Monday, March 31, 2008

The Hillbilly Report on Terrorism

A friend emailed this to me, thought I'd share, "If I Were a Terrorist"

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ring Around the Rosies

A pocketful of posies. Ashes to ashes. We all fall down! "As they stand up, we'll stand down." - Emperor Chimpleton

Basra crisis leaves British withdrawal in ruins

Iraqi police in Basra are switching sides

Iraqi PM issues ultimatum to militias

Iraq: the battle for Basra

An interesting tidbit about the American perspective in Iraq, Life During Wartime, from someone I never quote from, The Cunning Realist

Pollution index: Horrible dust year-round plus additional junk in the air in the winter when everything that can be burned for fuel is. During my winter there, a visitor asked, “What's that smell like sh** burning?” The answer was, “Sh** burning.” If you exercise outdoors, you're likely to cough up black gunk afterwards.

Security concerns: Rocket attacks, IEDs, suicide bombers—your basic war zone.

Housing: Huge inequites. Either you will live in a large one-bedroom apartment in a reinforced building or you will live in a 10-by-15-foot non-reinforced hooch (trailer) and listen to your colleagues complain about everything they think is wrong with their apartments.

Is this a good city for families/singles/couples? It's currently an unaccompanied post. Spouses are allowed only if they're employed at the embassy. It's a good post for anyone who doesn't mind spending a year in a minimum security prison.

Interesting/fun things to do in the area: Check how many days are left on your tour tracker.

Items you would ship if you could do it again: As many dirt-colored clothes as I could find. The dust and dirt are unrelenting. It's impossible to keep anything clean. I threw away lots of clothes and shoes at the end of my tour.

English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost? Does Stars & Stripes count as a newspaper?

Is high speed internet access available? Cost? Internet service is provided free in all apartments and hooches, though the system is frequently overloaded and slow. Sometimes it goes down completely when it rains or snows…or when someone in Poland sneezes in the wrong direction.

Entertaining/social life: The “drink a lot/sleep around” contingent (made up of singles and marrieds alike) appeared to be quite active.
Clearly, Iraq under occupation is a terrible place to be. I wish the American public would care enough to actively pursue the end of this debacle.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Real Meaning of 4000 Dead

Found over at Watertiger's place:

By LT. SEAN WALSH Wed Mar 26, 2:20 PM ET

The passing of the 4,000th service member in Iraq is a tragic milestone and a testament to the cost of this war, but for those of us who live and fight in Iraq, we measure that cost in smaller, but much more personal numbers. For me those numbers are 8, the number of friends and classmates killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 3, the number of soldiers from my unit killed in this deployment. I'm 25, yet I've received more notifications for funerals than invitations to weddings.

The number 4,000 is too great to grasp even for us that are here in Iraq. When we soldiers read the newspaper, the latest AP casualty figures are glanced over with the same casual interest as a box score for a sport you don't follow. I am certain that I am not alone when I open up the Stars and Stripes, the military's daily paper, and immediately search for the section with the names of the fallen to see if they include anyone I know. While in a combat outpost in southwest Baghdad, it was in that distinctive bold Ariel print in a two-week-old copy of the Stars and Stripes that I read that my best friend had been killed in Afghanistan. No phone call from a mutual friend or a visit to his family. All that had come and gone by the time I had learned about his death. I sometimes wonder, if I hadn't picked up that paper, how much longer I would have gone by without knowing - perhaps another day, perhaps a week or longer until I could find the time and the means to check my e-mail to find my messages unanswered and a death notification from a West Point distro list in my inbox. The dead in Afghanistan don't seem to inspire the keeping of lists the same way that those in Iraq do, but even if they did it wouldn't matter; he could only be number 7 to me.

I'm not asking for pity, only understanding for the cost of this war. We did, after all, volunteer for the Army and that is the key distinction between this army and the army of the Vietnam War. But even as I ask for that understanding I'm almost certain that you won't be able to obtain it. Even Shakespeare, with his now overused notion of soldiers as a "band of brothers" fails to capture the bonds, the sense of responsibility to each other, among soldiers. In many ways, Iraq has become my home (by the time my deployment ends I will have spent more time here than anywhere else in the army) and the soldiers I share that home with have become my family. Between working, eating and sleeping within a few feet of the same soldiers every single day, I doubt I am away from them for more than two hours a day. I'm engaged to the love of my life, but it will take several years of marriage before I've spent as much time with her as I have with the men I serve with today.

For the vast majority of American's who don't have a loved one overseas, the only number they have to attempt to grasp the Iraq War is 4,000. I would ask that when you see that number, try to remember that it is made up of over 1 million smaller numbers; that every one of the 1 million service members who have fought in Iraq has his or her own personal numbers. Over 1 million 8's and 3's. When you are evaluating the price of the war, weighing potential rewards versus cost in blood and treasure, I would ask you to consider what is worth the lives of three of your loved ones? Or eight? Or more? It would be a tragedy for my 8 and 3 to have died without us being able to complete our mission, but it maybe even more tragic for 8 and 3 to become anything higher.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Assembly Line of Death

Will Americans notice? Dave Lindorff chimes in:
Well, the toll of wasted American lives in Iraq has hit 4000. But hey, who’s counting? Certainly not the folks in the White House and the Pentagon, and certainly not John McCain, the prospective Republican nominee for president, who thinks the war is going just dandy.

But it’s worth noting that about a year ago, around the time that Bush’s “surge” plan got implemented with the addition of some 30,000 additional troops to the Iraq theater, the number of dead was about 3000. So it’s fair to say that Bush’s “surge” policy—his “escalation of the war in order to end it” plan—has directly led to the deaths of 1000 more young American men and women.
While looking on my own blogroll of news websites, finding a link on passing the 4000 dead soldier mark, was a relatively disappointing experience. I found few articles in the left blogosphere.

This "milestone" it's worth mentioning, DOES NOT INCLUDE the more than 4000 deaths that have occurred out-of-theater since the invasion of Iraq. These deaths are not part of the official DoD death toll because Dubya says so, and he's The Decider. Just more of the subterfuge to keep the Natives quiet.

As I've mentioned before, even the left is asleep to the loss of life and sacrifices being made by the military. Way to support the troops America.

Antiwar carries the AP story of the death toll.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Winter Soldier Hearings

Here is a direct link to the on-going hearings until March 16th. Please listen. Or watch courtesy of Iraq Veterans Against the War

In Black and White

I was just recommended an excellent post over at KOS that all should read. Please, please, please read Andy T's heartfelt post because it matters and we can do something about it. Add Deidra's button to your site, and let the bucket brigade begin.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Six Trillion Dollar Man

AND THE 4000 DEAD SOLDIERS...not quite a fairytale

Darth Cheney is the real bionic man with his implanted electronic pacemaker and all the human warmth of an oil derrick, but between him and Chimpy, the true estimated cost of the war/occupation will be six trillion dollars. And how many more dead soldiers?

Economist Joseph Sitglitz latest book gives details, conservative estimates on,
"...the economic cost of the war to the U.S. to be $3 trillion, and the costs to the rest of the world to be another $3 trillion – far higher than the Bush administration's estimates before the war.

The Bush team not only misled the world about the war's possible costs, but has also sought to obscure the costs as the war has gone on."

The Toronto Star has an article by Dr. Stiglitz detailing some of those costs.

To make matters worse, Iraq and its human costs have fallen off the radar for the majority of Americans. The Pew Research Center's latest survey finds that only 28% of Americans know the American military death toll which today stands at 3993 according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count.

Ranger Against War has posted on this as well, and it's worth a read.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Music Wednesday

Last year I posted a great song by a charming and talented young Irishman named Eoghan Colgan. His song "Can I Leave Alive?" is a poignant query from the point of view of those innocents caught up in war. One of his latest ventures is a song he wrote and recorded for Barack Obama, "A Change is in Place." Give the song your attention and Eoghan your feedback.

More Shock, Less Awe

The sad news that Admiral Fallon, CentCom commander, has resigned came down yesterday. White House correspondent Martha Raddatz talks to Charlie Rose giving background and some conclusions about the departure of one of the only men keeping us from yet another "pre-emptive attack" but this time, on Iran.

Fucking shrub won’t be happy until he blows up Iran. God help us. The more it looks like a dem will win the WH, the more likely he is to do something to force a suspension of the election. The specter of more war looms large.

Weather on Both Sides

Waiting for the storm...or at least for it to pass.... courtesy of reader Val, a song I love, Weather Channel, Sheryl Crow:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bittersweet Symphony

My mood fluctuates between angry, sad and kinda flat. In my angsty-teenage-boy moment I present The Verve, Bittersweet Symphony:

'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony this life
Trying to make ends meet, you're a slave to the money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah
No change, I can't change, I can't change, I can't change,
but I'm here in my mold , I am here in my mold
But I'm a million different people from one day to the next
I can't change my mold, no, no, no, no, no,no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

Well, I've never prayed,
But tonight I'm on my knees, yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind , I feel free now
But the airwaves are clean and there's nobody singing to me now

No change, I can't change, I can't change, I can't change,
but I'm here in my mold , I am here with my mold
And I'm a million different people from one day to the next
I can't change my mold, no, no, no, no, no

(Well have you ever been down?)
(I can't change, I can't change...)
'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony this life
Trying to make ends meet, trying to find some money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah
You know I can't change, I can't change, I can't change,
but I'm here in my mold, I am here in my mold
And I'm a million different people from one day to the next
I can't change my mold, no,no,no,no,no
I can't change my mold, no,no,no,no,no
I can't change my mold, no,no,no,no,no

(It justs sex and violence melody and silence)
(It justs sex and violence melody and silence)
(I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down)
(It justs sex and violence melody and silence)
(I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down)
(Been down)
(Ever been down)
(Ever been down)(Lalalalalalaaaaaaaa...)
(Ever been down)
(Ever been down)
(Have you ever been down?)
(Have you ever been down?)
(Have you ever been down?)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Just to make me feel better: from Bushout via Will at Attytood, Worst. President. Ever.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Moving On and In

I want all who read here to know, I do realize my blog was founded on the basis of political discourse from a relative neophyte, but frankly in light of the dramatic life-changing developments in every area of my life, politics takes a backseat to survival.

Since I do claim the mantle of 'neophyte', I might be excused from the expression of emotional dyspepsia in which I find myself currently embroiled. I appreciate the indulgence and reiterate, where to start? What is appropriate to divulge to a worldwide audience while still maintaining one's relative anonymity? Imagine giving your entire life history on a first date. So not cool. But I shall press onward, into a hopefully appropriate chronicle of the incredible adventure of two people in love and where it went wrong.

To begin, I did not see this coming at all. I swear. No red flags, no yellow flags even. I was completely blindsided by the devastating course of events that began with the innocuous act of finding and giving away a stray kitten. Who knew?

Brief synopsis of the events that occurred in late-December, just before Christmas:The previously mentioned found kitten was hopefully going to be adopted by a nurse at the Air Force base (the one I just left). It was a Saturday, and I had errands while the aforementioned nurse was to visit our home and see the kitten for possible adoption. I was gone 3 hours and called home to see if she had taken the cat. My beloved told me, "Yeah it's done wanna meet for a beer?" "Sure," I say and am looking out for the nurse who is to arrive before Doc Turtle to our little local tavern.

The nurse arrives. I approach her and introduce myself. We order a beer. Doc T shows up moments later, and we embark on a festive Saturday evening. Normal getting-to-know- you conversation ensues between the three of us. It is of course clear that Doc T and I are married, our matching rings are commented on, etc. About 30 minutes later, Two of Doc's interns from the hospital show up and we all begin to socialize.

Being Saturday night, the place fills up fast and music, wine and song ensue. The evening goes on and my betrothed and the nurse get quite drunk and I'm informed that she can't drive and will all crash at our place. Okay, no problem, I am the hostess with the mostess. We arrive back at our house (me driving) and I set up the guest room for our "guest." I announce I'm going to shower the bar off me and go off and get a nice, hot shower. My considerate lover virtually always lays out clothes for me after I shower, yet when I'm finished with my ablutions--nothing. Minutes later after I've dressed, Doc shows up and announces that the nurse needs socks. Okay, take these. Ten minutes go by and I'm curious as to how long it takes to deliver foot coverings. I creep up the stairs to the guest room and encounter a stillness that immediately makes me uncomfortable. I see the closed door to the guest bedroom, approach it furtively, and hear the distinct sounds of--you guessed it--sex. Shut the fuck up. No really. I open the door and find Doc Turtle and Nurse Ratched in full bloom. In my own house? In front of me? Are you fucking kidding me?

So as you can imagine the shit hits the fan. After some yelling, I leave. It's 2AM so the only place to go is a casino, where I procede to blow a wad and fume. I leave said casino about 5AM and go home to find a cab in my driveway and Nurse Predator in my bathroom getting ready for work. Did I mention she's wearing Dr. T's scrubs? I tell her she needs to leave my house--now. She does. Doc T and I then begin the terrific battle-for-the-truth session that I would assume follows this kind of behavior. We stay up for several more hours talking about what happened. After much wrangling, it is divulged that after I left, they 'did it' twice (with a short nap in between)and the, "we were really drunk" line is trotted out. Whatever.

Over the next four days, we talk more, have lunch together and have 'make-up sex' every night. It will be the last times there will be any semblance of the last five years of our relationship.

Tune in next time for the "Break-Up." I thought this shit only went on in soap operas. Okay, fair enough, call me naive.