Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Who Says He Doesn't Know What He's Talking About

I just wanted to share some of the words of our esteemed Vice President. I don'’t think much of what the Vice President has to say but I certainly concur with Lawrence Wilkerson in the last quote of this post. Enjoy.

The Sergeant Major

"I had other priorities in the 60's than military service"
--Dick Cheney

"This is very good indeed...Encouraging...Not like the crap we are all so used to getting out of CIA."
-- Dick Cheney, writing in the margins of a secret-unit intel report detailing purported evidence of links between Al Qaeda and Iraq

"In my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you [John Edwards] was when you walked on the stage tonight."
--Dick Cheney, Vice Presidential Debate, 2004

"We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."
--Dick Cheney. Prior to the U.S.Invasion of Iraq

"There comes a time when deceit and defiance must be seen for what they are. At that point, a gathering danger must be directly confronted. At that point, we must show that beyond our resolutions is actual resolve."
--Dick Cheney

"Let us rid ourselves of the fiction that low oil prices are somehow good for the United States
--Dick Cheney

"Otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."
--Former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson, on why Di ck Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults

Monday, November 28, 2005

Do You Really Want A Theocracy

In a conversation I had recently we were discussing world religions and the conversation came to Evangelical Christianity in the United States and its influences on American politics. This subject is of great interest to me because I believe that the Evangelical influence is taking our nation to a place never intended by our founding fathers. In the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. ".(1) This is a remarkable paragraph for several reasons. First I believe it is remarkable because I believe Jefferson understood the incredible importance of these first words and he used the term " Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" because he was purposely being as inclusive of all the faiths and religions of the nation and the world as possible. Jefferson and the founding fathers were acutely aware that one of the central reasons that our ancestors came to the colonies was the pursuit of "Religious Freedom" and by using the term "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" Jefferson, and by default all the signatories of the Declaration were striving not just to declare independence but to further bind and unite the nation with the most inclusive language possible. They were acutely aware of the necessity that the nation remain united no matter the situation or circumstance for time immemorial and by use of this simple phrase they were embracing every conceivable faith and religion. The other very notable term that Jefferson used in this first paragraph was "opinions of mankind". I believe Jefferson understood and was thinking of the need for the actions of the founding fathers to be 'universally' accepted throughout the world. I also believe that Jefferson and the founding fathers understood that for this to happen they had to insure that from the very beginning it was clear that they were being all inclusive and completely just in each and every action. Hence the use of the term "opinions of mankind" demonstrated that they were concerned with what the rest of the world saw and heard.

I believe that the language used by the founding fathers was clearly meant to be all inclusive and therefore make our nation's government a secular one. When one reads the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States it is hardly possible to think otherwise. Certainly they understood that our nation's sense of justice, right, wrong, and morality was influenced by religion but I don't believe our forefathers ever intended that we should base our laws directly on any specific set of religious tenets or beliefs. I would put to you that their intent was quite the contrary and that they intended that our nation's laws be sectarian and based on simple justice and fair play and with as little intrusion on our daily lives possible. It is because of this incredible inclusive language and desire for justice demonstrated by the founding fathers in drafting these documents that I believe that the Evangelical Christian influence placed on our government today is taking our nation down the wrong path.

In the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…." To me it is clear by this writing that in the eyes of the founding fathers the purpose of government is to secure the rights of all men (all genders) to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness and not to secure a specific religious doctrine.

It has been my observations that certain elements, Neo-Conservatives, within the Republican Party have been greatly influenced by and have simultaneously used members of the evangelical community such as the Falwells, Dobson's, Reeds and others to assume power and by default take our government toward becoming a theocracy. I realize that these are strong accusations but I cannot help but believe what is so obvious. I have used the terms 'used' and 'influenced by' in describing the relationship between certain elements within the Republican Party and members of the evangelical community. I do this because I see two dynamics occurring. First I believe that certain very powerful and influential members of the evangelical community, once again the Falwells, Dobson's, and Reeds have an overpowering desire to have a theocratic Christian government and I believe that they want this with a fervent if not maniacal desire. I believe that they have seen and see an opportunity to do this through a Republican Party controlled by neocons who owe their allegiance to them. Secondly I believe that certain elements of the Republican Party, neocons, saw and still see this desire as a weakness to be exploited and used to achieve the power they desire and they have done just that. The neocons have artfully used wedge issues such as gay rights and abortion to divide the nation while simultaneously motivating the Evangelical Christian and Christian base. They have done this uniformly throughout the conservative (red) States and with huge success. They have gained the Presidency as well as a majority in the House and Senate and are not only implementing their radical conservative agenda but simultaneously implementing the Evangelical Christian agenda of creating a theocratic government by installing ultraconservative activist judges on the federal bench and attempting to pass laws that codify theocratic beliefs such as banning a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and gay marriage. These actions in reality have nothing to do with fulfilling the role of government as envisioned by the founding fathers in protecting the rights of citizens to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness and everything to do with legislating morality. Just as I do not believe it is a government's responsibility to secure a religious doctrine I also do not believe that it is a government's responsibility to legislate morality. Yet that is what we see happening each and every day under the governance of this neo-conservative administration, Congress, and Senate.

(1) Emphasis mine.

Those are the Sergeant Majors Thoughts on That.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Change Is Coming

Those of you who have been reading my blog will be seeing a change in the next few days. I intend to take a new approach to my news commentary. Please check back in a few day.
The Sergeant Major

Friday, November 25, 2005

I Never Said That Or Where's My Leader

I have been away this week and I have had some interesting conversations. I must tell you that there seems to be an over riding theme in my conversations as well as a few recurring questions. There is one recurring question that I particularly want to share with you because it is at the core of my blog and my purpose in writing this blog. I am often asked why I am so passionate with regards to the President, Vice President and the neocon leadership in the Senate and Congress. Well I can sum my answer up in a very few words. In fact I can sum it up with just two words. Honesty and Integrity. The simple truth is that the President, Vice President and the neocon leadership in the Senate and Congress posses neither of these qualities. As one example this past Wednesday evening on the Keith Olbermann show Countdown Keith aired two clips of Vice President Cheney giving two speeches that he gave within a few days of one another. These clips showed the Vice President saying one thing in the first speech and the exact opposite in the second speech. The sad reality is that the Vice President, like the President does this very, very frequently. It’s not just that they twist the facts to fit their situation or desires but that they simply lie. Please understand that I am not just talking about misspeaking. I am talking about lying. Telling falsehoods. Speaking untruths and doing it blatantly and openly. In my earlier post I promised to give you and example of one of their lies. Okay here goes. Below are two quotes by Vice President Cheney with regards to an Iraq and Al Qaeda connection and in particularly the infamous (and it never happened) meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer. The first quote is during an interview with Tim Russert on December 9, 2001 on Meet the Press and the second interview is 3 days after the 9/11 Commission released a statement saying there was no such meeting or connection during an interview with Gloria Borger on Capital Report.


RUSSERT: A couple of articles have appeared which I want to get you to react to. The first. “The Czech interior minister said today that an Iraqi intelligence officer met with Mohammed Atta, one of the ringleaders of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, just five months before the synchronized hijackings and mass killings were carried out”….

CHENEY: Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that—it’s been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack. Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don’t know at this point, but that’s clearly an avenue that we want to pursue.


BORGER: Well, let’s get to Mohammad Atta for a minute because you mentioned him as well. You have said in the past that it was, quote, “pretty well confirmed.’

CHENEY: No, I never said that.


CHENEY: I never said that.

BORGER: I think that is….

CHENEY: Absolutely not. What I said was the Czech intelligence service reported after 9/11 that Atta had been in Prague on April 9 of 2001, where he allegedly met with an Iraqi intelligence official. We have never been able to confirm that nor have we been able to knock it down, we just don’t know.

Now I don’t know about you but in my book it would appear that Mr. Cheney is either lying or he is hmmmm….. he’s lying. Those would be the two options. What he denies saying and then reports that he did say are two completely different things. That to me is lying. Now his statements on Countdown are just as diverging as these two. Sorry I don’t have that transcript. The point is that this is the story over and over with this administration. What makes me quite ill is that they are doing this in connection with taking this country to war and because of these actions over 2,100 American soldiers are dead and over 15,250 more are wounded.

Now for my thoughts on this. I have repeatedly seen this administration and this President and Vice President conduct themselves dishonestly. I understand that I am using strong language throughout this writing and in many of my past posts but we are at a point in this nation and its history that we must use strong language and we need leaders who are strong enough to stand up to the neoconservative movement and say enough is enough. We don’t need dishonesty in leading this nation and there is no place in our government for it. Where honesty is lacking or missing there is no integrity. Where there is no integrity there is nothing. This administration has created a void in leadership through dishonesty. Our government and nation are leaderless. Neither people nor soldiers will follow where there is no leadership and there can be no leader or leadership where there is no honesty or integrity. These are simple and true principles.

"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you." —George W. Bush, Gulfport, Miss., Sept. 20, 2005

Those are the Sergeant Majors Thoughts on That.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Black Hole

Within the next day or so I am going to post two quotes from Vice President Cheney. These two direct quotes will demonstrate that he has lied in regards to the justification for going to war. It is simply one example. But this post is about another tactic that Mr. Cheney as spokesperson for the Bush administration is using. Mr. Cheney continuously refers to Iraqi insurgency as "terrorist" in Iraq. This tactic is a continuing attempt to make the American people believe that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11 and at the center of world terrorism which has never I repeat, never been true. The truth is that the "terrorist" in Iraq first, weren't there until after the United States invaded and created the environment that attracted them and second as pointed out in this excerpt from a Washington Post article constitute the minority of "fighters in Iraq.

"U.S. intelligence agencies say foreign terrorists represent a minority of the insurgent forces; the vast majority are Iraqis. Classified findings by U.S. intelligence agencies are reflected in a study by Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, released yesterday, which estimates that at least 90 percent of the fighters are Iraqi."

I would also point out that it was Mr. Cheney who said that the United States would be greeted as "liberators" when we invaded Iraq. Perhaps that is why 90 percent of the insurgent forces in Iraq are Iraqi and at the summit in Egypt this past weekend which was attended by all of the major Iraqi Political Parties signed and made a declaration asking that the United States pull its troops out of Iraq.

I'm sorry but I am having a little trouble understanding this administrations policies and in particularly Mr. Cheney's idiotic comments. What part of 'they don't f**king want us there' don't you understand Mr. Cheney. Recent polls conducted by British pollsters show that 80% of Iraqis want the United States to leave Iraq (This reflects the same results of an earlier American poll.) and 45% think it is okay to attack American troops. What part of 'they don't f**king want us there' don't you understand Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush.

The war in Iraq has bled off and continues to bleed off huge amounts of our resources that could and should be directed at anti-terrorist activities that work and to other activities critical to our nation's survival and prosperity. Iraq is a quagmire and a black hole sucking in our nations vital resources.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Monday, November 21, 2005

It's Not Torture Really It's Not That's The Truth Really

On another issue that I cannot let pass today I must once again comment on Vice President Dick Cheney's role in this administration with regards to torture and the Iraq war. According to a recent CNN report, Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Colonel Larry Wilkerson has indicated in an interview that it was Mr. Cheney who provided the "philosophical guidance and the flexibility" which helped lead to the use of torture by American forces. I'm shocked! ......................... NOT! I apologize for that outburst but I must occasionally insert some humor into my musings. Let me be a little blunter. As a soldier, citizen and human being Mr. Cheney turns my stomach. I am forever astounded that a man and I use the term very loosely; who asked for and received five draft deferments can have such audacity. I believe, and I think that a majority of the American people believe, that torture is a reprehensible and unproductive act, period. I believe and I think that a majority of the American people believe that anyone or any nation that uses or condones the use of torture is reprehensible. I believe that I can say that based simply on our nations history. I don't know how else to say it. Look at Senator John McCain and what he has gone through for this nation and look at what he and Senators Warner and Graham have done to introduce and support a bill that would insure that this nation does not participate in such acts. These are conservative lawmakers who understand how counterproductive torture is and what its use can do to a nations standing in the world and who more importantly understand the moral repercussions of such acts. Obviously Mr. Cheney does not understand this, or really doesn't care, in which case I think it is even worse and scarier because of the position he holds. I think it is important for the public to know that the Vice President called these three men into his office to attempt to pressure them to withdraw this legislation. Now I want you to imagine this. Picture it in your mind that here is the Vice President of the United States of America calling three Senators into his office to pressure them to withdraw legislation that is intended to prevents "TORTURE". Now some warped minds might even say that that is okay. We are only talking about torturing people who want to hurt our country and who killed hundreds of our citizens. Well to those who would say that I would ask you then what is the difference between torturing those people and torturing a man who bombed and killed hundreds of people in Oklahoma City some years back. Would it have been okay had we tortured Timothy McVey to get him to tell us who helped him? Would it be okay to torture any American citizen in order to get information to convict them of any murder? Would it be okay to torture the British Nanny who killed her American charges to find out why she did it and did someone else help her? When is it justified and where does torture stop. I say the answer is it is never justified. I say it is never justified for multiple reasons. First, it is in my mind immoral. Secondly we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it doesn't work. It doesn't work for the simple reason that a person who is being tortured will tell you anything you want to hear whether it is the truth or not. I know this because I was taught this back when it was taught in the military that it was immoral to do it and against the Geneva Accords. Now back to Mr. Cheney. I must concur with Senator John Kerry when in referring to Mr. Cheney he said that "it's hard to name a government official with less credibility". In this instance Senator Kerry was referring to Iraq but I would say that it applies across the board in Mr. Cheney's case. How can a person in such a position, "who has access to the same information" that I do and much more, condone something that has been consistently proven to not work? I'll tell you how. Because it's the same person who told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Because it is the same person who in 1991 listed all of the reasons the United States should not invade Iraq and then "flip flopped" to convince the American people we should invade Iraq 12 years later after the "sanctions had done there job in disarming Iraq". It is my belief that Mr. Cheney lacks the moral stature to lead anyone, much less the American people.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Press - Unbiased - Really

As I perused the news today I noticed and article discussing Bob Woodward the 'old sage' of investigative reporting and of Watergate fame. In the article it was reported that according to Mr. Woodward the Valerie Plame case is little more than gossip and he has referred to the case as being laughable and to Mr. Fitzgerald's behavior as "disgraceful". It was reported that he has made these statement and claims on national television and in interviews with other media organizations. I must say that I find it astonishing that a respected reporter and journalist could and would first violate one of the primary tenets of the profession by discussing the issue in the media without revealing his own direct knowledge of and involvement in the case, secondly keep that information from his editors to the detriment of his paper and its readers and third that he could show such disdain for the law and the public officials charged with enforcing those laws. I believe that this is just another example of how our news media is devolving from an independent investigative and reporting entity to an instrument of corporations, special interest and political parties. How many more mainstream media "journalists" are going to go over to the dark side? Is this not just another symptom of the cancer of corporatism that is consuming our press along with our government? I have to ask myself these questions when faced with what seems to be a never ending stream of mainstream 'liberal' media journalists and supposed journalists continue to involve themselves in borderline if not outright violations of professional ethics and partisan politics directly and indirectly and when male escorts are allowed to receive White House press credentials and receive payments from federal agencies for positive reporting on government programs and policies. I grow extremely skeptical when in the span of a few weeks two cornerstones of the American print media have reporters whose veracity and conduct is questioned in such a way. I personally believe the American people deserve better. It would appear to me that these news organizations have either grown lacks in the oversight of their journalists or the journalists are doing precisely what their editors want and that the editors are yielding to corporate and administration pressures. Either way the results are the same and that is a great disservice to the public. A free and independent and honest press is one of the essentials of a democracy and in fact I do not believe a democracy can survive without it. We, the American public, must demand independent and absolutely unbiased and honest reporting from all media sources public and private. As for Mr. Woodward I can only say that I am sorely disappointed and I liked you better before you were an administration hack Bob.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Focused Where?

Today I read an article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune where the paper is rightfully lamenting that Congress and the nation are allowing the plight of the citizens of New Orleans to go unheeded. They point out with sad clarity how the residents of New Orleans, instead of being aided, are being chided for having settled in a place below sea level and the paper further points out that the reason these citizens are in New Orleans in the first place is because that is where our nation has historically wanted and needed them to be. The reason I bring this article up is not to do a commentary on that particular subject but to point out that when one reads this story and simultaneously reflects on my earlier excerpt from Al Gores prophetic speech one becomes acutely aware of the incredible massive failure that is the Bush administration. This nation has been led down the prim rose path to the point of cataclysmic distraction. We are being so focused on the wrong issues that the issues that are most vital to our nation are being grossly neglected. Instead of focusing on apprehending the perpetrators of 9/11 and fighting a unified war on terror internationally we are focused on the war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on the unfinished first war in and reconstruction of Afghanistan we are focused on the war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on and preparing our nation for a potential/likely future terrorist strike by meaningful investments in improving port and border security we are investing in a misguided war in Iraq. Instead of investing in diversifying our economy and developing meaningful strategies for competing in a global economy we are fighting a war in Iraq. Instead of preparing our nation for predicted increases in catastrophic natural disasters we are fighting a misguided war in Iraq.

I believe that Congressman John Murtha's announcement this week that he now believes that Iraq is "A flawed policy wrapped in illusion" is the personification of the majority of Americas view today. I do not believe nor do I think that the American people believe that John Murtha is voicing anything other than the thoughts and concerns of the constituents he represents. He has simply stated reality as viewed by a combat veteran and skilled citizen, soldier, public servant and lastly and leastly politician. I cannot help but feel that this country has come awake to the disservice this President and his neoconservative constituency have done to the nation. I believe America is beginning to focus on the real issues in spite of our President and not because of. It's about America Mr. President. It's not about you.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Statesman of the Day

“It’s hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq.”

Senator John Kerry on Vice President Dick Cheney

Idiot of the Day

“He is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party.”

Scott McClellan, Whitehouse Spokesman on Congressman John Murtha

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Who Should Be President

The following is an excerpt from a speech by Al Gore prior to the invasion of Iraq.

"I believe we should focus our efforts first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and who have thus far gotten away with it. The vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the cold-blooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large, still neither located nor apprehended, much less punished and neutralized. I do not believe that we should allow ourselves to be distracted from this urgent task simply because it is proving to be more difficult and lengthy than was predicted. Great nations persevere and then prevail. They do not jump from one unfinished task to another. We should remain focused on the war against terrorism. I believe that we are perfectly capable of staying the course in our war against Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist network, while simultaneously taking those steps necessary to build an international coalition to join us in taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion. If you're going after Jesse James, you ought to organize the posse first. Especially if you're in the middle of a gunfight with somebody who's out after you. I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century. Nevertheless, President Bush is telling us that America's most urgent requirement of the moment - right now - is not to redouble our efforts against Al Qaeda, not to stabilize the nation of Afghanistan after driving its host government from power, even as Al Qaeda members slip back across the border to set up in Afghanistan again; rather, he is telling us that our most urgent task right now is to shift our focus and concentrate on immediately launching a new war against Saddam Hussein. [T]he war against terrorism manifestly requires a multilateral approach. It is impossible to succeed against terrorism unless we have secured the continuing, sustained cooperation of many nations. And here's one of my central points; our ability to secure that kind of multilateral cooperation in the war against terrorism can be severely damaged in the way we go about undertaking unilateral action against Iraq."

"[B]ack in 1991, President George H. W. Bush purposely waited until after the mid-term elections of 1990 in order to push for a vote at the beginning of the new Congress in January of 1991.

President George W. Bush, by contrast, is pushing for a vote in this Congress immediately before the election. That in itself is not inherently wrong, but I believe that puts a burden on the shoulders of President Bush to dispel the doubts many have expressed about the role that politics might be playing in the calculations of some in the administration. I have not raised those doubts, but many have. And because they have been raised, this has become a problem for our country's effort to build a national consensus and an international coalition. Rather than making efforts to dispel these concerns at home and abroad about the role of politics in the timing of his policy, the president is on the campaign trail two and three days a week, often publicly taunting Democrats with the political consequences of a "no" vote. The Republican National Committee is running pre-packaged advertising based on the same theme - all of this apparently in keeping with a political strategy clearly described in a White House aide's misplaced computer disk, which advised Republican operatives that their principal game plan for success in the election a few weeks away was to "focus on the war. " Vice President Cheney, meanwhile, has indignantly described suggestions of any such thing as reprehensible, and then the following week took his discussion of the war to the Rush Limbaugh show. I believe this proposed foreshortening of deliberation in the Congress robs the country of the time it needs for careful analysis of exactly what may lie before us. Such consideration is all the more important because the administration has failed thus far to lay out an assessment of how it thinks the course of a war will run - even while it has given free run to persons both within and close to the administration to suggest at every opportunity that this will be a pretty easy matter. And it may well be, but the administration has not said much of anything to clarify its idea of what would follow regime change or the degree of engagement that it is prepared to accept for the United States in Iraq in the months and years after a regime change has taken place. I believe that this is unfortunate, because in the immediate aftermath of September 11, more than a year ago, we had an enormous reservoir of goodwill and sympathy and shared resolve all over the world. That has been squandered in a year's time and replaced with great anxiety all around the world, not primarily about what the terrorist networks are going to do, but about what we're going to do. My point is not that they are right to feel that way, but that they do feel that way. And that has consequences for us. Squandering all that goodwill and replacing it with anxiety in a year's time is similar to what was done by turning a hundred-billion-dollar surplus into a two-hundred-billion-dollar deficit in a year's time. "“If what America represents to the world is leadership in a commonwealth of equals, then our friends are legion. If what we represent to the world is empire, then it is our enemies who will be legion."

Those are The Man who should be Presidents thoughts on that.

Statesman Of The Day

"I like guys who got five deferments and [have] never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

John (Jack) Murtha
United States Congressman
Colonel, United States Marine Corp Retired
Vietnam Veteran

Note: Cheney did not serve in the military, and Bush was an Air National Guardsman who did not leave the United States during the Vietnam War.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Idiot Of The Day

I've decided to start a new daily post that I am calling idiot of the day. Here's my first installment.

"“The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbones."

Dick Cheney
Five draft deferments because he had other plans.

Stansfield Turner on Cheney: "Vice President for Torture"

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Friday, November 18, 2005

To Be A Statesman – Or Not

I want today’s post to be a little different from my usual vociferous protestations. I want to talk about the posture or perhaps a better term would be the attitude of the Bush Whitehouse and administration toward other politicians, statesmen and women, and the American public in general. I have to believe that I am, generally speaking, a typical mainstream American and that any one that reads this blog or follows our government is of average intelligence and a reasonably mature adult. I know, I’m assuming a lot but bear with me here. Having said that I must also say that I don’t believe that the neo-conservative elitist that occupy the Whitehouse believe this premise. Why do I say that you might ask? Well here is why. Yesterday the Whitehouse released a 5,000 word document responding to the critics of the Presidents use of prewar intelligence or lack there of. I give them kudos and a pat on the back for this because I have said all along that they should be responding to criticism in a straight forward honest manner and with relevant, factual information. (Now I am not saying whether anything in the document was either relevant or factual or not but that they produced a paper which they purport to be relevant factual information. You be the judge of its relevance or factualness yourself here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/20051115-1.html ) My point comes later when reporters asked why the Whitehouse felt the need for such a lengthy retort. The Whitehouse’s response was a statement which said, "As parents of young children and dog owners know, it takes longer to clean up a mess than to make one." This to me is the most telling example of the attitude of this administration. Their attitude is exactly that exuded by their leader. It is one of a condescending elitist country boy, who’s your daddy, I can whup any of you’re a - - es, swaggering cowboy. For this administration to use such an analogy is to speak down to the American people and those elected officials who speak for them. Do not misunderstand my message here. I am not talking about the irreverent world of the bloggers and pundits. I’m talking about public pronouncements from the Whitehouse press room and speeches by appointed and elected officials. In the blogger pundit world we sling a lot of, you know, stuff. But when it comes to public discourse in the form of a pronouncement by the Whitehouse Communications Office you expect civil discourse and not nany, nany, boo, boo language. I think this statement alone speaks volumes about this administrations cavalier if not disrespectful attitude toward the American people and the world as a whole and it shines a bright light on why we are not the moral example we should be to the world. How can another country respect our actions when we are constantly conducting ourselves as elitist bullies and not as equal partners in our international intercourse? How can the rest of the world respect America when our own government shows such disdain toward its own citizens? I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said “There is a homely old adage which runs: Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” There is great wisdom in that statement Mr. Bush. For your benefit I will put it another way. Conduct yourself as a statesman with incredible power. Please learn to do that sir before it’s too late for this country.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

How Much Is Too Much Pork

I will start this post out by simply saying that I don’t like taxes. Now it’s not that I don’t want to pay my fair share of taxes but it’s that I don’t like giving my money up to be controlled by, shall we say, certain people who may not be very trustworthy. Right now in Washington we have several examples of those whom I don’t want to give my money up to. I believe that I am one of those people whose philosophy is in the mold of Jefferson and Franklin when it comes to government, politics and taxes. I believe that the governments’ responsibility is to protect the people and that in order to do that they must levy taxes to pay for those protections. The important point of this is that it is the obligation of the government to utilize those funds entrusted to them in the most fiscally responsible manner possible. It is called guarding the public trust. Now what I have read in the last few days about the budget I have to say greatly concerns me. (That’s an under statement if you didn’t catch it.) For the last 5 years I have watched, and protested, as the Republican controlled Congress has spent our nation into the deepest deficit hole in our history. (I know it’s really bad when the Fed Chairman says he’s “concerned”. When he says that he’s “concerned” about the budget deficit, it probably means the sky really will fall.) That’s right the “conservative” Republican Party has spent our country into near bankruptcy. Now the other thing that ‘sticks in my craw’ is that these are the same conservatives that railed against the democratically controlled Congress that, along with the previous President, helped to bring to fruition the biggest budget surplus in the nation’s history. So how did this happen you might ask yourself. Or not. Well let’s just take the infamous “pork”. During the previous administration the average number of pork issues in the budget per year was a few hundred. That number skyrocketed after the Congress came under the control of the Republican Party and a veto pen-less President to over 6,000 this year. (Let’s count the number of vetoes done by this President right here: _____. Okay then, now that we’ve solved that math problem let’s move on.) That’s right, the number six and three zeros after it which translates to way more billions of our dollars than I care to think about that paid for pet political projects to repay political debts and none of which serves to “protect” the citizens of this country. Now this is the same Congress that has voted big fat tax cuts for very rich people. (During that same five year period mine and my wife’s tax cut together bought us a pretty good steak dinner but I hear that the Presidents tax cut and those of a few of his friends could have purchased them new vacation homes near Kennebunkport. Now I’ll trade that steak for the house if he’s interested. I digress.) Let me give you an example of how it works when they are cutting the budget alias swapping pork. They want to make permanent tax cuts for the wealthy and they want to show their fiscal prowess to their constituents and “reduce spending” so they throw out a 50+ billion dollar budget cut bill with the permanent tax cuts in it. Where do all the budget cuts come from? They come from social and educational programs (which are programs that fall into my definition of protecting the citizens.). So they decide they have to show that they really are tightening the belt by cutting pork too. Classic example. There is money in the budget appropriated for two bridges to ‘nowhere’ in Alaska (alias pork) so they take it out of the budget. Now the Gentleman from Alaska threatens to quit if it’s removed. Now they go back and remove just the earmark for the projects but not the money. That’s great for the gentleman from Alaska because now he doesn’t have to quit. The only problem is they only removed the earmark and they left the money in the budget and it’s still going to Alaska. Net budget reduction is zero. So now the State gets the money with no strings. How cool is that? We got happy campers all around. They can say they are cutting taxes which they did (for the very rich). They can say they reduced spending which they didn’t really do but took money from the poor and poor students and they can say they cut pork which they didn’t. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and the politician gets reelected.

I believe it is time to elect a Congress that is capable of doing the morally correct thing and stemming the flow of blood before our nation loses its children’s future. We cannot afford to put any more politicians in Congress that are going to continue to hold their self interest above the interest of the nation.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Apathy Is The Key (Or How To Be A Complete Failure)

At what point does one just scream. I have to tell you that I was aghast at an article in my local newspaper today. What shocked me so was an article on the results of a local ballot initiative to determine if the city would participate and invest in a coal powered power plant project. I am one of those people who say if you want to complain about it then vote about it. Otherwise just shut up. And because I’m one of those people that votes I never shut up and that would be why you are reading this. Well I’m livid over this power plant issue because first of all I didn’t have a vote, I don’t live “in the city” but in the county, and secondly I am very near the city so even though I will not benefit from this project, in that I won’t be getting my electricity from the power plant, I will be living with the consequences of its construction because I’m in its pollution zone. There is a third thing I’m seriously bothered by and I think it bothers me even more than my not being able to vote on the issue. The thing that bothers me the most is the number of people who voted. Now I understand low voter turn out. I really do. Honest. You know how it goes. It’s like this; it’s too cold, it’s rainy, it’s too busy, it’s not at a convenient time, it’s not at a convenient place, the polls aren’t open late enough and on and on and on with every excuse in the book but hey, I can live with all that. No, really here is my heart burn. They……mailed……the……..ballot…….to……you. That’s right and……It……came….. with……a……postage……paid…….envelope. And you……had……three……weeks......to ……mark……the……ballot……and……mail……it……back. And you don’t VOTE WHY?

The total voter turnout for the ballot initiative was 34% and since the measure passed by 60% of the vote that means that about 18% of the registered voters in the city decided that they would all participate in the project. Eighteen percent decided because the other 66% of the voters were too lazy and apathetic to mark the ballot, put it in the envelope, and put it in their mail box! What’s that all about? Please! Tell me what that is all about. You can tell this one really has me going can’t you. That’s because I simply do not understand people who, by not exercising their constitutionally and God given right to vote, would put theirs and their families lives and health and future in the hands of every other George, Dick, and Condi. The sad reality of this is that our local electorate is a microcosm of the general electorate. You understand that because voter turnout is not a whole lot better during a general election we live with the rule of the few who vote. This is precisely why the neo-conservatives are in power in Washington today. They are in power because voters are so completely apathetic and the radical right can get the base mobilized and out to vote on wedge issues and because of that we stand at the threshold of a cultural and economic meltdown. What part of that’s STUPID don’t you understand?

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Fumble in the Hole Gang

In my last post (You Can Fool Them Some Of The Time) I wrote briefly about the Woodward revelations breaking into the news today. Well as you know I enjoy Keith Olbermann and in his Bloggermann post today titled 'Deep Throat Junior' no blockbuster for Libby’ he does his usual excellent job of nailing untruth tellers so I am going to leave it at that and simply invite you to check out his post from the “Keith Olbermann” link on the right of this page.

Now I want to add a few more of my thoughts on the news of the day. I have come to the conclusion that the Bush ‘Fumble in the Hole Gang’ is suffering from one of two possible afflictions. The first possibility is that the entire crew is in a total state of denial and delusion or they are just plain mean and really don’t give two hoots about this country. How one group of people can stand and deny the intuitively obvious is astounding. If you go back through my post or through the headlines of all the major newspapers for the last 5 years you will find a chronological list of fumbles, bumbles and just plain incompetent untruth telling gibberish. I am astounded that they can even stand in front of the American people and continue to spew what has now become almost comic balderdash. Today Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney both stood before the American people and accused not only Democrats but members of their own Party of being, in the words of Mr. Cheney, “Opportunist” and peddling “cynical and pernicious falsehoods” for political gain and in Mr. Bush’s words being “irresponsible”. Well I think they need to take a deep breath and turn around very slowly and look deep into the mirror. I would say that they will find that they are themselves being opportunistic and irresponsible. It is irresponsible to attack critics who come forward with facts and truths about foreign and domestic policy failures as opposed to being able to respond with logic and purpose and persuasive facts to the contrary and it is opportunistic to do so at a time when the nation needs real leadership and the cold hard truth. I believe that what is beginning to make all of this a very sad affair is that the ‘Fumble in the Hole Gang’ has become so very obvious in their falsehoods as evidenced by today’s Knight Ridder report. (See my link to the Knight Ridder article in the earlier post.) The Chairmen of the Republican National Party was quoted today as saying that the President will turn his ratings around and get the administration back on track. Well I would say that that is certainly possible but I’m not sure he has the moral courage to do what it will take to do that and what it will take is for him to tell the truth to the American people and insist that everyone in his administration do the same. Based on past experience I’d say the chances of that are about zero ‘0’.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

You Can Fool Them Some Of The Time

Verbal assaults don’t make it true Mr. Cheney. Once again and true to form the Vice President ‘attacks’ any and all critics of the administration for voicing concern over the administrations actions leading up to the war in Iraq and since. (Note that I use the term ‘attack’ and not the usual ‘lashes out’ that the press so loves. I use this term because Dick Cheney does attack and he does it with zeal and with well practiced and loved skill.) This administration continues to love to spin, twist and corrupt information in an attempt to discredit its critics and continues to accuse them of being unpatriotic or of not supporting the troops. As my mother use to say; Hog Wash! The critics of this administration are correct, and just, in questioning an administration that has a long record of ‘adjusting’ information and intelligence to fit their needs. Knight Ridder does a pretty good job of putting their misleading statements in context at the link provided with this post. This article contains some particularly pointed facts that support the Democratic statements that they did not have access to the same intelligence that the administration did and that the information the administration had was significantly more detailed and provided a much greater degree of balance in intelligence than that provided to the Congress. I can’t help but wonder at what point will truth completely overwhelm these people? Their skill in looking the American people in the camera eye and just plain lying is absolutely amazing. What is also amazing is how slowly the mainstream media continues to be in reporting all of the facts. I find the recent Woodward revelations another interesting example of spin. The focus seems to be on how Bob Woodward’s testimony might affect Scooter Libby’s case and not on the fact that there is yet another “senior administration” official revealing classified information. First Woodward’s testimony has little or no direct bearing on the case against Libby. If anything it shows the expanding scope of an investigation that is revealing some pretty serious national security breaches. Secondly there are more people in this administration telling national secrets than carter has little liver pills and third the real story is that security means nothing to this administration. It certainly and obviously doesn’t seem to mean anything to them when it conflicts with their political agenda. This administration has not changed their political or governing tactics since taking office. It is always attack and distract. Accuse them of being unpatriotic and they won’t notice we are divulging national security secrets. Accuse them of being “opportunist” and they won’t notice we’re lying. Accuse them of undermining our war effort by criticizing our policies and they won’t notice we don’t know what we’re doing and don’t have a plan. Gentlemen I hate to tell you but not all Americans are as naïve as you believe or would like them to be. They’ve been catching on and you can tell by the three links on the right side of my blog.

"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare."

Mark Twain

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Of Religion and Politics

I struggle to keep my post on point and I attempt to try and not be overly critical of the Bush administration but as I look around at many of the other blogs I notice that I am certainly not the most critical or profane. That gives me some satisfaction and that is what I will try to continue to do but this administration doesn’t make it easy. I have searched high and low for a single success that they have had and to be painfully honest I can’t find one. Whether we look at domestic or foreign policy it’s always the same. Aggression seems to be their watch word and swagger and vanity their code. There is something to be said for having the courage and humility to admit when you are wrong or have made a misstep. This President does not possess either of those qualities and that is reflected in his and his staffs and administrations words and deeds and policies. It has become obvious that anytime that they are simply questioned or called on an issue in any way their auto response is attack and go for the jugular. They appear to not have any other response and this has made the landscape of this administration a moral desert and unfortunately the neo-conservative minority controlling the Republican Party has done the same thing to their Party. It seems to me that they have lost the meaning and intent of their professed Christian Faith in their quest for absolute political power. You might ask what would make me come to such a conclusion. Well there are the Ten Commandments to start with and then there are their actions in relation to those Commandments. Please understand that I use the Ten Commandments here only because it is the predominant faith espoused within the neo-conservative movement and this administration. There are three Commandments that immediately come to mind when I think about the Bush administration and the neo-conservative movement in general. There is “Thou shalt not kill”, “Thou shalt not steal”, and lastly “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour”. Now there are their actions in relation to these Commandments. On the “Thou shalt not kill” issue there is the pro death penalty, torture to the point of death, and the war in Iraq resulting in thousands of American deaths and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths. Then on the “Thou shalt not steal” issue there is Tom Delay, and Bill Frist, and Jack Abramof, and, okay the list is too long and includes Pat Roberts and his charities. Then last but not least there is “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” issue where we have carte blanche on anything justifying war in Iraq, and Scooter, and Karl, and that list goes on and on and on too doesn’t it. I was raised a Southern Baptist so I have some understanding of my Christian Faith and I quite frankly don’t find that these folks practice what they preach. There are things in the Christian Faith that speak to humility, honesty, honor, truth, and charity. There are things in the Christian faith that speak to forgiveness and helping thy neighbor. There is nothing that I’ve ever found that professes the taking of human life for any reason or for torturing anyone in any manner. The ends do not justify the means. At what point will the zealots within this administration start living by their professed faith and code.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Monday, November 14, 2005

While You Were Sleeping (Or What About China)

Since 9/11 this nation and the Bush administration have been nearly totally focused on the Middle East. One can understand this focus in light of such a horrendous and vicious terrorist attack. Since, and in response to that event we have gone to war in Afghanistan with some success but still not catching the actual culprit responsible for 9/11. We have also gone to war in Iraq without a true coalition and under suspect circumstances and that has turned into a quagmire that our nation’s leader apparently has no clue on how to extract us from. The results of this chaos is that we as a nation and our leaders are so totally focused on the Middle East and have become so isolated from our traditional allies that we no longer have the welfare of our nation nor our roll on the world stage in focus. What I mean by this is that we may not want to believe it but there is a threat out there that is potentially greater than any terrorist threat. Has anyone noticed that China is about as near to a superpower in technological, military, and economic strength as you can get while we have been distracted and marking time.

The United States military has talked of being able to conduct a multi front war for years. This administration has also touted how they have increased military spending and how our military is capable of confronting all threats to our nation on multiple fronts. Well it seems to me that just recently when the chips were down and we were fighting a one front war and experiencing a national natural disaster we didn’t have either the planning or the military strength to deal with it.

I don’t want to seem like Chicken Little and I know the sky is not falling but I also know that it is obvious that we are not prepared. In case our leadership has forgotten the Peoples Republic of China is a communist regime. They are also a nuclear power and have the world’s largest standing army. They are also slicing off bigger and bigger chunks of the world economy and consuming more and more of the world’s oil reserves. What this means to me is that they are at best a serious economic threat that is not being addressed effectively and at worst they are a serious economic and military threat that is not being effectively addressed.

The United States cannot continue to be distracted by misguided foreign and domestic policies. Our nation needs strong Foreign Affairs and Defense Policies along with strong Domestic, Monetary, and Trade policies that take into consideration the true threats to this nation and the other ‘free’ nations of the world. Yes we must focus on and be concerned with terrorism but we must also have a strong foreign affairs policy that is effective in bringing our allies, traditional and new, on board with cohesive defense, monetary and trade policies. The United States can no longer bully itself around the world as this administration would have us do. We are a few 400 million people in a 6 billion people world. If you look at those numbers for purposes of defense or trade they are stacked against us if we intend to be the bully on the block. They are also stacked in our favor if we are trying to profit from being the economic growth catalyst for the world. The key to a truly strong defense of this nation against terrorism and all other threats is not the aggressive invasion of countries in an attempt to install Jeffersonian Democracy but a strong system of allies working in concert sharing intelligence information and law enforcement efforts while forming and improving trade and economic alliances around the world. One would think that a true fiscally conservative administration would understand this concept. Too bad that the one currently in office to quote my children, “don’t have a clue”.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Finders Keepers Loosers Weepers or How I Didn't Get Drug Coverage

This is the post I had intended to write yesterday. I want to comment on a program that this administration has touted as the answer to the Medicare prescription drug problem. I won’t even go into the fact that the cost of the program was, shall we say, not presented to the Congress and the American people in a forth right manner. (Shock and Amazement) In other words they lied about the cost up front. The Medicare Prescription Drug program goes into effect this month and millions of senior will be making up their minds about which one to sign up for. Now you need to know there are 20 +/- programs. Notice the (+/-) because that’s about as accurate as any of the information on these programs gets. It’s so convoluted that news reports don’t even give the exact number. Another interesting thing about these programs is that they are all different, provided through different companies and accepted by different pharmacies, and they even cover a multitude of different drugs. They are so convoluted that in one news report an engineer was being interviewed and his comment was, “I’m and engineer and I’m use to complicated things but this is beyond me”. That should be a little disturbing by itself don’t you think. There are several other serious issues with this program in addition to the burdensome complexity and ridiculous costs that lines the pockets of giant pharmaceutical companies. Let’s look at a few of these issues one by one.

First there are 20 +/- programs. I realize that the elderly are mostly retired or at least semi-retired if they don’t want to eat cat food but just how many have the time or patience to review 20 +/- complex programs in order to pick the best and most cost effective one. That’s a valid question if for no other reason than the fact that when the average working person’s employer provides a drug program (fat chance) your choice might normally be one or two programs for which the company has negotiated the best possible price. So one must ask the question, why is the federal government offering 20 +/- programs and not allowing Medicare to negotiate the best price possible? Secondly if an engineer has trouble understanding the program, how is the average high school educated person to understand it? I am not being condescending or demeaning to the average elderly person with a high school diploma. But if each of these programs cost are different, and each program is accepted by different pharmacies, and each program covers different drugs, the possibilities become astronomical and it would be virtually impossible to select ‘the’ best, correct one. In fact the odds are that you will not select the best program that will give you the drugs you need for the best price possible price.

The simple truth is that the Bush administration along with the pharmaceutical industry have gotten just what they wanted which is more programs. They got this because it dilutes the ability of any one program to negotiate the best price and exerting a downward pressure on the drug market. What further amazes me is that the AARP, after taking tremendous heat over supporting this misguided program in the beginning is still supporting it. NO ladies and gentlemen it is not the first best step forward and is actually a step backward. The reality is that if Medicare was allowed to manage the drug program themselves they could negotiate the prices with pharmaceutical companies and they would be a huge single power in the market capable of bringing the cost of drugs down. That is the reality that the Bush administration wants you to NOT believe.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Truth Yes - Torture No

Today I wanted to write on a somewhat different subject but I will have to save it for tomorrow because I have just finished reading an article by Senator McCain and reading an excerpt from his weekend talk show appearance. Let me first say that I respect Senator McCain for his service to country both as a fighting man and as a U.S. Senator. He has given as much and a lot more than many others in the defense of freedom. I also must say that I agree whole heartedly on his stance with regards to how this nation should treat their prisoners. In my case however that would mean prisoners of war as well as any other prisoners and it would mean all being treated humanely and that would mean no torture. Having said that I have to respectfully disagree with the Senators views on whether or not this administration lied in taking this nation to war. You may call what this administration’s practices anything you want but lies of omission and lies of shades of truth are lies. I do not wish to defend anyone in this post with regards to whether or not they had or had access to the same intelligence because I do not believe, and in fact know, that not all Senators and Congressmen and women have access to the same intelligence information. Nor do they have access to all of the same intelligence information which the President and Vice President have access to. What is most important to me is that the American people have a right to know that their Senate, Congress and President are taking them to war on reliable information and for a just cause. This administration has failed on both of those counts. In the case of going to war I believe it is the administrations responsibility to insure beyond any reasonable doubt the validity of intelligence and that it is presented to the Senate and Congress as such and they did not do so. They were incompetent and politically motivated in their intelligence gathering and decision making processes. Just watching the news and reading newspapers will tell you that. Also the fact that the highest levels of the administration would divulge classified information simply adds to the very serious doubts about the truthfulness of this administration. No Senator this administration is not being truthful and the Democrats are not being disingenuous when they say they did not have the same information or accurate information. Intelligence failures of the 10th magnitude yes but, as a direct result of incompetence on the part of those who lead. Get to the heart of it sir.

Lastly I would say to Senator McCain that this administration, though not directly but through political operatives, smeared you as an individual during the 2000 campaign and I for one do not understand how you could tolerate the slightest appearance of deception by this administration after such an experience. I would even go so far as to say it is disingenuous of you to stand on the stage or support a man who is capable of such crass and dishonorable behavior as that which has been put upon you and Senator Max Clelan. Do you want to be President so bad sir?

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Letter from John Edwards

Below I am posting the e-mail letter I received from John Edwards. (I'm apparently still on his mailing list.) The reason I am posting this is because if you have followed my postings you will note that the three objectives that Mr. Edwards says must be achieved are the very ones that I have articulated in several of my post. I say to John Edwards, yes sir, you are dead on and what are your plans for the four years beginning in 2008? By the way, I am not saying that I thought of these things first but that they are just good common sense. And, just to prod the Democratic Leadership again. Get the Party on the bandwagon Mr. Dean.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

A Special Message From John Edwards

Dear Friend,

I was wrong.

I wrote these words about my vote to authorize the Iraq war in a Washington Post op-ed piece and I want to share my views with you as well.

Almost three years ago, we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a very dear price. It is not right, just or fair that we made a mistake, but they pay for that mistake.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.

While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong -- and to show that we have the creativity and guts to make it right.

The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the President -- and that I was being told by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.

George Bush won't accept responsibility for his mistakes. Along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, he has made horrible mistakes at almost every step: twisting intelligence to fit their pre-conceived views about Iraq's threat; failed diplomacy; not going in with enough troops; not giving our forces the equipment they need; not having a plan for peace.

Because of these failures, Iraq is a mess and has become a far greater threat than it actually ever was. It is now a haven for terrorists, and our presence there is draining the goodwill that our country once enjoyed, diminishing our global standing. It has made fighting the global war against terrorist organizations more difficult, not less.

The urgent question isn't how we got here, but what we do now. We have to give our troops a way to end their mission honorably. That means leaving behind a success, not a failure.

What is success? I don't think it is Iraq as a Jeffersonian democracy. I think it is an Iraq that is relatively stable, largely self-sufficient, comparatively open and free, and in control of its own destiny.

A plan for success needs to focus on three interlocking objectives: reducing American presence; building Iraq's capacity; and getting other countries to meet their responsibilities to help.

First, we need to remove the image of the imperialist America from the landscape of Iraq. American contractors who have taken unfair advantage of the turmoil in Iraq need to leave Iraq. If that means Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, then KBR should go. Such departures, and the return of the work to Iraqi businesses, would be a real statement about our hopes for the new nation.

We also need to show Iraq and the world that we will not stay there forever. We've reached the point where the large number of our troops in Iraq hurts, not helps, our goals. Therefore, early next year, after the Iraqi elections and a new government has been created, we should begin the redeployment of a significant number of troops out of Iraq. This should be the beginning of a gradual process to reduce our presence and change the shape of our military's deployment in Iraq.

Most of these troops should come from National Guard or Reserve forces. That will still leave us with enough military capability, combined with better trained Iraqis, to fight terrorists and continue to help the Iraqis develop a stable country.

Second, this redeployment should work in concert with a more effective training program for Iraqi forces. We should implement a clear plan for training and hard deadlines for certain benchmarks to be met. To increase incentives, we should implement a schedule outlining that as we certify that Iraqi troops are trained and equipped, a proportional number of U.S. troops will withdraw.

Third, we must launch a serious diplomatic process that brings the world into this effort. We should bring Iraq's neighbors and our key European allies into a diplomatic process to get Iraq on its feet. It's not just in America's security interest for Iraq to succeed, but the world's -- and the President needs to create a unified international front.

Too many mistakes have already been made to make this easy. Yet we must take these steps to succeed. The American people, the Iraqi people and -- most importantly -- our troops who have died or been injured there and those who are fighting there today deserve nothing less.

America's leaders -- all of us -- need to accept the responsibility we each carry for how we got to this place. Over 2,000 Americans have lost their lives in this war; and over 150,000 are fighting there today. They and their families deserve honesty from our country's leaders. And they also deserve a clear plan for a way out.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Show Me The Vision

I think it's time I focused one of my post on the 'Opposition Party'. It is time for a VISION Governor Dean et al. You have done a fair job of railing against the Neo-Conservative agenda. You have done a fair job, with some success, of trying to get the press to focus on the gross failings of the Bush administration. It is obvious now that the nation is seeing this administration under the bright light of honesty. (See the Newsweek article linked to this post.) It is also obvious that the corruption within the leadership of the Senate and Congress has begun to be exposed and that they will ultimately pay the price. What is missing is a Democratic Party stepping forward with a vision. I believe It is vitally important that the nation have positive leadership and when a vacuum is created in that leadership by the incumbent party's lack of moral integrity it is the duty of the opposition to fill that vacuum. The leadership of the Democratic Party must not only step forward with a vision but also with a plan. A plan that will bring back honor and ethics to our government. A plan that will bring back credibility to our foreign policy and standing in the community of nations. I must state plainly that I am not hearing nor am I seeing that vision or plan. I keep hearing they have it but I still don't see it. Now I hear that the Party is lagging in fund raising by nearly 2 to 1. This should be a clear indicator (red lights and sirens) to the Party leadership that you don't have a message out there that is being heard or to be rallied around. When you communicate a vision and a plan and it is heard you will receive a response that results in people contributing. I am not just urging the Party to voice their vision and plan but to be aggressive in demonstrating to the American people that the Democratic Party is the Party of the people with real values. That the Democratic Party has a vision and plan that is tune with American vision and values and aspirations for the future. Wake up Democrats! Tell the Party to get moving or the window of opportunity will surely close and this nation will continue down the wrong path to a place no one wants us to go.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

The Truth Under a Bright Light

I am linking this post to a just released Newsweek Poll. The first thought that came to mind upon reading this article was how amazing it is that when the bright light of truth is shined on dishonesty the mantle of arrogance begins to melt away and a persons true nature is revealed. It has been obvious to me from the beginning when George W. Bush was campaigning for President that he and his Vice President Dick Cheney were neither true Statesmen nor upright politicians. Whether I reflect on domestic or foreign policy I see mass confusion and disaster after disaster. The policies of this administration have exported more and created fewer 'real' jobs than any administration in recent memory. I believe it was President Ronald Reagan who said, "Recession is when a neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours". There is a new twist on that now and I would say it goes like this, 'recession is when a neighbor is under employed and depression is when you are under employed'. When I look around I see a lot of under employed people and that is because this administration has fostered and supported programs that have resulted in the exporting of the best jobs overseas and the creation of, 'you want fries with that burger' jobs at home.

When I look around I see an administration that was suppose to be poised to respond to a natural or man made disaster, that was caught completely flat footed by a forecasted major natural disaster. And "Good Job Brownie" George Bush stuttered in the background and gave us and almost immediate fly over. I would have passed on the fly-over for a competent, qualified pick for a leader of FEMA. I shudder to think what would happen if the major earthquake so long forecast for California ever hits or the long expected repeat of a 9/11.

What I am driving at in this post is that when an administration builds it's policies on a web of deceit it is never long before the truth is exposed for all to see. This administration has done just that. They have built their administration on deceit and now they are slowly being exposed for the frauds they are. It is unfortunate that they have at least 3 more years to do more, perhaps irreparable, damage. I hope the voters of this country see and understand this and next year vote enough honest, thoughtful and competent people into office. It is only in next years election that we can bring real change.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Friday, November 11, 2005

It's The Constitution Sir

In an earlier post I chided the administration and the Republican Party for resorting to the tactics of attacking their critics instead of responding in a reasonable and logical way. Today on a day that is nearly sacred to me and millions of other veterans he has chosen to use a speech that should be honoring the men and women who have fought and are fighting for this country to sling political mud and once again attack his critics. If the President is saying that his critics and or the opposition party looking into the activities of this administration leading up to the war and finding wrong doing is not patriotic then he obviously doesn't know why soldiers serve in this nations military. (By the way Mr. President one member of your administration has been indicted for issues surrounding the war.) I don't know what Mr. Bush did during his National Guard service but during my 27 years of active military duty and several combat tours I was defending every citizen of this country's right to voice their opinion regardless of the atmosphere surrounding the comments. That is what this country is about. Free speech Mr. President or did you forget about the constitution again. You Mr. President are supposed to be the leader of this nation and its armed forces. You, I believe should be setting the example. If your actions and those of your administration were honorable in their activities leading up to and during this conflict then you should welcome any and all scrutiny of those activities. You Mr. President should be most incensed at classified information being released that could threaten our national security and should fire at a minimum and prosecute as a matter of course anyone who committed such an act. One of my earlier post quoted "Lead, Follow, or get the Hell Out of the Way" and you Sir need to do just that. Don't disrespect our nation’s soldiers by slinging mud and spewing sanctimonious political bull in a forum that should be honoring all those who have served and fallen for this nation. We soldiers put our lives on the line for the citizens of this country's right to free speech.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Welcome Mr. Chalibi

Ahmad Chalabi. Do you remember that name? He was the one who provided all of the convincing intelligence that helped justify the invasion of Iraq. That would be the same intelligence that we taxpayers provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay him for. He is also, by the way, the one the FBI is currently investigating for divulging United States secrets to Iran. Yep you heard right. Iran, you remember that country as being one of the founding members of the axis of evil. Well in case you missed it, Ahmad was back in Washington yesterday touching base with all of his old friends like Condi Rice, and Dick Cheney. This time though he’s back in his official capacity as the Iraq Oil Minister. Imagine that. Ahmed, oil, Dick Cheney, the Bush administration in general and you can finish the pattern all by yourself, right? Well if you’re not connecting the dots let me help you a little. This administration wanted to invade Iraq from the beginning (Ask Richard Clark and other former members of the administration about that.). Unfortunately for us and the 9/11 families, 9/11 gave them the excuse to do just that. Not that there was a real connection between Iraq and 9/11 but it afforded them an opportunity to excuse and lie their way into war with the gracious assistance of the honorable Mr. Chalabi. The convincing evidence that Mr. Chalabi provided was the irrefutable evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destructions. Yes it’s those same weapons of mass destruction that no one has ever found and that it is more than reasonably certain never existed. No they didn’t sneak them across the border to Iran, or Syria, or Jordan. They just simply didn’t exist. Anyway Mr. Chalabi is back in Washington sealing his deals with Dick and the rest of the Halliburton team and he doesn’t even have the Kahoonas to apologize for all of the death and destruction he’s largely responsible for. I wasn’t and I am not really expecting him to apologize for anything but I am just plain disgusted by the Bush administration, once again, for their absolute lack of moral scruples in welcoming someone who is so directly responsible for the lose of so many American lives.

I have one other comment from yesterday’s news. According to the NBC News/WSJ poll Mr. Bush now has an approval rating of 38% and 33% now give Mr. Bush high marks for being "honest and straightforward," down from 50% in January and 57% say he "deliberately misled" the nation about the case for war in Iraq. It would appear that America is waking up and if the Democratic Party can produce a clear vision for America they just might make some progress in next years elections.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lead, Follow, Or Get The Hell Out of The Way

I have attempted in this blog to focus my news analysis and commentary on national issues. I find that now I am compelled to vary from that pattern and comment on an issue in my home State of Florida. The reason for this is that something very significant has come to my attention and because the State administration in Florida is governed by our Presidents brother Jeb Bush. The reason this issue is so interesting is that both the President and his brother consider themselves to be education leaders. I just finished reviewing the 2006 report from United States Department of Education Institute of Education Science’s Graduation Rates. This report showed two interesting sets of data. These data were the State or Jurisdiction freshman graduation rates from school years 2001-02 and 2002-03. These dates are significant because they both fall well within the two terms of Governor Jeb Bush (The Education Governor).

Florida 2001-02 2002-03
Graduation Rate 63.4 66.7

At first blush you would think this is good news. There has been a 3.3 increase. Well any increase is good but unfortunately when you are moving from number 50 out of 57 jurisdictions to number 44 out of 57 jurisdictions that’s not very significant progress in my book and it’s very discouraging when you think that that means that you have a 43.3 not graduating rate. Last time I checked the educational grading system anything below 70 was failing and right now using that grading scale 16 jurisdictions in this country are flat out failing with Florida snug within the failure pack. I’m sure that Mr. Bush is feeling really proud and thinking his glass is half full because he has moved his State up 6 notches. He’s the same Polly Anna that thinks the outsourcing of the State personnel system is a success but that’s a whole other story. Unfortunately I don’t think moving up in the failing group is a real success but then in my book our goal should be 100 percent and we should never be much lower than that. To me our children’s education is our future and I would say that in Florida the future looks pretty bleak. It looks even bleaker when you consider that the only way the State could get a school class size reduction through Florida’s Republican Governor and Republican controlled legislature was by an overwhelmingly approved citizen driven ballot initiative. I think when something like that occurs one has to ask the question of just who is governing and who is looking out for the citizens of Florida and most important who is leading. In the military we use to say you need to lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. Maybe for our children’s sake we should make sure that our current State administration and legislature gets the hell out of the way because they sure aren’t leading or following.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Something Lost

As I reflect on my many (27) years in the military I am overcome by a feeling of something lost. I am the son of soldiers. My great-great-grandfather was a Colonel in the Revolutionary Army, my great-grandfather was a Captain in the Confederate Cavalry, my grandfather was a First Sergeant in World War I, my grandmother was a Sergeant in the Women's Army Corps in World War II, my father was a Sergeant in the Army Air Corps in World War II, and my brother was an Corpsman in the Air force. My family has always been a military family and has always been proud of their service to our nation. My grandfather was so patriotic and devoted to military service to his country that he was absolutely crushed when, because of age, he was turned down for service during WWII. I believe that our soldiers serving today are just as patriotic and devoted as I, my family or my forefathers ever were. They go into battle each day loving their nation and serving with great pride. They truly care about the Iraqi and Afghan people as well as the entire Muslim world for that matter. Each day they are making the ultimate sacrifice for their homes, families, and their nation. Each day they are making the ultimate sacrifice for the Iraqi and Afghan people and every other person of Muslim faith in the world. We are all proud of our soldiers and the job they are doing. But there is something lost. That something lost is their greatest weapon against their enemies. That something lost is truth. That’s it. Truth. They are simply missing the truth.

When a nation is led to war by deceit and or chicanery their soldiers are lacking the essence of what is necessary to win the war. Our soldiers in Iraq are missing that greatest weapon because we were led to war through chicanery and deceit. After 9/11 our nation went to war in Afghanistan justly and swiftly and won that conflict with honor. There was no ambiguity in our actions and we were correct in what we were doing. We even garnered allies along the way to create a meaningful force capable of winning and maintaining the peace after. (Drugs are another issue.) As a result of our honorable actions our continued efforts in that country have been largely successful. With Iraq however the story is quite different. If we go back and simply look at the media tapes of the speeches and statements made by members of our government between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq one thing becomes obvious. Their allegations and reasoning was not just flawed but built on deceit. Consistently they accused Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction. Consistently they accused Iraq of being involved in and or directly responsible for the events of 9/11 and even now, daily, revelations come one after the other that show their case for war was knowingly built on falsehoods and that they knew that evidence to be false. Our case was so flimsy that, as our “coalition” demonstrates, we were unable to even convince our normally staunch allies to come with us. Our case was so flimsy that even professionals and experts within our own government were more than skeptical and consistently voiced grave concerns.

So what does this all mean to our fighting men and women? It means that the insurgency in Iraq is growing and becoming more deadly each day. It grows because the vast majority of the Muslim world does not trust us and therefore provides support to the radicals who wage war on us in Iraq and terrorize us everywhere else. There is more to this than just the repercussions of the distrust we have created in the Muslim world though. Our fighting men and women have also not had the truth from their own leaders. The falsehood here is more one of omission. They were sent to war without the proper equipment. They were sent to war without basic body armor or armored vehicles to protect them from IED’s. They were sent to war without the proper number of troops to win. They were sent to war without the planning to win the peace and they were sent to war on bad and or false intelligence. They were sent to war not knowing that they would do back to back to back tours that have created a cycle of uncertainty that has resulted in dramatic increases in broken marriages, suicides and endless pain. They were sent to war without a Veterans Health Care System equipped to care for their broken bodies when they returned if they were lucky enough to return.

Where have we heard these things before? I think you know the answer to that question. How long are the American people going to let this catastrophe continue? How long must our soldiers suffer?

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Shocked, Stunned, and Embarrassed

Over the past two days as I have read about the “CIA Jails” I am stunned beyond words. As an American and a soldier in addition to being stunned I am ashamed and embarrassed and disgusted. As a soldier who served our country for 27 years and who has served several combat tours I have a keen understanding of the Geneva Convention and what it means to the American soldier as well as the soldiers of many other nations. As a soldier I carried the Geneva Convention card with me everywhere I went and at all times and it gave me a certain sense of pride, security, and satisfaction. The pride came from knowing that I represented a nation of honorable, just, and fair people. The security came from knowing that if I was captured by an enemy soldier there was a good chance that he or she would be a warrior like me and would posses a sense of honor, justice, and fair play and therefore I would be treated humanely and with a warriors respect. The satisfaction came from the knowledge that if I was captured by an enemy combatant who was without honor that at least I was representing a nation that honored the Geneva Convention and at least in that regard I had the moral high ground and as I would endure the indignations and suffering I knew it was for a morally upright and honorable nation. These revelations of CIA Jails along with the never ending stream of prisoner abuse news that has flowed and continues to flow out of our military detention centers and prisons have gravely injured this nation. This administration often talks of honoring our troops. Such conduct as we have been hearing about and seeing honors no one. It is in fact a most dishonorable way of conducting what this administration so fondly refers to as a “War on Terror”. It is this type of conduct that actually places our soldiers in even greater danger. This is not about politics but about morality. Soldiers reflect exactly the traits of their leaders up to and including the Commander in Chief. I have watched it time and again. An organization that is commanded by a morally just and upright commander who lives honor, integrity, and fair play commands an organization that lives honor, integrity, and fair play. They fight hard to win and show respect to the enemy regardless of the enemies conduct. Did we not conduct our selves with honor during World War II and look at the actions of the enemy we fought then? Hang your head in shame Mr. President because this military and the CIA are a reflection of the Commander in Chief.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Staring Down The Locomotive

As the extreme radical wing of the Republican Party along with the Bush administration drags the rest of the Party of Lincoln slithering into the pit of deceit and corruption I find it stunning that they continue to whine "politics" when someone in the rest of the country points out their folly. As I listened to Mr. Mehlman (Chairman of the Republican Party) on Hardball I wanted to be ill. What a self-righteous attitude he displays on behalf of his party. He looked like a pedestrian standing on the railroad tracks with his feet glued to the rail and Orange Blossom Special bearing down on him and all the time he's saying it's all a dream, it's all a dream. Mr. Mehlman the leaders of your party continue to attempt to deceive the American people even as new revelations of lies and misinformation and wanton power grabbing roil around them. Mr. Mehlman the Majority Leader of the Senate is under investigation and the Majority Leader in the Congress has been indicted along with his cronies and lobbyist friends. The Chief of Staff for the Vice President of the United States has been indicted for "PERJURY" and the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President is under investigation for outing a CIA agent and or divulging classified information. One of the administrations Chief Procurement Officers has been indicted. And through all of this the very reason for our having gone to war in Iraq is questioned and the honesty of the President and Vice President of the United States is suspect. Now Mr. Mehlman what part of they are all Republicans don't you understand and what part of being held accountable and ethical don't you understand and what part of lying don't you understand? Apparently you don't understand any of that. They not only appear dishonest but they have been charged by law enforcement for crimes that they believe were committed. These are people holding the most important and trusted positions in this nation and they are all being investigated and charged and you act like it is politics on the part of the Democratic Party. Well sir I say that what you spewed on Hardball was a bunch of BS and you must be delusional.

Those are The Sergeant Majors thoughts on that.