Friday, February 29, 2008

Clinton on hope.

Oh... how awkward for you.

Obama leads in Texas, close in Ohio

Reuters has it.

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Barack Obama holds a slight lead on Hillary Clinton in Texas and has almost pulled even in Ohio before contests that could decide their Democratic presidential battle, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Houston Chronicle poll released on Friday.

The contests on Tuesday are crucial for Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady fighting to halt Obama's streak of 11 consecutive victories in their battle for the Democratic nomination for the November 4 presidential election.

Obama, an Illinois senator, has a 6-point edge on Clinton in Texas, 48 percent to 42 percent. He trails Clinton 44 percent to 42 percent in Ohio -- well within the poll's margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

I predict a close race in Ohio (with Wisconsin being a possible harbinger of things to come) with Texas a surprise win for Obama.
Just sayin'....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rolling Stone: The Myth of the Surge

Great article from Rolling Stone.  No comment, just snippage and linkage.

It's a cold, gray day in December, and I'm walking down Sixtieth Street in the Dora district of Baghdad, one of the most violent and fearsome of the city's no-go zones. Devastated by five years of clashes between American forces, Shiite militias, Sunni resistance groups and Al Qaeda, much of Dora is now a ghost town. This is what "victory" looks like in a once upscale neighborhood of Iraq: Lakes of mud and sewage fill the streets. Mountains of trash stagnate in the pungent liquid. Most of the windows in the sand-colored homes are broken, and the wind blows through them, whistling eerily. House after house is deserted, bullet holes pockmarking their walls, their doors open and unguarded, many emptied of furniture. What few furnishings remain are covered by a thick layer of the fine dust that invades every space in Iraq. Looming over the homes are twelve-foot-high security walls built by the Americans to separate warring factions and confine people to their own neighborhood. Emptied and destroyed by civil war, walled off by President Bush's much-heralded "surge," Dora feels more like a desolate, post-apocalyptic maze of concrete tunnels than a living, inhabited neighborhood. Apart from our footsteps, there is complete silence.

My guide, a thirty-one-year-old named Osama who grew up in Dora, points to shops he used to go to, now abandoned or destroyed: a barbershop, a hardware store. Since the U.S. occupation began, Osama has watched civil war turn the streets where he grew up into an ethnic killing field. After the fall of Saddam, the Americans allowed looters and gangs to take over the streets, and Iraqi security forces were stripped of their jobs. The Mahdi Army, the powerful Shiite paramilitary force led by the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, took advantage of the power shift to retaliate in areas such as Dora, where Shiites had been driven from their homes. Shiite forces tried to cleanse the district of Sunni families like Osama's, burning or confiscating their homes and torturing or killing those who refused to leave.

"The Mahdi Army was killing people here," Osama says, pointing to a now-destroyed Shiite mosque that in earlier times had been a cafe and before that an office for Saddam's Baath Party. Later, driving in the nearby district of Baya, Osama shows me a gas station. "They killed my uncle here. He didn't accept to leave. Twenty guys came to his house, the women were screaming. He ran to the back, but they caught him, tortured him and killed him." Under siege by Shiite militias and the U.S. military, who viewed Sunnis as Saddam supporters, and largely cut out of the Shiite-dominated government, many Sunnis joined the resistance. Others turned to Al Qaeda and other jihadists for protection.

Monday, February 25, 2008

McCain on Iraq

Sen. McCain talked about Iraq and how his campaign is tied down by it:

"We can fail in Iraq," McCain said Monday in an Associated Press interview. But, he added: "I see a clear path to success in Iraq." He defined that as fewer casualties and Iraqi troops taking over security to allow U.S. forces to return home. "All of us want out of Iraq, the question is how do we want out of Iraq," he added.

See, but that's inaccurate. Not everybody wants out of Iraq. Everybody does want the fighting to stop, but U.S. strategy largely revolves around our long-standing policy of setting up U.S. bases in strategically useful locations so we can exert control over regional politics by flexing our military muscle. "Global attack", as it's referred to in Air Force doctrine. McCain has said as much, citing our bases in Korea, Germany, and Japan as examples. So to say that he wants "out of Iraq" is misleading, at best.

The point he made which I agree with pertains to how we will be able to get out: Iraqi troops taking responsibility for Iraqi security. The problem we've run into in that regard is that militia members have often infiltrated the Iraqi military. But then, we have our own American gangs infiltrating our military; it hasn't stopped us from doing what we do. So while the issue of militia moles in the Iraqi military is a problem, it needn't be a show-stopper.

If I may be so bold, I'd like to posit a few ideas on how to accelerate this process.

Train the Iraqi military out of country. While training in the area they'll be fighting has obvious advantages, it can create distractions. One of the most effective things about U.S. basic military training is that they isolate us from our friends, family, and the rest of society. They create an environment in which we are completely dependent on each other for support and our military training instructor for survival. He or she controls our meals, when we can go to the bathroom, when we can shower, when we brush our teeth, and when we can speak, sit, stand -- everything. That allows Stockholm Syndrome to set in, and before long, we are intensely loyal not only to one another, but to our erstwhile abusive instructor. If these militia members are in any way able to maintain contact with their militia, that can erode the Stockholm effect. Even with the non-militia members, extended contact with family and friends can erode it. And while, once outside of that training environment, that "loyalty" to their instructor will fade, their loyalty to each other does not fade so easily. Train them in Kuwait or Qatar, which are both similar enough to Iraq, isolate them from their friends and family, and then, after how ever many months it takes them to get them sufficiently trained, rotate them in to replace an American unit. Keep this process rolling and soon the future of Iraq will be in the Iraqis' hands. Mission Accomplished! We won't even have to stage a massive withdrawal, because most of our troops will already be out. In fact, don't tell anyone, but that's exactly what a "phased withdrawal" would be.

Many people have unrealistic expectations on how this would go down. On the right, some expect that we should stay until everything is sunshine and rainbows. I never saw any rainbows over in Iraq, but I did see some large plumes of smoke. The violence will not abate while we are still over there because, in large part, we're the reason for it. It will continue as long as we stay; that's just a fact.

On the left, there are calls to simply cut off funding, as though this is a video game where if just unplug the console, all the problems over there will disappear. Again, that's unrealistic at best, and a callous disregard for the people we'll leave behind at worst. Yes, the violence will continue as long as we stay, but we've torn things up so badly and created such a dependency on our presence in that country that we need to at least try to set the Iraqis up for success. Allowing the Iraqis to steadily take increased control of their own fate will mean the difference between giving them a fish and teaching them to fish. The "cut off the funds" approach amounts to kicking them out of the boat and telling them they'd best learn to swim.

Naturally, there's still a chance that Iraq will devolve into a failed state, even after we've done everything we can to set them up for success. But in the end, we cannot stay forever. At some point, we will need to leave, and the longer we stay, the less likely it will be that they will be able or willing to take ownership of their own nation. As it stands, the U.S. has indicated every intention of maintaining a permanent presence in the country, and the Iraqis have noticed. A sharp shift in that regard will likely do a lot to accelerate the end of the violence. When the signal we send is, "the quicker this goes, the sooner we'll leave", that will provide a huge incentive to cooperate with us.

It's not hopeless; we can still succeed, as Sen. McCain points out, but if we are still in Iraq four years from now, that, in of itself, will represent a collossal failure on our part, just as the current situation does now. Success must be defined by allowing the Iraqis to take ownership of their own country. It's the only real measure we have left.

Hillary & Obama's Senate records compared

from azul:

Daily Kos: I Refuse to Buy into the Obama Hype (now a supporter)
by Grassroots Mom
Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 05:13:32 PM PST

The next President is going to have some MAJOR challenges.
I refuse to buy into the hype, on either side, but especially on that of Obama. However the "empty rhetoric" v. "history of accomplishments" arguments have prompted me to check it out on my own, not relying on any candidate's website, book, or worst of all supporters' diaries, like this one.

I went to the Library of Congress Website. The FACTS of what each did in the Senate last year sure surprised me. I'm sure they will surprise you, too. Whether you love or hate Hillary, you will be surprised. Whether you think Obama is the second coming of JFK or an inexperienced lightweight, you will surprised. Go check out the Library of Congress Website. After spending some time there, it will be clear that there is really only one candidate would is ready to be the next president, even better than Gore. If you don't want to spend an hour or two doing research, then I'll tell you what I discovered on the jump.

* Grassroots Mom's diary :: ::

I looked up Obama and looked up Clinton. I looked at the bills that they both authored and introduced. Anyone who has been around politics, and is honest, realizes that there are a lot of reasons why a Senator votes one way or another on bills or misses votes. However an examination of the bills that each of these Senators cared enough about to author and introduce revealed much to me: what they care about, what their priorities are, how they tackle problems. And the list of co-sponsors showed something about how they lead, inspire and work with others. Finally, looking at which bills actually passed is pretty indicative of how effective each would be at getting things done.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, let's all be honest here. It is damn hard to get anything through Congress these days. And Obama and Clinton care about the same issues and have obviously worked together on a lot of legislation, whatever Sen. Clinton's campaign may imply. She is a frequent co-sponsor on his bills, and he on hers. They are both completely competent senators.


Daily Kos

Just a reminder....

We have more than one author on this page. Please be sure to check who the author is before automatically attributing everything on this page to me. Thanks.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

THIS worries me a lot more than Nader does…

It emerged as a creepy feeling and has grown into a full-blown anxiety attack: If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, will the DLC try to defeat him in the general election?

My questions about the 2004 presidential election have come back to haunt me in full force. There were so many indications that the Democratic Party – or some faction of it – threw the election to Bush.

First, there was the theory that Wesley Clark was a stalking horse for Clinton. At the time, I was a strong Clark supporter and I brushed this aside. But when The General endorsed Hillary for 2008, it crept back into my consciousness:
warm spot for Wesley
By Gloria Borger
Posted 9/21/03

The first public hint of the new Bill Clinton-Wesley Clark axis came a couple of weeks ago at cocktails at the Clintons' Chappaqua, N.Y., home. It was what the money guys call a "donor maintenance" event--something to keep wealthy Democratic contributors happy with that warm "in the loop" feeling only a schmoozefest with ex-presidents and senators can provide. After complimenting the Democratic field, Bill Clinton went on to toast two other "stars" in the party--General Clark and Hillary Clinton.
"Safe harbor." The most cynical view, shared by the White House--and even some Democrats of competing presidential campaigns--is that Wesley Clark is a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton. "The issue is let's make certain this race stays screwed up," says a White House adviser.

"And guess who that clears the way for?" He says Hillary in 2008; some wary Democrats wonder if the Clintons are arguing about whether it should be in 2004. In any case, sources tell me that while Hillary won't endorse Clark, she's thrilled about the candidacy. Why? "He's a safe harbor," says a Hillary Clinton adviser. "There's no downside for her in being seen with a general."

Of course, there is this small matter of the rest of the Democratic field. They didn't avoid Clinton, like Al Gore--they courted him, even pretended to be close to him. "Now he kicks them all in the ass," says an ex-Clinton ally. "Everyone knows he's winking at people about Clark." So the field is miffed. "I guess I can understand how they would be annoyed," says Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton's former spokesman. "But the fact is there are a lot of undecided people out there--both real voters and Democratic insiders. They're concerned about Howard Dean, and that's not Bill Clinton's fault." But he will be happy to fix everything.

A second data point that has gotten little attention outside my state of New Mexico: There is credible evidence that Governor Bill Richardson helped steal NM for Bush in 2004. The theory widely held by progressive Dems here was that he did it so he could run for president in '08. Greg Palast wrote a bit about this:
New Mexico's Secretary of State, Rebecca Vigil-Giron, seemed curiously uncurious about Hispanic and Native precincts where nearly one in ten voters couldn't be bothered to choose a president.

Vigil-Giron, along with Governor Bill Richardson, not only stopped any attempt at a recount directly following the election, but demanded that all the machines be wiped clean. This not only concealed evidence of potential fraud but destroyed it. In 2006, New Mexico's Supreme Court ruled the Secretary of State's machine-cleaning job illegal - too late to change the outcome of the election, of course.

But who are we to second-guess Secretary Vigil-Giron? After all, she is a big shot, at the time president, no less, of the National Association of Secretaries of State, the top banana of all our nation&rsquos elections officials.

Vigil-Giron, after putting a stop to the recount, rather than schlep out to investigate the missing vote among the iguanas and Navajos, left the state to officiate at a dinner meeting in Minneapolis for her national association. It was held on a dinner boat. The tab for the moonlight ride was picked up by touch-screen voting machine maker ES&S Corporation. Breakfast, in case you&rsquore curious, was served by touchscreen maker Diebold Corp.

At the time of this writing, Vigil-Giron is busy planning the next big confab of vendors and state officials -- this time in Santa Fe, "the city different." But aside from Wal-Mart signing on as a sponsor, nothing much is different when it comes to the inner workings of the voting industrial complex.
And then there’s the DLC, which in 2005 appointed Hillary Clinton “to define a party agenda for the upcoming 2006 and 2008 elections.” NPR did a piece on this at the time. If you want to catch my anxiety, listen to this audio clip.

So, Hillary Clinton is without a doubt the DLC’s candidate, and has been since at least 2005. It must be a great shock for them to see Obama come out of nowhere and upset the plan.

Obama is not a DLC member – and even requested that they remove his name from their website, after they used it without his permission or knowledge. The Black Commentator really put Obama through his paces on the DLC issue when he was running for his Illinois Senate seat. Their questions to him and his response make for very interesting reading.

So, we are still involved in an historic battle for the very “soul” of the Democratic Party which can be described by this simple equation:
Clinton vs Obama = DLC vs DNC

Or this one: Clinton vs Obama = Top-Down vs Bottom-Up

Let’s recall Howard Dean’s election as Chairman of the DNC – how bitter it was – as the DLC candidates were overthrown by “The Democratic wing of The Democratic Party” – in a rebellion based on support of Dean’s 50 State Strategy of bottom-up party building.

I just went back and read this excellent Ari Berman piece from 2005 titled Going Nowhere: The DLC Sputters to a Halt
and it’s a great history of the DLC v DNC fight and a window on the political battle that was raging at the time and the players. Here’s a bit, but the whole thing is still timely:
After Kerry's defeat, the DLC promised to "avoid the circular firing squad" mentality but then quickly broke the promise, reverting to its favorite target: the Democratic base. Instead of labor unions and feminists, the DLC fixated on and Michael Moore. "We need to be the party of Harry Truman and John Kennedy, not Michael Moore," the DLC wrote on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, of all places. "What leftist elites smugly imagine is a sophisticated view of their country's flaws strikes much of America as a false and malicious cartoon," the DLC's Will Marshall wrote in Blueprint, the group's magazine, in a rant worthy of The Weekly Standard. "Democrats should have no truck with the rancid anti-Americanism of the conspiracy-mongering left." The DLC continued this vitriol into March.

Fast forward: Along comes Obama, not merely using Dr. Dean’s bottom-up every-state strategies, but actually making them work!

This is what is keeping me up at night: Is it possible that the DLC actually wanted Kerry to lose in 2004, to enable a Hillary Clinton run in 2008?

Did the DLC and Clinton allies like Wesley Clark and Bill Richardson actually participate in bringing Kerry down - and put the world through four more years of Bush - just so the Clintons could come back as party leaders in 2008?

And here’s the
really scary question:

If Obama is the Democratic Party nominee in 2008, will the DLCers – who have written Clinton’s name in stone for 2008 – help McCain win, so Hillary can run again in 2012? The “inevitable” – better late than never?

I am very, very worried about this.

Olbermann Time Line: How Bushco exploited terror threats

From The Huffington Post (video 17 min. long):

In case you missed it, on Thursday night's "Countdown" Keith Olbermann presented an impressively detailed timeline he called "The Nexus of Politics and Terror," in which he chronicled the Bush administration's exploitation of terror threats for political gain. Olbermann's exhaustive account weaves from each revelation of an intelligence failure or a Democratic political victory to an almost immediate orange alert or "new threat" from al Qaeda.

Huff Post

On a lighter note....

...I have to go over that "to do" list tomorrow. Let's see....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

B-2 Bomber Crashes at Andersen AFB, Guam

From Bloomberg:

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- A B-2 stealth bomber crashed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and both pilots were safe after ejecting, the Pacific Air Forces said today in a statement on its Web site.

The Pacific Air Forces said a board of officers will look into the accident and more information will be made available later. The pilots were from the 509th Bomb Wing and are in ``good condition'' after medical checks were carried out, the statement said. The aircraft was sent to Guam from Whiteman Air Force base in Missouri, its only operational base.

The B-2 stealth bomber, which costs about $1.2 billion, can carry conventional and nuclear bombs, according to a fact sheet on the same Web site. The design, materials and coatings make its detection by defensive radar systems difficult.

The aircraft involved in the crash was destroyed during the accident, the Air Force Times reported, citing an unidentified official at Andersen Air Force Base. Calls made to the two phone numbers listed in the statement by the Pacific Air Forces weren't immediately answered.

The accident happened at around 10:30 a.m. local time when the aircraft was leaving the base in Yigo, Guam, the U.S. territory's local media Kuam News reported. It was the second military plane to crash in a month after a Navy Ea-6b Prowler from the USS Kittyhawk went down 20 miles from the base Feb. 12, Kuam News said.

I got the call from my flight super about five hours later; I didn't want to post anything about it until I saw it in the news. Now that it's out, though, I'm blogging about it here. I don't have any special insight as to what may have caused two planes to crash out here inside of a month, except that Andersen is seriously under-manned right now. I know that when people are overworked and understaffed, it puts a strain on people and their families, and that accidents do increase.

Once is happenstance... twice is coincidence... thrice is enemy action. This is only twice, so far. Let's all hope it stays that way.

Discuss at The Forum.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Clinton or Obama will need to clean house.

I'm concerned about the possibility of long-entrenched partisans in the Executive Branch undermining our next President the way many of them did to Kennedy. Here's a few names:

Allen Dulles: The first civilian director of the CIA and one of the brain-powers behind the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Curtis "Bombs Away" LeMay: Air Force Chief of Staff under Kennedy. Kennedy believed he could assuage his right-wing critics by appointing LeMay, but he only emboldened them. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, LeMay wanted to bomb the missile sites. While he admitted that he could only guarantee that he would get 90% of the missile sites (a guarantee which later turned out to be rather generous), he also opined that the Soviets would probably not retaliate. Kennedy found that remarkably naive, especially coming from a four star general, and did not follow his advice. Personally, I don't think LeMay was naive, just disingenuous. It's not that he didn't think the Soviets would retaliate; he just didn't care. "Bombs away". Afterwards, he said, "We had a chance to throw the Communists out of Cuba. But the administration was scared to death (the Soviet Union) might shoot a missile at us." Yeah, what's one or two nuclear missiles in one or two U.S. cities, right? If the LeMays of the world had had their way, we'd be living (or not) in a post-apocalyptic nightmare. We avoided a nuclear exchange by the skin of our teeth as it was. I guarantee there are many more LeMays waiting in the ranks under this administration. Clinton or Obama will have to root them out and help them find their way into retirement.

Richard Helms: The man behind the curtain at the CIA while John McCone was director. Directed many assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders, often at the expense of diplomatic efforts on the part of the President.

There are others, but these three are sufficient to demonstrate that the President does not, by himself, run the executive branch. If the next President does not clean house within the first 100 days, he or she will likely be stuck with whatever trolls this administration has left hiding under the bridge.

Both Clinton and Obama have retired four star generals in their corner: Clinton has former NATO Commander Wesley Clark in her corner and Obama has former USCENTCOM commander Anthony Zinni in his. I would suggest that both these men be put to use in the next administration: Zinni as SECDEF and Clark as CIA director. Or vice versa. Hayden has to go, and his trolls will be waiting to undermine Clinton or Obama. It is absolutely vital that we have a strong CIA director to root them out, and either Zinni or Clark would fit that bill.

On edit: I forgot about DHS. This department, created under Bush, will be filled entirely with Bush partisans. One way to tame the CIA beast would be to incorporate it under DHS rather than allowing it to continue as its own nebulous independent agency. In that case, I would favor Clark or Zinni as DHS secretary rather than CIA director. Right now, DHS is still finding its identity, and while it will be stocked with Bush partisans, it hasn't been around long enough for any of them to be "entrenched". Big opportunity to change the face of DHS and the CIA.

I'm actually split on this one with regards to Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton. I think Sen. Clinton would be better suited to this task, but I think Sen. Obama would be more likely to actually carry it out. I lean toward Sen. Obama if he gets the right people behind him (e.g., Clark and Zinni), but this is one area where he can't try to "reach out". These people will take any attempted outreach as a sign of weakness, and they will absolutely try to exploit it. I hope he's wise to this fact. If he has Zinni as an advisor, I'm sure he is.

Discuss at The Forum.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Hillary Will Lose

She has toads like this speaking for her:

“Give me a break! I've got news for all the latte-drinking,
Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies
crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won't last a round
against the Republican attack machine. He's a poet, not a

He sounds just like a Republican there. Does the crowd sound pleased with him to you?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sgt Ryan Jopek

Obama mentioned a soldier whose mother gave him a bracelet with her son's name inscribed during his victory speech. Without any additional comment, here is that soldier's MySpace profile, so that you may know him as the person he was rather than simply a symbol in a political speech.

Read the comments in his profile.

Obama: 9 for 9 since Super Tuesday

Let's run the list:

Louisiana: Obama, 57 - 36.
Nebraska: Obama, 68 - 32.
Washington: Obama, 68 - 31.
Maine: Obama, 59 - 40.
District of Columbia: Obama, 75 - 24.
Maryland: Obama, 60 - 37.
Virgina: Obama, 64 - 35.
Wisconsin: Obama, 58 - 41.
Hawaii: Obama, 76 - 24 (so far).

Obama's smallest lead has been in Wisconsin, winning by "only" 17 percentage points. Hawaii is Obama's home state, so I doubt it's going to deviate much from his current 51 percentage point lead. By the way, can we scratch the ARG polls? You know, the ones that Clinton supporters were citing all week claiming she was ahead in Wisconsin?

In 13 days, Vermont, Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island vote. According to polls I've seen, Obama is tied with Clinton in Texas, while Clinton holds a commanding lead in Ohio. But... there are 13 days for Obama to introduce himself to the voters in those states and make his case. I predict a close race in Ohio (with Wisconsin being a possible harbinger of things to come) with Texas a surprise win for Obama. I also expect Vermont and Rhode Island to fall to Obama, as well. If Obama only had seven days I'd feel differently, but given how much ground Obama can cover when he has time, I expect that March 4 will not be the knock-out for Clinton that she was hoping, and may possibly spell her doom.

Hillary is on the ropes, and she needs to win at least two states (at least one of which has to be one of the large states) on March 4 in order to remain competitive. If she loses every state on March 4, she should drop out gracefully and support Obama, because she will be done. Superdelegates will not risk offending their voters by supporting Clinton over Obama at that point, so she will have no further recourse to carry the nomination.

If she scores big on March 4, that puts her back in the driver's seat. But for that to happen, her campaign needs to change tactics in a big way, because what she's doing isn't working. I think it may be too late in the game for that big of an adjustment. This one was over when Clinton failed to knock out Obama on Super Tuesday. She didn't have a game plan after that, and it shows.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Guam: Where America's Empire Begins

Michael posts this about Guam's place as the "tip of the spear" in the Pacific and the effect it has on the effect it has on the people. For a taste:

From the perspective of the DoD, Guam appears to be an ideal example of a patriotic, militarized society. Despite the fact that (a) 30% of the island’s 210 square miles are covered by Navy and Air Force bases, (b) the entire island has been severely contaminated by military dumping and use, and (c) federal policies have kept the island economically dependent to keep it from seeking independence, most on Guam don’t consider the U.S. to be a malevolent, militaristic colonizer, but rather a benevolent liberator. The most common reason for this is the U.S. role in expelling the Japanese who brutally occupied the island for 32 months during World War II.

On the surface, the Chamorros and other residents of Guam seem to overwhelmingly support the U.S. military and its missions. This is manifest most prominently through “Liberation Day,” the island’s largest annual celebration that brings together massive parades, parties, carnivals and beauty pageants every July 21 in celebration of the U.S. return to Guam in 1944.

To the Pentagon, Guam appears to be an oasis in a world where the tide of sentiment against U.S. bases is rising. In contrast to populations in the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Iraq, who have protested U.S. presence on their lands, Guam appears to understand the role of the U.S. military in the world today. Hence, rather than resist the militarization of their lives or challenge the role of Guam as “the tip of the spear” of the U.S. war machine, the island seems to enthusiastically welcome military presence and actively participate in it.

It's a fantastic essay. Click here for the whole thing.

Of the blogs I presently read, Michael's is easily the best. I blogroll him for a reason. You should really check his blog out.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

That's it; Hillary just won me over.

With the power of a grade school pep rally, the soul of a Wal*Mart ad, and the faux enthusiasm of a North Korean standing right in front of Kim Jung Il, this video captures the true spirit of the Clinton campaign.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Clintons, Nostalgia, and a Reactionary Comfort Zone

It rings true to me when Obama says, ”It is about the past versus the future.”

What do Rush Limbaugh, BartCop, and many Clinton supporters have in common? A certain nostalgia for the Clinton Years – or is it nostalgia for the Clinton Wars?

Hillary promotes this idea - a replay of Clinton battles with the “vast right-wing conspiracy". She repeatedly reminds us that she has already fought this war, and knows how to fight it. Many of her supporters think she is the best candidate precisely because they anticipate a rehash of the same battles they fought through the Clinton administrations.

They know the kind of accusations that will come.
Counter-arguments and defenses are well-prepared.

It’s all so familiar, almost comfortable.

Remember, both Limbaugh and “the anti-rush”, BartCop, built their careers on this fight over the Clintons. For them, those truly were “the good old days”. Nostalgia.

On the other hand, Obama is a wild-card. He pretty much came out of nowhere. He has not been fully “vetted”, some say.

So, although we may guess what the attacks from the right wingnuts will be – Foreigner, Muslim, Color, etc. – we don’t exactly know how he will respond.

What we do know is that the battle will be something new and different. If he is our candidate, “they” will dig up or make up new ugly accusations. He and we will have to develop and promote new strategies. Hard work.

Certainly, many Clinton supporters really feel nostalgia for the Clinton presidency and all that peace (except for the bombings and war) and prosperity. Still suffering the outrages of the Bush regime, it’s easy to look fondly on the Clintons’ time.

But let us not forget that it takes two to tango.
The Clintons framed their battles as much as their enemies did.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996, passed by the Congress and signed by President Clinton, empowered the echo chamber of “the vast right wing conspiracy” that Hillary railed against.

Alan Greenspan thinks “Bill Clinton was the best Republican president we've had in a while.”

I don’t feel nostalgic for even the “best” Republican president or reruns of the all-too-familiar battles a Clinton campaign or administration will bring. I’m ready for a new and different future.

At least MoveOn, which also sprang from fighting the good Clinton fight, has. moved. on.

Iraq Veterans Face Job Discrimination

"Hire a vet! Your best bet yet!"

I remember my father telling me about that slogan when he was getting out of the Navy back in the 1972. It seems nostalgic to think about times when our country honored veterans upon their return, rather than simply "supporting the troops" (which these days, seems to consist of slapping a yellow ribbon magnet on their SUV and watching Bill O'Reilly). Was it so long ago? Must be, because 18% of veterans discharged since 1990 have found themselves unemployed within one to three years of leaving the service.

The report blamed the poor prospects partly on inadequate job networks and lack of mentors after extended periods in war. The study said employers often had misplaced stereotypes about veterans' fitness for employment, such as concerns they did not have adequate technological skills, or were too rigid, lacked education or were at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.

It urged the federal government to consider working with a private-sector marketing firm to help promote and brand war veterans as capable employees, as well as re-examine education and training such as the GI Bill.

"The issue of mental health has turned into a double-edged sword for returning veterans. More publicity has generated more public awareness and federal funding for those who return home different from when they left. However, more publicity — especially stories that perpetuate the 'Wacko Vet' myth — has also made some employers more cautious to hire a veteran," said Joe Davis, spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Maybe they're right. I can feel the rage boiling up inside of me at the utter ingratitude toward people who've sacrificed so much for their country. It's one thing to not give preference to veterans, but to actively discriminate against them because of some ignorant stereotype is inexcusable.

Reservists are having problems when they come home, too:

Separately, a Labor Department report obtained by the AP showed that formal job complaints by reservists remained high, citing concerns about denied jobs or benefits after they tried to return to their old jobs after extended tours in Iraq. Reservists filed 1,357 complaints with the department in 2006, the latest figures available, down from nearly 1,600 in 2005, when complaints reached the highest level since 1991.

When we talk about spitting on veterans, let it be said that American businesses, not anti-war protesters, were the most egregious offenders in the Iraq War.

Connely: Have Clintons worn out welcome?

Note: this column predates the Washington caucuses, which Obama won 68% to Clinton's 31%. Obama also won Louisiana and Nebraska by slightly smaller margins.

"As much as I respect Hillary Clinton's intellect, I think F. Scott Fitzgerald put it best in 'The Great Gatsby' when he wrote, 'They were careless people, Tom and Daisy -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.' The same could be said of Bill and Hillary."

The Clintons have -- literally -- retreated from "the folks" and days of Pike Place Market rallies.

The "Hillaryland" rally Thursday night was the first time since 1996 a Clinton event in Seattle has not required a check (or book buy) for admission. Until Friday's Tacoma and Spokane events, Hillary Clinton had taken questions here only from fundraiser guests who shelled out $2,300.

As well, even contentiously liberal Seattle wants an end to the acrid, acrimonious political divisions of the Clinton and Bush II eras. An Obama endorsement letter by six City Council members put it succinctly: "Like you, we seek a new politics that goes beyond old divisions and looks to a future where we all work together to solve problems. ... We know Americans have a deep longing for a revitalization of the spirit of America, a renewal of our quest for a just and sustainable nation."

They ticked off challenges facing cities, from climate change to affordable housing, much as Bill Clinton did when he promised to build a "bridge to the 21st century."

A big part of the Democratic Party yearns for a new bridge builder, in part to reconnect it with "red state" America.

Some people disagree with that desire. Some people (such as those at an old forum I used to frequent) want to continue "the acrid, acrimonious political divisions of the Clinton and Bush II eras". The political conflict is part of their identity, and if they cannot hate the opposition and view them as evil, they will be lost. It is, for the lack of a better word, their religion. Their desire to hate the Republicans, to view them as evil people who need to be stopped, not negotiated with or talked to, echoes the words of those very Republicans who so hate the Muslims of the world... or the words of those Muslims who so hate us. Etc. and so on. Even self-styled progressives aren't immune to the irrational hatred which accompanies fear and anger.

But for those of us who wish to see peace in the world, there is no way we can make peace with our enemies until we first make peace with ourselves. That goes for us as a nation. How can we make peace with the Muslim world if we're too busy punching each other in the face to even talk to them?

"We need a President willing to engage in a fistfight to safeguard and restore our national virtues," said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in a recent endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

Thing is, I've never seen the Clintons actually fight for anything other than their own political survival. Please correct me if you've ever seen the Clintons come out swinging for a principle. On gays in the military, Bill folded. On health care, Bill folded. Those were two of his biggest campaign promises in 1992, and he failed to deliver. On the Iraq War, Bill and Hillary both hedged, not standing firmly for or against it. He did put up a fight during his impeachment.

That's not to say they are without their accomplishments, but this image of them being fist fighters is largely based on their survival instincts. On policy matters, their record is remarkably similar to Pelosi, Reid, Daschle, and Gephardt: when the chips are down, fold.

A better idea would be to build a consensus among the American people around our ideas. To do that, we need a leader who people see as appealing and approachable. Hence, Barack Obama.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Time is up. I'm making my endorsement.

Well, according to the poll I just took on the Washington Post's website, my political views are the most in line with Hillary. That's not a huge surprise, and above the surface – and for a long time back – I have wanted to see another Clinton victory in the White House for various reasons, which we'll get to and address as we come to them.

However, the actual questions of the poll left me wanting for more, much more, in the way of choices. For many questions, the difference in answers (and by default, the differences between the candidates) were nothing more than a dance in semantics. Essentially, they were all saying the same thing, just in minimally different ways of speaking. I guess this is what's referred to in politics as 'towing the old party line,' but I don't like it one bit.

Honestly, since I've begun really digging into this issue, I've found that I can't wholeheartedly support any one candidate, as long as all the candidates are sticking to what their respective parties want to hear. If we want real change, we have to be willing to step outside the box, and the watered down, pathetic stances on the issues that I've been reading about are making me downright angry. I truly had the thought go through my head this afternoon, “Why can't we just do away with the parties, let seven or eight candidates put themselves on the line, show their true selves and their real visions for America, and let the best (wo)man win?” I know it would never happen. Just like the electoral college. I think it's an outdated system for which modern America has no use. We're no longer collecting votes by riders on horseback. Let us have a REAL democracy – rather than a republic whose representation is completely out of touch with its constituents. It's a broken system whose purpose is no longer necessary, and it makes voters feel like their votes don't really count when a victor has less of the majority vote than his opponent. Of course, no one wants to change a system that got them into the presidency, so it's not likely to change, but, for now, let's try not to broaden the scope of my rant too greatly, or I'll never get to the heart of the matter. Perhaps in a Utopian world, right?

Now, according to “Choose Your Candidate, Democratic Edition,” my candidates scores were:

  • John Edwards: 15 pts. Agreed with answers on: Health Care, Energy 2, Immigration, Economy.

  • Hillary Clinton: 29 pts. Agreed with answers on: National Security, Energy, Immigration 2, Economy 2.

  • Barack Obama: 18 pts. Agreed with answers on: Social Security, Social Security 2, Iraq, Iraq 2, Top Priorities.

OK, so, to be fair, I was going to get my results from “Choose Your Candidate, Republican Edition,” but I found that their version of the test was just the same: the only differences in answers – and again, by default – candidates were basic semantics. So, for the majority of the questions, I couldn't choose an answer, so I decided it was a moot point.

Anyway, not long after I began this blog (which was sometime back in January), I discovered that according to the mass media, Louisiana's polls were 'not going to matter' after the 22-state Super-Tuesday polls were expected to decide all. They were wrong, and now, today, (after enjoying our OWN super Tuesday) Louisiana Democrats are heading to the polls, hoping to make a difference in America. I, too, will join them, but in order to do so, I still have to endorse a candidate, so here is what I have surmised so far:

Health Care – It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me at all to know that this is one of my soapbox issues and one that hits very close to home on many levels. These policies will not only have a direct effect on my career field, but I have also spent several years of my life (including right now) uninsured and often suffering, simply because my employer didn't offer the option of health care, and to buy it on my own, I might as well not have coverage. (I can elaborate on this later, if anyone's interested, but in the interest of time, I'll leave it at that.) Now, when I began reading all the nitty gritty details to each candidate's plan, I discovered something: they now sound exactly the same! In the debates, it appears that Obama's plan leaves gaps in coverage, while Clinton's plan is for universal care. However, he claims that she mandates coverage while he makes it affordable. Once again, my friends, we are in a semantic dance that really boils down to the same thing if you truly get into their bullet points and compare them. She says she wants everyone to be eligible for the federal workers' benefits. So does he. They both encourage affordable, portable health care. They both encourage preventative medicine. All in all, whether it began this way or not, both their plans for health care sound like the same plan!

So, while I'm saying that both policies are seemingly similar, I still believe that this is a topic that Hillary is better equipped to tackle, given her history particularly in this policy field. No, she was not successful in the nineties, but in the nineties, the general public did not understand the need for universal health care as many others of us did. She, too, is sticking to the hard line that we must fight for universal coverage for every American coming out of the gate in order to make any progress at all, while Barack refuses to call his plan 'universal.' I'm afraid that that lack of commitment to ALL Americans may mean a non-coverage, so to speak, for many Americans, and I don't want to be another one still falling through the cracks.

Beyond that, I have to say that I'm largely unimpressed with their plans as a whole. Obviously, I am more in line with the Democratic Party than with the Republican platform, but I find it interesting that no one (save Ron Paul) has mentioned taking the privatization completely out of health care, as so many other countries have done and as Michael Moore so adeptly showed us in “Sicko.” (I don't care what you think of the man, having worked in and around healthcare as long as I have, I can tell you that his movie was dead-on accurate.) I don't have time to go into all his points right now, but anyone who believes that the quality of care would go down by instituting a national health care system is being HUGELY misled.

So, that said (and I'm sorry that I'm leaving out a LOT here, including the military, though again, both Democratic candidates seem to have similar plans for it and Iraq as well), I'm going to make my way to the polls, and I'm going to cast my ballot for Hillary, not necessarily that she has the best plan at this precise moment, but because, I believe with her insight and determination, she will lead us to that light at the end of the tunnel and will eventually, with Congress and her choice of VP, come up with a plan that will truly benefit ALL Americans. Perhaps Barack will be at her side. Perhaps Edwards will. Maybe Michael Moore will. (Ha!) At any rate, I believe she has the tools necessary to make my hopes a reality. I guess we shall see.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I've been remiss on the issue of the storms.

Fortunately, my friend Monkeyfister hasn't.

Kudos to you, MF. And sorry I'm late on this one; I've spent less than a total of a month in CONUS since June of 2006, so the U.S. has become increasingly remote. No excuse, I know, but I'm trying to make amends.

I'll not comment it myself; just click on Monkeyfister's link above and read what he has to say on it. He blogged on the storms while they were raging past his home. Monkeyfister was all over this, and I am rather red-faced for having missed this.

Just a note: both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have links on their front pages seeking donations to help the victims of the storm. The Republican candidates (McCain, Huckabee, and Paul), however, do not.

I'll be leaving this as the top post for a few days, since it's important. If even one of my dozens (TM - Bartcop) of readers decides to click on the link and show the mid-south a little love, it'll be worthwhile.

Our choice in November

Sometimes, during the heat of a primary, it's easy to get one's passions up and vow never to vote for your candidate's primary opponent. The jeers are predictable: "Yeah, well, what are you going to do: vote Republican?" The temptation is there to say, "You know what? Maybe I will!"

Then I see this:

This right here makes him completely unacceptable to me. Of course, it'll also make him unacceptable to the majority of the electorate, so what I think may be a non-issue. But it's important to remember what's at stake here and not let our egos get in the way. Even the most avid Obama supporter has to look at that and say, "Okay, you got me, Hillary, you corporate shill. You lesser of two evils. You got my vote."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

We need to push for a real energy policy

by azul

It brings in most other issues and is already affecting us all. Because war is our current energy policy, our young people are dying, we are going broke and we are hastening global warming with all the energy wasted on this "Risk" game style approach. It is an approach based on fear and scarcity rather than innovation and creativity which anyone will tell you in a heart beat is what made our economy grow (along with hard work). It is a top down approach for short term profit that will cause civil unrest and threaten what is left of our freedom because we know that our leaders aren't serious about a real solution.

It is another area where we use spending and debt over savings and investment since we import 60-70 percent of our fuel. Overspending on imports is hollowing out what is left of our economy. Hydrocarbons are key to our whole lifestyle which will have to change by force or by choice. Any choice we still have would leave room for creative solutions. As we all know, our government's focus on grabbing what they can of a non-sustainable source of energy by force and wasting much of what we have left is misleading us. Our candidates have to make a plan for the future.

We should insist on a realistic energy policy from our candidates no matter who they are. I had an idea the other day. Besides contacting the candidates directly, how about we call all the people in our areas who are backing a Presidential candidate (x, y or z) and insist on it, because they have the candidate's ear to some extent. They could be advising them. So if they are getting a lot of phone calls in their home area about this issue, it may influence them as they advise the candidates who are formulating the policy they will follow when they land in the WH.

We still have a great resource of smart people, universities and research institutions in this country who are working but could be working much more on the many solutions we can come up with, rather than waiting for some big oil company to provide it for us. We could be leaders in this, but because we have people in charge who want to make money off of hydrocarbons for as long as they can until Mad Max arrives here, we sit and watch as the French come up with the fastest, most efficient train while our rail system deteriorates... I think our lobbying as citizens now could make a difference.

Interesting story:
Last night I saw part of a documentary on the development of electric trains going into NYC. The existing trains were owned by the Vanderbilts, and were steam engines (or at least Grand Central was -don't have all the facts). Around 1903 there was a big fire in one of the tunnels where many people died so NYC mandated that all trains coming in to Manhattan island be electric. The man who figured out the solution and implemented it was chief engineer of NY Central RR. He figured out a way to use the development of the real estate belonging to the railroad on Park Avenue to pay for a complete overhaul of Grand Central when he put the new electric trains underground (and I assume brought in the Pennsylvania RR to Penn Station which was ahead of NY's trains in going electric and was trying to get into Manhattan rather than just stopping in NJ). It was a huge project. It made a difference in a lot of lives. Not sure what lessons to draw from it as I only saw a bit of it, but one man without money to invest or a college degree made a big difference because he had a creative solution and the will to follow it through.

I found mention of this person in Wikipedia on Grand Central:
In order to accommodate ever-growing rail traffic into the restricted Midtown area, William J. Wilgus, chief engineer of the New York Central Railroad took advantage of the recent electrification technology to propose a novel scheme: a bi-level station below ground.
Under "Covering Park Avenue":

Residents of Puerto Rico, Guam called "foreign citizens"

This article demonstrates the need for education on the status of our territories. Here is a United States congresswoman who doesn't even know that the people of Puerto Rico and Guam are U.S. citizens:

Several Guam lawmakers have asked a Republican congresswoman from Florida to apologize for referring to residents of Guam as "foreign citizens."

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., in a news release last week, referred to residents of Guam and Puerto Rico as foreign citizens, and said she opposes including the territories in a recently approved economic stimulus package since they do not pay taxes.

Guam residents pay taxes according to federal tax laws, but the money stays on Guam for use by the local government. Guam residents have been U.S. citizens since 1950 because of the federal Organic Act. The island has been a U.S. territory since 1898.

Not surprising, but it's still offensive, especially given how many people from both territories are currently serving their country honorably.

Michelle Obama

Something occurred to me today. I've noticed how many Clinton supporters speak derisively about Michelle Obama very much the same way Republicans spoke about Hillary Clinton in 1992, occasionally using very racist and misogynistic language about her.

Personally, I think she'd make a fine First Lady. She seems to have all the qualities people once admired about Hillary Clinton, before Hillary became a force unto herself. And frankly, I think that a lot of people dislike Michelle Obama for many of the same reasons they disliked Hillary: she's a strong woman with accomplishments and a mind of her own and who (this is key) disagrees with them on something. Just why Hillary supporters are using the misogynistic language (I've heard the words "bitch" and "cunt" thrown around in the comments section at the Huffington Post) with regards to Michelle, I can't begin to fathom, but it reinforces a feeling that I've had for a while: many people in the Democratic party have become the same sorts of demagogues that they once despised. Now, I'm quite sure that the people in the Hillary camp using this kind of language are a very small minority, but I hope that people can look inside themselves and ask whether or not they've become the thing they hate.

Here's an interview with Michelle Obama. I'll let you draw your own conclusions:

Monday, February 04, 2008

Baghdad drowing in sewage

Just as a reminder, everything is still completely messed up in Iraq:

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Baghdad is drowning in sewage, thirsty for water and largely powerless, an Iraqi official said on Sunday in a grim assessment of services in the capital five years after the US-led invasion.

One of three sewage treatment plants is out of commission, one is working at stuttering capacity while a pipe blockage in the third means sewage is forming a foul lake so large it can be seen "as a big black spot on Google Earth," said Tahseen Sheikhly, civilian spokesman for the Baghdad security plan.

Sheikhly told a news conference in the capital that water pipes, where they exist, are so old that it is not possible to pump water at a sufficient rate to meet demands -- leaving many neighbourhoods parched.

I've heard from people over there the the troops are running low on water, too. After nearly five years and hundreds of billions of dollars poured into this occupation, we can't get water or electricity running? Any good news?

Education and health across Iraq had both seen improvements, according to US military commander Brigadier General Jeffrey Dorko of the US Gulf Regional Division which is engaged in reconstruction projects.

Dorko told the news conference that 76 new health clinics -- 21 of them in Baghdad -- had been built while 1,885 new schools had been constructed countrywide and another 1,604 repaired.

They realize that "schools are opening" has become a punch-line, right?

He said that the demand for electricity was likely to outstrip supply for several years because many Iraqi power stations had been damaged or destroyed and commissioning new ones would take anything up to four years.

Demand was increasing, Dorko added, because Iraqis were increasingly buying electrical appliances as the security situation improved.

Everything is terrible because everything is wonderful. Is that the "catastrophic success" Bush was talking about in 2004?

Asked if it may take 10 years before Baghdad receives full power 24 hours a day, he replied: "There are so many variables... but I think it will be less than 10 years."

Less than 10 years! That's encouraging. How many trillions of dollars will it cost us just to restore things to the crappy level they were at under Saddam?

I'll make a wager that if you took the reconstruction efforts away from KBR and gave them to military civil engineers, it would take less than two years. Pay LNs $5 an hour to do these jobs and oh my goodness -- that will boost their economy like nothing they've ever seen.

The profit margins KBR and their ilk are skimming are ridiculous. They pay these TCNs and LNs an absolute pittance and sock it to the American tax payers as though they're paying their workers in gold bullion. They need to be cut out of the process -- they're clearly not getting the job done.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Letter to Pandora

Sometimes I write private correspondence that allows me to collect ideas that blogging doesn't. It's a question of context, and the context of an e-mail I wrote to Command Post contributor Pandora allowed me to collect some thoughts I'd been kicking around for a while. Here's the letter:

The thing that's been kind of eating at me is that there's this perception that the Clintons "know how to win". Point of fact, Bill Clinton in 1992 won a lower percentage of the popular vote than Michael Dukakis did in 1988. They always neglect to mention the Perot factor, which arguably threw the election to Clinton in both 1992 and 1996. I crunched the numbers; there were enough states where the Perot votes more than covered Clinton's margin of victory in 1996, and it is plausible that had Perot not run, Dole may have won. It seems almost certain that Bush would have won a second term if not for Perot in 1992. So wherefore all this talk of the Clintons' incredible political acumen?

The difference between Clinton's third-way politics and Obama's brand of reaching out to the other side is that Clinton seeks to make herself appealing to conservatives by co-opting their agenda (something Bill Clinton was accused of in 1996 by Republicans and Democrats alike), while Obama seeks to make his *ideas* appealing to Republicans by using language they can relate to. Clinton's way might win short term battles, but it loses the larger war. Obama is trying to do what Reagan did for Republicans: build a consensus around his ideas. That is how we build the "permanent majority" that Rove was seeking. Rove was a hack though, and burned so many bridges that what he ended up building was a permanent 60+% disapproval rating for his boss. He won the short term battles, but he's on the verge of losing the broader war, and the Clintons are in real danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by adopting his tactics. Thankfully, the Republicans have shot themselves in the foot so badly that they never established an heir to Bush's legacy, and now they're fighting over which faction of the party (Romney: business, McCain: militant, Huckabee: religious right) will have dominance.

The Democratic party will be united coming into the general election, and we will likely win over a fractured GOP (especially if Bloomberg decides to be a sport and play Perot in this election). Obama will be President; the only question is whether it will be this year or four to eight years from now. I say now, because I don't want to have to refight these battles in four to eight years after Clinton fails (once again) to build a broad consensus around our ideas, and throws them under the bus in the interest of avoiding electoral defeat.

Poll after poll has shown that the vast majority of Americans support a progressive agenda; we just need a President who can convince Americans to trust themselves enough to cast off the yoke of Reagan-era rhetoric and move forward to a better future.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Decolonization of Guam

I've been remiss in my pledge to address the issue of decolonization on Guam over a month ago. I, like most of my countrymen, have been paying close attention to the primaries, yet issues affecting people in America continue. This includes the people of Guam, of course, who are as much citizens of this nation as you or I.

To make up for this oversight, I have submitted the following letter to Sen. Obama, Presidential candidate and my senator, for whom I voted in 2004 and endorsed for President this year. I will post his reply, if and when I receive it.

Sen. Obama:

I write to you as an Illinois voter stationed overseas and someone who has contributed money to your Presidential bid on a matter affecting the island territory of Guam. I would first like to note that when selecting a category for this e-mail, there was nothing in there relating to issues affecting U.S. territories, which rather reinforces my perception that the future of our territories isn't even on most politicians' radars. I don't hold it against you, but I'm going to take it as my duty to put it there.

At present, 30% of the island of Guam is owned by the U.S. military, yet the people of Guam have no say in this matter. They have no vote in Congress, and they have no say in the upcoming Presidential election. I, however, do, and on their behalf I would like you to answer this question:

What will it take for the United States government to offer our territories (Puerto Rico and Guam) full statehood and equal standing with their fellow U.S. citizens?

It is simply amazing to me how many people don't even know that Guam exists, or believe it to be a euphemism for "very far away". While it may seem like a small, remote issue, I assure you that to the Chamorro people it is not. They are U.S. citizens, like you or I, but their voices are not heard. They are invisible to the establishment. I hope that, as a man of conscience, you will work to change that, either in the Senate or as President.

Best of luck to you on your campaign trail, and I hope you will find time to respond between your campaign events.

I've also come across this, which addressed the issue of self-determination on Guam:

The criticality of the need for self-determination for Guam's indigenous people was the topic of much discussion today at a summit at the University of Guam. "Protecting Our Way of Life and Ensuring Our Survival" sought to unite and educate Chamorros cross-generationally, and strengthen their awareness with the military forces to be transferred from Okinawa.

It is heartening to see this, since without a sense of solidarity among the people of Guam, it will be too easy for the powers that be to simply play "divide and conquer" among the people of Guam. Playing on racial divisions between Chamorros, Filipinos, haoles (Caucasians -- and yes, I've come to love this word for my people, even if it is often used as an epithet), and other assorted races living on Guam seems the most obvious way to keep people squabbling among themselves rather than finding common cause in seeking social justice. Racism is often used that way by established power, as demonstrated in mainland America -- keep a certain faction of poor or working class whites focused on their hatred of blacks, and you effectively get two groups of dispossessed and marginalized people working against each other while their true oppressors continue to exploit them unabated.

Here is a letter
from a Chamorro serving in Iraq (and his status as a fellow Iraq War veteran makes him my brother, as I've covered earlier):

This essay was written in my effort to express a local perspective into a war few in the media, and island understand. I sent it to Pacific Daily News, after making contact with a editor through email and was asked to write and send pictures. I did and found no response since. I could not find a contact in Marianas Variety so if any do please forward this, with the intention of remembering those from the Islands who have served and remain a ripple in the pond, have created change and are a part of a change regardless if seen as good or bad, honorable men and women who gave, or give the ultimate sacrifice, being gone for long periods of time from their families or to a higher place....................

First and for most, I would like to convey my families condolences to the to former senator Umpingco's family. All people from all parts of Guam, appreciate the sacrifice he, and his family gave to serve our Island.

I write to you not for fame or recognition, but to share a event that might bring the war closer to home, and sharing one of my experience's in Iraq. This is a example of the emotional rolacoster that we face everyday. I hope that those that read this (if published) understand my intentions for it's weight in my heart compelled me to write .......

I arrived In Balad, Iraq with high hopes of finding friends and family, like I did in 2006. A second tour for me, and a holiday free tour in the sand box. I met the Guam National Guards 909th, Gil Reyes of Yona, Craig, my second cousin from Malojojo and David Quimbao from Talofofo, a childhood friend and brother in arms. To my surprise and dismay, those days of comfort and taste of home no longer existed. I visited the former building of the 909th, and asked a officer I saw walking out if he knew where the the Chamoru's were and he looked at me with a no idea. I found it alittle disturbing considering the big cement mortar barrier with the 909th emblem and Guam seal to their backs, and they still had no idea of whom I speak.

As I drove away with mixed feelings about them being gone and me being alone, and reassuring my self of the better morning my comrades will have because they will wake up too their families in Guam, something struck me to the core. A man was standing along the fence line with a little girl in his arms courting with the other towards the little girl in his arms saying loud and clear " Gift, Gifts, Gift", as to gesture something from the impenetrable walls that divide us. To help clarify what a man was doing out side the fence, I must explain. Outside the wire, farmers tend to their sunflower patches, and other vegetables while still tending to the children and live stock. All my training did not prepare me for what I was seeing. I could respond to incoming mortar, and taking on enemy fire, but this hopefully innocent gesture by this farmer, did me in. All my thoughts of fighting and unhappiness from being away from home stopped. I did what every well trained sailor or soldier would do.....

I have flown in helicopters over homes made of clay and farms as green as the Talofofo valleys in the middle of a desert, I have seen many of things, nothing more troubling than the man outside the wire with that little girl. It brought to light questions of this war, and what that man, like those of his country think. With Guam always in my mind, and the image of that man and child staring in the fence, I immediately related with the thought of us Chamoru's looking in the fence on our own land, and saw me and my 2 girls (Ha'ani & Sinahi), looking at the already crowded island with base's extending the fence lines with the soon movement of Marines, and the island's economic hand being led into reliance on the federal government or foreign investors. Every day away from my family, and Guam, the more I ponder on our course as a people, just like those in Iraq hoping the effort put into this war, and it's restructuring is really for their benefit.

To those fellow Chamoru's who have served and sacrificed their lives, I remember you and your sacrifice, and use that fuel to keep my head up with the love from my wife and two kids.
If I could convey one message, to people in Guam, " Hita I man Taotao Tano! Hita I kutura, I linguahi, i biblia, I ire yan I Tano Chamoru!" Your pains are the pains of every people, no matter the shades of ones skin, we must work toward a common goal of affordability in our home land, and our acceptance of changes on our own terms.

Saina Ma'ase,
Sean R, "Aguon" Sanchez

Very true, very true. On the off chance that the author of this letter reads this entry, I would like to note that the Pacific Daily News is owned by the same company, Gannett, which owns my local newspaper from my home town, the Green Bay Press-Gazette, derisively referred to by many as the "Green Bay Packers-Gazette" for its over-emphasis on the Packers at the exclusion of news stories which actually matter. I'm half a world away from my home, isolated from family, friends, and other things about my home which I cherish, and yet the same behemoth which controls my home town's print media also has its tentacles here, on Guam. This bit of synchronicity is not lost on me, and I think that my status as one of the many unpersons in this world (my internet handle, CarbonDate, has as much meaning and significance with regards to my words as my legal name) makes me much closer to the disenfranchised Chamorros of Guam than I am to the white men who run this nation.

I will continue to press Sen. Obama on this matter as long as he is my senator, especially given that he may be our next President. I would implore my fellow mainlanders to also speak on behalf of the islanders whose voices are not heard and ask the question which I asked Sen. Obama: What will it take for the United States government to offer our territories full statehood and equal standing with their fellow U.S. citizens?

Orwell's hell a terror era coming through, but this little brother is watching you too -- RATM, 1999

Friday, February 01, 2008

Sen. Clinton Get Key Endorsement From Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter pledges to campaign for Hillary Clinton if John McCain is the Republican nominee.

This just tickles me.

Gary Hart: Bush quietly ensuring we will be in Iraq for decades to come

From Gary Hart, via the Huffington Post:

For the better part of a year before the gratuitous invasion of Iraq, along with others I wrote often about the real neocon plan, the secret one not disclosed to the American people. It involved the use of Iraq as the U.S. political and military base in the Middle East, dictation of terms to surrounding nations, protection of our oil dependencies, long term occupation, and the construction of permanent military bases. All of this would be administered by a proconsul of Roman proportions, safely sequestered behind a multi-billion dollar fortress now known as the Green Zone.

Yesterday, President Bush signed the Defense Authorization Bill, including Section 1222 prohibiting permanent military bases in Iraq, with the now customary "signing statement" declaring that he has no intention of enforcing the law of the land, including this provision, though bound by oath and Constitution to do so.

To seal the deal, with the expectation of binding future presidential successors, Mr. Bush and Iraq president Nouri al-Maliki are in the process of negotiating a "status of forces agreement" that would commit the U.S. military to combat any internal or external factions the Iraqi government deemed a threat. This represents a one-directional security treaty cloaked in the form of an agreement not subject to Senate ratification. And it guarantees U.S. involvement in age-old Iraqi sectarian conflict for decades to come.

Well, there's an easy answer for Bush's successor to any claim that this agreement binds him: "This administration is not bound by any promises made by previous administrations." In fact, whereas U.S. law now explicitly prohibits permanent military bases in Iraq, that is what the next President would be bound by, Bush's extra-constitutional (and legally meaningless) signing statements not with standing.

Hart acknowledges this, but then talks of campaign tactics. Does Bush actually think that his unratified agreements with Iraq will be legally binding to his successors, or his he just trying to piss in the punch bowl for future Presidents?

Juan Cole: Iraq and Iran in the Democratic Debate

I listened to this portion of the Clinton - Obama debate and I must say: Cole nails it.

Both candidates impressed me with their grasp of detail and the serious thought that they have given for how to get out of Iraq without leaving behind a catastrophe that will come around to bite us on the ass.

Chuck Todd says he thought Barack won the debate on the strength of his Iraq comments, and that Hillary was at a disadvantage because she had to explain once again why she voted to authorize the war. She even put herself in a position of being called naive about Bush by Wolf Blitzer, the moderator, because she went on about how she hadn't expected Bush to misuse the authorization.

I didn't see others comment on Barack's dig at Hillary over "mission creep" toward Iran. This was a reference to her vote for the Kyl-Lieberman resolution encouraging Bush to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization (even though they are now a regular military analogous to the US National Guards, and in the past terrorism has been defined as the action of a non-state actor). Clinton painted Obama as soft on Iran, he painted her as devoted to mission creep and confrontation with Iran.

This might be another point on which he won; polling does not suggest the American public wants practical belligerent steps toward Iran.

It is worth noting that Clinton misstated the 1998 events.

The US did not bomb Iraq because Saddam "kicked out" the UN weapons inspectors. The US decided to bomb Iraq for other reasons and therefore ordered the inspectors out of the country. The myth that Saddam "kicked out" the inspectors just won't die.
Cole provides a transcript and relevant links here.