Thursday, November 30, 2006

Iraq and Wishful Thinking...

I spent a couple of days earlier this week in the Mid-West on a consulting trip. A refreshing experience to hear the views of those down-to-earth Mid-Westerners on current issues.

I was surprised how many agreed with me that the current discussion of the Iraq situation by the Beltway 500 is way out of touch with what is really happening on the ground right now in Iraq. Many of the pundits seem to be engaged in wishful thinking.

One old friend in Detroit told me he expected the Green Zone to be attacked within weeks. Others predicted a major assassination in the near future. Most think Malaki will not be around much longer.

Anyway, if you don't share this pessimistic assessment you can always tune into your local cable news station to get assurance that we'll accomplish our mission within another 24 months. Actually it is the same prediction you've heard for the past 3's just that the date for "mission accomplished" keeps changing.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Light blogging for the next couple of days...

...because of travel.

Yesterday morning I saw two senators and two retired generals interviewed on Meet the Press. I could not believe that these four gentlemen could be so divorced from the reality of what is happening on the ground in Iraq. Now they are talking about another two years to provide time for the Iraqi army to "stand up."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Massacre in Baghdad...

Photo shows a funeral procession after the Thanksgiving Day Massacre in Baghdad yesterday. Latest reports have well over 200 people killed in the bombings. Many were women and children.

No telling where this madness is going to end. The presence of U.S. troops doesn't seem to have any positive impact on the situation. Hopefully, this terrible disaster will put to rest the notion of our government waging a pre-emptive war to change the culture of some other country.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving....

Those of us who live on the North Shore are very grateful that there was no loss of life as a result of the terrible disaster in Danvers yesterday morning. They are saying it is a miracle!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

O.J. book deal goes up in smoke...

Rupert Murdock, the King of Sleaze, backed off the deal to publish the O.J. book. And the only reason he backed off was money. The advertisers did not want to be associated with the Fox stations running the Judith Regan/O.J. interview.

This latest development has caused great rejoicing in the publishing industry where Judith Regan is hated with a passion. Her contempt for her colleagues in the publishing industry is well known. Many saw her move from New York to LA/Hollywood earlier this year as a way of expressing this contempt.

Those of us who have had any dealing with publishers in recent years know this industry has been going downward into the sewer. Ms. Regan was one of the people leading the way. It will be interesting to see if she can make a comeback.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The violence continues in Iraq...

Photo shows Iraqis inspecting the bodies of victims of violence outside a hospital's morgue in Baquba, Iraq.

Two Iraqis were killed in Baquba last Friday by acts of violence, and six unidentified bodies were found in the streets of the city.

Scenes like this one are now commonplace in Iraq. It is the ordinary citizens that are suffering the most. People of means are getting out of the country. There seems to be no end in sight to the brutal violence that is destroying society. It is not likely that additional U.S. troops would be able to bring the situation under control.

(Photo: Ali Yussef / AFP)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Meet and Greet - Presidential style...

I've been hearing these stories about President Bush not really meeting and connecting with ordinary people in Vietnam. National Security Chief Stephen Hadley has responded to the critics by saying that the President has been waving to local Vietnamese from his presidential limo. This reminded me of how Bush had connected to the drowning people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina from the window of Air Force One.

Don't these people understand the power of symbolism! What Bush is doing is much more than what the Kings would have done in bygone times.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

More media bullshit...

OK, I'm out of touch. I don't know anything about the ps3. I just turned on my TV to get the morning news headlines. The Big Story has to do with the riots involving people in trying to buy the new play stations for $600 a piece. Again, another example of corporate hype and huxterism.

The other Big Story this morning has to do with the TomKat wedding in Italy. Am I the only person who doesn't give a shit about these people? They will most likely be divorced by this time next year.

By the way, none of the morning news shows had any information on those Americans who were kidnapped in Iraq earlier this week. Who wants to deal with real news when you can substitute the Hollywood bullshit!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Another fallen hero...

Photo shows the coffin of Marine Cpl. Michael H. Lasky, 22, of Sterling, Alaska, arriving at Arlington National Cemetery in the back of a pickup truck as his family requested.

More than 2,800 US service members have died in Iraq since the beginning of the US invasion in March 2003.

All the post-election talk about an exit strategy is getting replaced with talk of sending another 20,000 troops. I'm not a military person but I keep wondering what difference 20,000 soldiers would make in a disintegrating country the size of Iraq.

In meantime, Lieberman was on NBC this morning reasserting that we can't "cut-and-run" because we would be giving Iraq to the terrorists. (He was defeated in the Democratic Primary in Connecticut but he's still the media's favorite Democrat.)
(Photo: Gerald Martineau / The Washington Post)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

O.J. is back!

This is pretty sickening. Fox TV, during the final week of November sweeps, will broadcast an O.J. Simpson interview called "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened." It will air just before his book, "If I Did It," goes on sale. On Fox's Web site you can hear an interviewer say to Simpson, "You wrote, "I have never seen so much blood in my life." Simpson replies, "I don"t think any two people could be murdered without everybody being covered in blood."

"I consider this his confession," Judith Regan, whose ReganBooks will publish the book, told the Associated Press. She said it was Simpson's idea. The National Enquirer, meanwhile, says Simpson will be paid $3.5 million. Regan has carved out a niche for herself as publisher of books about sleazy people. Regan Books and Fox TV are part of Rupert Murdocks media empire.

People are already predicting a bestseller for Regan and a ratings bonanza for Fox.

What can you say? It's a new low for our culture. And a billionionaire tycoon laughs all the way to the bank. Disgusting.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I don't have a clue...

I've noticed over the past few days that a number of top generals have gone on record as advocating that we need more troops in Iraq. This is one of those times when I have to humbly admit that I don't have a clue as to what is the best strategy to get out out of Iraq while preserving our honor.

We can all agree that the situation in Iraq is a mess. Maybe another 20,000 to 30,000 troops would make a difference. I would be inclined to defer to the military experts at this stage...not to the politicians.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More depressing news...

Up to 150 people were abducted yesterday from a government research institute in downtown Baghdad, “the largest mass abduction since the start of the U.S. occupation.” Iraq’s higher education minister has ordered all universities closed.

It is so sad to see what is happening to higher education in Iraq. Many professors have already left the country. And the Isreali PM says we Americans should be proud of what we have accomplished in Iraq.


Oops! The abduction referred to above took place early today --- not yesterday.

Update #2:

Here is what Prime Minister Olmert had to say to Bush about Iraq:

"We in the Middle East have followed the American policy in Iraq for a long time, and we are very much impressed and encouraged by the stability which the great operation of America in Iraq brought to the Middle East. We pray and hope that this policy will be fully successful so that this stability which was created for all the moderate countries in the Middle East will continue."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rumsfeld gets the boot...

Photo shows US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on television set in a Baghdad coffee shop on Thursday.

Rumsfeld, architect of the unpopular war in Iraq, is resigning after six stormy years at the Pentagon. The Center for Constitutional Rights will file a lawsuit against Rumsfeld on behalf of a group of Iraqi detainees.

I am not a big fan of Rumsfeld but it's useful to remember that he was implementing the policies of George W. Bush. Yes, he as an architect of the war but the buck stops with the President.

The good news is that the departure of Rumsfeld helps pave the way for pursuing an exit policy in Iraq.

(Photo: Kamir Kadim / AP

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Mainstream Media: Fair and Balanced?

Several years ago, Fox Cable News, in an effort to convince gullible Americans that they were not a propaganda news organization, coined the slogan "Fair and Balanced." Problem is that it is not just Fox Cable News that dishes up slanted news.

Over the years I have come to expect that the Sunday talk shows would be somehow reflective of the political mood in the country. The mood at this time, as reflected in the mid-term elections last Tuesday, is against "staying the course" in Iraq. So guess who NBC's Meet the Press will feature next Sunday? No it won't be Jim Webb or Nancy Pelosi.

One of the two Senators appearing Sunday will be John McCain. He's one of the two Senators who led the fight in the U.S. Senate for the vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq. He's also the guy who is now recommending that we send another 100,000 of our young men and women to Iraq.

The other Senator is "Holy Joe" Lieberman. He's the other Senator who led the fight in the U.S.Senate for the vote authorizing the invasion of Iraq. By the way, he's also in favor of military action against Iran.

Now why would NBC provide a forum for the two leading war-mongers from the U.S. Senate just days after the American people indicated that they were sick of this war? Would it have anything to do with the fact that General Electric, the parent company of NBC, benefits from the war? Just a thought. What do you think?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

'Bye Rummy...

The morning TV news shows have lots of analysis of the departure of Donald Rumsfeld. I certainly see it as the beginning of the end of the ascendancy of the NeoCons. Of course Dick Cheney is still the most influential voice in the Bush Administration.

It is helpful to remember that Rumsfeld is part of the original NeoCon cabal who advocated pre-emptive military action as a way of dealing with "bad guys." He was pro-active in promoting the idea of regime change in Iraq.

With the Democrats now in control of the House and Senate the possibility of pre-emptive military action against Syria or Iran is greatly diminished. In other words, our world is a much safer place.

Let's hope the momentum generated by the mid-term elections will be carried over to 08.

What's your take on the Rumsfeld resignation?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election post-mortem...

Last night I had the opportunity to watch the election results at the home of friends. For those of us who feared we were stuck with a permanent right-wing Republican majority it was an encouraging night.

Here in Massachusetts Deval Patrick had a landslide victory. I hope he can live up to the high expectations he has created. He certainly ran a remarkable election campaign. Most of us had no idea who he was as recently as one year ago.

I expect the attention will quickly turn to the '08 Presidential election. Since Bush has no intentions of pulling of Iraq in the immediate future it is likely that the Iraq war will be the major issue. Will John McCain still be advocating sending more troops? Will Hillary Clinton still be defending her vote in support of the war? Could be an interesting race!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Light early voting in my home town...

I just returned from voting here in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Was the only person casting a vote at the time I voted (8:15 am). Might suggest a light turnout for this election. This may have something to do with the fact that the pre-election polls have Democratic candidate Deval Patrick easily winning the race for Governor.

Incidentally, voting was the old-fashioned way using paper ballots. My big surprise was to discover how many candidates where unopposed. Definitely not good for our democracy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pastor Ted: The Comeback Kid?

This photo shows Pastor Ted Haggard giving an informal interview outside his home. Two of his five children are in the back seat.

More than seven thousand members of New Life Church in Colorado Springs showed up for services yesterday morning to hear that their chief pastor is a self-styled liar. My experience from working in the Deep South is that many pentacostals put a blind faith in what their preachers tell them. This must be a devastating blow for the more than 14,000 members of this mega-church.

The more I read about New Life Church the more I come to understand that this is nothing more than a religious cult. And the people who are most "blessed" are the preachers. New Life Church has fourteen ministers -- all of them making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year. Pastor Ted's salary was over 600.000 dollars...and this did not include outside income from real estate and other dealings. Big business! No wonder they feel at home in the Republican Party.

I'm sure Pastor Ted and his PR henchmen are already working on Plan B --- the Redemption Option. A working title for his book could be "How the Devil Made Me Do It!" Maybe the long-suffering wife (see photo) could contribute a chapter on what a good Christian husband Pastor Ted is. Maybe even the kids could make a contribution. In the meantime, I expect that New Life Church will provide some financial assistance to their beloved founder.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Iraq is the top election issue...

Photo shows Iraqis mourning near a Baghdad hospital Wednesday after an attack Tuesday on a wedding party killed the bride, the groom, 9 children and 12 others.

Statistics issued by Iraqi Interior Ministry put civilian deaths from political violence last month at 1,289, up 18 percent from the 1,089 seen in September, itself a record for this particular series of data.

The good news is that American voters have finally concluded that the Iraq war is an issue that must be addressed. I keep wondering why they could not have reached the same conclusion in 2004. I guess we are a nation of slow learners. Anyway, I hope we, the voters, will send a clear message this coming Tuesday.

(Photo: Ali Abbas / European Pressphoto Agency)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Olbermann: The absurdity of attacks on Kerry remarks...

Keith Olbermann has been on fire lately. In his "Special Commentary" last night he castigated President Bush for his response to the remarks by Senator John Kerry. Here is the link to the You Tube tape of his commentary.


The link is to a page at Raw Story. The page has the link to the You Tube video.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Baghdad is under seige...

While the U.S. mainstream media works into a frenzy about some careless comment by John Kerry Iraq is going to hell. Read this article by Patrick Cockburn in today's Independent(UK). Warning: the situation is much worse than you could imagine. Why is it that no major American news organization can provide this kind of reporting?