Friday, September 19, 2008



The Think Progress article about Bob Woodward's analysis omits the major reasons why violence dropped in Iraq during the surge. Muqtada al-Sadr, the powerful Iraqi cleric who has led much of the resistance to the US occupation, did two things: (1) he asked his militias to stand down in early 2007, although he maintained his condemnation of the occupation and called for mass protests, and (2) he urged unity between Sunnis and Shi'as, which helped reduce Iraqi sectarian violence.

The 'success' of Bush's surge (a euphemism for escalation of forces) is pure GOP propaganda, but Democrats, including Obama, won't openly criticize it because they cower in fear that McCain & Co. will call them unpatriotic. Unfortunately, most of the US media repeat the Bush-McCain claims about the surge without examining the situation any further, as well as the Republican line that any criticism of Bush's military policy amounts to callous disregard for our heroic soldiers.

The media also refuse to acknowledge that the 'Victory in Iraq' slogan is a fraud, since military occupations aren't won, they can only be ended either by withdrawal of the occupier's troops or by resumption of fighting and bloodshed (i.e., occupation is replaced by active war).

US victory in Iraq can only mean total defeat of Iraq, including all those resistance militias that have popular support, which doesn't square very well with the stated goal of "liberating" the Iraqi people, and it probably isn't even possible -- wars between invaders and guerrilla forces are never completely won by the invaders.

Al-Sadr is a young man who doesn't have to worry about stuff like getting reelected or opinion polls. He can maintain his truce as along as he thinks it's necessary to do so, and then order his followers to start fighting again. As long as any US troops at all remain in Iraq, even Obama's smaller occupation force, we can count on a new flare-up of violence, especially when Iraqis see Exxon-Mobil, BP, and other western companies plundering their oil. Both Obama & McCain favor placing Iraq's oil resources under US & UK corporate control (remember the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Law benchmark?), which will require the protection of US troops. If the US launches an attack on Iran, it'll aggravate the situation in ways that we can't predict, probably resulting in a greater regional or even global war.

We can look forward to a long and bloody US involvement in Iraq, regardless of whether Obama or McCain gets elected in November. The only realistic way to end it is a complete withdrawal of US troops and military contractors as soon as possible. - Scott McLarty


Best bullshit of the campaign, don't you mean? - MF


But last week at the bungalow where she now lives at Virginia Beach, a faded seaside resort 200 miles south of Washington,

Would that Virginia Beach, where my youngest daughter practices medicine and lives with her firefighter husband and two kids? It's now a frigging city. Lots has happened which the phony Brit writing this is unaware of. Maybe this was just a phone interview or are the writer's powers of observation so diminished as to put the rest of this account into question? - Emil Franzi, Tucson


Thomas Friedman, who invented the theory in 1996, said people in McDonald's countries "don't like to fight wars."

McDonald's began and flourished in the U.S., so this theory contradicts itself. . . When I was in Nicaragua in 1984, I saw a McDonald's in Managua. Again, the theory has been falsified. - Peter, Vancouver CA


Who needs Willie Horton when we have a new OJ trial coming-up? Imagine a new opportunity for the public to vilify a black celebrity and take psychic revenge on the one who got away. This OJ thing is big trouble brewing for Obama. It will create a very bad atmosphere for him to be running in and he won't be able to shut it off. - Chris


After years of reading and enjoying your newsletter I have to take exception to your Sept 8th issue. It was discussing the way you took out after McCain and Palin. Both are strong people who can handle the jobs they are running for. Who else could live through the five years of torture that McCain did? He is strong and honorable and shows he has courage and tenacity. Palin has proven herself in Alaska. She is strong and resourceful and just what we need to plug the holes in the budget. She can do a man's job without losing her femininity or taking away from her family. Hilary should have been indicted when Bill left office. Her background is full of dishonesty and she is pure evil. I think you people just don't like people running our government who believe in the Ten Commandments and the Constitution. I didn't think I would ever accuse you of yellow journalism, but I think you have just displayed it in this issue. As for McCain's temper, if I had just spent 5 years being tortured in a prison camp, I think I would be a little crabby at times, too.

Writing of McCain's temper a reader notes that "Being in disagreement with the likes of Kit Bond and Thad Cochran ought to be construed as points in McCain's favor."

It is really disgusting to see the Democrats resorting to the same kind of smear campaigns that they have always accused (with reason) the Republicans of doing. When gossip and name calling replace real journalism, we are in a heap of trouble.

One major problem with the Obama campaign is their constant use of moral equivalence. They argue that a tactic is fine because the other side "did it first". This is troublesome because it ignores the fact that there is a difference between right and wrong. Again it comes down to the "end justifies the means" philosophy of the Obama camp which I personally find morally repugnant.


As a small business owner, I've been saying this for years. Unfortunately, small business consistently votes Republican because they have fallen for the Conservative sales pitch--and the media does not distinguish between IBM and Main Street. The NFIB, as well, seems to be all about big business, but touts itself as being for the small entrepreneurs. You'd think we'd be tired of being scammed. . .

Of course the GOP is bad for business. If your basic policy is to drop all regulation and oversight, then businessmen are going to go wild with greed. The inevitable result is such disasters as the internet bubble and the housing bubble and next the oil bubble.


Russia's problems are nothing compared to U.S's. The feds are bankrupt with tons of debt in the hands of their enemies, no troops to fight the wars they've already started, a collapsing economy, the prospect of ten dollar a gallon gas once Iran is attacked and the Suez is full of sunken US. ships. Venezuela will cut off petroleum to U.S. and Russia, Europe's main source of lpg, will ostracise them from heat. The U.S. can do nothing to Russia short of a surprise nuke attack and hopefully Cheney's bunker is locked.


Disturbance (war, crime, weaponry) has been escalating for thousands of years. All the wisdom of the ages has not been enough to de-escalate disturbance. This is because the chestnut of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" has never been cracked, and it's never been cracked because "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" is rooted in transaction itself. Two things exchanged cannot be of exact equal value, and therefore there is fractional robbery on top of every fair exchange.


How does one determine 'correct priorities' in the first place? Are you not aware that curiosity about why coffee stains formed on a counter top helped lead to the development of Chaos Theory? It is amazing how often something so mundane as coffee stains leads to a monumental scientific breakthrough. Coffee stains on a counter top---an intriguing display involving the extraordinary interplay of fluid dynamics and convection systems. Ought to be simple to describe, yet the mathematics remained elusive.


Would be interesting
to see if these same store chains are seeing growth in online sales while in-store sales decline thus driving the need to close brick 'n mortar stores.


It isn't covered in the article, but I wonder if the smaller home wind generators cause the same problems that big wind farms do. Perhaps wind energy is best produced in a smaller scale setting.


Between 1982 and 1992, in spite of raising the drinking age to 21, the United States experienced a lower rate of decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities than in the following countries:

United Kingdom: 50% decline
Germany: 37% decline
Australia: 32% decline
Netherlands: 28% decline
Canada: 28% decline
United States: 26% decline

This downward trend in drunk driving across the industrialized world shows quite clearly that the 21-year old drinking age in the United States was, at best, the least effective measure to limit drunk driving amongst these developed countries.


As someone who has suffered through the humiliations of an adulterous affair (as the cheated on partner, not one of the cheaters), I am here to tell you the wounds left by this are searing and brutal. Until you've been on the receiving end of such treatment.

As a 50+, old-school feminist and proud of it, I've learned one thing for certain: the 21st century American male may be less of a prude, but he's at least as big of a hypocrite when it comes to sexual practice and double-standards as his Victorian forbears. And something about a number of the with regards to the Edwards thing tells me this fact is not gonna change anytime soon. Women are still objects of sexual gratification to males, firt and foremost; they may be legally sanctioned or socially approved objects (as the term 'partner' implies); but they're objects nonetheless. And when a man decides to assert his 'primal right' of penetration of another female object of his choosing, in contravention of the vows or commitments he's made to the first object, well then--after all, the feeling of objects can't really count for very much, can they? And the lovely term 'consensual' makes everything all right in their minds. (I often wonder just what, in the recesses of their brains, the term 'consensual' really means to most men anyway. Somehow, I think its' connotations are a bit different than they are for many women.) For all of their advanced, 'progressive' thoughts on this subject, most of the men here come off sounding as primitive in their real feelings as any 19th century roue. Nearly all men, given the right circumstances and opportunity, are quite capable of committing rape, and justifying the act in their own minds. Again, how much pain or violation can an object feel anyway?


Anyone paying attention to the article can see that scientists discovered something new and unexpected about absorption from this experiment. Whether the original intent meets some self-appointed anti-science neanderthal's notion of a good way to spend research money, that results speaks for itself.


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