John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Sunday, October 01, 2006
World Can't Wait Rallies

Video about "World Can't Wait" National Walkout

On Thursday, October 5th, people all over the United States, in big cities and small towns, are staging a mass protest against the Bush administration.  It's likely there is already some chapter near you with which you can join up.  Find a local chapter near you, or simply start your own.

  • Call your friends and neighbors.  Meet up somewhere publicly.
  • Call your fellow classmates.  Skip school for peace.
  • Call your friends from church.  Pray publicly for peace.
  • Talk to your co-workers.  Take a sick day off work.

Call your boss on Thursday morning:

Hello, Frank?

Yeah.  What's up, Joe?

I can't come into work today.  I'm really sick.

Really?  What's wrong?

I'm sick of the Bush administration starting new wars before they finish the last one.

Oh. Yeah.  I hope you feel better soon.

Me, too.  See you on Friday.


Saturday, September 30, 2006
Iraq: For Sale

In some of my previous blog entries about Iraq, you may have heard me complain about a number of things.  After spending some time researching things, I'll post those entries with links to Congressional reports, or interview transcripts, or links to audio, and video, and other websites saying the same thing.  I do that because I want to cite some reference for my outrage.  I don't want people thinking that I'm just making this stuff up.

I've come to realize that many people don't have the same passion about our society, politics, or goverment institutions.  It's hardwork trying to understand and find clues to why the world is all fucked up.  It's likely most people simply don't have the time to read anything, either.  I try to stay focussed and on topic.  I'm getting better at writing shorter sentences, too.

About a week ago, I spent several hours trying to understand the testimony of Stuart Bowen, the Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) at some Congressional hearing.  I pawed through hundreds of pages of related PDFs trying to understand the data.  To add insult to injury, one of his PDF reports had all the fucking spreadsheet pages sidewise -- reading that for an hour gave me headache and a sore neck.

My specific research on that day was to try to figure out why Iraq was a total clusterfuck.  Now, after watching the testimony of  retired U.S. Marine Colonel Hammes, an expert on counter-insurgency, I have a better idea of how and why things went wrong in Iraq.  That's a first step to moving forward.

The basic concept that the Bush administration outlined in their "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" isn't really flawed.  The problem is that theyre not doing it, or doing it half-assed, or they may have waited too long and now the problem is 100x worse to solve.  "Clear-Hold-Build" is a decent strategy for counter-insurgency.

 I urge everyone to read the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq report.  It's only 38 pages.  It has a pretty red-white-and-blue title page.  It's more than 500 pages shorter than the 9/11 Commission report.  We all want victory in Iraq.  We all support the troops and want to bring them home.

There are several things that the current administration has done in the past and is still doing that actually makes them defeat their own plan.  The "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" report was developed by the National Security Council and published November 30th, 2005.

Hello?!  Why didn't we have this fucking plan implemented from the get-go?  It's not like the PNAC neocons hadn't been drooling over the broader Middle East since Reagan was in office.  It's not like the Bush/Cheney administraton didn't discuss the Iraq invasion during the first week they were in office, in January of 2001.

Not only that, but try to go to White House web site and conveniently find this report now.  The fact that is was only an after-thought to invading Iraq, and the fact that it hasn't even been a year and you have to search the White House website for this report now, and the fact that the White House message has switched from Victory in Iraq back to War on Terror for the upcoming elections, speaks far louder than any Lincoln Group or Karl Rove propaganda.

Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld also come from the far-right wing ideology that government should be privatized.  Not a small goverment, abolish the DEA,  Libertarian model -- a fat cat, big government, corrupt corporate model.  Even hardcore Libertarians believe that government, not corporations, should provide for the national defense.

The video clip above is a 5-6 minute interview between MSNBC's Keith Obermann and documentary film director Robert Greenwald.  His film, "Iraq For Sale" seems to detail an extraordinary basic problem with operations in Iraq.  By the way, when I was researching defense contract spreadsheets from SIGIR, I was struck by the corruption, but I was just amazed at the volume of contracts.  I think it was about 8500 seperate contracts.

Check out their videos page and new clips on the Iraq For Sale movie blog.

We know that the current fearmongering campaign is political.  This election season spurred on the immigration idiocy and more 9/11 speeches.  I'm surprised the terror alert level hasn't yet been raised, but then we still have a month to go ...

If you wish to explore the political cronyism of BushWorld in Iraq angle -- or "Good Job, Brownie" -- which is only one-step seperated from the corporate ties, then get a copy of Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran's new book, "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone"

If you want to get a feel for the book, Rajiv was just interviewed on Democracy Now!

So. There ya go. Lots to read. Lots to watch.  Register to Vote. It matters.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Iraq: Truth Slowly Leaks Out

Finding truth in the Bush administration is like stamping your foot on mercury.  It just spreads away into smaller disconnected globs, each just as poisonous to ingest.

However difficult, or even embarassing it may be to connect some of these mercurial dots to get some insight concerning Iraq, it should be one of the most important things Americans should be discussing amongst themselves and ultimately demanding of their representatives in Washington.

Let the debate not be a fool's merry-go-round of Republican versus Democrat, or even Hawk versus Dove.  The United States military is in Iraq, today.  Unless and until the Iraqi leaders tell us to leave, George Bush has already stated, "We'll be in Iraq so long as I'm president."

The short four-minute video above has compiled highlights of the testimony given on Monday by three retired military commanders at the "Oversight Hearing on the Planning and Conduct of the War in Iraq."  I've already initially opined on how important I feel this hearing was and why.  You should read the bios and submitted statements of these experts (1,2,3) to judge their qualifications and sincerity.

You can also view the entire hearing (about 2 hours) thanks to C-Span.  While it is clear that each witness supported the idea of replacing the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and also give excoriating examples for their conclusions, they also lamented on the lack of oversight and action by the current Congress.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

James Madison, Federalist #47, January 30, 1788

Unfortunately, politics does play a major role in moving forward.  The recent declassification of a small portion of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) by the Bush administration only happened because it had already been leaked to the media, primarily because some people were outraged that the Bush administration had been sitting on it for almost six months for political purposes.

The report is an embarassment to White House policy and runs contrary to the Rovian message that Republicans will keep you safe.  I don't know if Democrats will keep you any safer -- if you happen to be a person who has sealed yourself up in your basement with duct-tape and plastic sheeting while memorizing verses of Biblical Revelations by candlelight -- but I do know that the political apathy of your neighbors may allow things in our country to continue in the same irrational fashion.

Congressional oversight concerning Iraq is practically non-existent.  Congress has been using Iraq (and 9/11 frankly) for political purposes, but has failed to look at the situation in Iraq with any honesty.  This "let's not talk about this seriously" attitude has evolved over the last five years because of the obvious scandals of which we're all too familiar and don't need repeating.  Or, maybe they do need repeating.  Afterall, while we argue here in the United States, people in Iraq -- including our military -- only get to bleed.

Even Condi Rice admits mistakes were made.  The President has admitted there was no connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq.  Fine. Whatever. That's like admitting you robbed a bank, after the red dye-pack has exploded in your face and exclamed the obvious, as you crash the get-away car into the police station.

Here's a better question for people to ask.  Why has the Senate Select Commitee on Intelligence chairman, Pat Roberts (R-KS), been dragging his feet and making excuses for years on completing an investigation into the pre-war intelligence on Iraq?  It's been such an under-reported but ridiculous stonewalling that some organizations, like Think Progress, has been able to compile and publish a damn timeline of obsfucation and cover-up.

Hello?  Look, if we can't figure out how we got where we are in Iraq, we can't move forward with any clarity or genuine purpose.

My biggest fear for my country is that the same politcal reasons and neocon exclamations by Bush, and Cheney, and Bolton, and other pundits in the media, and warmongers buried into the government establishment are trying to sell the same story for yet another war, likely with Iran, this election.  Maybe they'll postpone a war with Iran for the 2008 election season.

Either way, we barely know the facts concerning the failures in Afghanistan before we launched off into war with Iraq at the time, so, why should I support a war with Iran before we even have the courage to look in the mirror as a country concerning the failures in Iraq?

Don't comfort yourself in denial of the insane possibility, or of the obvious stupidity of war with Iran.  The people in charge right now have not shown themselves to act rationally in the past, they have conspired and lied the big lies, and there are other players in the global picture that could react and provide the needed or desired impetus for yet another, and possibly more catastrophic war.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Iraq: Accountability

Monday afternoon, I finally heard some reality coming from the U.S. government concerning Iraq. I'm not talking about the leaked Senate Intelligence Committee report saying that all 16 intelligence agencies in the U.S. government conclude that Bush's War in Iraq has made the planet less safe.

You may wonder why this report was leaked. I believe it was leaked because had it not been leaked, the politicians would have kept it classified until after the November elections, so they could continue the Rovian sham. I haven't read the report, so, I'll save further comment until I do read it.

What I hope to draw your attention to: the testimony of three retired military leaders concerning Iraq given to the Senate Democratic Policy committee.  I sincerely want you to read the testimony, and I sincerely want you to tell your friends to read it.  I watched the hearing live on C-Span.

First, let me give you the bad news.

We're not leaving Iraq anytime soon.  In fact, the continuing clusterfuck in Iraq that the Bush administration has created has pushed the timeframe of withdrawing troops from Iraq even further. One expert witness on counter-insurgency said, "a decade."

My own conclusion that the only beneficiaries of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld "stay the course" gimmick in Iraq were al-Qaeda and Iran were verified by this expert testimony.

Despite my opposition for the Iraq war before it began -- mainly because even a casual observer of intelligence, like myself, knew the claims Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice were putting out into the media echo chamber were ridiculous -- I'm a realist, not a total pacifist.  I'm anti-war.  I think military aggression is not a desirable foreign policy for any country, let alone my own.

At the same, as much sympathy as I have for Cindy Sheehan and other people in the anti-war movement, I feel it no longer applies to Iraq.  The time for anti-war demonstrations is before the next war happens, not after we've completely FUBARed the country and occupied it for over three years.

To leave Iraq before some stability is established would only compound the original Bush administration war crime.  It's also strategic and economic suicide given the nature of the politics of the Middle East.  If the Iraq government asks us to get out, though, we should go.

If the anti-war movement is to have any real impact, it should focus on outing the neocons and warmongering agents who want a larger war.  These groups have the ear of power in Washington.  Sure, we're addicted to oil.  We're also addicted to Israel, or the so-called Holy Land.  We're also addicted to powerful born-again Christians who dream of their rapture when the end-times, as described in Revelations, takes place.  We need to seperate politics and U.S. foreign policy from religion, if we wish to survive as a species on planet Earth.

There is only one habitable Earth, so far.  If we allow religious fundamentalists from Christian, Jewish or Islamic sects who conveniently deny their monotheistic tradition have the same God, also control vast tradtional militaries or asymetric armies of terrorists, we are all clearly doomed.  I suggest that the anti-war movement fight the real enemy before it is too late.

Now the good news

Even if the political machine of Republicons is too great to overcome this election season, some Dumbocrats are having some unofficial oversight hearings and bringing testimony into our public eyes and ears.  If you want military leaders to testify under oath at an official Congressional hearing, you'll need to vote for the politician in your district who will have the pair of political balls to do that in the next session of Congress.

Some Republicons have been so absolutely disgusted with the Bush/Cheney administration on issues of torture or civil rights, they may deserve your vote.  Being Libertarian, I'm hoping you vote for your local Libertarians and also for some Democrats to take some control of this criminal Congress.  One way or another, we need to stop this good-old-boy network of politicians covering each other's asses.

We need some truth, not Rovian political slogans or McFoxNews, in order to deal with Iraq rationally and successfully.  Staying the course or Bashing Bush is not helpful in the short term. Congress needs re-staffing. Only American voters can do that. Once that's done, maybe some truth will be revealed, and things can be changed. I'll conclude with general Batiste's quote:

I challenge the American people to get informed and speak out. Remember that the Congress represents and works for the people. Congressional oversight committees have been strangely silent for too long, and our elected officials must step up to their responsibilities or be replaced. This is not about partisan politics, but rather what is good for our country. Our November elections are crucial. Every American needs to understand the issues and cast his or her vote. I believe that one needs to vote for the candidate who understands the issues and who has the moral courage to do the harder right rather than the easier wrong. I for one will continue to speak out until there is accountability, until the American people establish momentum, and until our Congressional oversight committees kick into action. Victory in Iraq is fundamental and we cannot move forward until accountability is achieved. Thank you.


Monday, September 25, 2006
Random Ramblings

Some months ago, Akira3099 made this avatar for me to use. I modified it slightly, but I thought my Grumpy Monkey looks pretty cool. What do you think?

I've had some very unexplainable technical problems here, so I'll be making some changes to the blog.  I'm not going to fling any poo over it, but it did make me a Grumpy Monkey.  Hopefully, it won't be too much hassle.  You may notice one or two things changing every week.

If you were hoping for Marcus Monday, sorry.  I'm simply not in the mood.  My hot water heater also seems to have quit working.  Unexpected cold water in the morning makes me a Grumpy Monkey.  You can go read Verissimus anytime you'd like.  It's there for you.

Technorati ticks me off.  I finally got so irritated with their non-parsing of Thunderstorms for the last ten months, I unclaimed it after having it listed there for over two years. Then, I reclaimed it.  I'm hoping that fixes things since their so-called upgrade.  Here's my Technorati Profile.

Google Tabs don't tick me off.  I just found that little techno-nugget on my personalized Google home page.  Now, I have a handy-dandy Google Tab page of my favorite BD blog feeds all on one page.  This is another handy page for great blogs, too.  My Google Tab page just makes me feel like Santa Claus though -- I know when you've posted, I know whether you've been bad or good. (wink)

If you haven't seen it yet, check out the Outfoxed site.  I watched all the video clips freely available on this page.  While it's not as academic as reading Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent, you might be able to wrap your mind around the idea that you do live inside the U.S. corporate media bubble.  Fox news just makes it more Matrix-like for BushWorld.

Here's the deal.  If you wonder why everyone around you is parroting the same opinion, you know they don't bother looking past the TV for news and information.  Some people call it the "echo chamber."

Just in case I don't bother re-editing my last post "Sunday Funnies: Iran" to add some helpful links, I should explain my tone that war with Iran is planned in the corridors of power at BushCo:

Harper's Magazine writer Ken Silverstein interviewed the recently retired Middle East CIA analyst, Dr. Emile A. Nakhleh.  His actual job title was Director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program.  While the Iraq and Guantanamo info may be entertaining, I was more interested with his insights concerning Iran.

The are rumors that Israeli Mossad units have been training (Iraq) Elite Kurdish Peshmerga forces.  While this is officially denied by everyone concerned, it makes some sense when you factor in this CNN interview by Wolf Blitzer with retired U.S. Air Force officer Sam Gardiner.  "Retired Air Force General Sam Gardiner tells an astonished Wolf Blitzer that 'the evidence is overwhelming' that military operations in Iran have been going on for 18 months already."

Iraq war redux.  Will we hear the same pretext for war with Iran?  Most certainly.  The president's speech at the U.N. clearly signaled it.  You can listen to all the official speeches given at UNGA61 here.

Many of these clues are not classified and publicly available.  However, most people only listen to McFoxNews version of the issue.  The U.S. government has public hearings and files official reports.  First you have to read them.  Then, understanding the context, analysis and reading between the lines is also helpful.

Consider a recently published offical report by the House Permanent Select Commitee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Peter Hoesksta (R-MI).  Consider the title of the report, "Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States." [PDF press release]

Consider the way Committees control the selection of witnesses giving testimony.  It's like hearing only the prosecution side of a criminal trial sometimes.  Congressional staffers help vet these witnesses. If the final report is simply supposed to be a rubber-stamp for already proposed policy by BushWorld, then that's whose supporting testimony you'll hear.

Consider the actual report.  Read the PDF.  It's like a 29-page sales brochure for attacking Iran.  Oh, no we can't talk to them or use diplomacy.  Our only option will be a military option.

The very first sentence in the report is extremely instructive:

"Threats against the United States and Israel by Iranian President Ahmadinejad coupled with advances in the Iranian nuclear weapons program, support for terror, and resistance to international negotiations on its nuclear program demonstrate that Iran is a security threat to our nation that requires high caliber intelligence support.

Excuse me!  Who do these Congress-critters work for, you and me, or the Israeli lobby AIPAC whose agents have been convicted of spying?

You'd think after the Iraq experience, people would be cautious. Your Republicon congress-critter can throw caution to the wind when DC lobbyists pay for their continued existence.  They don't have to listen to you.  They'll just claim to pray for your sons in the next war.


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