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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Socialist Republican States Take 8 Out of Top Nine Biggest Federal Spenders


Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW)

Why we're against the war

Q: Why are veterans, active duty, and National Guard men and women opposed to the war in Iraq?

A: Here are 10 reasons we oppose this war:

1. The Iraq war is based on lies and deception.
The Bush Administration planned for an attack against Iraq before September 11th, 2001. They used the false pretense of an imminent nuclear, chemical and biological weapons threat to deceive Congress into rationalizing this unnecessary conflict. They hide our casualties of war by banning the filming of our fallen's caskets when they arrive home, and when they refuse to allow the media into Walter Reed Hospital and other Veterans Administration facilities which are overflowing with maimed and traumatized veterans.
For further reading: www.motherjones.com/bush_war_timeline/index.html

2. The Iraq war violates international law.
The United States assaulted and occupied Iraq without the consent of the UN Security Council. In doing so they violated the same body of laws they accused Iraq of breaching.
For further reading:

3. Corporate profiteering is driving the war in Iraq.
From privately contracted soldiers and linguists to no-bid reconstruction contracts and multinational oil negotiations, those who benefit the most in this conflict are those who suffer the least. The United States has chosen a path that directly contradicts President Eisenhower's farewell warning regarding the military industrial complex. As long as those in power are not held accountable, they will continue...
For further reading:

4. Overwhelming civilian casualties are a daily occurrence in Iraq.
Despite attempts in training and technological sophistication, large-scale civilian death is both a direct and indirect result of United States aggression in Iraq. Even the most conservative estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths number over 100,000. Currently over 100 civilians die every day in Baghdad alone.For further reading:

5. Soldiers have the right to refuse illegal war.
All in service to this country swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. However, they are prosecuted if they object to serve in a war they see as illegal under our Constitution. As such, our brothers and sisters are paying the price for political incompetence, forced to fight in a war instead of having been sufficiently trained to carry out the task of nation-building.
For further reading:

6. Service members are facing serious health consequences due to our Government's negligence.
Many of our troops have already been deployed to Iraq for two, three, and even four tours of duty averaging eleven months each. Combat stress, exhaustion, and bearing witness to the horrors of war contribute to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a serious set of symptoms that can lead to depression, illness, violent behavior, and even suicide. Additionally, depleted uranium, Lariam, insufficient body armor and infectious diseases are just a few of the health risks which accompany an immorally planned and incompetently executed war. Finally, upon a soldier's release, the Veterans Administration is far too under-funded to fully deal with the magnitude of veterans in need.
For further reading:

7. The war in Iraq is tearing our families apart.
The use of stop-loss on active duty troops and the unnecessarily lengthy and repeat active tours by Guard and Reserve troops place enough strain on our military families, even without being forced to sacrifice their loved ones for this ongoing political experiment in the Middle East.
For further reading: http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,FL_loss_092704,00.html

8. The Iraq war is robbing us of funding sorely needed here at home.
$10.3 billion per month is spent on a war which could have aided the victims of Hurricane Katrina, gone to impoverished schools, the construction of hospitals and health care systems, tax cut initiatives, and a host of domestic programs that have all been gutted in the wake of the war in Iraq.
For further reading:

9. The war dehumanizes Iraqis and denies them their right to self-determination.
Iraqis are subjected to humiliating and violent checkpoints, searches and home raids on a daily basis. The current Iraqi government is in place solely because of the U.S. military occupation. The Iraqi government doesn’t have the popular support of the Iraqi people, nor does it have power or authority. For many Iraqis the current government is seen as a puppet regime for the U.S. occupation. It is undemocratic and in violation of Iraq’s own right to self-governance.
For further reading:
10. Our military is being exhausted by repeated deployments, involuntary extensions, and activations of the Reserve and National Guard.
The majority of troops in Iraq right now are there for at least their second tour. Deployments to Iraq are becoming longer and many of our service members are facing involuntary extensions and recalls to active duty. Longstanding policies to limit the duration and frequency of deployments for our part-time National Guard troops are now being overturned to allow for repeated, back-to-back tours in Iraq. These repeated, extended combat tours are taking a huge toll on our troops, their families, and their communities.
For further reading:

Q: Why do Iraq Veterans Against the War call for the immediate withdrawal from Iraq?

A: There are several reasons why immediate withdrawal is the critical first step toward solving the problems in Iraq.

1. The reasons and rationale given for the invasion were fraudulent.
There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq during the time of the invasion according to US officials and former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix. The idea that Al Qeada and the 9/11 terrorist attacks were connected to Saddam Hussein and the Baath party were proven false in the 9/11 Commission Report. Members of the Bush Administration have admitted that they “misspoke” in the run up to the war.

2. The presence of the US military is not preventing sectarian violence.
The US occupation of Iraq has proven to be unable to prevent sectarian violence and halt an escalation towards a civil war. Despite having an average of 140,000 troops in country since the occupation began, internal violence and attacks against civilians and Iraqi security forces have been on a steady incline.

3. The occupation is a primary motivation for the insurgency and global religious extremism.
The insurgency can be broken down into many individually named factions with various goals, beliefs, and techniques. However, our membership of veterans believe that the occupation of Iraq is the primary thing encouraging the insurgency and giving it legitimacy in the eyes of many Iraqis. Likewise, other people of the Islamic faith are encouraged to resist America ’s policies internationally based on how they perceive our military operations in the Middle East.

4. We can no longer afford to fight this war of choice.
The financial burden is destroying our domestic programs that could be used to protect us from natural disasters, provide medical programs, or help improve education. We are jeopardizing the US economy and putting strains on the budgets of important government agencies like the Veterans Affairs Department.

5. National security is compromised.
Funds that could be used to protect our ports and transportation are being stripped away while our National Guard units are on constant deployments instead of being used to protect and defend us here at home.

6. The world is becoming more dangerous.
International terrorist attacks have increased and it has become more dangerous for Americans to travel abroad. Approval for US policy has decreased and the dislike of Americans has increased.
7. Our national “moral authority” is being undermined.
The US has lost credibility to much of the world as the defender of liberty and freedom and our national identity is eroding. We can no longer deploy our armed forces for peace keeping measures with the good faith of the international community. We need to regain the respect and faith of the global community. This begins by withdrawing our troops from Iraq and helping the Iraqi people rebuild their country and society.

8. The majority of American citizens, Iraqi citizens and US military would like to see an immediate end to the war in Iraq.
If we are truly a democracy and we aim to create a democracy in Iraq our leaders will represent the will of the citizens and lead according to their wishes.

9. The military is broken.
We are abusing the small population of armed service members with multiple deployments while using inadequate vehicles and equipment. Less than one half of a percent of the American population is serving in the active armed forces, which is the least amount in the last century. Only 25% of the troops in Iraq are there for their first tour, while 50% are there on their second tour, and the remaining 25% are there three times or more. We continue to involuntarily extend soldiers with Stop-Loss, recall them repeatedly for additional service using the Individual Ready Reserve, and send soldiers with diagnosed medical problems into combat.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Research 2000

Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 3/16-19. All adults. MoE 2% (3/8-12 results):

PRESIDENT OBAMA67 (68)28 (27)-2

PELOSI:39 (38)41 (42)2
REID:34 (33)47 (46)+0
McCONNELL:19 (20)54 (53)-2
BOEHNER:13 (14)57 (55)-3

CONGRESSIONAL DEMS:44 (43)48 (49)+2
CONGRESSIONAL GOPS:17 (16)72 (71)+0

DEMOCRATIC PARTY:53 (55)39 (38)-3
REPUBLICAN PARTY:27 (29)65 (66)-1

Full crosstabs here. This poll is updated every Friday morning, and you can see trendline graphs here.

Let's start with the graphs from Congressional Parties and national parties:

From 1/22, when everyone's spirits were highest, Congressional Republicans' favorability have dropped from 26 then to 17 now. The national party has dropped from 34 to 27, same time frame.

The Congressional Democrats saw a whopping 13-point net gain in their favorability ratings on Feb 26, and haven't looked back. That week (Obama's address to the nation — with Bobby Jindal's response — was Feb 24), the gain came mostly among Democratic respondents, who went from 68-31 favorable/unfavorable to 71-18, and Independents, who went from 38-55 to 47-44.

Hey, what about Congressional leadership? Oh, my.

I keep thinking John Boehner can't get any lower, but he keeps fooling me. He gets 37/25 (fav/unfav) from Republicans this week, and a 9/62 (fav/unfav) from Independents.

Meanwhile, Obama's slight drop from peak (now at 67/28) is made up of favorables that break out this way: 89/9 D, 73/23 I, 23/68 R. This Obama net favorability (fav minus unfav) by party shows that it's unhappy R's that drive the numbers down. Watch those independents.

And keep these fav/unfav/no opinion numbers in mind:

SOUTH     42 50 8
MIDWEST   73 23 4
WEST      75 20 5

The South is different than the rest of us  [at least as far as polling patterns].

It's all about educational levels I tell ya!

Research 2000

Thursday, March 19, 2009

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Israel troops admit Gaza abuses

An Israeli military college has printed damning soldiers' accounts of the killing of civilians and vandalism during recent operations in Gaza.

One account tells of a sniper killing a mother and children at close range whom troops had told to leave their home.

Another speaker at the seminar described what he saw as the "cold blooded murder" of a Palestinian woman.

The army has defended its conduct during the Gaza offensive but said it would investigate the testimonies.

The Israeli army has said it will investigate the soldiers' accounts.

The testimonies were published by the military academy at Oranim College. Graduates of the academy, who had served in Gaza, were speaking to new recruits at a seminar.

The climate in general [was that] lives of Palestinians are much, much less important than the lives of our soldiers
Soldier testimony

"[The testimonies] conveyed an atmosphere in which one feels entitled to use unrestricted force against Palestinians," academy director Dany Zamir told public radio.

Heavy civilian casualties during the three-week operation which ended in the blockaded coastal strip on 18 January provoked an international outcry.

Correspondents say the testimonies undermine Israel's claims that troops took care to protect non-combatants and accusations that Hamas militants were responsible for putting civilians into harm's way.

'Less important'

The Palestinian woman and two of her children were allegedly shot after they misunderstood instructions about which way to walk having been ordered out of their home by troops.

"The climate in general... I don't know how to describe it.... the lives of Palestinians, let's say, are much, much less important than the lives of our soldiers," an infantry squad leader is quoted saying.


In another cited case, a commander ordered troops to kill an elderly woman walking on a road, even though she was easily identifiable and clearly not a threat.

Testimonies, which were given by combat pilots and infantry soldiers, also included allegations of unnecessary destruction of Palestinian property.

"We would throw everything out of the windows to make room and order. Everything... Refrigerators, plates, furniture. The order was to throw all of the house's contents outside," a soldier said.

One non-commissioned officer related at the seminar that an old woman crossing a main road was shot by soldiers.

"I don't know whether she was suspicious, not suspicious, I don't know her story… I do know that my officer sent people to the roof in order to take her out… It was cold-blooded murder," he said.

The transcript of the session for the college's Yitzhak Rabin pre-military course, which was held last month, appeared in a newsletter published by the academy.

Israeli human rights groups have criticised the military for failing to properly investigate violations of the laws of war in Gaza despite plenty of evidence of possible war crimes.

'Moral army'

The soldiers' testimonies also reportedly told of an unusually high intervention by military and non-military rabbis, who circulated pamphlets describing the war in religious terminology.

A wounded Palestinian child is carried into the Kamal Adwan hospital after an Israeli air strike on 11 January 2009
Palestinian civilians paid a heavy price during the three-week Israeli operation

"All the articles had one clear message," one soldier said. "We are the people of Israel, we arrived in the country almost by miracle, now we need to fight to uproot the gentiles who interfere with re-conquering the Holy Land."

"Many soldiers' feelings were that this was a war of religion," he added.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that the findings would be examined seriously.

"I still say we have the most moral army in the world. Of course there may be exceptions but I have absolutely no doubt this will be inspected on a case-by-case basis," he said.

Medical authorities say more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed during Israel's 22-day operation, including some 440 children, 110 women, and dozens of elderly people.

The stated aim was to curb rocket and mortar fire by militants from Gaza. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians were killed.
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Israel troops admit Gaza abuses

Ex-Bush admin official: Many at Gitmo are innocent

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Many detainees locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush administration official said Thursday. "There are still innocent people there," Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. "Some have been there six or seven years."

Wilkerson, who first made the assertions in an Internet posting on Tuesday, told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo detainees were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a "mosaic" of intelligence.

"It did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance," Wilkerson wrote in the blog. He said intelligence analysts hoped to gather "sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified."

Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, said vetting on the battlefield during the early stages of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan was incompetent with no meaningful attempt to discriminate "who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation."

Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment on Wilkerson's specific allegations but noted that the military has consistently said that dealing with foreign fighters from a wide variety of countries in a wartime setting was a complex process. The military has insisted that those held at Guantanamo were enemy combatants and posed a threat to the United States.

In his posting for The Washington Note blog, Wilkerson wrote that "U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released."

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney fought efforts to address the situation, Wilkerson said, because "to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership."

Wilkerson told the AP in a telephone interview that many detainees "clearly had no connection to al-Qaida and the Taliban and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pakistanis turned many over for $5,000 a head."

Some 800 men have been held at Guantanamo since the prison opened in January 2002, and 240 remain. Wilkerson said two dozen are terrorists, including confessed Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was transferred to Guantanamo from CIA custody in September 2006.

"We need to put those people in a high-security prison like the one in Colorado, forget them and throw away the key," Wilkerson said. "We can't try them because we tortured them and didn't keep an evidence trail."

But the rest of the detainees need to be released, he said.

Wilkerson, who flew combat missions as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and left the government in January 2005, said he did not speak out while in government because some of the information was classified. He said he feels compelled to do so now because Cheney has claimed in recent press interviews that President Barack Obama is making the U.S. less safe by reversing Bush administration policies toward terror suspects, including ordering Guantanamo closed.

The administration is now evaluating what to do with the prisoners who remain at the U.S. military base in Cuba.

"I'm very concerned about the kinds of things Cheney is saying to make it seem Obama is a danger to this republic," Wilkerson said. "To have a former vice president fearmongering like this is really, really dangerous."

Ex-Bush admin official: Many at Gitmo are innocent

Limpballs the liar

H.R. 1424 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 on October 3, 2008, 91 House Republicans voted (roll call vote http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll681.xml ) for that bill. President Bush, a Republican, signed it into law.
Limpballs likes to tell his listeners to "check it out!" but he knows his listeners are stupid sheep who don't do "checking it out". That's why they listen to him. They want HIM to tell them what to think.