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:: Friday, May 07, 2004 ::

Dear Senator

It appears my own Senator (Hutchison) made the inane comment that 2000 or so schools had been built in Iraq. That leads me to wonder, has anyone asked the Iraqis what the correct ration of innocents raped and tortured to "new schools" is? Because I'm betting that 2000 schools doesn't even begin to cover the tab for one "riding elderly woman around for kicks", much less the total bill we just accrued at Abu Ghraib.

Here's a bit fat hint for my Senator: No number of new schools can erase the damage we did. Rape and torture, Senator Hutchison. Not of the guilty, but of innocents as well. Not isolated incidents, but systematic abuse from the top down. The Iraqis aren't going to care how many schools be built. Neither will any Americans with the slightest shred of conscience or human dignity.
:: Morat 11:36 AM :: ::

Let's talk Lieberman

First, he's an idiot. I've long suspected this, but his comments today leave no doubt. Let's start with the least stupid of his statements:
Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman is not joining the chorus of Democrats calling for Rumsfeld's resignation. Lieberman said when the nation is at war, it's the wrong time to replace the top man at the Pentagon. But he said Rumsfeld must show he has no 'personal guilt' in order to keep his job.
Lieberman? Joe? Honey? If the top man at the Pentagon is a screaming incompetent "war-time" make replacing him more urgent not less.

Grow a brain. In peace-time, his idiocy would waste money. Right now, it's wasting lives.

Now onto the bigger idiocy. According to some Kos posters, Lieberman also stated "'..many people have apologized and that is right. But I cannot help but point out that those who killed 3000 people on 9/11, those who killed our soldiers in Iraq have not apologized'".

What the hell does that have to do with anything? We're the United Stated of America. We shouldn't be raping and torturing people in the first place. (We'll ignore 9/11, since terrorism and Iraq aren't synonyms anywhere outside Bush's brain.)

And not to put a fine point on it, but if we're raping and torturing Iraqis, what are the Iraqis supposed to apologize for? "We're sorry we were trying to keep from getting arrested, stripped, and having broomsticks shoved up our asses?"

I can't believe Lieberman wants to play "moral high horse" here and now. Get this through your head, Joe. Because of what we did in Abu Ghraib, we pretty much ceded the moral high ground to Iraqi insurgents.

I'm guessing, Joe, that if we were invaded and our invaders started rounding people up and raping and torturing them (wait, sorry. "Abusing them and sodomizing them with chemical lights. So far") that you'd be shooting back yourself.
:: Morat 11:06 AM :: ::

Rumsfeld's Testimony

Quick hits:
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he is taking full responsibility for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody.
Speaking to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Rumsfeld said that as secretary of defense, he is accountable for what happened to the prisoners.
I don't think anyone doubted Rumsfeld had to say this. It was either him or Bush, and we all know how Bush feels about the "s" word and the "r" word.
Some Democratic lawmakers have called for Mr. Rumsfeld to resign -- but President Bush said Thursday that the defense secretary will remain in his cabinet.
Because allowing torture isn't really a "firing offense". It's not like Rumsfeld told the truth to Congress or anything. Just because there was a little rape and torture under his watch doesn't mean he should be treated like, say, a General who made the mistake of giving an expert assessment of the troop levels needed to pacify Iraq.
The controversy began last week after a U.S. television network aired photos of Iraqi prisoners, some naked, posed in humiliating positions.

The chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, told the committee today that he regrets CBS's decision to broadcast the photos.

The general says he asked CBS not to air the photos, citing concern that the photos would anger Iraqis and endanger the lives of U.S. troops and hostages held by Iraqi insurgents.
I'm sure he wishes CBS hadn't aired them, because then we wouldn't know.

But I think he's indulging in the same racism and stupidity as the idiots at Abu Ghraib if he thinks the Iraqis weren't completely aware of what was going on.
:: Morat 10:47 AM :: ::

Slave Reward Offered for Capture of British Women Soldiers

This is the whole reason for the Geneva Accords. We treat their people decently, they treat ours decently. We abuse -- sexually and otherwise -- their people, and they abuse ours. Good going, Rumsfeld.
Iraqi worshippers were told today that anyone who captures a female British soldier can keep her as a slave.

A senior aide of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also called on supporters to launch holy war against British troops in Basra.
I'm so damn disgusted. We're America .We're not supposed to be in the rape and torture business. Because we are, our troops are in even more danger than they were. They already had an impossible job. Now it's worse...much worse.

But then I find out we are. And not only that, the President doesn't seem to care. Rumsfeld should be out on his ass, for starters, and anyone involved to the highest levels of government. The unit those soldiers belonged to should be buried. Everyone responsible, up and down the chain of command, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of military or civilian law. Anyone who knew, but kept silent, should be drummed out of the military and ostracized.

If Bush was half the Christian he claims to be, not a single person involved -- whether by commission or omission -- would ever be in a position to do this again. Arrested, jailed, prosecuted, kicked out of the Army, out of the government.

But nope. Bush is like a daycare owner who found out his head of HR was hiring convicted child-molesters. He's very sorry that children got molested, and he's certain those darn molesters will be prosecuted. And then looks puzzled that his sympathy doesn't seem to be enough, and is confused as to why his business is failing......(Link via Counterspin)
:: Morat 7:41 AM :: ::

Torture in Iraq

I read a few days ago (sorry, no link) that CBS had been asked -- and they agreed to -- hold of their 60 Minutes piece on Abu Ghraib for two weeks, to let some of the tensions in Iraq die down. Sounds reasonable, and I'm sure that's the vast bulk of the reason.

But I can't help but wonder about the timing. After all, it was two weeks ago that the Supreme Court heard the Gitmo case and Padilla's case. I wonder how receptive the Supreme Court would have been to White House arguments about indefinite military detention had they known what was happening at that very moment in Abu Ghraib?

I don't doubt that the recent revelations will sway the courts thinking. It's hard to buy the White House argument of "Trust us!" when we've got photographic proof that they can't be trusted an inch. But I can't help but wonder how much of a difference it would have made had those pictures become part of the Supreme Court argument, and not turned up "after the fact".
:: Morat 6:54 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, May 06, 2004 ::

Weird...but good

Just got back from the hospital. They didn't find a blockage, which was a bit odd. The stress test clearly indicated a blockage where the stent was, but upon examination there was nothing there.

On the one hand, that's good, as it's been several months since they placed the stent, and if it was going to block up again it would have. On the other hand, I'm not sure what's going on with the stress test or the chest pain.

While we were waiting, I lost three bucks playing cards with my brother. It appears he cheats better than I do.
:: Morat 2:10 PM :: ::

:: Wednesday, May 05, 2004 ::

Mortgage Companies

You know, my mortgage company loaned me a lot of money. A lot of money. Money that, in theory, I'm going to be paying to them for the next few decades. So that leads into the question: Why is it that my specific loan counselor -- and his supervisor -- never return phone calls? Why is it that they've got a badly designed website that makes it look like I'm perfectly current, but really almost a month behind?

You'd think they'd be very interested in getting their money on time. Until today, I thought I was perfectly current on my mortgage. Turns out, not quite the case. So I get to dig up another mortgage payment this month (in addition to the one I mailed off last week), and that will square everything away with the mortgage company and I can go back to my normal life of mailing them a check once a month.

Theoretically.

In the meantime, I'll go back to banging my head against the wall. Not from the money, but from spending two hours on hold, having to fight with customer service, in order to finally reach the sole human being in the entire company who has my file and can help me.

It's a large company. It holds, in my area alone, literally thousands of notes. So why is it, exactly, that only this one guy can help me? And why do I get the guy who doesn't ever return phone calls? ARRGGGHHH.
:: Morat 3:06 PM :: ::

Light posting...

Posting will be light today and tomorrow. My father's in for surgery -- again -- so I'll be a bit busy. On the bright side, we found the problem before he had a heart attack this time, so things are considerably less frantic. I just wish he'd take the hint, and maybe start taking better care of himself.
:: Morat 10:51 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, May 04, 2004 ::

Computers, speeding tickets and me

I need a new home machine. Mine is getting old, cranky, and unreliable. Judging from the "back of the envelope" calculations I've made -- and assuming my monitor continues to work, which is debatable -- I need about 500 dollars to upgrade my system to something that will keep me going until next summer. Luckily, I can cannibalize my video card, one of my hard drives, my OS and a variety of other "incidentals", but I still need one large hard drive, a motherboard, a processor, RAM, and a new case. I'd love a CD-Burner, but can certainly live without.

It's days like this that I wish I had Atrios' traffic. I'm pretty sure that, with 20,000 hits a day -- or whatever insane traffic he gets -- a hundred people would be willing to throw 5 bucks towards a home-built system. Still, if anyone wants to donate, you can hit my Amazon or Paypal setups. Or just continue to Annoy Tom Delay, which makes me even happier than the thought of a new motherboard. (And yes, when I do get this puppy together, there will be some quality time spent with various games. Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Temple of Elemental Evil, Star Wars: Galaxies, City of Heroes, Warcraft III....the list goes on!)

But since I don't, I'm stuck doing it the hard way.....saving a bit each week. A plan which came in darn handy when we got a note in the mail indicating that my wife's speeding ticket had gone to warrant. It tapped out my "I need a new computer" fund, but I had the cash to pay off the ticket.

Oh well. Half the fun is poking around for a solid deal on the components. I just wish that case designs hadn't gotten so ugly lately. Since this computer will, in the fullness of time, end up my son's, I'm okay with the clear sides and the blue neon (Caleb thinks it's neat, and I'm all for him being interested in computer innards), but I do prefer a dash of style. Not some neon-loaded box that looks like the unholy offspring of a toaster and a cheese-grater.
:: Morat 9:14 AM :: ::

White House Wrong on Medicare

In keeping with his campaign promise to "change the town" I fully expect Bush to demand the resignation and prosecution of those involved:
Bush administration officials were wrong to prevent a budget expert from giving Congress estimates of the cost of Medicare legislation, congressional researchers have concluded.

In a report made public Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said efforts to keep Richard Foster, the chief Medicare actuary, from giving Democratic lawmakers his projections of the bill's cost -- $100 billion more than the president and other officials were acknowledging -- probably violated federal law.
Hahahahaha! No, I'm just kidding. Bush would never fire Karl Rove!
:: Morat 7:01 AM :: ::

:: Monday, May 03, 2004 ::

Someone told me this today

Just a brief tidbit for you, from a forum discussion somewhere. We were discussing Fallujah, and I mentioned the problems associated with digging out insurgents, especially when the civilian populace is armed almost as heavily. (To wit: People getting shot at are going to shoot back, whether they're guerrillas, insurgents, or average joes. And in Iraq, even the average joes tend to have some serious firepower). In response, I was told:
i'm talking from first hand experience with soldiers over in iraq, who have been in iraq, some who have stayed for over a year's time in iraq. the world isn't all what you read. $100 to $200 is unaffordable to many who can't afford to feed their families, let alone clothe them. I'm talking about the iraq from people with first hand experience, i'm talking about the pictures i've seen that have been smuggled out of the country, i'm talking about the iraq that exists, not the one in your smug world view is confined to.

There is no open profliguration of heavy weaponry. It's valuable. An rpg launcher is given by warlords to their minions with the expectation that it is not lost, that it is not captured. They exist in limited quantities. The average Iraqi can't afford weaponry. This is reality. The insurgents are better armed then the french in world war 2, but this isn't france and this isn't world war 2. The militias may have a plentitude of AK's, but it is still small arms fire, it isn't heavy weaponry. you can't take out a bradley with an AK.

Try talking to the soldiers themselves, the people who are serving our country to get the real story of what is happening, not the media. It will be a real eye opener for you. Of course, that would force you to live in the real America. Where real Americans are dieing in this war, not some statistic to be read in the Christian Science Monitor.
I mean, what do you say to this? Are there actually people out there who really think that AK-47s and RPGs are hard to get ahold of in Iraq? Who actually think that average Joes can't put their hands on one (assuming they don't already have three of four) on short notice? Is this really a controversial notion? I can understand debates over what's the right move to make in Iraq, or debates over means versus methods, or any of a thousand other things.

But this? Weird.
:: Morat 1:22 PM :: ::

Darwin-Free Fun for Creationists

I shouldn't laugh. But I do.
Robert and Schon Passmore took their children to Disney World last fall and left bitterly disappointed. As Christians who reject evolutionary theory, the family scoffed at the park's dinosaur attractions, which date the apatosaurus, brachiosaurus and the like to prehistoric times.

'My kids kept recognizing flaws in the presentation,' said Mrs. Passmore, of Jackson, Ala. 'You know -- the whole `millions of years ago dinosaurs ruled the earth' thing.'
It reminds me of a 'Letter to the Editor' I read once, in which a reader castigated a Houston paper for printing "stories claiming the Earth is billions of years old" on the front page, where "anyone can read it". She suggested that such trash be left to an insert, or at least that a "Christian friendly" variant of the paper be printed.

In other words, she felt that modern science was the equivalent of pornography. It should be relegated to back rooms and seedy alleys, lest some unsuspecting child learn the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

I shouldn't laugh, but I do. It's sad, it truly is. But Mr. and Mrs. Passmore are making a claim no less ridiculous than those made by flat-earthers, and -- in this day and age -- it's depressing that they don't realize it. The Earth is old, ladies and gentlemen. It's age is measured in the billions, not then tens of thousands....and that fact is no more in dispute than that of the Earth's shape.
:: Morat 8:35 AM :: ::

11 Troops Killed in Attacks In Iraq

What on earth is going on in Fallujah?
Eleven U.S. service members in Iraq were killed in four attacks by insurgents late Saturday evening and Sunday, including six who died in a mortar attack, the military reported. Meanwhile, the former Iraqi general chosen to head a new force here denied there were any foreign fighters in the city, calling into question his commitment to American military objectives, and a top U.S. commander said later the general would not be allowed to lead the armed men he has already assembled.
[...]
One U.S. military official said that step could prove tricky. "We've just told him he can form a brigade and take over the city," the official said. "Now we're telling him that he has to step aside? Do we just expect him to go home?"
The eleven deaths are tragic, although such high casualties are becoming depressingly frequent, but what the hell is going on in Fallujah?

We're turning it over to Saleh? We're not? We are? Someone make up your damn mind. This is the damn military. Ideally, the Marines on the ground are going to be following orders, and the people with the rank of "General" are going to know what those orders are. Given the way Iraq has been going, my inner cynic predicts that, by the time this is all said and done, the Fallujah insurgents will have another 600 troops and be lead by a General.
:: Morat 7:01 AM :: ::

:: Sunday, May 02, 2004 ::

U.S. hostage Hamill escapes captors in Iraq

Good news!:
American hostage Thomas Hamill was found by U.S. forces Sunday south of Tikrit after he apparently escaped from his captors, the U.S. military said.
It's nice to see the occasional bit of good news out of Iraq.
:: Morat 7:27 AM :: ::

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