Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NSA and Fourth Amendment: From "shall not" to "maybe, maybe not"

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause..." 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

The Boston Globe reports today that the electronic eavesdropping law they want to make permanent allows the government to engage in spying without any warrant or oversight as long as, in the case of a phone tap, it is "reasonably believed" that one of the parties is overseas, and the "intended" target is not the American. So, even assuming the best of motives, if you are an AP reporter with the mother of all breaking stories coming from Iraq which spells trouble for the administration, watch your back. Bad things happen to reporters in Iraq. At a minimum the damage control operation will have real-time info.

The Fourth Amendment recognized that searches were sometimes required in the name of the law, but requires authorities to obtain warrants from judges and have "probable cause." What the Founders sought to limit were pure fishing expeditions, and harassment. It could be argued that when massive numbers of "transactions" are processed, as Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence calls them, then an audit of search results and keywords would substitute as the oversight intended by warrants.

I'm not so sure such massive data mining operations aren't counterproductive. If you know, for example, that Terrorist A is going to call Terrorist B on such and such a day on a cellphone terminating somewhere on a Philly cell tower network, then that is a search that is limited in scope. If you are looking for "patterns" and sweeping every conversation that includes the words "Bush sucks," you are probably wasting the taxpayer's money, which would be better spent training all those Arabic translators that we're so short of, and training the potential Arab-American agents that the CIA is turning away in favor of Midwestern guys who stand out like sore thumbs in any Middle Eastern bazaar. On other words, good old fashioned spy work (yes, like Valerie Plame did, before she was exposed!)

Any Congress that accepts "reasonably believed to be overseas" is a Congress that might be interested in a bridge I've got to sell. Of course people won't understand what has really happened until your million dollar marketing plan suddenly seems to be getting out-guessed by a company headed by that Young College Republicans prick you used to know, and you'll never be able to prove a thing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Yalies for Impeachment of Bush and Cheney Sign-in and discussion

Add your name and a comment to register your presence! We'll update this to a slicker format soon.

-Violated the oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, specifically the Sixth Amendment right of American citizens, in criminal matters, to be told of the charges against them, to counsel, and a to speedy and public trial by a jury of their peers. The rights of foreign nationals may be debated, but the rights of Americans are not open to debate. They are stated clearly in the Constitution, and "enemy combatant" precedents obviously cannot apply to a vaguely defined "war on terror" intended to have an infinite horizon. Jose Padilla was detained and tortured for 4 1/2 years in violation of his rights, and the administration to this day claims the authority to do so to any American it accuses of terrorism.

-A corollary charge, they have sought to overturn the Bill of Rights of the Constitution by the transparent device of claiming wartime powers which would last forever.

-Violated the oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment right to freedom from search without a warrant, in the NSA warrantless surveillance scandal. The media assists the administration in twisting the issue to be whether or not the government can spy, when in fact the government has always been authorized to spy on anyone as long as it does so within the law, with a warrant obtained before or even after the fact. Referring to this, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean says Bush is the only president in history who has openly admitted an "impeachable offense."

-Lied to Congress and the American people to draw the country into the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

-Given secrets to the enemy in wartime by ordering the public identification of American intelligence agent Valerie Plame, which constitutes treason, because Plame was engaged in tracing weapons of mass destruction before they reached American shores

We, the undersigned, call upon the U.S. Congress to perform its duty under the Constitution to remove from office those who have committed such high crimes and misdemeanors, and to commence impeachment proceedings against first Richard Cheney, then George W. Bush.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

More Elephants in the Room

Another reminder that the American media and "opposition party" are ignoring scandals that could help put this administration away. Remember the August 2004 NYC Financial District terror alerts (conveniently just before the election?) Yep, they blew another agent's cover. From the New Zealand Herald "Outing of spy stuns security experts"

"The revelation that a mole within al Qaeda was exposed after Washington launched its "orange alert" this month has shocked security experts, who say the outing of the source may have set back the war on terror....Reuters learned from Pakistani intelligence sources at the weekend that computer expert Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, arrested secretly last month, was working under cover to help the authorities track down al Qaeda militants in Britain and the United States when his name appeared in newspapers around the world."

Another piece on this from the awesome Christian Science Monitor: "Did US blow cover on Al Qaeda mole?"

And the best Cheney dirt has yet to be "discovered," trading with the enemy, no less. Washington Post, "The Profitable Connections of Halliburton":

"During Cheney's tenure at Halliburton the company did business in all three countries [Iraq, Iran, Libya.] In the case of Iraq, Halliburton legally evaded U.S. sanctions by conducting its oil-service business through foreign subsidiaries that had once been owned by Dresser....During the 2000 campaign, Cheney told ABC News that "I had a firm policy that we wouldn't do anything in Iraq, even arrangements that were supposedly legal." But, Mayer writes, "under Cheney's watch, two foreign subsidiaries of Dresser sold millions of dollars worth of oil services and parts to Saddam's regime."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Deadly Procrastination

I'm pissed cuz I'm not getting paid for this, and I should be studying for my CCNA (the Cisco mother of a test.) But you guys cannot design legislation enough to fight your way out of a wet paper bag, so We the People will show you, AGAIN, how to do your $150,000 a year jobs (not including great bennies.)

The Real War on Terror and Iraq Troop Support Act (or something like this, real cornball, but the Republicans do it) must meet 3 requirements:

- It must have TEETH. That means cutting funding. The Democrats know full well that Bush cannot be "shamed" into anything, and the new tack of having him sign "waivers" is the biggest horse's ass idea to come out of the party in a long time. The man has no shame. That's why we're in Iraq in the first place.

-It must meet the troops' needs as they redeploy out of Iraq and into Afghanistan, and home.

-It must put regional diplomacy first, so people who speak the language will want to rat-out the terror cells, because the United States got off its high horse and said I'm sorry about a few things. We can't find them by ourselves, because they all look and sound alike to us.

Re-draft the Iraq War Powers resolution to revoke the authorization to make war in Iraq, and to order the president to start drawing down manpower. Back it up by cutting money for everything except force protection. If he does not, then he will be clearly outlaw in the eyes of most of the American people, and proceedings can begin for his impeachment.

The Democrats are just pretending to not know what to do. If they wanted to immunize themselves from "not supporting the troops" by cutting off money for the war, they'd word the resolution to say "full funding for troops in the field, with further authorization required for increases in overall manpower." Duh.

They would also say to the Republicans: You want to go there? Each week we'll Swift Boat you on:

-Hillbilly armor

-360 tons of lost HMX explosives

-Veterans benefits

Want to argue about who didn't support the troops?

The Democrats know what to do, but it's easier to sit on your fat ass collecting your pay than drawing fire from the right wing nut-jobs they'll be sending your way when they see you are WINNING, who'll probably be waiting outside your office with a loaded gun for a potshot at you. Tough shit. Let them taste a tiny fraction of what our boys face every minute of every day in Iraq. It'll smack some sense into them.

Jack Murtha and Jim Webb are on the right track, but the Harry Reid-Nancy Pelosi-dick-around gang keeps covering ass for the "members" who are "hesitant" to be "perceived" as "not supporting the troops." Excuse me while I heave. Every day wasted on the "waiver" idea is another day another family somewhere will get that dreaded knock on the door, by men in spiffy uniforms. Yesterday: Sgt. Chad Allen Toll free numbers for all congressmen:
(800) 862-5530 or (800) 833-6354 Or e-mail this post to them!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

We Are All Jose Padilla

Dear Americans,

I write this to you in outrage as an American. It has been revealed that Jose Padilla, an American-born citizen with the same rights as you or I, who was never charged with a crime upon his arrest, given a jury trial, or any of his birthrights under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, has been tortured to the point of insanity during his time of detention, most of it incommunicado by order of George W. Bush, president of the United States.

As the federal government has declared the prerogative of depriving Americans of their Fourth Amendment, it is nothing less than my duty to declare that I have not relinquished my Fourth Amendment, or my Bill of Rights, be it for the War on Terror or any other war. In the event of an arrest in which I am guaranteed the rights that are mine by birth as an American, I will go peacefully, as my confidence does and always has lain in my great system of government and jurisprudence. In the event of arrest in which the intention is to declare me "enemy combatant," to be held without benefit of my American rights, I am bound, by the blood of all those who died on soil bearing names like Omaha Beach, Utah Beach and Juno, to resist with all the force at my disposal.

I will not fail the courage of forefathers who sacrificed fighting forms of government which claimed the very same prerogative which George Bush now openly and arrogantly claims. This is one of the forms of tyranny addressed by the American Revolution. I know full well my country's history, and my generation will not fail in its turn.

The politicians will make light of this momentous revelation on Padilla, and feign ignorance of the import. But We the People understand full well the meaning. Now we are all Jose Padilla. The press has belittled the importance of the historic Padilla case and feigned ignorance of the import as well. But our rights will not be made a mockery of. It is now the government which should be on trial, not Jose Padilla.

The allegations against Padilla have changed many times. It is clear that the Padilla case is intended to establish the designation "enemy combatant" once and for all against a free people in the first war which by definition has no end.

The federal government is now outlaw by virtue of the Padilla case. Contrary to his many incorrect assertions that his highest duty to is to "protect the American people," the president's highest duty, according to his Oath of Office, is to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution. The president has betrayed this solemn Oath. We remind all officers of the United States of their oath to the Constitution, not to the president.

I am granted great privilege by history and coincidence of birth to be alive and an American at this time of great peril to my Constitution, which embodies the greatest hope against darkness and tyranny yet devised by the mind of political man. It is a privilege to be alive to participate in her defense, that future generations may breath the air of freedom that I have breathed. No president has attempted what George Bush has attempted, unlimited authority not only to detain American citizens, but to torture to the point of incompetence as well, without charge, without trial, without counsel. In the words of our forefathers, don't tread on me. We the People call upon loyal officers to do their duty, to arrest George Bush for the crime of high treason.

Ralph Lopez
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Yale Class of '82

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Anyone Say Nice Shot?

Looks like the Democrats are finally getting it, that they can just change the War Powers Resolution that they gave Bush in the first place, and it is a pile of steaming crap that the commander-in-chief has sole authority in a war. I wrote it back on January 8th, and emailed it to all those assholes. Better late than never.

The Constitution is clear and unambiguous on one point: Only the Congress can declare war. Therefore, Congress can undeclare war. In addition, Article One and Article Two of the Constitution delegate respective powers during a war. So not only is re-drafting the resolution the only way to rein in a recalcitrant executive branch. It would even pass legal muster.

Anyway, I just wanted to take credit. And Jim, you can contact me about that response to the state of the union speech. I figure that's good for a consulting fee. You said: "Not one step back from the war against international terrorism...But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy."

Now haven't I been saying that we should apologize to Iran for how we screwed them over under the Shah, and ask them step up to the plate in Iraq?

They're supplying the Shiites with bombs? You mean to tell me if some invader from across the sea took over my next door neighbor, and we are all related back through a thousand years when Iran was the Persian empire, and I'm not going to send him bombs? And I think I'm next? You must be kidding me. Only Americans expect people to be good and hold still while we bomb them.

Iran has the key. They're all cousins.

OK Jim, I'll just take a beer at some good bar in DC. You don't gotta pay me. Even if I gave you the idea, no one could have delivered it as perfectly and beautifully as you did. That's why you're the senator, and me just a writer. Cheers.

Friday, February 16, 2007

GOP Marching Orders: Conflate Iraq with War on Terror

At least they are being honest. Reps. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., and John Shadegg, R-Ariz., wrote in a recent letter to Republicans:

"If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose. Rather, the debate must be about the global threat of the radical Islamist movement,"
In other words, do everything you can to confuse the war in Iraq with the greater war on terror.

Bush is losing Afghanistan because of Iraq. Against the best advice of the best minds on the subject like the CIA's Michael Scheuer, he did not declare war on Al Qaeda but on a tactic, terrorism, and used 9/11 to go after the guy he thinks tried to kill his daddy. The Republican letter is the clearest statement yet on what their strategy is, has always been, and always will be: Equate Iraq with the war on terror, and pretend the blunder that is on par with Hitler's opening of a second front against the Russians never happened.

The only way Democrats can win and unite the country is to split Iraq and the war on terror into the two distinct issues that they are, and point out that our presence in Iraq is actually LOSING the war on terror. Where once we had the world united behind us, against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, and in cells around the world, we have given militant Muslims who were appalled by 9/11 more reason to hate us, and to start thinking that maybe we deserved it after all. These are the very Muslims we needed to turn against Al Qaeda. Will the Democrats hammer the message all the way home? Or simply allow themselves to be blamed for not having the spine to stay in Iraq until something good happens there?

It's important, because as long as Bush's twisting of reality survives, we as a nation will always be divided, at each other's throats long after we have pulled out of Iraq. And Bush will have done what bin Laden never could. And divided, laboring under a thick fog on the battlefield laid down by the Bush administration, the real war on terror can never be won.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Re-Draft the Iraq War Authorization! Stop the "Surge!"

please circulate

Ok this is getting crazy. For Joe Biden to say that because Bush is commander-in-chief he can make war without end is patently ridiculous. There is no way the Founders, who explicitly gave war-making powers to Congress, envisioned an Executive whose war-making no one could stop. RE-DRAFT THE IRAQ WAR AUTHORIZATION! We shouldn't have to do Biden's job for him; it can be written in a way which gives troops now present in Iraq all the supplies they need while putting a brake on authorized manpower. The commanders on the ground have spoken, and true to form Bush has replaced them with yes-men. I have updated the toll-free numbers to your congressman on my website. (800) 862-5530 or (800) 833-6354.

We must remind these idiots that the Constitution gives them all the tools they need to rein in this out-of-control president, including impeachment. At this rate of casualties, 2 more years in Iraq means a couple thousand more young guys dead, and Iraq not one iota more stable for it. Article I and Article II of the Constitution make the president the "commander-in-chief" of the Army and Navy," but specifically empowers Congress to "make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces."

Show your congressman that you understand your Constitution better than they do. Pass this around.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Merry Christmas Call Campaign

I'm trying to get into the spirit but this choral music is only annoying me knowing that three more families are going to have a real shitty Christmas. Air America reports 3 American dead in Iraq yesterday. I'm sitting in the Harvard Coop and the singers are really good, but I'm sorely tempted to start shouting "Jesus wants us to bomb Iran!" at the top of my lungs and scream at all these people Christmas shopping to wake the fuck up. Then I sink a little thinking that it's not their fault. In these parts nearly everyone hates George Bush. I'd be preaching to the choir and some little old lady would pipe up and start going off on him even louder than me. It's happened. Something about the Shrub sets people off on tantrums either way. For or against. The Uniter not Divider.

The Defeat-o-crats are letting themselves be set up to be blamed. These guys are professional punching bags. The Bush surge strategy is nothing more than a closing gambit to keep Iraq together just long enough to get out of office and make sure someone else is in office when it falls apart. Then they write history that the Democrats lost Iraq. That's the whole plan, and it's going to cost how many guys their lives?

Those families of the ones killed today will be getting the news right about now that they are going to be having a real shitty Christmas too. And there's still six days to go until Christmas.

Harry Reid just announced that he's not going to walk and chew gum at the same time, that the number one issue in the new term is ethics. Nothing about Iraq. Nothing about the Military Commissions Act, or Jose Padilla, which amounts to an override of the Bill of Rights. Nothing to start blunting the set-up to be the Defeat-o-crats, such as redrawing the War Resolution to get out of Iraq, surround the Pakistani tribal areas where the Pakistani government is having a love-fest with the Taliban, and going on the political offensive to "stop making terrorists faster than we can kill them," in the words of a Delta Forces soldier quoted by Air America's Laura Flanders. Those Delta Force liberals.

The problem is that our own safety depends on throwing George Bush on the tender mercies of all the people he hurt. Nothing less than charges as a war criminal may be able to bring outraged Muslims back to the fold of moderation. And now what does he want to do? He wants to bomb Iran. Yesterday's Air America interview of Scott Ritter is a must-listen, on how the Iranian people actually still LIKE Americans, after all we have done to them, even if they don't like George Bush. That could change real fast with fresh footage flooding Al Jazeera of Iranian women and children with their faces blown off. I'll post the MP3 of the interview as soon as AAR archives it.

The phone numbers (free calls) to your congressmen are still on the front page of the main website. Make your Christmas present to the troops a couple of phone calls to your congress-people telling them to cut the shit and get them the hell out of there. As many calls as we can manage between now and Christmas.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Senator Hands Bush His Ass at Reception, Pelosi Democrats Faint at the Sight of Blood

Here's what happened, since media reports aren't giving an accurate picture. Newly-elected senator Jim Webb was at a White House reception for new senators and he purposely avoided the receiving line, because he did not want his picture taken with Bush. Bush tracked down Webb, a veteran with a son in Iraq, later in the party anyway. He chummed up to Webb in that frat boy way of his and asked: "How's your boy?" Webb said: "I'd like to get them out of Iraq," to which Bush replies, "that's not what I asked." Then Webb says: "How my boy is, is between my boy and me."

Poor George. He doesn't get the answer he wants so he gets testy. "That's not what I asked." Bush could have improvised and said well we all want them to come home, and left it. But no. He gets mad at Webb for not kissing his ass. True to form, the Pelosi Democrats are taking Bush's side. Bush can't fathom how a father might not be in the mood for happy talk not knowing if his son might be laying wounded at that very moment. And knowing that the man who put him in harm's way is standing right in front of him.

Webb didn't ask to talk to Bush. Bush came to him. These moments are important because it's the beginning of saying the emperor has no clothes. If only we had a way to sweep these "impeachment is off the table" Pelosi clowns out and replace them with a hundred Jim Webbs, not one more 22-year-old just starting out in life would have to die in a civil war where both sides hate us. America would be safer, and the war on terror would be well on its way toward being won.

Here's the difference between the Harry Reids-Rahm Emmanuels-Joe Bidens of the Democratic party, and Jim Webb: Jim Webb is a MAN. You could think a horse is pretty much a horse, until you stand a thoroughbred racer next to an old nag. Then the difference becomes painfully apparent. The slick politicos of the Democratic party are going to start looking like what they are standing next to blunt straight-talkers like Webb. And the sooner the American public sees the difference, the better.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Democrats: What to do Now

The election of Hoyer over Jack Murtha for majority leader is a worrisome smoke signal that the Democrats in congress are going to play the centrist, bipartisanship card in order to keep their asses fat and happy without having to do much work. This is the time to understand how the right-wing base works. When they put their boys in place, they're not done. They're just getting started.

If their representative doesn't nominate someone right-wing enough for a big job, they start with nasty phone calls. Forget emails, a phone call ties up the lines and makes it hard to get business done. Ditto for faxes. An email you can just delete. If you only have time for an email, it's better than nothing, especially one worded in a way that makes clear what a cheap, two-bit traitor to the cause he is.

Right wingers skip the reasoning part. They know what makes these political animals tick. Votes, contributions, exploratory committees for primary challenges, and threats of bodily harm. Somehow they wind up getting their way. Just remember, they tell their congressmen, at office meetings, town hall meetings, anyplace they show up in public, over the phone with everyone taking turns calling them, and through old fashioned paper letters: if you aren't up to doing what you were elected to do, we'll find someone who is. It's called representative democracy, and it's beautiful.

Democrats are playing the can't-walk-and-chew-gum-at-the-same-time game. Either we LOOK FORWARD with a positive agenda, or we LOOK BACK with investigations. But when Republicans had congress they pushed their agenda AND tried to impeach Clinton. Yes sir, they could do it both. What's with this Attention Deficit Disorder in our guys?

It's not either-or. That's the set-up for the yaboos, a carefully-crafted talking point agreed upon by both sides to snooker the slobs into thinking, well, shucks, I reckon I don't want to look BACKWARDS, do I? Backwards is like, no good.

Fulfilling your constitutional duty is not looking backwards. It is looking forward to a restoration of our hard-won republic, and rights which men died for. Tip: the right-wing base has the toll-free numbers of a dozen or so key legislators stuck on the refrigerator beneath one of those little magnets. So they're handy for a burst of outrage after reading the morning paper. If they were in power, they would say things like, Don't you sucker punch us with this looking forward or backward crap. You can do both. We want investigations of the criminal wrongdoings of the Bush administration. And we want you to roll back those damned billionaire tax cuts. A few of us are planning a trip to your office to elaborate if you don't change your tune. What day is good for you?

Limber up your dialing finger, get ready to use it. It gets easier as you go, then it gets fun. The challenge is for citizens to organize in ways that shadow the role of the evangelicals in the right-wing base, who use church-based study committees and telephone banks to pressure their congressmen. It could be a couple of friends or neighbors calling yourselves a local committee to coordinate talking points and phone calls.

Any strong action against the Bush adminisration is branded as coming from the "left" of the party, and go-along-to-get-along, mild Democratic reforms as the "center." But a majority of Americans believe Bush should be impeached if he lied about the Iraq War, and a majority want our troops out of Iraq, like, yesterday. We ARE the center.

Right-wingers don't worry about pissing off their representatives, like liberals do, afraid they won't get their agendas prioritized. This is the heart of the matter: right-wingers are under no illusions as to who is the employer in this situation, and who is the employee. They don't just tell their congressmen to jump. They tell them how high. Over and over.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dump Pelosi, Murtha for Speaker

What ran through my mind as I watched Republicans-Rummy coming apart at the seams was: what took so long? Sure, I feel great like everyone else but this doesn't answer for the thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives that are only the most visible damage of the rapidly closing Bush years. Americans finally came around. But wow, that stretch of bloodlust was a frightening spectacle. By now, at the very least, ten times the number of innocent people that died on 9/11 have died from us trying to set it right. Yes, now I am afraid of these people. I've seen what they can do.

They can take a ghost of a threat (a friend of mine says "they DID find some powder" to justify invading Iraq, and I like this person!) and watch bombs being dropped on civilian neighborhoods for Shock and Awe, and think well at least when we kill innocent babies it's an accident, but they do it on purpose in terror attacks, as if the dead would say, no problem, I know it was an accident.

Howard Zinn says a better word than "accidental" is "inevitable." If you know that civilian casualties happen 100 percent of the time when you bomb residential neighborhoods, then it's the same as doing it on purpose. You become the terrorist.

Did Americans come around soon enough to undo the damage of the Bush years? The country is bankrupt, global warming is closing in, the Constitution is in shreds since the Military Commissions Act, and there is still plenty of time for the Democrats to start the Bipartisanship Shuffle, which comes out anytime they don't have the stomach for the fight they are getting paid good money to fight.

First step: dump Pelosi. Jack Murtha for Speaker. She should be disqualified on grounds that, when she ruled out impeachment on 60 Minutes, she had no right to speak for the entire institution. Did you hear me, congressman-in-my-district? I don't give a damn what Nancy Pelosi said. You just worry about doing your own job.

Which brings me to the second step. What happened under the radar in this campaign was that a whole farm team of Democratic candidates was created, most notably with the veteran candidates of These are candidates who took their opposition to the Iraq War as their point of departure and then began softening up the Republicans, attacking them on Iraq from their vantage point of unassailable patriotism, and blasting the perception that being anti-Iraq War was the same as being anti-American.

It was a hastily assembled charge by political newbies but it worked, changing the political landscape so that Tuesday's victory by the Democratic party was possible. They were cut down almost to a man except for Sestak, Murphy, Carney, Waltz, and Webb who all made it to the top. Mission accomplished.

With Ned Lamont proving that a powerful incumbent like Lieberman can be knocked off in his own primary, the Pelosi faction should be careful about cutting and running behind "bipartisanship." Partition Iraq, bolster Afghanistan, secure the ports and do the rest of the 9/11 commission recommendations. Do the First Hundred Minutes Agenda or whatever they are calling it. Then start the subpoenas flowing, get ready to start asking rude questions about Halliburton, the NSA, Jose Padilla, plans for secret detention centers for American citizens, bundles of hundred-dollar bills being tossed around like footballs in Iraq, Pat Tillman, no-bid contracts for Katrina, and whether George Bush REALLY did not know that there were different kinds of Muslims, like Sunni and Shiite.

The farm team, the new wave of citizen-candidates like Lamont and the Fighting Democrats, will be waiting if the new Democratic leadership does not deliver. We took the Hill but a lot of good men went down. The casualty rate was appalling. But the job got done, and in politics, you get to get up and play all over again.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ho hum why can't these Democrats fight? What's worse, a botched joke or a botched war?

First of all, Kerry never should have apologized except to say he's sorry for Republicans continuing to twist his meaning and and therefore continuing to insult the troops in a way he never meant. That said, a party that knew how to fight would OVERNIGHT crank up ads reminding voters of the 360 tons of high explosives in Iraq lost by the Bush administration which are being used against our troops to this very day, of hillbilly armor, and of Dubai ports, until people barely remember that it was a botched joke that started the whole thing.

Announcer: "Republicans are attacking John Kerry for flubbing a joke...a mistake which has cost no soldier his life or has made the nation less secure, BUT..."

I'm not writing the rest, it should be clear in the mind of any half-competent consultant ninconpoop in Rahm Emmanuel's office, and they're getting paid and I'm not.

Many Democrats have already scattered and joined the chorus against Kerry, which only lends credence to the Republican distortion. You don't have to campaign with the guy, but why reinforce the false talking points of the enemy? This is a time to close ranks. Kerry's initial refusal to apologize was excellent. But if he were a battlefield commander he'd call a halt in mid-charge leaving everyone confused and wondering what to do just as the bullets were flying thickest.

Last, remember when Rudy Guiliani actually DID blame the troops for our problems in Iraq? My God what the Republicans would have done with that one had the shoe been on the other foot. I haven't seen a single attack using that.

Blunt the Republican attack, use it as a hook for your own issue, pour fire into the opening. Come alive down there the general's watching! Over!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blame Clinton? North Korea acting exactly as experts predicted, the "spiral vs. deterrence" theory

In the first year of any program in international relations there is one book all students are required to read: "Perception and Misperception in International Politics" by Columbia professor Robert Jervis. It's as basic as the Merck Manual if you are a scientist. The book explores, at great length, how aggressive national behavior intended to deter can backfire, and set off a "spiral" of aggression. In a nutshell it explains why countries like North Korea and Iran are not the same as Hitler, and George Bush is no Winston Churchill.

The "spiral vs. deterrence" model shows us why right-wing attempts to blame Clinton for all this are a joke. The end results of Bush's foreign policy were entirely predictable. As long as we kept our focus on Afghanistan, no one was afraid of us. When Bush went off the deep end and invaded Iraq, everyone rushed out to get a "Bush deterrent." Whether you get deterrence or a spiral depends on whether the world respects you, or is afraid of you.

For a good short outline on spiral vs. deterrence see this MIT professor's lecture notes.

Here is a link to Jervis's classic. And here is a blog post I wrote back in March, on just this issue.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Join the How to Get Out Of Iraq Debate

It's always true: the people lead the politicians, not the other way around. Bush equates the division of Iraq into a loose confederation of semi-autonomous states to "failure," but our own Constitution never would have been ratified without the recognition and powers reserved to the thirteen original colonies. The concept of federations taking into account regional differences is nothing new or sinister. Iraqi politicians have been talking about it from the start. The debate is better referred to as "confederation" rather than "partition." Iraq is already in reality three different states that must be cobbled to co-exist as one loose unit, rather than one state which would be split into three. "Partition" invokes carving up something that is whole, a bad connotation. Remember George Bush is the man who up until two months before the invasion did not know that Iraq consisted of Sunni and Shia.

There are two main challenges that require the engagement of an administration that can do something other than order bombing:

- Cut a deal for the oil-poor Sunni region that would assuage their fears of being left behind

- Usher in regional alliances to counterbalance Shia-Iran hegemony

Iraq is now a terrorist playground because power is distributed among hundreds of tribal and militia fiefdoms whose boundaries are blurry and fluid. In this environment the Al Qaeda foreigners can move about at will, train, and learn the limitations of American tactics and weapons in "live fire" exercises. True states with security apparati that consolidate large regions are a precondition for identifying and isolating non-indigenous Al Qaeda fighters. As it so often happens, the truth is exactly the opposite of what George Bush says: pulling out of Iraq would make problems for the terrorists. Whatever comes after, Iraq could not be a better terrorist haven than it is now.

And if Al Qaeda claims victory when we withdraw, so what? Bush is a good enough poltician to know how to counter that spin if he wanted to. Claim victory right back: Saddam is gone and Iraq is a functioning confederation. We're not going home, we're going to Afghanistan, where the whole world supports us. Meet you there. Bring it on.

The most thoughtful thread I have found that explores the confederation solution is at the Washington Post blog for the article "Partition Debate Splits Iraq." You can see right away some smart people participate in this blog. Anyone can add their comment. The people lead.

It's all really quite simple. Either we pull out of Iraq with the best partition plan in place we can manage so we can re-start the real war on terror, or we wait until we have created enough terrorists to carry out multiple successful attacks here in America, in which case we WILL pull out of Iraq, because we'll need the army RIGHT HERE. George Bush probably wouldn't mind having the army to command against us. Remember how badly he wanted to revoke Posse Comitatus after Hurricane Katrina?

We think Bush's policy of staying the course in Iraq is crazy, but in another way it makes quite a bit of sense. See Richard Clarke's "Ten Years Later."

Were we to re-focus the war on Afghanistan and the global terror cells, we might stand half-a-chance of convincing on-the-fence Muslims that we are engaged in a righteous cause against the people who attacked us. Their religion accommodates a concept of revenge that is narrow in scope. But no amount of jaw-boning about spreading democracy in Iraq will convince them we are not there to steal their oil, convert them to Christianity, and use their women as prostitutes. Bush says we cannot afford to pull out of Iraq. But the rest of the country outside his small, rich, undeployed faction, cannot afford to stay.

More posts on a real plan for Iraq here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Fighitng Dems ad "Back on Track"

watch ad (if one don't work try another):

MOV file (1 MB)

MP4 (3 MB)

Windows AVI (5 MB)

This online ad "Back on Track" was written and produced by Ralph Lopez independently of the candidates the ad supports. He is solely responsible for its contents. If you would like to bring this ad to television in your community in support of Fighting Democrats listed at, please contact Ralph Lopez Media at Community television producers are especially welcome. Many thanks to the artists on whose images this work is built, who bore witness to the event and the outpouring of world support that followed. Artistic credits available upon request.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Talking points dispatch for 9/12

The president turned a national day of quiet mourning into a Fear-Fest to justify his terrible decision to invade Iraq. Complete with a door from a destroyed fire engine as a prop. Potential recruits to Islamic radicalism will see the mighty United States unnerved by this band of outlaws, and will be even more pumped up to join. A ragtag bunch of jihadists immediately vault to equal footing with the mighty German army and the Soviet divisions. In their caves they must have been glued to the TV set eating popcorn and feeling pretty good about themselves.

Al Qaeda is a criminal organization with a political agenda that appeals to frustrated, downtrodden people. They should be treated with no more respect than that. For Bush to compare them to the great ideological contests between capitalist democracy, Nazism, and communism is to grant them a prestige that no amount of Al Jazeera advertising could have bought.

"If we yield Iraq to men like bin Laden," Bush said, "our enemies will be emboldened, they will gain a new safe haven, and they will use Iraq's resources to fuel their extremist movement. We will not allow this to happen."

Once again the Backward Reality Machine. Our counterproductive stay in Iraq DOES embolden our enemies. Their safe haven is Pakistan and, now, Afghanistan.

We defeated the German army in 4 years. Why couldn't we defeat a bunch of ragged-ass barefoot criminals in 5? The Nazis had scientists, submarines, and crack fighter pilots. Al Qaeda's only secret weapon is George Bush.

Straw Man Watch: "Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They would not leave us alone." BUT WHO thinks this, Mr. President? Name me one person who "thinks" the terrorists would leave us alone if we pulled out of Iraq. Introduce him to me. I'll talk to him and tell him different. The war on terror isn't over when we pull out of Iraq; it's just beginning to be won.

"The safety of the American people depends on the outcome of the battle in Baghdad." And if you believe that, I've got some nice land in Florida I want to sell you.

Cut-and-paste a couple random comments from Eshaton's unusually canny readers to round it off:

"Just to remind everyone that al Qaeda was unwelcome in Iraq while that awful Saddam was in charge. Ya know, it occurs to me that old Saddam might have been a pretty good ally in the fight against radical jihadism."
fourlegsgood, irritated | Homepage | 09.12.06 - 1:38 pm | #

"Amazing... what al-Qaeda could not ever do on its own with Saddam in power, the Bush Administration will do for them, at its own expense: Install a Shiite Theocracy in Iraq. It's all ironical an' shit."
watertiger | Homepage | 09.12.06 - 1:38 pm | #

GOOD STUFF: A letter by one Roger Goulet in today's Boston Globe, on Dick Cheney's argument that because of the war in Iraq "there has not been another attack on the United States." There is a Latin name for this ancient logical fallacy, "post hoc ergo propter hoc," or "false cause." The writer found it in an old college textbook. I remember this one! Irving Copi's "Introduction to Logic." Professor Copi gives the example of "the savage's claim that beating his drums is the cause of the sun's reappearing after an eclipse."


"Afghan role changing, quarry still elusive" by Charles Sennott, The Boston Globe 9/12/2006

"In a tiny hamlet here, a story is told and retold of the suffering of a local baker, Shah Mohammed, who was imprisoned in Guantanamo. He has become part of the local lore that shapes the image of America as a brutal empire and fuels the hatred that inspires militants..."This is not the same Shah Mohammed that he was before. People are angry. Why did they do this to an innocent man?""

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bush Quotes bin Laden; Calls for Rumsfeld to Resign Miss Point

The Democratic leadership, and some Republicans, are focusing on Get Rumsfeld "me-too-ism" as a way of proving anti-Iraq war credentials. But is getting rid of Rumsfeld enough? Focusing on Rumsfeld sends the message that the Iraq invasion was a good idea, but it was badly executed. This leaves in place the central Bush premise that, in the end, the invasion was justified and will make us safer in the long run.

Missing from Democrats' talking points are the plain facts that the invasion was a "gift" to bin Laden, according to CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, and that it "appeased" Al Qaeda, according to top bin Laden lieutenant al-Zawahari. As long as the president has become fond of quoting Al Qaeda, let's quote them a little more:

"We thank God for appeasing us with the dilemma in Iraq after Afghanistan. The Americans are facing a delicate situation in both countries. If they withdraw they will lose everything and if they stay, they will continue to bleed to death." - al-Zawahari in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq

The Democrats are ignoring a wonderful opportunity to turn Bush and Cheney's "appeaser" attacks against them. In his latest Fear Offensive in which he quoted bin Laden the president said: "The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?"

How slow and perfect a pitch must it be before the Democrats take the swing?

The truth is there was no good way to occupy a simmering powder keg of ethnic hatreds the size of California. Should have used more troops? What troops? We're having trouble keeping the ones we have there now, some going on their third and fourth rotations.

Democrats love the Rumfeld debate because it saves them from taking a stand. It's easy to say the war was badly managed. It's harder to say that it was wrong from the start, and then push for a partition plan, which is the only plan that makes sense for getting out of Iraq. It's harder to explain that it was George Bush who cut-and-ran, from the central front in the war on terror, Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, and exploited 9/11 to make his Halliburton buddies ultra-zillionaires.

Republicans love the Rumsfeld debate because it is a way to distance themselves from Bush, although it doesn't really. It merely makes Bush and Rumsfeld into a good-cop-bad-cop routine.

The problem isn't Rumsfeld. The problem is George Bush, and his counter-productive and morally repugnant interpretation of pre-emptive war. Knocking off Rumsfeld might be a good way of showing the administration is not invincible, but by itself it will not beat Bush's successful strategy of terror alerts, foiled plots, and new levels of fear-mongering that are coming with the Fall elections. Only the truth can strip Bush of his Protector-in-Chief iconography. As long as the Democratic leadership consists of spineless, craven cowards who fear the reaction of the Pit-Bull-Right to the truth, these truths will never make the front page. The tragedy is how pathetically this compares to the daily bravery of our young soldiers in the field, who deserve much better.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Rumsfeld and Bush: the "Appeasers"

Talking points target: Rumsfeld calls Bush critics "appeasers." Now didn't I just see that word somewhere? Oh yes:

"We thank God for appeasing us with the dilemma in Iraq after Afghanistan. The Americans are facing a delicate situation in both countries. If they withdraw they will lose everything and if they stay, they will continue to bleed to death." - al-Zawahari in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq

In other words, George Bush APPEASED Al Qaeda with the invasion of Iraq, which took the heat off Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, where we were winning. This Zawahari quote is in Michael Scheuer's book, "Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror" (Scheuer is the former chief of CIA's bin Laden Unit. You can see the quote in this "searchable" copy of the book at

More talking points on this "appeaser" business:

- The invasion of Iraq took the fight AWAY from the enemy, not TO them. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

- The invasion of Iraq was a "gift" to bin Laden:
"But on March 2003 bin Laden - to his astonishment - got his longed-for gift, complements of America, when the United States invaded Iraq." - from Scheuer's "Imperial Hubris," see "searchable book" page here.

- And when Bush accuses truth-tellers of saying the "soldiers died in vain": I say, only God can say who has died in vain, not George Jesus Bush:

"You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed." - Psalms 139:16

In other words, no one ever dies in vain.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Old Democrats, Hillary, Short-Circuit Lamont Iraq Message

This is going to be short because I have to make the rent, and no one is paying me to write these damned posts.

Ned Lamont and the New Democrats are saying what has to be said. Hillary and the Old Democrats doing everything to undermine it. Hillary, not only unlikely to win any match-up with Jeb Bush in 2008, but about the only Democrat guaranteed to lose it, never dares utter the truth that Lamont and the New Dems are trying to make heard: Iraq is not the central front in the war on terror; it in fact hurts the war on terror. Afghanistan is the central front, and the Paki border, and places like Londonistan. It's global.

If Clinton and the national party just shut up and said nothing it would be better. Lamont surely knew he was on his own from the start. What he may not have expected was the back-stabbing. Hillary, when asked to comment on attacks on Lamont as the "Al Qaeda" candidate, said "I just think we have to be united as a country." Ick. She wants to be president?

Today George Bush said pulling out of Iraq "would be a defeat for the United States in a key battleground in the global war on terror." Instead of taking the shot Bush opened himself up for, Phil Singer, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, responds with Kerry's old boilerplate "the White House's Iraq policy has been a tragic failure."

Sure, it has failed, we ALL know THAT, but the commander-in-chief just says hang in there. We'll eventually win. So why don't you Bush-haters just go away?

This stuff only makes the New York Times, but the rest of the nation's media takes its cues from it, and it shapes the coverage.

Cheney now says the election of Ned Lamont would "embolden Al Qaeda types." I'm tired of saying it over and over again. This is starting to feel like August 2004, when Kerry absolutely, definitely would not GO THERE. Then lost. Embolden Al Qaeda types?

Betraying (not "outing", this is not about gender) Intelligence Officer Valerie Plame and her covert networks tracking WMD emboldened Al Qaeda types, as did losing 300 tons of HMX explosives in Iraq (remember that one?) As did fighting against the establishment of a 9/11 Commission, as does fighting its recommendations now. The Bushies link every attack and foiled plot to us having too many civil liberties. They do everything to keep us safe except the work. (SEE THE LOPEZ 12 STEPS FOR WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR.)

It's all on this website. Steal this research!

Ned Lamont can't say all these things himself. He needs a party behind him to respond to attacks while he drives home the positive agenda.

Think of what happens when any Democrat dares criticize the commander-in-chief on an important point, like whether or not Bush let bin Laden go at Tora Bora. Republicans pounce like a pack of wild dogs.

It's not that Old Democrats can't do any better. It's against their interests for Lamont to win. If Lamont shows that a powerful Democrat like Lieberman can be knocked off for his complicity in the Bush regime, any one of them could be next.

It's not the media's fault. Sure, they're perpetuating the voters-trust-Republicans-more-on-national-security line, but that's because the national Democratics are saying nothing to replace it. When you give me nothing to write by deadline, I'll have to write whatever. Meanwhile, ten thousand miles from where politicians plot the impact of each word on their political careers down to the nanometer, another 21-year-old watches his life end, scared and alone.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lamont Shows Majority Still Has a Voice

Now that the train to restore America's long-abused middle-class has resoundingly left the station, the test of how Democrats have matured politically will be how well they attack Republican hypocrisy while staying on-message with the Six for '06 Agenda, which was stolen from this website by the Democratic leadership, thank you very much.

Make no mistake, the Hillary-Billary-Rahmmanuel-Reid Axis didn't suddenly decide to do the right thing. It was FORCED on them, not least by the writing on the wall represented by the Lamont tidal wave that peaked last Tuesday.

Almost two years ago we and other Americans called for primary challengers to the "Lame Democrats," and our prayers were answered. Lamont in CT, Tasini against Billary Inc. And now we have the greatest bunch of straight-talking, ass-kicking candidates poised to take over congress that this country has seen in a long time, patriot-FBI-whistleblower Colleen Rowley, Bob Bowen, Eric Massa, Tammy Duckworth, and the rest of the blunt, war veteran, take-no-shit-from-these-NeoCon-bastards crew, the Band of Brothers (

The Loser "Centrists," and the lawyer-DLC-consultant-strategists who deep down don't care who wins as long as their millions are safe, talk as if a winning campaign isn't supposed to talk and chew gum at the same time. You don't attack because - oooo! - they call us angry and negative, no ideas! You don't get specific on issues because - oooo! - they say we are going to raise taxes! Until now, the Democratic party has been one masterly exercise in how to lose elections without looking like you are trying to. Who cares? It's not their kids bleeding in the sand. And the corporate money contributions keep rolling in to both sides just the same. The most important constituent to these fat, amoral slugs is their Beamer mechanic.

To Ned and Jon Tasini and the Band of Brothers. You guys have made me proud to be an American again. You can't even know what that means.

The Joe Lieberman-Hillary Axis isn't the "center," because WE are. That's a fiction whose lifespan is about up. Bill Clinton took over the party by jerking the wheel hard to the right while fishtailing left on social issues, making the NARAL SUV surburban soccer moms the center of gravity. With a deft move from the podium Bill kicked half the country over the ledge so he'd only have to worry about the other half. The half with money. Some more, some less. But some. And since reporters love to bandy about labels like "centrist," "moderate," and "left-wing" because it saves them from doing real work so they can get to the bars and start the serious drinking that much sooner, the only way to counter the spin will be to repeat the positions, exactly as Lamont has been doing.

Stop waste and fraud in healthcare so more people can be insured? That's "left-wing?" Make top colleges affordable for everyone? That's the radical fringe? Well, I reckon you better mark me down as one, what a kick in the head.

"The Six for '06 agenda is a carbon copy of my New Contract for America, which I have been emailing to Democratic honchos for years. Ask Tom Vallely, Kerry's Dog Soldier campaign buddy over at the Kennedy School. And a real nice guy. The high point for any activist is to get his ideas stolen. That's what you work for; that's the measure of success. And you, my small but influential audience, have done it again, whatever you are doing.

Ever since John Kerry decided to go with calling Iraq a "distraction" from the real war on terror in the first presidential debate, splitting Iraq off from the "central front" status the Republicans badly need it to have in peoples' minds, you have been shaping the debate.

It's too bad Kerry waited until two months before the election to take a position on the war. Like I said in my book, while George Bush spent a year honing his attack to a razor's edge, Kerry spent a year coming up with one.

The Six for '06 puts national security where it belongs: First. During '04 Bill Clinton advised Kerry to focus on the party's "strengths" on domestic issues. Knowing full well, as anything but a dumb politician, that nothing matters until you are out front on national security. Wiley Old Bill helped set Kerry up, I think, because he drools at the chance for all that Washington nightlife all over again, likker and wimmin, and this time Hillary too busy to care. YEEHAW!

The Republican-"Centrist" Fear Machine lost no time tarring Lamont's democratic victory as a danger to the nation, with a good old fashioned August, pre-election terror alert thrown in. Dick Cheney, (Joe Lieberman's new best buddy! Take note, ad-makers!) said Lamont's win reflects a "pre-9/11 mindset." He said Al Qaeda "clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task."

In other words, the same old shit.

George Bush is right. We DO live in a dangerous world, contrary to "those" naive enough to believe there aren't people out to hurt us. I don't know anyone who says that, but they must be out there, because George keeps saying they are.

What he doesn't say is the danger is a direct result of his policies. Before the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan was well on the way toward stabilization, with all of NATO onboard. Al Qaeda was on the run, even if Bush did let top leadership escape at Tora Bora. Then came the invasion that proved to Muslims that we were not out to avenge 9/11, but to steal oil, build permanent bases, and humiliate Muslim men. If I read in the paper that foreigners have occupied my country and are killing and raping American women, I guarantee you I'd be planting IEDs in the middle of the night, too.

The blunder of Iraq is on the magnitude, militarily, of Hitler opening the second front in the East against the Russians. We'd all be speaking German right now if Hitler had contented himself with half the world instead of all of it at once. Even if you agree with the disgusting, un-American proposition of unprovoked, "pre-emptive" war, just as Hitler's war was lost the minute he took on the Russian winter, our war on terror is lost as long as we stay in Iraq, which prevents redeploying to the Afghan-Paki border to hunt down the people who, um, actually attacked us.

Democrats give aid and comfort to the enemy? Uh, Dick? Joe? George? Betraying (not "outing", this is not about gender) Intelligence Officer Valerie Plame and her covert networks tracking WMD is what gave aid and comfort to the enemy, as did losing 300 tons of HMX explosives in Iraq (remember that one?) As did fighting against the establishment of a 9/11 Commission, as does fighting its recommendations now. The Bushies do everything they can to keep us safe, except for one thing: the work. (SEE THE LOPEZ 12 STEPS FOR WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR.)

There will always be conventional war. It will start and it will stop. What George Bush's Amazing Invisible Enemy can do to my Constitution is my main concern. Once you give up a right, you never get it back, except by force. I'm still hoping this country can avoid that kind of trouble. The best start is for us to agree that if there is another wave of terror attacks, it will be George Bush's fault. No one opened up that second front but him. He did it against the advice of absolutely everyone, including his own father and James Baker III. SIGN THE THE IMPEACH BUSH IN THE EVENT OF ANOTHER ATTACK PETITION

And now, here is my original New Contract for America. Compare it to the Six for '06 Agenda. The key is to get away from the endless litany of politicians promising everyone everything welfare workfare car-care affordable housing ad naseum that is the usual Democratic spiel. Folks can't remember all that. And accomplishing even a few of the Six for '06 would put the country way ahead of where it is now.

Ralph's New Contract for America (abridged, full post from last year here)

-Distinguish Iraq from Real War on Terror - We are properly at war in Afghanistan and in the mountainous border regions of Pakistan, and Iraq is exactly the quagmire bin Laden wanted. It draws resources away from the hunt for Al Qaeda and from the critical stablization of Afghanistan. Redeploy to Afghanistan and the Paki border. Then we mop up, make peace with the Muslim world (an apology for the Shah of Iran might go over well,) and put the genie back in the bottle. Get back to the good old days when armies fought each other and left civilians mostly out of it. Hell, some guys just LIKE to fight.

-Save American Retirement Security - Time magazine says more and more people who worked twenty or thirty years for the same company are losing their pensions. Recently-passed laws allow corporations to renege on their pension promises.

-Restore college opportunity, by enabling students to go to any college they an get into on a need-blind basis. Yes, I'll take credit for this idea, which I've been pushing since my first days as a candidate in the early 90s.

-Environment - A "Marshall Plan" within the first hundred days of a non-Republican majority to start down the path of clean, sustainable energy independence.

-Be the Pro-Constitution Party. Again, if Bush can't give us safety without shredding the Constitution, we'll find someone who can.

-Worker training and re-training to smooth job transitions after lay-offs. We are the only Western industrialized nation without it. Why?

-Don't Get Bogged Down on Health Insurance. Sure, progressives are for it, and the Bush Faction is against it, but the details should be kept to, if you are working full-time, you get health insurance, and you start paying for it by recovering the $10-$20 billion wasted on Medicare and Medicaid by over-billing. Then you start rewarding doctors for preventing as well as curing. You'll see a lot of docs getting their patients into olive oil and alfalfa sprouts.

-IMPORTANT: All of the Above Means NOTHING without a paper voting trail in every American precinct. - a no brainer.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Blogger's Appeal to Connecticut Democrats

Dear Connecticut Democrats,

As Ned Lamon's historic campaign to unseat Senator Joe Lieberman draws to a close, the considerable forces of the Democratic Establishment, including those in the media, have settled on one last-ditch defense: the idea that this should not be a "one issue" race based on Lieberman’s alliance with George Bush on the issue of the Iraq War.

Put aside for a moment the callousness of this type of spin, which treats the thousands of unnecessary American deaths in Iraq as 'just' one issue to be given equal weight with all the others. I’d like to take a moment of your time, on the eve of the primary on August 8th, to ask you to consider if Joe Lieberman truly represents Democratic party values on many issues besides the Iraq War.

The talking point making the rounds among Joe Leiberman's establishment supporters is that Senator Lieberman, not withstanding Iraq, is a pretty good all-around Democrat. But is he?

– In 2004 Joe Lieberman voted for Republican-sponsored "tort reform" the Orwellianly-named “Class Action Fairness Act,” which gave George Bush his first victory of his second term, and closed the door to many class-action lawsuits of the type which had previously held automobile companies, tobacco companies, and asbestos manufactures liable for fraudulent practices and other wrongdoing. Sen. Harry Reid, who opposed the bill, said: "The real world effect of this law will be that when a phone company systematically bills customers for services they had cancelled, or a plumbing company routinely overcharges customers by $10, those practices will not be brought to light."

-In 2005 the Republican Bankruptcy Bill made it harder for individuals (but not corporations) to declare bankruptcy, most notably in the one-third of bankruptcy cases which are primarily due to sudden, catastrophic medical illness. Lieberman spoke for it and against it, voted for cloture (cutting off debate and moving the bill toward passage) and then voted against the bill.

– In 2005 Lieberman abstained in a close vote which saw the passage of CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement, even though 27 Republicans withstood immense pressure from the White House to stand with organized labor and the environment. Of course Lieberman was a reliable supporter of NAFTA, which started the flight of jobs to low-wage countries lacking any meaningful labor rights.

The fact of the matter is that the Democratic Establishment is frightened of a Lamont victory in next Tuesday’s primary. Why? Because it would signal that elected Democrats cannot continue to ignore the interests of their own constituents in matters regarding corporate privilege.

A Lamont victory tells Democratic power brokers that they cannot continue to vote to ship American jobs overseas in the name of "free trade", cannot vote with the telecommunications giants on the issue of net neutrality, in short, cannot talk one way and act another simply because Democrats have nowhere else to go.

For too long, powerful Democrats have been on the same corporate campaign contribution gravy train as Republicans. Yet they feel safe because the alternative to voting for them is thoroughly unacceptable.

In Ned Lamont we have a clear and courageous example of how the primary system is supposed to work. Put simply, primaries are there to keep elected politicians true to the principles on which they were first elected. Without vigorous and robust primaries, politicians become institutions unto themselves, barely different from those whom they were sent to Washington to oppose.

In mounting a dead-serious challenge to Joe Lieberman, Ned has already made history, and perhaps shortened our ill-conceived occupation of Iraq by years. And perhaps, thus, saved countless young American lives. On Tuesday, August 8th, please make Ned Lamont your Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. Connecticut, a nation's tired eyes are upon you.

Ralph Lopez
blogger at

pls. post, circulate

Friday, July 28, 2006

Apocalypse Now

Now that the Middle East is blowing itself all to hell thanks to George's Excellent Adventure in Iraq, the Christo-fascists, our equivalent of Islamo-fascists, are all a-twitter that the Rapture is a-comin'. Folks in Coastapedia don't know what's going on out there.

While I was waiting for a flight in a Dallas airport restaurant some weeks ago, a few obnoxious waitresses with what seemed to be a combined IQ of 140 all hurried to the C-Span screen breathless and excited anytime the Middle East came on. They didn't seem the type to take an interest in international affairs otherwise (not because they were waitresses; because they were dumb and their manners gave them away. One kept looking over at me pointedly whenever she said to a customer at another table: "Can I get you anything ELSE, sir?" If you want to work at a place where people don't sit for long periods of time over a muffin and a cup of coffee, don't work at an airport. They're waiting for a flight, and that's the only thing that gets them into your overpriced dump in the first place.)

Then it dawned on me: these people are LIKING this stuff.

Confirming my suspicion, Bible Belt radio was gushing with talk of Ezekial and Daniel and the connnections made in certain verses between Syria and Iran. I can report that on the road between Artesia and Mescalero, I heard one AM Holy Roller say we should "rejoice" in the events. Some people are selling their possesions. I haven't decided what it means to the big picture, but the most powerful and influential part of Bush's base loving this shit can't be good.

That would be the Ralph Reed-Pat Robertson wing of the Protestant religion, much to the chagrin of the many kind-hearted, true-spirited believers who make up the rest of Christianity. The Bush Base which turns out at elections is among the most twisted corruptions of a good religion that the world has ever seen. In a hundred years people will still wonder how teachings of "love one another" were once contorted to the conclusion that Jesus would have bombed Iraq.

So let's cut right to the chase: it's clear by the Hannity-Bill O'Reilly Ministry of Propaganda that we are fixing to bomb Iran, a country that was never our enemy until the CIA overthrew its democratically-elected president in 1953. Even then, Iranians, by and large, did not blame the American people but the American government. The foreign policy of which, a case can be made, had been hijacked by "Mad Dog" John Foster Dulles, secretary of state, and his brother Allen. Dulles ordered the overthrow of president Mohammed Mossadeq despite the fact that his boss, Dwight Eisenhower, liked the guy, and once said he would like to give Mossadeq "ten million bucks." Back then, though, anyone who did a stupid thing like nationalize their own oil, to keep it from getting stolen by foreigners, was in for a bad end.

If you really want to understand 9/11, you start with Stephen Kinzer's "All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror" (2004.) I thought I understood Middle East politics, but I really didn't until I read this book.

Iran has promised to unleash 40,000 suicide bombers against us if attacked, as it has every right to. It's funny how Americans are offended if a country doesn't hold still while we bomb it. You're not playing FAIR! Now HOLD STILL!

The doctrine of asymmetrical warfare says that, when an enemy is coming at you with tanks and F-16's against your rubber sandals and rocket launchers, you hit back any way you can. We have been matching Apache helicopters and A-10 Warthogs against slingshots and AK-47s for so long, it's a wonder there are any Jihadis left to fight.

Now, 50 years after the Europeans gave away a chunk of land that didn't belong to them in order to satisfy a debt that did, we're facing waves of fanatics who've stood about as much humiliation as they can stand. Call me naive, but I always wonder, why isn't Israel smack in the middle of Berlin? I always thought it was the losing side that had its cities razed and its lands carved up, ever since the Edamites slew all the Hippotites who slew all the Batamites ad infinitum. How did we get from Germany losing the war, to Israel being on land that has been Arab since before the Ottoman Empire? I know about the Covenant, but I'll get with that when you throw all the white Americans from Texas-to-California out of their houses and give it back to the Spanish, or better yet, when we ALL have to give it back to the Indians, which, judging by what we've done to the environment, might not be a bad idea.

The endgame of Bush's Permanent War is pretty clear. Generate enough terrorist attacks to suspend the Constitution, so that military force can be used to defend new Green Zones in America, lush islands of Halliburton money made the dirty way on one side, with the rest of us on the other, including the poor slobs who believed they'd be raptured right out of it all.

Sign the Impeach Bush in Case of Terrorist Attack Petition

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Lopez 12-Step Program for Winning the War on Terror, 2006

1. Realize Al Qaeda turns von Clausewitz on his head. There are no standing armies to attack, no tank formations, no air bases. Al Qaeda's source of strength is popular support, which increases or decreases as a direct result of US foreign policy actions. Rather than a traditional military hierarchy, Al Qaeda is a "network." Al Qaeda 2.0. There is no head to cut off. It can only be starved from the bottom, politically.

2. Isolate Al Qaeda in the Arab world by announcing a shift in US policy which redresses grievances held since our 1953 overthrow of democratically-elected Iranian president Mohammed Mossadeq. Apologize for it. Don't worry, even if you don't understand, the Middle East will, and it will make a difference.

3. Get off the oil junk. The former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, identifies our addiction to oil as the root cause of Middle Eastern terrorism. Slap a windfall profits tax on oil companies, and use the proceeds to finance a Marshall Plan for U.S. Energy Independence. Attack any resistance from the oil companies as unpatriotic and heedless of the national security. Play hardball with these bastards. We need to cut back consumption by, say, 75%. Sure, we need oil for some things, but non-energy efficient light bulbs isn't one of them.

4. Follow up with a concerted push against our corrupt allies in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, and the rest, to allow their people political rights. Don't argue with them. Just tell them, if you guys keep beating heads at peaceful democratic protests, there go your spare F-15 parts. Do it again, there goes $10 million of your military aid. How do you like me now?

5. Announce our timetable to leave Iraq.

6. With the political initiative firmly underway, go on the military offensive. Take 50,000 troops, seasoned with experience in Iraq, and position them at strategic passes in the Pakistani mountains and tribal areas. Make a giant noose. Take no bullshit from the Pakistani government. You are either with us or against us. Make them see the light. See what happened to that government in Afghanistan? That can happen to you.

7. Drop the cream of Special Operations Forces inside the noose and let them do their thing. Believe me, if the damned politicians would let them, they'd find the terrorists.

8. Prepare the world for the imminent capture of Bin Laden. Tell them look, we're giving you downtrodden people a chance, now let's start fresh. You know this guy attacked us and in your religion, we are entitled to justice. THIS WAR IS OVER. We can all be friends. Now lets go solve the problem that's going to kick ALL our asses: global warming.

9. No more blank check for the Israeli government to crush Palestinian civilians. They may be our friends, but when your friend is wrong, you tell him. Even if he is your friend.

10. Institute a universal draft, Israeli-style, that gets us old guys (up to 52, I say) into combat gear, since we may need long-term peacekeeping in Afghanistan. Which should be made into a shining model of democracy, even if it takes until our grandchildren's time to do it. It's not fair that the young guys do all the fighting while our fat asses stay safe. This should also go a long way toward making future wars obsolete, when congressmen have to hump a pack and drop and do twenty. Wouldn't that be beautiful?

11. Check the last chapter of my book American Dream for my idea on how to rebuild the World Trade Center. The symbolism is important, it takes too long to describe here.

12. Now we're hunting terror cells around the world, mopping up with the cooperation of governments and people who know where they are, who have the inside scoop. We'll still have battles with the hard-cores, but their recruitment will dry up. AMERICANS ARE THE GOOD GUYS AGAIN! Eventually the violence will fade, and we can pre-occupy ourselves with the task of building a sustainable human society, based on a stable Earth population.

Base the big carrots and sticks of a New U.S. Foreign Policy on world carbon and pollution reduction, along with zero population growth, since once we control man's footprint on the planet, fifty percent of the environmental problem solves itself. This in turn means implementing rudimentary social security systems in Third World countries along with basic healthcare, especially for children, since having more children than can be claimed by appalling infant mortality rates is the default social security system in these parts of the world, where the elderly can only rely on family support. Also high on New Foreign Policy priorities should be a global war on slavery and child prostitution, with the full force of U.S. sanctions coming down on countries which do not comply.

The Constitution will have survived, and we can get back to drinking, making babies, eating carousing and just living our lives. Heck, life is supposed to be FUN and we shouldn't be worrying about this shit. But for awhile we have to, because the road we're on now leads to NOWHERE.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

An Open Letter on the High Cost of College, to the Band of Brothers Candidates

To Mike Lyon
Executive Director, Band of Brothers 2006

Dear Mike and the Band of Brothers,

I am a blogger who runs a political website,

I write to you and the Brothers to ask you to consider refining the second key value of the Band of Brothers, "Expanded education opportunity," to include the words "including universal access to college for American students, free of obstacles born of financial need."

I have been arguing for this since my first run for state representative in my home state of Massachusetts, and I still believe it is a winner that cuts across class and party lines. Whether you are making 90 Grand a year or 35 Grand, you can hardly imagine how you will deal with the record-high cost of college, especially if your youngster (or - heavens! imagine paying for two or three!) is very bright and qualifies for a prestigious private institution.

Every report indicates that this is the first time since World War II that top colleges increasingly reflect family wealth in their student bodies rather than personal merit. Many prestigious colleges lament that they do not have the financial means to enable every student who is deserving of admission to attend. I reference one article on the problem at the end of this letter. There are many.

College is no one's welfare hand-out. You must earn it, and once in, you must perform to the standards of the school. It has always dismayed me that prominent politicians from Bill Clinton to George Bush on down propose programs that tinker at the margins, like making more or less of tuition payments tax deductible, but never dare to think big.

Why not say we support a national initiative that will enable any student to go to any college he can manage to get into if he or she is works hard enough? That should be well within reach of the world's wealthiest democracy. It's good economics, it's good education, and it's just plain fair.

I think that if the Brothers can agree to the insertion of this particular plank in the Key Values, it will attract voter and media attention to counter the charge that "Democrats have no ideas", which of course is bunk. The problem is we have too many, which is a good thing, except it makes it difficult for the voters to wrap their minds around one big identifying issue.

Whatever else these candidates think, they might say, at least I know that they want to make it so I don't have to worry about how to send these kids to college. Especially the smart one, who at 12 says he wants to go to Colgate, (or Amherst, or...) How in the heck am I going to afford Amherst? Worse, how do I tell them that, no matter how hard they work, even if they are admitted, they might not have the money to go? How do I explain to my children that this is not how the "land of opportunity" works?

To me this is a conservative, all-American issue. The Republicans talk about opportunity in their dishonest, hypocritical way ("opportunity" means opportunities for Halliburton) but they never do anything about restoring REAL opportunity. The beauty of this issue is it puts Republican hypocrisy squarely in our sights: How can you be for "opportunity" if it doesn't start with the first rung on the ladder of success, college? You shouldn't be excluded from a top school because your parents aren't poor enough to qualify for special programs, but not rich enough to afford $60,000-a-year.

This has a personal resonance for me. Though from a family of modest means, I had the privilege of going to a top Ivy school, because people before me, in the Civil Rights Movement, worked and fought to open doors for the benefit of people they would never know. My experience at Yale allowed me to realize my full potential, and it pains me to have seen my country move in the opposite direction since that time. I feel some responsibility for keeping doors open to Americans of all classes that were open for me, sometimes, I have realized after studying the Civil Rights Movement, at a cost in blood.

The plank I am proposing is general enough that there are many ways to get there, yet the goal is clear. With the tax-breaks-for-millionaires and windfalls-for-Halliburton-and-oil-companies economic policies that the incumbents now have in place, we should be in no mood to tolerate Republican cries that this would cost too much. Let them say it. The cost of Bush's Iraq war is topping $2 trillion. According to the Pentagon, we are spending the equivalent of a full year's room, board, and tuition at Yale every 25 seconds. I think we should engage this debate on where the money is going in this country, so we can draw a sharp distinction for the voters between what is, and what could be, in terms of a concrete goal. (I love to think of the ads we could write for this. Yes, I'm champing at the bit for battle...)

We have the Iraq issue, I think, firmly in hand now. They are on the run. What we need, in addition to the common sense agenda outlined in the Band of Brothers Key Values, is one big signature DOMESTIC issue to fire the imaginations of Americans, and the media. I learned in my not-so-successful political career (I never actually won!) that you get farther by hammering home a few big ideas people can remember, than by trying to recite a litany. If voted on and/or approved by the Band of Brothers, I would be happy to make available my research, and to work with campaign communications teams to sharpen talking points related to the issue.

Thank you for your time in reading this, and victory to all of you.

Warm Regards,

Ralph Lopez
author, proprietor of Citizens' Talking Points

Article: "Darwinian Admissions"

cc: The Council of Independent Colleges

From the Band of Brothers values website:

"Band of Brothers 2006 is premised on the basic idea that all Americans should be given the same opportunities to succeed. We support policies that promote American Values:
• Basic health care coverage for all Americans
• Expanded education opportunity
• Responsible use of our Military
• A foreign policy that promotes US leadership with NATO, the UN, and our allies in the war on terror
• Overhaul, reform, and simplify the tax system
The Band of Brothers 2006 campaign will focus on exposing neo-conservative agendas and policies that are in conflict with great American traditions.
• Values and Patriotism – Clarity on which values are to be honored and which values are under siege.
• Corporate Responsibility – Reinforce the sensibilities of the middle class while illustrating how neo-conservative agendas encourage corruption and greed in big corporations.
• Exposing Bush – Put the spotlight on policies that benefit the 1%, on Republican base strategy, payoffs, and cronyism.
• Foreign Policy – Not contesting the need to fight the war on terror, but illustrating that the Bush foreign policy makes it more difficult and costly.
• The Economy – Serious discussion on low income growth, increasing inequality, rising health care cost, cuts in public services, and a deepening middle class squeeze.

Band of Brothers. Together, we can."

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy 4th of July Weekend

Hamdan thought his goose was cooked. A conservative court no less. Some of these men (though many are innocent) are hardened fighters, no wimps, who gave no quarter and expected none. Hamdan's lawyer reported that his client was "awestruck" that the court would "give a little man an even chance."

The Supreme Court decision on military tribunals is the light of democracy. Not the invasion of Iraq. Never in a million years did a guy like Hamdan think a "little guy" would get a fair break in this world of powerful and ruthless men.

Behold America. It's not perfect, but yes, it is a great country.

Before the Nuremburg Trials some people were in favor of saving the expense,and summarily hanging Nazi war criminals or lining them up along a wall and having them shot, just like they would have done to us. But our message to the world was: We're not like them.

What rights did the prisoners at Gitmo win? The right to see the evidence against you. The right to be present at your trial. Real controversial stuff.

George Bush has been checked in his drive to do whatever he wants to anyone of us, including locking us up on his say-so and throwing away the key. The system works. Whatever truly increases our security, like securing ports and chemical plants, he's not interested in. Iraq is a trainwreck. Whatever increases his power in the name of 9/11, he pursues with a vengeance.

The Dueling Banjos Wing of the Republican party is positively foaming at the mouth, clueless that the rights upheld are their rights too. They would love nothing more than kangaroo courts with hooded judges to try these prisoners, stupidly unaware that someday, they could be the ones on the wrong side of the bar.

A conservative court! On this July Fourth, 2006, I have never been prouder to be an American.

"Justices, 5-3, Broadly Reject Bush Plan to Try Detainees" (New York Times)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

World's Dumbest Terrorists

(Bloggers: On Your Marks)

Since we know Bush has been publicly crowing about finding and shutting-down terrorist financial connections since almost the day after 9/11, today's little skit against the New York Times seems aimed not so much at protecting "secret" programs as at turning Americans against their own Freedom of the Press. The NSA warrantless surveillance scandal gave us the Bush M.O.: use ridiculous arguments that leave everyone rolling their eyes except the vital Red State swing vote that never, ever reads a major newspaper, and gets everything they know from Fox News. Broadband is expensive and anyhow, who has the time? What with two-and-a-half jobs just to make ends meet in the Bush Tax-Breaks-for-Halliburton-Millionaires Economy?

The job for bloggers is to dig up video, audio, and news ink that shows just how stupid the Bushies believe us to be. To get things started, here's a photo of the high-profile FBI raid of the Muslim charity the Holyland Foundation in Richardson, Texas back in 2001. Which we are not supposed to remember until it's Great Victories in the War on Terror Day, rather than Bad-Guy Newspapermen Who Love Al Qaeda Day. Google like crazy until we have the video and audio clips of Bushies hollering that they will attack terrorist financial networks, like THIS ONE. Post it here. Swamp the Internets (sic) with it, so that even poor slobs in Cucamunga County, Ohio, or wherever, will have to see that they are being played for suckers, just like the rest of us poor slobs.

This smells like a set-up: at the next terrorist attack, Bush (through Cheney) can say it's the fault of the Free Press, and cook up evidence of a terrorist so dumb, he didn't know the U.S. was watching for him until he read it in a paper. Sort of like that gang of Goobers in Florida which was supposed to bring down the Sears Tower. My main gripe? Jeez, if you're going to insult my intelligence, I expect you to put a little more thought into it. First Faris, the guy who was supposed to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch, then Jose Padilla, who was going to blow up a dirty bomb in New York until he was - oops! - actually going to blow up gas mains in an apartment building. We pay good tax money for these guys to keep us scared in the War on Terror. I want my money back.

Like always, incumbent Democrats grovel and cower, which only dignifies arguments which rightfully should be getting Republicans laughed out of the Capitol Building. Calls to investigate the "damage" done by the NY Times? Great! Why don't we hear calls to investigate the damage done by the betrayal of Valerie Plame? Who was a real, live intelligence officer doing real work on tracking weapons of mass destruction? Whose blown cover may yet make it easier for our enemies to attack us, unlike the blown cover that just tells us what we already know: that the Bushies are busy gathering little bits of dirt on EVERY ONE OF US, in case it might ever come in handy? Conspiracy? You steal two elections, start an unprovoked war, make all your buddies filthy rich beyond imagination...naaw, there's no conspiracy...

``Unless they were pretty dumb, they had to assume" their transactions were being monitored..." -Victor D. Comras , former US diplomat in charge of efforts at the UN to combat terror financing, ("Terrorist funds-tracking no secret, some say" Boston Globe)

Friday, June 16, 2006


please circulate

Iraq Debate: What Fighting Democrats Would Say

This will be short and sweet. It doesn't take much to see that Democrats are wasting their chance to hammer back on Iraq, and take down the talking points Republicans have been using from the start to generate support for the Iraq war:

-The choice is to stay in Iraq or "cut and run and wait for them to regroup and bring terror back to our shores." ( Dennis Hastert)

-A timeline sends the message to the terrorists that if they persist long enough, they can take over the country.

-If we had left Iraq when the cut-and-runners wanted us to, we wouldn't have killed Zarqawi.


-It's not cutting and running, it's getting the war on terror BACK ON TRACK, by securing the victory in Afghanistan, focusing on bin Laden, and getting our troops out from the middle of a civil war. Our presence in Iraq is LOSING the war on terror, not winning it.

-We are not fighting terrorists "there" so they won't "regroup" and come to "our shores." We are creating MORE of them by being there, who can then come here. Our moral standing in Afghanistan is unassailable, since they harbored the people who attacked us. Our immoral presence in Iraq negates this and loses the battle for hearts and minds.

-Saying a timeline would encourage the insurgency gets it EXACTLY BACKWARDS. The OCCUPATION encourages the insurgency, not talk about ending it. A timeline sends a message to terrorists that we have the WILL to take the battle to Al Qaeda, attacking cells around the world and recognizing the global nature of the threat. Not wasting resources fighting people who legitimately want us out of their country and away from their oil.

-Who cares if we killed Zarqawi? There is already another Zarqawi in place, and there will be another and another and another for as long as we are in Iraq. Was getting the Iraq bad-guy-of-the-month worth the life of a single one of our troops? Not to me.

-The best way to honor the sacrifices of our troops is for us, safe here at home, to be MANLY enough to acknowledge mistakes and get the war on terror back on track. And whether or not a man has died in vain is for God to decide, not George Jesus Bush.

It's clear the American people are ready to hear these things, if only the "opposition" will articulate what the people are already thinking. Polls show Americans have made the leap to understanding they can support the troops without supporting the mission, which is why this is less prominent in Republican talking points. But Democrats in their mealy-mouthed cowardice, with rare exceptions, are refusing to take it the rest of the way. Understandable. It's not their kids who are dying. Oh yes, guess who just asked us for a timeline? Two key members of the Iraq government, including the Kurd representative.

Am I getting paid 120 grand plus benefits to come up with these points like the politicians who are, and aren't? No, and it isn't rocket science anyway. My reward is not having to see my sons and brothers go to that vile, disgusting war and come back either dead or shells of what they used to be. How vile? One photo they have shown in basic training, according to the Atlantic Monthly, is of what's left of one soldier after a hit from a roadside IED. The article says no part of him across the side of a Humvee is bigger than a cigarette pack. A couple of guys always puke. FOR GOD'S SAKE GET OUR CHILDREN OUT OF THERE!

"You know who wants us to stay in Iraq right now? Al Qaeda wants us there because it recruits people for them. China wants us there. North Korea wants us there. Russia wants us there." --Congressman John Murtha