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In 1966, when I was in Advanced Infantry Training (A.I.T.)
at Ft. Bliss, Texas, each evening I had a steady stream of fellow
soldiers trekking to my bunk area to ask me two questions:
1) Where is this place called Viet Nam that I will be going?
2) Why am I being sent there?
Moving ahead to 2005, I listened to Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld today say that he does not know when the United States
will have trained enough Iraqis so they can adequately secure
the country and begin replacing American troops now helping
provide protection. Rumsfeld went on to say, "It's interesting
to me that some people think they know that, because it's not
Considering that we are now several YEARS into this "training"
process of Iraqis to defend their own country, I find it unconscionable
that someone like Rumsfeld can serve as our Defense Secretary
and for him to say that there are too many unknown factors to
be able to say when Iraqis will be able to handle internal security.
How is it that we can train our 18-year-old sons and daughters
in basic (and A.I.T) in a mere 14 weeks, then ship them to our
current Viet Nam, where they are dying and being maimed because
we as a nation were led to believe that they were going there
because of the Iraqis having weapons of mass destruction? If
the Iraqi people are smart enough to build weapons of mass destruction,
why is it that we can train our soldiers in 14 weeks to fight
and die in their nation, a nation that our Defense Secretary
doesn't even know when they will have soldiers that will be
capable of their internal security?
Would it be asking too much from our Defense Secretary that
this Iraqi training period be for 14 weeks, as this seems to
be enough time for our youth to go into harm's way?
And then there will be those who question my cynicism of why
we as a nation have been so misled about this war!
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Nobody ever wrote about crucial differences between
Afghanistan & Iraq
The Afghani people are not only uneducated, but a majority of
the population cannot even read...and it is one of the poorest
countries in the world. Housing and living conditions are extremely
primitive, even in Kabul, no running water, no toilets, let alone
electricity and TV in the homes. "Democracy" is a meaningless
word here, and if people came out to vote, it is because they
are hoping for better lives, though Condoleezza Rice said to David
Frost that the people don't care about poverty, they just want
freedom. (And having spent so much time in Afghanistan and with
the Afghani people, she must know.)
Afghanistan has always been one of the world's poorest economies.
It survived as a rentier state in the near absence of an industrial
base. It has little agriculture because it lacks rain and water.
In recent times, it became the world's largest exporter of poppy,
until the Taliban clamped down on it, starting in 1999, and virtually
eliminated the growth of poppy in eastern and southern Afghanistan
by the year 2000. The north, controlled by the Northern Alliance,
kept cultivating poppy and used the money from the drug trade
to finance its operations against the Taliban.
Afghanistan is sparsely populated with a large percentage of nomads
who drift with the weather. In an area of over 650,000 square
kilometers, the population has never exceeded 25 million. While
the Pashtuns comprise over 50% of the population, the Tajiks make
up around 20% population. The rest are Uzbeks, Hazaras, Chahars,
Turkmen, Nooristanis and some Balochis. Due to its strategic location
as "the gateway to India" and "the back door to
Russia," Afghanistan has been the victim of considerable
strife and even more intrigue over the last two centuries. But
the last three decades have been the culmination of all previous
This time the US has promised that Afghanistan will not be deserted.
So far only humanitarian relief is being made available in Afghanistan,
with very little effort to help reconstruct it. A large number
of individuals have begun to express their skepticism, but there
is hope that with the present government in Afghanistan (emplaced
by whatever means) likely to stay for some length of time, reconstruction
might begin. The questions that concern most analysts relate primarily
to the issue of how to proceed with this noble venture in order
to achieve a "sustainable peace"''' in Afghanistan.
To understand that, it is essential to identify some of the areas
of concern that the international community has.
Iraq, on the other hand, has been a secular society for a long
time, it has a much more educated population, women have gone
to school for years, girls go to school now, the level of sophistication
and information is much higher. Iraq has some of the world's richest
oil fields, and has had private enterprise for some time. It has
a rich ancient culture (much of which has now been stolen out
of the museums and is probably in private collections all over
the world) and the people are proud. The war with Iran, the war
with the US and the subsequent sanctions created a great deal
of poverty and suffering, but Iraq remained an industrialized
country whose poverty and ignorance cannot be compared with Afghanistan.
When the US decided to invade Iraq, it seemed as if the Bushies,
and the American people in general (including the entire Congress)
thought that the Iraqis were just like the Afghanis...how should
they know the difference? How many Americans had ever been to
Iraq, read about it or learned about it in school?
And we know the level of information that flowed between the various
government agencies only dealt with WMDs and Saddam; the people
were never taken into account as a factor...the images of the
Iraqi people greeting the US army with flowers was a fantasy of
ignorance, it was a fairy tale that had nothing to do with the
real Iraqis, regardless of the fact that they wanted to get rid
If the American media did what the European media does, pay attention
to the Iraqi blogs, interview people on the street (how can it,
if its reporters stay in the Green Zone and never even see the
real people?) they would see that Iraqis - even the old men sitting
in cafes and smoking their water pipes - are very interested and
aware of what is going on, articulate, and extremely upset by
the death and destruction which the US has caused.
It's easy for Condoleezza Rice, coming out of a luxurious hotel
in her Chanel suit and surrounded by an army of body guards, to
spout platitudes of how the sacrifices are worth it...she didn't
have to make them. Ever.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: anti-environmental fraud and payola
The Bush team is coming down Broadway again with another distraction
and misinformation parade aimed at stalling the environmental
movement. As you know, Global Warming is only one part of an unfolding
catastrophe that includes water, air and soil pollution/contamination,
plus their domino effects. That needs to be emphasized to keep
these crooks from narrowing the debate to a catch phrase. People
also need to be reminded of the fraudulent anti-environmental
"research" which has come to light in recent years. Again, as
you know, a good deal of this fiction-for-pay research has served
as the basis for Big Business' propaganda efforts. No doubt the
Bush Administration and its friends plan to repackage these lies
and already have "journalists" lined up to do anti-environmental
infomercials. Now is the time to cut them off at the pass.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Scalia and the Emperor and his Go-fers
Put Scalia in as Supreme Court Chief Justice, and you have the
final piece of the puzzle in place. The Congress, The Supreme
Court and the King and his royal court...The Holy Trinity. Add
the Religious right, the Corporate big-wigs, the ignorant Serfs,
the Military and....voila!! What a Country!!!
My God, if you truly exist, will you please intervene before
this nightmare becomes complete reality? Before it is truly a
fait accompli, we need to make a stand against the inevitable
tyranny that we face in the few years that lie in front of us.
They have the power, but we have the enlightened truth. It (the
truth) must be shouted from the rooftops until God himself (herself)
hears our plight. A Democracy reborn...we can accept no less.
Subject: Quote From Barron's
Quote from this weeks Barron's (Dow Jones) regarding private
social security accounts.
Our problem with the notion of private accounts is that as
passionately as we believe in markets and their virtues, we
also are more than a tad mindful of their deficiencies, even
dangers. And while we heartily urge everyone of sound mind and
decent finances (we hope we won't be accused of discriminating
against people of unsound mind and indecent finances) to put
money in stocks, we don't think it should be done as the result
of disguised governmental coercion or even sponsorship. Or,
that the folks investing in stocks confuse it with the conventional
concept of saving.
and Securities by Alan Abelson
Subject: Whatever happened to the Plame/CIA/Fitzgerald investigation?
Whatever happened to the Plame/CIA/Fitzgerald investigation?
[BuzzFlash Note: Good question. Well, we learned yesterday that
Gonzales is taking with him, from the White House to the Justice
Department, some key Plame figures. That should really make for
a tough investigation, don't you think? Meanwhile, U.S. Atty.
Fitzpatrick is still in charge of the case. Here's the Washington
Post's article: Gonzales
to Take 3 White House Lawyers to Justice Dept.
Subject: OBL on Social Security. Plus, the Real Michelle MALKIN
Unless I missed it, OBL [Osama bin Laden] has been unusually quiet
again since the election. He has always been there for Shrub whenever
Shrub has most needed him. Now that Shrub is fighting his uphill
battle to deform---uh, REform---Social Security, it would seem
that OBL is being remiss in his civic duty by not going on the
record with his thoughts.
And Shrub needs a break from the "on message" mode:
When he first took power it was: TAX CUT TC TC TC TC TC TC TC
TC TC TC ...
And the MSM thought it was so cute, and when Congress caved, a
male "reporter" dude, said, with an aw-shucks-ain't-the-boy-cute,
"pResident Shrub has gotten his tax cut..."
Then it was: NINE ELEVEN NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE ...
Then it was: IRAQ ATTACK IA IA IA IA IA IA IA IA IA IA ...
There have been a few other items, but now it's: SOCIAL SECURITY
SS SS SS SS SS SS SS SS SS SS ...
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: social security
Have been reading about privatizing our soc. sec. in the amount
of 4%. To me this is allowing the repugs once again to frame an
issue by miniaturizing the amount (4%).
If the total employee/employer amount is 12% then 4% of 12% equals
33.3% (a third) of our money to be privatized. Dems. & Progressives
should be framing it this way, more to the truth of the matter.
Also my distrust in this administration they might be looking
to privatizing only the employee percentage 4% of 6% which equals
66.6% (two-thirds) of our money to be privatized. Then allowing
their corporate cronies only to match the remaining 2% saving
them 66.6%. (The devil could be in the details!)
Subject: Spongebob Squarepants
While Mr. Dobson may be dutifully working on the serious Spongebob
threat, I have discovered an even more insidious cartoon character,
also very popular with today's youths. You may have already guessed--it's
Yogi Bear. This cartoon is so vile and destructive I don't know
where to begin. Never mind that Yogi and Booboo are undoubtedly
homosexual lovers. And never mind that the concept of talking
bears is, how shall we say, more than just a nod to the theory
of evolution. (The show attempts to indoctrinate children with
the false belief that the animals are somehow on a par with humans.
As if a chimp or a bear can ever "evolve" into a human being.)
Far worse about Yogi Bear is the promotion of a socialistic or
communistic world view. Though the bears in no way deserve the
picnic baskets of the hard working vacationers, they literally
steal what does not belong to them and redistribute it to the
poor, represented by the bears themselves.
But friends, let's call a spade a spade: these bears are terrorists,
extorting goods and material wealth from decent folk like you
and I. The idea is presented by using a supposedly humorous "Robin
Hood" appeal, which of course is another insidious tale aiming
at the redistribution of wealth according to socialist ideals.
These revolutionary bears are presented as the good guys when
they steal from the ruling classes in their crimes of liberation.
Our youth are being brainwashed and indoctrinated and this must
stop. Yogi bear and Booboo must be banned from the airwaves and
exposed as the willing tools of those freedom-hating socialists
and communists. (And queers.)
And lastly, perhaps the worst thing of all is the disrespect
for authority. The show quite consciously presents Mr. Ranger
in a negative light. Even though he is uniformed and a legitimate
agent of the U.S. Government, he is constantly made fun of by
the radical bears. Yogi and Booboo are presented as clever and
likable when they lie and deceive the government. And, by extrapolation,
the bears are undermining the war effort by mocking those who
wear U.S. Government uniforms, like our troops in Iraq. This so-called
classic cartoon is in fact openly pro-homosexual, unpatriotic
in its disrespect of U.S. authority, pro-poor, and anti-American
in a communistic kind of way. I say take it off the air and replace
it with Fox News for Kids. That way our youths will get a healthy
head start on their way to world domination.
Silver Spring, Maryland
heckled after saying he'll challenge ruling allowing gay marriage
I'm not a fan of his by a long shot but I think Bloomberg is wise
to appeal. If he doesn't, somebody will. Better a sympathizer
go though the motions and file a brief that might not be very
aggressive (and simultaneously not incur the wrath of the party)
than have an adversary throw serious time and money into a strong
legal case and a long, protracted fight. Maybe.
Subject: Two Social Security talking points
1) Making the Bush tax cuts for the elite permanent will cost
three to five times more than any shortfall in the Social Security
2) If the Republicans are serious about not cutting benefits to
seniors, why don't they propose a voting supermajority requirement
to cut benefits?
Matt, Bob, and Josh www.ThereIsNoCrisis.com
PS. The first point was inspired by Senator Kennedy on Meet the
Press this morning. Tim Russert has, by the way, been one of the
single worst pundits on this issue. After parroting the 'There's
a crisis' line in December, he's now continuing in the same 'What's
YOUR idea for fixing Social Security, wise guy?' line of right-wing
framing. This despite the fact that (a) Bush doesn't have a clear
plan for fixing anything (b) All plans Bush has pointed to don't
actually have any effect on Social Security solvency but DO require
the borrowing of trillions and (c) There is NO crisis with Social
Security, and any long-term problems require minor tweaks at the
PPS. Can someone please ask Tim Russert to actually get the facts
on Social Security before going off and saying stupid things like
this: "We have a situation where the number on people in
Social Security is going to double. People, rather than spending
15 months, are going to spend 15 years."
This is flat-out wrong. Infant mortality rates were higher back
then, which explains much of the life expectancy gap.
Atrios has it right: http://atrios.blogspot.com/...
Um, Timmy? No. There's a difference between life expectancy
at birth, and life expectancy at 65. According to the folks at
the SSA, for the cohort of people who turned 65 in 1945, 53.9%
of men and 60.6% of females survived from age 21-65. And, for
those made it that long - survived until 65 - on average males
lived until they were 77.7 and females lived until they were 79.7.
There is no crisis.
call for anti-terror center. Maybe they can have the bin Laden
family fund it. 2/6
Doubtful. The House of Saud is and has been in extremely precarious
shape, barely fending off the Wahibist lower classes. Like most
petro-economies, there is an obscenely wealthy upper crust (propped
up by the US) floating in a seething sea of poverty and extremist
hate. They don't like Osama but they will never openly oppose
him. Osama (yeah, he's nuts, etc.) is a little like Che and other
revolutionary leaders in that he comes from the upper classes
but derives his power from the adoration of the aforementioned
Subject: Bush and the Texas Rangers: The Texas "Roid"
Last year, at the State of the Union address, Dear Leader warned
baseball to clean up its act: No More steroids! If the allegations
of former baseball slugger Jose Canseco are true, Dear Leader,
then the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers was presiding
over the biggest collection of steroid abusers in major league
history. Canseco claims Bush knew about it. That certainly must
be the case. The tell tale emergence of a player from wimp to
Hercules - in a period of one off season- is impossible not to
That's the Bush M.O. Slip drugs into the country while leading
a War on Drugs. Talk of Peace and conduct Perpetual War. Cry Freedom
from the highest mountaintop while destroying the Constitution
that is the very bulwark of that freedom. Feign Christian humanitarian
scruples while signing documents authorizing the use of torture
against people who are guilty of no crime at all. Wave the American
flag, while turning over your national security - and the troops
under your charge- to a madman in Tel Aviv.
I was hoping that enough people would come to their senses and
oust this regime - before it was too late. Not to be. The race
was close enough that the computer hackers could push Dear Leader
over the top. You can lead people to truth but you can't make
It's tempting to point to the outcome of Shi'ia rule as a terrible
unintended consequence but demonizing Sistani, who is relatively
moderate (though not in our eyes, perhaps) will play right into
the hands of the Bush administration who will soon be making Iraq
the equivalent of Iran, and then attacking both.
Subject: Social Security "Crisis"
A rarely discussed aspect of the SS debate.
The "crisis" caused by the retirement of the baby boomers
will eventually subside. Bush stated that there used to be 16
workers paying in for every retiree and soon it will be only two.
However, as the baby boomers retire and begin to die off, the
ratio of workers to retirees will begin to rise again and stabilize.
This is never mentioned.
Also, the letter in the Feb. 3 Mailbag proposing a raise in the
minimum wage to $7.00 per hour from $5.50 is a great solution.
We should ask our lawmakers to consider this smart option. This
plus eliminating the ceiling on who pays into SS from $90,000
to all wages paid should be more than sufficient to cover any
Both Paul Krugman and Josh Marshall's columns have been brilliant
lately at explaining the nature of the theft that the Repos are
attempting here. If the Democrats can't unite and get the real
facts out about the Piratization, and FINALLY expose the lies
of the Neo-Con Artists, then they deserve to be consigned to the
dung heap of history. I mean, really, how hard is it to lay out
the facts that Bush is taking away a guaranteed benefit for a
I'm counting on Howard Dean and Barbara Boxer.
Leslie Crabtree, Member of the Resistance, Occupied Smirkistan
P.S. My husband got a letter published in Friday's NY Times. As
a 53 year old he is screwed. He's paid in for over thirty years,
he will have benefits cut no matter what and he has too few years
to earn money in any sort of "privatized" account.
Subject: Bush to Propose Billions in Cuts
El Bush will propose cuts in everything that doesn't affect his
base, including the wealthy, corporate America and Christian Right,
except military spending. There will still continue to be record
budget and trade deficits. Prime targets will be Social Security
and Medicare. But he will certainly demand tax cuts for the wealthy
be made permanent, and likely call for more cuts or elimination
of corporate taxes. Welcome to third world America.
Farm subsidies and food stamps are among the targets in the
2006 budget plan, to be sent to Congress on Monday. Opposition
By Joel Havemann and Mary Curtius, Times Staff Writers
WASHINGTON -- President Bush will propose a 2006 budget Monday
that, despite record spending of about $2.5 trillion, will call
for billions of dollars in cuts that will touch people on food
stamps and farmers on price supports, children under Medicaid
and adults in public housing....