Monday, November 28, 2005

Musings 85--Curveball puts Bush behind 8-ball...

Now that we are all stuffed to the gills on turkey and dressing, it is time to get back to politics and world events. Sitting in my living room on Greasy Ridge, I can still keep up with world events. Dish Network is the best thing to hit civilization since the invention of the indoor flushing toilet.

Mr. President has been running around the world looking for someone who likes him. I guess if he looks far enough he will find somebody--maybe. With VP Cheney making statements about the media "rewriting" history, Mr. President seems to be going on the offensive. He better be careful since there are bunches of information being dug up daily on the misinformation campaign used to sell the Iraq war to the American people.

A fine piece of reporting for the LA Times by Bob Drogin and John Goetz on November 20th, 2005, goes into how the administration used the informant "Curveball" to their advantage, even though they were told by German intelligence that he was not to be trusted. According to the article: "This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear that we could not verify the things he (Curveball) said." The Times article said that the German's warned, "he is not a stable, psychologically stable guy." Another German agent called him, "not a completely normal person."

Curveball is the one who told the administration that there were mobile labs and that these labs could "brew up enough weapons grade kill thousands upon thousands of people."

Curveball was believed over the United Nations inspection teams that were scouring Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction. In hind sight, the UN guys had it right, but Mr. President and the Dark Lord were not interested. You must put this into perspective by remembering that the administration did everything in its power to discredit the UN during the run up to the war.

VP and Mr. President point to the CIA, saying that Director George Tenet said it was a "slam dunk" on finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Tenet has said no one told him that Curveball was not a credible source.

David Kay was appointed to take over the job of finding weapons of mass destruction by Tenet. The following is an excerpt from the LA Times piece:

"One CIA-led unit investigated Curveball himself. The leader was 'Jerry,' a veteran CIA bio-weapons analyst who had championed Curveball's case at the CIA weapons center. They found Curveball's personnel file in an Iraqi government storeroom. It was devastating.

"Curveball was last in his engineering class, not first, as he had claimed. He was a low-level trainee engineer, not a project chief or site manager, as the CIA had insisted.

"Most important, records showed Curveball had been fired in 1995, at the very time he said he had begun working on bio-warfare trucks. A former CIA official said Curveball also apparently was jailed for a sex crime and then drove a Baghdad taxi.

"Jerry and his team interviewed 60 of Curveball's family, friends and co-workers. They all denied working on germ weapons trucks. Curveball's former bosses at the engineering center said that the CIA had fallen for 'water cooler gossip' and 'corridor conversations.'

"...Jerry and another CIA analyst abruptly broke off the investigation and took a military flight back to Washington. Kay said Jerry appeared to be nearing a nervous breakdown."

So after all this, Mr. President and his merry men still went to war. Rewriting history, says the Dark Lord VP...Facts are facts, I say.

I guess you could say that "Curveball" has put Mr. President behind the 8-ball, and when you are behind the 8-ball you seldom have much of a shot. Mr. President, Thanksgiving is over, but I smell your goose cooking.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Musings 84--Bomb the news, torture prisoners...

So the President wants to bomb Al-Jazeera (Link One) and the Vice President is for torturing prisoners (Link Two) ---what else is new?

These are the guys who were going to give us a kinder gentler country. They were going to unite us rather than divide us. They were going to show us how to have compassionate conservatism. I think we were misled...just a tiny bit.

When I was a kid, World War II was a vivid memory to all of the adults that raised me. The decades of the fifties and sixties saw the remnants of the Hitler regime tried for their sins. Americans led the way. We would not torture and kill like the Nazi's did. We were above such barbaric behavior.

Since the compassionate conservative president came to power, we have done nothing but spiral downward in the eyes of world. The so-called Christian nation has shown that it can be just as brutal and uncaring as Hitler and his goons. Somewhere, our leaders have bought into the idea of rendition (holding prisoners in other countries) and torture. Somehow, our president thinks that it might be justified to bomb a news organization with a different slant than his. Rumor has it that Tony Blair was the voice of reason.

Al Jazeera is the CNN of the Muslim world. To say that it is always right would be like saying that CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC never make mistakes. It would also be like saying that Fox News has no bias. Al Jazeera serves a purpose, and, I dare say, it is about as good as we can expect from that part of the world.

Mr. President wanting to blow them up is laughable--if it were not so tragic. It just goes to show that the administration is clueless about what makes the Middle-East go around. Maybe if there had been Head-Start when he was a kid, he would have read a book on the subject before embarking on his goal to democratize the world.

The VP, on the other hand, should know better. I firmly think that he is the Dark Lord that has taken Mr. President over to the dark side. Granted it was a short trip, but Cheney's friends don't even recognize him anymore. (Link Three) When that evil gets a hold on you, it changes you. Torture does not work. It has never worked, and, even if it did, we should not do it because we are above such things. We--meaning Americans--are better than that, even if our leaders are not.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Musings 83--Ten soliders in two days...

There are a lot of things that I could be commenting on today, but I have chosen not to. The death toll in Iraq is now 2079 and climbing with more than 15,000 wounded. The following three verses sum up my feelings on the Iraq War. (See the link)

We've lost ten soldiers in two days...
Ten of our best are gone.
Our leader says we must stay the course,
But, we've still lost ten soldiers in two days.

Today, ten families have sorrow and grief...
Ten soldiers they bade farewell.
The President says they will not be forgotten,
But, ten families still have sorrow and grief.

We've lost ten soldiers in two days..
To this there seems to be no end
For the many familes with sorrow and grief.
We've still lost ten soldiers in two days.

It is good to have you home and safe and sound Lt. Col. Pat Ward. You did your time, now kiss the wife and hug the kid...a lot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Musings 82--Words can hurt...

Fox News talking head Bill O'Reilly spews as much hate speech as anyone on the planet. The comments he made about San Francisco voters are well over the line of fair comment and criticism, which is the journalistic standard for such comments.

Here is the O'Reilly quote: (Also, see link)

O'REILLY: Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead. And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

Now, I may not be the sharpest nail in the bag, but I know that this is way over the line. O'Reilly is always talking about "giving aid and comfort to the enemy" when someone criticizes the war in Iraq. He is also big on throwing around the term, "un-american." Well, there is nothing more "un-american" than saying that Al Qaeda should blow up a national landmark because of a ballot referendum.

I'm usually not one to jump on the band wagon for firing people, but Bill O'Reilly has definitely lost his mind. It has been rapidly happening over a period of time. He is nuts. By calling on Al Qaeda, even if it were a joke--which it was not, to blow up Coit Tower, O'Reilly has committed treason against his own people. He should be chastised in a most harsh way.

To my way of thinking, it is not the people that are against military recruiting in schools in San Francisco that are "un-american." It is the leading commentator of Fox News--Bill O'Reilly. Words can hurt. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but no one has the right to yell fire in a crowded building. O'Reilly yelled fire and death and destruction. Now he is saying that it was satire. Well, I know a bit about satire, and this is not it. He was angry, and he let his mouth overload his ass.

Between Mr. President's "Bring'em on" quote and O'Reilly's kill San Francisco folk, it makes one ponder if Al Qaeda is listening. Apparently they were listening to Mr. President because we have lost many more troops since his comment than we lost before. If the Coit Tower goes up in a blast, will Mr. O'Reilly feel any responsibility for it? These are Americans that live in San Francisco. If something happens, we will all know who planted the idea.

Fair and balanced...I don't think so.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Musings 81--Of bargaining and accuracy...

Tom Delay, R, Texas, is trying everything in his power to keep from getting convicted of a felony for money laundering. Ronnie Earles, the prosecutor, is nipping at his heels. (See Link)

It is so hard to feel sorry for the republicans who are in trouble. Delay, Sen. Bill Frist, Erv Libby, Pat Robertson, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh are all bobbing and weaving because they are in trouble through their own words or deeds.

Add to this list Scott McClellan, Mr. President's press secretary, who is wondering himself if he said "that's accurate." (I saw the clip--several times--on Keith Olbermann's show. He said, "that's accurate.") I have no idea what he meant to say, but I know what he said. I also know that it is changing history for the White House to change the transcript to, "I don't think that's accurate."

So Mr. President is out giving a speech today, and he has the unmitigated gall to accuse those of us who don't see things his way as being rewriters of history. Now that is the spin, spinning the spin, spinning the spinners. The evidence is clear--if you are looking. They cherry-picked facts to take us to war and 2060 soldiers are dead. Plus, we are not much closer to having Iraq under control than we were a year or two ago.

Getting back to Tom Delay, he has his lawyers trying to get mercy from Ronnie Earles. Now he wants to bargain or ask for mercy. Mercy is a word that Delay never used when he was rough-shodding his way in the house of representatives. He was called the hammer. There is no mercy in a hammer. Hit your finger with one sometime and see if it feels sorry for you. Thus, I think that Earles should play by Delay's rules--no mercy, winner take all, down and dirty.

I guess you could say that it is all on a wheel. It comes around if you wait...or, live long enough.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Musings're dead!

I took the National Rifle Association class to qualify for a concealed carry gun permit in the state of Ohio, Saturday. I know that this is going to sound like I am boasting, but these are the facts.

It was a rather exhausting 10 hour day going over stuff that I have known since I was a kid. But, it is good to go over gun safety to reinforce the dangers of stupidity.

There were about 20 people in the class. Many of them did not know much about guns or the shooting sports. For them, the fundamentals taught in the class were extremely important, and they seemed to take it very seriously.

They gave us a test consisting of about 75 questions. All the question were multiple choice and True or False. I missed one question. Go figure.

We finished up by going to the range and shooting a box of ammunition. The target above represents my effort at 17 feet (5.5 yards) with a .9mm Ruger P85 semi-automatic handgun. There are 22 rounds in that target with only one being outside the 8 ring. Most were in the 9 and 10 ring. I'm not sure I can shoot much better. Plus, I had 25 witnesses. My instructor concluded that I must have shot a "little" before...just a little. I will probably never shoot that well again, but, at least, I did once.

"I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was."--Toby Keith

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Musings 79--Denying torture is...well...torture...

One year ago George W. Bush defeated John Kerry for the presidency of the United States of America. My what a difference a year makes.

Mr. President is on the run from everything and everybody. His war in Iraq is a quagmire that appears to be the neverending story. His political capital, gained from his victory last year, is all but spent. It was used up on things like Social Security reform and Supreme Court nominations. Add to this Mr. President's handling of two hurricanes and women named Cindy and Valerie, and you get the lowest favorable ratings of a president since Richard Nixon.

Times are tough for the boy flash from Crawford. So then...let's go to South America and see what we can stir up. At the Summit of the Americas there were riots every night and press conferences every day.

Back in Washington, VP Dick Cheney, aka, the Dark Lord of the Sith, is lobbying to make the CIA exempt from the torture legislation put forth by Senator John McCain. We have to fight fire with fire, is the Dark Lord's motto.

Mr. President in his press conference in Panama stated that the U. S. doesn't use torture, but that he is against McCain legislation. Basically, he is against torture of our guys but not against using it on captured insurgents and al-Qaida. (See Link.)

Give it up Mr. President. We know that you are for doing anything to achieve a victory...somewhere. You have gone over to the John Kerry way of speaking--"I voted for the war before I voted against it." In Mr. President's case, it is "I'm against torture, but we really need it." He then gives his little crooked grin and the real torture begins.

On a lighter note:

Today is election day. One of the best things we can do is to go to polls and cast our vote. Over 2,000 dead Americans in Iraq will not have that honor this year. Don't gripe if you don't vote...well, okay, you can gripe, but just don't expect any change. Each vote counts at least once. However, I'm from Ohio and it could count more--or less--depending on the precint.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Musings 78--Pardon me...

The question is: "Why did a guy as smart as Irv "Scooter" Libby lie to the FBI and the special prosecutor--when his notes tell the truth?" The answer seems to be the question of the week. Well, I think I got the answer.

Old Irv is a smokescreen. He is also a good soldier willing to take one for the team. While everyone is jumping all bad on him, the real guys are getting their houses in order.

Apparently, old Irv is a very, very wealthy fellow. He comes from old money. Some have said that he is one of the richest fellows in the Bush Administration. Now that is saying a lot because there are no poor folk in Mr. President's administration. I figure that Irv will fight it with all his resources, and if he is still found guilty--which might take a couple of years--will serve light time in a minimum security prison. There will be no Bubba's in his future.

Now Karl Rove is another matter. Since everybody knows what he did, even though it apparently is not a crime, he now has to get on with life. His lack of integrity in outing Valerie Wilson will haunt him for the rest of his life. I really think that he will be forced out of Mr. President's administration. Republicans are starting to think out loud. They are thinking that Karl ought to go. Senator Trent Lott is loudest of these out loud thinkers. He is still pissed off about losing his majority leadership job in the senate. He blames Karl Rove, and he is probably right. Revenge is a dish best served cold!

Bill Frist, Lott's replacement, has screwed up about everything he has touched. The Security & Exchange commission is hot on his blind-trust butt. His family is big into health care. The love of money is the root of all evil, and republicans sure verify that old bible teaching. Maybe that ought to be added at the bottom of the ten commandments. It could be like 10.1. But anyway, they sure love the hell out of their money and are willing to bend any rule or make any deal to get some.

I have digressed from my main point a bit. So I will get back to it. In the outset of this column I said that I knew why Irv was that dumb. Well, it is simple, really...Irv is not that dumb. As previously stated, he has fallen upon his sword for the home team. It will only hurt for a little while because Mr. President will pardon him. Mark it down, you heard it first here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Musings 77--Taxing the view...

I've lived in or near the scenic country most of my life. I guess I have come to take it for granted. Folks who live in places that are mostly concrete and steel spend lots of money to get out into the country for a weekend. They like getting back to nature.

I drive about twelve miles to work each and every day. I motor in from a place that does not appear on most maps--Greasy Ridge, Ohio. We are not on a mountain, but it is as close as you can get.

Driving the ridge road--a narrow twisting turning snake without guard rails--is common place to us "Ridge Runners." I mean, what do you need guard rails for if a tree will do just as well. Of course you may drop a hundred feet of so, but, it all works out.

There are places on Greasy Ridge where you are looking out over the hills, and on a clear day you can see forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but it was a neat song title. You can see for several miles, though.

Anyway, I was browsing the web for news and came up the story about a "view tax." (See link)
Now that is a novel idea. Pay for the view. It is kind of like cable television with electricity.

I have often felt that the people in New Hampshire were on the cutting edge of new things. You hear all the time about stuff coming out of there. Stuff like...ah..."view taxes."

I figured that after they taxed the air we breathe there could be no other tax ever levied. Boy was I wrong. Now they want to tax the "view." It is truly great when you know that you have not lived long enough to have seen everything. It gives one hope. Besides, I own 250 acres on Greasy Ridge and the view is great. So if they ever tax it, then the value will go up, up, up, and I can buy me a concrete townhouse that has a window that looks out onto the wall of the building beside me. I doubt there will ever be a wall tax...but, I could be wrong.

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