Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Horror, The Horror ...

Many items to deal with today - however, they all have a common theme on this Hallow's Eve: the banality of evil incompetence.

Pre-emptive strikes - at the local level: The Wild, Wild West is back, in a community near you! Indeed, 19 out of 50 U.S. states, mostly in the south and the central regions of the country, now have "Stand your ground" (or "Shoot first") laws which, in sharp contrast with traditional self-defense laws, do not require that a person who opens fire on an intruder/burglar be able to prove that he/she was physically threatened, that force was used only as a last resort, or that the victim had first tried to hide. And that is because such "Shoot first" laws generally stipulate that an act of intrusion (into a home or car) constitutes automatically a real threat of injury or death to its occupants - hence, all one needs is to "feel threatened" (whether justifiably or not) in order to be legally protected from prosecution when "firing first and asking questions later". Hmmm ... this sounds somewhat similar to Bush's Pre-Emptive Strike Doctrine, no? Not surprisingly, this sickening can of worms has already yielded its shares of tragedies, such as a father shooting his teenage daughter as she was sneaking back home after going out without permission, or the killing of a disguised Japanese exchange student on Halloween who made the fatal mistake of walking up to the wrong house - which happened to be the residence of an hysteric airhead and her gun-happy husband (h/t to CC for these two examples). Note to self: whenever I have to go to the U.S.A., remember to never take a stroll in any neighborhood in case I am mistaken for a stalker, would-be burglar or just a plainly "suspicious-looking stranger". Apparently, the natives are easily scared and prone to use their so-precious guns. Irrationality and fear rule the day indeed: welcome (again) to the Semi-Dark Ages. Which brings me to ...

Ignorance is bliss (isn't it?): The Bush administration's assault on science, science facts and scientific evidence continues unrestrained. Forget that the human population is living far beyond its means and inflicting damage on the environment that could pass points of no return - rely instead on the truth and reality defined by your government-approved Faux News service or, better yet, on good old folksy wisdom from government officials such as this one: "it is true that many people die from cold-related deaths every winter. And there are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals". Yes, this from the same (current) White House Spokeswoman with an active climate change denialism past, for whom trillions of dollars in war expenditure is not worrisome as long as the security of the country is assured, who views refusals to comply to executive orders constitute non-issues, and who is utterly confused about the separate branches of the government, the various levels of checks and balances, and her own country's laws. She even already admitted to speaking out of ignorance. The intellectual sloth-driven ignorance and incompetence - it burns, it burns! With such stellar "informed" and "knowledgeable" government officials, it pretty much explains it all - doesn't it? Incidentally, this brings me to ...

Fear-driven, tortured logic: Authoritarianism is increasingly being accepted while utter injustices are either ignored or complacently dismissed as "par for the course". Hell - dissent is more than ever perceived as a danger to society, especially by those ruled by ignorance and fear. Censorship of dissent is likewise de mise, while pandering to the Bush cult of personality continues on. In these sick and twisted times, where government agencies go as far as to mount fake news conferences in order to propagandize their efficiency, seeking to end a wrongful war of choice is "wasting time" whereas torture is not torture - or rather, it is difficult to say exactly what torture is and, therefore, it is the fault of Congress for having failed to define exactly what torture is ... and isn't. Besides - the U.S. does "not torture" (because "we say so" ) and, if it does, it is only in the hypothetical sense. Furthermore: since torture is legal, then it is not torture, or illegal. Consequently, that is precisely why it must be defended, especially since it yields "great intelligence results" - you know, like this one or these ones. Conclusion: one can justify anything in the name of fear (and if you feel like your head is about to explode, then welcome and join the club). All we have to fear, we must - indeed.

Iraq'ed: Apparently, violence is down in Iraq and, therefore, this constitutes a sign of progress there. But, what progress is this really when said downturn of violence coincides with increased ethnic cleansing and mass refugee displacement? How much progress is there when vital infrastructures such as dams risk of collapsing because of neglect, with the potential of killing hundreds of thousands in the process? Not taking into account the rampant, massive fraud and corruption? Speaking of criminal activities, their perpetrators and their enablers ... the Bush administration is now a de facto "accomplice after the fact" by having granted immunity to those Blackwater guards accused of war crimes in Iraq. This is not surprising, considering all that this utterly incompetent administration has invested in this mercenary company. As a result, the equally incompetent Iraqi government has drafted a bill which would lift immunity to all private mercenary companies operating in Iraq - unless, that is, the Bush administration define them as an extension of the multinational forces in Iraq, rather than private security guards (can you spell "huge-gaping-loophole"?). Such overall mendacity, stupidity and all around incompetence would be hilarious in the context of a zany, goofy comedy movie, if this was not so mind-numbingly tragic and catastrophic. The Iraq quagmire is indeed best summed up by those who are fighting there: "I don't think this place is worth another soldier's life". That is about just right. However, I would slightly amend the sentence thus: I don't think this venture was worth anyone's life, to begin with.

Global War on Terror(TM) - great for business: In addition to the ludicrous acts of fraud perpetrated by private contractors in Iraq (and in Afghanistan as well), the war on terror is proving to be one humongous profitable cash cow for the whole of the industrial-military complex. It has already become obvious that this so-called war has been diverting incalculable resources away from serious efforts to counter terrorism, leaving us with silly, irritating, abusive and utterly inefficient measures such as no-fly lists, airport security checks, and other such nonsense, in order to actually reward corporations that profit from high-tech weaponry that has little usefulness in genuine counter terrorism. Think about it: "With rare exceptions, the war against terrorists cannot be fought with army tank battalions, air force wings, or naval fleets—the large conventional forces that drive the defense budget. The main challenge is not killing the terrorists but finding them, and the capabilities most applicable to this task are intelligence and special operations forces. ... It does not require half a trillion dollars worth of conventional and nuclear forces. That half a trillion only covers the Pentagon budget for expenses beyond the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars or the Department of Homeland Security. Those last three items total more than $240 billion in Bush’s 2008 budget requests. Add to that the $50 billion spent on intelligence agencies and an equal amount of State Department-directed efforts and you can understand how we manage to spend more fighting a gang of mujahedeen terrorists, once our "freedom fighters" in that earlier Afghan war against the Soviets, than we did at the height of the Cold War (...)". To this effect, the Institute for Policy Studies calculated last year that the top 34 CEOs of the defense industry have pocketed a combined $984 million dollars since 9/11 - enough to cover the entire wage bill for more than a million Iraqis for a year. And while you chew on this bit of trivia, consider the following: "The 'war on terror' is fraudulent. The cruel war and the deceptive vocabulary that protects it are a cover for expanding US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East and for constructing a functioning police state at home. A country in which people cannot make airline reservations without the government's permission is not a free country". Let it be known: the Global War on Terror(TM) is a fraud (doh!). And once again: as we let the neocons' wet dreams becoming reality (and such wet dreams go as far back as 1992), this is why we are the real problem with terrorism. Hence the question: how long before We The People stops performing as post-9/11 fear-driven dancing puppets to the controlling tune of Operation Enduring Propaganda? In the unlikely event that you would remain unconvinced of all of this, then I suggest that you re-read the previous four items above.

And that, as they say, is that - for now.

Next time around: The horror, the horror ... Canadian-style.

(Oh - and Happy Halloween!)

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Secret History of the Impending War With Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know

punditman says: This article is a highly recommended read. It is a fascinating behind the scenes glimpse that sets the record straight on recent US-Iranian relations. It is also a tale of how the neo-cons within the Bush administration have done everything in their power to derail any sort of accomodation between the two sides, and, like the Valerie Plame affair, it demonstrates the lengths that this administration will go to threaten and punish whistle blowers.

By John H. Richardson

Thursday 18 October 2007

Two former high-ranking policy experts from the Bush Administration say the US has been gearing up for a war with Iran for years, despite claiming otherwise. It'll be Iraq all over again.

In the years after 9/11, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann worked at the highest levels of the Bush administration as Middle East policy experts for the National Security Council. Mann conducted secret negotiations with Iran. Leverett traveled with Colin Powell and advised Condoleezza Rice. They each played crucial roles in formulating policy for the region leading up to the war in Iraq. But when they left the White House, they left with a growing sense of alarm - not only was the Bush administration headed straight for war with Iran, it had been set on this course for years. That was what people didn't realize. It was just like Iraq, when the White House was so eager for war it couldn't wait for the UN inspectors to leave. The steps have been many and steady and all in the same direction. And now things are getting much worse. We are getting closer and closer to the tripline, they say.

"The hard-liners are upping the pressure on the State Department," says Leverett. "They're basically saying, 'You've been trying to engage Iran for more than a year now and what do you have to show for it? They keep building more centrifuges, they're sending this IED stuff over into Iraq that's killing American soldiers, the human-rights internal political situation has gotten more repressive - what the hell do you have to show for this engagement strategy?' "

But the engagement strategy was never serious and was designed to fail, they say. Over the last year, Rice has begun saying she would talk to "anybody, anywhere, anytime," but not to the Iranians unless they stopped enriching uranium first. That's not a serious approach to diplomacy, Mann says. Diplomacy is about talking to your enemies. That's how wars are averted. You work up to the big things. And when U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker had his much-publicized meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad this spring, he didn't even have permission from the White House to schedule a second meeting.

The most ominous new development is the Bush administration's push to name the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.

"The U.S. has designated any number of states over the years as state sponsors of terrorism," says Leverett. "But here for the first time the U.S. is saying that part of a government is itself a terrorist organization."

This is what Leverett and Mann fear will happen: The diplomatic effort in the United Nations will fail when it becomes clear that Russia's and China's geopolitical ambitions will not accommodate the inconvenience of energy sanctions against Iran. Without any meaningful incentive from the U.S. to be friendly, Iran will keep meddling in Iraq and installing nuclear centrifuges. This will trigger a response from the hard-liners in the White House, who feel that it is their moral duty to deal with Iran before the Democrats take over American foreign policy. "If you get all those elements coming together, say in the first half of '08," says Leverett, "what is this president going to do? I think there is a serious risk he would decide to order an attack on the Iranian nuclear installations and probably a wider target zone."

This would result in a dramatic increase in attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, attacks by proxy forces like Hezbollah, and an unknown reaction from the wobbly states of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where millions admire Iran's resistance to the Great Satan. "As disastrous as Iraq has been," says Mann, "an attack on Iran could engulf America in a war with the entire Muslim world."

Mann and Leverett believe that none of this had to be.

Full article...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Late Friday Night Ode To ... Da Blues

'Nuff said!

The opening act: ZZ Top - Jesus Just Left Chicago

(Lyrics below the video)

Jesus just left Chicago and he's bound for New Orleans.
Well now, Jesus just left Chicago and he's bound for New Orleans.
Yeah, yeah.
Workin' from one end to the other and all points in between.

Took a jump through Mississippi, well, muddy water turned to wine.
Took a jump through Mississippi, muddy water turned to wine.
Yeah, yeah.
Then out to California through the forests and the pines.
Ah, take me with you, Jesus.

You might not see him in person but he'll se you just the same.
You might not see him in person but he'll se you just the same.
Yeah, yeah.
You don't have to worry 'cause takin' care of business is his name.

The middle course: Jimi Hendrix - Red House

(Lyrics below the video)

There's a red house, over yonder
That's where my baby stays
There's a red house over yonder, baby
That's where my baby stays

I ain't been home to see my baby
In about a ninety-nine and one half days
It's about time to see her
Wait minute something's wrong
This key won't unlock this door
Wait a minute something's wrong, baby
The key won't unlock the door
I got a bad bad feeling
That my baby don't live here no more
She ain't comin' about is she
That's alright i still got my guitar

Look out baby
Yeah, look out
Yeah that's alright
Yeah haha

I might as well a go on back down
Go back across yonder over the hill
Might as well go back over yonder
Way back over yonder across the hill
That's where i came from

Cause if my baby don't love me no more
I know here sister will!

And the closing act: Stevie Ray Vaughan - Couldn't Stand The Weather

(Lyrics below the video)

Runnin through this business of life
Rarely time if Im needed to
Aint so funny when things aint feelin right
Then daddys hand helps to see me through
Sweet as sugar, love wont wash away
Rain or shine, its always here to stay
All these years you and Ive spent together
All this, we just couldnt stand the weather

Like a train that stops at every station
We all deal with trials and tribulations
Fear hangs the fellow that ties up his years
Entangled in yellow and cries all his tears
Changes come before we can grow
Learn to see them before were too old
Dont just take me for tryin to be heavy
Understand, its time to get ready for the storm.

And that's all she wrote, folks - nuthin' but da blues to sooth them FUBAR aches and pains, eh?

APOV's Friday Weekly Revue (10/26/2007)

If it's Friday, then it is time yet again for APOV's Weekly Revue!

Therefore, let us have a peek at what some of the various news departments of the progressive blogosphere have been dealing with in the past week:

From the "They must be insane, sociopaths, stupid or utterly incompetent - or all of the above!" department:
- A symbol of hate making an unwelcome comeback;
- The vapid, petty Beltway media mind;
- The G.O.P.'s battered spouse syndrome;
- Are Fox News and right-wing pundits illegally supporting blatant lies and propaganda?;
- No Siree;
- Still not getting it;
- Modern torture's scientific bible;
and - The MSM vs Al Gore.

From the "We are screwed!" department:
- Privatizing the constitution;
and - Global attitudes.

From the "Bush&Co Watch" department:
- Extraordinary rendition;
- When kings go crazy;
- Are we winning yet?;
- Priorities;
and - I am ashamed for our nation today.

From the "Holy smoke and self-righteous clowns" department:
- Further salacious charges;
- Cuz the Bible tells me so;
- An odyssey for truth;
and - This week in God.

And last, but not least - from the "Wake the hell up!" department:
- Principles voters: America's forgotten interest group

Until next week - have a great read.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ill-informed Fox anchors spread fears of al Qaeda link to California fires

punditman says: This is hilarious.

Did al Qaeda start the California wildfires?

As more than a million people escaped the flames, Fox News anchors couldn't help speculating about a terrorism link to the blazes ravaging southern California.

"I've heard some people talk about this a little bit to me, but have you heard anybody suggest that this could be some form of terrorism," Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy asked Wednesday morning.

Correspondent Adam Housley said he's received "hundreds of comments" from readers of his Fox News blog speculating about a link to terrorism.

Iran Watch: Week Seven (10/25/2007)

Time yet again to put in review and perspective what has happened this past week with regards to Operation Enduring Propaganda and a looming confrontation with Iran.

You may refresh your memories of what has occurred so far with the previous installment of APOV's Iran Watch, Week Six.

Now, let us see what Iran Watch: Week Seven has brought us.

Item 1: But first, here is this week's mandatory public-service message, care of Operation Enduring Propaganda.

The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming!

Be afraid! Be very afraid! Be very very afraid! We really mean it!

(Now that this is out of the way, let us proceed as usual ...)

Item 2: Bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb Iran!

This past week, still more neocons, war hawks, chickenhawks and other assorted madhaters raised the loud beating of Iran war drums yet another notch or two - or three. Not to be outdone, especially in the wake of last week's WWIII comment from a chuckling and giggling President Bush (who, it turns out, was "only making a point" with such a statement - as if this explains it all - ri-ight), Unitary Regent Cheney chimed in with his usual diplomatically tactful approach - you know, like he did when he spoke out against Iraq in order to rev-up support for the Iraq war (as an aside: maybe this is proof again why Bush and Cheney deserve a Nobel Peace Prize? But I digress ...). In any case, this in turn compelled some of the current Presidential candidates to reaffirm their own "openness" for bombing Iran, namely Romney, Giuliani and, of course, Clinton.

Now, remember when I wrote about why the surge in Iraq must appear to be working, so as to push the "idea" that "the way to success for the Iraqi surge goes through Iran"? Well, dixit the Grand Poobah Neocon Extraordinaire himself, Bill Kristol: "(Iran) is now the only real threat, I think, incidentally, to relative success in Iraq". See? I. Told. You. So.

(And just in case: I apologize profusely in advance should it turn out that I unintentionally provided this ludicrous talking point to the likes of Kristol and Co. - in my defense, I was being sarcastic ... oh well)

Which brings me to the next item ...

Item 3: Just keep on making that (bogus) case for an Iran War!

Yes indeed - gotta make sure you end up with a whole slew of reasons to bomb Iran which can be used one after the other, as was done with regards to Iraq, right? (Remember these classics: "WMDs!", "Mushroom cloud!", "Terrorists!", "Saddam was involved in 9/11!", "Saddam-al Qaeda link!", "Saddam is a destabilizing force in the Middle East!, "There is a need for regime change!", "Bring democracy to Iraq!", etc.). So, what do we have so far in the case of Iran?

Iran is sponsoring terrorism? Check (Hey - even former British Prime Minister and still-Bush's-poodle Tony Blair said so as well - so it must be true, eh? But I digress).

Iran has links with al-Qaeda? Check.

Iran is linked to 9/11? Check.

Iran is proliferating WMDs? Check (and how convenient that the master spy who headed a task force at monitoring/ascertaining/stopping the progress, or lack thereof, of Iran in acquiring nuclear weapon technologies was outed for base political reasons in retaliation for her husband telling the truth about the bogus claims that Saddam was seeking enriched uranium, eh? But I digress ...)

Iran is a destabilizing force in Iraq and Afghanistan? Check and check.

There is a need for regime change in Iran? Check.

(You may want to read or re-read previous installments of Iran Watch in order to better appreciate the continuum of such yet-to-be-firmly-established accusations here, here, here, here, here and here, in addition to this week's)

And to the question of "any proof of this?", we still get the priceless "trust us - we know". Besides - the Bush administration would not impose stiffer sanctions on Iran if what they say is not true, right? Yeah - ri-ight. Sure. Gotcha.

(I mean - they lied blatantly and cooked intelligence with regards to Saddam's (non-existent) WMDs prior to the Iraq war and did it again recently with regards to Syria's nuclear program, so ...)

Regardless, other world leaders agree on the threat posed by Iran (winkwink), while others remain conspicuously silent on the issue (like, you know, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper).

Of course, Iran continues to shuffle its feet, not knowing how to react diplomatically, anymore. First, Iran made more boasts of its own to discourage a pre-emptive strike by the U.S., claiming that it can launch 11,000 rockets in one minute if attacked. Then, the Iranian Foreign Minister appealed to rationality, pointing out the obvious fact that the U.S. is in no position to launch another costly war. In response, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, said "there is more than enough reserve to respond (militarily) if that, in fact, is what the national leadership wanted to do", while the White House sent Congress an expanded 189.3 billion dollar request for funding for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the "broader war on terrorism" (winkwink), including monies to equip B-2 stealth bombers with new 30,000-pound bunker busters - just what the doctor ordered (and the U.S. military prefers) for bombing Iran.

Hence the characterization of the Bush administration's foreign policy as "politics of appeevement".

So, despite talks of remaining resistance from the U.S. military (including, surprisingly, Adm. Mullen himself) on the idea of launching an Iran war, many a folk out there (like myself) remain worried that it will happen soon nevertheless.

Now here's the kicker: the war with Iran is apparently underway already (h/t The Moderate Voice) ...

Food for thought, no?

And that concludes this week's Iran Watch.

As usual, I sincerely hope that there will be nothing for me to report in next week's installment ...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Politics of "Appeevement"

Is There a Method to Bush's Middle East Madness?


Over the past several weeks, the United States has gone out of its way to offend, irk and otherwise provoke a select group of leaders and nations. Through a series of deliberate and calculated actions intended to purposefully estrange those most likely to succeed at diplomacy with Iran, its failure has been ordained and the stage for military action set. For those who think the upcoming war will be another Bush-Cheney folly (as they believe Iraq to be), the collusion of the Democrats in the process again belies that assumption.

The groundwork was laid in September, when the Senate overwhelmingly approved a resolution urging the State Department to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard a "foreign terrorist organization"--the prerequisite term needed to justify the use of force and the first ever such characterization of a governmental entity.

Keep Reading...

Light Posting Ahead ...

Being knee-deep into scientific writing (grant applications, papers, etc.), posting will be light on my part for the coming two to four weeks. Regular features such as the Iran Watch or the Weekly Revue will not be pre-empted; however, any other posting activity of mine will be more of the "Various Items" or "Round'em Up" type of format (as opposed to my more "long-winded" usual fare) until current demands on my scientific writing activity return to "normal" levels. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Forgotten Faces of War

by James Carroll

One news story from Afghanistan last week told of two tragedies. In Paktika Province a young man, whose chest was wrapped with an explosive vest, was en route to the place where he would detonate himself. But then, he saw people at prayer in a mosque, and he changed his mind. He went to the police. He began removing his explosive vest, but it went off. He alone was killed.

In Uruzgan Province, a young man, recently home from Pakistan where he had attended a religious school, announced a similar intention to his family. He was going to kill the enemy by killing himself. The article said that he handed over $3,600, presumably a reward for what he was about to do. In front of his mother, brother, and two sisters, he displayed his explosive vest. The young man’s mother was horrified, and she immediately tried to remove the vest from his body. The bomb detonated. The young man, his mother, and his three siblings were killed instantly.

Reports from Afghanistan and Iraq have been numbingly discouraging, in part because, in the United States, they come as a steady stream of abstraction. We see the faces of American casualties on the evening news, and the fate of wounded GIs draws sympathy, but otherwise the human cost of the war is kept vague.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Generation In Waiting Or Sulking?

The following is a response to this DKos article, by georgia10, titled: "A generation in waiting".

In said insightful article, georgia10 proceeds to criticize Thomas Friedman's "Generation Q" article, which essentially contends that the current generation of college students, which he dubs Generation Q (for "Quiet American"), "may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country’s own good".

I agree with georgia10 that Friedman used "dull threads of myth and misrepresentation" and likewise agree overall with georgia10's deconstruction of this recent offering by Friedman.

Unfortunately, georgia10 not only missed the crucial points made by Friedman, but ended up validating/demonstrating his points for him.

Mind you - Thomas Friedman is quite known for being wrong on many-a-thing. Nevertheless, the main concerns of Friedman, and which are too quickly brushed aside by georgia10, are the following (emphasis mine):
When I think of the huge budget deficit, Social Security deficit and ecological deficit that our generation is leaving this generation, if they are not spitting mad, well, then they’re just not paying attention. And we’ll just keep piling it on them.

There is a good chance that members of Generation Q will spend their entire adult lives digging out from the deficits that we — the “Greediest Generation,” epitomized by George W. Bush — are leaving them.

(...) Generation Q would be doing itself a favor, and America a favor, if it demanded from every candidate who comes on campus answers to three questions: What is your plan for mitigating climate change? What is your plan for reforming Social Security? What is your plan for dealing with the deficit — so we all won’t be working for China in 20 years?

(...) America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage (it must be in there) of Generation Q. That’s what twentysomethings are for — to light a fire under the country. But they can’t e-mail it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won’t cut it. They have to get organized in a way that will force politicians to pay attention rather than just patronize them.
While I am certainly no fan at all of Thomas Friedman, I agree strongly with these points. Indeed, this is what I wrote a while ago (emphasis added):
Living in a democracy is a right and a responsibility. And yes, this responsibility requires effort. But which is better: having your back bent by the effort required to keep on living in a democratic society, or letting leave for complacency and find yourself one day with a back bent under a totalitarian regime (however benevolent it may be)?
To which I added in a subsequent post (emphasis added):
(...) we must continue to expose, document and discuss incompetence - but we must also be willing to get off from our couches and convince those outside of the blogosphere to join in, or at least to make the effort to keep themselves critically informed. At the same time, we must keep organizing and pressuring to make the changes required to save the gravely ill patient that is society (...).

It is a long and winding road indeed - but competence as citizens requires (nay: demands) this from all of us.

After all, our revolutionary participatory democracy is not just about ranting and raging, eh?
And specifically with regards to blogs, bloggers and blog readers/commenters? This was my conclusion (emphasis added):
(There are those) who are not only blogging, dissecting and doing the "gotcha!" thing, but at the same time are actively involving themselves directly to enact change in the sad state of affairs that we are currently finding ourselves in. Unfortunately, achieving sustainable change and progress in politics, democracy, media and society at large constitutes a long, patient and determined endeavor. To this effect, my impression from reading regularly the "Big Blogs" is that the overwhelming majority of bloggers and blog readers of the progressive blogosphere content themselves at dissecting, ranting and/or reading/commenting - especially where blogs which are either "entertaining", or those which deal with the outrage du jour, are concerned.

(...) In the meantime, each day brings its new outrage - while the song remains the same.

In short: the blogosphere is predominantly the online transposition of the water cooler conversations. Nothing more, nothing less - at least for the time being.

(...) First and foremost, all of us must accept the reality that achieving change and progress requires patience, determination and perseverance.
Or, to put it another way: we must actively engage ourselves directly if we are to enact sustainable change in our democratic societies.

Which now brings me to georgia10's conclusions with regards to the current generation of college students, now dubbed the "Generation in waiting" (emphasis mine):
We are a generation filled with energy and ideas and promise. We are a generation that yearns for real government and real leadership. We are a generation in waiting, busily occupying ourselves with causes and civic service but shuffling our feet as we wait to find ourselves and our voice in this national discourse.

We are a generation brimming with potential that need not be realized necessarily by street protests and by acts of resistance (the face of modern activism is about so much more than that). We chatter productively amongst ourselves, convinced that the government is too busy screwing up or playing politics to give a damn what we say, waiting for the cloud of idiocy to pass so that some sort of rationality and reason can shine on our nation once more.

We are a generation in waiting. Waiting to be treated as more than just a focus group, waiting to be treated to more than just a Facebook add, waiting for a government and a country that is willing to speak with us rather than to us. And when that time comes, when we are asked to and can speak with a national voice, well, then, "Generation Q" won't be so quiet after all.
Hence, not only does georgia10 demonstrate Friedman's points outlined above, my own points shown herein find themselves likewise demonstrated.

Here's the rub of it, folks, as I commented in georgia10's article:
"We" can "wait" all we want until we turn blue in the face.

Being proactive is what this should be about. Don't wait to have the necessary conditions to engage - create the changes you need to engage yourself.

Waiting for the right conditions or waiting to be "asked" before speaking is like backseat driving: your hands are not on the wheel and you have no say to where the bus is going - not even a say where or when it stops.
Hence the question in the title of the present response, considering georgia10's conclusions: is this the Generation In Waiting, or the Generation Sulking?

"Talking the talk" has never resulted in anything productive - except when it is backed by "walking the walk".

And waiting without doing anything to enact changes in government and politics will always translate in "plus ça change, plus c'est pareil" (the more things change, the more they stay the same). Indeed, we must never forget this simple truism (emphasis added):
We The People - this is what it has, and always has been, about. In a democracy, it is the electorate who holds all the keys and guard all the doors - provided that the citizens actually live up to their responsibility.

(...) we are the ones who have broken the "contract between citizens and their government" because, in essence, we thought somehow that our vigilance and implication were optional.

We have abrogated our responsibilities by virtue of A) that we do not get involved in party politics and nominations; B) that too many of us do not bother to vote; and C) that voter apathy not only perpetuates, but furthermore exacerbates, the problem. Yet, now, we are carping about our rights - all the while conveniently ignoring our responsibilities in the matter.
It is a noble thing to be raging against the drying of the light. But will it save it from dying nonetheless?

Don't wait - join us now.

We need you.

(Cross-posted at DKos)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Valid Questions Vs Excercises In Stupidity

So many exercises in incompetence and outright stupidity, and so little time to cover all of them individually.

That is why I round them up herein:

Item 1: Shorter James Watson: "whites are more intelligent than blacks". It doesn't matter that he is a renowned scientist (having discovered the structure of DNA, along with Francis Crick) - my question to Dr. Watson is: aren't you in fact demonstrating that "whites" can be as incompetent, as unintelligent, as dumb and as stupid as any other person of any race by making such a declaration utterly devoid of scientific facts?

And as follow up questions: where did you get your Ph.D., Dr. Watson - from a Cracker Jack box? Good thing Dr. Crick was there to help in the discovery of the structure of DNA, eh?

Item 2: Shorter Margaret Wente: "you are right, Mr. Gore, but could you STFU so that I can remain cozily comfortable and undisturbed with my head buried deep in the sand? Thank you". To which I reply with the following question: next time you find yourself uninspired to write an intelligent and cogent column, Margaret, could you simply write nothing and spare us anymore of your vapid, insipid and utterly inconsequential prattle to excuse your pettiness and incompetence as a columnist and as a human being?

Item 3: Shorter Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, John H. Marburger III: "yes, humans are producing too much carbon dioxide but temperature changes won't affect people's lives, nor will they cause weather-related disaster events". Translation: "global warming, shlobal warming!" Hence my question to John H. Marburger III: when exactly did your Ph.D. in applied physics miraculously transmuted into one in climatology, thus not only making you an expert on all things climate change, but furthermore a "better" expert than the actual consensus of an overwhelming majority of scientists on this very real crisis?

And as obvious follow up questions: where did you get your Ph.D., Dr. Marburger - from a Cracker Jack box? Good thing you are not only playing the (incompetent) political crony to your environmentally-misinformed and -ignorant boss, President George W. Bush, eh? (winkwink)

Item 4: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to Maher Arar: "tough luck for what we did to ya - but hey - we need extraordinary renditions and torture to keep us safe. Too bad you happened to be really innocent, even if you are a Muslim". Here's my question to ya, Rep. Rohrabacher: if such barbarity saves lives as you oh-so-conveniently claim, why is it we never heard of a single instance of a terrorist plot twarted (along with the arrest of terrorists involved), let alone "advertised" and publicly "paraded" to this effect?

And as follow-up questions: is your current suspicious defense of renditions and torture more informed, less informed, or equally non-informed, than your previous suspicious defense of (convicted) lobbyist Jack Abramoff? Or are you simply a G.O.P. mindless robot who defends all things G.O.P.-related regardless of truth, facts and reality?

Item 5: Attorney General nominee Mike Mukasey:"don't grant anymore rights to unlawful enemy combatants detained in Gitmo than they already have - that's my excuse to justify my position against a restoration of habeas corpus and I'm sticking to it". To which I reply with this question: what rights do they have to begin with, jackass?

And this obvious follow-up: and what about the absence of habeas corpus for Americans, you authoritarian bozo?

Item 6: Shorter Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte: "al-Qaeda resurging in Afghanistan and other areas? It's all good, man - cuz then they're not in Iraq anymore!" To which I reply with the following question: Mr. Negroponte - how desperate and stupidly inane can you get in trying to sell the (false) idea that there is "success" and "progress" in Iraq?

With the obvious follow-ups: Does Prime Minister Stephen Harper, staunch promoter and defender of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, have anything to say about this? Does he also applaud the resurgence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, since this would obviously justify his pledge to extend the deployment of Canadian troops there beyond 2009?

Item 7: Speaking of which ... Shorter Harper government throne speech:
"Everything done before January 2006 was bad, Canada was not a leader of anything - especially not on the environment question or on the world stage - and Canada was certainly not united. Now, all has been put aright since January 2006 and all is well and good - consequently, we will stay the course.

(including more proscratinating on the global warming question, and with more crime and security measures to be implemented because, well, we must stay afraid of them baaaaaad criminals and terrorists - the latter which again justify our staying longer in Afghanistan, at least until 2011)

And God Bless the United States of America Canada. Thank you; good night.
My question, to whit: do we need anymore proof to support the point that the Conservative Party of Canada is nothing more than a Canadian franchise of the G.O.P.?

And adding these obvious follow-up questions: could our Mini Leader be more laughable in his earnestness in trying to please his idol, President G.W. Bush? And where does that leave us Canadians?

Item 8: Parti Québecois leader Pauline Marois pushes for a "Québec Identity" legislation which, among other things, calls for denying "Québec citizenship" to immigrants who fail to learn French, consequently barring them from holding public office at any level, raising funds for political parties, or petitioning the National Assembly for redress of a grievance. Question: how can you deny fundamental, constitutional rights to Canadian citizens because they fail your petty little litmus-test for "Québec citizenship", Mme Marois?

Follow-up: Mme Marois - are you so ignorant of constitutional rights in our country (Canada) and province (Québec) to come up with such an insipid and utterly stupid piece of legislation, or are you in truth a lowly bigot in disguise despite all your pretenses to the contrary?

And these other follow-ups: could any current provincial political figure make me more ashamed of being a Québecois than I am now? What's next - "deport" those immigrants who failed to learn French to other provinces? Will someone please stop this insanity? Anyone? Please?

Teh stupid - it burns, indeed. Granted, there is so much more out there that could have been dealt with herein, but my brain has now come too close to the irreversible, exploding point.

Hence, this concludes this installment of Valid Questions Vs Excercises In Stupidity.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Late Friday Night Ode To ... Habeas Corpus

A year and two days ago, on October 17, 2006, the Military Commissions Act and the consequent death of habeas corpus came to pass.

Incidentally, one song - and one song only - kept running through my head on that fateful day.

The very same song annoyed me yet again when the adulterated FISA-gutting bill was hastily passed by Congress back in August.

And that same damn song has kept playing in my head over and over while telecom companies are this close to get retroactive immunity as accomplices of illegal gathering of private information by the U.S. government, as the Harper government pledged to not only strenghten the Anti-Terrorism Act (in his Throne Speech of three days ago), but also still seeks to allow the gathering of private information without court warrants, and while habeas corpus remains dead and interred in the U.S..

Once again, the recent words of Colin Powell ring as true as ever (despite his disgrace for having played in the charade to sell false/cooked intelligence to sell the Iraq war):
What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it’s terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change (our) way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?
And what is this annoying/damning/telling song, you ask? Here it is: Burden in my hand - Soundgarden:

(Lyrics below the video)

Follow me into the desert
As thirsty as you are
Crack a smile and cut your mouth
And drown in alcohol
Cause down below the truth is lying
Beneath the riverbed
So quench yourself and drink the water
That flows below her head

Oh no there she goes
Out in the sunshine the sun is mine

I shot my love today would you cry for me
I lost my head again would you lie for me

Close your eyes and bow your head
I need a little sympathy
Cause fear is strong and love's for everyone
Who isn't me
So kill your health and kill yourself
And kill everything you love
And if you live you can fall to pieces
And suffer with my ghost

I shot my love today would you cry for me
I lost my head again would you lie for me
I left her in the sand just a burden in my hand
I lost my head again would you cry for me

Just a burden in my hand
Just another anchor on my heart
Just a tumor in my head
And I'm in the dark

So follow me into the desert
As desperate as you are
The moon is glued to a picture of heaven
And all the little pigs have gone

Oh no there she goes
Out in the sunshine the sun is mine
Sun is mine

I shot my love today would you cry for me
I lost my head again would you lie for me
I left her in the sand just a burden in my hand
I lost my head again would you cry for me

Would you cry for me.

More than ever: only we are the real problem with terrorism ...

APOV's Friday Weekly Revue (10/19/2007)

If it's Friday, then it is time yet again for APOV's Weekly Revue!

Therefore, let us have a peek at what some of the various news departments of the progressive blogosphere have been dealing with in the past week:

From the "They must be insane, sociopaths, stupid or utterly incompetent - or all of the above!" department:
- Studies in wingnuttery;
- Neocon twisted and insane fantasies I: the "Dark Leftist" America;
- Neocon twisted and insane fantasies II: neocon vision of America;
- Poverty? What poverty?;
- Careful, Prime Minister Harper: your colors are showing!;
and - Canadian neocons still sucking up to Bush & Co..

From the "We are screwed!" department:
- What's wrong with Verizon;
and - Yet another duplicitous scam from Insurance Companies.

From the "Bush&Co Watch" department:
- The Bush scandal list;
- FISA: Bush spies - Bush lies - Bush treason;
- Bush: an equal-opportunity screwer;
- The convenient excuse of 9/11;
- The CIA goes after its own independent oversight authority;
and - Fascism, anyone?.

From the "Holy smoke and self-righteous clowns" department:
- This is what theocracy looks like;
- The hypocrisy in politicizing morality and righteousness;
and - Debbie Schlussel decides who the "true" Jews are.

And last, but not least - from the "Wake the hell up!" department:
- A STOP sign is not an option;
- Burma: sound and fury, signifying nothing;
and - What are Americans, when anti-torture and other values fade?

Until next week - have a great read.

Target Iran: Where's Harper?

punditman says: Harper is busy getting his marching orders from his master, George. And if George says shut up about US plans to attack Iran, then Stephen knows exactly what to do and say: nothing.

- By Murray Dobin:

As we go through the numbing process of listening to what passes for news these days — Britney Spears losing custody of her kids, O.J. arrested for kidnapping and Pamela Andersen getting married — Canadians seem blissfully unaware of the increasing signs of a global catastrophe. There are extremely worrying indications that the U.S. is planning — and soon — to attack Iran.

According to the Guardian, the hawkish French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, recently stated “we must expect the worst, and the worst is war.” John Bolton, Bush's former UN ambassador, used a Tory conference in Britain to call for a strike against Iran. Rumours persist a strike could involve tactical, “bunker busting” nuclear weapons.

Keep Reading...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Iran Watch: Week Six (10/18/2007)

Time again to put in review and perspective what has happened this past week with regards to Operation Enduring Propaganda and a looming confrontation with Iran.

You may refresh your memories of what has happened so far with the previous installment of APOV's Iran Watch, Week Five.

Now, let us see what Iran Watch: Week Six has brought us.

Item 1: But first, here is a mandatory message from Operation Enduring Propaganda.

The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming!

(Now that this is out of the way, let us proceed as usual ...)

Item 2: Bomb, bomb, bomb ... bomb, bomb Iran!

This past week, more neocons and G.O.P. Presidential candidates raised the loud beating of Iran war drums yet another notch or two. Especially Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, with the latter increasingly looking like the scariest candidate of them all.

But wait - Iran has also become an obsession among Democratic Presidential candidates, especially in the case of Hillary Clinton - who is increasingly sounding (and acting) pretty much like a neocon where Iran is concerned.

Oh - and more of the MSM got on board to bang those war drums ... reassuring, is it not?

Iran: a veritable inflatable Bogey Man so beloved by all those Iran hawks.

Item 3: Just keep on making that (bogus) case for an Iran War!

Something old, something new: guess who's this week's culprit for 9/11? That's right - after al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, now it's Iran's turn to be responsible for 9/11! Next month, I expect it will be revealed that Syria was behind it all along. And then in December, it will be Santa Claus who will be shown the reallyreallyrealactualtruecrossmyheartaandhopetodie culprit for 9/11. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the same old bogus accusations regarding Iran are being floated about (including that of foistering terrorism), in addition to raising the fearmongering meter even higher with regards to its nuclear energy program. A true PR operation is on the way to hammer the message home (or, as I've always called it: Operation Enduring Propaganda - but it's just me).

But why wait? The Bush administration warned U.S banks that Iranian "entities" may try to skirt financial sanctions by using various "deceptive practices" and therefore to be on the look out for this, while U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off a regional arms race and raise the risk of a major Mideast war.

(Nevermind that it has never been proven so far that Iran has a nuclear weapons research program. And never you mind that Iran certainly does not have a nuclear weapon at present, and that a recent N.I.E. indicates that if it were trying to get one, it would take until at least 2016 - and then only if the international environment were conductive to the high-tech imports necessary to achieve a successful construction and testing of such advanced weaponry. Indeed - nevermind such facts and just be afraid ... as in the case of the pre-Iraq war build-up, back in 2002.)

(Which in turn brings up the exact same question that I asked myself repeatedly during the pre-Iraq war build-up, concerning Saddam's (non-existent) WMD's: whatever the hell happened with "trust, but verify"?)

In the interrim: apparently not satisfied anymore with his previous warnings of a "shadow of a nuclear holocaust", President George W. Bush ramped it up and laid it on the line: World War III is going to happen if Iran goes nuclear. Really. In other words: ya'll have to bar Iran from going nuclear or all Hell will happen.

Why, the Bush administration, seeking to position itself (once again) as being the "reasonable one" as opposed to Iran, said that it might change its goals of developing a missile shield if the "Iranian nuclear threat" subsides.

Overall translation: WWIII is worth starting over Iran - you know, a weak third-world regime with no air force to speak of. Yet, never you mind such details because, as Operation Enduring Propaganda has been putting it, Iran plots a military strike on the U.S., the planet's sole superpower. In fact, this third-world regime is led by a genocidal commander-in-chief who serves a global (terrorist/islamofascist) conspiracy and, to stop him, the President of the superpower that is the U.S. might be compelled to launch an aggressive war.

(Yeah - that's it! That's the ticket!)

On a related note: Russia's President Vladimir Putin has become wary enough of a possible U.S. attack on Iran so as to actually warn that Russia is considering withdrawal from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) unless it is expanded to include other states (you know, like Iran, maybe?). This in turn prompted President Bush's reassurances that the U.S. will continue to work with Russia on ways to defuse Iran's nuclear program (I kid you not!), while U.S. Secretary of State of Condoleezza Rice felt compelled to express concerns about Russia's increasing military "assertiveness" (Sheesh - did she look at what the U.S. has been doing in the last six years-or-so - at the very least?!?).

And speaking of Condi and her Condi-Style diplomacy: as she is working hard to gather support and momentum for an international peace conference on the Middle East, she could not help herself at lowering expectations to their barest of minimum (as in zero) - in true incompetent fashion.

On a final (related) note: a Patriot missile was launched from a U.S. military base in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar.

Accident, rehearsal or goading Iran into "jumping" in to make the first strike?

Food for thought, eh?

And that concludes this week's Iran Watch.

As usual, I sincerely hope that there will be nothing for me to report in next week's installment ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Iraq: Twelve More "Phony" Soldiers Speak Out

This morning's Washington Post: "The real Iraq we knew", penned by twelve former U.S. Army captains (Jason Blindauer, Elizabeth Bostwick, Jeffrey Bouldin, Jason Bugajski, Anton Kemps, Kristy (Luken) McCormick, Luis Carlos Montalván, William Murphy, Josh Rizzo, William "Jamie" Ruehl, Gregg Tharp and Gary Williams).

Once again, Iraq vets lay it on the line, describing reality in lieu of the typical lies, spins and misinformations that are thrown day in and day out by the "knowledgeable" politicos, the "serious" pundits, the "expert" war scholars and the "truthful" generals (or, as I like to call this: Operation Enduring Propaganda).

These twelve Iraq vets did not dance around the issue as they begin their Op-Ed thusly:
Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.
This bluntly put summary of the situation in Iraq is in sharp contrast to what we heard back in September, when Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker testified that the surge is working and that there has been significant progress in Iraq.

However, such a description by these twelve Iraq vets echoes almost exactly what other Iraq vets have been saying, writing or blogging, so far. Even some MSM correspondents are now publicly admiting the harsh truth of it.

Even young officers are beginning to question seriously the validity of the Iraq war.

It is therefore not surprising to hear that the testimony of Gen. Petraeus may have been "misleading" (doh!).

But the present twelve Iraq vets did not stop there (emphasis mine):
As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out.

What does Iraq look like on the ground? It's certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

Iraq's institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

The inability to govern is exacerbated at all levels by widespread corruption. Transparency International ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And, indeed, many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers. Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq's oil industry, which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq's reconstruction. Yet holding people accountable has proved difficult. The first commissioner of a panel charged with preventing and investigating corruption resigned last month, citing pressure from the government and threats on his life.

Against this backdrop, the U.S. military has been trying in vain to hold the country together. Even with "the surge," we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely and building sustainable institutions. Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents' cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances. Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are and vote with their feet -- moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely. Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.
Add to this the rampant war profiteering and fraud enacted by U.S. private contracting firms there, not taking into account the inherent problems and moral dilemma caused by the accountability-free contracting of merc companies like Blackwater and other private security firms, and it become obvious why Iraq is a veritable senseless quagmire - even worse than Vietnam in this respect.

(Incidentally, we are hearing essentially the same kind of "horror" stories out of Afghanistan - but I digress)

The twelve Iraq vets then drive the point home (emphasis mine):
U.S. forces, responsible for too many objectives and too much "battle space," are vulnerable targets. The sad inevitability of a protracted draw-down is further escalation of attacks -- on U.S. troops, civilian leaders and advisory teams. They would also no doubt get caught in the crossfire of the imminent Iraqi civil war.

Iraqi security forces would not be able to salvage the situation. Even if all the Iraqi military and police were properly trained, equipped and truly committed, their 346,000 personnel would be too few. As it is, Iraqi soldiers quit at will. The police are effectively controlled by militias. And, again, corruption is debilitating. U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals and support the very elements that will battle each other after we're gone.

This is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reality we experienced. This is what we tried to communicate up the chain of command. This is either what did not get passed on to our civilian leadership or what our civilian leaders chose to ignore. While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out, the Iraqis prepare for their war -- and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer.
Translation: we had no business there to begin with, we made things worse by going in there and there's no way things will get better.

So much for "progress" in Iraq, eh?

For the closer, the twelve Iraq vets articulate plainly and bluntly what has been discussed and pointed out by rational voices prior to the launching of the Iraq war as well as ever since its beginning, voices which have been consistently ignored or largely ridiculed (emphasis mine):
There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

America, it has been five years. It's time to make a choice.
No better way to say this - nor can one underestimate the power of these words considering who wrote them.

Then again, you will always have your usual despicable chickenhawk bottom-feeders to smear such brave men and women as either "ignorant", "unpatriotic", "traitors", "cowards", "phonies" or any other such mendacious epithets.

Even commanders and/or generals who speak against the war, or dare criticize it, are not exempt from such base and vile smearing. That, or they are simply ignored.

And sadly enough, these twelve brave men and women who wrote today in the Washington Post are now being targeted - true to form.

(After all, if you have no qualms at smearing children, then attacking vets is "no big whup" indeed - but I digress again)

In any event, the concluding words of this Op-Ed by these twelve brave men and women, which have been going around for years now, cannot be ignored any longer.

We The People have to make a choice once and for all - and keeping your head in the sand will not make this senseless catastrophe go away any time soon.

In fact, having keept your head in the sand ever since "Mission Accomplished" only made things tragically worse.

It's your call, America.

It has always been your call - even prior to this war of choice.

(h/t Comments from the Left Field)