Thursday, August 31, 2006


A New Plan For Iraq

When George W. Bush spoke erm... gave a speech I mean... babbled today in Salt Lake City, he made the following statement:
We can decide to stop fighting the terrorists in Iraq and other parts of the world, but they will not decide to stop fighting us. General John Abizaid, our top commander in the Middle East region, recently put it this way: "If we leave, they will follow us." And he is right.

So I started thinking, "What if he's right?" And I came to the conclusion that the only way to know is is to put it to the test. So I have come up with a new plan for Iraq. I believe it is one that should be adopted by every Democrat currently in or running for office.

I say we immediately withdraw our troops from Iraq and redeploy them to Afghanistan WHERE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE TO BEGIN WITH! Then maybe they can finish the job they started, find Osama bin Laden, fight al Qaeda, keep the Taliban from regaining control of the country, test Bush's notion about them following us, AND we'd finally get the hell out of Iraq, all at the same time. And if it turns out that Bush is right and they do follow us, well hell, then it's a win-win situation, isn't it? We'll be out of Iraq and fighting the war against the enemy we should have been fighting all along.

Seems simple enough to me.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


What He Said

Sometimes, you just have to read it for yourself. Tonight, Keith Olbermann hit it out of the park. Watch it here or read it here. This should be required reading for every American. Absolutely brilliant.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


An Open Letter To Donald Rumsfeld

Mr. Rumsfeld,

In your speech to the American Legion's national convention in Salt Lake City, you stated that I, along with approximately two-thirds of the country if you can believe the polls, am suffering from "moral and intellectual confusion" about what threatens the nation's security. Mr. Rumsfeld, I beg to differ.

As you and many others in this current administration have done, I am going to invoke the memory of September 11, 2001. More importantly, I am going to recall the day of September 14, 2001, when your boss climbed atop the rubble and, while standing on the charred remains of some 2,700 innocent Americans, proclaimed “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

Because on that day, Mr. Rumsfeld, your boss made a promise. A promise to the victims, the survivors and their families, and the rest of America that we would do the right thing. We would not let an attack on our country go unanswered. Not only was America united at that time, but the rest of the world was on our side. And we, the American people, had to have faith that you and the rest of the administration would do the right thing. I know of nobody that was opposed to the action we took in Afghanistan in our efforts to bring the responsible parties to justice.

But then you got off track. You and the rest of this administration took your eye off the ball. You let the man responsible get away. And your boss broke his promise. Not only did he go back on his word, but he used the nation’s faith and goodwill to invade a country that we knew was not involved. We’ve now ravaged a sovereign nation that was not a threat to us. As of this writing, we’ve lost almost as many lives in Iraq as we did at the World Trade Center that day. And all the while, we’ve allowed “the people who knocked these buildings down” to remain free and unpunished.

As for those other attacks that you referred to in your speech today - the ones in Bali, London and Madrid - well, you haven’t been able to stop them either. Maybe if we had completed the mission we originally set out to attain, those attacks wouldn’t have happened. Maybe if we had kept our eye on the ball, those victims would still be alive. But you allowed us to get distracted. One might say that you were confused as to who the enemy was.

Critics of Mr. Bush, and Democrats in particular, are not confused, Mr. Rumsfeld. In fact we are quite clear in our position. We are in support of protecting our country and bringing to justice those responsible for the attacks of that fateful day almost five years ago. We’re not asking for much, just that your boss keep his word.

In truth, I believe that it is you who are confused, Mr. Rumsfeld. You seem to be under the impression that Americans are too stupid to recognize a mistake when they see one. Now we might fall for a lot of things, but after five years of failure and three years of death and destruction, I believe that the majority of us are starting to finally see the light. You have failed Mr. Rumsfeld. You and your boss have not delivered on your word to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice. And no matter how much you impugn our intelligence by calling us immoral or confused, you can not change that fact.

You see, I know what threatens our country, Mr. Rumsfeld. It is you and the rest of this administration that insists we “stay the course” in Iraq while we allow our own country to go unprotected and the perpetrators of that horrific event to walk free. If you had any sense of decency, you would be ashamed by your words and actions. However, I’m sure you’re not.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Another Con of the No Child Left Behind Act

A little over a month ago, I wrote a post entitled "So Dark the Con of NCLB." It detailed one of the many deceptions propagated by one of the Bush administration's signature programs - the misconception that private schools do a better job of educating our children than do public schools. In the diary I stated that "[t]he deceptions of the GOP are many." Well, now we can add another deception to that list.

From the AP:
Fourth-graders in traditional public schools are doing better in both reading and math than students in charter schools, the government says in a report fueling fresh debate over school choice.

Tuesday's report said fourth-graders in regular public schools scored an average of 5.2 points better in reading than students in charter schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress test. Students in traditional schools scored an average of 5.8 points better in math.

Charter school opponents said the findings show that the schools are a failing experiment that drains resources from traditional public schools. Charter school supporters called the report flawed and outdated and said charters improve public education by creating competition.

The Bush administration supports charter schools.

Not only does the Bush administration support charter schools, they proudly made them a part of NCLB.
Expanded Choices for Parents: Enhances options for parents with children in chronically failing schools - and makes these options available immediately in the 2002-03 school year for students in thousands of schools already identified as failing under current law.
  • Public/Charter School Choice: Once a school is identified as failing, parents will be allowed to transfer their child to a better-performing public or charter school.
  • Supplemental Services: For the first time, federal Title I funds (approximately $500 to $1,000 per child) can be used to provide supplemental educational services - including tutoring, after school services, and summer school programs - for children in failing schools. Services can be provided by faith- and community-based organizations.
  • Charter Schools: Expands the charter school initiative, creating more opportunities for parents, educators and interested community leaders to create schools outside the education establishment.

So as with private schools, the Bush administration is wanting to offer us, as parents, the choice of leaving our public schools and going to a charter school, when the average charter school is performing worse than a comparable public school. Now help me out here, people. I'm having a little trouble with the logic on this one. Maybe this is some of that fuzzy math George W. warned us about all those years ago.

But to be fair, it's not all charter schools that are performing poorly. Let's look at the actual report (PDF). According to the executive summary:

In the first phase of the combined analysis, all charter schools were compared to all public noncharter schools. The average charter school mean was 5.2 points lower than the average public noncharter school mean. After adjusting for multiple student characteristics, the difference in means was 4.2 points. Both differences were statistically significant. The adjusted difference corresponds to an effect size of 0.11 standard deviations. (Typically, about two-thirds of scale scores fall within one standard deviation of the mean.)

In the second phase, charter schools were classified into two categories based on whether or not they were affiliated with a public school district (PSD). Each category was compared separately with public noncharter schools. On average, the mean scores for charter schools affiliated with a PSD were not significantly different from those of public noncharter schools. However, on average, the means of charter schools not affiliated with a PSD were significantly lower than the means for public noncharter schools, both with and without adjustment. The effect size of the adjusted difference was 0.17 standard deviations.



In the first phase of the combined analysis for mathematics, all charter schools were compared to all public noncharter schools. The average charter school mean was 5.8 points lower than the average public noncharter school mean. After adjusting for student characteristics, the difference in means was 4.7 points. Both differences were statistically significant. The adjusted difference corresponds to an effect size of 0.17 standard deviations.

In the second phase, charter schools were classified into two categories based on whether or not they were affiliated with a PSD. Each category was compared separately with public noncharter schools. On average, the mean scores for charter schools affiliated with a PSD were not significantly different from those for public noncharter schools. However, on average, the means of charter schools not affiliated with a PSD were significantly lower than the means for public noncharter schools, both with and without adjustment. The effect size of the adjusted difference was 0.23 standard deviations.

So yet again, the public schools win out.

But if we can draw one thing from the two studies concerning public schools and their performance relative to private and charter schools, it's this - certified teachers make a difference. One of the restrictions eased for charter schools is the requirement for teachers to be certified. Like many private schools, charter schools are not required to hire certified educators unless they're associated with a PSD.

So for all of the crap and blame that public schools and their teachers take in the media and from our government, it would appear that they're doing as well as any other school out there. Does this mean that there aren't poor schools? Absolutely not. But it does mean that your chances of getting a quality education from a public school are just as good as they would be any place else regardless of what our government would like you to believe.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


When Propaganda Meets Reality

As CNN informed us today, the marines are recalling 2500 troops from inactive duty. According to the article:

The U.S. Marine Corps said Tuesday it has been authorized to recall thousands of Marines to active duty, primarily because of a shortage of volunteers for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Up to 2,500 Marines will be brought back at any one time, but there is no cap on the total number of Marines who may be forced back into service in the coming years. The call-ups will begin in the next several months.

This is the first time the Marines have had to use the involuntary recall since the early days of the Iraq combat. The Army has ordered back about 14,000 soldiers since the start of the war.

But, compare this information to what "officials" told us just a couple of weeks ago. From Reuters:

The U.S. Army, which fell short in recruiting last year, made its 14th straight monthly goal in July and is expected to hit its 2006 target despite the Iraq war making recruiting harder, officials said on Thursday.

Jeff Spara, in charge of Army recruiting policy, denied the Army has been making its recruiting goals by taking lower-quality volunteers who previously might have been rejected, as some experts contend.

"It looks very good right now," Spara said of the active-duty Army reaching its goal of 80,000 new soldiers in fiscal 2006, which ends September 30. It fell about 7,000 recruits short of the same numerical goal in fiscal 2005.

Now I don't know about you, but I find it strange that the military is meeting its recruiting goals yet still finds it necessary to recall troops that are on inactive duty. Those two facts just don't mesh in my book. Clearly, something is not right.

Fortunately, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what's going on. Obviously, the military has set a goal that is too low to accomplish its objectives. It's a little known trick that organizations sometimes use to obtain a positive result - Set the goal low so it's easier to reach. It looks better in the public eye.

When I was a kid, I participated in a summer track & field camp sponsored by the YMCA. It was a week-long event in which we participated in a variety of track & field events ranging from the shot put to the hurdles. At the end of the week, we all took part in five events, only we didn't compete against each other, we merely set goals for ourselves to acheive. If we met all of our goals, we'd be given a medal. I remember one boy, in particular, that set all of his goals ridiculously low. Needless to say, he acheived them easily and got his medal. To the casual observer, he'd made great progress. But in reality, he just wanted to look good to his peers. It's sad to think that this has become the M.O. for our government in a time of war. Like that young boy, our government is more concerned about the PR campaign that they are waging in the media than they are with the war that they are waging overseas. It's shameful. Their propaganda is short shrifting our young men and women overseas. It's a disgrace to our soldiers that our government would rather look good than be honest.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Is He Wired Again?

As Bob Johnson points out, Bush was off the reservation during his press conference today when he blurted out that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. However, as I watched the video over at Crooks and Liars, I was struck by something a little less noticeable.

Towards the end of the video clip, Bush says:
Iraq was a -- the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I have made that case.

And one way to defeat that -- defeat resentment is with hope. And the best way to do hope is through a form of government.

But what's interesting is that during the "--" part of the transcript, he looks down to his right and mumbles something under his breath. After listening to it several times with headphones, I've determined that he says:
"you know... that... government..."

And then he goes back to his shouting saying something about government.

So I want to know what do you all think? Go watch the video and tell me - Is he wired? Is he reading? Is he collecting his thought(s)? What's up?

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Operation Preaching To The Choir

Tonight's post can be found over at Alicia's new blog, Operation Preaching To The Choir. It is "a place to talk about reaching out to those liberals and moderates who are, for whatever reasons, staying out of the political process and inviting them to be a part of taking back our country." Because "[w]ithout them, we may not be able to do it."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


A Worthy Cause

My friend Alicia at Last Left Before Hooterville has started a Habitat for Humanity donation site to help rebuild houses in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It's a great cause and you could win an autographed book from Greg Palast. Go read about it here.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Is It Just Me...

or does this sound a little too familiar?
The next plan would have involved at least five Al-Qaeda operatives, including Yousef, Khan, Shah and two more unknown operatives. Starting on January 21, 1995 and ending on January 22, 1995, they would set the bombs on 11 United States-bound airliners that had stopovers all around East Asia and Southeast Asia. All of the flights had two legs. The bombs would be planted inside life jackets under seats on the first leg, when each bomber would disembark. He would then board one or two more flights and repeat. After all of the bombers planted bombs on all of the flights, each man would then catch flights to Lahore, Pakistan. The men never needed U.S. visas, as they only would have stayed on the planes on their first legs in Asia.

United States airlines had been chosen instead of Asian airlines to maximize the shock toward Americans. The flights targeted were listed under operatives with codenames: "Zyed", "Majbos", "Markoa", "Mirqas" and "Obaid". Obaid, who was really Abdul Hakim Murad, was to hit United flight 80, and then he was to go back to Singapore under another United flight which he would bomb.

Zyed, probably Ramzi Yousef, was to hit Northwest Flight 30, a United Flight going from Taipei to Honolulu, and a United Flight going from Bangkok to Taipei to San Francisco.

The bombs would have been timed before the operatives stepped off the planes. The aircraft would have blown up over the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea almost simultaneously. If this plan worked, several thousand would have perished, and air travel would have been shut down worldwide for days, if not weeks. The U.S. government estimated the prospective death toll to be about 4,000 if the plot had been executed.

(Cue theme from The Twilight Zone)

Friday, August 11, 2006


Just My 2¢

By this point, most everyone has chimed in with their thoughts on last Tuesday's primaries. But tonight, after taking several days to think it through, I'd like to weigh in with my own 2¢. Here goes:

For too many years the Democratic party has been campaigning under the guise of Conservative Lite. We were the Mello Yello to their Mountain Dew - the RC Cola to their Coke. We looked the same, acted the same, and tried to sound the same in an attempt to fool the voter into thinking we were no different than the conservative candidate who was getting all the positive press from the traditional media. And just like the Mello Yellos and the RCs of the world, we were running a rather distant second to the real thing. Why buy the knock-off when you can get the original with no extra effort?

But with Ned Lamont's victory, it appears as though the Democratic party may have exactly what it's longed for - the REAL THING. Not some cheap conservative knock-off hoping to pass as an acceptable substitute, but a living, breathing Democrat who is willing to speak his mind and stand up for the Democratic party. One of the things that I love/hate about the Democrats is the diversity of views within the party. I love the fact that we can all be from the same party and yet not be forced to fall into lock-step with the party elite's opinions. At the same time, I hate that all of that diversity often leads to an erratic, unfocused message making us look like a party in complete disarray. It's frustrating, to say the least.

But I think that we, as a party, may have finally reached a point where we are beginning to coalesce into an organized, issue driven, focused party. Taking into account the Lieberman and McKinney defeats, it looks to me as though the Democratic party is coming together right where they should be - in the center of the left. We are ridding ourselves of the extremes. No more conservative rubber stamps for the Bush administration and no more whackos for the conservatives to parade about as red meat for their base. Is Lamont to the left of Lieberman? He sure as hell is, but who among the Democrats isn't outside of Zell Miller? Is Hank Johnson to the right of Cynthia McKinney? Boy howdy, but that's not hard when McKinney is floating her 9/11 conspiracy theories.

No, although the Republicans would have you believe that the Lamont victory is the death nell for the Democratic party, I believe that this actually makes us stronger. We are finally moving to a comfortable place on the left of the conservatives. Right where we belong.

Thursday, August 10, 2006



I was this close [I'm holding my thumb and index finger about a quarter of an inch apart right now] to writing an amazing post on the alleged terror plot foiled by the British, but then I read this post by Hunter over at DailyKos and I realized that he said it far better than I could have. So go read Hunter's post. It's on the money.

Monday, August 07, 2006



Tonight we're going to take a little departure from the usual political fare and talk about something else because things like this really piss me off.
Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.

Whether it's hip-hop, rap, pop or rock, much of popular music aimed at teens contains sexual overtones. Its influence on their behavior appears to depend on how the sex is portrayed, researchers found.

Songs depicting men as "sex-driven studs," women as sex objects and with explicit references to sex acts are more likely to trigger early sexual behavior than those where sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.

Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.

Now if you're old enough to remember, this type of shit has been going on for years. It happened in the fifties with Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. It happened in the sixties with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I, for one, can vividly remember the PMRC in the 1980s. (I've never been able to forgive Tipper Gore.) And who could forget the trial involving Judas Priest and subliminal messages. And now today we have this.

To suggest that the content of the music is the influence that pushes these kids over the edge and into sexual activity is absolutely ludicrous. Don't believe me? Try this one on for size - What if the most popular song of the day was about lawn care? Would we have an over-abundance of America's youth begging Mom and Dad for a riding lawn mower? NO! Of course not. Music doesn't influence the kids, the kids choose the music. There is just as much music available today that praises Jesus Christ as there is anything else. So why aren't kids choosing that overwhelmingly? Because sex is more interesting.

Elvis didn't cause kids to have sex - kids liked him because he was sexy and they were interested. Judas Priest didn't influence two young teens to kill themselves - they were drunk, high, and depressed and liked dark music like that of Judas Priest. And music about sex doesn't make kids want to get laid any more than they already do. Kids choose to listen to music with sexual references because they are interested in sex.

If the Rand corp. really wants to find something to blame early sexual behavior on, try starting with the parents. If kids are making the choice to have early sexual encounters, it's most likely because of a lack of parental involvement and discussion about sexual behavior. Need proof? Look at the shit their parents are letting them listen to on their iPods.

I'm not in favor of any governmental censorship. Everyone has a right to express themselves in the way they see fit. (That doesn't mean that there won't be any repercussion for that expression, but that's another story.) However, it is the job of the parent to make sure that their son or daughter understands what is and what is not acceptable. We can't shelter our kids from everything, but we can do our best to make sure that they understand what they see and hear and have the ability to place it in its proper context. And it's alright for a parent to tell their kids "no" once in a while. They won't hate you forever. But to gloss over a topic as potentially dangerous as sex and not discuss it with your own child is negligent. How else are they going to learn? Do you really want Snoop Dogg teaching your kid about the birds and the bees? I sure as hell don't.

Sidenote - Speaking of kids, it's the youngest kissfan's birthday this week, so I'll be away from the computer for the next couple of days. Everyone have a good few days and I'll see you back here later this week.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Gee, Ya' Think?

The commander of American forces in the Middle East bluntly warned a Senate committee on Thursday that sectarian violence in Iraq, especially in the capital, Baghdad, had grown so severe that the nation could slide toward civil war.



Tuesday, August 01, 2006


They Just Don't Get It

Here in Bumblefuck, IL, I get exposed to all kinds of Republican craziness. As an example, my local paper, which prints six days a week with a double issue on Sundays, runs conservative op-ed pieces at a rate of five to two. On Sundays they throw us liberals a bone and print Gene Lyons and Nat Hentoff but the rest of the week it's all conservative, all the time. We get William Rusher, Morton Kondrake, Bill O'Reilly, Diane West... you get the picture.

So it was with this in mind that I opened the paper Monday evening to find a column by Donald Lambro entitled Pro-Iraq Democrats face uncivil war. I could barely contain myself.
The latest evidence of the Democrats' uncivil war was in full view this week when former President Clinton, still the most popular figure in the Democratic Party, told its antiwar forces to cease their attempts to purge Democrats who support the war.

Clinton went to Waterbury, Conn., Monday to campaign for embattled Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is trailing anti-war insurgent Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary. Clinton campaigns for lots of Democrats, only in this case he was speaking up for a Democrat who is despised by his party's pacifist, anti-war forces because of his support for President Bush's war.


Leon Panetta, Clinton's White House chief of staff, also took Democrats to task for going after Lieberman.


"I'm a believer in Edmund Burke's philosophy that people elect you to exercise your conscience independently. They don't elect you to reflect whatever the popular will of the moment is," Panetta said.

"Democrats ought to stand back and ask themselves the most important question: Does Joe Lieberman vote his conscience or is he controlled by one interest group or another? I think the answer is clear. He votes his conscience, and I don't think he ought to be penalized (by Democrats) for that," he said.

It has nothing to do with Lieberman voting his conscience. This is what the pundits and the Democratic leadership doesn't understand. We expect them to vote their conscience, but Democrats like Lieberman are being targeted not for voting their conscience, but for continuing to defy the will of the people who elected them in the first place. For Lieberman to continue backing a policy that his constituents are overwhelmingly opposed to ("Voters disapprove 70 - 25 percent of the way the President is handling the Iraq war and say 63 - 31 percent that going to war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do.") is the equivalent of giving a great big middle finger to the entire state of Connecticut. He is essentially saying "Fuck you. I know better than you." And by doing so, he is no longer serving his constituents, but he is serving his own interest.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but that old saying about government being "of the people, by the people, for the people" means that when we elect a person to serve, he or she should reflect our attitudes and opinions. Right? This is why Democrats like Joe Lieberman are being targeted. It's not for voting their conscience, it's for their unwillingness to represent the views and opinions of the people who elected them.

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