Sunday, December 31, 2006

3,000

As we celebrate the end of 2006, the United States has just passed another milestone in our war against Iraq.

From Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq has reached 3,000 since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, an authoritative Web site tracking war deaths said on Sunday.

The milestone comes as President George W. Bush weighs options, including more troops, for the deteriorating situation in Iraq, where daily violence plagues Baghdad and much of the country and has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.

The Web site, www.icasualties.org, listed the death of Spec. Dustin R. Donica, 22, on December 28 as previously unreported, and said that 3,000 U.S. military personnel had now died. U.S. military deaths in Iraq reach 3,000

The President, refusing the advice of his generals and of the blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group, insists on escalation and "victory," though no one will know when we have attained that; not only does the "war" have no objective, we don't know who the enemy is. Normally victory in war is defined by the surrender of one side; in this case, the Iraqi people have no official spokesman who could surrender for them -- not that they would, but it would at least be a way to know the war was ended.

So we continue to fight, and Americans and Iraqis continue to die.

42 Comments:

Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Wow, everybody must be sleeping "IT" off...no comments yet...well, I guess I will just have to fix that!

First off, for any of you wondering, I am ok. Yes, the snow storm hit here pretty hard, and I have spent a little over 12 hours of my Christmas vacation clearing snow from my sidewalk (as required by city code) and driveway, not to mention helping my immediate neighbors. As long as we do not have too warm a Spring, the snowpack ought to get us thru another year.

On to the subject at hand...the "3,000" mark in casualties in Iraq.

While every military death is a tragedy, it is primarily a tragedy to parents, siblings, extended family and friends.

What makes our present day military different is that it is an all-volunteer force (and please don't insult these fine men and women with any Kerry/Rangel slurs about those who can, do, while those who can't, go into the military...though if you are tempted to do so you might want to take a look see at some comments posted here,

Responding to Rangel, Part I

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/
?id=110009311

and here,

Part II
http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/
?id=110009315

and here,

Part III
http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/
?id=110009319#rangel

and here,

Part IV
http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/
?id=110009363

and here,

Part V
http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/
?id=110009372

and here,

Part VI
http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/
?id=110009373

before slurring those offering the ultimate sacrifice).

And what of that number that seems to be getting so much airplay? Well, context is everything...just look at the numbers here,

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/
A0004615.html

for battle deaths.

Militant Islam has all the major elements that define a totalitarian political regime except one (well, I guess two...since militant Islam is primarily stateless in nature, though it seems to find a few thugish regimes willing to help them out such as Syria and Iran): it is religious in nature, whereas the Stalinist Soviet, Maoist Chinese, The Third Reich in Germany (responsible for the combined deaths of over 100 million people...violent deaths I might add) were all secular.

There is no getting around the fact though that a major part of the reason we are fighting and have substantial military assets in the Middle East is because we have a strategic interest in a natural resource: OIL.

Having finally caught up with some movies I have been meaning to watch, I saw the movie Syriana and it is one of the better movies I have seen of late. What I liked best about Syriana is not that it was completely and totally factual (because I suspect it took liberties with facts as do most movies), but that as a socio-political fable it spoke the truth about American foreign policy in that region; that is, that the US has traded long-term principles for short-term economic advantage (read: "cheap" oil).

Yet, while watching a string of movies I also watched the movie Osama, the story of a mother and her daughter in Taliban ruled Afghanistan. From watching this movie I have a slighty better understanding of the depths of barbarism that these folks are willing to descend to in order to maintain their theocratic rule.

So, back to those numbers...

World War II (1940–1945)
Total servicemembers 16,112,566
Battle deaths 291,557
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 113,842

291,557 deaths...when was the 3,000 mark passed back then? How would our world be different if we had decided to "cut and run"?

Yes, we do have mixed...even impure motives for being in the ME, of that there is little doubt. And yes, the US has had a hand in enabling the despotic regimes that inhabit this region. But now that we have the "tiger by the tail" what do we do???

I can walk or bicycle to work (though not with the speed, safety and comfort of my 1985 Jetta) if I had to to avoid five, six and seven dollar a gallon gas. How many Americans would be willing to make a similar sacrifice? This, in a nutshell, is OUR dilemma. Is there a single US political leader, in or out of office, that would be willing to speak this truth and move us all in this direction? I would LOVE to see such a leader step forward...though I would dare say that this person's poll numbers would make our present President's numbers appear stratospheric by comparison.

January 01, 2007 2:26 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Orin, this stuff about Rangel and Kerry is just silly. Somebody needs to talk about the reality of an all-volunteer military, who goes into it, the quality of applicants and costs associated with that. If knee-jerk conservatives want to take that discussion off the table, it merely means that the government has no control over the resources they hire or how to deploy them optimally. Any HR department needs to be able to rate talents and aptitudes and put staff where they're needed, military included; and plummeting enlistment standards present certain complications to the military. There's no insult in saying that. And ... are these guys still going back to Kerry's screwed-up joke? Please tell me you understand what happened there.

Rangel is shocking, yes, when he says we should have a draft -- his argument only works when you know there's no way anybody would agree to it, because it would mean the sons and daughters of the rich would go to war, too. As for calling his ideas or Kerry's a "slur," that's just annoying rhetoric and should not be taken seriously.

You seem to be saying that "only" 3,000 Americans dead is no big deal, by comparing this to other wars. Fighting Germany and Japan, sorry, not comparable. We just got back home from a tour of visiting grandpa's who still suffer without complaint from injuries received in that war, and neither has any regrets. This war in Iraq is unjustified and indecent, and every loss is a huge cost that America should never have had to pay.

I think the hook in your comments about the movies you've watched is mention of a slighty better understanding of the depths of barbarism that these folks are willing to descend to. The problem there is the phrase "these folks." You watched a movie about Afghanistan, but the war under discussion occurs in Iraq. There are not the same folks. Iraq was a secular nation, Afghanistan wasn't and probably never will be. Big, big difference. There was nothing like a Taliban running things in Iraq. Now strict Islamic customs are being enforced, but they weren't before we attacked them.

As for oil being in the middle of this, it is odd that we haven't taken the oil, if that was our goal. Why is it still two and a half bucks a gallon? Why have we pissed off the Saudis, who are key to maintaining our oil supply? Remember, Iraqi oil was going to pay for the rebuilding of Iraq. Instead, it's American tax dollars paying for corrupt contractors to fail to rebuild. If the plan was to control the oil, we have done a terrible job of it, and in fact it is hard to see how we've even given it a good try. C'mon, Iraq's a mess, they barely have a government, and essentially no army -- why didn't we just take the oil if that's what we wanted? It should be thirty cents a gallon now -- what happened?

The only theory I can see that holds up, about why we went to war, has to do with enriching the defense contractors. Controlling the oil and competing with daddy are still contenders, but I think the good luck of the contractors through all of this is more explanatory.

It appears you want things to be better there, and I even think you might be willing for the US to take some of the blame for the disaster, but your comment seems quite confused.

JimK

January 01, 2007 4:24 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim writes,

Orin, this stuff about Rangel and Kerry is just silly.

"Silly"??? For who? Not for those serving in our military, and of that you can be sure.

Again Jim,

Somebody needs to talk about the reality of an all-volunteer military, who goes into it, the quality of applicants and costs associated with that.

I could not agree more...though it is clear that Kerry and Rangel are NOT equiped to facilitate this discussion...at least not without leveling slurs and insults at those carrying on the fight.

And finally (for now at least),

And ... are these guys still going back to Kerry's screwed-up joke? Please tell me you understand what happened there.

I understand precisely what happened...I saw the tape, the context, etc. The "joke" intended to crack was a joke at the expense of those not present, exposing his prejudice with regards to our military, and (mercifully) making him permanently disqualified (in a political sense since he can always run, the only question is who will back such a candidate) to ever be President of the United States (much like Chappaquidick did for Sen. Ted Kennedy).

Point of fact - it was not a funny joke.

You want 30 cents a gallon gas and you suggest my comments are confused??? Americans need to wake up to the reality that LIKE it or NOT we will be involved in that region until such time as we collectively take the steps needed to achieve energy independence...and that will not happen while wishing for the return of under a dollar gas.

January 01, 2007 7:28 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Orin, tell me this: do you really think Kerry was saying that the troops are uneducated?

I mean really.

JimK

January 01, 2007 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The President, refusing the advice of his generals"

Different members of the military command have different views. None are TTFers.

"and of the blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group,"

Dismissed almost immediately by most editorial pages and political strategists from both sides. A laughable and unrealistic document.

"insists on escalation and "victory," though no one will know when we have attained that;"

Right now, we need to drop the "equip the Iraqis" strategy and focus on maintaining order. Once that's been established, we can start building up the government there.

The Iraqis are disillusioned by us not because we are present but because we have allowed chaos to thrive.

"not only does the "war" have no objective, we don't know who the enemy is."

Of course we do. It's those who oppose self-determination for the Iraqis- or anyone else for that matter.

"Normally victory in war is defined by the surrender of one side;"

There are multiple parties who need to surrender but we'll know when it happens.

"in this case, the Iraqi people have no official spokesman who could surrender for them -- not that they would, but it would at least be a way to know the war was ended."

Your insult to America is comtemptible. We aren't at war with the Iraqi people. They turned out overwhelmingly to vote in an election we made possible. Their spokesman is the government they elected. It's obvious the Baath party doesn't and never did represent them. It may come to represent a minority group by exploiting their ignorance but that would be a tragedy.

January 01, 2007 10:36 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Anon, your sense of what America is and represents is what is contemptible.

Orin, I really find it difficult to comprehend that you didn't understand Kerry's joke. But let's accept that for a moment. Now tell me which was more contemptible -- Senator Kerry's joke, or President Bush's joke: "No WMDs here. Nope, none here under the table . . . "?

January 01, 2007 11:40 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Much of this exchange illustrates how raw emotions are on the issue of this war. My view of the John Kerry remark is that it clearly was, in fact, a botched joke, the butt of which was supposed to be George W. Bush, not the troops in the field. My view of George W. Bush's attempt at humor at the 2004 White House Correspondents' dinner ("Nope, no WMD here," as he looks under a table in the Oval Office) is that it reflected an unwarranted confidence that the War was still a wise thing to do, because Iraq would become a secular democracy and a beacon for democratic values (as we see them) in the Middle East -- not a mindless callousness regarding the human loss of war. Those comments notwithstanding, I think John Kerry is something of an elitist in attitude if not policy; and I think George W. Bush does not fully appreciate the human cost of war (if he did, he would have found some other way to make jokes at that 2004 event).

Orin's point about our need to be energy independent is correct. It is unclear from his post as to whether he would be in favor of the path we have taken in Iraq were we energy independent.

I do not have an ideological opposition to the use of American military force overseas for "good" purposes. We finally did the right thing in Kosovo, for example; and we really had no choice in Afghanistan. But, to quote that great philosopher Spiderman, "With great power comes great responsibility." The United States has the responsibility to have a clear-eyed view of what is possible and what is not possible. Sadly, as President, George W. Bush was not up to the task, and both the country and the world are the worse for it.

Once the "surge" that apparently is coming proves to be a failure, we will have to find a way to extricate ourselves from the mess we made. President Ford's funeral is a reminder of how painful the consequences of improvident military choices can be. We will have the same obligation toward those Iraqis who cast their lot with us as we did toward those Vietnamese who did the same. Ford sought to fulfill that moral obligation as best he could. Senator Kennedy has recently written that we will need to do the same re Iraq.

In 28 years between the fall of Saigon until our invasion of Iraq, American foreign policy (either by design or by standoffs between the President and the Congress) generally struck the a decent balance in the military sphere. We need to find our balance again.

January 02, 2007 1:01 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim writes,

Orin, tell me this: do you really think Kerry was saying that the troops are uneducated?

I mean really.


Yes, I do...really, though I see the comment Kerry made as the product of a man who is much smarter than he is wise (hence the reason I rate wisdom as a higher virtue than smarts).

And like I said, Kerry did the American electorate a BIG favor by showing his true self...

January 02, 2007 2:42 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Well, that's just sad. A little vicious miscontrual in the service of a political agenda, I understand. But believing it ... that's pitiful.

JimK

January 02, 2007 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerry's excuse is what's sad. He may not have thought it through but he clearly has a delusional superiority complex. That's why he's actually considering running again. He doesn't realize Americans already know him and don't really like him.

January 02, 2007 3:52 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Orin,

I would expect better of you. When you see the whole clip of Kerry's presentation, it is pretty obvious that he was saying that if you are ill-informed, then you make terrible decisions like getting us into a war in Iraq. A clear jibe at President Bush.

At some point, we all need to stop playing gotcha with out-of-context snippets of what politicians say. If we keep playing that game, it will make it that much more difficult to have reasoned discourse about important issues facing us.

January 02, 2007 4:02 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

David, you and I think that way, but somebody like Orin doesn't distinguish. He really believes that Kerry meant to insult the troops.

I can't find a generous way to rationalize that.

JimK

January 02, 2007 4:09 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim writes,

Well, that's just sad. A little vicious miscontrual in the service of a political agenda, I understand. But believing it ... that's pitiful.

News Flash Jim: what we are talking about here is POLITICS.

Still, I do find it interesting that you characterize Sen. John Kerry's "joke" as A little vicious miscontrual since I am use to hearing this sort of rationalizing, minimizing kind of talk from my 17 year-old, and not a fully grown, mature and educated adult.

It was that single comment that sealed his political prospects of ever becoming President, but his public record, from Vietnam until the present time has shown him to be unfit to hold the highest elected office (and to be bipartisan, I also include John McCain for a whole host of reasons, not least for co-sponsoring a campaign "reform" bill that clearly violated the letter and spirit of the First Amendment).

Where is a Henry "Scoop" Jackson when the Democratic Party so badly needs one?

David chimes in,

I would expect better of you. When you see the whole clip of Kerry's presentation, it is pretty obvious that he was saying that if you are ill-informed, then you make terrible decisions like getting us into a war in Iraq. A clear jibe at President Bush.

Ah, the "official" versus the "unofficial" transcript duel...

Yes, I have seen both, found here,

http://www.johnkerry.com/news/
speeches/speech.html?id=18

and I hope I don't disappoint, but I judge what people SAY and what they DO, not what they mean to say and do. And this holds true whether it is John Kerry slurring (once again) those in our military, or Trent Lott wishing for a return of the Old South (as he did Strom Thurmond's bizillionith b-day party).

At some point, we all need to stop playing gotcha with out-of-context snippets of what politicians say. If we keep playing that game, it will make it that much more difficult to have reasoned discourse about important issues facing us.

Enough of wishfully wishing for the good old days...American political campaigns have been vicious mean contests. Lincoln, arguably the greatest President this country has ever had (perhaps ever) was called all manner of mean and nasty names; in fact, visit any number of libertarian websites and you are likely to read of an ongoing campaign to defame the "log splitter".

And this whole talk of reasoned discourse about "important issues" reminds me of a segment I heard on NPR today where one of the correspondents was asking someone what were the important issues, and there was some dismissive talk about how same-sex marriage and ESCR are little more than right-wing attempts to distract the electorate from what the "real" issues are...made me laugh. Still, NPR is the best news source on the radio.

And then Jim responds to David,

David, you and I think that way, but somebody like Orin doesn't distinguish. He really believes that Kerry meant to insult the troops.

That is correct because that is what he said and I take people at their word (and I hold them accountable).

I can't find a generous way to rationalize that.

Just as I cannot find a generous way to rationalize (esp. given the comments that Kerry has made over the course of his public life) the comments that Kerry delivered (as opposed to the words he said he meant to deliver) at Pasadena City College.

Oh, and while I am at it...the person that Kerry was stumping for...Phil Angelides...is well known in California as the master operator of sleazy campaign tricks, so I took a certain delight in the trouncing he received at the hands of his opponent (someone I do not particularly care for either...but hey, the enemy of my enemy is my friend...right?).

January 02, 2007 8:01 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Orin, I am disappointed and don't care to pursue this any further, but if you hold people at their word, why don't you accept his explanation?

JimK

January 02, 2007 8:49 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

Orin,

I looked at the link you provided with the Kerry prepared text and the text as presented. The prepared text was crystal clear. I guess you think that what he said was a Freudian slip. I disagree; it was just sloppy.

You seem to take me to task for "wishfully wishing for the good old days...American political campaigns have been vicious mean contests." To the extent that political campaigns are mean and vicious, they have not served us well. If we do not aspire to a higher standard, we will get a lower standard.

January 02, 2007 10:14 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Jokes aside -- Kerry served and Bush went AWOL. None of his cohorts served, either. You guys were all up in arms about Clinton's draft dodging, but nothing about these super-chickenhawks. Sad.

January 03, 2007 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your point is well taken, Dana, but Kerry's insult remains.

January 03, 2007 7:12 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

Well, I don't see it as an insult, my sons, of draft age don't see it as an insult, and I doubt most soldiers serving see it as an insult. More importantly, I doubt they consider it relevant to their lives in the least. I think they're more interested in the McCain Doctrine.

January 03, 2007 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well, I don't see it as an insult, my sons, of draft age don't see it as an insult, and I doubt most soldiers serving see it as an insult. More importantly, I doubt they consider it relevant to their lives in the least. I think they're more interested in the McCain Doctrine."

Dana,

There is zero possibility of a draft.

There's no doubt about it. War is horrible. The deaths are bad enough but multiple times as many kids come back maimed for life. We must do everything we can to bring it to a close but the war must be won. The world these kids will inherit if we don't will be unimaginably more horrible.

McCain has the right idea.

January 04, 2007 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In the last week more Americans have died in New Orleans than in Iraq. Since Dec. 29, there have been eight military deaths. In the Big Easy, there have been 14 murders."

January 05, 2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Yes, Brilliant One, but Americans live in New Orleans. It's in America.

How many Iraqis died during that period?

JimK

PS What an idiotic comment.

January 05, 2007 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to set you off, o gracious one. I was simply posting an interesting quote from NBC News.

January 05, 2007 7:41 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

So, NBC News was idiotic. What's your point?

JimK

January 05, 2007 8:11 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim writes,

So, NBC News was idiotic. What's your point?

Yikes! Are you sure you are taking your meds there Jim? You sound a little testy...perhaps it is the realization that the MCPS BofE does not share your worshipful POV with regards to statements from the medical establishment?

Anyhow, here is another vignette from the life of another American "loser" (well, at least if one accepts the "joke")...oh, and spare me your pity, sadness, lamantations, etc.

Oh, and the point is that there are other dangerous places where one can be...like New Orleans (a vile, wicked, degenerate...and, oh yeah, VIOLENT place; absolutely the last place I ever want to visit...).

Jessica Gaulke, a Minnesota beauty queen, is doffing her tiara to head to Iraq, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Gaulke, 22, short-circuited her reign as Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes to satisfy her commitment to her Minnesota Army National Guard unit, which will head for the war in August.

"I know it's the right decision. . . . It's been an emotional ride, a long one," said Gaulke, queen since July. "But six months as queen was better than nothing."


(James Taranto writing)
This reminds us of a couple of quotes by American political leaders:

* "You know, education--if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."--John Kerry*

* "If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career, or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq. . . . If there's anyone who believes these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No bright young individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment."--Charles Rangel

What a terrible country we live in, in which even a beauty queen has no opportunities. And think of what a loser the runner-up must be!

Hattip: OpinionJournal.com (Best of the Web for Friday, Jan. 5)

January 05, 2007 10:32 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Orin ...

Never mind

JimK

January 05, 2007 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quotes from another American political leader:

DUBYA: I appreciate the Secretary of Energy joining me today. He's a good man, he knows a lot about the subject, you'll be pleased to hear. I was teasing him -- he taught at MIT, and -- do you have a PhD?

SECRETARY OF ENERGY BODMAN: Yes.

DUBYA: Yes, a PhD. Now I want you to pay careful attention to this -- he's the PhD, and I'm the C student, but notice who is the advisor and who is the President.
Lusby, Maryland, Jun. 22, 2005
http://www.dubyaspeak.com/himself.phtml?year=2005

DUBYA: Andrew Biggs is with us. He is the Associate Commissioner for Retirement Policy of the Social Security Administration, Washington, D.C. In other words, he is an expert on the subject. Andrew, step forth. Let the people of Arkansas -- no, sit forth -- let the people of Arkansas --

DR. BIGGS: Thanks very much.

DUBYA: Tell them whether or not we got a problem or not, from your perspective.

DR. BIGGS: Put simply, we do, in fact, have a problem.

DUBYA: By the way, this guy -- PhD. See, I was a C student. He's a PhD, so he's probably got a little more credibility. I do think it's interesting and should be heartening for all C students out there, notice who's the President and who's the advisor. All right, Andrew, get going. Andrew's got a good sense of humor.
Little Rock, Arkansas, Feb. 4, 2005
http://www.dubyaspeak.com/himself.phtml?year=2005

"To those of you who've recieved honorns, awards and distinctions, I say well done, and to the C students... I say, you to can be President of the United States."
http://www.depresident.com/george-c-student-bush-video.asp

January 05, 2007 10:53 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

And this from the Washington Post (on the violence in the City of New Orleans),

Police spokeswoman Bambi Hall said that, after 19 killings in October and another 19 in November, December's total was 15. There were 161 homicides in the city in 2006. New Orleans's murder rate was seven to 10 times the national average for cities of its size in 2005, the latest period for which complete data are available.

Katrina did severe damage to the area...make no mistake; however, five years from now what I suspect will be found is that all the other areas will be rebuilt and revitalized, but New Orleans will continue to be a cesspool (literally) of violence and lawlessness.

Buy hey...it is the Big Easy, so what is wrong with a little violence and lawlessness? Just ask those most vulnerable...

January 06, 2007 7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...it is the Big Easy, so what is wrong with a little violence and lawlessness? Just ask those most vulnerable...."

Why would you ask the most vulnerable "what is wrong with a little violence and lawlessness?" Ask those most responsible instead.

Ask the Bush Administration about its response -- excuse me -- lack of response to the devastation wrought on New Orleans by Katrina.

Then you could ask Condi why while thousands die[d, she went] shopping.

And then ask the federal judiciary how they determined that the Bush Administration has "unconstitutionally denied aid to tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita".

You don't suppose any of these INactions by the Bush Administration has anything to do with the frustration level of residents of New Orleans do you?

January 06, 2007 3:04 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Orin Ryssman writes,

"...it is the Big Easy, so what is wrong with a little violence and lawlessness? Just ask those most vulnerable...."

To which Anonymous replies

Why would you ask the most vulnerable "what is wrong with a little violence and lawlessness?" Ask those most responsible instead.

The violence and lawlessness were clearly present in New Orleans long before Katrina even hit. And this same violence and lawlessness will apparently continue on for as long as local authorities tolerate it. By way of contrast, New Yorkers, tired of increasing levels of violence in their city elected Giuliani Mayor, who in short order initiated a crackdown of every infraction of the law (including jaywalking which locals are notorious for, and caused numerous complaints of being "too strict"). Guess what? By the time Giuliani left office, NYC was one of the safest cities for its size anywhere.

New Orleans needs a Giuliani, not someone that has already proven himself to be not up to the task, like Nagin.

Ask the Bush Administration about its response -- excuse me -- lack of response to the devastation wrought on New Orleans by Katrina.

That the response was slow, anemic,incompetent, etc. is without dispute. Still, all one needs to see is a picture of dozen upon dozen of school buses flooded to know that the local and state authorities also failed (in some cases miserably) in their duty to "to protect and to serve" those left in harms way.

Then you could ask Condi why while thousands die[d, she went] shopping.

Thanks, I read the story...amusing. I think she was in her rights to have that person physically removed. Oh, and what of those stories about women being raped in the Superdome?...opps, that never happened.

While the timing of personal time off was not the best, if this was her time off (you know, like in vacation time...I got Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off as a State of Colorado employee, and I took two days of vacation so I could have the entire week off...trust me, if someone heckled me like that I would not have been so "nice") then she is entitled to it.

What I suspect is the real gripe with AlterNet Editor Evan Derkacz is that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a successful black woman (she was the Provost at Stanford before going to work for GWB) that does not owe a damn thing to the Angry Left. Well, boo hoo.

And then ask the federal judiciary how they determined that the Bush Administration has "unconstitutionally denied aid to tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita".

I'll see you and raise you...read the entire article please, esp. this paragraph,

Advocates for storm victims say FEMA has resisted providing details about its programs to them or to applicants and has whittled down rolls by imposing obstacles to obtaining aid that is mandated under federal disaster laws. Administration defenders say that FEMA adopted tougher rules to combat fraud, and that plummeting rolls are a sign that victims have recovered and are moving on.

What is at work here is government bureaucracy, with all the reams upon reams of paperwork. Sure, let's eliminate that paperwork...just don't be surprised when fraud takes place, ok?

You don't suppose any of these INactions by the Bush Administration has anything to do with the frustration level of residents of New Orleans do you?

No, I don't suppose...though apparently you do.

This is one of the key areas where contemporary liberalism stands in stark contrast to anyone that values law and order as one of the key ingredients for civilized society. I refuse to infantalize the residents of New Orleans or in any way hold them to a lower standard, and if they want to improve their station in life, they will start insisting that local authorities do their job.

January 07, 2007 10:25 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Orin, great, that govt is best that governs least etcetera, but I would find it a little hard to change the way the rescue is organized, while you're standing in your attic neck-deep in stinking water, banging on the underside of the roof.

Also, I note that helicopters are being used to rescue cattle in Colorado. Why weren't they used in New Orleans, for instance to bring food to the people at the convention center? Why did it take a private citizen (Al Gore) to get an airplane in there and rescue people?

It goes beyond bureaucracy. Like Barney Frank said the other day, it was "ethnic cleansing by inaction."

JimK

January 07, 2007 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well it figures that's how you'd see it, Orin. Tell us, just how do you suppose those school buses were to be used to evacuate anyone if they were flooded in the parking lot? Before Katrina hit, why was FEMA mute to requests for help evacuating New Orleans residents? If Nagin had loaded up the school buses with evacuees, tell us where were those buses supposed to go? FEMA was not prepared to help evacuate or to accept busloads of evacuees before Katrina hit. THAT was the problem. When the Louisiana National Guard asked for 700 buses to evacuate residents from the SuperDome which had been stocked with only enough food for 36 hours, FEMA sent 100.

I remember this picture of hundreds of FEMA trailers rotting in the sun while displaced residents were kept away from their homes in New Orleans. These trailers were supposed to be set up in people's yards so they'd have a place to stay while the repairs to their homes were made. Instead, the trailers FEMA bought are not intended for use in flood-prone areas because they tend to rot. You gonna blame Nagin for that too?

And sorry, but I do not believe "administration defenders"' lying excuses about their inaction anymore. If you are rich and want a tax cut, this adminstration is for you. If you have a problem and need help, get in line right behind the energy corporations who get Bush-backed priority #1 corporate welfare to rake in record-breaking profits while in the 9th Ward, only 20% of residents have been able to return.

January 08, 2007 8:31 AM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Anonymous writes,

Well it figures that's how you'd see it, Orin. Tell us, just how do you suppose those school buses were to be used to evacuate anyone if they were flooded in the parking lot?

Uh....ever heard of "emergency preparedness"? Goodness (lol), even a Tenderfoot rank Boy Scout knows to "Be Prepared". New Orleans wasn't, and that is the bottomline line, not some Angry Left notion of "ethnic cleansing"

Before Katrina hit, why was FEMA mute to requests for help evacuating New Orleans residents?

Excellent question...though this does not relieve the City and State for their part in this mess; the Republican Party was punished at the polls last November...and what happened to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin? Oh, yeah (lol), he got RE-elected! Some people never learn...

If Nagin had loaded up the school buses with evacuees, tell us where were those buses supposed to go?

With an emergency preparedness PLAN Nagin and Gov. Blanco would have known where to send everyone. It would appear that they did not have a plan, or if they did, had not followed their plan. Good grief, New Orleans is located right on the coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and is not only prone to be in the path of hurricanes, but is a city that is located BELOW sea-level, not to mention a lake.

FEMA was not prepared to help evacuate or to accept busloads of evacuees before Katrina hit. THAT was the problem.

Nor should they...that is THE responsibility first and foremost of the local and State government. They dropped the ball first, an error that was compounded by the slow, inept...ok, I'll say it, incompetent response by the national government (it also exposed the fact that what is needed in the position of FEMA Director is a professional that is experienced and qualified to hold the position, not some political hack like Michael Brown).

When the Louisiana National Guard asked for 700 buses to evacuate residents from the SuperDome which had been stocked with only enough food for 36 hours, FEMA sent 100.

After the fact is sort of like trying to straighten deck chairs on the Titantic...get real.

And Jim writes,

Also, I note that helicopters are being used to rescue cattle in Colorado. Why weren't they used in New Orleans, for instance to bring food to the people at the convention center?

Because they were too busy rescuing local residents...didn't you follow the news reports?

Oh, and another difference between these two groups. New Orleans residents were told to get out...Colorado ranchers have nowhere to go. Three snow storms in two weeks, with another heading our way this Thursday...

Why did it take a private citizen (Al Gore) to get an airplane in there and rescue people?

Uh, maybe because the airport was in a flood zone?...I don't know, but I am sure you can tell me why...which issue of The Nation, In These Times or Mother Jones is that in?

January 08, 2007 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orin said, "After the fact is sort of like trying to straighten deck chairs on the Titantic...get real."

I couldn't have said that any better myself. The Bush Admininstration did NOTHING but reassure everyone the levees would hold before the storm hit. After the levees failed and they were done shoe shopping, house-hunting on the Eastern Shore, and fundraising, then Bush decided to fly over to take a look at what the storm had done. I bet he was hoping the deck chair levees would rearrange themselves.

Keep fuming about the Angry Left, Orin. Did you get a good look at the former House GOP leadership the day Nancy Pelosi was sworn in? I got a big laugh out of the facial expressions on that gang of angry white men.

January 08, 2007 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First person account by Greg Simon, President, FasterCures, about Al Gore's private assistance to get 270 New Orleans medical patients and evacuees airlifted to Tennessee.

January 08, 2007 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orin boo hooed ...Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a successful black woman (she was the Provost at Stanford before going to work for GWB) that does not owe a damn thing to the Angry Left. Well, boo hoo.

Get your facts straight. Condi was a Democrat until 1982 boo you

January 08, 2007 8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 15 friends serving in Iraq now and everyone of them are serving willingly and 10 extended there tours to stay in Iraq you are all cluelss.

January 11, 2007 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

U.S. is recruiting misfits for army
Felons, racists, gang members fill in the ranks
- Nick Turse
Sunday, October 1, 2006

After falling short of its goals last year, military recruiting in 2006 has been marked by upbeat pronouncements from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, claims of success by the White House, and a spate of recent press reports touting the military's achievement of its woman- and manpower goals.

But the armed forces have met with success only through a fundamental transformation, and not the transformation of the military -- that "co-evolution of concepts, processes, organizations and technology" that Rumsfeld is always talking about either.

While the secretary of defense's longstanding goal of transforming the planet's most powerful military into its highest-tech, most agile, most futuristic fighting force has, in the words of the Washington Post's David VonDrehle, "melted away," the very makeup of the armed forces has been mutating before our collective eyes under the pressure of the war in Iraq. This actual transformation has been reported, but only in scattered articles on the new recruitment landscape in America.

Last year, despite NASCAR, professional bull-riding and Arena Football sponsorships, popular video games that doubled as recruiting tools, TV commercials dripping with seductive scenes of military glory, a "joint marketing communications and market research and studies" program designed to attract, among others, dropouts and those with criminal records for military service, and at least $16,000 in promotional costs for each soldier it managed to sign up, the U.S. military failed to meet its recruiting goals.

This year, those methods have been pumped up and taken over the top in several critical areas that make the old Army ad tagline, "Be All You Can Be," into material for late-night TV punch lines of the future.

In 2004, the Pentagon published a "Moral Waiver Study," whose seemingly benign goal was "to better define relationships between pre-Service behaviors and subsequent Service success." That turned out to mean opening more recruitment doors to potential enlistees with criminal records.

In February, the Baltimore Sun wrote that there was "a significant increase in the number of recruits with what the Army terms 'serious criminal misconduct' in their background" -- a category that included "aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property and making terrorist threats." From 2004 to 2005, the number of those recruits rose by more than 54 percent, while alcohol and illegal drug waivers, reversing a four-year decline, increased by more than 13 percent.

In June, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that, under pressure to fill the ranks, the Army had been allowing into its ranks increasing numbers of "recruits convicted of misdemeanor crimes, according to experts and military records." In fact, as the military's own data indicated, "the percentage of recruits entering the Army with waivers for misdemeanors and medical problems has more than doubled since 2001."

One beneficiary of the Army's new moral-waiver policies gained a certain prominence this summer. After Steven Green, who served in the 101st Airborne Division, was charged in a rape and quadruple murder in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, it was disclosed that he had been "a high-school dropout from a broken home who enlisted to get some direction in his life, yet was sent home early because of an anti-social personality disorder."

Recently, Eli Flyer, a former Pentagon senior military analyst and specialist on the relationship between military recruiting and military misconduct, told Harper's magazine that Green had "enlisted with a moral waiver for at least two drug- or alcohol-related offenses. He committed a third alcohol-related offense just before enlistment, which led to jail time, although this offense may not have been known to the Army when he enlisted."

With Green in jail awaiting trial, the Houston Chronicle reported in August that Army recruiters were trolling around the outskirts of a Dallas-area job fair for ex-convicts.

"We're looking for high school graduates with no more than one felony on their record," one recruiter said.

The Army has even looked behind prison bars for fill-in recruits -- in one reported case, they went to a "youth prison" in Ogden, Utah. Although Steven Price had asked to see a recruiter while still incarcerated, he was "barely 17 when he enlisted last January" and his divorced parents say "recruiters used false promises and forged documents to enlist him."

While confusion exists about whether the boy's mother actually signed a parental consent form allowing her son to enlist, his "father apparently wasn't even at the signing, but his name is on the form too."

Law enforcement officials report that the military is now "allowing more applicants with gang tattoos," the Chicago Sun-Times reports, "because they are under the gun to keep enlistment up." They also note that "gang activity maybe rising among soldiers." The paper was provided with "photos of military buildings and equipment in Iraq that were vandalized with graffiti of gangs based in Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities."

Last month, the Sun-Times reported that a gang member facing federal charges of murder and robbery enlisted in the Marine Corps "while he was free on bond -- and was preparing to ship out to boot camp when Marine officials recently discovered he was under indictment." While this recruit was eventually booted from the Corps, a Milwaukee police detective and Army veteran, who serves on the federal drug and gang task force that arrested the would-be Marine, noted that other "gang-bangers are going over to Iraq and sending weapons back ... gang members are getting access to military training and weapons."

Earlier this year, it was reported that an expected transfer of 10,000 to 20,000 troops to Fort Bliss, Texas, caused FBI and local law enforcement to fear a turf war between "members of the FolkNation gang ... (and) a criminal group that is already well-established in the area, Barrio Azteca." The New York Sun wrote that, according to one FBI agent, "FolkNation, which was founded in Chicago and includes several branches using the name Gangster Disciples, has gained a foothold in the Army."

Another type of gang member has also begun to proliferate within the military, evidently thanks to lowered recruitment standards and an increasing tendency of recruiters to look the other way. In July, a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, found that because of pressing manpower concerns, "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" are now serving in the military. "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members," said Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator quoted in the report.

The New York Times noted that the neo-Nazi magazine Resistance is actually recruiting for the U.S. military, urging "skinheads to join the Army and insist on being assigned to light infantry units." As the magazine explained, "The coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war. ... It will be house-to-house ... until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and 'cleansed.' "

Apparently, the recruiting push has worked. Barfield reported that he and other investigators have identified a network of neo-Nazi active-duty Army and Marine personnel spread across five military installations in five states. "They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military," he said.

Little wonder that Aryan Nation graffiti is now apparently competing for space with American inner-city gang graffiti in Iraq.

In the latter half of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military started to crumble from within and American troops began scrawling "UUUU" on their helmet liners -- an abbreviation that stood for "the unwilling, led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful."

With a growing majority of Americans opposed to the war in Iraq and even ardent hawks refusing to enlist in droves, new policies creating a lower-quality officer corps and the Pentagon pulling out ever more stops and sinking to new lows to recruit and train troops, a new all-volunteer generation of UUUU's may emerge -- the underachieving, unable, unexceptional, unintelligent, unsound, unhinged, unacceptable, unhealthy, undesirable, unloved and uncivil -- all led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful.

Current practices suggest this may well be the force of the future. It certainly isn't the new military Rumsfeld's been promising all these years, but there's no denying the depth of the transformation.

January 11, 2007 7:20 PM  
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