Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Published: July 14, 2008
CHICAGO — The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.
The differences on Iraq in this campaign are deep. Unlike Senator John McCain, I opposed the war in Iraq before it began, and would end it as president. I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown.
In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.
But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge....Click here for remainder of Op-Ed.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
July 12, 2008
On Wednesday, the US Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation permitting government spying, including giving immunity to telecommunications companies involved in secret domestic surveillance programs. With the stroke of George W. Bush’s pen, the US is now a police state by definition.
The extent of the spying program, and its larger implications, have been revealed by Mark Klein, who blew the whistle on secret domestic spying program of Bush/Cheney’s National Security Agency (NSA) and AT&T: AT&T whistleblower: spy bill creates infrastructure for police state
The update of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, called the “FISA compromise,” or more appropriately, the “spy bill,” largely completes the triumph of the Bush/Cheney administration and a bipartisan criminal consensus. By convenient design, the FISA revision derails pending lawsuits filed against the Bush administration’s corporate spying partners (AT&T, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon), silences (the largely empty-to-begin-with) congressional investigations into the Bush administration’s illegal domestic spying program....Click here for remainder of post.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A longtime North Carolina state employee has chosen to retire instead of lowering flags to honor former Sen. Jesse Helms, saying in an e-mail that the late conservative had a "doctrine of negativity, hate and prejudice."
U.S. and state flags flew at half-staff on Monday and Tuesday following an order from Gov. Mike Easley. Helms died Friday.
L.F. Eason III, director of the state Standards Laboratory — which calibrates equipment for critical measurements such as the weight of medicines or trucks on a highway — told his staff to ignore the directive. He sent workers an e-mail saying he didn't think it was appropriate.
"I don't see how anybody could celebrate his career," the 51-year-old said in an interview, noting Helms' opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the filibuster to stall the effort to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday. "Everything he did was such a disservice to this state."
Eason, who had worked for 29 years at the Department of Agriculture, requested the option to retire Monday after his superiors overruled his decision and ordered the flags be lowered. Eason wrote an e-mail to the governor and other supervisors saying he could not in good conscience honor Helms.
The governor's orders were for state agencies to keep the flags lowered until Tuesday at sunset — after Helms' funeral and burial. The flags were flying at full-staff Wednesday.
A spokesman with the agriculture department did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.
Ironically, Eason's unyielding stance mirrored the man he refused to honor. Helms steadfastly stood by his positions throughout his career, frustrating fellow lawmakers for an unwillingness to compromise.
Helms' political career made him a lightning rod for controversy. He entered politics in helping elect segregationist candidate Willis Smith to the Senate in 1950 and continued a drumbeat of racial division until his final campaign in 1996.
The conservative icon also clashed with gay activists by opposing domestic AIDS treatment.
"I can't say my hardheadedness is the same as his," Eason said. "Maybe it is the same level of conviction. I'd like to think that it's more righteous than Jesse's."
Saturday, July 05, 2008
guardian.co.uk, Friday July 4, 2008
Senator Jesse Helms, member of the US Senate's foreign relations committee for two decades and its chairman from 1995 to 2001, has died at the age of 86. To echo this newspaper's memorable comment on the death of William Randolph Hearst, it is hard even now to think of him with charity. From his earliest years, Helms's attitudes recalled those of an earlier southern bigot, Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi, who so outraged his Senate colleagues, that they eventually refused even to let him take his seat.
There was never a comparable risk for Helms, who maintained an old-world courtesy in his personal contacts. But that was only on the surface. He became one of the most powerful and baleful influences on American foreign policy, repeatedly preventing his country paying its UN contributions, voting against virtually all arms control measures, opposing international aid programmes as "pouring money down foreign rat holes", and avidly supporting military juntas in Latin America and minority white regimes in Southern Africa.
In domestic politics he denounced the 1964 Civil Rights Act as "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress", voted against a supreme court justice because she was "likely to uphold the homosexual agenda", acted for years as spokesman for the large tobacco companies, was reprimanded by the justice department and the federal election commission for electoral malpractice, and compiled a dismal personal record as a slum landlord....(Click here for remainder of article).
Friday, July 04, 2008
Would someone please kill this disgusting drug addicted fat pig? Oh, never mind. I'm sure that he'll eat himself to death soon enough.
By Nick Mangiaracina, Kansas City Star Contributing Writer
Ah, there’s nothing like the smell of $400 million in the morning. This is the amount Rush Limbaugh will be paid via Clear Channel for his continued service to this country -- not including an additional $100 million signing bonus. The deal continues Clear Channel’s quest to lower radio standards to the point where there will be only talk radio and Top 40 stations on the radio. On the plus side, Howard Stern still remains the highest paid radio personality of all time.
It’s good to see that America still has standards in that it values a man who has made a career out of getting women to take their clothes off over one who has made a career out of being wrong and making ridiculous statements.
Not only has Limbaugh made a career out of thinking he’s the voice of reason, but he’s done so while contradicting himself and making outrageous and/or distasteful claims along the way.
One incident came in 2003 when Limbaugh admitted to abusing prescription drugs and later sought help for his “problem.” This came after Limbaugh’s repeated attacks on drug abusers and insistence that they be treated as criminals.
He has said, “Too many whites are getting away with drug use...Too many whites are getting away with drug sales...The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them, and send them up the river, too."...(Click here for remainder of article).