iraq's escalating human rights catastrophe, Allawi accused fellow Shias in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centres. The brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police, he said.
....'We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated,' he added. 'A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations. We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.'
He said that immediate action was needed to dismantle militias that continue to operate with impunity. If nothing is done, 'the disease infecting [the Ministry of the Interior] will become contagious and spread to all ministries and structures of Iraq's government', he said.
Next up is Abdul Aziz Hakim, one of the "fellow Shias" Allawi was warning about. Hakim, who heads the Shiite Muslim religious party that leads the current government, oversees the party's widely feared Badr Brigade, ground zero for "death squads and secret torture centres." However, not only does Hakim flatly deny Allawi's allegations, he suggests the real problem is exactly the opposite:
The leader of Iraq's most powerful political party has called on the United States to let Iraqi fighters take a more aggressive role against insurgents, saying his country will only be able to defeat the insurgency when the United States lets Iraqis get tough.
....Hakim gave few details of what getting tough would entail, other than making clear it would require more weapons, with more firepower, than the United States is currently supplying.
....In Iraq, "there are plans to confront terrorists, approved by security agencies, but the Americans reject that," Hakim said. "Because of that mistaken policy, we have lost a lot. One of the victims was my brother Mohammad Bakir, because of American policies."
"For instance, the ministries of Interior and Defense want to carry out some operations to clean out some areas" in Baghdad and around the country, including volatile Anbar province, in the west, he said.
There is domestic politics involved in all this, of course, but the bottom line is that Ayad Allawi, who is no shrinking violet, is already horrified by the activities of the current Iraqi government. The most powerful unofficial member of the current government, however, says you ain't seen nothing yet.
Factor in with all of this Bush's plummeting numbers and one wonder what will happen next. Even in the reddest of states--Utah and Texas, for example--Bush's poll numbers are in the low 40s. These are the people who *demanded* he be President. And the right-wing blog, NewsMax has been attempting to deflect attention from the Cheney-Bush rift.
It's great to see the Republicans imploding. Alas, our nation is in the midst of the fireworks which also come at the continuing cost of thousands of American and Iraqi lives.
-Victoria Brownworth (with thanks to Kevin Drum for data)
"The Great And Powerful Oz--- er Bush!"
"Pay no attention to the Chicken-hawks behind the curtain"
Rumsfeld, his aides, and Cheney and his office believed and argued "that the president of the United States is all-powerful, that as commander in chief the president of the United States can do anything he damn well pleases,"
-Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff when he was Secretary of State
In a candid interview with the Associated Press, Powell's former Chief of Staff, Wilkerson told it like it is. The bad news is that this is really no "news" for any of US. This is the classic view of an administration that has little regard for the Constitution or the people of the United States. Like a rich and spoiled child, they feel all is owed them and nothing owed by them. It is the attitude that has financially and morally bankrupted our nation. It is the attitude that keeps the Children of America in harm's way all over the world.
Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."
nefarious (defined): Infamous by way of being extremely wicked
-The American Heritage Dictionary
Bastard: (See Dick "Go <F---> Yourself" Cheney)
"Donald, don't you understand what you are doing to our image?"
-Then Secretary of State Colin Powell as he screamed at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, as told by Wilkerson
Their image isn't as important to people like "Rummy" and Cheney and the other "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party insiders of the "G"lobal "W"arming Bush administration as their lust for power and money. I even believe that people like Donald Rumsfeld have convinced themselves that they are doing good, despite all of the proof to the contrary.
And what has happened to the relationship between Powell and Wilkerson, a relationship of some 16 years? It isn't what it used to be. Powell, in his obvious (or is that oblivious) belief that "if you can't say anything nice about the president, don't say anything at all," has chosen the silence.
"What (Powell) seems to be saying to me now is the president failed to discipline the process the way he should have and that the president is ultimately responsible for this whole mess,"
Too bad that Wilkerson will be treated as just another disgruntled employee by the Bush administration and the main stream media. He will soon be sent to the political oblivion that is now home for the likes of Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill and the multitude of others that have seen the light and now attempt redemption.
Better late than never, I guess.
A Crook and a Liar
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) cries. Like many who have cheated their constituents and the rest of the people of the United States, the "Duke", a Vietnam fighter pilot and eight term US Republican Congressman from California used tears to show US all how sorry he is. Cunningham has resigned from the House.
"The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct, and disgraced my office. I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, most importantly, the trust of my friends and family."
Cunningham could get up to ten years for his offense of taking bribes as a member of the powerful House Appropriations subcommittee, which controls our nation's defense dollars, financed mostly by the US Middle Class.
How did the "Duke" get caught, you may ask? He sold his home to a defense contractor at an inflated price. Like the rest of the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party, Cunningham must have felt that these are the "spoils of war" and he is one of the "victors."
This might be the beginning of a parade of confessions and contrition by GOP law-breakers. Maybe it will spread to the likes of Bill Frist (possible SEC violations for selling his family's business' stock right before it hit rock-bottom), Bob Ney (Jack Abramoff's lachey who used his influence to help barter a deal, and put it on the congressional record for his pal Jack) and Tom DeLay (too much to mention in such a small space).
"In court documents, prosecutors said Cunningham admitted receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid in a variety of forms, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, antiques, rugs, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations."
-The Associate Press
That's right Randy... if you're gonna steal, steal BIG!
"He did the worst thing an elected official can do — he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there,"
-U.S. Attorney Carol Lam
Well at least the "Duke" used the money for altruistic purposes, like:
-$1.025 million for the down on his Rancho Santa Fe mansion
-$13,500 for his Rolls-Royce
-Over $2,000 for his daughter's graduation party
I wonder of Randy lit his cigars with hundred-dollar bills as he rode passed his poorer constituents? Let them eat cake, right FORMER Rep. Cunningham?
By the way, the "Duke" decided that he won't be running for re-election.
Taxing Hybrids Extra
Less than four months after Bush signed a monstrous 286 billion highway bill, there is a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claiming that the Highway Trust Fund is running out of money. The Chamber suggests taxing drivers based on mileage with an additional tax on hybrid vehicles! I have some questions:
1) Why is the Chamber of Commerce doing such a study? This is a business lobby that does not have the best interest of the American people in mind.
2) Why would owners of fuel efficient cars be punished when there is a need to stimulate the purchase of such vehicles?
3) Why wasn't 286 billion enough? Perhaps, there was too much pork.
The most likely method of taxing mileage will be a federal gas tax. The champions of the gas tax claim that owners of hybrids should be taxed more because they consume less!
Now that is truly insane!
In response to, "Animal abuse is epidemic in the U.S.," Jenny Hanniver writes:
A call to the local SPCA can put a stop to the dog beating and remove the dog from its ingrate owner--and if that poor dog is left outside on another cold night they should get a call.
Let's not forget the SPCA as a SOURCE of pets either. Except for three half-wild cats who've wandered in and stayed put, I've gotten all my animal roommates (except the rodents) from SPCA, and each turned out to be a great dog or cat. Mutts, of course, since mixtures are more long-lived and intelligent than pure-breds--and often more attractive. Ever since my beautiful but badly inbred white rat friends died of cancer before their third birthday, I haven't wanted an inbred animal in my house. It's just too sad.
"Let us set our sights on a more effective, more inclusive long-term approach to climate change,"
"More action is required now,"
-Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion
Host country Canada, as well as the rest of the industrialized world wants to curb global warming now... today... as soon as possible. We all know the administration of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush opposes the rollback of emissions to 1970's standards by their refusal to support the Kyoto Protocols at the beginning of their term (what many Americans call "our sentence).
As before, our nation's "leaders" will have none of it, preferring to rely on "polluters" to police themselves.
"A targets and timetables approach will not work for us,"
"We are working hard on some of the advanced technologies ... but the development and deployment of technology does not fit with rigid targets and timetables,"
-chief U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson
"Timetables" as an excuse. "Working hard" as a reason to ignore the planet and the wishes of all of our allies. This is the administration of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush.
Even using the
Bushie's argument that doing nothing about
global warming might not be too bad, we all know that doing
something is definitely a good idea.
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